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Five Gifts for the Mac AV Geek

'Tis the season to be buying. But what do you get for that special geek in your life?

I can't speak for your geek, but I know what I'm asking Santa for this year – I just hope he's a TUAW reader. Whether he is or not, maybe going through my list will give you an idea on how to max out your credit card spread some holiday cheer this year.


Dear Santa,

I've been a good boy this year. I've cut back on the booze, and they don't greet me by name at the strip club anymore. So instead of a stocking full of coal, could you find it in your heart to bring me one or more of the following items on the night before Christmas? I know it's a long flight to New Zealand from the North Pole, but you've got to admit, at least the weather down here is waaaay better than in Cleveland this time of year.

First of all, I'd like a shiny new 802.11n Airport Express. I like my Time Capsule (when it's not being a recalcitrant piece of junk), but the 5GHz wireless signal doesn't reach from my living room all the way back to my office. With an Airport Express, I'd be able to extend the wireless signal from my Time Capsule to the other side of the house and geek away in privacy. That way my wife won't have to grit her teeth every five minutes when the theme from Metroid goes off at 80 decibels and tells me I got a new e-mail. And since the Airport Express is 802.11n-enabled, I'd still be able to back up my data to the Time Capsule at a brisk pace.

I'd also like these Shure SE115m+ earphones. I've been using a set of Shure E2cs for about three years now, and I love them, but the one big advantage the SE115m+ has is the controls built into the cord that would allow me to pause, play, and skip through tracks on my iPhone. I'd also be able to take calls, and it even has a built-in microphone. Santa, if I had these earphones I'd be able to put those white earbuds that came with my iPhone into a drawer and never look at them again, and that would make me a very happy boy indeed.

You know how I like to shoot HD video, right Santa? But not those kinds of videos, because that would get me on the naughty list. My MacBook Pro does a good job of encoding video – it works pretty close to real-time – but if I had an Elgato Turbo.264 HD Video Encoder, it would go so much faster. Like 3-4 times faster. That way I could spend less time waiting for videos to encode and more time drinking helping old ladies across the street.

If I'd been a really good boy this year, like if I'd won the Nobel Peace Prize or employee of the month at TUAW, I'd ask for a bona fide guitar amplifier. But since I haven't been that good, I'd settle for a Zoom G2.1U Guitar Effects Pedal with USB interface. This thing will simulate all kinds of guitar effects for me, and it'll plug right into my MacBook Pro. So far playing my guitar through Garageband has been an acceptable substitute for a real, live amplifier, but the one thing I definitely miss is all my effects pedals. Garageband includes lots of neat software effects that simulate pedals, but you can't stomp on them to switch them on and off. I know – I've tried.

Last thing, Santa: if none of those other things will fit in your bag, could you just get me a big, fat iTunes gift card? I've got nearly US$120 worth of songs I want to upgrade to iTunes Plus so I can stop worrying about DRM nonsense on my previous purchases and get higher-quality music in the process.

Thanks Santa. Next year I promise to be more helpful and honest and say fewer naughty words about New Zealand's telecommunications companies.

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