Gift Ideas for the Geek

November 30, 2008 • Damien White

Christmas is fast approaching, and often I’m asked what to get a fellow tech geek. There is an infinite amount of things I could write about, but I’ll pick a few items from some popular categories. In this post, we’ll look at three categories, books (“serious” gifts), Office Space gear (“fun” gifts), and USB gadgets (“quirky” gifts). For the book and Office Space category, I own the items that I’ve listed. The USB gadgets are funny things I’ve found on the web, and don’t personally have them, so I can’t give detailed reviews of them like the other items. These gifts range in price from around $10 to $40 and are all available on the web. If you are looking for something more expensive, you can always check out my past post: Fujitsu ScanSnap S510 Review.

Books (The “Serious” gifts)

There are really too many books to recommend, and for this list I’ll stick to three. Instead of going crazy with technology specific books, such as ASP.NET AJAX in Action or Essential WCF, I’ll stick with general recommendations such as one for managers, one for developers/designers, and one humorous book. Let’s get started…

Peopleware Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (Second Edition), By Tom DeMarco & Timothy Lister

Peopleware is a book that is truly essential for tech managers, but I would highly recommend it for someone that is a developer or another tech team member as well. If more manager took note to the overall theme of this book, that the reasoning for companies / projects failing is not due to technology, but is related to people, then maybe many of those failed approaches could have been turned around. This book is a classic, and is an entertaining read. Despite this book being in publication for around 20 years (note the 2nd edition was published in 1999), it is still as relevant today. So, if you are a developer looking to get your boss something for the holidays, do YOURSELF a favor and pickup up a copy for him or her.

Don't Make Me ThinkDon’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition, By Steve Krug

In short, if you are a developer, you probably aren’t the best designer. The two skills really don’t go hand and hand. I’ve met great developers who have anywhere from some to no design skill. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule, but it always helps to have some guidance. Well here it is. Don’t Make Me Think is practical approach to web design. Even if you are a designer by trade, I’d highly recommend this book as well. Web usability is an important aspect of any site, and you may have one of the most beautiful layouts ever, but there may be places where it is confusing to a user. Steve Krug gives examples of good designs as well as bad ones, and describes the pros and cons of each. It’s a very entertaining read; I specifically like the addition of the comics added sporadically throughout the book.

Dictionary of BSDictionary of Bull****, By Diane Law

Are you thrown off by such office speak as “low hanging fruit”, or maybe “insourcing”? Well they are all defined right here. This book makes a great stocking stuffer for anyone working in an office. In addition to the dictionary, the end of the book contains such gems as “BS Builders” and throughout the book there are various “BS Job Title Builders”.

This book would make a great stocking stuffer, and should provide lots of laughs.

Office Space (The “Fun” gifts)

Ok, enough “serious” gifts with the books from above. We geeks love the movie Office Space, and I may be one of the movie’s biggest fans. I’m proud to say that I actually saw the movie in the theatre, something many people hadn’t done. Since that time, Office Space has grown a total cult following. Anyway, here’s a few things that will please any fan…

Red StaplerSwingline Collectors Edition 747 Rio Red Business Stapler: “I believe you have my stapler…”

You can now own the Swingline Collectors Edition 747 Rio Red Business Stapler. Did you know that the red stapler in the movie was actually painted, Swingline did not create a stapler in this color, and here’s a time when life imitates art. There was such a demand after the movie, that they decided to create a version of Milton’s famed stapler. A great present. Heck, I personally own two of them :)

Office Space: The Motion Picture Soundtrack Office Space: The Motion Picture Soundtrack: “Damn It Feels Good to Be A Gangsta”

All your favorite songs from the movie are available on the Office Space: The Motion Picture Soundtrack. A great stocking stuff for all of the “office gangtas” on your list.

Office Space Box of Flair Office Space Box of Flair: “You know what, Stan, if you want me to wear 37 pieces of flair, like your pretty boy over there, Brian, why don’t you just make the minimum 37 pieces of flair?”

Work towards your 37 pieces with the Office Space Box of Flair. This box contains 15 buttons with classic quotes and “The Office Space Guide to Flair”  My favorite pieces of flair in this kit have the quotes “Did you get the memo?”, “Sounds like someone’s got a case of the Mondays”, and who doesn’t love “I can set the building on fire.”

Looking for something to go along with your Office Space presents, you can’t go wrong with a T.P.S. Report Cover Sheet, thanks to Chris Glass. “Did you get the memo?”

USB Gadgets (The “Quirky” gifts)

It’s amazing the amount of USB gadgets out there. I was shopping around for some good ones to add to this list and I picked a few that would be perfect for any geek…

USB Pole Dancer USB Pole Dancer

Looking for something for someone that has everything? Well look no further that than the USB Pole Dancer. This gift is truly hilarious. This should bring lots of laughs…  From the product features:

  • The USB Pole Dancer is the perfect gift for a friend in the office, a bachelor’s party gag or the gadget loving guy.
  • The USB Pole Dancer will perform to the default dance track, or connect your MP3 player / IPOD and she will dance to your favorite tunes, all the while moving to the beat of the song

USB Powered Missile Launcher USB Powered Missile Launcher

Blast your office-mates with this computer controlled USB Missile Launcher. This missile launcher shoots foam missiles up to 15 feet at a 45 degree angle. Perfect for launching over cubicle walls :)

USB Panic Button USB Panic Button

Totally hilarious. What geek wouldn’t like a big red panic button sitting on their desk? From the product description:

“Are you a Facebook fan? An eBay enthusiast? A devoted web-cruiser? You naughty thing. Here’s how it works. When your boss walks past, simply slam the big, red, James Bond style button. Up pops a pre-planned screen saver of your choice, from a spreadsheet to company intranet that acts as the perfect decoy when you’re abusing company resources. No need to panic or frantically close down windows. Instead, you look like the star employee. And when the coast is clear, a quick wiggle of the mouse breaks the spell and you can get back to it. Sorted.”

Posted in misc, review and tagged with Review

Damien White

I am a software architect with over 16 years of experience. I simply love coding! I have a driving passion for computers and software development, and a thirst for knowledge that just cannot be quenched. I'm happy to share what I know in my quest to learn as much as possible. I focus most of my time on web development using Ruby on Rails, Ember.js, and ASP.NET MVC.

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