Most tech-oriented holiday gift guides are for engineers, by engineers. Unless you live with your coworkers, all that'll get you is another sweater or a bottle of Old Spice in your stocking. Better to plop your laptop on the dining room table so your significant other -- or your cat -- can tune in to what you'd really like. Spoiler alert: Many of these suggestions are off the beaten path.
10) Tastier than Christmas Fruitcake
Fear not, OQO and Toshiba Libretto fans. There's a downsized computer for the twenty-first century. It's called Raspberry Pi, and if you haven't heard of it, you have to turn in your tenured engineers' pass.
The diff this time is that Raspberry Pi isn't a Wintel PC jammed beneath a Chiclet-sized keyboard. It's a tech teaching tool, propelled by the Raspberrypi.org Foundation, whose mantra is "to see cheap, accessible, programmable computers everywhere."
That's resonating with the marketplace, as evinced by Allied's notice that extreme demand and short supply may make you wait several months for delivery. I can see the look on your engineer's face when she reads the card promising the board in time for Christmas 2013.
By that time, though, there'll be lots of I/O add-ons that'll turn the Pi board into a veritable bakery of application options. Two of the most interesting came to light at Electronica in November, where I caught up with Gert van Loo, who developed the Pi board's alpha hardware. Now he's created the eponymous GertBoard, which stacks atop the Pi and enables it to control motors, robotic arms and other physical devices. "It gets [developers] off the screen and able to do things in the real world," van Loo told our Peter Clarke at Electronica. I shot a video with Van Loo, who's also queuing up a Webcam add-on, for release in 2013.
But buyers beware: The Pi will set you back $35 and the Gertboard $45. (The Webcam isn't priced yet.) Think you can afford it?
I totally agree - it almost brought tears to my eyes when I saw that picture. I remember as a teen, waiting for the new Allied catalog to come out. So much cool stuff, especially the vacuum tubes (I particularly was enamored of the horizontal sweep power tubes).
Not to be too dismissive, but really, now! The only thing exciting here is the incredible engineering missteps. While others have focused on how none of these things (really, none of them) would make an engineer's pulse quicken (unless, perhaps, a savvy spouse had acquired a Pi a few months ago and had it _now_ to give, when you can't buy it _now_), I focus on the real, serious, painful error that no engineer should be caught making.
Drivers' ed instructors _sit_ in the passenger seat. The Drivers' ed instructor who is thrilled about sitting in the seat that 1) endangers his life even more than sitting in a regular seat with all those driving learners and 2) leaves his charge without adequate supervision... doesn't belong teaching drivers' ed.
Did you guys actually ask any engineers what they _want_ for Christmas? Here's a short list that would make some sense:
1) A steady job, doing interesting things that need an engineer to get done right.
2) Tools which can be reconfigured on-the-spot to do an uncomfortable or impossible job more easily without breaking _anything_.
3) A healthy economy which can afford to support engineering-done-right, rather than "just enough to sell, and the consumer take the hindmost".
4) Just enough time available to do the job (and do it right): No sitting around waiting on administration or getting ulcers trying to get five things done before the next six pile on.
In a world full of conflict - and I'm thinking engineering business disputes, contractual bickering, Apple-Samsung patent disputes, etc. It's nice to see pure engineering enthusiasm to the fore. That's why we all came into this business. Can't wait to get my hands on the Raspberry Pi, that I hope someone has bought me as a Christmas gift.
Great article. Thanks.
Apparently it's joke although a lame one.
All engineers read like little children waiting for a nice surprise only to get a disappointment.
Really geeky presents:
- hey hon, look at that cool domain name - "electric-melon.org"
- easy with that laser pointer, darling, it was upgraded.
- a van graaf generator (hey , a spare !)
- a sterling engine (Shiny!)
Of course these things are mostly useless just like Xmas present should be. If they would be really useful an engineer would already had them.
January 2016 Cartoon Caption ContestBob's punishment for missing his deadline was to be tied to his chair tantalizingly close to a disconnected cable, with one hand superglued to his desk and another to his chin, while the pages from his wall calendar were slowly torn away.122 comments