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December holiday shopping ideas

December 1, 2008

by Mark Ollig

It’s true – our calendars tell us today is the first day of December and so our thoughts turn to what special gift to buy our favorite person (or ourself) this holiday season.

By now you know I love using my iPod. The earbuds it came with work, but I find they slip out too easily; they just do not really “sit” securely in my ears.

So, this humble columnist went on a search and found I could “retrofit” and adapt my existing earbuds with something called “Acoustibuds.”

These silicone rubber adapters turn ordinary “flat-front-loosely-held-in-my-ear” earbuds (like the ones that come with my iPod) into “securely-anchored-into-your-ear-canal, no-falling-out” earbuds.

The secret seems to be the numerous circular plastic securing “fins” on the Acoustibuds which make a better seal to keep out room noise along with improving the volume and overall sound.

Most importantly to this iPod user, they hold the earbud securely in the ear without slipping off.

Acoustibuds also work with the earbuds that came with your iPhone, Zune and most MP3 players too.

They fit mostly “flat-front earbuds” and come in a package that includes two sizes (five-fins for smaller ears, and six-fins for regular to larger ears).

Amazon sells them for around $13 in black or white colors.

Check them out at http://www.acoustibuds.com.

Are you dreaming of an environmentally “eco-green” Christmas this season?

So is 71 year old inventor Trevor Baylis.

Baylis has a passion for inventing particularly with products which help the physically challenged.

Fifteen years ago it was Bayis who invented the original “wind-up” hand-crank powered radio.

This breakthrough produced energy the radio needed to operate without the use of batteries or an electrical outlet.

Baylis was inspired to action for this invention because in 1991 he watched a television program about the need for communication on AIDS education in Africa.

For many of the people living in remote African regions, a radio was the only existing means of communication.

The need for batteries and electricity was unavailable to many living in these regions.

It was tremendously difficult for these people to heed the health information via radio broadcasts.

This situation presented a strong need for an educational method or device that did not rely on electricity or batteries to get the messages to the people in isolated areas.

Once Baylis heard the word “need” he became focused and dedicated himself in finding an answer.

The story of Baylis, which is in my opinion an inspirational one, is in itself worth reading.

Baylis invented an electro-mechanical system that converted two minutes worth of hand-cranking or winding into enough energy for a radio to play for fourteen minutes.

Baylis did attempt to market his invention, but manufacturers were not convinced of its commercial value.

After many rejections Baylis’s luck changed.

In April of 1994 his invention was featured on the BBC program “Tomorrow’s World.”

The product’s potential was recognized right away by Christopher Staines, a corporate accountant and Rory Stear, who was a South African entrepreneur.

In 1997, the “Freeplay Radio 2” rolled off the production line in South Africa.

Smaller and lighter than Baylis’s original model, this special new portable hand-cranked, wind-up radio was specifically designed to operate for up to an hour after just thirty seconds of winding.

This radio model was updated to include a solar panel so it could operate using the power of the sun.

Recently, Trevor Baylis created the “Ecomedia” or “Eco” player which is based upon the success he had with his original wind-up hand-cranking radio.

By winding the new Ecomedia’s handle for one minute it will provide about 45 minutes worth of playing time.

This new wind-up technology does away with the need for replacement batteries which would otherwise go into landfill sites, so the green benefits are obvious.

The Eco is a 4.5-by-2.5-by-1-inch, 6-ounce device, (including its built-in generator and wind up hand-crank).

It’s also a dual-power device – its lithium-ion battery charges from a USB as well as the hand-crank.

There are 4GB and 8GB versions available, and both include a standard Secured Digital (SD) memory card slot.

It also includes a built-in video and music player, FM radio, picture viewer, digital memo recorder, mobile phone charger and a digital storage drive.

The Eco sales price is listed at $199.00.

“I’m just amazed that after 15 years the wind-up technology that I started is even more widespread than I could have imagined. I wanted it to help the third-world, but now it has come home, and it’s being taken up in increasing numbers by technologically sophisticated consumers.” Baylis said.

His company, “BayGen Products” makes other types of wind-up devices also.

To check out the new Eco media player, visit http://www.ecomediaplayer.com

Baylis’s web site is at http://www.trevorbaylisbrands.com.

On this week’s “Web Site of the Week” forum – which just went over 3,000 views, thank you very much – I will feature more information about Trevor Baylis and also post pictures and video of some new techie gift ideas.