WBEZ | gifts http://www.wbez.org/tags/gifts Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Need A Last-Minute Gift? Don't Want To Buy Stuff? All Tech Has Ideas http://www.wbez.org/news/science/need-last-minute-gift-dont-want-buy-stuff-all-tech-has-ideas-114249 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/mixed-tape-photo-5839da208bf8bf4439fe15544733e3fde3370a22-s400-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Bummer, you&#39;ve missed the best time to order Christmas gifts online! And now you have these options: pay for same-day delivery or face the dreaded shopping mall (or resort to that end-of-the-line choice of a gift card, but you wouldn&#39;t go there, would you?).</p><p>So what&#39;s the last-minute buy for your plugged-in friend, sister or mom? Do they really need another Internet-connected&nbsp;thing? Nothing against gadgets and gizmos, but if you&#39;re of the philosophy that thoughtful gestures qualify perfectly well as Christmas presents, we&#39;ve got a few ideas for you.</p><p>These are, of course, only a few of the possibilities &mdash; do let us know, in the comments or&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/npralltech" target="_blank">on Twitter</a>, what other suggestions you may have and if you&#39;ve gifted something like this.</p><p>(Note: None of these ideas are meant to be specific to any particular online platform, and you should be able to use whatever website or app you fancy. This is also not meant to be a step-by-step instruction, but a quick Google search should unearth production tips, if you need them.)</p><hr /><div id="res460286141"><p><strong><span style="font-size:20px;">Last-Minute Gifts That Don&#39;t Involve Shopping</span></strong></p><p><strong>The 21st-Century Mixtape</strong></p><h3><img alt="While the days of sharing mixed tapes and audio cassettes may be long gone, exchanging playlists doesn't have to be." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/mixed-tape-photo-5839da208bf8bf4439fe15544733e3fde3370a22-s400-c85.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left; height: 232px; width: 310px;" title="While the days of sharing mixed tapes and audio cassettes may be long gone, exchanging playlists doesn't have to be. (Darren Johnson/Getty Images/EyeEm)" /></h3><ul><li><div id="res460286278"><ul><li>Remember when a mixtape from your high school crush was, like, totally the best? We don&#39;t get those often anymore, and that&#39;s a shame. Bring the mixtape back with a personalized digital music selection. This could be a playlist or station in your favorite music streaming service or a downloadable mix you could give as a gift.</li><li>&nbsp;</li><li>Inspirations: An awesome workout mix, a memory-lane mix, a mix based on a recent music festival or productivity-driving instrumental mix.</li></ul></div></li></ul><div id="res460286312"><h3>&nbsp;</h3><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p><strong>The Shared Memory Bank</strong></p><div id="res460313088" previewtitle="Do you and your friends look like these British models from the 1970s? If not, have no fear — you can still capture memories (digitally) in a shared private photo collection."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="Do you and your friends look like these British models from the 1970s? If not, have no fear — you can still capture memories (digitally) in a shared private photo collection." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/polaroid-idea-2dfaefed86d66be13adb61a417bc13e350824962-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="Do you and your friends look like these British models from the 1970s? If not, have no fear — you can still capture memories (digitally) in a shared private photo collection. (Manchester Daily Express/SSPL/Getty)" /></p><div><div><p>Does your mom or grandma constantly ask you for photos? Do your relatives or friends have endless messaging chains sharing images of weird experiences or accidentally found throwback pics?</p></div></div></div><div><p>You could set everyone up with a private online album &mdash; with shared passwords or access rights &mdash; to deposit all the unfiltered memories of the year. (Your notifications, or lack thereof, will thank you.)</p><p>Technical note: Lots of file-sharing and specifically photo-sharing websites and apps will make this easy.</p><hr /><p><strong>The Perfect Awakening</strong></p></div></div><div id="res460286314"><div id="res460320363" previewtitle="Waking up can be hard. Make it easier with a customized alarm clock recording. Pro tip: If this is the recipient's reaction to your gift, you're doing it wrong."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="Waking up can be hard. Make it easier with a customized alarm clock recording. Pro tip: If this is the recipient's reaction to your gift, you're doing it wrong." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/istock_000062448900_large-1--76188cc2eb7ee35f4705f610cdf264c27d04d73f-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="Waking up can be hard. Make it easier with a customized alarm clock recording. Pro tip: If this is the recipient's reaction to your gift, you're doing it wrong. (Serpeblu/iStockphoto)" /></p><div><div><p>You&#39;ll never forget the parental voices that woke you up in the morning as a kid, a combination of nagging and loving depending on the day. Now you can do the same.</p></div></div></div><div><p>If you know someone&nbsp;really&nbsp;well, give them a gift of a personalized phone alarm clock with a selection of recordings of your own voice or other sounds that would get them out of bed.</p><p>The tricky part is the potential of becoming associated with a dreadful part of the day for the night-owl types. But wouldn&#39;t it be awesome to lighten up someone&#39;s first waking moments?</p><p>Non-music sound inspirations: Sizzling bacon, coffee maker, shower, drill sergeant, barking dog, birds, actual parents imploring to wake up.</p><hr /><p><strong>The Constant Reminder</strong></p></div></div><div id="res460286316"><div id="res460312899" previewtitle="A generic screensaver background, like this resort in the Maldives, would be so much better if you were in it. Enter: the custom-made screensaver."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="A generic screensaver background, like this resort in the Maldives, would be so much better if you were in it. Enter: the custom-made screensaver." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/screensaver-idea-cff1129d04dd481c7c2c411aac466c9c92d1f44e-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 232px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="A generic screensaver background, like this resort in the Maldives, would be so much better if you were in it. Enter: the custom-made screensaver. (Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP)" /></p><div><div><p>Help your loved one up their screensaver game!</p></div></div></div><div><p>Say no to blurry family pics (unless, you know, they&#39;re into that sort of thing) and give them a selection of visuals for their computer or phone screen that you made, edited or dug up.</p><p>Technical note: Many screens can display slideshows and interactive or &quot;live&quot; images.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p><strong>The No-Googling-Required R&amp;R</strong></p></div></div><div id="res460286381"><div id="res460319699" previewtitle="Give the gift of a road trip or a weekend jaunt without the confused stares, itinerary indecision and bickering over directions."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="Give the gift of a road trip or a weekend jaunt without the confused stares, itinerary indecision and bickering over directions." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/istock_000058434368_large-c696ee608cd12e893cdba58ad662a14a0c04ae54-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Give the gift of a road trip or a weekend jaunt without the confused stares, itinerary indecision and bickering over directions. (Steve Cole, Christie &amp; Cole Studio Inc./iStockphoto)" /></p><div><div><p>This one would take a bit of time, but think of the rewards!</p></div></div></div><div><p>Give a gift of hassle-free adventures by preparing a digital collection of ideas for quick day trips, weekend getaways or local explorations that would require minimal investment from the recipient, with contacts, directions and advice.</p><p>Inspirations: Maps for reference, helpful online reviews, menu tips for restaurants, affordable kid- or pet-friendly activities, calendar of fairs or farmers markets or sports events.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p><strong>The Fun-Time Subscription</strong></p></div></div><div id="res460286512"><div id="res460324743" previewtitle="What could be better than a year's worth of photos like this? Deliver cuteness and more to an inbox near you."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="What could be better than a year's worth of photos like this? Deliver cuteness and more to an inbox near you." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/istock_000010633281_large-1--93913090d1fa3e2ab92ebf62ead7a7d08613a3d0-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="What could be better than a year's worth of photos like this? Deliver cuteness and more to an inbox near you. (DawnPoland /iStockphoto)" /></p><div><div><p>This one is for the committed: It&#39;s like that &quot;word of the day&quot; or horoscope email service, except from you and with memes.</p></div></div></div><div><p>Create a &quot;newsletter&quot; for one with daily or weekly (or, you know, occasional) links to something they would find funny or helpful. There are simple newsletter services you could dig up online, but this could also just be a steady stream of emails, app messages or even texts.</p><p>Inspirations: Recipes, local musicians, obscure histories of words, favorite NPR stories, Harry Potter-themed quizzes, puppies in Santa costumes, cat videos (obviously).</p><hr /><p><strong>The Customized Entertainment</strong></p></div></div><div id="res460286508"><div id="res460320697" previewtitle="With just a little bit of work, your friends' movie night, too, can be just as fun. Cute dog not included."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="With just a little bit of work, your friends' movie night, too, can be just as fun. Cute dog not included." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/istock_000070345639_large-74fc75952c1282c31019a2729b38076278e0b5e7-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 232px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="With just a little bit of work, your friends' movie night, too, can be just as fun. Cute dog not included. (Svetikd/iStockphoto)" /></p><div><div><p>It&#39;s a modern-day annoyance: You&#39;ve got an evening free, but what to watch?</p></div></div></div><div><p>Do the leg work for your movie-loving friend or sibling with a curated list of the best flicks to watch online &mdash; for instance, organized by genre, complete with links to trailers, spoiler-free reviews and personal comments.</p><p>Alternative inspirations: A curated list of recommendations for books,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/podcasts/" target="_blank">podcasts</a>&nbsp;(with best episodes), games or online video channels.</p><p>NPR tips: For best&nbsp;<a href="http://apps.npr.org/best-books-2015/" target="_blank">books of 2015</a>&nbsp;and for all&nbsp;<a href="http://earbud.fm/" target="_blank">kinds of podcasts</a>.</p></div></div></div><p><span id="cke_bm_766E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 22 Dec 2015 09:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/science/need-last-minute-gift-dont-want-buy-stuff-all-tech-has-ideas-114249 This Holiday Season, Give the Gift of World Disease http://www.wbez.org/news/holiday-season-give-gift-world-disease-114235 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/pandm.JPG" alt="" /><p><div id="res460306308"><div><div><img alt="Pandemic Legacy board game" src="http://www.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/pandemic-TLv3.gif" style="height: 374px; width: 620px;" title="(Ben de la Cruz/NPR)" /></div><div><p>I&#39;d just wiped out a virus known only as COdA-403a in Miami and Atlanta, boasting, &quot;I just saved North America, okay?&quot; But it resurfaced and caused an epidemic in Paris. The likelihood of the outbreak worsening was high, and I wasn&#39;t going to make it to France in time to prevent it.</p></div></div></div><p>But Parisians shouldn&#39;t get out their face masks. I&#39;m not a real disease fighter, I was just playing one in the board game Pandemic: Legacy, the latest version in the Pandemic series. Like its predecessors, Pandemic: Legacy is a mixture of luck and strategy. And to see just how accurate it was, I played with four real-life scientists who study infectious disease modeling at a&nbsp;<a href="http://bansallab.com/">Georgetown University epidemiology lab</a>.</p><p>In the Pandemic games, players move figurines across a world map crisscrossed by a network of major cities. The goal is to stop killer diseases from ravaging the planet using various game actions to control the epidemic. Every round, players draw from a deck of cards that instruct you to infect a city with a disease &mdash; represented by a cube in the game. Then up to four players work together and scurry around trying to find a cure and treat cities before they get too laden with sickness and suffer an outbreak.</p><p>The twist in Pandemic: Legacy is the timeline. The game&#39;s story unfolds over 12 games, one for each month of the year, and you win each round of play when you complete the month&#39;s objective. That could be something mundane like &quot;eradicate a disease&quot; or it could be &quot;find and apprehend a rogue, paranoid soldier.&quot;</p><p>The game is fairly easy in the beginning. &quot;We&#39;re going to win,&quot; one of our epidemiologists remarked. But things get harder and harder with each subsequent session.</p><p>Halfway through the January session, we flip over the next card in the story deck and it says that the virus COdA-403a has become treatment-resistant. At the start of the next game, February, COdA-403a becomes intractable and incurable. Over the next 12 games, there are deaths and betrayals from different in-game characters and the steady unraveling of a global conspiracy.</p><p>And the actions you take in earlier games cascade into later games. After a city suffers an outbreak, you place a &quot;permanent panic sticker&quot; on the board. Panic can lead to riots that destroy useful research facilities that you need to cure diseases. There are special cards like the experimental vaccine card, which averts an epidemic, but increases panic. Our epidemiologists showed their science stripes when we played the card in our game.</p><p>&quot;Why does science cause panic?&quot; said Ian Carrol, a post-doc who studies animal diseases.</p><p>&quot;Why does it say destroy this card after use?&quot; said Pratha Sah, an epidemiology graduate student.</p><p>&quot;Oh, it doesn&#39;t say discard. It says destroy,&quot; Carrol said.</p><p>&quot;Are you sure you want to do that?&quot; Sah said.</p><p>&quot;Well, we are playing the game,&quot; I said and shredded the card between my fingers. Sah gasped.</p><p>&quot;Jeez,&quot; Carrol said. &quot;I&#39;m kind of sweating. This is a game of real consequence.&quot;</p><p>There are aspects of Pandemic that mimic real epidemics, but the game doesn&#39;t take appear to take the science too seriously. Disease modelers like Ewan Coleman from Georgetown think carefully about how disease can spread and move around the world through road networks or air traffic. &quot;[The game] designed that network, why one city should be connected to another, but I feel they designed it to be entertaining rather than realistic,&quot; Coleman says.</p><p>For instance, one might expect a mega-metropolis like Beijing to be highly connected, but the Pandemic board only connects it to Seoul and Shanghai. The game doesn&#39;t take air traffic into account when diseases spread from city to city.</p><p>And the game doesn&#39;t have a strong rooting in real biology. There are four different diseases in Pandemic. They all behave more or less the same with the exception of the superbug COdA. Real viral, fungal, or bacterial diseases are extremely variable. Measles, for example, doesn&#39;t spread the same way that Ebola does. There&#39;s also no pattern to how cities get infected. &quot;Mostly it was just random, and diseases were popping out of nowhere,&quot; Coleman says.</p><p>Overall, the game is complicated. Coleman turned to the group and asked if they thought they could write an algorithm to optimize a game strategy. The consensus was maybe, but you&#39;d need a supercomputer.</p><p>It&#39;s nice that the game is co-operative. Where family-fun but competitive activities like Monopoly and Spades are relationship-destroying; working together to eradicate disease could be a way to bond. But, Carrol pointed out, disagreement over strategies can bring conflict, too.</p><p>In any case, if you&#39;re looking for a high-stakes game that can get your friends and family thinking about disease modeling (and really, who isn&#39;t these days), Pandemic is it.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/12/19/460281591/this-holiday-season-give-the-gift-of-world-disease?ft=nprml&amp;f=460281591" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Sun, 20 Dec 2015 22:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/holiday-season-give-gift-world-disease-114235 Dear Citibank http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-12/dear-citibank-104363 <p><p>Dear Citibank:<br /><br />Thank you for the piggy bank, glasses cleaner and huge piece of chocolate with your logo stamped on it:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/citibank.jpg" title="" /></div><p>We are glad you appreciate our business. However, next time, we would just take an extra five bucks in our account.</p><p>Thanks and happy holidays,</p><p>The Zulkey-Delahoyde household</p></p> Thu, 13 Dec 2012 12:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-12/dear-citibank-104363 Inspector General wants to ban city employees from getting gifts http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago/inspector-general-wants-ban-city-employees-getting-gifts <p><p>The Inspector General for the City of Chicago says city employees should not be allowed to accept gifts from companies doing business with the city.</p><p>According to the Chicago Ethics Ordinance, city employees may accept gifts from contractors but the gifts can't be worth more than $50 and not more than $100 worth of gifts in any one calendar years. But an investigation by the inspector generals office found a systemic problem with gift giving.</p><p>For example, a contractor who does work for the Chicago Department of Transportation paid for two CDOT employees to play in a golf tournament for a cost of $250 each. The employees said they didn't know the value of the tickets and conveniently didn't ask. Another employee accepted more than $3,500 in sports tickets and meals.</p><p>Inspector General Joe Ferguson said gift giving at best causes confusion and at worst leads to willful violations. He said the easy fix is to prohibit city employees from accepting any gifts at all.<br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 22 Dec 2010 12:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago/inspector-general-wants-ban-city-employees-getting-gifts