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?
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.
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
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.