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phorneker's 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

by phorneker

Disclosure: In addition to working with this magazine and my website, I am an operations associate at Kohl's Department Stores, and per their social media policy, I am required to disclose that I am affiliated with Kohl's and opinions shared here are those of my own, and not that of Kohl's Department Stores.

The holiday season once again has just arrived, but now we have fewer brick and mortar stores to shop from this year. Direct Buy of Merrillville, Indiana purchased the rights to the intellectual properties of Bonton Stores and has reopened Carson Pirie Scott as an online retailer. This comes less than a month after Bonton Stores had shut down its brick and mortar operations.

Unfortunately, the Carson's charge cannot be used with the online retailer. (Comenity Bank has closed down all Carson's charge accounts.)

Since then, a new (brick and mortar) Carson's is opening in Evergreen Park, IL and plans for more new stores in the Midwest are in the works. (The next stores will be in Lombard, IL and Orland Park, IL, Brookfield, WI and Grand Junction, CO.)

Hearing of this brings back memories of actually going out to the malls at Christmas time to purchase gifts. (This is one of the things that gave me the inspiration to write my articles on the Seeburg 1000.)

Having said this, I recommend shopping brick and mortar this year while it is still possible to do so ... and now for the gift ideas.

Gift Idea #1: Epson All-In-One Printers

If you need to give a printer this season (that works with PCLinuxOS), I recommend any of the Eco-Tank line of printers from Epson. Not only will the printers work with PCLinuxOS (the ESC-P/R open source driver is available for download), but either you or whoever gets the gift will save more than $1,000 in ink costs over a two year period thanks to the ink coming in tanks rather than cartridges.

In addition, he/she will get a printer that is best suited for photographs, color brochures, artwork, resumes, and other documents that demand high quality output, and will get a printer that will last.

I had my Epson Stylus NX-415 for the past ten years, and it is still working today.

These printers can be purchased at OfficeMax (and Office Depot), Staples, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Target, as well as online through Amazon.

Gift Idea #2: Photographs on Metal

Imagine some of your best photographs printed on metal and prominently displayed. This would be a gift that lasts for years. The cost for the images depends on the size of the image and where you get it done.

Costco offers metal prints infused on aluminum panel with rounded edges for:
  • $33.99 for 11x14 (standard photograph size) or 12x12 (the size of a vinyl album jacket)
  • $39.99 for 16x20
  • $59.99 for 16x24
  • $93.99 for 20x30
  • $119.99 for 24x36
Collages of up to 30 photographs are also available in the above sizes for the same price.

Shutterfly offers a similar service where photographs are printed and treated to be fade and scratch resistant.

Metal prints are regularly priced at:
  • $59.99 for 8x10
  • $84.99 for 10x14 or 12x12
  • $94.99 for 16x16
  • $99.99 for 16x20
  • $199.99 for 20x30
  • $299.98 for 24x36
The good news here is that there are specials on these that are regularly advertised. Select the Upload Your Design option to order prints from Shutterfly.

Adorama Photo offers metal prints in the following shapes:

All Adorama products are finished in your choice of glossy white, glossy silver, white satin or silver satin.

Art Beat Studios offers metal prints with your choice of each of the following options:
  1. White or silver surface
  2. Glossy or matte finish
  3. Natural Wood, Black Wood, Silver Aluminum or Black Aluminum backing for the metal print
  4. Wire hanger or cleat hanger. The cleat hanger has a built in level indicator.
  5. Recessed or Flush mount. Recessed mount projects the print out by one inch.
Regular pricing for the prints are as follows:

Your local Walgreens offers the metal print service with rounded corners for:

Gift Idea #3: Instant Pot

5 This programmable pressure cooker from Ottawa was very much in demand last year, and is still in demand this year. Currently, the Instant Pot line of products have capacities of three, six and eight quarts.

The Duo and Duo Plus series models are available in stock at most brick and mortar retailers. These appliances were designed to replace the typical slow cooker, rice steamer, hotplate, and fondue pot. The concept here is that you simply place the prepared food into the appliance, select what you are cooking from a menu (or simply pressing a button depending on model), and allowing the appliance to do the rest (provided, of course, that the appliance is properly setup).

Gift Idea #4: Voice Assistant Devices

This is the future of Internet searching. Devices such as this Amazon Echo (3rd generation), and Google Home have increased in popularity over the past year. No, this will not replace the PCLinuxOS machine (at least not any time in the near future).

In fact, I have been researching how to get my website Alexa friendly so devices like these will complement rather than replace the PCLinuxOS machine.

These devices could be purchased for as low as $40.00 for the basic model (Amazon Echo), and not just at Amazon, either, but at major brick and mortar retailers.

No voice assistant device is perfect, as we have seen numerous problems with these devices, particularly of the privacy kind, as well as providing information that is relevant to the search. The latter has more to do with the programming and structure of websites than with the Alexa technology itself.

Gift Idea #5: And Now For Something Completely Different

I am talking about the official Monty Python online store. You can shop here for most anything related to Monty Python. Included here are references to:

  • Spam
  • Dead Parrot Sketch
  • Lumberjack Song
  • The Killer Rabbit
  • 'Tis But a Scratch
  • Brave Sir Robin
  • Ministry of Silly Walks
  • I'm Not Dead Yet
  • my absolute favorite, "The Holy Hand Grenade"
Wishing you a happy holiday season, no matter how we shop.

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