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November Meeting Hilights

By Monte Ferguson

November's meeting, for me, is always an especially fun one. Its devoted to gifts and gadgets for the geek. I was personally quite miffed that this year my favorite sources for gift ideas had some pretty mundane ideas. Duane and I managed to put together a pretty decent list of gift ideas.

If you want the ultimate in safe portable data storage take a look at the ExtremKey All-Terrain Flash Drive from LaCie. It will survive temperatures from –120 degrees to 392 degrees Fahrenheit, water depths of up to 333 feet, and the trauma of being run over by a 10-ton truck. You might not fare so well but your important data will still be good to go.
$50 (8GB) to $250 (64GB); Lacie

Every parent of a teenager worries about the giving their kids the keys to the car. Thanks to Lemur Monitors SafeDriver you can get a run down on how the car was driven. It plugs into your car's on-board diagnostics port and records the top speed, the distance driven, and sudden-braking events. The company also makes EconoDriver. It monitors your fuel consumption in real time and also reports on the cost per trip and your car's fuel economy.
Safedriver, $70; Econodriver, $80; Lemur Monitors

How would you like to easily jack into your car and find out if the onboard computer sees any problems? If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch you can use it with the Kiwi Wifi. You plug it into your car's on-board diagnostics port, connect your iOS device to the Kiwi via Wi-Fi, and then open PLX's DashCommand app. They claim you can diagnose engine trouble (and even reset that pesky Check Engine light), monitor gauges your dashboard doesn't have, and more. $150; Plx Devices

In the true Christmas spirit we have to have at least one toy on the list. This next item turns your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch into a a controller for a really cool helicopter. Purists will quickly tell you it's a quadrocopter, as it has four rotors. What matters to me isn't how many blades rotate. It's how fun it is to use. The AR.Drone, as it is called, really flys and is controlled by your iOS device. You have to download an app, pair it with the ‘copter, and then use controls on the iOS device screen to: move the copter in any direction, rotate it, and adjust its altitude. Even cooler, two video cameras on the AR.Drone let you see the view ahead of or below the aircraft on your iPhone's screen.
$300; Parrot

Duane offered up the following holiday suggestions.

Griffin Cabinet Mount for iPad - $70 It lets your mount your iPad under a cabinet. All of the hardware and instructions come with the mount. Once it is installed you snap your iPad securely into the mount. The arm of the mount rotates 360 degrees around and 90 degrees front to back.

M&M USB Webcam - $40 It is exactly what it says it is. It's a USB webcam with one of the M&M guys holding it up. Whimsical and practical at the same time.

Mariner MacGourmet Deluxe - $40 MacGourmet for iPhone - $5 If you or someone you know likes food and loves to cook, this might be the gift for you or them. MacGourmet Deluxe is a recipe organizer. But it also does a lot more. It has importers that allow you to import recipes from many top food sites, without lifting a finger to type a thing. It also has a cookbook builder. Take your own special recipes. Add images and create pages, sections and chapters. Export it as a PDF and you have your own custom cookbook. The program also comes preloaded with a number of recipes to get you started.

SLR Camera-shaped USB - $40 Each year they astound me with the USB drives that come out. This year it looks like a small SLR camera. You take the lens off the “camera” and see that it is the USB drive. It won't take pictures but you can store quite a few on the included 4GB flash drive.

iPod Nano Watch Band - $17 The fact that the most recent iPod Nano has a screen based clock has inspired some manufacturers to make a case that acts as a watch band. Each manufacturer has his own style. One more modern, plastic, the other more traditional, leather.

ChargePod - $40-$80 The ChargePod charges more than just iPods. It charges practically any portable device. It can also charge up to six devices at the same time. It comes with a start up assortment of adapters. More can be purchased. No more fighting over who gets to use the AC adapter.

Samsung CL65 - $400 If you need a compact camera for those holiday moments, check out the Samsung CL65. It's fully wireless compatible, both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It supports geo tagging. It offers a roomy 3.5 inch touchscreen with a 1.2 megapixel resolution. It is a 12MP, megapixel, camera, that offers 5x optical, with stabilization, zoom. That means it functions like a 35-175mm lens. It also can take HD video.

We had a lot of fun looking at these gift ideas. There was a lot of discussion about their relative merits. We also did some price comparisons online as well.

Posted: Sunday, January 16th, 2011


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