My 12/19/10 Missoulian column
There are basically two kinds of Christmas gifts: fun or practical. But who wants to see something practical (and not fun) under the tree?
When I was a kid, I never understood the gifts of socks and T-shirts that Grandma – rest her soul – gave me. (I could feel what they were through the wrapping paper weeks ahead of time.)
Now I understand, but that doesn’t mean I still want socks and T-shirts for Christmas. But I’ll play the Grinch here and suggest some last-minute high-tech Christmas gifts that are practical and a little fun.
The advantage to these practical gifts is that you can have a part in saving your friend’s or relative’s computer-related bacon.
The first not-fun gift is an external hard drive. That’s right: Few things say Christmas more than an external hard drive. Some marketing genius might have beaten me to this idea, and at this very moment there could be a Christmas-themed hard drive in bright green and red at the local big box stores.
The idea is to back up your files for when that hard drive croaks. Never had a hard drive die? When it happens, everything on the hard drive disappears. For good.
So your giftee can use the drive with Time Machine on their iMac or with the backup software included with most versions of Windows and have data insurance in the form of a backup.
The other Christmas gift that will keep on giving is an UPS, or Uninterruptible Power Supply.
What an uninterruptible power supply does is keeps the power to your PC from being interrupted when the lights go out by kicking in its own battery power.
That’s a practical thing because when the your PC or Mac is running and the power goes out, the machinery gets a bad jolt that can hurt the hard drive, and the rest of the guts, too.
Uninterruptible power supplies are not fun in that they are the size of a few bricks and weigh as much. But they keep you safe from blackouts and all the mostly unseen brownouts that can cause damage, too.
Are those gift ideas not fun and practical enough?
This week in Mac Q & A: Using BitNami for OS X Web Development