Freedom of the CafePress -- Although it's a tad too late to get TidBITS t-shirts from CafePress.com delivered before Christmas, you can probably still get one delivered in time for sartorial splendor at Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Or, if you're looking for another design that combines a Macintosh attitude with a comment on the election brouhaha in Florida, Kathy Berens <firstname.lastname@example.org> recommends the timely "Vote Different" t-shirt at CafePress.com.
A Helping Hand in the Dark -- We love simple, handy tools that make us wonder why we didn't think of such obvious solutions. Avi Rappoport <email@example.com> tracked down the Nite Ize Flashlite Friend. "This tchotchke is truly darling and useful (despite the annoying spelling). It's a small sleeve that attaches bendable legs to Mag-Lite flashlights, then you can stand the light on a table, attach it to your sleeve, etc. Because there are four legs, it ends up looking like a little critter and is fun to play with - we expect they'll be a big hit at our family holidays. You get can get the Flashlite Friend at hardware stores or from many small Web sites such as MEI Research's Action-Lights.com."
Goodbye TV Guide -- One of the more active threads in TidBITS Talk has centered on the new category of digital television recorders. Andrew Laurence <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes, "After the long discussion of TiVo and ReplayTV some readers may be contemplating one of these for Christmas. For the last several weeks, Mercata has been offering the 30-hour Philips TiVo as a PowerBuy. Suggested retail is $400, but it often finishes around $330. And through the end of the year, TiVo is offering a $99 rebate on the hardware purchase, once you activate the TiVo service."
He continues, "What's amazing about TiVo is that folks really do become converts - much like Macintosh users. It's also similarly hard to describe why it's so different. At a party last month, a guy asked me what the big deal was. I began by telling him that it's hard to describe and that you have to live with it to understand its implications, and then ran down my litany of reasons why TiVo is wonderful. Twenty minutes later, he still only cared about whether or not it automatically removes commercials."
Although Adam and Tonya are extremely happy with their TiVo as well, the ReplayTV is equally well-liked by many others.
Wake Up Calls -- Apple's inclusion of quality Bose speakers in its iMac and G4 Cube machines may tempt Mac users to look for better sound quality in other areas. "High end audio for every room is becoming more and more popular," says Warren Magnus <email@example.com>. "A recent trip to the Sharper Image store in Seattle revealed the Nakamichi Sound Space 3. Now, while $300 may seem a bit steep for a clock radio, the fact that this dual alarm unit features displays for both night stands and a subwoofer in addition to its truly excellent sound makes it more a high end stereo for the bedroom than a mere wake-me-in-the-morning device."
Striking a similar tone, Alan Forkosh <firstname.lastname@example.org> offered his own recommendation. "Another table radio with a separate clock and excellent sound is the Cambridge Soundworks Model 88 Table Radio, and the Clock Control 88. The radio features two stereo speakers and adjustable subwoofer with both RCA and miniplug jacks for a CD or tape player. The digital clock features two alarm/buzzer settings, a snooze control, and a delayed shut-off control, plus a thin remote control. The unit retails for $200 with the clock unit $50 more, though I've seen the base unit on sale for as low as $150. I have been using the radio as my bedroom clock radio for the last year and have nothing but good thoughts."
Radical Gadgets -- Our friends at Xplain Corporation (publishers of MacTech Magazine and the NetProfessional press release distribution list) have branched out with their new site RadGad. Based entirely on Macs, RadGad carries a variety of carefully selected gifts and gadgets along the lines of cool flashlights, pocket tools with an unimaginable number of blades, and useful personal electronics. Although relatively few of the items RadGad carries are related to computers, many have clearly been selected with the mentality of computer people in mind. RadGad is by no means comprehensive, but it's definitely worth a visit if you're having trouble thinking of what to get someone on your list. Use the link below to receive discounted prices exclusively for TidBITS readers!
Too Much Stuff? Robin <email@example.com> writes, "With all the new stuff, many of us most likely have some old stuff that will never be used again. Like t-shirts, we appear to collect too much of a good thing. The National Cristina Foundation will be happy to take any unwanted computers, peripherals, and legal software, and give it to someone who can't afford to buy it. I got a Power Mac G4 for my birthday, and going from a 6400/180 to a G4 meant lots of cables I would no longer need. The National Cristina Foundation was happy to take them. (The computer went to a local person I knew that needed one). If Santa is nice to me this year I might get to donate my good old pair of UMAX S-12 scanners and the 2X JVC CD-R. What is old for us can bring a new smile to someone else."
Online Giving -- The Web has made it easier to shop and purchase gifts online, but it's also become a conduit for charitable donations. Rich Gorringe <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes, "As Bill Gates said recently, computers won't provide clean water to most of the world's population. I have given Seva Foundation gifts in the past, and feel good about the double gift that each expenditure provides." Seva gifts include monetary donations that go toward educating and improving the health of women in Guatemala, community grants for Native Americans, and more.
There are a variety of other gifts along these lines, like the Heifer Project, which uses donations to provide needy families in impoverished nations with farm animals from which to derive food and income. It's an excellent approach to helping people help themselves.
Another option is to use a charity affiliate program when shopping for products online. GreaterGood.com provides links to many major online stores, and a host of charities. When you purchase gifts, a percentage of your order is donated to the charity of your choice.
Finally, though we're not a charitable organization, contributions to help TidBITS maintain editorial excellence and independence are always welcome! Plus, if you help support TidBITS, you can purchase TidBITS t-shirts, sweatshirts, mousepads, and mugs at a discount, receive a listing on our Contributors page, and have your name appear at the top of a future issue of TidBITS.