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Geek gift time again

22 November 2019

Well here we are, just a month out from Christmas and it's almost too late to buy stuff for your geek friends so you'd better get started soon.

Since many geek gifts are purchased online, there's another compelling reason to do so this coming week -- or pay the price, quite literally.

Yes, as of the end of the month, the government's plans to force overseas etailers to add GST to all NZ sales and then repatriate the collected tax to the IRD comes into effect.

Now while the likes of Amazon may fall into line on this one, I have seen absolutely no indication that Ali Express, Banggood, DX or any of the other mega-Sino-etailers have even the remotest plans to do so. Why would they... especially when it would make their prices 15% higher than those of non-compliant competitors?

It's even less likely to happen with Sino-etailers when you consider that NZ has no jurisdiction over them and if patent or copyright laws are anything to go by, the Chinese government are hardly going to step in on the IRD's behalf to enforce these demands.

But back to the issue of what to buy.

It looks as if a a Stadia starter pack is something you'd want to cross off your list right from the get-go, if this review video is any indication.

Perhaps the new DJI Mavic Mini drone might be a starter... although I suspect that most geeks already have a drone by now and are more interested in DIY stuff than turnkey solutions which are decidedly non-hackable.

Actually... come to think of it... there's very little on my radar in the land of geekdom this Christmas.

What's wrong with the world (or is it just me)?

Why are we settling for shrink-wrapped tech and a world of "black box" technologies that bear the label "no user servicable parts" and which totally lack any form of tech documentation?

Hands up those who remember the days when we could get the schematic diagrams for almost any piece of consumer electronics...

Of course those were the days before VLSI and programmable devices. Those were the days when discrete components chosen from a fairly small range of options meant that it was super-easy to diagnose, repair or hack a device. These days, everything is a mystery and only the manufacturer knows for sure what's inside those huge ICs with hundreds of BGA connections to the circuit-board.

Bugger.

I have to admit though, I've been hankering to do some more programming of late.

Needing something to keep my mind agile, I was thinking of reviving my interest in code-cutting at both a microcontroller and desktop level. Time to look at what's available in the way of contemporary toolsets I guess. Do people still pay money for a good complier and development environment or have GCC and associated free IDEs effectively made it an area where commercial involvement has disappeared?

How come there's no MBASIC shipped with Windows 10 eh? :-)

Clearly, I've come up with bugger-all when it comes to geek-gift ideas so now I turn the floor over to readers. What is there for the uber-geek this year?

It seems that everyone is well over "The Internet Of Things" already, drones are so passe, electronics involves so many totally custom bits of silicon and I'm lost for ideas.

To the forums with ye... enlighten myself and the rest of us.

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