The Best Tech Gifts That Aren’t Gadgets
My favorite holiday tech gift doesn’t need batteries or software updates. Although made with technology, it is not a gadget.
What is it you can guess?
A few years ago, my wife experimented with her iPad and digital stylus to create digital pictures. Using the Procreat, drawing app, she loaded a photo of our beloved Corgi, Max, as a reference to trace over before embellishing the image with a polka-dot bow tie and cartoonishly long tongue. I liked it so much that I chose a background color that would complement our home and uploaded the picture to the Kipsek app, a printing service that combines your images into nice frames before they reach your door.
A large, framed portrait of Max now hangs in the center of our living room in all its two-dimensional splendor. It makes me laugh and the conversation always starts when our guests come. There’s more I can say about other tech gifts I’ve received over the years, such as video games and smart speakers, which have only given me a short-term pleasure.
This type of gift exercise – technology-related gifts that don’t include hardware or thoughtless best-by-gift cards – is especially welcome this year. This is because we live in an epidemic-driven era of scarcity caused by global chip shortages and supply chain disruptions that make it difficult to buy traditional gifts. (Anyone who has been trying to buy a game console since last year understands this pain.)
So here’s a list of tech gift ideas we can offer without buying technology, from gifts to lifelong experiences.
The gift of fixing
Last week, I told a friend that I have a special gift for her: I’ll fix her iPhone problem.
She had complained to me about her five year old iPhone SE. The device can no longer take photos or install software updates because almost all of the device’s data storage was used.
So before she left for her Thanksgiving vacation, I met her for lunch and took her through the process of backing up photos to an external drive before clearing all the images from the device. Then I plugged her phone into the computer to back up all her data before installing the new operating system.
She was very happy that this problem was removed before her trip. She can now take a lot of photos on vacation. Also, the new Apple software update includes a tool to add a digital vaccine card to the iPhone’s Wallet app, which makes vacation travel a bit less stressful in epidemics.
It can serve as a template for those who are tech savvy. Listen to your loved ones complain about their technology and visit to solve problems. If the Wi-Fi connection is lazy, see if you can diagnose the problem to speed up. If phone batteries are short-lived, consider taking them to a repair shop for a small amount of battery replacement.
In some ways, this gives them a brand new gadget because it saves them the hassle of learning how to use the latest technology.
The gift of creation
In addition to the example of my dog’s digital painting, we can use many other ways to create technology for friends and family.
For one thing, I’m a fan of photo books that can be easily created with web tools. A few years ago, a colleague’s secret Santa gift to me was a calendar she created using Google’s photo book service. She created it by taking a photo from my dog’s Instagram account and compiling it into a calendar – each month there was a separate photo of Max next to the entry my wife and my wife cooked. I’m glad
In general, photo-printing services offer great ways to convert digital photos into physical objects in the form of old-school, large prints and even mugs and Christmas ornaments. (Wirecutter, our sister publication publishing product reviews, tested two dozen photo-printing services and highlighted the likes.)
Before the epidemic devastated our lives, my wife bought a digital camera DSLR used by professionals for the purpose of learning more about digital photography. Then the lockdown happened, the vacation turned into a stay, and the camera stayed in the drawer.
My plan for a vacation trip for my wife is a two-hour digital photography lesson with a photo studio in San Francisco that takes students for a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge while teaching them the basics of photography. (Hopefully she didn’t read this column.)
What would your friends and family like to learn? We have plenty of options for potential gift classes, as the epidemic has led many teachers to offer virtual instruction online, including cooking lessons and workout routines. The gift of knowledge goes a long way and sometimes returns, just like the recipient of online cooking lessons uses that new knowledge to make you dinner.
No technology gift
Outbreaks appear to be exacerbating the effects of epidemics on screen time more than we could have ever imagined.
In areas without cellular service, cabin rentals, play tickets, winter trips and picnics – anything can be done to keep us from getting back on screen.
#Tech #Gifts #Arent #Gadgets