Gift Guide 2021 #4 – Technology

A few months back, Facebook “suggested” an article for me about a girl who used a metal detector to find a Viking hoard of axes in the English countryside. I clicked on it, read the whole thing, and the Facebook Algorithm said, “SCORE!”

So after that, every time I openned Facebook, I got another “suggested article” about someone using their metal detector to find ancient treasure, and being nothing more than a data point in an algorithm, I clicked on those links. After reading dozens of these articles, I decided that I absolutely NEED a metal detector.

Yesterday, I looked up the cost of metal detectors on Alexa (the Amazon device in our kitchen that absolutely listens to every word we say). So, now Bezos has got our number, too. I am bracing myself for the avalanche of Amazon ads. Yes, I know that I have been manipulated by Algorithms, but metal detectors are kinda cool.

Technology is our biggest expense. We need technology for work, school, and entertainment. Technology is probably destroying our souls, but we are going willingly to that hell with our AirPods in our ears. I, for one, welcome our new technology overlords.

Some of the devices that rule our lives: iMac, Mac Air, iPad mini, iPhones, Amazon Alexa, AirPods. Ian is a Switch guy. He asked for a few new games, including: Hyrule Warriors, WarioWare, and Zelda: Skyward Sword. He’s also requested some music tech geekery.

15 thoughts on “Gift Guide 2021 #4 – Technology

  1. Metal detecting? There’s an app for that:

    Accessories are cool, too.

    The Apple AirTag:

    I’ve put one on my car keys. You can split a pack of four between multiple family members.

    I’ve seen the articles about car thieves using them, but there are other, similar devices, like Tiles. The AirTags are very easy to use, though. Don’t steal cars, right?

    Power banks. I bought this one recently; it’s been very helpful, especially during a power outage:

    A smaller, lighter bank to slip into a purse or backpack:


    1. Anyone else noting increased incidence of power outages? We think we are, though I like to be very data driven, and the data isn’t available (which also makes me mad). Yesterday there was an outage in our neighborhood that extended to kiddo’s school. The school was restored in an hour or so, but we had an outage for a few hours.

      So, we’ve started planning with power banks, led lights, etc. to deal with outages. Haven’t invested in larger scale power back up yet, but we are thinking about it. Diesel generators are terrible polluters, but electric batteries are possible.

      There’s an undercurrent of chatter in the energy/environo sectors that unreliability of power (particularly, relying on wind/solar, and smaller stores of fuel) might mean that peak power outages will be in our future.


      1. We live in an area in which it is not unusual for storms to knock out power. Lots of trees, with almost no power lines underground. We bought our first generator after an ice storm meant neighboring towns were without power for 2 weeks. I had resisted buying a generator all through the Y2K worries, because the prices were definitely marked up.

        This is a good article on generators:

        I will say that you want a good installer to do the job, and you will want to have a service contract. After a relatively short period of use, generators need to be serviced. The modern generators do a brief self-check cycle each week. But an improperly installed whole-house generator can cause serious damage. A friend once found out her generator had been installed upside down, which meant the house’s circuit breaker board had to be replaced. She was lucky the house didn’t burn down. Add to that the people who die from carbon monoxide poisoning from improper use of plug-in generators, and it’s a bit risky, unless you have a good professional give you advice. I am always wary of things that could kill me.

        We once lived in a town that had frequent power outages. People blamed squirrels. (No, seriously, they really did.) Then the town took tree-trimming seriously, which improved things immensely. Tree trimming is dangerous work, so it isn’t cheap, and of course people are emotionally attached to big, beautiful trees, but tree trimming is useful.

        At some point, there will be batteries that are large enough to store power for outages. I don’t think that’s been achieved yet.


      2. We have also been experiencing not infrequent power outages, but diesel generators are an environmentally terrible solution (necessary, I know, for some, including those in less populated areas and those who have critical power needs). Diesel generators shouldn’t be installed in urban areas with sufficient power (we need better maintenance of the transmission system).

        There was, for a while, a dreadful environmental intervention (mostly, I think in the midwest), in which mid scale power users (not homes, but small businesses) were encouraged to sell into the power markets agreeing to shut down their plants (they would get a payment for disconnecting from the grid during peak energy usage). Those payments then made diesel generators economically feasible for these businesses, effectively increasing both pollution & CO2, compared to building more power generation/transmission in the system.

        I fear home users turning to such a personal system, and contributing to environmental damage in our town (if these outages continue to be too frequent).

        (BTW, we have underground wires — turns out they can be susceptible in circumstances if they are not well maintained and, our substations need upgrading)


      3. Around here, I think whole-house generators tend to be propane, not diesel. Portable seem to be gas or propane. Looking at our local Home Depot, I don’t see any diesel. I don’t know if diesel generators are forbidden by state law.

        It helps a lot to have an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Here’s an Amazon link:

        Here’s the Wirecutter explanation:

        I noticed during our latest, longer, power outage that many things that used to be broadcast on the radio have moved online, even when many listeners can’t get online. I can put up with the water or the heat being off for 4 hours. It’s hard to report a power outage, online, when the power is off, so having a little bit longer to access the web is very nice.

        They’re batteries, which means there’s no pesky combustion inside the house.


      4. Hmh, am intrigued by those power supplies. I think I’d seen some in the 1K range, but these are more affordable. I just tediously counted the outages in by our utility over the last year (though not all in my neighborhood) and there were 45!

        Laura — if I click through on this link to buy, do you get something? or do you need to do something different?


      5. If you first click on one of the items that I have listed and then click over to something else, that would be great. I have an embedded code in my links that alerts Amazon to give me some money. Thanks.


      6. We have solar panels and a battery that can power our fridge and freezer. If our battery runs out, I believe it can be recharged directly by solar power (of course, our solar power system is hooked up in some sort of corporate Frankenstein connection to the local traditional power facilities, so I’m not positive). Coincidentally (:D) our Internet router is hooked up to the same circuits that are connected to the battery, as well as our UPS. Best investment ever.


    1. Cranberry said, “Our cousins set up a trail cams in their backyards. They’ve seen deer, coyotes, fisher cats, etc.”

      I’ve seen some really good trail cam clips online.

      I give it a 50% chance that Ian would love it and really get into it. Or not. But suburban backyards are surprisingly attractive to wildlife. Aside from the usual opossums, we’ve seen a gorgeous grey fox just stroll through our backyard…and we technically live in the city.

      One of our neighbors had a grey fox family move into a shed in their yard.


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