Podcast Episode

420 – Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide 2018


Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin form the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

Simple Wishlists for Weddings, Birthdays etc. is a plugin that will allows you to easily add gifts to your wishlist and embed it anywhere with a shortcode. 

Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide 2018

* Headspace
* Spotify or Apple Music
* HBO Go
* YouTube TV
* Memrise
* LastPass / 1Password
* Treehouse / Lynda.com / Mimo / other code school subscriptions
* Backblaze for Cloud Backup
* Sanebox

Smart Home
* Google Home
* Amazon Echo
* Ring Doorbel
* Nest Doorbell
* Ring Floodlight Security Camera
* WeMo Plugs
* Hue lights
* Raspberry Pi
* Orbi Wireless Router

* Merchandise from WordPress Swag store

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Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

On today’s episode, we are going to talk about gifts, as we’re getting close to the Christmas season. And we’re going to talk about the 2018 Holiday Gift Guide, right here on Your Website Engineer podcast episode No. 420.

Hello. And welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler. And I’m with you today all the way from Key Largo, Florida. A lot has happened in the last week since I recorded the last show. And I actually closed on a house, I moved, and I went on vacation all in about a three-day span. And so, that’s why I just didn’t have time to record this in the studio. And so, I’m just sitting here on the balcony, just kind of hanging out outside, as it is a nice 67 degrees Fahrenheit here in Florida.

And I want to give you some gift ideas for that tech person in your life. Just in case you are running a little short of ideas, and you don’t have any good ideas for them for this Christmas holiday.

So, before we do that, let’s go ahead and talk about the news that’s happening in the week. The first piece of news is, I want to let you know about WordPress 5.0.1 security release. It’s now available. And it goes back to all versions since 3.7. And so, there are a lot of things that have been fixed, mainly security-type bugs and whatnot. There’s a link in the show notes. You can read the whole thing. I don’t want to talk you through all of things that were updated. But if you’re interested in finding out more you can check out the show notes for episode No. 420.

The other piece of news that I want to share with you this week is, WordCamp US is to be held on November 1st through 3rd in St. Louis. And originally I thought, “Oh, this is a great idea. It’s going to be outside of the holiday season. It’s not going to be in December.” And then all of a sudden, it is like, “Oh, well, the 31st is Halloween.” So, I have young kids and would like to be there for Halloween. So, we’ll see how that shakes down next year when it comes to WordCamp St. Louis. Maybe I’ll leave right after Halloween or trick-or-treat is over, and then head to St. Louis. Or maybe I’ll skip this one and sit this one out.

So, those are the dates if you are interested in coming. Be sure to put those on your calendar so you do not overbook that weekend.

Then in the “Is there a plug-in for that?” section of the show, there is a plug in that I want to share. It’s called Simple Wishlists for Weddings, Birthdays etc. And this is a clean and elegant solution to display a wedding gift registry on your website. Or you can create a wish list for your birthday or other occasions. It allows you to easily add gifts to your wish list and embed it anywhere as a short code.

The gift is displayed with an image, a title, a description, the price, and a product link. And most importantly, people can indicate if they’ve already bought the gifts, so nobody else does. And so, I thought that kind of fit in, not necessarily with Christmas gifts per se, but for gift giving in general. If you have some sort of event that you are looking to receive a gift, I would check out Simple Wishlist for Weddings, Birthdays etc. And that’s on the WordPress repository.

All right. Today let’s go ahead and talk about a couple different things. I had a list – a short list here. And it’s a couple different ideas between subscriptions and maybe some smart home things. And mainly because those are the two things that I think would be really beneficial to somebody that is in the tech space or is interested in WordPress. Most likely they are interested in some of these other things as well. And so, let’s go ahead and just dive into this list and talk about some of these things.

The first one in the subscriptions is a subscription to Headspace. Headspace is a meditation type software that you can use, and you can meditate, and you can listen and kind of work through mindfulness. And they do have different subscriptions that are available. And this should be a great thing for somebody who sits at the computer all the time. Just being able to stop what you’re doing and spend some time meditating and just relaxing is a great thing. And so, I’d recommend checking out Headspace.

And the links – all of these links – there is links for all of these things in the show notes for episode No. 420.

The next one is kind of along the same lines, but music. Whether that be Spotify, or Apple Music, or focus@will, or Brain.fm. There’s a ton of different music services that are out there that are relatively inexpensive. And so, this would be a great idea for a Christmas gift, for a holiday gift. And you can get this for somebody who works, again, a lot at the computer and needs some sort of background music to keep their mind stimulated as they’re working on different things. So, I would recommend checking out those options as well.

Maybe if you have a somebody that’s in your life that’s a big TV watcher and likes to watch the latest and greatest, maybe a subscription to HBO Go. That’s a monthly subscription. But it’s kind of neat that you don’t have to have a full-out cable package anymore to watch HBO cable, or HBO content. And so, that would be something that you can check out.

And along those same lines YouTube.TV, or YouTube TV I guess, is a subscription that you can watch live sports and live – basically whatever is airing on network TV, you can watch on YouTube. And I’ve done a trial of this YouTube TV and it is really cool. It’s a little bit expensive. I think it runs like $30.00 to $40.00 per month. But that could be a good thing that you can get somebody that is looking to cut cable or looking to have another alternative to just over the air antenna TV. YouTube TV would be a great option.

Another subscription, a premium subscription, that I think runs about $60.00 per year or so, is one for Memrise. And Memrise is a cool tool where you can learn different languages. And so, it’s an app that you run on your phone. And you can do lessons, and learn, and just continue to – to build that knowledge base of a different language. And it helps you learn different nouns, and pronouns, and just verbs, and whatnot. And I’ve used this for a while. I’ve never used the pro version. I’ve just been able to use the free version, but I found a lot of value. And I’ve learned a lot of Spanish just by using Memrise and working through their exercises. So, that’s a good one.

If you have somebody that is on the computer all the time – a tech nerd if you will – I would recommend a subscription to LastPass or 1Password. So, both of those have subscription. Or both of those, or at least 1Password, can have a stand-alone subscription. You just buy the program outright. But the subscription works really well. And you can have multiple people have different subscriptions. So, for example, my wife and I can have – each have a subscription. And then we can share our pass vaults with each other so we can share each other’s passwords. So, that would be a really cool idea.

LastPass or 1Password. Because we do not – we do need to have new passwords for every single website that’s out there. We should never be reusing our passwords these days. And just with all the security breaches and whatnot that are out there, I do recommend using 1Password or LastPass for all your password needs.

One of the subscriptions that I would look forward to getting as a holiday gift, would be a subscription to some sort of code website, or code school. So, that’s Treehouse or Lynda.com. There’s one that’s on my phone called Nemo. Which is a new one that’s been out there for a little while. But there are tons of these other options out there. I didn’t even list – there’s dozens and dozens that you can do. And these would just be great. These are great tools where you can learn how to use PHP, or MySQL, or Photoshop.

Or with Lynda there are – Lynda.com there are hundreds of thousands of just different venues that are out there and just different courses that you can learn exactly what you want to learn. And you don’t have to go anywhere. You can just learn it from the comfort of your home. So, I recommend some sort of a subscription to like a code school or something like that.

Another option out there is Backblaze. Backblaze is a service that I’ve been using probably for four, five, it might be six years or so. And that just backs up my personal computer. It backs up all of my files to a cloud server somewhere. And then if I ever need access to or I ever need that data, if my computer gets wiped or stolen or whatnot, I have access to those files. It works really well.

You have the ability to roll to another version, So, like when I get a new computer for work, I can go ahead and roll my backup. And then I don’t have to back everything up all over again. And it just stores everything on my computer. I actually – Backblaze is pretty awesome in the fact that you can – also if your computer has a hard drive connected to it, you can actually back up the entire contents of your hard drive as well. And so, that’s a really good subscription option as well. That runs, I think $5.00 per month. And so, about $60.00 per year.

And then another subscription that I think would be a good one to receive as a gift is SaneBox. You probably heard this as advertisements or sponsored ads on lots of other podcasts. But SaneBox is the service that will go through and strip out – not strip out, but it goes through your mailbox and it finds the most important messages and makes sure that those filter up to the top. And that you receive those messages when you need them. And then it works and goes through and kind of filters them out. And it puts all your newsletters into one bucket.

And it gives you the option to say, one week, you can cc one week at SaneBox.com. And so, if you don’t hear a response from an email message in one week, it swings it back into your email inbox, so you remember about it. So, I think that’s a pretty cool thing as well that you can get. And that has several different pricing options for SaneBox.

So, those are some subscriptions that I came up with.

And then the other thing that I want to talk about is smart home gadgets. And just with finally getting into our new house and whatnot, has been – I’ve got all of this equipment that I want to set up and just get set up and ready to go. So, I have this whole smart home system where lights turn on and off when I need them to automatically. And the thermostat adjusts and whatnot.

So, a couple things in mind. Again, there are hundreds of ideas here. But some of the ones that I thought would be kind of helpful and in – not too expensive of a price range would be a Google Home or Amazon Echo. Both of those things are really, really inexpensive these days. And it just really depends on which person in the box do you want to talk to. Do you want to talk to Google? Do you want to talk to Amazon?

Or you – I guess you could even get the HomePod by Apple. And that would be another – I think the HomePod is more of a speaker whereas the other two, the Google Home and the Amazon Echo, could do some things for you. So, you can ask them to change the temperature. You can ask them to turn lights on. Things like that. And I don’t quite think that they – Apple HomePod can do that just quite yet.

So, those are a couple smart home gadgets.

Then the other things that are out there are the Ring doorbell or the Nest doorbell. I’ve got a Nest doorbell sitting in a box at my house, just waiting to be installed. And so, that give you protection on both seeing if somebody tries to take a package or if somebody tries to prank your house. It has that capability because it’s recording a video. And it’s just also nice like if you are in another part of the house and the doorbell rings. It’s like, “Oh, it’s just the mailman. He’s leaving a package. I’ll go get that in a few minutes.” I don’t have to rush to do – to go to the door, or when I’m doing this other thing or whatnot.

So, that is a couple things: the Ring doorbell, the Nest doorbell. There also – Ring has a flood light security camera. So, this can be popped on to any flood light. And – or like, if you have an outside flood light, you can change, swap this out for a Ring flood light. And then that gives you the ability to see some video and a live feed of what’s happening outside. So, I really like those as well.

You can do the Wemo plugs. And these are – these are plugs that you can control with your phone. Or you can control with the app. And you just have the ability to set customizations on when you want these lights to turn on or turn off, or these outlets to turn on or turn off.

You also have the Hue bulbs. Those are another kind of a fun geeky thing that I know that most tech people would like. And it basically can allow your home to start being smart. You can have your lights turn on and turn off at a certain schedule. And you can change the colors depending on different times of the day and whatnot.

So, those are some of the smart home gifts you can get a tech person in your life.

Another thing that I’m really excited about, and I don’t know if I’ll get one – it’s on my Christmas list, but a Raspberry Pi. I’ve been doing some research for all this – this smart home stuff. And some of the technologies really don’t talk to each other. So, like I mean, I’m in the Apple ecosphere but then I’ve got the Nest products, and that’s really on Google’s side. And I don’t really have one app to kind of control them all.

But there is a – there’s something called Home Assistant. And I’ve been digging into this a little bit. And so, a Home Assistant works on a Raspberry Pi. And it can bring all of your smart devices into one interface. And you can kind of build out that one smart home page. So, it can show you what your thermostat is, and the status of your front door lock, and is your garage door up or down. Or things along those lines. So, that’s what Raspberry Pis are good for. You can run them to do a bunch of things. But that’s what I would be looking forward to.

And then this one is really kind of a higher price point. And it’s the last one on my kind of my smart home list. And that is a Orbi wireless router. And this is a – this is a new system that for me anyway, that I just got last week. And I set it up in my new house. And it supposedly is one of the best mesh networks that are out there. So, what that means is when you multiple of these units they talk to each other. They can make sure that you have full internet all the way around your entire house.

And so, for an example, they came, and they set up my internet at my new house. And then I was getting like 220 megabytes down, which was really exciting. So, that was really fast. I didn’t have any connection problems when I was at home. And then when I was here at this hotel in Key Largo, I’m getting like 140 kilobytes up, or kilobytes down. It’s like so painfully slow based on what I had last week.

And so, it runs a little bit more expensive. I think I got this three pack – so, I have a three pack. And it was about $300.00 and that was at Costco. But then they have some options there. So, if you have somebody in your life that’s always telling you about how slow and painful their wireless internet is, then maybe it’s a good time to upgrade that wireless – that wireless router. And spend some time, or spend some money getting them up to speed with some of the latest technology.

And the last thing I have on my list here is merchandise from the WordPress swag store. So, I don’t know if you’re familiar with this or not, but there’s a link in the show notes on how to get there. But they’ve got hoodies, and t-shirts, and hats, and a few different things. And some little swag items, like some stickers, and some keychains, and some coffee mugs, and things like that. And those would be great things for the WordPress fan in your life. And as they give them some swag that they can hang on to and they can use on a daily basis.

And so, those are the ideas that I came up with. And I’m sure there are hundreds of different things if I really would have sat down and thought through like all things that I could use, I could have put together an entirely huge list. But these are some of the things that came off the top of my head, if this is the kind of the last-minute holiday gift guide. Because as this comes out, Christmas is less than a week away. And so, if you are looking for some sort of gift idea, these are the things that I’d recommend.

And that’s what I wanted to share with you today. Take care, and we’ll talk again soon. Bye-bye.