Gifts For Geeks

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It wasn’t too long ago that if you called someone a "geek," it was grounds for a good pounding. Now it’s cooler to be Larry Page than Brad Pitt (and even Mr. Pitt was on the cover of Wired a few months back). “Geek” is a term of endearment. So how do you shop for the geek in your life?

ThinkGeek is a veritable Walmart of gizmos, gadgets and toys for the tech jockeys on your list. Where else can you get a T-shirt that says What Happens in the Holodeck Stays in the Holodeck? And no, it’s not just Star Trek paraphernalia (although those interactive tribbles would make a great office desk accessory). You can also get next-generation technology like the Bluetooth Laser Virtual Keyboard, which projects a real working virtual keyboard onto any flat surface. Imagine the heads that will turn in the airport lounge.

Time, Time, Got The Time?

Rolex and Breitling are nice, but the wacky watch selection at Tokyoflash Japan, designed and created in a limited edition from the streets of Japan, might be more within reach. I’m currently sporting a Tokyo Time Evolution Barcode IP Black that I picked up in Thailand, though you can now buy it online. Beyond being stopped daily and asked if that’s really a watch I’m wearing – it does look more like something out of The Matrix than a timepiece – the sole act of explaining how to tell the time on these tech beauties makes them worth the price. (Each watch tells the time in a very different way.)

Even with all of this technology, writing is still cool.

If the person you’re shopping for likes a bit of the old with a bit of the new, consider the Pulse smartpen from Livescribe. This “pen” (which is about the size of a Sharpie marker) records the audio part of meetings, but what makes the Pulse truly unique is what happens after you adjourn. By pointing the pen to a specific note you wrote, you can instantly play back the audio from that exact moment in the meeting. The pen comes with special paper, which can be bought as refills. (You can also print your own paper from a standard printer when you run out.) Now you don’t have to make heads or tails of that chicken scratch anymore. You can hear what was being debated in the room as often as you like and keep it for posterity.

People who love technology and gadgets are now even easier to shop for (thank you, Intertubes!). And while most of us have moved beyond the idea that the perfect gift is anything with flashing buttons, sometimes that works just as well.

What’s on our wishlist for the coming holiday season?

The above posting is my monthly tech and gadget column for enRoute Magazine called, Ultraportable. I cross-post it here with all of the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original versions online here:

enRoute Magazine – December 2009 – Gifts for Geeks.


  1. Geek is the new Chic. You are making the assumption that’s all geeks are techno. That’s just not the case. Cardboard is cool. Board Games are Geeky. Check out if you don’t believe it. It’s an active growing global community.
    Wired just wrote about the whole “Settlers” thing and the trend for Euro games.
    And then there’s this post about Board Games being the new Golf.
    Settler is just symbolic of the whole trend to Euro games. If you’d ever attended the Essen consumer gaming fair in Germany you’d think the console game hadn’t been invented. 150k geek gamers wondering the halls playing and buying games for 4 days.
    I’m perhaps a little biased as the publisher of Canadian multi award winning “Euro” game, but then it is themed around exchanging gifts, so your post is bang on topic.
    We often make wrong assumptions about gifts will people love, just like thinking geeks are techno! Happy shopping.
    Need any tips on games for your stocking let me know 🙂

  2. It’s seems that you are correct about the word Geek at the moment, and the combination of it with gift giving.
    Today I noticed several articles crop up in the news on the subject matter, which I found quite ironic after reading this post.
    Top 10 stupid gifts:
    And even closer to home Kelowna game recognized worldwide: Gifttrap has a link on it’s Facebook Fan page dedicated to Geek gifts
    I don’t think the word geek was ever the grounds for a good pounding, cause you always expected a geek to weigh less than 80lbs, have glasses, bad acne and not have seen light of day for a year. Funny how it has somewhat transformed it’s stereo typical viewpoint into some guy wearing a Tag Heuer watch and driving a Porche with an iPhone in hand. The question to ask is what do you by the Geek Girl, do they even exist? If you give your wife or girlfriend a robotic vacuum cleaner for Christmas is she going to freak out at you… and yes give you a good pounding.
    I think perhaps that is why the game GiftTrap has found it’s niche in the marketplace. Yes it is easier to shop for gadgets but do we know what gadget that person really wants, or are they not even the gadget geeky type.
    Thanks Mitch for keeping us ‘Geeks’ up to date with the latest and greatest

  3. One additional item on the Pulse pen by Livescribe. You can purchase additional software that will convert handwriting to text. For those of us who keep detailed journals, converting the handwriting to text makes the content easier to search. But the software will even search handwriting.
    Just starting the book and really like it so far and always enjoy the podcasts.
    Take care,

  4. Scott, yes, women can be geeks, too. And some of us don’t like to be called ‘geekgirls’. Buy us whatever we’ve been drooling over at the local computer shop. I’ve been drooling over a portable harddrive.
    And Nick, you’re sooo right: geeks aren’t only into techno. It’s hard to categorise us 😉

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