S1E1: Gifts That The Technology Fans In Your Life Will Like
ANNCR: ASCII Anything, a podcast presented by Moser Consulting. Join us every Wednesday to find out who from Moser's more than 200 resident experts we'll be talking to and what they're focused on at the moment. Trends, security, set up. ASCII Anything, and we'll give you our best answers.
Angel Leon: Hello, everybody and Merry Christmas. This is Angel Leon, Moser's HR Advisor, and welcome to ASCII Anything, presented by Moser Consulting, your technology partner. We've surveyed almost all of our 250 tech experts to find out what is on their holiday wishlists. Walk away, and the results were not what we expected either. So you're in for a surprise. We're coming up on our prime gift- giving time of the year, so today we're going to talk tech gifts. As I mentioned earlier, we basically surveyed some of our 250 tech experts, and we wanted to share with you some of those top items that they think are techie enough to be on their wishlist. So if it's good for them, I think it would definitely be good for you, our listeners. If you have a little leftover Christmas money, you might want to check some of these out. Let me tell you, they're a doozy. We've got things from your regular tech gifts to some more I would say weird side, but, hey, we'll get a little bit into that in just a little bit. So we've got the top seven here. As I mentioned, they're a little bit techie, a little bit odd. Some of it is stuff that you probably have heard of. Some of it, it's stuff that you maybe have not heard of. That's what we're here to tell you today. Coming in at number seven, something that for the current environment of working from home I think is something that we all could have in our hands, so USB hubs and adapter. If working from home and startups, anything, it's that external monitors and other devices can really make your workday better. I can tell you from my experience, I have a second monitor at my house besides my laptop, so it is definitely a little bit better to do my work. A good adapter with either USB or USB-C or even HDMI ports and some good cables to fill those ports will transform your home workspace into something functional and easy to use. My second monitor definitely needs an ACMI adapter, so my USB port is excellent. USB- C speed is great. It's very fast. I can tell you that it works right. It may not seem exciting, but even this small investment can make your day- to- day work easier. Of course, you need to make sure that you buy a hub or adapter that's compatible with your computer and your monitor. Make sure that it has the types of output connectors that you need. It's a good idea to be able to plug in USB, USB- C and HDMI devices, but many of them also have slots for SD cards, so you can upload pics and videos to your computer easily. Nowadays, with DSLRs and obviously with our iPhones or Samsung smartphones, you can do that. But if you have a nice DSLR at home that you can use to take care of those great family portraits during the holiday season, hey, there's no better thing to do than edit that in your computer. We had one of our employees recommend a Sabrent 4- port USB 3.0 with individual LED power switches, a great addition that could up your working from home environment. Of course, you can find this in any of the major tech places around. Up next, we have something that's really more of a winter product. Because winter is upon us, obviously we're in the holiday season, we're in December, there's several types of winter people, or more specifically two, those whose hands get cold while typing all day, and those that have no idea what that is like. For the former, there are many options online to help. Zippo makes a nice rechargeable hand warmer that will also charge your phone in a pinch. We also found some neat USB mittens that look like toast and keep your hands cozy. Yeah, you heard that right, toast. They're the best thing since sliced bread, according to my producer, Producer Brian. In with me right now is Producer Brian, who's going to give us a description of what these hand warmers are. Hi Brian.
Producer Brian: Hey, everybody, Producer Brian here. Yes, these are stuffed toast. They're like a stuffed animal with a USB cord that comes out of them that you plug into your computer, and they warm your hands. I bought them for a Secret Santa exchange at the office several years ago, and they were stolen multiple times throughout, After the celebration had ended, no fewer than three separate people contacted me to ask me where I had gotten them. So as ridiculous as they seem, these were very popular.
Angel Leon: Hey, hand warmers are a serious thing. Especially today, it's a nice and balmy 29 degrees right now outside while we're recording this, so it is definitely something that... I don't necessarily get cold hands, but right now just recording this, because I'm not moving my fingers that much, I could definitely be using them or see myself using them right now.
Producer Brian: Yeah. Since we have a link with a photo, you can see they're actually really cute too. They're adorable.
Angel Leon: It's great to always add up to that cute factor, to go along with maybe your Santa costume and your reindeer costume. That's great.
Producer Brian: Yeah, toast hands. Make your friends jelly. That's not their tagline, but it should be.
Angel Leon: Toast hands, all right. Thanks, Brian. Moving on to number five, this is something that right now I think, again, to go back to the number seven item, something that helps you working from home, you might not be happy with the way you look inside that little Zoom box that we've all grown so used to by now. So maybe your PC's old webcam is to blame. Upgrade that with a small HD camera that sits on your laptop or monitor screen and makes you look like a star. One of our tech experts recommended the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920, which has great reviews in Amazon. It has 1080p resolution, ready to put you in front of the camera and make you look your best. I got to tell you, as somebody that uses my laptop's camera, I do find myself sometimes hitting that little" Make me look better" button in Zoom. It takes away some of the freckles, some other things. The thing that makes you look the best, that's what we want. Because we're getting so used to these little Zoom boxes and how we look in these portrait boxes, as I call them, it's a great addition. Number four is, it's an interesting tie. We have a tie between two items that you wouldn't necessarily think are tech items but that they have some tech. We're talking about an item that's been very popular probably, I don't know, last two, three years. We're talking about an air fryer with wifi connection, or an Instant Pot. Let me tell you something that you probably didn't know. Our IT people here at Moser, many of them are skilled in the kitchen. We have a Moser Slack channel that you should see. They provide the greatest recipes. They put pictures of the greatest meals that they make at their houses. Right now, because we're in the holiday season, we've gotten some great pictures of cookies, gingerbread houses, you name it. When someone mentioned that they really want an air fryer for the holidays, it actually sparked a great debate in that Slack channel.
Producer Brian: Yeah, that's right, Angel. Even with social distancing in place in our office, it got a little scary for a while. Instant Pot diehards lined up on one side while the air fire contingent hurled insults at them from across the open concept kitchen/ dining room. Forks were brandished, knives sharpened. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed as battle lines were being drawn, and the peace accords have been modeled after the 1814 Congress of Vienna. Through much back and forth, it was finally agreed that each gadget has a place in a high- tech kitchen. Much rejoicing followed along with the customary sharing of snacks. Of course, we end every meeting with the sharing of snacks around here.
Angel Leon: Our folks described the different recipes that they make in each of these contemporary kitchen small appliances, from Instant Pot's chilies to pizza, steak, chicken, and many other baking items on the air fryer. I got to say, I don't own... or I guess I shouldn't say I don't own neither of them. I do own an Instant Pot. My wife and I, we don't necessarily cook so much on it unless we are planning... Well, before the pandemic, when we used to go to the office to work, we would plan a meal. We would just leave it there. We have an older son who's in high school. He's a senior, so he would come home. He'd make sure everything was okay, because the high school was near our house, but we really didn't use it that much. Just to see all the items that some of our IT professionals do with these items, it just blew my mind. Producer Brian, you are one that... Have you had any experience with any of these items?
Producer Brian: At my house, we have both the Instant Pot and the air fryer. Neither has a permanent home on our kitchen counter, but they do get rotated out with great frequency. Leftover pizza, I have to say, in the air fryer, it melts the cheese. It keeps the crust crispy. It's the absolute best, fastest way to reheat leftover pizza. Now, in my house, there's not really a thing like leftover pizza. There's just pizza that I haven't gotten to eat yet, but in the event that some pizza is eventually left over, I look forward to reheating it in the air fryer.
Angel Leon: So would you say it's better to reheat the pizza in the air fryer than it is to do it in the microwave or the oven?
Producer Brian: It's basically the same as doing it in the oven. It's just way faster. Reheating pizza in a microwave is an abomination. Everything gets soggy and it's terrible. I would rather eat pizza cold than reheated from a microwave.
Angel Leon: I agree. I know we're going away from the subject here, but it's interesting, because I remember reading an article about five or six years ago about people who would reheat pizza in a cooking pan and just put a little bit of water in the pan and just reheat it there. I tried that once. I will never do that mistake again. Yeah, I'd rather put it in the oven, wait a little bit longer. I don't own an air fryer, so I've yet to try how good it is. I am jealous. I am jealous, because as somebody who loves pizza, I am jealous. All right. So moving on to our number three item, this is an item that many people use right now. It's a very popular thing to do or to have in your house. I have one personally. I love it. It's a Gimbal.
Producer Brian: Yeah. If one of the most important steps in watching home videos at your house is passing out Dramamine so no one gets motion sick, this is a great gift to give yourself and the people that are going to be watching your videos.
Angel Leon: Many of our tech experts sing the praises of their Gimbals. A Gimbal is a tool that stabilizes your camera or phone providing much smoother results for your videos.
Producer Brian: Yeah, I did a price comparison, and a moderately priced Gimbal is about the same as it would cost to have your carpets cleaned if someone just can't hold it together after watching one of your productions.
Angel Leon: As somebody who owns one, I have one, a DJI version that's a couple of years old. It is used with my cell phone. I love it. I took great videos of it every time we go on vacation. The stabilizing effect in it, it's awesome. I've shown videos to folks when they come to my house, and they think that I had some professional grade camera. No, it's just a Gimbal, my cell phone, and I love it. Producer Brian, I know we talked a little bit about that when we started putting all this together. I know you were looking into getting one eventually. So have you made the jump or are you ready to make that jump?
Producer Brian: I have not. I'm still researching. I'm still looking. The one that you're talking about, what's the one that you have?
Angel Leon: I have the DJI osmo Mobile, yes. It the second generation.
Producer Brian: Yeah, they just came out with a third generation, so I'm trying to decide between saving a little bit of money with the second generation or going whole hog on version three. But yeah, my Christmas gift to myself this year is definitely going to be a Gimbal.
Angel Leon: Coming in at number two, we have another item that you may already have that you may already know of. This is a very popular item on everybody's wishlist. It's been a very popular item probably for two to three years since the first iteration came out. But we're more specifically talking about AirPods Pro. They're obviously all too known by everybody. Apple makes these AirPods Pro. They're very good. They have become very popular with even our non- iPhone users. Some don't realize that you can connect AirPods to Android devices with very little loss of functionality. The amazing noise cancellation capabilities also helps immensely during those extended Zoom marathons. I got to tell you, I don't own a pair of AirPods Pro. I have the regular AirPods. My mom gifted them to me as last year's birthday present, which I was very much thrilled about, because I wanted a pair for the longest time, so when she sent me those via the mail, I was very ecstatic. I like them. Even though mine don't have the functionality of the Pro that have that noise cancellation feature, I just like the sound. I like the way the music, the communication, comes in. Even while doing Zoom calls, I just like them. I like them because they give you privacy while you're listening to your coworkers talking about something. I just enjoy them very, very much, so I think that all of you out there that probably have them or if you're thinking about getting them, I would certainly give it a thumbs up. Finally, coming in at number one, this is another item that's been hot pretty much the last, I don't know... What do you think Brian? Five years?
Producer Brian: At least five years, yeah. A minimum of five years.
Angel Leon: It's been a big thing to see, and they're drones. Everybody's got a drone or everybody wishes that they had a drone. I wish I had a drone. Let's just start there.
Producer Brian: You can tell how popular they've gotten because in the last five years it's gone to, " Oh, wow, look, it's a drone" to, " Oh, good grief, somebody's flying a drone."
Angel Leon: Exactly.
Producer Brian: They've become present enough to be annoying at times, so you can tell they've really hit market penetration.
Angel Leon: Yes. Yes. I remember last Christmas we were outside in one of those not so cold days that we had here in Indiana, and my neighbor had just bought one, and I had two expressions. I had that expression first, but then when I saw what he was flying, I was like, " Oh, you have one of those. Oh, can I try? Can I try?" Drones. Drone technology has improved and they have gotten smaller. Our obsession with them has only gotten bigger. Most of our consultants agree that they would be excited to get a drone for the holidays. But before taking flight, make sure that you're aware of the rules and restrictions that have been put in place by local, state or federal governments or authorities and agencies like the FAA. I think it's very important for people to follow those rules.
Producer Brian: You can get in some serious trouble if you're unaware of the rules and you're in violation of them. A lot of city parks. I know here in Indianapolis, Eagle Creek Park, the largest park in the city, they ban them. You're not allowed to fly a drone within the limits of Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis. So you definitely need to make sure that you're aware of the local ordinances or rules regarding drones.
Angel Leon: Some cities and states require you to pretty much report that you own a drone with your local offices. So make sure that you get to know those rules before you fly them. But when you do get to fly them, they're really fun. They're really fun to fly. They're really fun to watch other people fly. As I was saying with my story about my neighbor, we've gotten together here in our backyards and just do some... fly over our neighborhood. I was with him during the 4th of July when we had our fireworks here in the neighborhood, and he and I were flying the drone over the fireworks and just taking video and pictures of that. So that's really fun. I know of people that use them for their kids' soccer games. When their children are playing soccer, there are some drones that you can actually focus on an individual, so the drone will just follow their son or daughter. So that's pretty neat, and I kind of like that. My wish with my six- year- old, whenever we are grouped to go back out, I want him to go play soccer, so hopefully by then I probably should have a drone, but I think they're very fun. I think they're a cool thing to do for kids and adults alike. I know that I've been praising them over the last 10 minutes I feel, but they're just so much fun. It's a good activity to go out and do with your children and for them to do as well.
Producer Brian: Yeah, there's a number of options and price points and you can hit two. For example, two Christmases ago, we got my son one, and it's foam and it's in the shape of the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars. So it's easy to fly indoors. It's very small. You can take it down the hallway or around the house. It's a little trickier if you take it outside, because it is so light. If it's a windy or breezy day, your flight is not going to be smooth, but it's still a lot of fun. I think it was less than$ 50.
Angel Leon: Yeah. I remember when the first... and this was probably more than five years ago. But when we first had those smaller helicopters that you can fly indoors that were like 50 bucks, and now you can see them in many of the big box stores, they're like 20 and 25 bucks. I mean, they're so tiny. But I remember buying one for my oldest son, the high schooler, and he was so thrilled because he could fly a helicopter inside the house. Of course, that didn't necessarily go as planned, but we hit a couple of walls and stuff was broken, but hey-
Producer Brian: inaudible save you. The cost of the actual helicopter is not the major cost center in that transaction. It's the Spackle, the paint that you have to buy to fix the scratches and scrapes on your walls, and it's whatever you run into and break, like a chandelier light bulb.
Angel Leon: Yes. Unfortunately, you're correct.
Producer Brian: There's a learning curve that can get a little expensive if you're not too careful, but it is a lot of fun.
Angel Leon: Oh, and technology has come a long way in that many of the new drones have collision avoidance technology, where if you're flying against the wall, they're going to stop before they hit the wall. This and one of those-
Producer Brian: Yeah. A few extra dollars for one with collision avoidance technology, that extra investment at the outset will save you from having to replace the drone entirely later after you crash it into something.
Angel Leon: Absolutely. I agree.
Producer Brian: We did reach out to one of our consultants here at Moser who owns a drone, but we were unable to schedule a recording session with them, but they had this to say in an email." I'm just a hobbyist who happens to have one of the better consumer level drones. I'm not really an expert on this topic, but like a lot of products, there are varying levels of quality, depending on how much you want to spend. Below$ 500 most of those drones I would consider toys. They're not really designed for photography. Mine is a DJI Mavic Air, and it has a three axis Gimbal. That Gimbal stabilizes the footage and makes video files look really good."" Another thing to consider is your personal level of piloting skill and what the drone will be used for. I started with a cheap toy drone, which gave me lots of flying practice. I crashed it several times, and I wrecked it pretty bad but sold it for parts on eBay and used those funds to offset the cost of the drone I have now. Beating up that cheap drone really helped. It allowed me to get a feel for the limitations of drones, what kind of wind can cause an accident, how to handle a weak signal. Many lessons were learned."" Safety is also something that isn't talked about much in the discussion of drones. I think it should be brought up more often. A hobbyist should read the FAA rules on where they can fly. The two big ones are don't fly within five miles of an airport and stay below 400 feet. The DJI brand of drones run their piloting software on a smartphone or a tablet. They have a database of no fly zones that are updated in real time. One weekend, I couldn't fly my drone in my neighborhood because the president was visiting Indianapolis, and there was a no fly zone over the whole area."" There's also an app called AirMap, which I think every hobbyist should install. It not only displays airports but has a feature that can notify the control tower of a nearby airport to get you clearance approval if you're on the edge of that five- mile range. It's really cool stuff. I also think drone purchasing and training should be treated similarly to when you buy a firearm. Learn the safety rules. There are two stories that come to mind that are very important cautionary tales."" In November of this year, someone crashed a drone into Las Vegas Stadium causing about$ 10,000 worth of damage. Charges are currently pending against that operator. Another operator, through some form of software accident, landed their drone next to an active runway at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas. For that, they were fined$ 20, 000. So know where you're going to be flying, know what the rules are or be prepared to pay for it."
Angel Leon: Well, that is all that we have for you guys today. We hope you guys enjoyed our list, and we also hope that you continue listening to ASCII Anything, presented by Moser. For Bruce and Brian, I am Angel Leon, and we'd like to thank you for listening again. Goodbye, everybody.
Producer Brian: Thanks, everybody.
Host Angel Leon takes you through some of the tech gift suggestions we gathered by surveying the tech experts who work at Moser Consulting. From high-tech drones to kitchen gadgets and even the best thing since sliced bread, because it was inspired by sliced bread, we'll take you through our favorite seven options that represent a wide range of price points. You might just find the perfect thing to give the technology fan in your life!