Soundbyte 346 – December 2023

ChristopherNews, SoundByte

Merry Christmas and welcome to Soundbyte. This special issue will be dedicated to gift giving. A poorly curated list of 10 gift ideas for the tech lover in your life or for yourself when the sales come.

The Gift List

  1. An Apron
  2. Royally approved socks
  3. A colour e-ink tablet
  4. A FindMy Fob
  5. A smart travel mug and AirPods into the air
  6. Upgrade your charging routine
  7. A 21st century penknife
  8. Take power on the road
  9. Chuck it over the garden fence
  10. Everything else

Christmas Quiz!


Join LMUG on Zoom next Monday at 7:00pm (GMT), December 11 for our December meeting and Christmas Quiz. As in previous years we will assemble small teams to tackle general knowledge and Cupertino based questions.

Check the email this newsletter came in for the Zoom link. We will also post the link in our Slack General Channel. 

Follow the London Mac User Group on…Mastodon🐘! If you are not familiar with Mastodon, have a look at TidBit’s explainer here.

From January we will be restarting in-person meetings at a new venue. Join us south of the river at the St James’s Pub, in Bermondsey. The pub is just 5 minutes walk from Bermondsey Undergound Station on the Jubilee Line. We will stream the meeting online as usual. 

1 – Apron

I didn’t know there was such a thing as a cool apron, but it makes perfect sense that if you’re a self-respecting maker or DIYer you might appreciate the utility of one. Trendy work-ware fashion retailer Carhartt has something perfect for the hands-on person in your life. Even more trendy is this artist focused British alternative.

2 – Royally approved Socks

Totally off-trend, surely everyone appreciates a nice pair of socks as a winter gift? How about some Royal approved knitwear with the warrant of the Prince of Wales himself.

3 – A colour e-ink tablet

E-ink has not been killed by the iPad. The continuing existence of the Kindle proves there’s a place for simpler less distracting devices. An e-ink tablet is no replacement for the iPad, but perhaps it could make a good repository for slow time, longer battery life graphic novels, comics, drawings or your magazine collection. But not in black and white, in colour. The Boox Note Air 3 C is a colour e-ink tablet with Android. Seeing is believing (just don’t try to watch a video on one…), watch this review from Tech Spurt below:

If you’d prefer an actual book, our Technical editor recommends this classic tome on the origins of the Internet. Find it on Amazon here.

4 – A Find My Fob

The AirTag is great and all, but for the most obvious use-case, it is form over function. Where are my keys? The AirTag should have had a key ring hole. Never mind, you can pay less for essentially the same native functionality (set it up in the Find My app to track it like an AirTag) by buying a Eufy Smart Track Link. I have this, and when I lose my keys, I now ask Siri, and he (in the UK the default voice is male) will ping them so I can find them. Bliss.

5 – A smart travel mug and AirPods in the air

Over to the Apple Store now for some luxury edge-case travel accessories. Scenario 1: you have a hot beverage and you can only drink it at the just-so perfect temperature. Ember have an overpriced Bluetooth controlled solution for you that will maintain the temperature you set it at.

Scenario 2. You’ve got your fancy AirPods, but you have forgotten to load a film, to watch in-flight, to your matching Apple Device. Horrors, you are forced to watch a film on the seat back display! But how to connect your AirPods? Twelve South have a very Apple solution: a dongle!

6 – Upgrade your charging routine

Two very different products requiring different skill sets but reflecting our modern lives.

First, Belkin have updated their 3-in-1 charger for when you have an iPhone, a Watch and AirPods. All can now charge at their intended speeds, simultaneously, on one elegant stand.

Next we have something for the DIY set. There is a risk of death if you do this wrong, follow all your local regulations and precautions including turning off the local electric circuit before doing this modification. With that out of the way: add USB-C charging to your wall sockets! Trusted manufacturer MK have introduced sockets with up to 30W charging power, perfect for the kitchen island or your bedroom wall.

7 – A 21st century penknife

Speaking of preventing electrical risks, how about a multi-functional electrical pen tester. This is a device for technical exploration and hacking. If those words mean something to you, this Flipper Zero might be the perfect gift! Let Linus Tech Tips show you below:

Going the other way, how about the ultimate tool for makers, a 3D printer to bring creative ideas to life (or re-create that broken widget). These have moved on and now you can scan an object with an iPhone and send that scan direct to a printer. Have a look at the AnkerMake M5C 3D Printer, perhaps designed for the rest of us:

8 – Take power on the road

Battery banks are great, but if you need serious power you probably need a portable power station with some oomph. A good brand for this is Anker. They make large batteries with full power electrical sockets in various sizes and configurations. These are suited for that off-grid camping adventure or that exotic in the bush photo-shoot with power hungry MacBooks and cameras in-tow. The other main use-case is for power cuts, but that’s not such an issue here in the UK [is it? ED]. Here’s a smaller version, perhaps more suitable as a gift.

9 – Chuck it over the garden fence

Do you like cheese? How about a cheesy jumper? Microsoft to the rescue with this ugggggglleeeee sweater [SOLD OUT 😱- ED]. See more on Ars Technica.

10 – Everything else

If nothing above appeals, here’s a whole lot of other tech stuff from earlier this year. A fair few interesting things in SnazzyLabs video below:

Offers for members

Another option is to get a great product using our discounts for Apple User group members. Find below the special offers available to paying members. Access these great discounts from the discounts page in the member’s section of the LMUG website. 

  • AgileBits 1Password 7: 25% Discount
  • Eve Products: 25% Discount
  • EverWeb by RAGE Software: 50% Discount 
  • Opus ][ Complete Collection: 25% Discount
  • Que Publishing Products: 35-45% Discount
  • Take Control Books: 30% Discount on All eBooks
  • Teams ID, a Password Manager for Teams: 33% Discount
  • TechTool Pro: 50% Discount
  • TidBITS Content Network for Apple professionals: Get a free month of tips and articles!