14 enormously useful products for the DIY-ITer (2013 Gift Guide)

14 enormously useful products for the DIY-ITer (2013 Gift Guide)

Summary: Welcome to the official 2013 edition of our ZDNet DIY-IT Gift Guide. This year, in honor of 2013, we present to you 14 interesting and useful products that the DIY-ITer in your life will find particularly useful, fun, or cool.

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  • Gifts that DIY techies will enjoy and use

    Welcome to the official 2013 edition of our ZDNet DIY-IT Gift Guide. This year, in honor of 2013, we present to you 14 interesting and useful products that the DIY-ITer in your life will find particularly useful, fun, or cool.

    You probably noticed the puppy image above. Clearly, any DIY-ITer would love a puppy, but that little guy isn't really on our recommended gift list. It was just, you know... Puppy!

    What? Puppy! Puppy! Puppy!

    We now resume our regularly-scheduled gift guide programming...

    Image courtesy GraphicStock.com

  • Monoprice 4x4 HDMI switcher

    Let's kick off our list with something truly geeky and wonderful at the same time. Monoprice offers the 4X4 True Matrix HDMI Powered Switch w/ Remote ($142.35), which allows you to switch any four HDMI inputs to any four HDMI outputs. Cool, huh?

    Imagine having, say, your media center PC, your XBox, your Roku, and your Apple TV connected to your main screen in the living room. You can easily switch the big screen TV between any of the inputs. So far, so good, right?

    Okay, now let's punch it up a notch. Let's add two smaller TVs on each side of the big screen. After all, as I'll show later in this guide, you can get a 24-inch smart HDTV for less than $200. Now, if you want to watch Netflix on the big screen, your wife wants to fiddle with Facebook on one side screen, and Junior wants to battle XBox zombies on the other screen, you can.

    If you want to move the Roku to a side screen and the media center PC to the main screen, you just select an input, and an output and there you go. You're up and running.

Topics: Networking, Cloud, Education, DIY, After Hours, Windows, Wi-Fi, Storage, Smartphones, Security, Privacy, Mobility, Laptops, Hardware, Google, Windows 8

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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22 comments
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  • If those are 'gadgets' ...

    ... then I'd like to see the 'datacentre' ;-)
    jacksonjohn
  • Dopus

    Brings back distant memories of CBM Amiga days. Who'd have thought that 20-odd years later we'd still hanker after a decent file manager!
    dcarmi
    • Amiga

      Actually, I think Directory Opus got its start on the Amiga and has been updated ever since.
      David Gewirtz
      • Amiga in Chrome

        Your Amiga comment reminded me of this recent article on an Amiga emulator. Fond memories...

        http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-57615373-2/google-emulates-1980s-era-amiga-computer-in-chrome/?tag=nl.e776&s_cid=e776&ttag=e776&ftag=CAD49a2b7e
        Spatha@...
      • Started on Amiga

        I just checked out the website and it does say they started on Amiga.
        Rick_R
  • File management software

    I've been using windirstat it's free and works cool shows a graph with blocks to display size of all your files on your drive
    KWASRDM
  • 14 enormously useful products for the DIY-ITer (2013 Gift Guide)

    I nearly forgot about Directory Opus, been using other software instead. I will have to give that another look as well as the Cisco cloud software.
    Loverock.Davidson
  • D-Opus

    This is one of my "must haves". Been using it since the first release and upgraded every time. When I setup a new PC for myself, DO gets installed as soon as the O/S is up and running. Can't live without it and the price has been coming down in recent years. $45 is a steal for this software.
    ccs9623
  • Adobe Creative Cloud

    Adobe lost me as a customer when they eliminated the package products. I'll keep using Dreamweaver (not my first selection when programming anyway) as long as it works, but I'll never spend a monthly fee for Adobe tools. Just not worth it, and it sucks that you don't even get a choice. Its "cloud" or nothing with Adobe, so I'll take nothing and use competitive products instead.
    ccs9623
    • They still sell CS products, too.

      You can still buy the one time price CS packages. Here is a link to CS6.
      http://www.adobe.com/products/cs6.html?promoid=JOLIS
      BillDem
  • Don't Expect To Run Creative Cloud in Ubuntu.

    I tried out a 30-day membership of Creative Cloud but made a mistake when I try to download Photoshop but it's not compatible with Ubuntu. I feel like an idiot for doing that.
    Grayson Peddie
  • Good gift guide

    Now we need an article on some real DIY home winter projects. Things like...
    ... setting up a Linux home server.
    ... rewiring the home. (Who doesn't have a bunch of cables running along the baseboards?)
    ... audio feeds throughout the house.
    ... high tech patio and BBQ area.
    ... home security system.

    The greatest DIY in this article is swiping a credit card. Rather than throw away your old equipment, you should always consider a redeployment; be it at home or donating to someone.
    ron_r_a
    • Well, we've done that (or some of it)

      We did the home alarm system series of articles. I'm not at my desk, so I can't get to them easily, but Google "Gewirtz logitech alert" and you'll find them. My house has been wired for GigE in the walls (I think I link to that article in this piece). We've talked about Linux home servers a whole lot, go back through DIY-IT, sjvn's stuff, Jason Perlow's stuff, and others.

      As for the high -tech patio and BBQ area, I'm all ears. I've been thinking about that, but I'm thus far uninspired. Inspire me (and the rest of us).
      David Gewirtz
  • Spam

    Rine1936 needs to be blocked. He obviously does not know tech and only wants to spam this great sight.
    RobertMoore12@...
  • Chromebook.

    The Chromebook is not aimed at productivity apparently. It seems to be solely for people who want to surf the internet and check their email.
    RobertMoore12@...
  • Chromebooks, anyone? Are they gadgets? What FOR?

    Nope and Nope, they're not exactly gadgets to me so why get them? For the same price, you can get a device with Windows 8.1 that has Office, can surf the internet and so on and it's a better deal for real techies. And, it (the competitor) has a big advantage. You can take the display off the base and make it a tablet. Oh, yeah, and you don't have to be tied to WiFi every second so you can use it everywhere and not just where there are hotspots. To me, the Chromebook's worse than a desktop PC because you have to be in range of WiFi to even do anything on it so it wouldn't work for me and therefore I'll never buy one. I'd encourage everyone else who doesn't have continuous WiFi access to boycott them as well. They're connected consumption machines and nothing else unless you bother with Google Docs or G-Cal and other vendors have better alternatives even free with their devices. Please, these things are Google deployed frauds and traitors to technology and should be treated as such by everyone who sells or even looks at them.
    bjsamuel31
    • Scroogle much?

      You forgot to mention that the pawn shop will not buy your Chromebook for pennies on the dollar.
      anonymous
  • Apparently the people running pawn shops

    are pretty smart.
    William.Farrel
  • To be useful, OCR software must accompany any scanner

    Most documents are useless without the ability to search them. Optical character recognition (OCR) software can make all the difference when you need to find them at some point in the future.
    krisoccer
  • Zombie Plant "PLAYS DEAD" when you Touch it!

    Ok - You might think you need a remote to make this work but the Zombie Plant is a freak of nature that Plays DEAD when you Touch it!

    Found the kit to grow it at
    http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/1692/?srp=5
    Plantastic