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IT Management : Columns : Executive Tech: Holiday Gifts for the Executive Geek

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Holiday Gifts for the Executive Geek
November 28, 2006
By Brian Livingston

Brian Livingston Most of the time, I urge my readers to be cautious and frugal. But now it's the Christmas shopping season, so that advice has to go right out the window.

This is the time of year that you're expected to buy something for everyone in your immediate family as well as your extended circle of associates. But if some of those on your list are geeks, how do you know you're getting them something they don't already have?

That problem is solved by a helpful gift guide I've just found. The list consists entirely of products that have launched in the last 12 months. Unless your giftee has all the time and money in the world, it's unlikely that he or she has acquired anything from this collection of gift ideas yet.

Best of all, the guide has been circulating privately among only a relative handful of people -- I'm making it available to you on the Web for the first time today. Allow me to explain.

A Holiday Guide from the Guru of Tech

The list, complete with illustrations and list prices of each item, was assembled by Marty Winston, an independent public-relations consultant who's worked from Novelty, Ohio, for more than two decades.

"I got notes from a couple of daily newspapers and a TV-network Web operation, all asking me what I would suggest for their holiday top-ten or top-twenty lists," Winston told me in an e-mail interview. "Once I worked up the list, I sent it not only to the several who had explicitly asked for it, but also to some of the people I know at other newspapers and TV outlets."

That's how I wound up finding out about it. Winston says he's given the list to only about three dozen people so far. To his credit, the products shown in his gift guide aren't limited to items made by his clients (a roster that sports such biggies as JVC, Lenovo, and Polk Audio). Instead, he includes any googaw he's seen in the past few months that looks like a great gift.

Is everything in the list completely new? Almost, but not quite. Winston admits that the Voxred TurboCharge (a battery booster for cell phones) and the ShieldZone Invisible Shield (a protective cover for the screens of handhelds) are relatively minor revisions of original models that first emerged late in 2005. Also, referring to a popular laptop maker, he explains, "The ThinkPad x-series gets refreshed every year, so the model now is not the same as last year's," although it's similar. But every other item in his guide is hot off the assembly line, he says.

The list varies from inexpensive stocking-stuffers (a book for $17 USD) to investments that rival a mortgage payment (a $2,600 cappuccino maker). In between, you're certain to find something for the executive geek in your life.

Here are a few samples of what's new for gift-giving:

Brookstone Buds sound-isolating retractable earbuds Sound-isolating retractable earbuds. Why hasn't anyone made headsets for iPods and other MP3 players that retract into convenient little spools? Well, Brookstone did it, and the resulting earpieces list for only $20. The set comes with three differently shaped earbuds to help the giftee find one that's comfortable. The package also includes a dual-pin adapter (for listening to the music channels found on airplanes) and a T-splitter to accommodate two devices.

Monster Cable's Power Outlets to Go Travel extension cords for all those transformers. Hotel rooms are notorious for having few, if any, extra electrical outlets near the workdesk or wherever you need to charge all your power-hungry devices. Monster Cable, the company that sells stereo cables, takes this problem on with Power Outlets To Go ($20 for four outlets or $30 for six, shown at right). This cleverly designed little strip accommodates even the largest "brick" transformers but folds up and tucks neatly into your luggage.

Spotwave Z1900 Indoor Wireless Coverage System Cell-phone signal booster. For those with somewhat larger gift budgets, the Spotwave Z1900 Indoor Wireless Coverage System ($399) boosts your cell-phone signal to eliminate dead spots inside the typical home or office. Spotwave says its repeater works best if you can get a good signal outside the building but your signal quality indoors is spotty. The device boosts all cell-phone signals that use PCS frequencies (1850 to 1990 MHz) but not Nextel or cellular-only providers that use 824 to 896 MHz.

How to Get the Guide

With Winston's permission, I've posted his gift guide on one of my own Web sites. You're welcome to look through it for the perfect gift. Each of the images, when clicked, hyperlinks to more information at each vendor's site. I have no business relationship with any of the vendors and receive no compensation if you visit their sites or buy something.

The list is at Marty's 25 Holiday Gift Guide Picks.

More information on Winston is available at the Newstips Web site.

Brian Livingston is the editor of WindowsSecrets.com and the co-author of Windows Vista Secrets and 10 other books. Send story ideas to him via his contact page. To subscribe free and receive Executive Tech via e-mail, visit our signup page.

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