Gifts for Geeks, 2011 Edition

Between founding Stack Overflow (and later, running Stack Exchange) and having a child, I haven't had much time to blog about the holidays for a few years now. The last Gifts for Geeks I did was in 2008. Those recommendations are still as valid as ever, but I just couldn't muster the enthusiasm to do it every year.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

i have fenix flashlight. great piece of illumination.

I've also come to realize, especially after having a child, that the goal in life is not to own a lot of "stuff", but rather, to free yourself from everything except that which is essential, and that which you love.

Thanks for articulating what I’ve been doing for years. I’ve been struggling to come up with a way to describe the result, but your description of the process says volumes more than ‘lighten up your load in life’.

I am a geek with a planning tendency and here you come, middle of december, I finished to pack my last gift last weekend and I discover WHAT?! Remel!!

Sadly, I need to hand you my geek card. With reluctance. ;(

I believe that having kids and startup myself I focus on the people’s accomplishement to have missed such a magnificient piece of geekiness.

Next year I’ll wait for your post before to plan everything. Could you do it earlier in December? Thank you.

I agree 100% on the Dremel. It’s the best tool purchase I’ve ever made. A few weeks ago I was working on a project that would have been better left to professionals when I broke the last of those flimsy cutting discs that came with the kit. I went to the hardware store and asked the guy “Do you have Dremel stuff?” he showed me a giant wall of awesomeness with every kind of attachment you could ever think of. I now own an excellent set of quick-change cutting discs and more importantly, the toilet doesn’t leak any more.

I have another flash light form factor for you, the Petzl Zipka has been my choice for years now. They are fantastic because there is no headband getting in the way when not in use. It is so small you can just drop it into a pocket and forget about it until needed. I never leave the house on any sort of geek mission with out one! Also a version with a red light for night time ops.

All these LED lights have one thing in common: batteries. It’s unavoidable.

A bit harsh to all the battery-free flashlights out there. They are crappier most of the time, but ain’t that even more geeky - winding up your own light :slight_smile: I’m actually quite happy with one of those, can’t remember the model right now though…

Good post anyway :slight_smile:

Hey, you peeked at my christmas list!

By the way, I wore out my first Dremel, and now have 3 Dremels. I want the Dremel 4000 because it’s the first one that’s properly speed regulated. All other variable-speed Dremels will slow down when you grind- the 4000 won’t.

I can’t agree more on the Fenix flashlights. I have two Fenix LD20s serving as headlights on my bike when I commute home in the dark, and the combined 400 lumens does the job beautifully. I’ve owned them for a year and I still can’t believe that THAT much light comes from a pair of AAs.

I have one of these:

It is so bright that I have taken to pointing it at the ceiling when I use it indoors because the reflected light from pointing it at what I’m looking at is to bright to look at.

Curse you Jeff :slight_smile: I knew I shouldn’t have read this. I’ve been thinking of getting a Dremel for a long time, and now you’ve pushed me over the edge. Just placed my order.

+1 vote on the LED flashlights - modern flashlights are truly amazing.

I don’t own a Dremel, but I rarely, if ever, actually create or modify things in the physical world. I guess I’ll have to turn in my geek card until I find out some way that owning a Dremel will make me a better software developer.

I seriously wonder how you haven’t broken the ignition in your steering column after dangling so much weight.

Admittedly, that looks a lot more like a “Handyman” Gift list rather than a “Geek” one :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t own a battery charger. Instead I have a 10-pack of AA batteries I bought in IKEA back in 2009, and I used one of those batteries once, for something I can’t quite recall. The other 9 are still waiting for me to find a use for them…

In re. the dremel note, if you’re using a drill to drive or pull screws, that’s why they’re stripping. Wrong tool.

Use a bit brace [ e.g.,180 ], and you’ll never strip a screwhead again. (If you drive cheap screws without properly drilling a pilot, you might break the screw, but that’s a mechanical issue, and your own damned fault.)

(Either a nice, expensive one like Lee Valley sells, with a hex-bit compatible chuck, or a cheaper one, either vintage or new, with a shank-to-hex adapter.

You’ll never go back to ruining screws with a drill. Also useful for nuts and bolts work, with the same adapters, especially the very nice Lee Valley unit which has a 1/2" socket end and replaceable chucks.)

(Actually, nevermind that bit about the 1/2" socket and replaceable chucks. I see they’ve changed their stock to have two braces with fixed chucks, which wasn’t obvious from the thumbnail.

Pity, really, though the lower prices help offset that.)

Fenix LED lights are nice, but I recommend They actually sell 3rd party Chinese LED lights (including fenix) but they engineer their own versions to combine the best features. They are a small company based out of Atlanta, GA where they design, sell and distributed. The manufacturing is in Asia (typical).

“If you don’t own a dremel, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to ask you to turn in your geek card.”

News flash. My dad is a handyman. I’m a geek. There’s a difference.