Jewish World Review Dec. 5, 2003 / 10 Kislev 5764

More holiday gifts

By Mark Kellner | The clock is ticking: roughly three weeks remain before Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa arrive - a little more time remains if you celebrate Christmas according to the Eastern Orthodox calendar - and shopping may be a bit difficult.

A news release from luxury sellers Neiman-Marcus states that their $75,000 special edition BMW and $50,000 Louis Vuitton luggage set are already out of stock, with the BMW going in just seven minutes. So, a tech holiday may be your best option.

Some more gift ideas:

A LOW-COST OBJECT OF D-ZIRE is Palm's Zire 21 handheld for $99.99 (or less at some online sellers such as This is a monochrome, 8 MB handheld personal digital assistant that offers the basics, and then some. Included are basic applications to handle to-do lists, appointments, memos, expenses and a calculator; many other Palm-compatible programs can be added. The 8 MB of RAM (actually, about 7.2 MB is available for data storage) may not be enough to satisfy a corporate executive, but for students, homemakers, and many others, it'll be more than sufficient to track basic, vital information.

I don't believe you can find a better product for the money, and it'll make a super-neat gift.

BUSINESS CARD SCANNERS: I mentioned the IRIS Scanner for Mac users in this space last year (still available for under $200 from and would also add the CardScan 600 from Corex ( as a great gift.

Here's the principle for both: hook either one up to a computer, load the software, and exchange that never-ending stack of business cards for something useful, in this case, an updated address book.

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Both products offer a good level of accuracy and performance. Neither is "perfect," given that business card designs and printing methods aren't perfect. A card with black lettering on a dark blue background will prove difficult to scan. But you can edit the scanned information with either device, making it a bit easier to handle tough-to-read cards.

Organization is something I'm still striving to achieve, but having these kinds of devices is a very important building block.

USB SWITCHES: Another product that caught my eye is the Belkin USB switch, which lets you hook up two or four computers to a single USB device, such as a printer. It's a great idea if you have a PC, a Mac and want to share an output device, or an audio accessory or a scanner.

The two-device Belkin switch, available for under $50 in stores, is compact, does not require a separate electric supply, and its software performance under Windows is excellent; I have a few hassles with the Mac, but can overcome them.

Other USB switches can be found at stores such as CompUSA; getting one could end a fair amount of computer clutter and confusion.

CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO ... your computer's keyboard, if you know what's good for you! 3M has some neat products for computer cleaning, including one for keyboards that includes a foam-type applicator that'll get around keys and into crevices. It shouldn't cost more than $7 at most stores, ask for the Keyboard Cleaner 674 kit.

Also useful is a can of compressed air (apply carefully to get the air and not the accelerant) to blast dirt out of tiny spaces. But to make your keyboard a delight, start with the cleaning kit. You'll thank me, I promise.

SAVE YOUR MAC SCREEN ... If you have a Mac PowerBook or iBook (stet), you know that oils transferred from your fingers to the keyboard can be picked up by the screen, causing permanent damage. RadTech of St. Louis ( offers a great "ScreensavRz" (stet) product, a cloth that slips over the keys, allowing you to close the lid safely. The cloth can also be used to clean the display screen. Prices range from $12.95 to $17.95, and they're very neat, as are the matching sleeves the firm makes for the notebook itself.

Together, the two are a great gift and shipping is super fast ... my order arrived, via priority mail, in a couple of days.

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JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.

Holiday Shopping Ideas (One of a Series)
Now, Mr. Gates Joins War on Spam
Stopping "Phishers" From Scamming You
Staying safe online
Franklin Covey Brings Order to Outlook
Upgrades: Should you do it?
Time to dump Ma Bell?
Palm T3 widens users' options
Electronic reading
Lessons from a hurricane
Can the PC and phone really merge?
The case of the curious keyboard
The season ahead
New keyboard adds flair to motion tablet
Upgrade path smoothes a bit
Dreamweaver, make me a web
Experiments in upgrading
A tale of two headsets
A declaration of Mac-dependence
Fuji's Fine FinePix S602Zoom
In search of good Mac apps
Little gadgets make computing easier
Adobe Acrobat 6.0 scores
Toshiba's Twisting Tablet PC
HP printer a steady worker
iTunes store, Mailblocks are cool online services
Palm's objects of D-Zire
Gateway's Tablet a winner
Outlook 2003 beta: A promising program
Tungsten's handy "Dubya"
Lexmark's winning all-in-one
Wireless ways
Long distance tech support does trick
Tablet Planner software a hit
Up and down the road with Joyride
Clarion's "AutoPC" is no "Joyride"
Apple's Keynote is PowerPoint for less
Moving adventures
Traveling companions
HP's Compaq Tablet PC a winner
The war on spam continues
Browser for Mac users has good start
New Adobe software organizes photos
The year the PC grew up
PC meets philately: one hit, one miss
Digital Nikon camera a winner, at a price
Honey, they shrunk the COMDEX
Last-minute ideas
Microsoft's Tablet PC has promise, problems
Upgrade with a plan
Palm's New Tungsten PDA Shows Its Mettle
Nobody asked me, but ...
Love, in Quicktime
T-Mobile's sidekick a good partner
Put on a (happy, unwrinkled, tanned, whatever) face
Apple software upgrade very useful
I came, I saw, iPod
How's that? A tech critic reflects, briefly
Satellite radio gets favorable reception
HP's desktop printing marve
Mac satisfaction --- and some really good software
Off to college ... with eMachines
Have PC, must travel
After Shot manages your digital camera images
X200: Mobile worker's fantasy
Beware: Consumers face a fee for printing own checks

© 2002 News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at