Gifts for Geeks, Stuff that Matters

So… Anyone else left their Christmas shopping for the last minute? I should have learned not to do this years ago, but somehow I always end up doing the same damn thing around this time. Ah, the joy of wandering “can they ship me this shit before Christmas if I pay for the Ultra Express Faster Than Light Speed service?” Days like these help me understand why people are willing to risk being trampled on Black Friday. At this time of the year retail is fucking useless.

For example, I walked to the local best buy today and walked up to a huge display saying “Wii Fit”. I looked around but saw no units, so I asked the guy if they actually have it in store. Yeah, imagine the audacity! I actually dared to ask him about the holly Fit at “this time of the year”. He actually let out a small chortle as he informed me they sold out like three weeks ago.

I tried the same stunt at Wallmart, Target and some other locations and the retail drones looked at me like I was from space. Hell, how was I supposed to know – I don’t really track this stuff. Between the finals week, shit at work, this blog and sleep I have a very narrow bandwidth for my news input. So little factoids about marketing success of a game for a console that I don’t even own just didn’t filter through. Now, is this an artificial scarcity introduced by Nintendo, or is this like the hot gift of the year?

Anyway, I went home and bought the damn thing on Amazon. I actually watched it go live on their site, immediately sniped my order, and went to eat something. When I came back to my computer they were out of stock again. Holly fuck!

Anyway, in lieu of a usual post I decided to rant about X-mas woes. Splendid. Post ruined. Sigh… I need to salvage this thing somehow. Let’s talk about something completely different – like gifts for geeks.

This is a gift giving season, and regardless of your denomination chances are you are also buying gifts. Many companies do the little voluntary Secret-Santa gift exchange things and etc… I don’t know about you, but hardly anyone ever knows what to give me. So let’s see if we can come up with small but awesome gifts for people like you and me. But I don’t want to do the standard holiday gift list like everyone else. I want gifts that are obscure, geeky and misunderstood by normal people. Gifts that only a kindred spirit would like. For example, stuff like iPhone or a Wii have an universal appeal to most people. Even people who hate technology and don’t usually buy gadgets, would probably not mind getting an iPhone for Christmas. I want to talk about the stuff that will get you the weird looks and head resigned shaking from the uninitiated crowd.

The requirements are as follows:

  1. It must bring a smile to a geeks face
  2. It must appear incomprehensible, weird and dorky to normal people
  3. The more obscure the better
  4. Inexpensive is good

Obscure plushies are always fun little gifts. Perfect for acquaintances, distant relatives, coworkers as well as all kinds of grab-bags, or gift exchanges and etc. Being huge Valve fan I am very fond of their line of HL2 and Portal related toys:

cube.jpgcrab.jpghunter.jpgvort.jpg

Of course it depends on specific interests. Nor everyone likes Valve games. Some people may be more interested in stuff like the Monty Python Black Knight, Cthulhu, or a Tribble:

black_knight.jpgcthulhu.jpgtribbles.jpg

Binary clocks! Another good gift. The problem with these is twofold. First, no one can read them. It is a usability problem inherent in the design of most of these things and you can’t really do anything about it. Secondly, every geek has at least 3 of those. Still, you can’t have enough of these. As they say, there are only 10 kinds of people in this world. It is a thoughtful gift and it will be appreciated. Especially if you pick a non-standard design:

bclblack.jpegbcround.jpegbclhand.jpeg

People who do not like binary clock may like dice. A set of dice is an obscure gift that only a fraction of geeks can appreciate. But those who do, will love them. You can never have enough of these things. Dice are magical in a way. Some are high rollers, some are low rollers, some are lucky and some are unlucky. It’s all silly superstition, but chances are your local geek can totally use a new set. For example, Crysta Castle has a very nice set of metalic dice:

brass.gifdcopper.gifdsteel.gif

Shiny, polished and metalic. How can you go wrong. Speaking of metalic, how do you guys feel about multi-tools? Stuff from Letherman tools is always a nice gift. Some of these can be pricey, but they are just so awesome. I totally want the Skeletool:

skeletool.jpgcore.jpg

Now is your turn. What are some of the obscure and/or geeky gifts you would like to give or receive? Let me know in the comments!

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7 Responses to Gifts for Geeks, Stuff that Matters

  1. IceBrain PORTUGAL Mozilla Firefox Debian GNU/Linux Terminalist says:

    Well, I’m planning to offer myself an Arduino. ThinkGeek is the place for geek gift, although Instructables.com has some neat stuff for those who have time/skill to make stuff. The “turn signal biking jacket” (http://www.instructables.com/id/turn-signal-biking-jacket/) is pure win :P

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  2. Mart SINGAPORE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    How about subatomic particle plush toys from Particle Zoo? I would love to have them all!

    My colleagues seem to know me well. During the office Christmas party, I got a 2GB microSD card. How cool is that? LoL! :D

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  3. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @IceBrain: Yeah, Think-Geek is a one stop destination for this kind of stuff. They do mark up their wares a bit though. You can usually buy the same items cheaper on Amazon or from the original vendors.

    But yes, I bought many an item from there. :)

    @Mart: OMG! I haven’t seen these before but I love them! Gotta have them all! I think I want the the Higg’s Bosson the most just so I can pick it up and say “Hey look, I found the God Particle!”

    Thanks! That’s exactly the type of stuff I wanted to see when I was writing this post!

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  4. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @Mart: My cow-orkers are what we call “normal people” so they pretty much have no clue what I would like. They vaguely understand I’m interested in “computer stuff” but they wouldn’t have the faintest clue what to buy me.

    I usually get:

    - gift cards
    - winter attire (hat, scarf type things)
    - gift basket/candy mix
    - etc…

    Long time ago, at another job someone gave me an anthology of Asimov’s short stories. That was probably the only secret santa gift I have ever received that was actually in the ballpark.

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  5. Mart SINGAPORE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Luke: LoL.. Whats new? I still have candy they gave me like a year ago. Still wrapped nicely on my desk, uneaten.

    You could just point them to thinkgeek.com and say “Get me anything from there.” :D

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  6. ST/op DENMARK Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Are you aware what these m*f*s at Valve are charging us, Europeans, for their merchandise? I wanted one of these HL headcrabs for my kid (I’m too old for this shit!)… This item is 29$, then they charge you an extra 27$ for overseas delivery and you may expect extra charge for VAT in your country of destination. Altogether, it might end up at around 70-80$! That’s rip-off if you ask me…

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  7. Dax UNITED STATES Opera Windows says:

    My wife works for the university here and she has one of these on her desk. Anyone fond of the biological sciences would probably love anything from the site.

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