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I missed the wide-eyed children, noisy, sleepy, whining or whatever. I missed the bright lights, the schmaltzy Christmas music and the pervasive smell of popcorn.

Bright lights, big bucks, bah humbug

Over the holidays I went Christmas shopping on the Web. Since it’s a virtual space I decided to spend some virtual dollars. I got up to $134,000 and change, mostly in U.S. dollars, so add 40 per cent to the number.

For my shopping spree, I managed to find a good price on a BMW Z3, some very interesting antique watches, numerous articles of clothing ranging from designer knock-offs to very exotic stuff that I’m not sure is appropriate even in the privacy of one’s own home. There were all sorts of specialty food sites and more electronics deals than anyone could count. Unfortunately, by the time I threw in the delivery, duty and exchange rate, there wasn’t much difference from the prices in the local mall.

Before you all start mailing me your favourite shopping sites, that is a deliberate generalization covering more than 75 per cent of the hundred or so sites I checked. Apart from wondering about the logic of selling beginner or starter computer equipment on a Web site, most of what I found appeared to meet somebody’s need. The comment about the computers is that if you need a starter unit to access the web, how do find it in the first place? Never mind, it’s a Zen thing.

One thing that disappointed me was the dearth of Canadian commercial yachting sites. There’s lots of yachting information and some excellent material out there about safety, weather, navigation and the like, but not very many places I could find in Canada where I could browse for a pair of winches, a self-furling jib, a few assorted blocks and some shackles. (Sorry folks, that’s boat speak.)

There were lots of links to U.K. sites or U.S. sites but the old question of delivery, duty, taxes and exchange arises.

Over coffee, while getting my eyeballs unglued from the screen, I thought about it all. Then I went back and made a few actual purchases. With one exception, everything arrived before Christmas. Five out of six wasn’t bad, and the one that didn’t reach me was back ordered, so I’ll be charitable and blame it on manufacturing not distribution.

You know what I missed? I missed wandering around not knowing what gift to buy, but knowing I’d recognize it when I saw it. I missed the wide-eyed children, noisy, sleepy, whining or whatever. I missed the bright lights, the schmaltzy Christmas music and the pervasive smell of popcorn. But there was one consolation. There were at least three line-ups at the cash register that I missed.

Here are some special New Year’s wishes to some kind people, who have commented on, argued over or discussed my articles: to Rick Hamm, a summer of pleasant sailing away from the passions of software; to Laurent Sauve, your choice of lots of books delivered quickly from Chapters; to Peter Milne, a new world of decent distribution despite the debacle of the Seattle Summit; to K.C. Gray, Brian Jay and Grace Daminato, a successfully delivered Christmas list from Quixtar; to Michael Macmillan, a year of pre-written edited material, all of it ahead of Peter’s deadlines; to Peter Wolchak, a ComputerWorld Canada circulation increase of 10 thousand made, up of all the financial analysts that second-guess stock prices and don’t have a clue about the dynamics of the IT industry; to all of the financial analysts who panic about today’s bottom line, the opportunity to do a really big implementation project of their very own; to Ben and Shelley Durda, a year’s supply of tuna for Stormy the wallpaper cat; to Bill Huva, enough time at home to enjoy messing about in the new kitchen; to Jean Chr