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Computer Care: Plenty of gadgets for Dad to marvel at for Fathers Day
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My dad was into gadgets. He liked to be on the cutting edge of electronics. OK, this was the late 1960s so nothing was really small or cheap yet. But when pocket calculators initially arrived on the market, they were about three-quarters of an inch thick and about the size of a cellphone.

So what, you say. But they also cost more than $100 each. My brothers and I each got one that year from our dad and it was just after I learned to work a slide rule. Anybody out there remember those?

If my dad were around today, he would marvel at the gadgets we have available. Father’s Day would be easy for me. I’d make sure he had a cool smartphone, a tablet computer, a GPS for the car, an electronic tire gauge and the brightest LED flashlight I could find on Amazon.

But he’s been gone for a while now, so I must buy these toys for myself (or suggest to my girls that dad could never have too many gadgets).

When I get emails from stores like newegg.com, tigerdirect.com or thinkgeek.com, I stop and browse their wares, thinking how much my dad would have enjoyed all of today’s technology.

Some are absolutely useful, while others — perhaps not so much.

Fans of the “Doctor Who” sci-fi TV series may be familiar with the Tardis and the Doctor’s special pen. Well, you can get these online now. The pen may not open locked doors or shoot a laser, but they make cool noises and flash multiple colored lights.

For the computer geek dad, there are endless USB gadgets that plug into laptops, from lights and fans to mini-refrigerators and coffee cup warmers. What dad wouldn’t appreciate one of those?

Everyone talks about pen drives. I bought a pen that unscrews to reveal a 4 GB flash drive. Now that’s something I use.

How about a pizza cutter looks like the Starship enterprise or a multi-tool that folds to fit on a key ring? Now these are both cool and practical.

I love flashlights. Aside from the indestructible ones that I use to peek inside computers (see gorillagadgets.com), I also carry a one watt, one cell (AAA) minilight that fits in my shirt pocket and is incredibly bright. I never leave home without it. Really. (See cyberguys.com)

I just ordered a portable water filter from beprepared.com that is the size of a straw from a Big Gulp. They have some really cool things on their site for the outdoors type as well as survivalist.

For clever, useful items all under $10, check out tmart.com. I got a couple of lithium ion batteries and a charger there for my high-end LED flashlight. It was a no-name battery, half the price of brand names, but ended up working just great.

If you’re into solar power for your lights and gadgets, check out sheepleg.com for a large variety of alternative energy products. They also carry camping and outdoor items.

Coolest-gadgets.com carries tech products for your Apple device, PC (USB), games and kitchen as well as solar powered toys, spy tech, home theater and wearable technology. It’s worth a browse.

If you want to see if there is a coupon to save you a buck or two at your online store, try looking at retailmenot.com, couponcactus.com or coupons.com/coupon-codes. Between them, they have hundreds of coupon codes to shop with online.

Don’t get frustrated or give up if you get a few dead ones. Some may be expired, but lots of them do work and will save you money.

Many online retailers that are covered include Amazon, Best Buy, Sears, Macy’s, Wal-Mart and Target, among others.

Did I mention that I love Amazon? They sell everything; plus shipping is free if you have their Prime membership and stuff arrives quickly. Should something happen and you have an issue, Amazon stands behind what is sold on their site. I’ve never had a problem with them that wasn’t resolved quickly.

So if you still haven’t gotten your dad something for tomorrow, get him a gadget. So what if it arrives a few days late. Get him a card in the interim. Even if he can’t really use that gadget, he’ll still appreciate it.

In 10 years, you’ll both look back and have a laugh at the what was today’s hi-tech toys. Compared to the holographic portable communicators we’ll probably have by then, a USB-powered refrigerator may not sound that great in comparison.

But since we can’t beam ourselves to where we want to go or Skype in 3D, I think a cool beverage device next to your dad’s computer may still suffice.

I know my dad would have been glad to get one.

Happy Father’s Day!

Arthur Glazer is a freelance writer and computer technician in Gainesville. His column appears biweekly on the Business page and on gainesvilletimes.com.