Tag Archives: apple

Great Gifts for the Geek in Your Life


People are always asking me if this tech gift or that geek gift is right for their significant other.  The one rule that I try to follow is this, “most electronics are crap”.  This is particularly true for many of the gifts that are marketed for “the geek in your life” around the holiday season.  With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of 5 Gifts that I’d love to get myself this year.

1. Roku 3 Streaming Media Player– It’s a set-top box that has the best interface of any similar device I’ve ever used.  These features are supposedly built into many Smart TVs, but the one thing they get all wrong is the interface.  Roku gets it right.  Netflix, check.  Amazon, check.  Every other streaming service, check.

2.Motorola Moto G – 16GB– The Moto G, due to be released on December 4th, is a great way to give a new Android smartphone to your luvva without chaining them to a two-year commitment.  It has much in common with its big brother Moto X, but for less than $200 it’s a stupendous deal.

3.Kindle Fire HDX 7″/ Google Nexus 7– Everyone wants a tablet, even if they don’t need one.  They are one of the hottest tech gifts period.  The reason for calling out both, rather than just the Nexus 7 is whether or not you are into Amazon Instant Video streaming.  If you’re a fan of that service then the tablet to get is the Fire, otherwise I would get the Nexus 7.  It is a quick tablet with a fabulous display.  I would also skip the 10″ version of any tablet.  They’re just too darn big.

4.Amazon Prime– If you are receiving a constant stream of purchase from Amazon, there’s a good chance that you are already an Amazon Prime member, but how about your father-in-law.  The impossible to buy for father-in-law.  He could use Prime as well.   Not only do you get free 2-day shipping on a significant percentage of items in the Amazon store, but you also get to stream all the available Instant Video choices that are included as part of the subscription.

5.Lenovo IdeaPad S400– The ultimate Christmas gift, a new laptop computer.  My recommendation is one of the Lenovo IdeaPad models.  They have plenty of power, plus they have touch screens.  That way when you reach out and interact with the computer with your finger, it will actually respond.

Now, you may be asking, where are all the Apple products?  Back at the store where they belong.  I can’t in good conscience ask anyone to buy Apple products where you get less for your money and are locked in with a company that only wants to extract every last cent it can out of the consumer.  If you are into Apple products, move on and God help you.

One last piece of advice, skip the extended warranty on your devices.  They are unnecessary most times and when/if it does become necessary to replace the device you won’t want to have it replaced with the same old many year-old tech.

Why I’m Passing on Apple Products in the Future

I was recently talking to my wife about not buying any more Apple devices.  We have a few Apple computers in the house. Both of them are Mac Minis, one old G4 version, and an Intel Mini that I use as my main workstation for producing podcasts, writing, paying bills, etc.  We also have a few iOS devices in the house.  The oldest boy has a first gen iPod Touch.  The youngest has a first gen iPad, and I have a fourth gen iPod Touch.  I also had an iPhone 3G for 3 years as well, but that one is gone.

So, why no more Apple products?  In two words, planned obsolescence.

What do I mean?  My G4 Mini is useless for anything but serving up files as a network server.  It was long ago abandoned in favor of Intel based systems.  My current Intel Mini won’t run the latest version of Mac OS X.  I had purchased an iOS development course to work through at night.  I was going to attempt to learn iOS application development, but I cannot run the latest version of the development environment because the Mac Mini cannot run the latest version of OS X.  My son’s iPod Touch is stuck back on iOS 4.something.  The iPad that we purchased for my youngest son is now stuck on iOS 5.1.something.  The only device that hasn’t been left behind is my 4th gen iPod Touch.  It is still supported with the latest version of iOS, though I haven’t upgraded it yet.  I long ago sold my iPhone 3G to someone on Ebay.  After the 4.0 version of iOS came out it became obvious that I needed to get rid of the phone before it lost any more resale value.

I had been peeved at the above situations as they occurred, but time had marched on and these devices are older.  I understand that products need to get faster to enable better and more interesting applications.  I get it , but I came to this revelation when viewing an article on the new iPad Mini.  I thought to myself, “What a great thing to get the kids for Christmas”.  Right?  The article that I’m referring to over at Mobile Orchard basically states that the new iPad Mini is the best iPad yet.  I read a similar article on GDGT as well. Awesome! But, hold on.  Maybe not.  Check out the benchmarks below.

So, the new iPad Mini is just slightly faster than the year or so old iPad 2.  The current 10-ish inch iPad is over twice has fast as any other iPad produced to date, even the 6 month old “New iPad”.  We’ve already shown that Apple has no problem leaving behind its users that don’t buy the latest and greatest products that the company is producing.  So, how long before the iPad 2/Mini/”New iPad” are deemed obsolete by Apple.  One year?  By buying one of these iPad Minis you are buying two-year old tech repackaged in a smaller form, but it’s still old tech. Maybe, but I suggest that these devices are practically obsolete on purchase.

I believe the saying “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” is applicable here, except I’ve been fooled far more than twice.

Shame on me.  Apple won’t be fooling me again.

Via Mobile Orchard: REVIEW: 10 Days with the iPad Mini | Mobile Orchard

Get Off The Upgrade Train!

It is extremely costly to live on the cutting edge of technology. If you are an “early adopter”, chances are you paid top dollar for the latest device or software. The latest Android smart phones or iPhone, while not terribly expensive up front, around $200, they will cost you thousands of dollars over the next two years in data charges. Tablets, laptops, video game systems all have similar economic models associated with them. Cheap console, expensive games. Sleek laptop, non-upgradeable video card and limited memory. Likewise with software, companies that produce software are constantly creating new features and versions to get you to upgrade to the latest and greatest. And often they produce incompatibilities with older versions of software to almost guarantee an upgrade fee.

My solution for most of you reading this is to “Get off the upgrade train!” What I suggest for most individuals is treating their computer or device like a time capsule. Unless you’re working with others and sharing files back and forth, the software that you’re using right now is probably just fine. New software brings along with it higher memory, processor and space requirements that the older computer you are currently using may not be able to handle. That new OS, while cooler looking with its whiz bang widgets and it’s shiny plasticized icons, will almost certainly make your three-year old computer seem slow and antiquated. In the future there may be software that you need to run as part of your business or that will just plain make your life much easier. By all means get that software, but run it on new hardware and upgrade the whole experience.

I have an example of this from my own life. As I write this I am using a Pentium 4, 1.8Ghz system with 1GB of memory, running Windows 2000. *Gasp!* What can’t I do on this system that I can do on a newer system? Nothing. The system and the software go together, both forged in the early 21st century. I also have Office 2000 on this system. *Gasp!* It has worked perfectly well for every project that I’ve had in the last 11 years. And truthfully the features that I use today are not much different from when I started using it. How many feature do you/I actually need? I’m guessing not that many. Most people only us a small subset of their software’s capabilities anyway.

There is a time and place for upgrading though. Just today we upgraded a couple of seats to Office 2007. That’s right, a five-year old version of the Microsoft Office product. Why? First, it was what the client was using and second it was dirt cheap. How about $69.99 for Office 2007 Standard? Good deal. Not the latest and greatest. And this comes to my second point.

When you do think about upgrading your software, look for the bargains. The equivalent latest version, Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010, is currently $219.99 on Amazon. for the full disk based version. That’s a savings of $150 by buying one version behind the latest. Upgraded software and functionality without breaking the bank. Remember though, without an external catalyst, we wouldn’t be upgrading at all.  I give my 13 year-old son the same advice when he is looking at the latest first person shooter to run on his laptop.  Usually the requirements for the game are greater than what he has.  Those titles are often a third, fourth or fifth release of the game.  Well, guess what? There are multiple older version of those games, that he hasn’t played either, that are plenty playable on his system.  And, they are in the dollar bin at Fry’s.

There will be a day, in the future, that you will need to upgrade your computer.  It’s inevitable.  You could upgrade your current computer to run the next operating system or that new game, but there will come a day that you can’t do that anymore.  The technology will have changed and you can’t upgrade.  If you “Get off the upgrade train”, the money that you saved by not chasing the tail of technology will, in all likelihood , get you a long way toward buying that new piece of tech when it is time.