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?
where I used to work, we used a kind of tape we called 'jungle tape'. It was black rubberized linen with a thick layer of white and very sticky latex-based glue - it stck to anything and eventually dried to a state where you could not remove it. Much better than any duct tape I've seen. And what about self-amalgamating tape - the stuff that welds into a solid mass of rubber? Why doesn't that come in a 3 or 4 inch width?
The flying car concept has appeal, certainly, but materials technology has a long way to go before it's strong enough to take a road beating for 200,000 miles and light enough to fly for 5,000 hours. Until that happens it will be little more than a pipe-dream or very expensive novelty.
Ferget materials technology, that's what the duct tape is for lol!
Speaking of duct tape, time to listen to that annual Christmas favorite, the Redneck 12 Days of Christmas
Ahh...my eyes are getting misty
I don't know, with the exception of the flying car, which would be wayyyyyy cool, I don't see many of these being "real engineer" gifts. They have already downloaded (legally) Big Bang Theory. They design Raspeberry PIs, they don't buy them, and they graduated to that oh so cool self healing silicon tape ages ago. Big data would equal Big boring coupled with frustration at how dumbed down it is. Now a tube amp, that would be cool, even if it was just to look at, sort of like my Model 200 HP Oscillator.
One thing I have found though is that all "real" engineers, the ones that design hardware :-) love hard music played loud, so I am thinking any compilation that includes AC\DC, Stones, Rush, Metalica, Zeppelin, etc. Played loud its quite possibly enough to forget about that nagging quiescent current problem, your non techy senior manager who thinks fixing it is like fixing a number in a spreadsheet, and that you were smart enough to be a doctor, but not smart enough to actually be one and be making 3 times the money with 10 times the respect.
any engineer I've met is much smarter than any medical practitioner I've met. They're a pretty thick bunch and most of them don't keep up to date. Any engineer who doesn't keep up gets shown the door or moved into 'management'.
Oh, it's not a plug at all - you just put your company down BIGTIME in front of a huge engineering audience.
Newark, apparently, can't deliver by Xmas, which is what the article is about.
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).
The vacuum-tube sound is more than just soft clipping. There have been several attempts to imitate its sound using DSP's to implement soft clipping etc., but only tubes sound like tubes.
The warm (or sweet) sound is partly due to the even-order-only harmonic distortion (e.g., from a single-ended triode amp), which results in distortion products at musically-pleasing octave and perfect fifth intervals) and to the absence of evil transient distortion because tube amps can be built with little or no negative feedback.
Even though I'm a DSP researcher, as an audiophile I appreciate the sound of my SET amp in spite of its higher THD. It sounds "sweeter" than my more more expensive solid-state amp. Much of how engineers quantify amplifiers is irrelevant for audio: music is dynamic, not simply continuous sinusoids.
What a horrible article. NONE of this is what an engineer would want - woe be to the wife or GF who reads this and buys any of it as a recommendation.
Nowhere is a 3D printer listed, nor is there a surface mount reflow oven. Stuff we actually WANT.
This is all STUPID techie stuff - stuff that's boring to ENGINEERS. Mind you, TBBT DVDs are the exception, but with Youtube, even that's lame.
And, if you're going to write about things you don't know about, go find yourself someone OLD engineer to set you straight (they can be found at the unemployment office or greeting people at Walmart). This is laughable, particularly in having "gone to print" in EE Times:
"it mediates the flow of electronics from cathode to anode via a piece of metal mesh in the middle called a grid. "
The only thing that "mediates the flow of electronics" is a patent litigator.
In the words of Leslie Winkle, of TBBT, "Dumbass..."
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.
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.
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.