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    I've been writing online for a long time, and I thought I'd address a few questions I've had over the years about how the sausage gets made. Excuse me if this is a little insidery, but I wanted to talk a little about how and why we're now inundated with "You Won't Believe How This Smiling Baby Will Change Your Life!" and "35 Funniest Sidewalk Signs of All Time" posts on Facebook and Twitter.

    There are a few types of web content, the most prevalent of them being "online journalism." I wrote a book about it, and it's what I've been doing for most of my professional career. And I'm part of the problem. Let me explain.

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    As a dad, I'm always on the lookout for so-called dangerous toys. My kids were soldering at age 5 (really), and I bought them microscopes, model rockets, and robots just so they'd feel comfortable around technology and science. Now, I think, I've found something surprisingly cool.

    The 3Doodler is basically a toy gun that shoots a stream of plastic. The plastic hardens quickly after extrusion and can be used to create 3D shapes. Think of it as a glue gun that isn't designed to stick things together. Instead, it allows you (and your kids) to create structures out of hard plastic.

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    If you've been watching the news lately, you'll have heard rumors of the the fabled Apple iWatch. It can do it all! It has a curved screen! It can sense your blood pressure! It's powered by the sun! It will make phone calls! It will change your life!

    What is the Apple iWatch and why should you care about products like it? Well, wearables like the iWatch are pretty amazing. They can already sense your heartbeat, your blood oxygen level, and your temperature. They can tell you how you're sleeping and where you've been. They can gauge how fast you're running and how great you are at weightlifting.

    But what does it mean when we hear that Apple is trying to break into the wearables market? And what do we really know about the iWatch?

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    Zombies, creepers, and spiders, oh my! If your kids are like mine, you've probably suddenly become a Minecraft family. However, if you're like I was, you probably have no idea what the heck the kids are doing in their virtual world. Never fear: The Minecraft FAQ is here.

    Minecraft isn't new, but it's now reached the mainstream and is probably popular in many houses around the world. As kids grow out of Flash games and pounding the remote control against the TV, they will quickly discover the magic and addictive properties of Minecraft. I'm here to help you understand this new threat.

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    With the news that Target and Neiman Marcus revealed more than 70 million pieces of customer data to hackers, I thought it would behoove me to inspect my credit card bill. Sure enough, my card number had been stolen and used to buy $10 worth of something somewhere in Ohio. 

    I won't go into what to do when someone steals your credit card (cancel it immediately, report fraudulent charges, subscribe to a credit watch service, keep track of your bills like a hawk) or how to prevent it in the first place (use Paypal online, cut up your debit card, use one credit card for "unsafe" purchases at companies that have been compromised). Instead, let's look at how my credit card information was stolen and where it probably went.

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    'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the burgThe games were all running, both Angry and Bird.The Instagram shots are all shared and directed,And NORAD reported "SANTA DETECTED."

    The children were reading iBooks on their 'Pads.There was Reddit and Houzz for their Moms and their Dads.Notifications sprung to their screens in a flashTelling them Paypal had just eaten their cash.

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    As the proud owner of a house full of toys and electronics, I know a thing or two about how to keep the cruft to a minimum and the cool stuff in top shape. Here are a few tips before you finish your holiday shopping.

    1. Do a quick web search before you buy. It's probably obvious, but visit Amazon before you pick something up in the store -- not for the price but for the reviews. Take the toilet/iPad stand above, for example. I can imagine a number of confused aunts and uncles delivering these to our domiciles thinking that they're a good idea. In fact, they're the worst toy of the year and if you read the Amazon reviews you'd discover why.

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    The countdown to Christmas is almost over and it's time to start thinking in earnest where to click to pick up something nice for your nerdy S.O., friend, or family member. I've chosen five items of particular interest to Geek Dad himself (hint hint, Geek Mom) that should be amazing to find under the tree.

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    The new XBox, called the One, is a heavy-duty gaming machine that is sure to be on a lot of Christmas lists this year. The games are going to be incredible - graphics have gotten much better even since the last console generation. However, the One has a secret, rarely-discussed feature that could change the way you watch TV. 

    The secret is the Xbox's TV viewing feature. It works by connecting to your cable or satellite box and adds a few cool features to your boring old DVR.

     

     

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    While the rest of the world fighting over the last PS4 and the Xbox One on store shelves, why not take a breather with some family-friendly board games? These are five of my favorites and we've found that they make great birthday and holiday gifts for families who are tired of screen time.

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About This Column
John Biggs

John Biggs, trained gadgetologist, seasoned tech journalist, and father of two, test drives all the shiny, new electronic gizmos hitting the market. He'll tell you what gets a big, fat, FAIL and what's worth breaking into your kid's piggy bank to buy. And he isn't afraid to let his little ones play with the expensive stuff; especially when it's in the name of good reporting!  

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