'Tis the season to Crave: Candace Lombardi's picks
Another Craver weighs in with her tech-related holiday wishes.
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Editor's note: From now through the end of December, various Crave experts will be sharing their top five (mostly) tech-related wishes for the holiday season. See what we crave, and maybe you'll get some ideas!
1. Cheap storage. I've run out of room for all the photos, music, audio books, and videos I've amassed. I don't need to stream wirelessly or transfer data quickly. I just need a place to throw all those episodes of Spain...On the Road Again that I paid for so might as well keep. For my simple needs, the Western Digital My Book Edition (2TB) external 2-terabyte hard drive looks good. With Raid 0 and 1 support, I can set it up to mirror--use each terabyte to store my stuff in duplicate. Once I fill a terabyte, I can switch to using it as a straight 2-terabyte hard drive. It doesn't have Firewire, but a USB 2.0 connection is fine if it means getting 2 terabytes of storage for about $250.
2. Compact camera. I'm in the opposite boat as Dujmovic. I've been whooping it up with my Canon Rebel XT (literally running out of wall space for my large frame photos). Now I need to replace my elderly Canon PowerShot S100 Digital Elph (only 2.1 megapixels and a tiny 1.5-inch screen). I want a sleek ultracompact with at least 7 megapixels, a 3-inch screen, and video. I'd like the Nikon Coolpix S60, or the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T70 or DSC-W130. If it's on sale, the 10-megapixel Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 that comes with 4GB of built-in storage and a cool brushed stainless look would be even better.
3. Donations to Room to Read. While I crave more room in my life for time to read books, others crave the books themselves. A former Microsoft executive left his Redmond life to do something about that. Room to Read is an education-focused charity that helps communities build libraries, schools, local language publishing firms for children's books, computer labs, and scholarship funds. You can choose which country and project you want your money to support.
According to Room to Read, 86 percent of your money goes straight to projects in need. The organization has also been a Motley Fool charity pick for its "long-term, sustainable goals, and transparent, sound finances."
4. To learn more languages. No, not computer languages, but human languages. One item from last year's Crave wish list became the gadget I was most thankful for this year. But Garmin only gets you so far. It's time to improve the French and Spanish I learned in school and begin learning some others.
Expensive classes are not an option for me, so I'm going to try online language resources like Mango, and those that let you practice with other people, like Livemocha and Babbel. Any others you'd suggest?
5. 23andME. The genetic testing service named after the 23 pairs of chromosomes everyone has offers a combo ancestry and health analysis service for $399. They mail you a kit; you spit on it and mail it back. Within weeks they give you info on up to 90 genetic predispositions you may have or pass on to offspring, in addition to info on where you and your ancestors hail from.
I'm drawn to this Time Magazine 2008 Invention of the Year by personal curiosity, but also repelled at the notion that even my genetic information can now be recorded. Despite assurances of privacy, I'm still not sure I want my genetics analyzed and out there in the world.