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Christmas Gift Guide
Culture

A tech buying success story

Simple stuff that you assume people know might actually make their day when they actually do.

Michele and the tech purchase that made her day Dong Ngo/CNET Networks

It's interesting how we make assumptions about people. Having worked in an environment where everyone "lives and breathes" technology, for a long time, I personally assumed the masses--like those I share public transportation with--would have some general level of understanding about what to do when it comes to technology. That said, I was appalled by my recent realization.

Over the years of commuting, I have made more than a few friends just from carpooling and sharing the daily bus ride. One of those is Michele, who works for a financial firm in downtown San Francisco. We commute together a few times a week.

Last Friday, once we'd gotten settled on the bus, with a big smile, Michele told me that she had just bought "this very cool thing" from Radio Shack that she thought to be a great invention. Then she pulled out a 5-in-1 USB card reader and went on explaining how it worked and that she could now get the photos off of her camera without having to use the camera at all. Being a gadget reviewer, I was speechless watching her enthusiastically doing practically a convincing impromptu review. As it turned out, she had had this digital camera since last Christmas and more often than not ran into problems downloading the photos onto a computer.

I can very much relate to this, by the way. It could be a pretty big hassle having to hook up the camera to the USB cable, the cable to the computer, turn the camera on, wait for stuff to happen, and then follow the onscreen instructions to download the pictures. Most cameras don't work as an external hard drive once plugged in and some even come with proprietary media that the only way you can access is via the camera and its also proprietary cable (think Sony products). Some cameras (if not most of them) come with B-rated photo management software that asks you to spend more money and makes it very confusing as to where the photos are stored on the hard drive.

Anyhow, for Michele, it was such a great day because finally, she found a very simple, straightforward way to get the job done. The first time ever since she got the camera she was able to send her 62-year-old mother, who lives in Maryland, a digital photo of her kids. "It was just so easy! I can't believe it," she said.

Of course, I wasn't impressed or intrigued by her generic, 20-dollar-or-so card reader or her Vivitar digital camera, but rather, by the fact that it took her that long to know about the existence of such an accessory and especially by her joy of having figured this all out. Card readers have been out there on the market for years and new computers even come with them built-in. Michele just wasn't informed. It's really not her fault, as a lot of gadgets are designed to solve problems that people don't know they have in the first place. It's really interesting, though, the fact that the issue had never come up in our previous conversations. I wish I had told her about CNET or just shared my little know-how about the general use of digital cameras, and Michele's mom would have been able to put the greatly anticipated photos on her refrigerator door much earlier...

So spread the word, CNET users! It's great to put on your iPod headset and enjoy the latest podcasts and learn about all kinds of cool stuff for yourself. In the end, though, it's what you share with others that matters, especially when it comes to technology. Bring those around you in the know! Sometimes, just a simple pointing to the right direction like "go to CNET.com!" is enough. We, CNET, are here to keep you informed.

Speaking of being informed, I am wondering if there's a simply way to raise my contribution for the upcoming AIDS Walk that I just signed up for. Anyone has some quick tips?

Happy Monday!