What I Want For Christmas

Anyone younger than 20 probably wonit remember a time when stores and shopping areas did not decorate for Christmas until AFTER Thanksgiving. It was one of the little seasonal surprises, along with Thanksgiving Day parades and holiday sales that made this time of year fun and even magical.

Now it seems that stores start decorating in August, and thereis nothing magical about going toe to toe against a mob of shoppers hell-bent on getting everything on their list.

Christmas shopping use to be fun, now its more like a 2 month long game of rugby except there are no teams, itis every man, woman, and child for his or her self. And may ye Gods of Commerce have pity on thee if you are foolish enough to try to buy something popular. Achieving said goal is akin to shooting #5 rapids on the Colorado River; dangerous as heck yet oddly exhilarating.

Well, cynicism aside, Christmas is coming up and, if you havenit done so already, itis time to start thinking about what sort of goodness you want Santa (or the Elderly Large Philanthropist, E.L.PH if you want to be PC) to leave you under your tree this year.

I know what I want, itis actually a fairly short list so anyone who is well heeled and looking to adopt me wonit have any trouble putting a smile on my face come Christmas morn.

Hereis my list:

Black MacBook: My wanting a black MacBook has nothing to do with racial preference, I just happen to think that black MacBooks look cooler. Apple must think so, too, since they charge a premium for a MacBook of color. In fact, if we look at the specs we can see that though the black MacBook is similar to its white counterpart in many respects, there is one thing that makes the minority model...um, stand out; the size of its hard drive.

I guess size does matter.

Be that as it may, my current Mac (an 800 MHz lilly-white Desk Lamp iMac) is getting rather long in the tooth, and I am looking for more mobility in my life these days, so a black MacBook would be just the ticket, especially now that Apple has given the MacBooks a speed bump by using the new Intel Core 2 Duo processors.

MacBook 2.0 GHz Duo 2 Core Black - $1499 from the Apple Store

Parallels Desktop for OS X: One nice feature of every new Mac running Intel Processors is its ability to run both OS X and Windows XP side by side using Parallels Desktop. The unfortunate reality is that, as good as Macs are and as much software and peripherals there are available, there are still some things you canit get to run on OS X.

For instance, the company I work for provides its employees with a free VPN (virtual private Network) client, but only for those using Windows. The Mac client cost $100 a year. Ouch!

I could persuade my employer to buy Parallels and let me install XP on my MacBook using the site license. I could then have the best of both worlds; I could still use my familiar OS X OS and be a productive contributor to my companyis bottom-line. And this would be something my adoptive rich relatives would not have to buy.

Parallels Desktop - $79

Logitech IO2 Digital Pen: With Windows XP on my wish-list black MacBook, and the money saved on not having to buy Parallels, my fictitious rich uncle could get me an IO Digital Pen from Logitech. I have always believed that the IO Digital Pen is a device aching to be connected to a Mac, now it can be.

In case you are unfamilar with the IO Pen; itis a pen that remembers what you write. You download your notes and messages into your computer whenever you dock the pen and the notes and messages automagically get sorted and placed in the proper places -- e-mail in your mail app, notes in your sticky-note application, names and phone numbers in your address book, and so on. The only downside to using the IO Pen is that you have to buy special paper to make it work, but my imagined rich uncle can spare a few bucks every so often to keep me stocked in stationary.

Logitech IO2 Digital Pen - $149.99 ($126.33 - Amazon)

Olympus Evolt E330 DSLR: While weire talking about stuff for my hoped for MacBook, letis get me an Olympus Evolt E330 Digital SLR. Iim trying to get back into photography after a career and family put that hobby on hold. Now I have the time to learn how to use a good pro camera, and the E-330 has everything I could hope for in a DSLR, including a Live-View LCD display that lets to see what you are shooting live; something not available of other DLSRs.

Olympus Evolt E330 DSLR $899 ($794 - Amazon) - body only

Adobe Photoshop CS2: And my quest to take up photography would not be complete without stuffing a copy of Photoshop CS2 into my holiday stocking. CS2 lets you do some things with photos that you never could with film and a darkroom. Mostly, I want to use the dodge and burn features, though, to help correct the mistakes Iid be making with my Olympus. (I guess I could imagine that I wonit make mistakes, but whereis the fun in that?)

Adobe Photoshop CS2 - $649 ($549.99 - Amazon)

G6 iPod: Since Iim dealing in an imaginary world I may as well ask for a 6th generation iPod. If Apple doesnit cough up this device soon I may have to buy a Zune.

Iim kidding, of course, but for some folks, that sentinment may not be far off the mark. Big Redmond is looking to dethrone the iPod as the reigning king of portable music players. I donit think it will happen this Christmas, but the media blitz the Gates Gang is putting on may seriously dent iPod sales in the long run if Apple doesnit do something.

I have to believe Apple has the G6 iPod somewhere just waiting for the right moment. I just hope they donit wait too long.

The features of the this G6 iPod is the stuff of much speculation, but it is commonly agreed that a larger touch sensitive screen will be one of the major updates offered. What remains to be seen is whether Apple will buy into this "Social" feature offered by Microsoftis Zune. I think thereis potential for goodness in being able to interact with others via your music player, but how that interaction takes place, and whatis included in the interaction (song transfers, personal data, so on) must be thought out carefully with security as the foundation. Microsoftis security track record is not one of its strong points and I have o believe that Apple would kick major butt if it became apparent that social interaction is a feature people want.

Weill just have to wait and see. (Yo, Apple; please donit make us wait too long though. Know what Iim saying?)

Sonos Digital Music System: Finally, I want a Sonos Digital Music System so that I can play the music on my Mac on my kick-butt sound system in the family room. Like many in the iPod Generation, I donit listen to radio anymore, but I do listen to music more now than I ever did thanks to Apple.

There are several way to get music from my Mac to my music system; I could burn CDs and sneaker-net it over, which is what Iive been doing up till now.

I could buy one of those docks that plug into my receiver. Thatis actually not a bad option. For about $100 I could connect my iPod up to my receiver and use my Logitech 880 Remote to control of whole shooting match. Thatis a pretty sweet idea, and though itis cool, it ainit as cool as the Sonos Music System, which wirelessly connects my Mac to my receiver and lets me select songs using a great looking remote.

I figure if youire going to do something, and youive got the support of rich relatives, you may as well do it right, and the Sonos system is defintiely right.

Sonos ZP80 Digital Music System Bundle - $999 ($999 - Amazon)

Well, thatis pretty much it. Thereis other stuff Iid like to have, like a nice pair of wireless headsets and maybe a Nintendo Wii Game Console, but Iim not greedy, and I wouldnit want my adoptive relatives to lose blood fighting to get me this stuff. In fact, Iid settle for the black MacBook, which should be plentiful and can be easily had by ordering online. (Ah, shopping via the Web is THE way to go!)

So, anyone wanting to adopt a somewhat older, but very cool nephew for Christmas gift giving and to possibly leave inheritance to, please look me up.