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A Christmas Shopping Guide and Saying Good-bye to a Friend

December 16, 2008

Like much of the world, we have been spending quite a lot of our time and energy shopping for Christmas gifts for family and friends, as well as asking for and being asked for help in deciding what to get loved ones for Christmas. So this week, we thought we'd have a little fun and talk about a few things that we can heartily recommend for those who may be stuck when thinking of ideas for Christmas gifts.

The one entertainment item that has had a huge impact on our lives--way more than we thought it would--is Tivo. With the amount of traveling we do, we thought having an easy way to record shows we might miss would be nice. But we had no idea how much it would change our interaction with our television. We toyed with the idea of Tivo for a while, but it took a conversation with our friend Fant Steele (who has a network of Tivos in his house!) to push us into making the purchase. What a difference--we don't watch "ordinary" TV any more at all when we're at home--ever! We only watch Tivo. We never need to worry about "what's on now" when we have some time--we always know there will be a list of things we know we want to watch all of the time. Perhaps other DVRs offer as useful an interface as Tivo, but the friends and family that we visit that have other DVRs don't seem to have made them a part of their lives the way Tivo has become for us. Maybe it's just the geek in us, but we love it and recommend it as a gift that's bound to be enjoyed for years to come. We just added a second Tivo to our household so we're hoping for help from Fant on networking them! Of course, there's the detail of the required monthly service fee that you need to keep in mind when giving a Tivo. In our minds, it's the most entertaining $15 we spend every month!

The second gift idea is the Nintendo Wii. We must confess that the initial attraction for us was a fascination with the idea of the user-friendly interface. There's an almost virtual reality feel to the fact that the Wii remote is used as a "thing" in interacting with the game, like a tennis racket or a boxing glove. Despite being geeks, neither of us has ever been into any other types of video games, but the unique participatory interaction that Wii involves make it tons of fun, for us, anyway. One nice thing about Wii is that the variety of games that come with it are great fun and more than enough to keep interest for quite a while so there's no need to immediately buy more games to play. We gave a Wii to a family unit (two grandkids and their parents) last year and we're doing the same with another family unit this year. (It's OK--they don't read our blog, so we're not spoiling the surprise!)

For your family and friends that already have a Wii, we can also recommend Wii Fit. We had been anxiously awaiting its availability in North America and finally got our hands on one a few months ago. We're now using Wii Fit almost daily when we are at home. It comes with a balance board that's used in conjunction with the Wii remote for interaction feedback. For us, anyway, it doesn't replace other forms of working out--we still use our treadmill, stationary bike and weight machine. But it does offer some great opportunities to have some fun and do some activities we would never have thought of doing before that help round out our fitness regime. There are many fun (and hilarious to watch!) balance games, yoga and virtual hula hoop. Truth be told, the biggest impact Wii Fit has had for us is to encourage us to work out at all. In the past, we had spent long periods of time without using our exercise equipment, etc. until Wii Fit came into the house. Now we go to the basement to work out with pleasure, knowing that we have the fun Wii Fit games to look forward to along with the regular workout activities. It's amazing how much difference adding that little bit of fun to the workout changes your whole attitude to fitness activities.

Know what else is good about the Wii? Nintendo is an IBM i user! So we're supporting the "family" when we buy its products!

It's not a very extensive shopping guide and admittedly all of the items are a bit pricey. But we hope this might help spark some Christmas give ideas for our readers.

We end this post on a very different and sad note. We want to let you know that Dick Baines, one member of the team that helped found the System/38 and AS/400, died this past weekend. Most of you probably didn't have the pleasure of meeting Dick because his role was primarily internal to IBM and he rarely appeared at conferences or other public events. But Dick was a brilliant and creative person--one of many unsung heroes in Rochester. He was instrumental in the birth and growth of the platform we now know as IBM i, especially relating to application-programming languages and support. His incredibly insightful mind and his quirky sense of humor are just a few of the attributes his many friends, like us, will miss. Thank you, Dick! Our platform and our lives are far better for your inspiration, guidance and hard work. Our condolences to his wife, Roxi, and his family.

Posted December 16, 2008| Permalink

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