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More than one way to reach Santa

By Mark Baard
December 7, 2009

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Messaging
After the yes-no-yes routine from the Postal Service about whether Santa will be responding to kids’ letters this year, it’s heartening to know that if you text the apple-cheeked one, he’ll be listening.

AT&T customers through Christmas Eve can connect directly with St. Nick by texting SANTA to 1224 on their mobile phones. Santa will reply with a greeting, and, perhaps, an invitation to write back with your wish list.

The snail-mail option, you will recall, started looking shaky last year after a sharp-eyed postal worker spotted a sex offender among some of the Postal Service’s Operation Santa volunteers.

AT&T has virtually eliminated the possibility that some lecher will respond to your child.

I’m told that a group of elves at the service provider have written a slew of potential responses, which are kicked back at random, by a computer, to the original texter.

Like a horoscope, Santa’s replies are so vague (with jokes about being too fat to fit in the chimney, or that he’s checking his inventory) your kid could take his reply from Santa as being written for him alone.

The Santa texting service is also like a Magic 8-Ball: If the answers you receive are not resonating with your kid, he can keeping banging away at 1224. AT&T says there is no limit to the number of calls you can place to the number.

Gifting

Bar code scanner meets digital cataloging

As I wrote in a piece about IntelliScanner Corp. a while back, I am no wine connoisseur.

But I am a collector of sorts, of a few old books and some old vinyl. And I am a sucker for any gadget that promises to help me make sense of my stuff.

An RFID system, such as the one they have at the new Milton Public Library, would be dreamy. But IntelliScanner (www.intelliscanner.com), with its newly packaged Mini system, makes an excellent case for good old-fashioned bar code technology.

There is nothing like slapping a label on a pile of junk to delude oneself into thinking you are not a candidate for the television show “Hoarders.’’ In that way, the Mini makes me nostalgic for the Brother P-Touch labeler or - better yet - those old embossing label writers. Note to crafty readers: Etsy (www.etsy.com/) has a pink tape writer available for $5.

The Mini bar code scanner, which looks like a small phaser, comes in a cool metal cube, along with IntelliScanner’s cataloging software - for wine, CDs, comics, and the like - and a sleeve of do-it-yourself bar code stickers.

The IntelliScanner software (IntelliScanner does Mac and PC) can also teach you about your store-bought items. If it recognizes the bar code on a CD, book, comic, or bottle of wine, which it probably will, the program will tell you something about its provenance.

In the case of groceries, the software can bring up nutritional information as well as useful recipes.

The Mini costs about $180, but you will pay $250 if you want the full suite of IntelliScanner cataloging software.