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 (www.thinkgeek.com) 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.