East End Tech: Something For Every Dad

A few weeks back, I wrote a Mother’s Day column with some fun technology ideas for that special lady in your life. When my wife read the piece, this was her reaction: “I like it, but these would be better for Father’s Day.”

Point taken.

Dads are so easy. We’ll try pretty much any toy, gadget or device. Ones that talk or fly or make jokes are even better. With Father’s Day just around the corner, now is the time to show your appreciation with a no-brainer technology gift.

As with my Mothers Day column, I’ll break this one down into a few types of dads.

Golf Dad

Golf is a funny sport. Almost every guy I know claims to love it. Few have time to play regularly, and even fewer are actually any good at it. But we keep trying and trying. It’s one of those life aspiration instincts buried deep inside the male genome.

Generally speaking, stay away from giving golf clubs or other hardware. Clubs are like the grownup version of security blankets. No matter how dirty, dented or destroyed they get, guys don’t want to let go of them. Ever. You can’t just hand me a new driver and expect me to like it – even though the one I’ve been using is responsible for my losing at least 500 balls at various courses around the world.

With golf, you’re better off focusing on software—things like golfing apps that can help track our game and pretend we’re actually improving.

Enter “The Golf Buddy.” This tiny GPS unit is like a personal golf caddy for every course. Clip it to your bag, your belt, your hat—it’s about the size of a quarter. Then press the button and a creepy computer voice (the male version of Siri) gives you the exact yardage to the pin, plus relevant playing conditions such as wind speed. The company has loaded over 40,000 courses into the device – though it is not clear whether Shinnecock, National, Sebonac or The Atlantic are on board. It’s not clear because for some reason, my membership application to those tracks always gets lost in the mail.

The Boy Toy

Get your mind out of the gutter. I’m not thinking about romance here; this is Fathers Day.

As I previously mentioned, guys are suckers for toys that fly, and remote-controlled helicopters are just the ticket. The Blade 120 SR is a top-rated unit. You can fly it indoors and outdoors. It comes ready to fly, straight out of the box. It has a sophisticated set of blades and maneuvers—you can literally fly upside down after enough practice. The only thing this model lacks are those plastic missiles to fire at unruly kids and house pets.

One piece of practical advice: I was lucky enough to get one last year and it took me all of 10 minutes to lose it in my neighbor’s backyard. So make sure you try it on a football field or at the beach. Preferably a wide one.

The Traveler

Many dads travel for work, so this is another good area to consider. International travel can be extremely challenging for men for one simple reason: We hate asking for directions.

Most of us claim it’s because we always know where we are going. But the truth is, we’re just too embarrassed to ask. This problem is even worse in a foreign country, where asking for directions means we also need to admit we can’t speak the language.

If this describes the man in your life, then I recommend a simple iPhone app called “iTranslate Voice.” You press a button, record what you want to say, access a menu of over 30 languages (everything from Italian to Mandarin is supported), and the app lets your phone to do the talking for you. Voila! Problem solved.

Another nice feature is that the app will translate from foreign languages into English, so you can truly have a conversation with a beautiful stranger in Paris or Tokyo.

One drawback: The Apple Voice Translator does not work in Texas, New Orleans, Baltimore or other American places where people
talk funny.

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