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Geek Gifts

Zack Urlocker
Sunday, December 12, 2004

Got a geek in your life and not quite sure what to get them?  Here's our top "twelve days of Christmas" gift recommendations ranging from dot com games, to videos, to books and more.  And if you order on line you can still get them shipped in time for the holiday season.


Burn RateBurn Rate  

If you're a couple of dot-com heros laid off at the last downturn should you a) go to business school; b) go into consulting or; c) work for Microsoft?  For Seattle software geek Rich Koehler and designer Jim Massey, the answer was d) create a goofy card game that makes fun of the whole thing.  The result is Burn Rate, a card game where you try to be the last CEO to lose all your money.  It's a romp through the dot com era where you may be forced to work on "really bad ideas" like URL scanners or on-line furniture retailers with a group of dysfunctional VPs.  If only real life were as easy as this.


Startup.comStartup.com Movie  

The movie Startup.com is a great rags to, well, more rags, story about the life and times of startup company GovWorks.com run by CEO Kaleil Tuzman and his high school buddy CTO Tom Herman.  You get to see them make pitches to VCs, train their employees and try to balance their lives and ultimately their friendship when the business comes apart at the seems. This is a riveting story which is even funnier because of the moments of truth, like when Tuzman and crew leave Kleiner Perkins offices, dejected and say "They just didn't get it."  Every startup has its moments and this one compresses them int a couple of hours for a fascinating story.  No wonder it cleaned up at Sundance.




Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon is a brilliant science fiction book that tracks the life of a World War II code breaker genius Lawrence Waterhouse to the present day.  Stephenson shows that he's not only smart, but also a great story teller.  Despite it's length, over 900 pages, it's absolutely gripping.  This book makes a great gift for anyone who likes science fiction or thought provoking fiction. Get the paperback edition and avoid a hernia.



Faux StockFaux Stock Certificate  

For a mere twenty bucks, you can get your intrepid geek investor a fake stock certificate that will retain its value, which is absolutely nothing.  These phony stock certificates can be made out for any number of shares up to 10,000,000.  without changing their value, which is absolutely nothing.  You can get a couple million shares of Enrob, WorldCon or Artful Andersen.  Each comes with its own genuine certificate of authenticity, which is also worth absolutely nothing.  This is the perfect anecdote to anyone who got caught up in the tech wreck of the last two years.


The Onion: Box SetThe Onion: Box Set

If you know someone who just can't get enough of The Onion, consider splurging on their new three volume "Platinum Prestige" box set.  That's right, three books for the price of three books.  You get the classic "Our Dumb Century", "Our Finest Reporting" and "Dispatches from the Tenth Circle."  Also includes deluxe cardboard box, turnable pages and easy-to-read black type.  For anyone who's addicted to the newspaper or the web site, this is a great collection to have.





DespairDespair.com Poster  

If you've seen one-too-many of these 1980s motivational posters, here's your chance to tell it like it is.  Despair.com has brilliant true-to-life "demotivator" posters, calendars and notecards on subjects like Burnout, Procrastination, Incompetence and more. Also check out their paper shredder make-over stickers including "Employee Suggestion Box" and "Enron Document Storage."  These make great gifts for the office.


Hitchhikers Guide to the GalaxyUltimate Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Douglas Adams, God rest his soul, was the comic genius behind the 5 part trilogy of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: a radio drama, a TV special, a book, an InfoCom text adventure game and one day, perhaps, a movie.  This "ultimate" collection includes the original three volume trilogy ("The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", "Life, the Universe and Everything" and "Restaurant at the End of the Universe", the 2 follow-on sequels ("So Long and Thanks for all the Fish" and "Mostly Harmless") plus a short story "Young Zaphod plays it safe." You get a massive hardcover volume of all the Douglas Adams you'll ever want weighing in at over 800 pages for under fifteen bucks.  This is a great gift guaranteed to get any geek laughing out loud.  If not, check for a pulse and deliver CPR.



CaffeineThinkGeek Caffeine T-Shirt 

ThinkGeek is a great source for high-tech t-shirts, toys and more.  This classic Caffeine T-Shirt is the pefect gift for the caffeine addict in your life.  You can also get Caffeine mugs, Doh! beer mugs, electronic gizmos, books and more.  Not sure what size or what graphic to get?  They have gift certificates, too. 





If you work in tech, or know someone who does, you've probably been on the receiving end of "RTFM" at least once.  Now you can preserve that feeling forever with an RTFM mug from the RTFM Store.  You can also get some cool WTF? shirts hats and real Valley of the Geeks logo ware.  Shirts and mugs are on sale and you can get free shipping for orders over $40.  These are great fits for anyone who's ever had to deal with tech support or finding an answer to a tough tech problem. What are you waiting for?



Valley of the GeeksValley of the Geeks Book

And of course, the ultimate gift for geeks is none other than a copy of the Valley of the Geeks book published by iUniverse. Features over 75 of the best stories from the Valley of the Geeks web site and a dozen stories not available anywhere. At over 200 pages, you're guaranteed to find some laughs in here or your money back. Order now and you'll have it in time for New Years. Most likley.  






About the author
Zack Urlocker wishes you all a very Merry Christmas.  And yes, has most of this stuff already.

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