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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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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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