Ultimate gifts for ultimate executives

Four Christmas gifts you might want to consider getting that ultimate executive in your life.
Originally published in the Business Guardian for December 12, 2013

Christmas gift lists are a whimsical thing, but they can be useful in focusing your thinking on purchases that may actually end up being useful for the recipient.
What follows are suggestions for the most impressive gifts that one might consider giving to a person who depends on technology for business. Some are practical, some are sensible and some are well, let’s just call them interesting.

The Ultimate USB Drive.
The Corsair Flash Survivor drive. Photo courtesy Corsair.
What would constitute the perfect USB flash drive for a business person? It should be clippable, so that it can be attached to something larger or even to its user, since the number one hazard of these drives is that they are so easily lost.
The perfect drive would be rugged, so that stepping on it or rolling over it with a car or even dropping it into liquid, perhaps framed by a porcelain bowl or powdered sugar, wouldn’t mean the end of it.

It should include encryption, so that someone who finds it doesn’t have access to your personal information and finally, it should be spacious, for those truly nerdy folks who walk around with a bootable system dangling from their necks.
The one product that I found that meets all these criteria doesn’t seem to exist anymore. It’s called an Iron Drive and all leads to its website now turn up blank.

So the next step down is the
Corsair Flash Survivor, a ruggedized USB 3 drive that’s rated for dunking as deep as 200 metres. That’s a deep Mai Tai.
You’ll have to roll your own encryption, but you should just be able to fit a Windows 8 installation onto the 32GB model. Enterprise customers, who shouldn’t be expecting gifts at all, should investigate ironkey.com.

The Ultimate Stapler
Sold under a range of names and in different styles, the staple-less stapler punches and bends paper to bind them together. Photo courtesy Fancy.
Everybody sitting at a desk eventually has to attach two or three pieces of paper together. What if you could do that without using little bits of metal that are just begging to find their way into your fingers or having to prise said bits of metal out of paper constantly?

EcoStapler punches and deftly folds a tiny bit of your documents so that up to five sheets are effectively bound.
Definitely not for use in offices that bind huge wads of paper together, but just the thing for small offices and homes that need to keep paper together without messing around with fine bits of wire.

The Ultimate Bag
Saddleback Leather’s classic briefcase model is one of several bags from the company’s like of premium bags. Photo courtesy Saddleback Leather.
Everybody needs a bag to shove all their stuff into. What nobody needs is another cheaply made, poorly designed and generally useless container that’s just like the ones everyone else has.

Saddleback Leather makes bags unlike any you’ve ever seen. There are no fancy partitions, hardly any pockets and no fussy zips and velcro snaps. What the company sells is a bag that’s designed to last a lifetime and look good long after you’re worn out.

The company also promises to honour its warranties with your heirs if they survive the fight after the reading of the will. This is one product that I can personally endorse, mine is now two years old.
A Saddleback Leather bag is a container. If you want a padded sleeve for your laptop, buy one that fits it and put it in there. I kitted my bag out with a sleeve and padded partitions for camera gear.

Twenty-four months later, the bag looks exactly it did the day it arrived. I suspect that the break-in period for these bags is measured in decades, not weeks.

The Ultimate Keyboard
Build your own or buy one ready-made, but this device is a writer’s wet dream come true. Photo courtesy USB Typewriter.
I’m old enough to have learned to type on an old and very tall Remington typewriter while working my way through a worn copy of the Pitman’s course handbook.
There’s a part of my brain that’s still wired to swoon at the sight of those noble keys, each atop their own metal lever, which swung a letter like a wrecking ball at the captive sheet of paper stretched across a rubber roller.

Looking back at that sentence, I really have to wonder about the fetishism of old school typing too.
There is a whole movement around reviving the mechanical actuators of old school IBM keyboards, which were also used to great effect on old school Macintosh keyboards as well.
If you want to go really old school and gift a professional writer with the present of a lifetime though, there is nothing to match the
USB Typewriter.

This is exactly what it sounds like. An artisan project that turns a typewriter into a USB keyboard. I cannot possibly think of anything to add to that statement that might be cooler than saying it again, so here: turns a typewriter into a USB keyboard.

You can send in a typewriter of your own or buy one of the ready made devices that the company offers for sale.
The artist/craftsman/geek/behind the project, Jack Zylkin also offers a DIY kit and publishes all the technical resource information that a tinkerer would need to undertake the project on their own.
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