What would your father (or you) like for Father’s Day?

I was looking at Amazon’s Lightning Deals on Father’s Day Gift and realized that they were all remarkably similar in types of gifts. They assume dads like really, really like gadgets. Especially ones dealing with:

But the one most attractive to kids shopping for their dads would have to be … the popcorn machine. (Luckily my kids do not have enough money to buy this one because I have no idea where we’d put it! The garage?)

So I went through the list and figured that I could find at least one thing appropriate for every dad I know. But they did not seem to be targeting every dad I know.

(If you like watching deals, you can check out the lightning deals on Amazon and see what’s coming up and when they start.)

12 great gifts for traveling geeks. Please help with the list!

People often complain that it’s impossible to buy me a cool, geeky gift because I buy them for myself. (Actually, I only buy a few after much, much thought and deliberation.) I’m sure your family and friends have the same problem, so let’s prove them wrong with this post.

This isn’t my Christmas wishlist. (I have some of these and not others.) It’s just a list of cool gifts to drool over. I think a real list of geeky gifts was needed as I’ve seen several geeky gift lists lately that are terrible. Really useless gadgets. You’ve probably gotten one or two of those.

Here are some I’ve thought of. Please add any others you think of!

  1. A new phone. Like the Nokia N900 or Motorola Droid. Now you may say that they just got a new phone, but every geek wants the latest phone. And it doesn’t hurt to have two or three different ones to try out. (You should make sure the phone works with the cellular network they have. You can always buy an unlocked phone that will work with all networks. While it’s more expensive, it’s much more useful and therefore cooler. 🙂
  2. Digital book reader. If your geek travels a lot – or even if they don’t, they’ll enjoy a digital reader. If they already have one, you can upgrade them to the newest. (I like the ones like the Kindle
    and Nook that can download books wirelessly.) If they already have one, you can buy them things like a new cover or an attachable light. (The thing that most surprises people is that the Kindle is not backlit.)
  3. A smaller laptop. Note that not everyone wants to work on a smaller computer all the time, but they still appreciate having one for situations like conferences and travel. So buy them the latest netbook. Note that size isn’t everything. Battery life and weight are also important. (If your geek is a free software fan, make sure you buy one that works well with Linux. Some come with Linux preinstalled. Most will run Linux or Moblin.)
  4. A bigger monitor. While your laptop can never be too small, your monitor can never be too big. Not many people have a 30 inch monitor! (Note that as one of the commentors pointed out, resolution is also important – this one has a very high resolution of 2560×1600 which might be more than you need.) 
  5. A really cool suitcase. I think the Zuca Pro sounds really cool. (And I don’t have one. 🙂 [Update: I got one for Christmas! It is awesome – here’s my review.]
  6. Cool travel gadgets that are useful but not just extra stuff to carry. Like Eagle Creek Pack-Its. On the rare occasion that Frank and I travel at the same time, we fight over them. The one to fold suits works awesome.
  7. New types of computers on the market. Like Litl’s webbook.
  8. Kind of cool, not very common gadgets. Like this memory card for your camera that automatically uploads pictures when you come within range of a wireless network. I don’t think it’s the perfect gadget but it’s a cool idea. (You can buy them on Amazon too.)
  9. Eagle Creek inflatable neck pillow. This may not count as a geeky gift but if you know someone that travels internationally in coach, you should buy them one.
  10. External hard drives. You can never have too much space for backing stuff up. Or backing it up and taking it with you.
  11. All-in-one power adapter. This is probably the least expensive, most useful gift on the list.
  12. Moving alarm clock. Judging by the popularity of my 2005 post, Clocky, the moving alarm clock, is a very popular gift.
  13. Power strip. Hotel rooms and conferences venues are always short on power outlets. This compact Outlets To Go Power Strip even includes slots for USB chargers. The downside is it has three prong plugs. They often don’t fit well, so if you don’t need them I wouldn’t go with that option.
  14. Robot vacuum cleaner. I know several people that have the Roomba and are very happy with it. I know many others that would like one. (I’ve always wondered how it’d do with toys on the floor …)

And I probably should divide the list into <$50 and more than $50 as geeky toys tend to get expensive … and maybe into travel stuff and nontravel stuff …

What else? What gadgets, toys, electronics do you want?

If I won the lottery, my Christmas list would be

In no particular order:

  1. A couple of weeks on a catamaran in the British Virgin Islands
  2. A week on a catamaran in the Seychelles
  3. Hmm.  Maybe my own catamaran with crew that I could just send around the world.
  4. A  little robot that would sit on our seven year old’s ear and remind him to put on his shoes, zip up his bookbag, write his letters, say please, …
  5. A robot vacuum cleaner that would follow the kids around and put all their toys away
  6. A really large, open, warm kitchen with a big island in the middle
  7. New floors (maybe if we won the lottery Frank would be up for all wood floors 🙂
  8. Some electronic toys to play with: a Kindle: Amazon’s New Wireless Reading Device, a GPS unit for my car, an iTouch, an iPhone, …
  9. A personal chef to deliver tasty foods that meets my diet plan
  10. New bedroom furniture for us all
  11. A shunt that I can use to designate what food I eat should go to never-never land instead of my stomach
  12. A really cool restaurant with good food, good music, great atmosphere and a safe and fun place for the kids to play
  13. My own personal jet so I didn’t have to deal with commercial airports any more (although I kind of like them for some reason)
  14. Better yet, an instant personal transport machine that would just whisk us wherever we wanted to go in no time flat
  15. Fun and satisfying jobs for all my working friends

I’ve left off a few things but that’s a good start.

The Best Way to Sleep on an Airplane

I travel a lot and one of my indispensable items is my Eagle Creek neck pillow.  Lately I’ve been getting a lot of 6am flights (which means I wake up at 3:30am) but it means I have one more evening at home with the family.  My neck pillow guarantees I’ll get another two hours of sleep on the airplane.

I used to always get a window seat and then I’d shove a pillow or a coat between the window and my head.  But no matter how well I slept I’d always wake up with a neck ache.  (I even had a guy wake me up once and tell me that my head was bobbing so much he was afraid I’d be in pain when I woke up!)  With my Eagle Creek pillow I can sleep sitting up in any seat.  It’s terrific.

The key is not to blow it up all the way – I usually try two or three times before I get it just right.  It inflates and deflates really easily and although it’s not the smallest thing in the world, I always make room for it in my brief case on those early am flights!  It makes a great gift for anyone you know that travels a lot.

Book review: Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs and Sharks

These two books make great presents for boys.  Our son got his first one when he was five years old and he loves them.  Each page has a great big pop-up in the middle and lots of smaller pop-ups in the corners.  There’s also lots of interesting information – I usually just read a couple of sentences per page.

More gift ideas

This article in the New York Times suggests giving food or alcohol – something that will go away and not clutter the giftee’s life afterwards.

See my other post on websites to find the perfect gift.

Perfect Gift

It’s Christmas time and if you are like most of us, you are wondering what to get for at least one difficult someone on your list.  I found two sites to help you find the perfect gift for everyone on your list for Christmas:

  • FindGift.com.  This site lets you pick things like whether it’s an individual or a couple, your parents or a friend, which holiday and how old they are and then it makes some suggestions.  You can then sort by popularity and price.  It actually came up with some pretty reasonable suggestions during my trial run.
  • Perfect Present Picker. I had a harder time with this one.  You have to pick words that describe the person’s interest, personality and the occasion.  I had a hard time with everything but the personality.  Words like "busy body", "has brain implant" and "controlling" just aren’t words I usually use to describe my friends.  After you manage that they ask you about gender, age, occupation and lifestyle.  (If you pick couple, they don’t ask you about age and retired wasn’t an option under occupation.)  The results were not very good.  It suggested a milk frother or a professional poker set for my in-laws.  Somehow I don’t see them using either of those.

So I’d use FindGift to get some ideas and I wouldn’t bother with Present Picker. 
Good luck in your shopping!