November 28, 2005

EVERYBODY’S DOING CHRISTMAS-GIFT SUGGESTIONS, and Wired offers its “Ultimate Geek Gift Guide.” But I’m not terribly impressed.

Sure, I’d like one of these, but it’s awfully pricey. Unless Bill Gates takes a shine to me, I’m not going to get one for Christmas, and unless I hit the lottery (which would require that I, like, enter the lottery first) I’m not likely to give one, either.

I like their sorting of universal remote controls into “tricky,”complicated,” and, of course, “nightmare”. That certainly seems about right. But it’s not selling me!

And I already got the complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus collection for Christmas last year. (Or was it the year before? At any rate, “I’ve already got one.”) Sorry; I’m a geek, but this doesn’t do it for me.

But hey, Serenity comes out on December 20th. Too bad I’ve already pre-ordered it. Now I actually do need a new blender . . . .

Several readers have emailed asking for gadget recommendations, but my gadget-blogging is mostly about gadgets I’ve bought myself (nobody’s lining up to send me free digital cameras or Xboxes), and the whole book-writing thing has kept me too busy to do much of that lately. If you’ve got any ideas that look better than Wired’s pass ‘em on.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

For us broke geeks who cannot afford pricey toys, Think Geek ( has the greatest assortment of mindgames, geeky cubicle toys, and other assorted to goodies guaranteed to light up the geekiest heart.

Yeah, I’ve been boycotting them since a supersmall digital camera I bought was no good. But that’s probably silly on my part — I do tend to be highly loyal to people who give me good experiences, and the contrary to those who don’t — and certainly shouldn’t extend to anyone else.

Meanwhile, Will Collier emails about the “tricky” universal remote:

I bought one of the Logitech Harmony 880 remotes a few weeks ago. The wife had had it with multiplying remote controls, and demanded something simple.

The 880 was, as noted in the Amazon reviews, not a piece of cake to set up. It took me about an hour with the thing plugged into my iBook, loading settings, trying the remote, re-loading settings, and re-testing. That was not fun. Since then though, it’s been no trouble at all. Bottom line: if you get one, be prepared to spend some time getting it configured, but once you do have it set up and tweaked for your system, it’s great. One-button turn-ons for multiple devices and a nice bright color screen with simple labels like “Watch ReplayTV” or “Watch DVDs” are a nice change from the cryptic buttons on most other universal remotes. And the wife likes it.

Of course, I would be even happier if the thing were $150 cheaper, but like Steven Wright once noted, “You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?”

Er, everywhere? And here’s a list of book recommendations, from the NRO folks.