After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

Getting Great Gifts for Geeks

Use The Force...

Yes, it's that time of year again. Since this is a column to help people navigate the world of tech, I imagine almost all of you know (and maybe even love or live with) a geek. You probably also know that geeks can be tricky to buy for. You know we want tech goodies, but what is the right tech goodie? I'm here to help. I'm going to give you some easy gift ideas that should please almost any geek (even the Mac ones!).

First off, I'm just going to say it and get it over with: gift cards. No, it is not a cop out. Part of the joy for geeks is the hunt for the perfect [whatever we're looking for]. I like to browse, read, heft, try, all but taste, a gadget before I'm sure I'm going to get it. Can you top that? Yeah, no. So gifts card are great. Future Shop, Best Buy, Apple Store … just yeah. I got some for my recent birthday and the thrill of going into a store that I can always find something I want with money to spend. That rocks.

Moving right along…flash drives. I can't have too many of them. Four gig, eight gig…they are just plain handy to have around. And speaking of handy to have around, AA rechargeable batteries. I think almost all tech gadgets I have that run on "regular" (not custom for the device) batteries use AAs. Picking up a nice fresh pack (they do start to wear out you know) and maybe a new rapid charger, good stuff.

Pretty much any interesting thing that's USB powered. Little lamps, keyboard lights, vacuums, I even have a rechargeable LED flashlight charged through my USB port. The stranger the better. If you can find a one of the little rocket launchers that fires little foam rockets, oooh that's serious good stuff.

Science toys and science related stuff all good ideas. Neat little magnetic toys, if it has to do with physics or magnetism, it's almost a sure bet. On the subject of toys, there are tons of toys that make geeks go … oooh! I have (as you can see) several little Star Wars LEGO figures (complete with lightsabres) and a mini, light-up lightsabre. If you know your geek well enough to know what sci-fi they like, you should be able to score big time.

Toys segues right into clothes (hold on, work with me here). Geeks love t-shirts. Not just any t-shirts, geek t-shirts. Comic book characters, tech references (like: There's no place like 127.0.0.1), sci-fi movies; these are important in our wardrobe. For comic books, you might need to know if they like Marvel or DC Comics more (I like Marvel) to help guide you. But then you might just have to use The Force. I will also add that if you have style and taste and would like to buy a nice shirt for the geek guy you know, do it. Sometimes we don't know from style and I'm ever-so-thankful that I am marrying a woman who is not only an opera singer, but has an amazing sense of style. So if you see me wearing a particularly spiffy shirt, there is a good chance she bought it for me.

More ideas to check out:

  • Gelaskins from Toronto they have awesome adhesive decorations for iPods, mobile phones, and laptops. They are just awesomely cool.
  • DVDs are sure wins because I'm pretty sure you'll know what movies he/she is wanting to get.
  • Laptop stands, lap desks, or cooling mats (they have fans built in)
  • Good laptop or netbook bags
  • Laptop screen cleaning supplies (I have to clean mine I can see)

I've been trying to stay away from pushing actual products by name, but here are some things I've gotten recently that I think are awesome (and remember I'm a Mac guy)…

  • The new Apple Magic Mouse is just wow. I really love it and I've only had it a few days. The whole top surface is touch sensitive to let you scroll, flip through pages, etc without clicking. It's a pretty amazing device.
  • The aluminum Apple keyboards (I have a wired one) are the best keyboards I've ever used—and I've used lots of keyboards (as evidenced by my four spare keyboards in my office).
  • I have the new Apple remote, which while I don't use it often, just looks and feels so awesome.
  • On the laptop stand front, I have one from Griffin that lifts my MacBook Pro up to eye level off my desk.

Finally, I suggest external monitors (for Macs and PCs). I have a little 17" that I picked up from a friend and it is a huge help when I'm coding and writing. Yes, I also have a 24.5" HD TV/monitor but that's just going too far (I use it as a TV…it was a door prize okay?).

I hope this helps, but if you have questions about gift suggestions and of course any tech questions, just zap an email to [email protected] or you can find me on Twitter as @trishussey.

More in Techplanations

Windows 8 preview downloadable tonight

Curious about Microsoft's brand-new Windows 8? You can download a Windows 8 preview starting 8 p.m. Pacific Time from the Microsoft developer website. The latest version of Windows looks to be a...

Lots of free WiFi everywhere, but should you partake?

So, Mac user, you like YouTube, huh?

Apple's iPad receives glowingly positive reviews

You might have been wondering if anything interesting has been going on in the tech-o-sphere. One word: iPad.
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.