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Helpware: A lonely guy's gift list

Harold Glicken, Tribune News Service on

Published in Science & Technology News

A wag writing in Esquire magazine many years ago defined a lonely guy as someone who eats cold beans out of the can over the kitchen sink. Since nobody buys gifts for lonely guys, we have to buy them for ourselves.

Here are some gifts this lonely guy bought:

--Apple iPhone XS Max. It's got a great camera, and if you have an 8-year-old grandson handy, you can do somersaults and more with its camera and other features. My grandson shows me new tricks on his dad's iPhone every time I see him. I have to keep in mind that I can buy a Nikon or Canon bundle for half the price and still take outstanding pictures. The Max won't fit in my shirt pocket. I bought one anyway, defying my usual tight-fistedness. I love it.

--Amazon Echo. Yes, it will tell me the temperature in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and it can control my thermostat and lights, but at $80 it's an expensive toy. The $49 Dot does many of the things its big brother does. Speaking of Big Brother, I take it as a fact that either Echo device is listening in and using algorithms to determine which brand of toothpaste I use.

--The Logitech MX series mice (Ergo, Master 2S and Vertical). They're fancy trackball devices; the Ergo gave me a royal pain in my shoulder. You have to get used to using a trackball mouse. The price for suffering is $100.

--The Das Keyboard 5Q. Billing itself as the first Internet-connected input device, the $250 keyboard alerts me when my vast investments in the stock market are heading south. It alerts me when emails arrive or whether it's going to rain in Moose Jaw. If I were a geek in addition to being a lonely guy, I'd have kept the keyboard. Other Das keyboards, however, are excellent.

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--Standup desk. People rave about these adjustable work stations that let you change the desk height when you're tired of sitting or standing. Either way, I've developed chronic shoulder pain because I can't adjust the desk as well as I can adjust a normal typing table. At $600, the motorized desk has been somewhat of a disappointment, despite my initial positive experience.

--Monitor arm. This exceptional device attaches to a desk and allows the monitor to be raised, tilted and turned. One of the few gifts I gave myself that I don't regret buying. I like the $200 Ergotron, which also sells a wall mount arm. Be careful to buy one that's compatible with the weight of your monitor.

--iMac, 27-inch, terabyte fusion hard drive, 32 gigs of RAM. I splurged on the iMac, but feel more at home on my protean Dell. That's $2,200 down Mr. Crapper's famous invention.

--iPads. If someone can tell me why the vintage 2015 iPad Mini 4 costs $400, and the regular sixth-generation iPad costs only $329, I will gladly share my can of beans and space at the kitchen sink, not to mention a one-way bus ticket to Moose Jaw. True, the Mini has four times the memory, but it's smaller, and its technology is aging. Why in the world has Apple abandoned the only iPad that makes sense for me?

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