First, thanks to everyone who sent in suggestions! I received way too many to include all of them, even after some judicious editing, so I decided to stick to a few basic rules. First, the product must be computer-related in some form or fashion. Second, the product must not be suggested only by its retailers.
Steve Hideg <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
For the consultant/network support person in your life, I recommend a useful device from Asante, the NetExtender Hub. For about $130 mail order, you get a small box that has a cable with an AAUI connector on it (it receives power from the AAUI, so one machine must have an AAUI connector) and four 10Base-T ports on it. One port is for connecting to the network, but you can use it to connect to a local machine with a special adapter cable that's provided. The NetExtender enables you to quickly expand one 10Base-T network connection into four (be careful about having more than four repeaters on one network), or you can quickly create a stand-alone Ethernet network. This device has proven useful for us when users upgrade to new Macs and need to move their files over from their old machines. Just plug them in, turn on file sharing, and copy at Ethernet speeds! We also use it to temporarily expand a network connection to allow PowerBooks to get on the network when troubleshooting a machine. One caveat: The connector shell on the AAUI connector prohibits it from connecting to the AAUI connector on 500-series PowerBooks, and I had to get Asante to replace mine. I don't know if later models have the correct connector shell.
Cindy Newberry <email@example.com> writes:
The Beer Hunter CD-ROM may not be particularly out of the ordinary, but it fits into my idea of holiday cheer. The Discovery Channel markets it for about $30, and it's all about the fine art of brewing.
Daniel Collison <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
Digital Sprites has a beautiful animated Christmas card for the Mac that competes with Currier and Ives in depicting the charm of a New England Christmas. The setting: evening, just after twilight; warm light glows from the windows of a rustic Cap Cod home set in a clearing in the New England woods. When you click on the chimney, door, snowman, mailbox, woods, or sixteen other spots, you'll be surprised by the clever animation and gentle sound effects that result. My little boy loved it; it will provide young children hours of pleasure, and the quiet stillness as the snow falls over the tableau makes a beautiful screen saver for any adult. Highly recommended. A user customizable birthday card product ($9.98) and Windows versions are available as well. Holiday Greetings for Mac: $5.98 each disk and mailer; add $1.50 for shipping and handling and 5 percent sales tax for Vermont residents. Visa, MasterCard, check or money order (payable to "Digital Sprites"). Fax or snail mail your order.
Digital Sprites, 76 Olcott Drive, Suite L6, White River Jct., VT 05001 USA -- 802/296-7627 (fax)
Al Lilly <email@example.com> writes:
The new ALPS GlidePoint desktop trackpad model is super! It is larger than the forerunners, and has a nice little stand that comes with it. The price is right at about $80 mail order.
Jason Elliot Robbins <firstname.lastname@example.org> suggests:
For people that are involved in software development, I'd recommend Microsoft Secrets by Cusumano and Selby. It gives real insight into how development is done at Microsoft and has enough personality to be interesting without being gushing. It's a serious book for people who seriously want to develop software and succeed at it. Professor Selby teaches here at UCI, and I was in a class that reviewed his manuscript and gave suggestions.
Mark Horne <email@example.com> writes:
If you're tired of the usual games, The Puppet Motel CD-ROM by Laurie Anderson is a real treat. In this visual delight from Voyager, you navigate from room to room in the motel, solving puzzles, watching videos, leaving messages, or sending faxes. The $39.95 CD-ROM is currently only available for the Mac, has CD quality sound, lets you download QuickTime movies from the Voyager site (from Laurie's last concert tour), and even permits you to access the control code to alter certain game parameters. Part performance piece, part game, part music video, this CD really shows off the potential of CD-ROMs.
Josh Rafofsky <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
For every Mac lover, a great, unique gift idea is a personalized mousepad! Take a picture to your local Kinko's - they will make a fantastic mouse pad out of it for about $20. It's a great way for computer widows to get their husbands to remember them... with a smiling picture every time they look down to move their mouse. [Sounds like it would also work as a subtle guilt trip device to me. -Adam]
Paul Edwards <email@example.com> suggests a wonderful non-capitalist Mac accessory that would probably be a great project for kids:
One year while working as tech support for an academic department, I made all the staff members a Christmas "MacHat." It's basically a piece of cardboard folded in half and slipped over one corner of the monitor to reduce or eliminate glare and reflections from windows and sunlight on monitors. Decorate as appropriate - I used tinsel and bits of colored glitter, and sometimes images of the particular staff members' research interests or hobbies (one administrative assistant had hers covered in pictures of bowling balls). These MacHats have the great advantage of being useful, cheap, fun to make, and totally personalized.
I popped into this department the other day. Nearly three years later, several original MacHats are still around; others had died and been superseded, but most of them were still being used. One staff member had attached another piece of cardboard perpendicular to the side of the hat and was using it to store sticky notes.
______ <--- MacHat (hat rests on corner of monitor or Mac) | _______ | | | | | | <--- Mac or monitor |_____| | -- | |_____|
Screensaver Suggestions came from a number of people, including Catherine Reed <firstname.lastname@example.org> who writes:
I plan on giving several of my friends customized screensavers from Hubris Software for Christmas (including one with a Windows 95 logo). [Check out the deal in the latest DealBITS <email@example.com> if you're interested in the customized screensavers from Hubris. -Adam]
<firstname.lastname@example.org> has the same idea, but via a different company:
My favorite gift for my Mac-loving friends is FaceSaver, a custom screensaver from Ultimate Software. You send them up to five photos and they'll make a screensaver nobody else in the world has. Their prices are reasonable: $25 for U.S. customers, $30 for overseas. They also have versions for pet lovers.
CatPause and PuppyPause. Ultimate Software -- <email@example.com>
Finally, Mason Loring Bliss, author of the screensaver Basic Black, now offers much the same service for $10 (or $5 if you send a pre-scanned image), and will email the screensaver back to you for faster response.
Mason Loring Bliss -- <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mark Short <email@example.com> suggests:
Here's my small contribution to your list; the Kawai K11 Digital Synthesizer. The Kawai K11 retailed for $1,395 a year ago, the Guitar Center (see URL below) has this jewel on sale right now for $499. The Kawai K11 is General MIDI Synthesizer, and has 512 wave forms (256 tuned instruments and 256 drum/percussion) in on-board memory. It provides instant access to 384 sounds, all fully programmable, and plays up to 32 simultaneous multitimbral parts (with 32-note polyphony). The Kawai K11 has velocity and after-touch sensitive keys, and 55 temperament variations (individually selectable for the 32 sections) recreate realistic orchestral textures. A Mac-compatible interface port built in and dual MIDI ports are provided.
Mark H. Anbinder <firstname.lastname@example.org> notes:
I recommend You Don't Know Jack, the CD-ROM game from Berkeley Systems. It's a one-player or multi-player quiz show such as you might see on TV, and not only is it a great game, it also has an absolutely wonderful irreverent sense of humor running throughout! After dozens of plays it's still original.