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The best tech gifts that aren’t gadgets

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The best tech gifts that aren’t gadgets

By Brian X. Chen, The New York Times Company

My favorite holiday tech gift doesn’t require batteries or software updates. It’s not even a gadget, though it was made with technology.

Can you guess what it is?

A few years ago, my wife experimented with her iPad and a digital stylus to make digital illustrations. Using Procreate, a drawing app, she loaded a photo of our beloved corgi, Max, as a reference to trace over before embellishing the image with a polka-dot bow tie and a cartoonishly long tongue. I liked it so much that I picked a background color that would complement our home and uploaded the illustration to the app Keepsake, a printing service that assembles your images in a nice frame before delivering it to your door.

A large, framed portrait of Max now hangs as a centerpiece in our living room in all its two-dimensional glory. It makes me smile and is always a conversation starter when we have guests over. That’s more than I can say about other tech gifts that I’ve received over the years, such as video games and smart speakers, which only brought short-lived joy.

(Mary Lam via The New York Times

An image supplied by Mary Lam. Supply-chain disruptions may make it tough to buy devices, but the most thoughtful presents were never tangible to begin with.

This type of gifting exercise — tech-adjacent presents that don’t involve hardware or thoughtless Best Buy gift cards — may be especially welcome this year. That’s because we are living in a pandemic-induced era of scarcity driven by a global chip shortage and supply chain disruptions that have made conventional gifts difficult to buy. (Anyone trying to buy a game console for the last year understands this pain.)

So here’s a list of ideas for tech gifts we can give without actually buying tech, from the presents you can create to experiences that will last a lifetime.

The gift of fixing

Last week, I told a friend I had a special present for her: I would fix her iPhone problem.

She had complained to me about her 5-year-old iPhone SE. The device could no longer take photos or install software updates because nearly all of the device’s data storage was used up.

So before she left for her Thanksgiving vacation, I met her for lunch and walked her through the process of backing up photos to an external drive before purging all the images from the device. Then I plugged her phone into a computer to back up all her data before installing the new operating system.

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Gallery: Bruins McAvoy scores last-minute goal to beat Capitals 4-3

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Charlie McAvoy’s last-minute goal lifts B’s to win over Caps

Matt Stone is an award-winning photojournalist who has been working at the Boston Herald for the past 26 years. Matt has won numerous awards for his work in the area of spot news, sports, photo essays and features. Thanks to the success of our New England sports teams, Matt has been able to bring Herald readers along for the championship runs of the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins.

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Charlie McAvoy’s last-minute goal lifts B’s to win over Caps

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Charlie McAvoy’s last-minute goal lifts B’s to win over Caps

The Bruins on Thursday not only produced the right response after Tuesday’s 7-1 loss to Carolina, they got the result that was desired — and in thrilling fashion. But the vibes from their 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals at the Garden weren’t all positive.

Charlie McAvoy scored a power-play goal with 45 seconds left in regulation to lift the B’s to what had to be a dig-down-deep victory. The B’s had lost Anton Blidh (upper body) in the first period, and then top scorer Brad Marchand to an apparent shoulder injury on a hit that had coach Bruce Cassidy angered after the game, labeling it “cheap.”

Beyond the hit and possible loss of their best player, there was plenty to like about this victory. While they were playing against a depleted Washington club (no T.J. Oshie, John Carlson, Conor Sheary or Dmitry Orlov), the B’s faced a third period down two left wings and their goaltender Linus Ullmark not having his best night. But they managed the victory.

“I thought it was a resilient effort by us. We showed good character going down two guys up front,” said McAvoy. “I’m sure those (forwards) were pretty tired by the end of it. They gave their best all night.”

With Marchand out, Jake DeBrusk bumped up to play with Patrice Bergeron and Craig Smith and he made the most of it. The winger, his trade request still pending, scored a deflected goal to give the B’s a brief lead in the third period. And then, with Nic Dowd in the box for tripping, he made a patient centering pass to McAvoy, who snapped home the winner past Vitek Vanecek.

“He was flying tonight. He was all over the ice,” said McAvoy. “All night he seemed to be pushing the pace and when he has his legs, he’s a very dangerous player. He’s the fastest guy on the ice pretty much any night … we’re always cheering for him and when he pulls the rope, we’re a much better team.”

The B’s broke a 2-2 tie at 9:41 of the third on a goal when DeBrusk threw a puck into the crease from the side boards and it eventually went off Evgeni Kuznetsov. It was originally credited to Bergeron but later changed to DeBrusk’s goal.

But the Caps tied it again just 36 seconds later. Brandon Carlo’s pass intended for Urho Vaakanainen was picked off by Tom Wilson and he fed it out front to Nick Backstrom, who buried it past Ullmark.

It appeared as though the teams might be headed into OT until Dowd got his stick between Derek Forbort’s legs with 2:34 left in regulation. With 11 seconds left on the advantage, McAvoy made them pay.

That ended a back-and-forth game.

Washington got on the board first on a Kuznetsov goal from a tough angle at the bottom of the left circle. Ullmark left a little space over his short-side shoulder and Kuznetsov deftly slipped it through for a 1-0 lead at 4:07 of the first period.

But the B’s answered just 50 seconds later.

David Pastrnak led the rush and, after gaining the blue line, he dropped it for Taylor Hall and headed for the net. Hall sifted it back to Pastrnak through a couple of Washington sticks and he had an open net behind Vanecek for his first of two goals on the night.

As is often the case with the Capitals, they got their pound of flesh before the period was out. On a penalty kill, Blidh cut back into the middle and just after he dropped the puck, Wilson blasted him with an open-ice hit that was brutal but legal. Blidh needed some assistance to get off the ice and went straight to the locker room. He did not return. Cassidy did not have a problem with that hit.

The B’s took a 2-1 lead on their first power play in the second, but it would be a costly one. After Marchand competed for a puck in the left corner in the Washington zone, Garnet Hathaway nailed him from behind, driving him into the boards. It could have been called a number of things — hit from behind, boarding — but ref Kyle Rehman settled on interference. Marchand was in obvious pain, but he tried to make a go of it on the power play. He could not finish his shift, however. He tried another shift after the power play, but he had to head to the bench. He tried icing it, but it was a no-go.

The B’s took a 2-1 lead on that hard-earned man-advantage with Matt Grzelcyk sending Pastrnak on a breakaway for his 18th of the year. But Marchand, who winced in pain on the bench as he tried to lift his arms to celebrate the Pastrnak goal, did not return for the third period.

“The March (hit) I didn’t like at all. The official (Kendrick Nicholson) was right there in front of it and didn’t call it. The trail official called it. I’m not sure why the guy watching it didn’t,” fumed Cassidy. “He hit a guy in the numbers in a vulnerable spot. Seen that from that player in the past, too. So I didn’t like that one at all. I guess the league may or may not look at it. When it comes to Marchie, they kind of move on. But in this particular case, seemed like a vulnerable spot, against the boards, in the back, high. But at the end of the day, we were able to overcome it. Guys got an opportunity to step. An opportunity for DeBrusk to get some extra minutes and he came through for us. Hopefully Marchie is OK.”

Despite being the better team most of the night — they held a 33-17 shot advantage — they coughed up the lead later in the second period. The Caps tied it on a soft goal with 3:48 left in the period. On a Lars Eller shot from outside the left circle that Ullmark saw all the way, the goalie couldn’t handle it with his glove — the shot may have been going wide before it hit Ullmark’s mitt — and it was all evened up.

But the B’s were able to gut out the win in the third. Now it’s just a matter of crossing their fingers and hoping Marchand won’t be out too long.

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Norwood’s Kristen McDonnell, Walpole’s Jenna Galster make MIAA history on sidelines of boys basketball game

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Norwood’s Kristen McDonnell, Walpole’s Jenna Galster make MIAA history on sidelines of boys basketball game

WALPOLE — In recent years, it has become more and more common to see women taking on lead coaching roles across the MIAA’s boys basketball landscape.

What we hadn’t seen, however, were games in which they’ve stood on opposing benches. That was until Thursday night, when Kristen McDonnell and Jenna Galster led their teams onto the court at Walpole High School.

In the first recorded MIAA game featuring two boys basketball programs helmed by female coaches, McDonnell’s unit emerged victorious behind the performance of Noah Beaudet. The junior captain erupted for 30 points, propelling Norwood (6-0) to a 66-54 victory over Walpole in front of a packed house.

“I think regardless of what it means, you just want to come out with a win no matter what,” said McDonnell. “But it’s nice. I have so much respect for Jenna, and what she’s done with this program, and what she did with her last program.”

Both coaches had embarked on long journeys to get to where they were last night. The paths there were drastically different, however.

Galster, for one, has only coached boys teams. She started her career guiding the freshman team at Holliston, before eventually working her way up to the title of head coach in 2013. She later went on to serve as an assistant on Rick Grady’s staff at Dover-Sherborn, before being selected to lead Walpole in 2021.

Meanwhile, McDonnell enjoyed years of success with Braintree’s girls basketball program, establishing a dynasty by capturing four state titles. She was later tabbed as Norwood’s newest boys hoops coach in June 2019.

Once McDonnell received the exciting news regarding her next endeavor, the legendary coach picked up the phone.

“(Galster) was the first person I called when I got the job,” McDonnell said. “Just to pick her brain about things. She’s a phenomenal coach and a phenomenal person. I think she has made it so much easier for any of us that are following to feel comfortable jumping onto the boys side.”

As for the game itself, Norwood used a 23-9 run to pull away in the second quarter, taking a 36-19 lead into intermission. The sequence proved to be the difference in the contest.

As the fans exited the gymnasium, Galster fondly looked back on the phone conversation she had with McDonnell a few years ago.

“She asked me, ‘Is there anything different?’” chuckled Galster. “I said, ‘Well, first of all, I don’t know. I’ve never coached the girls.’ She would have to tell me that, at the end of things. But you’re coaching an athlete. It doesn’t matter what the gender is. It doesn’t matter who it is. You are coaching an athlete, and an opportunity to do so is always a good opportunity. My God, has she seized it, and she’s run with it. I’m very happy for her.”

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