The Great Necktie Migration begins each year in early June and culminates mid-month, when neckties from all over the land leave their retail spawning grounds to join their kin in the closet on Father's Day.
Which is no surprise to either the ties or the dads. So this year, consider laying a computer accessory on your pop that will make his home life or office life easier. They don't cost much more than a necktie (in some cases, less) and they're much more gravy-resistant.
They can be had for $30-$50. Unlike the ancient ball-driven mouse that Dad probably has, this one works on just about any surface, doesn't much care if it's a little dirty, and provides more precise cursor control. And wireless means one fewer desktop cord that fantasizes about snagging your coffee cup into your lap. The most convenient kind are those that recharge by sitting in a cradle that's attached to the computer's USB port and also doubles as the wireless receiver.
Again for less than $50, you can greatly improve the feel of the keys and the ergonomic aspects when compared to the cheesy keyboards that often ship with PCs. Wireless is the way to go here as well, and, if you're feeling particularly fond of Dad, investigate wireless mouse-keyboard combo packages.
For the machine, not him. You can snag 256 megabytes of memory online for about $35, and it greatly improves stability and performance.
If you feel uncomfortable about you or your father installing it, snatch his PC and head to a retail computer store. They usually can do it in less than 20 minutes.
Try Larry Magid's The Little PC Book Windows XP Edition or David A. Karp's Windows XP Pocket Reference. Both are available at amazon.com and in bookstores.
Questions and comments are welcome. Send them to Larry Blasko, The Associated Press, 50 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020-1666. Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.