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10 Tech Gifts to Buy Your Engineer for Christmas
12/19/2012

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Apart from Steve Jobs, the non-engineer who's had the most influence on cultural perceptions of gadgetry is a fictional character. That would be 'Q,' played for 30 years by Desmond Llwelyn, acting the part of the absent-minded professor. In the new Bond film Skyfall,  Ben Whishaw reimagines the part as part accountant, part geek. (Monty Python's John Cleese had a brief turn in two turn-of-the-century movies; let's call him Dennis Miller of the Q crowd.)

Fictional Qs would find a quantum of solace in the raft of 'Spy Shops' dotting the streets of most major cities. In New York, Google turns up a good 10. Most offer an array of gear more appropriate for prospective witness protection program enrollees than for the folks on your holiday gift list. Still, trust me when I tell you that any engineer would love an Aston-Martin with a passenger-side ejection seat. (Actually, so would driver's education instructors.)

If that's too pricey, how about an $80 water-resistant HD video watch, a $650 nanny cam hidden in a Teddy bear, or a $200 tiny GPS live tracker, which 'is the fasted way to retrieve a person or vehicle's current location.' Nah, better wait til Valentine's Day.

Apart from Steve Jobs, the non-engineer who's had the most influence on cultural perceptions of gadgetry is a fictional character. That would be "Q," played for 30 years by Desmond Llwelyn, acting the part of the absent-minded professor. In the new Bond film Skyfall, Ben Whishaw reimagines the part as part accountant, part geek. (Monty Python's John Cleese had a brief turn in two turn-of-the-century movies; let's call him Dennis Miller of the Q crowd.)

Fictional Qs would find a quantum of solace in the raft of "Spy Shops" dotting the streets of most major cities. In New York, Google turns up a good 10. Most offer an array of gear more appropriate for prospective witness protection program enrollees than for the folks on your holiday gift list. Still, trust me when I tell you that any engineer would love an Aston-Martin with a passenger-side ejection seat. (Actually, so would driver's education instructors.)

If that's too pricey, how about an $80 water-resistant HD video watch, a $650 nanny cam hidden in a Teddy bear, or a $200 tiny GPS live tracker, which "is the fasted way to retrieve a person or vehicle's current location." Nah, better wait til Valentine's Day.

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3drob
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Re: Can you spell eclectic?
3drob   12/20/2012 10:33:01 AM
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Nice article Alex.

Rich, I also was nostalgic when I saw the Lafayette catalog.  If they come back maybe I can get that Quadraphonic 8-track with the headphones that had two channels in each earpiece I dreamt of getting in my youth.

I liked the inclusion of "The Beauty of Fractals" (I have a few other similar book's sitting next to it, including "The Fractal Geometry of Nature").

As an Engineer, I don't believe in the superiority of vacuum tubes (any more than low oxygen copper speaker wires).  But I do have a collection of old tubes I'm thinking of mounting as art (some are quite beautiful).

Finally, why include superglue and duct tape?  Every good Engineer worth his or her salt already has these in their tool box.  Should've been something that many Engineer's don't already have at home, like that nice small mixed signal scope (hint hint Santa).

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Can you spell eclectic?
Cabe Atwell   12/20/2012 1:25:06 AM
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These are some unique choices. The only one I should have put on my list, the Terrafugia Transition. It would make for fun weekend trips. Though I am sure people would vandalize it out of jealousy. The burden of being ostentatiously wealthy... A burden I have to carry, woe is me.

I already have the Raspberry Pi. Finding a use for it escapes me at the moment. Suggestions welcome.

C

richnass
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Re: Can you spell eclectic?
richnass   12/19/2012 1:16:23 PM
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Wow, this is an emotional piece. Three of your items really resonate with me. First, the Lafayette catalog, although I was more of a Heathkit guy. Second, I'm a HUGE fan of duct tape. It can solve most of the world's problems. Finally, The Big Bang Theory is a must have.

naperlou
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Can you spell eclectic?
naperlou   12/19/2012 10:52:40 AM
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Alex, this is truly an eclectic list.  You have outdone yourself.  Although I would argue with some of your descriptions, it was a fun read.

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