Data Shark 70007 Complete Network Tool Kit
I love the reliability and consistency of wired networking, but I cannot stand excess wires. I bought the Data Shark 70007 kit to run wires to install a couple of surveillance cameras in my home, but once I started making custom cables, I couldn't stop. Every wired device in my home network is now connected with a cable that has been cut to length with just enough slack at either end for a little bit of movement.
Countless other RJ-45 crimper kits exist, but this one can be found for $35 on Amazon or for about $40 on the shelf at the local Home Depot if you're the type that procrastinates past the point that even Amazon Prime can help you. The 70007 kit includes a dedicated cable cutter and stripper, a crimping tool, and a punchdown tool for wiring up keystone jacks.
Ubiquiti Unifi AP AC Lite
Even the most ardent fan of wires has to admit that some things must live untethered. For these devices, the Ubiquiti Unifi AP AC Lite delivers a level of performance and reliability that I haven't experienced with other wireless access points. I've used several different wireless routers with stock firmware and aftermarket software like OpenWRT and dd-wrt, but none have delivered the speed or consistency I've experienced with my UAP-AC-Lite. The $80 asking price isn't the cheapest 802.11ac solution around, and other devices offer higher claimed throughput, but the combination of consistency, speed and features is excellent.
Keep in mind that Unifi access points can only augment an existing router. The Unifi unit does not have routing capability and must be plugged into another router via Ethernet. Ubiquiti's access points are controlled through a special program rather than the standard web interface, as well, so expect just a little bit of a learning curve to get the device running. If someone on your list complains about poor Wi-Fi service, this is one possible solution.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets are infinitely more popular than the company's e-readers, but if you like to read in all conditions from a darkened bedroom to a sunny afternoon with one device, e-ink reading devices like the Kindle Paperwhite deliver a written-word experience far superior to LCD tablets.
The e-reader category seems to be quite mature these days, and the last major innovation in the category was the integrated backlight introduced in the original Kindle Paperwhite back in 2012. The ability to read in bed with one hand while your partner sleeps is something that can't be done with a real book, though, and that lasting convenience is what really sells a good old Kindle.
Raspberry Pi 3
The Raspberry Pi Foundation's single-board computer isn't the ideal tool for many jobs, but it can be press-ganged into many applications. The right disk image and a couple of controllers can transform it into a retro gaming machine. With a different disk image, the Pi 3 can be used as a Kodi (nee XBMC) media center. Those with a desire to dabble in Linux can use the Pi Foundation's Raspbian OS to poke around with the Linux command line without the hassles of virtual machines or hard drive partitioning.
For the more adventurous, the Raspberry Pi 3 can also be used as a basis for robotics or home automation projects. We suggest buying the Pi as part of a kit, as the $35 bare board needs a microSD card, a relatively beefy 2.5A 5V power supply, some kind of case, and an HDMI cable just to get started. We recommend the Pi 3 over the other models for its integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.
Amcrest IPM-721 IP camera
If someone on your shopping list has something or someone at home they worry about during the day, a little surveillance can give some peace of mind. The Amcrest IPM-721 IP camera has remote pan and tilt, infrared LEDs for nighttime use, as well as a built-in microphone and speaker for audio communication with the camera's subject. The camera can communicate using onboard Wi-Fi or over a wired Ethernet connection.
The camera can be used with the company's provided software for PC, iOS, and Android devices. The more ambitious can use the IPM-721 with ZoneMinder or another surveillance DVR system for recording.
100-pack of melamine foam
Think of this suggestion as a high-tech replacement for giving someone a piece of coal. The melamine foam bricks are very similar to the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sold in stores for about $1 each. These bulk-packaged copies go for less than $15 for a 100-pack on eBay. The erasers are great for cleaning all kinds of things, including dirty keyboards and all forms of plastic. Keep them away from shiny things, though, because they clean with microabrasives. If you don't know 100 naughty children, you could always keep some for yourself.
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