Holiday Gift Giving Solutions

I know, Halloween has barely passed and here I am providing holiday gift giving guidance. But every year I vow to get my shopping done before the crush, and if you want to ease the stress, here are some hot tips for everyone on your list.

Cross Peerless 125 Collection

The art of handwriting is still cherished by many, even if they have stopped teaching cursive in grade school. I have come to love a well-balanced rollerball pen, and Cross is the progenitor of a fine series of writing instruments. Building on over a century of innovation and tradition, the Peerless 125 celebrates two great landmark moments in the brand’s history: the 1889 debut of the original Peerless Pen and the introduction of the iconic Century line in 1935. The TrackR Quartz Blue is a stunning example of blending the analog and the digital: you can track your pen’s last known location via a smartphone app that sends a notification if your pen gets separated from your phone.

AirBar

As so many of our digital activity moves to a mobile device, have you often wanted to swipe your laptop screen? This cool device accomplishes the task in an elegant way. It is not a replacement for the trackpad, but it is designed as an accessory that allows users to interact with their laptops in a cool new way. The sleek, lightweight device emits an invisible light field over a laptop screen that senses touch from any finger, stylus, paintbrush, etc. The AirBar is compatible with most PCs running Windows® 10, as well as MacBook Air 13. The plug and play design requires no software installation for the PC, but the Mac does. The device will use one of the laptop’s USB ports.

“Rockin’ The City Of Angels” 

With the spate of great rock documentaries and photo books comes this hardcover celebration of the greatest rock shows in 1970’s Southern California. That was the era when rock became indelible, when crappy sound systems and minimal stage presentations were eschewed in favor of groundbreaking gigs by Led Zeppelin, Queen, Heart, ELP, Jethro Tull, Elton John, The Who and Genesis among myriad others. Author Doug Harr was one of the kids who was in the right place at the right time to experience these shows. At nearly 400 pages and over 500 images, this book gives you a firsthand glimpse of what went down at venues like “The Fabulous Forum,” Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, Long Beach Arena, Universal Amphitheater, Shrine Auditorium and Civic Auditorium Center in Santa Monica as well as Dodger Stadium, Anaheim Stadium and more intimate venues as the Whiskey a Go Go and Roxy Theater. If you grew up in Southern California, these venues are etched in your brain. If you grew up elsewhere, as did I, you read about these shows with more than a modicum of jealousy.

CUJO

Daily we read about hacks and security breaches. We know that the best security starts at home, but how to choose from the myriad solutions? CUJO is a smart firewall that protects connected homes and Internet of Things (IoT) devices from criminal hackers and web threats. Leveraging a combination of cloud services, machine learning and mobile apps to manage your network, the CUJO security solution gives home and small business users peace of mind while online. The Los Angeles-based company has offices in Europe and South America, giving it access to the pulse of security threats across continents. The company’s signature product builds a firewall to detect and block malicious sites, viruses and hacks. After winning the prestigious “Best Security Solution” at this year’s CEDIA industry gathering, Einaras Gravrock, CEO of CUJO affirmed “The explosion of IoT devices on the market is creating a vast security hole for consumers. Just covering PC’s, Macs and Android devices is not enough in today’s connected world.” The solution’s key features are business level network security, device identification with user-friendly names, and parental controls.

Know Brainer

The proliferation of coffee choices is mind-boggling. If you want to be a Santa giving a unique coffee product, this is your ideal  choice. This eclectic combination of ingredients is a ketogenic recipe that the maker claims “burns fats, not carbohydrates, for sustained mental clarity, weight management + metabolic energy for hours.” The recipe includes coconut oil MCTs (medium chain triglycerides), ghee (organic grass-fed clarified butter) to curb cravings and a blend of turmeric and ashwagandha (touted as superfood ingredients to stave off stress). There is no sugar added, and a line of savory butter creamers are also offered. Flavors range from Hazelnut and French vanilla to mocha. They are gluten-free and non-GMO, but neither are an issue for me. or Santa.

James Sherwood’s Discriminating Guide to London

I have it on good authority that Santa’s favorite city is London. He will be giving this book to his favorite Anglophiles. Sherwood is the noted author of a number of definitive publications on English sartorial style. He has collected advice and understated hot tips not readily collected elsewhere. Sherwood has acquired firsthand knowledge of some of the most exclusive and eclectic spots in London. Sherwood comes to the delightful task having penned such tomes as Savile Row: The Master Tailors of British Bespoke (2010), Fashion at Royal Ascot: Three Centuries of Thoroughbred Style (2011) and The Perfect Gentleman: The Pursuit of Timeless Elegance & Style in London (2012). Cementing his authority, Sherwood has edited the Louis Vuitton Guides to London for seven years and commentated for the BBC on fashion at Royal Ascot for eight. I want to party with this guy.

Soundwhiz Turbo

As Santa gears up for his busy holiday season (and after he indulges in all the holiday cooking by Mrs. Claus), he needs a great set of headphones with which to work out. The latest offering from the elves at Soundwhiz offer the right balance of sturdy design, deep bass and Bluetooth connectivity. The nanocoating process ensures the headphones are completely protected against sweat, rain, accidental immersion as well as the sleet and snow kicked out by the reindeer. Indeed, the clever noise reduction circuitry eliminates much of the roar on the sleigh and the buzz in the toy shop. But the voice activation allows for Apple or Android pairing to two devices. Always an issue on those long runs from the North Pole, the Turbo sports a long lasting battery; play time to about eight hours and then recharged in two hours. And to top it off, the engineering elves at Soundwhiz are so confident of their work they offer a remarkable twelve month replacement warranty.

Cleer DU Wireless Headphones

As you can discern, Santa has a growing affinity for excellent sound reproduction. The elves at Cleer have developed a great set of wireless headphones that are perfect for listeners of all ages. Santa is convinced that kids especially should be introduced to superior sound; they are too readily acclimated to hearing music directly from a smartphone, or via the barely better sub-optimal earbuds shipping therewith. The DU Wireless features dual 40mm neodymium drivers for rich, deep sound and an internal amplifier for outstanding fidelity. The folding alloy design provides a lightweight framework, for hours of listening pleasure. Indeed, the battery life approaches 20 hours. With Bluetooth for easy pairing, these headphones are the hot tip for discerning Santas everywhere.

Green Chef

Contrary to popular opinion, Santa really enjoys cooking. But especially in the run up to his Christmas world tour, Santa finds it difficult to assemble all the right ingredients for a healthy variety of dishes. With Mrs. Claus becoming more frazzled looking after the elves, she is likewise stretched pretty thin when it comes to culinary activities. The folks at Green Chef provide the ideal solution, and Santa is looking at a year-round subscription. Green Chef delivers all the ingredients, pre measured and accompanied by helpful recipe instructions. Green Chef is the first meal kit company to receive Gluten-Free Certification through the Gluten Intolerance Group’s GFFS program. Green Chef pioneered alongside the USDA to become the first certified organic meal kit company. They are also GMO-free, which is not a big issue for Santa. Santa prepared a smashing butternut squash chili one evening, and Mrs. Claus reciprocated with a mustard-spiced chicken, which featured roasted sweet potatoes and a grape pan sauce with thyme. Both were excellent and gluten-free. Mr. and Mrs. Claus look forward to checking out the variety of dishes across Green Chef’s offerings in paleo, vegan, omnivore, carnivore and vegetarian.

Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE

 

Santa has been a consistent supporter of STEM and STEAM activities; his annual deliveries have steadily steered away from mindless gifts and toward gifts with a long-lasting educational value. Hence, Santa will be stuffing many stockings with the TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator. Newly designed by the wizards and elves at Texas Instruments, the unit affords users with a boggling array of features. The sleeker, slimmer design retains much of the look and menu design of the classic TI-84, but Moore’s Law continues to benefit all sectors (the TI-84 Plus CE is 30% thinner and 30% lighter than its predecessor). The vibrant backlit screen and pre-loaded apps provide greater utility, as does the rechargeable battery. The hi-resolutiuon screen lets the user visualize concepts clearly and make faster, stronger connections between equations, data, and graphs in full color. Students appreciate that the unit is approved for the critical alphabet soup of exams: PSAT, ACT, SAT and AP. The growing field of robotics can be explored with the TI-Innovator Rover, a robot for use in middle and high school STEM classrooms. Students can connect to Rover through the TI Innovator Hub with a TI-84 Plus CE and learn how to program the robot to draw, dance or perform other tricks. Santa wishes he learned about coding, but he is happy coding is within reach of more kids today care of the TI-84.


Brad Auerbach has been covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.

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