momready archives

Cybermom: Holiday Gift Guide

Posted by Elisa Taub
Cybermom: Holiday Gift Guide

by Elizabeth Rodgers

Cybermom is a regular momready column, where each month Elizabeth Rodgers will write about Lifestyle Technology - technology that goes beyond the personal computer and improves the way you live.Every year you promise yourself you'll do it, but it never happens.

Shop early, you say. Before the Christmas music starts playing. Hey, it's already too late: they start playing the Chipmunks Christmas after Halloween these days. Me, I want a hoooola hooop!

You can shop from home, however. Now, before you retreat to: "If I buy it online, it seems so impersonal. I need to TOUCH it," no one believes you. Following is a collection of very personal and unique gifts that make you look like a hero because you have such great taste, you are clearly "in the know," and you really understand (fill in the person's name) for who (s)he is. Yeah.

First off:
The Marriage Saver: Wireless headphones are great for those who need to watch the television (or the stereo) LOUD. Whether he uses them whilst on the treadmill or maybe he's just hard of hearing, these ear muffs give him quality sound without the interference of say, regular volume traveling across the room. The sound is so clear, one can hear the players yell at the refs! Next best thing to being there…

Speaking of sound, do you have speakers for your computer? For the computer, you ask? Even very modest speakers (under $50) cranking out your iTunes, Rhapsody or Pandora playlist will change the way you use your computer. It's now your stereo. (Alternately, you could get iPod Speakers. We'll talk another time about Sonos or Squeezebox and broadcasting it (wirelessly) throughout your house.

And how about the digital picture frame? The frame actually changes photos like a slideshow. And the person owning it doesn't even have to own a computer! (Hi, Gramdma!) And anyone can upload new photos to the frame from anywhere in the world. For grandparents who live far away, this is a great way to keep them current with what your kids look like. And how much fun they're having.

How many remotes do you have in your living room? How many do you actually know how to use? Do you need to ask for help when turning on the television? Have you given up on the DVD player? Let me ask you something: how much money have you spent to be this confused? If I told you that one remote could be used to control up to 15 different electronic devices, you would think that it would be way too complicated for you to deal with, right? It's not. Take a look at the Harmony Remote it has cute little buttons that say: "Watch TV" or "Listen to Music." Once it's programmed, it's (almost) foolproof.

My advice for just about every user, is to get a personal laser printer instead of an ink-jet. They are now just as cheap, and they don't cost nearly as much to run. Print your photos at CostCo or Shutterfly and print everything else on a $125 laser printer.

Lastly, let's talk about driving whilst talking on the phone. We all do it. We all know it's better not to. We're all not going to stop. What's my point? Let's make it as safe as possible: with a bluetooth headset and the right programming, you can leave your phone on the seat next to you and say: "dial husband" and the phone does the rest. Yes, we are there, technologically speaking. It's the right thing to do (and so much better than holding that wired microphone up to your mouth - so NOT hands free).

Elizabeth Rodgers (along with her husband, Jonathon Fishman) is the founder of Ben's Ranch, a personal and small business technology service company. Elizabeth also writes for television and film.

For more info on Ben's Ranch please visit Mention this article for 20% off your first bill at Ben's Ranch, until December 31, 2006.

If you enjoy the column and would like to receive the monthly Ben's Ranch newsletter with even more pithy advice, email: and put "subscribe" in the subject line.