Techie: Last-minute dork presents
Stocking stuffers for your favorite nerd
John “jaQ” Andrews
Everyone forgets a person or two at Christmas.
geeks, spending most of our time holed up in front of one glowing screen
or another, shunning human contact, are easier to forget than most.
there’s a geek in your life you’ve suddenly remembered, here are a few
suggestions for that perfect desperate gift. And they’re all under $25.
(Note to my own friends and family: In no way should this column be read
as a personal wish list. Not at all. Wink.)
Cornfield Electronics TV-B-Gone: The ultimate in simplicity, TV-B-Gone
is a remote control with only one button: POWER. And oh, the power it
gives you. It works like any universal remote control, except rather
than being programmable for one particular brand of televisions, it
sends a power cycle signal for lots of brands at once. Or, as its
description on CompUSA’s site says, it “works by shining pulses of
invisible light that tells most any TV to turn off or on.” That
“invisible light” would be “infrared,” folks. Sorry if that’s too
technical for you.
clips to your keychain and looks like one of those LED flashlights, so
no one will be the wiser — and that opens up grand panoramas of possible
mischief. Bars. Laundromats. Museums. Anywhere you are, the TV is at
your command. It’s like a slacker superpower.
Kensington WiFi Finder: Your road warrior dork will appreciate this
small device — also keychain-attachable — that detects wireless networks
at the touch of a button. If a network is available, the user can then
boot up a PC and try to connect.
WiFi Finder doesn’t tell you if a network is protected or encrypted, but
it does tell you if one is there. It detects both 802.11b and 802.11g
signals and claims to filter out interference from cordless phones and
microwaves and such. The useful applications of this actually outweigh
the mischievous ones, so you can give this present with a clear
OTG USB Bridge: Let’s say Geek 1 and Geek 2 meet in a field. Ooo, let’s
make them secret agents, and the field is in Mozambique or Qatar or
somewhere. They each have one of those nifty USB flash drives, and they
need to exchange information stored on them. Problem is, they’re a
thousand miles from any computer! Oh no! The fate of the free world
hangs in the balance!
Fortunately, one of them has this USB Bridge, which allows two USB
storage devices to exchange data without a computer. It can even copy
only selected file types, so Geek 2 will get all of Geek 1’s Microsoft
Word documents detailing the locations of abandoned Soviet missile sites
that may or may not have fallen into terrorist hands without getting
ahold of his porno images.
Now, in the real world, someone could connect an iPod directly to a
digital camera, or a voice recorder to a portable hard drive. Data can
be traded truly anywhere. Giving and receiving. And isn’t that what
Christmas is all about?