Technology Wish List 2008

Suggestions of what to put under the tree of state and local technology workers this holiday season.

by / November 17, 2008 0
Wrapped present with mouse username: ljupco on Stockexpert.com one-time use

The Government Technology editorial staff suggests stocking stuffers for state and local technology workers in its 2008 wish list -- some good, others ... not so good in the Technology Wish List 2008.

Hoverit Lounge Chair
It's a see-through acrylic chair that levitates off the ground - how cool is that? This interesting venture into the world of futuristic relaxation uses repelling magnets to keep the seat portion floating above the base. I'd like to have one of these at home, definitely. And if I had one at work, how much more appropriate would it be to sit in a floating chair while I'm writing about technology?
-- Hilton Collins, staff writer

Nikon D80
After researching plenty of cameras I'd like to purchase, a co-worker recommended the D80 as the ultimate must-have, consumer-friendly camera. The 10.2-megapixel camera produces high-resolution digital images, has seven program modes and captures three frames per second. The D80 has in-camera editing, which means that even novices can take professional-grade photos. This all-purpose camera retails at $799, which makes it quite suitable as a wish item.
-- Karen Stewartson, managing editor


Jawbone
Since the hands-free cell phone law took effect in California in July, I've been scrambling to find a comfortable yet efficient Bluetooth earpiece to do the job. I've used a couple of earpieces, but they don't do the job quite right and above all - they never seem to fit my ear snugly. However, the Jawbone comes with several different-sized earbuds and ear clips that are sure to help with comfort, and it's aesthetically pleasing. The sound quality and volume are exceptional, and it's affordably priced at $129.
-- Karen Stewartson, managing editor


Garmin nüvi 880
I lack a sense of direction. I rely on turn-by-turn directions because, quite frankly, I can't read a map well and feel comfortable leaving my life in the hands of Google Maps. However, the Garmin nüvi 880 GPS unit would change my directionally challenged life. Not only can I speak commands to it while driving, like "Find Address," but the high-sensitivity internal antenna also allows me to toss it in my purse and never be lost again. It also features Bluetooth technology for hands-free calling, is preloaded with maps and points of interest - great for locating gas stations on road trips - and features a 4.3-inch full-color display. The unit comes with a free trial to MSN Direct allowing users to check the weather, traffic delays and even movie listings. But at the suggested retail price of $899, this über-GPS unit must remain on my wish list.
-- Elaine Rundle, staff writer


SparkFun Electronics' Portable Rotary Phone
As cell phones become smaller, they lose their personality. I would change that with SparkFun Electronics' Portable Rotary Phone. It's a traditional rotary phone that's been modified to work with SIM cards. Also known as the Port-O-Rotary, users insert their SIM card into the phone, turn it on and it utilizes their cell phone number and account minutes. It features a traditional metallic bell ring and has a dial tone. The phone charges through an external jack, but the battery should run for three to four days, according to SparkFun. To make an impression, take it on the go, but the weight of about two pounds makes it more for home or office life. I do have two fears: Without

my cell phone screen, I don't know any phone numbers, and I rely on caller ID to screen incoming calls. The cost is $199 for a black rotary phone or $299 for a red one.
-- Elaine Rundle, staff writer 

AmpliVox S450
Are you unhappy about who was elected president? The AmpliVox S450 Presidential Plus wireless lectern allows you to have your own debate. The lectern - available in a mahogany or oak cabinet - features a wireless receiver and built-in amplifier so up to two presenters can use a handheld headset or lapel mic. The system includes additional jacks for auxiliary components like CD players. Suggested retail price is $1,500.
I've always aspired to be a college professor, and this lectern can make my dream come true. If only there were a roomful of students for sale.
-- Matt Williams, assistant editor


Fallout 3
CIOs, public safety officials and technologists - especially the younger ones - play video games, right? One game stands apart from the glut of big-budget titles released in time for the holiday season: Fallout 3, an action/role-playing adventure from Bethesda Softworks set in an apocalyptic Washington, D.C.
As the main character, you emerge from the nuclear fallout shelter in which you've spent your life and are thrust into a vast, dangerous, radioactive wasteland. It promises more than 100 hours of game play in a unique blend of first-person shooter and standard role-playing game. Though you can shoot a pink teddy bear out of a bazooka, it's not for the faint of heart (or kids); there's plenty of blood and gore. Retail price is $59.99.
-- Matt Williams, assistant editor


Wireless Vehicle Detectors
Kudos to Arizona for recognizing the hazards of the speedsters and tailgaters present on our highways and doing something about it. Gov. Janet Napolitano recently announced a statewide system of red light and speed cameras both mobile and at fixed locations. The announcement came after a nine-month pilot program that was shown to reduce speeds by 9 mph, cut accidents by 63 percent and reduce injuries by 48 percent.
With a dearth of California Highway Patrol officers patrolling Highway 50 where I travel to and from work, (they're all scrambling to respond to accidents during commute hours) I would welcome fixed cameras on highway overpasses.

Wireless vehicle detectors can be easily installed on the highway and would undoubtedly change the habits of those hurried, caffeine-charged commuters in the morning. It would cut down on road rage and keep me out of trouble with the wife, who has forbid me from showing off my middle finger on the highway.
-- Jim McKay, justice and public safety editor

 

Alcohol Ignition Interlock

Several months ago, just miles from my residence, a man left a bar after a multiple-martini lunch and proceeded down a quiet neighborhood street at a clip exceeding 65 mph. Unfortunately a car with two elderly occupants got in his way. The collision killed both occupants.

Police tried to give the man a breathalyzer test, but he refused so they took him into custody and forcibly tested him for alcohol. He was measured at twice the legal limit and had been convicted previously of drunk driving. 

The alcohol ignition interlock is a breath test device linked to a vehicle's ignition system. A driver can't start the vehicle until he blows into the device. And if he's been drinking, he's stuck; the car won't start. These devices are underused, and if our drunk driver had been required to have one those, two dead residents would be alive.
-- Jim McKay, justice and public safety editor

I do have two fears: Without my cell phone screen, I don't know any phone numbers, and I rely on caller ID to screen incoming calls. The cost is $199 for a black rotary phone or $299 for a red one.
-- Elaine Rundle, staff writer 

AmpliVox S450
Are you unhappy about who was elected president? The AmpliVox S450 Presidential Plus wireless lectern allows you to have your own debate. The lectern - available in a mahogany or oak cabinet - features a wireless receiver and built-in amplifier so up to two presenters can use a handheld headset or lapel mic. The system includes additional jacks for auxiliary components like CD players. Suggested retail price is $1,500.
I've always aspired to be a college professor, and this lectern can make my dream come true. If only there were a roomful of students for sale.
-- Matt Williams, assistant editor


Fallout 3
CIOs, public safety officials and technologists - especially the younger ones - play video games, right? One game stands apart from the glut of big-budget titles released in time for the holiday season: Fallout 3, an action/role-playing adventure from Bethesda Softworks set in an apocalyptic Washington, D.C.
As the main character, you emerge from the nuclear fallout shelter in which you've spent your life and are thrust into a vast, dangerous, radioactive wasteland. It promises more than 100 hours of game play in a unique blend of first-person shooter and standard role-playing game. Though you can shoot a pink teddy bear out of a bazooka, it's not for the faint of heart (or kids); there's plenty of blood and gore. Retail price is $59.99.
-- Matt Williams, assistant editor


Wireless Vehicle Detectors
Kudos to Arizona for recognizing the hazards of the speedsters and tailgaters present on our highways and doing something about it. Gov. Janet Napolitano recently announced a statewide system of red light and speed cameras both mobile and at fixed locations. The announcement came after a nine-month pilot program that was shown to reduce speeds by 9 mph, cut accidents by 63 percent and reduce injuries by 48 percent.
With a dearth of California Highway Patrol officers patrolling Highway 50 where I travel to and from work, (they're all scrambling to respond to accidents during commute hours) I would welcome fixed cameras on highway overpasses.

Wireless vehicle detectors can be easily installed on the highway and would undoubtedly change the habits of those hurried, caffeine-charged commuters in the morning. It would cut down on road rage and keep me out of trouble with the wife, who has forbid me from showing off my middle finger on the highway.
-- Jim McKay, justice and public safety editor

 

Alcohol Ignition Interlock

Several months ago, just miles from my residence, a man left a bar after a multiple-martini lunch and proceeded down a quiet neighborhood street at a clip exceeding 65 mph. Unfortunately a car with two elderly occupants got in his way. The collision killed both occupants.

Police tried to give the man a breathalyzer test, but he refused so they took him into custody and forcibly tested him for alcohol. He was measured at twice the legal limit and had been convicted previously of drunk driving. 

The alcohol ignition interlock is a breath test device linked to a vehicle's ignition system. A driver can't start the vehicle until he blows into the device. And if he's been drinking, he's stuck; the car won't start. These devices are underused, and if our drunk driver had been required to have one those, two dead residents would be alive.
-- Jim McKay, justice and public safety editor


BlackBerry Pearl SmartPhone
I'm terrible at managing my schedule and would benefit from the BlackBerry's highly usable calendar function and full keypad. It's too bad Verizon requires BlackBerry users to subscribe to data packages adding from $39.99 to $59.99 to their phone bill each month. I'll just stick with the crappy calendar on my current phone.
-- Andy Opsahl, features editor

Garmin nüvi 260 Portable GPS
I have a pitiful sense of direction and rely heavily on printed driving instructions. A portable GPS system would be a critical asset in my car. Hopefully it won't have an annoying voice.
-- Andy Opsahl, features editor

Panasonic 150-inch Plasma HDTV
Benjamin Franklin once said "Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy." While I couldn't agree more, I'd like to amend Franklin's adage to "Beer and 150-inch plasma TVs ..." I saw this majestic beast in person at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It's inconceivably huge. Sadly the only model currently available for retail is the puny 108-inch screen. Pfft. Sorry, but from now on I'm only interested in TVs that are 12 feet or longer corner-to-corner.
-- Chad Vander Veen, associate editor

LittleBIGPlanet
By the time you read this, I'll be doing only one of three things: working, watching after my 7-month-old or playing LittleBIGPlanet on the PlayStation 3. As I write this, the game has not yet been released. But it's already being hailed as a genuine revolution in gaming. LBP, as we nerds refer to it, lets users create entire digital worlds on the fly using highly intuitive controls. These worlds can be uploaded and shared on the PlayStation network. Even my wife is excited for this game. Don't take my word for it. See for yourself.
-- Chad Vander Veen, associate editor

TV on the Go
The ARCHOS 7 Media Tablet would let me download and watch films, and surf the Web. I could record from cable channels to the tablet and the TV snap-on would let me watch digital fee channels from the tablet wherever I want. I'd opt for the 320 GB, which the company says will store up to 400 movies, 3.2 million photos or 190,000 songs. The tablet has Internet and e-mail capability via a Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) connection. The screen is a 800x480-pixel, 7-inch TFT LCD. It measures 7.48x4.33x0.629 inches, and weighs 23 ounces so it should be easy to pack along.
-- Miriam Jones, chief copy editor


Soft Feel Sandy Gold

That's the official color of the Nissan Nuvu concept car, which debuted at the Paris Motor Show in October. Much of the interior consists of recycled or organic materials, such as wood fibers and rubber from car tires is used for the flooring - making this a feel-good car to assuage the environmentalist in me. The Nuvu is electric, with small solar panels on top its roof feeding the battery via a "tree trunk" inside the car. A quick battery charge takes 10 to 20 minutes, and a full charge takes three to four hours. The zero emissions car has two regular seats plus one in the back that can be folded down. It's about 10 feet long, and looks cozy, i.e., small, but that doesn't deter me from wanting one. See photos at Auto Report.
-- Miriam Jones, chief copy editor