Today I saw a supermarket shelf full of things to plug into the USB ports of computers.
I'm not talking printers, memory sticks, scanners, video transfer widgets. I'm talking little lights, desktop fans, tiny rocket launchers, a glitter version of the lava lamp and just about anything else you'd never think of plugging in there.
Next to these was a whole lot of solar-powered gadgetry which you can buy to reduce your use of fossil fuels. None of the solar-powered gadgets were any more useful than the USB ones, so I suppose they were there to offset the power wasted by the USB stuff.
Who buys these things? I have an office fan, sure. It can get hot here in summer. Sometimes it tops 25C/80F. It doesn't plug into my already straining, overdue-for-replacement computer. I have lights, none of which plug into the computer either. Okay, I don't have a rocket launcher but that's because I have nothing to fire little plastic rockets at. Who does, I wonder?
Christmas brings forth, every year, a multitude of 'gifts' that nobody wants to receive and nobody should buy. If someone bought me a radio-controlled Volkswagen camper van, should I be thankful? I'm more likely to think 'What the hell do you think I am? Well, anyway, thanks for another surface for my growing collection of dust.' Now, a radio controlled monster truck can be fun, or a plane, or a helicopter. But a VW camper? Who's that for? It's one stage up from a radio controlled pedestrian. (Yes, I am interested in radio control, so don't try hoaxing me with it).
A perennial favourite is the pen with a voice-recorder built in. Now, I never take notes on a voice recorder. I know some people do, but I'd guess that's because they don't have time to hunt out a pen and write it down. But if you take out this voice recorder, you're holding a pen. Just buy a damn pen. Or a voice recorder. One or the other, please.
Don't buy these 'stocking fillers'. They just deplete your bank account and bemuse the recipients. Buy something useful, or at least something entertaining.
Christmas is coming. Humbug, anyone?