The Ultimate Rodent Gift — We’re going to have to try these 3M mousepads, since they continue to garner rave reviews every year. Dave Fitch <[email protected]> was the first of many to suggest them this time around. "The best thing anyone could get me for Christmas – aside from a CPU upgrade card – is a 3M mousepad, officially called the 3M Precise Mousing Surface. They’re small, kidney shaped, very thin (2 to 3 mm) and stick to your desk so they don’t slide around. They work well and really do grip the ball in your mouse. They’re relatively cheap (less than $15) and will last a hard-mousing user about 8 months."
Rodent on the Rug — Joshua Rafofsky <[email protected]> writes: "A few years back I was cited for my gift idea of a mouse pad customized with a photo. No doubt those pads have worn down by now and it’s time for a new one. The gift of choice this year is an improved product, the mouserug. This pad is the best I’ve ever used. It’s fashionable and durable, with a smooth mousing surface which (best of all) keeps your mouse ball clean. It is sure to get plenty of attention, since it closely resembles an expensive rug. Watch yours closely – these things have a way of mysteriously disappearing around the office!"
Have a Gelly Holiday — Stephen Kayner <[email protected]> offers an inexpensive gift idea that is sure to please: the Fellowes Gel Wrist Rest and Mouse Pad (stock #91741), which costs about $12 to $16. "There’s also a matching keyboard wrist rest. I’ve used several different kinds, but these are the best I’ve found! The Fellowes gel provides just the right combination of cushion and support."
Give the Gift of Connectivity — Apu <[email protected]> suggests the gift of Internet access, or at least an email account. "Many Internet providers have provisions for multiple email accounts for use by the subscriber and his or her family, but often people only use one account for themselves and never take advantage of the others. Give them to your family – it might not even cost you anything. Or use a free, Web-based service. It’s great for people who might have limited, shared network access (at work, home computer, local library) but otherwise couldn’t receive email."
Mike Vlasman <[email protected]> seconds Apu’s suggestion and extends it to include some of the giver’s time to make sure things work properly. "Here in the backwoods of Manitoba, our local ISP is wonderful but not too Mac literate. A few of us do house calls for Mac users in the area and it’s made all the difference."
Pick a Peck of Peaches — Dori Smith <[email protected]> offers an idea for the new Mac user. "If you know anyone who’s getting an iMac as a present, add on Peachpit’s iMac 3-Pack, which is a cost-saving bundle of Peachpit’s Visual QuickStart Guides to MacOS 8.5, Quicken 98, and AppleWorks 5. It’s the set of manuals that should have come with the iMac."
Full Service Present — I guess Anne Carley’s <[email protected]> mother was nice to her kids. Anne writes: "In keeping with the hard-to-wrap theme, my siblings and I are giving our mother the following: a year’s email and ISP account; a year’s service from local Mac tech; a RAM upgrade to the maximum her machine can stand; a Web page for her professional literature, articles, and small press catalog (I did the first cut; she can request edits and updates at will); and nice business cards."
Donate an Old Mac — Michael O’Hara <[email protected]> offers a philanthropic suggestion. "Give away an old computer to a stranger. School districts are often happy to take older equipment, provided it isn’t too old. I just handed over my old SCSI Microtek Scanner to the Oakland School District, and I’m sure they would like any nice 68030/040 Macs you might have laying about as well. For information from a group that facilitates computer donations, check out Parents, Educators, and Publishers (PEP) Directory of Computer Recycling Programs."
Xtend Your Mac’s Control — If you like the idea of automating your house from a Macintosh, Jacob Kaplan <[email protected]> suggests the XTension software and some modules. "XTension is a Mac program that lets you automate your whole house from a computer. XTension works with the X10 protocol, which sends commands through existing power lines to certain modules, and turns on the lights or appliances which are connected to the modules. There are different types of modules (such as motion sensors), and most are available from Radio Shack as well as online. XTension is much better than MouseHouse (the other Mac program for doing the same thing) in that it uses AppleScript, so you can script almost anything to happen at certain times. Not only that, but the XTension site has so many tutorials that it makes even complex concepts seem easy. There’s also a great email discussion list for XTension with an active group of users."
Hook Kids with MacAddict — Anne Garland <[email protected]> offers an interesting take on Macintosh publications. "For young Mac fans, a subscription to MacAddict would make a great, inexpensive gift. My ten-year-old son loves the magazine – he checks the mail regularly to see if the latest issue has arrived. It’s full of useful articles (he actually went to his archived back issues to help me solve a problem with my machine), and the enclosed CDs are fun and well-designed. It also has an attitude, which appeals to kids (but might not to some of our parents – who knows)."
Planetary Images — Paul J. Schinder <[email protected]> notes that "the National Space Science Data Center has a Web site where anyone can order CD-ROMs. The $10 Planetary Images CD-ROM makes a nice gift."