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    Things That We Might Put In Our Cart

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    There are too many things, and increasingly many of them aren't things. The internet may be coming to the things, but the things are already all over the internet. And all things deserve some attention, if for no other reason than our need to make sure we're dealing with only the most important things. This list below is not that list of most important things, but it's an attempt at least to guide you on your last minute seasonal gift plans, for others or for yourself. Or it might just remind you that you don't need more things, in which case you can skip to the bottom to see our suggestions for places to donate to too.

    A Map of the World: The World According to Illustrators and Storytellers: The perfect antidote to your Google map, this book is a cornucopia of contemporary maps by some of today’s most innovative designers, illustrators, and mapmakers, like Oliver Jeffers and Herb Lester. ($60 ) — AP

    Via the Henley Vaporium

    Blu e-cigarette: This year, I became one of those guys, sheepishly holding a tiny cylindrical cigarette simulator up to his mouth in public as the tip emits a faint LED glow. I became a vaper, I guess, and I did it because I used to love smoking cigarettes, right up until the day I quit three years ago. The smoke-free atomized nicotine I now inhale in a curl of water vapor may end up posing its own spate of health risks. Maybe it's radiating my tongue. But since scientific evidence deems nicotine generally harmless in all but the highest doses, for now, I puff in bliss. Blu's refillable e-cig set isn't the best-functioning vaporizer I've tried, but it's the least obtrusive, the one bearing the faintest intimation of elegance. It's perhaps a worthy unsubtle gesture/present for that special person who's so far refused to quit. (From $70)—BM

    Email overload. Photo: Flickr/ Wesley Fryer

    Sanebox: It filters all the stuff that’s not spam but not important into a different folder and then emails me a digest each day of all those messages, so i can look at them in one email. As a way to keep your email moving ever towards the most important thing in the world, INBOX ZERO, it works, which is why it ain’t free; but if you need it, it’s worth it. ($2-$20 per month)—AJG

    An "unbreakable" iPhone screen protector: If you still have an iPhone, the Rhino Shield, a slim, transparent screen covering, not only repels oil and fingerprints: it promises to take five times as much pounding as the phone’s pre-installed Gorilla Glass can. That way it’ll take you just a little longer to destroy it this time—more fun that way. ($24.99.) —AP

    The Gerrymandering Map, which we reviewed earlier this year, recently became available in poster form, and can be bought on Neil Freeman’s site for $35.—DS

    The Twitter Verified Pin: Status update! Because, let's face it: pulling up your Twitter page to show the bouncer doesn't always work the way it should. — DM ($20

    Uniqlo HeatTech: After three rounds of Christmas, my family still asks for these body insulators. Now you can buy them online thanks to the wonders of eCommerce and the most successful Japanese invasion since Pokémon. (Various prices) —CS 

    Magnetic Silly Putty: It's like Silly Putty but infused with millions of black iron oxide particles that make the putty magnetic. You can also make it yourself — instructions are here. Not edible. ($14.99) — AP

    A Piccolo subscription: a neat way to print photographs online. It’s about ten bucks a month to print a bunch of pics culled from your social media feeds. The quality can be so-so, but it’s easier than having to upload stuff to sites like Snapfish or Shutterfly. ($10-20 per month)—AJG

    A Pixelist painting: The new startup lets you commision oil paintings based on your Instagrams or other photos, in what may be the most brilliant use of China's knock-off art factories we've ever seen. ($150 for a 12″ x 12″ canvas - $660 for a 30″ by 30″

    Cool Tools: What does technology want? I’m not sure it wants anything, but what technology is great, and why? Kevin Kelly’s ten-year-old site cool-tools.org has been reviewing hand tools, how-to books, vehicles, software, maps, random gizmos, appliances, websites and other useful things ad nauseum. In this big tome, clearly inspired by The Whole Earth Catalog, the criteria is that the thing you’re looking at is the best of kind, the cheapest, or the only thing you can get. ($27.95) —AP 

    Playstation Vita:  Sony’s new handheld that hasn’t quite taken off yet means you get a quality piece of hardware at a discount this season. The Vita is a powerful system that almost always offers the best version of multi-platform releases, especially indie titles. Buy it for Spelunky, below, but also check out Hotline Miami and Tearaway. I would even go so far as to recommend you get a Vita exclusively for Spelunky. ($209 on Amazon) —CS

    Spelunky: Quite possibly the greatest platformer of our time, Spelunky combines the running and jumping goodness of Super Mario with the thrill of playing chicken with an oncoming train. An indie Indiana Jones about raiding mines, this game is unforgiving, brutal, and the closest I’ve ever come to transcendence. It’s available on PC, Xbox Live Arcade, and PSN for both Playstation 3 and the PSnVita. It shines best on the Vita. ($7.49)—DP

    Gaming soaps: For decades it's been my dream to wash my body with a copy of Street Fighter II. The notion was too absurd to even be laughed at, but tell me: who’s laughing now? (Also, soap shaped like console controllers, presumably more fun than playing Wii with a loofa.) ($16-21) —BR

    DJI Phantom: Hong Kong-born DJI builds the most ready-to-go consumer drone on the market, and as we discovered in Austin (DJI's second home; see video above), it's a heckava lot of fun for filmmaking and amateur aeronautics. The newest model, called the Phantom 2 Vision, has a built-in camera that you can control from your smartphone, allowing you to, for example, drop by your neighbor's house, unexpected, whenever you wish. ($479 at B&H; Phantom 2 Vision: $1,199) —AP

    Photo by njcouple2030 / eBay

    #nostalgiatech: Namely, my first love, the original Nintendo Gameboy (with Mario Bros and Tetris, obviously). There are lots of other thingies where that came from, like the Tamagotchi, mix tapes, Skip-It, HitClips, and the Spirograph. (eBay) —MN

    Microsoft Bluetooth Keyboard 6000: an ergonomic wonder that connects to my phone and tablet and is way better for taking notes and writing impassioned emails than swipe-typing. ($44.50) —AP

    Photo by Mariano Carranza

    LittleBits Synth Kit: For the budding synthhead in your life, this is what happened when NYC-based LittleBits partnered with Korg to take their modular maker approach to the analog synth (see my review here). The basic kit includes small magnetic synthesizer modules—two oscillators, a mixer, a filter, a sequencer, and a noise generator. It won't turn you into Morton Subotnick, but the loops will start flowing in no time. ($150) —DD

    Zoom H6 audio recorder: A successor to Zoom's famous H4N, this recorder had been talked about for years, and many people—especially geeks who work in audio production—are very excited that it’s finally a reality. It has six-track simultaneous recording and four XLR/TLS mic/line inputs. ($400 at B&H) If you don't need all those fancy things, Zoom's new H1 is also a very nice stereo pocket recorder. ($80 at Amazon). — DM 

    Soylent: I’m not a foodie, I don’t really know the right way to use a microwave, and I mean it when I say I’m comforted by the idea that the future, some future, tastes like oatmeal.  ($65 for a week's worth of food) — AP

    HAPIfork: A smart fork for your dumb dinner. It tracks your bites in real time through an app, and lights up and vibrates when you are eating too fast, promising to cut your calorie intake. NB: not compatible with Soylent. ($99) — AP

    Lego Architecture Studio: This all-white design nerd dream machine includes a guide to architecture in English and Italian edited by Christopher Turner, and comes with endorsements from the likes of REX, Sou Fujimoto, SOM, MAD, and Safdie Architects. ($300) —AP

    Canon Vixia Mini: A very cool form factor for street-video-sniping and other undercover HD video work. It’s a low-profile, sleek little shooter with a wide angle lens, a lot of fun for walking the streets and filming weirdos on the subway. Higher quality lens than any cell phone makes this worth having in a bag or jacket pocket as an alternative to just using your phone camera. ($269 at B&H) —DM

    Blackmagic Pocket Camera: Another small form factor camera, this one bringing unparalleled Super 16mm video quality into a pocket sized device. To get professional results you need lots of add-ons and tons of batteries, but as a first iteration of a new product, it shows great promise. ($995 at B&H) —DM

    MCOR IRIS: The color 3D printer that prints with regular printer paper. You're not going to print a gun with it, but you could print a very realistic looking paper gun, if you like that kind of thing. ($40,000) —AP 

    Your Genome on Your Shirt: Thanks to an FDA ruling against 23andMe, you can't get health tested by DNA analysis, not right now. But you can still get your DNA analyzed and visualized on a t-shirt, and the government can't stop you. ($25 at DNA-pparel)  — AP

    The walking desk: Recommended based solely on this review found at Amazon: “I have found that I can maximize my reality and virtual reality and create an augmented reality world of which I am currently going through the patent process. So men in a serious relationship, order with care because your significant other might not like the attention you get with this head-turning piece of equipment and it is a whole lot cheaper than a new Lamborghini Aventador.” ($40)—AP 

    Mood sweater: It lights up according to how I’m feeling, but only if I look good in bathed in whatever color conveys “embarrassed to wearing a huge-necked middrift sweater that’s lighting up.” You need to fill out a questionnaire to even begin ordering one. —BR

    The Seaboard: As we discovered in person recently, its 88 keys, or keywaves—siliconized hot dog halves—express every last movement of your finger tips. For the futurist pianist in your life. ($8,888—DS

    The ZBoard electric skateboard: Because we don’t yet have hoverboards. But also, it comes in a hoverboard version, with proceeds going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation. —AP  ($649-$1,500)

    Or , in your name or a friend's, to one of our favorite non-profits, like EFFDonorsChoose, Rhizome, Charity:Water, or Give Directly, a new charity that gives money directly to the poor. To donate $10 to the Philippines Typhoon Diaster Relief Fund, for people affected by Hurricane Haiyan, US mobile subscribers can text AID to 80108—an easy last-minute gift.— AP

    Kiva microlending: Giving yourself or someone a Kiva gift card gives the ability to invest in startups that are far from Silicon Valley, so developing-world entrepreneurs who really need help can keep growing. (Kiva.org) —AJG

    Recommendations by Alex Pasternack, Anna Jane Grossman, Colin Snyder, Brian Merchant, Dan Stuckey, Drew Diver, Meghan Neal, Ben Richmond, Derek Mead, and Dan Meyer