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The annual Geek-Gift edition

14 December 2020

Yep, it's that time of the year again. The time when I look at what the geeks of the world should be getting for Christmas.

Every year, about this time, I do the geek-gift column and it's always interesting to hear from readers on the subject.

Sadly, I'm probably way too old to really qualify as a geek these days so I shall need some guidance but I'll do my best to come up with ideas that I think my aged peers may find worthwile as a gift opportunity.

What do you give the person who has *everything*?

Antibiotics :-)

Okay, the oldies aren't always goodies... now on with the show.

High up on the list of great geek gifts (GGG?) would have to be a Raspberry Pi 4 -- or perhaps an Nvidia Jetson.

As I've mentioned in past columns, these SBCs are a blast and deliver so much for such a low price. I bought a bunch of 2GB RPi4s a while back for under $70 a pop and to be honest, 2GB is heaps for most things you might want to do with one of these.

Download a retro-game simulator, throw on a few Billy Idol tracks and relive the fun of the 1980s all over again (padded shoulders and "big hair" optional).

One thing I found is that as I've grown older, my interest in mechanical engineering has increased. No aged-geek can feel complete without a TIG welder, 3D printer, lathe and CNC mill or laser-cutter these days.

Thanks to the manufacturing efficiencies that China has brought to the game, such things are now super-affordable and it is just so much fun being able to make "real stuff" that you can touch, feel and use in every-day life. Sure, there's still a place for cool software but hardware has a joy all its own, especially when you're using it to make even cooler stuff that nobody can actually buy.

Here's something that might be considered a bit of a curve-ball as we enter the third decade of the 21st century... how about a book or two?

No, not an ebook, a real dead-tree and inky-stains book!

One gift that I *always* enjoy getting (and the old sheila is pretty good at finding) are books from the mid 20th century that deal with subjects dear to my heart.

I have a number of compendiums dealing with amateur engineering, science, technology and such that were published in the 1940s and 1950s. These are a great look back at those subjects and a truly fascinating read. Their physical presence alone is just a little awe-inspiring because they're often of a high quality both in content and construction. They are a thing of joy and beauty.

A weight of bound paper has a quality all its own.

And while on the subject of books, I noticed that the latest Repco flier had a mention of some "Haynes Novelty Manuals". These look great for geeks -- they even have a repair manual for the Starship Enterprise in the style of their automotive repair manuals. Fantastic.

Of course if you've just won lotto then an EV would make a great gift... and don't skimp on the charging station... go for the full 50KW, not one of those paltry 2KW single-phase units mounted on the garage wall!

That's about it for my list of suggestions so now I hand the floor over to my educated and worldly-wise readers for their input. What do you most want for Christmas this year and what would you consider buying a geek-friend?

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