‘Tis the Season for John McElhenney’s Annual Holiday Gift Guide for Tech Dads.
For Dads who need to focus
Noise canceling headphones. Oh my, these are my secret weapon, both in the house and on the road. Clicking the little ON switch doesn’t kill everything, but it quiets enough of the ambient noise that I don’t have to turn the music up so loud to drown out a loud conversation, or (bleh) a television blaring away in some coffee shop.
AT NoisePoint IN-EAR
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling In-Ear Headphones
And if you need real industrial-powered noise-canceling work, you don’t have to spend a ton of money. I used a version of this model while I was working in the cube-farms at Dell. Amazing how they put me in a zen state the moment I turned them on. From the roar of AC and chat I went to hearing only my own breathing. Sometimes I didn’t even put on the music it was so peaceful. Instant Zen. AT QuietPoint OVER-EAR
Audio Technica ATH-ANC29 QuietPoint® Active Noise-cancelling Headphones
This one is a no-brainer, even in Texas where the glove is almost a historical artifact. But for us Southern folk, when the temperature drops below 40 degrees, a light glove is a wonderful accessory. And if you’re going to wear gloves, EVER, you’re going to want to use your phone. Get some touch-ready gloves and you’re all set. These don’t even look funny.
Timberland Men’s Knit Magic Glove, Black, One Size
And get some exercise. I’ve tried the Fitbit but my favorite fitness tracker (the little thing that inspires you to walk a bit further each day) is the Nike Fuelband. My favorite part is that it makes a great watch. This was the design that the Apple Watch should’ve taken, but no. Connecting with your computer via a USB cable or with your iPhone via Bluetooth, the Fuelband tracks activity and calories burned. And did I mention it’s a cool watch as well. You can find these inside the Apple Store near you, because you might want to try it one to make sure you get the right size. I wear the Large with all of the expansion pieces removed.
Nike+ Fuelband SE Fitness Tracker
And for those moments when your phone is dying on you, but you’ve still got hours to go before you rest. This handy phone charger also doubles as an LED flashlight. You will still need your charging cables, but this little batter pack is a life saver when you run out of juice while you’re still in transit or just working at a coffee shop. Take one of these back up batteries and you won’t be fighting others for plugs at tradeshows. This little baby has saved me several times.
Need to add music to a room but you don’t have counter space? My tiny kitchen is an example of where the Pulse light + sound app-controled LED lightbulbs come in quite handy. There’s nothing to set up. You replace a few down spots with the Pulse bulbs and you’re all set. Pairing via BlueTooth is easy and allows you to control the volume as well as some of the EQ settings on the bulb. You can also dim the lights, or turn them off all together, while the music still plays. I love how these bulbs allow for adding music to any room easily and without wires or plugs. The 13 watt JBL speakers give a nice sound quality in all kinds of spaces. (Disclaimer: Sengled provided me with a Pulse unit for review. I was not compensated for this mention or for the review.)
Time to clean off your laptop. You know all that old video of you kids, the stuff you’re planning to organize into a mega-cool video show? Well, if you’re limited by your HD space, now’s the time to get a tiny mega drive from WD. They are fast, silent, and rugged. I love my Element drive because it’s got a bit more protection from being jostled around in my laptop bag when I need to take all those movies and heavy content with me. And with 2 terabytes for less than $90, you’re gonna be happy with this.
WD Elements 2TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive (WDBU6Y0020BBK-NESN)
Selfies and videos require a good tripod. This little devil will do the trick. They also make on with magnetic feet that allows you to stick the tripod to magnetic surfaces. I’m a little concerned with strong magnets around my computing equipment, but so far, it’s been great. This one comes with a clip that holds the iPhone perfectly. The bendable legs allow you to set the phone (or camera) at almost any angle.
Joby JM3-01WW GripTight GorillaPod Stand (Black)
And though I’m not a big screen tv guy, I know some people who have large flat panels or projectors. And when you are sharing movies and photos with more than one other person, you’re going to want to get things bigger. The Chromecast is a very simple USB device that will stream any content from your screen to the big screen. There are plenty of other vendors, but I’ve seen great things on the HD version of this miraculous stick.
And what about the apps? Here’s the one app you’ve gotta have.
Air Video is the most important app on my iPad. Stream almost any content off your laptop or desktop without having to transfer or convert it for your mobile device. This app and server combo works on Windows and Mac systems, but streams only to iOS devices. And I’ve never found a format that Air won’t play on-the-fly. The new HD version has better control over subtitles and resolution.
(Note: Where possible I used an Amazon affiliate link to make the purchase process easier. Yes, I receive a few pennies if you purchase through the links, but it’s not enough report on my taxes.)
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