Whether you love it or hate it, the holiday season is officially here. Your inbox is clogged with holiday offers, you've heard George Michael's “Last Christmas” one too many times, your neighbor has put out a pair of freaky animated LED reindeer, and you're scrambling to finish your shopping before you have to endure one more mind-numbing line at a big box store.
We can't help with the holiday music overkill or the tacky decorations (sorry, you're on your own!), but we can help to ease your holiday shopping angst. We understand that developers are not always the easiest people to shop for, so we asked a few software engineers to get input on some holiday gift ideas for the developers and hackers in your life. In the gift guide below, we've included some hot ticket items that any coder would be glad to get.
Phorce, the world's first smart bag – Messenger bags are a staple for all developers. But the Phorce is more than a messenger bag. It's a mobile charging station for all your devices, and it connects to your mobile phone via bluetooth to send you push notifications when you forget your bag or when your battery is low. It also converts to a briefcase or a backpack depending on your preference. In short: It's awesome.
Raspberry Pi – The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and keyboard, and can be programmed to do any number of things that your PC can do, such as word-processing and spreadsheets. It's being used to help young people learn to program, but it's also just a really fun toy for developers in general.
Eye-Fi – The Eye-Fi is an SD card with built-in Wi-Fi, and it's compatible with most cameras. Here's how it works: The Eye-Fi automatically connects to your Wi-Fi network and sends all of your photos to the photo sharing network of your choice. Simple and effective. To quote one Engine Yard developer who owns one of these: “Eye-Fi is truly wizard.”
AR.Drone – The AR.Drone is, in a word, glorious. A programmable flying helicopter that runs on Linux, this bad boy is designed to be controlled by iOS and Android devices. We love these things so much that we recently participated in Nodecopter, a full day of programming flying robots with Node.js. Is it pricey? A little. But ask yourself: How much are you willing to pay for happiness?
Lytro camera – Unlike most cameras, the Lytro camera captures and processes the entire light field, allowing you to refocus your pictures and shift the perspective. The result is that you're able to easily create professional-quality photographs that are really quite breathtaking. And if you're an Instagram lover, you're in luck: The Lytro camera comes with several filters.
Lockitron – Lockitron allows you to lock and unlock the front door of your house using your smartphone -- from anywhere in the world. It even sends you push notifications when someone is knocking at your front door. There's a slight creepy factor somewhere in here, but the idea of never having to worry about forgetting my keys again far outweighs that.
Jambox – The Jambox by Jawbone is the new hotness where sound systems are concerned. It's small, pretty and delivers truly rich sound -- so you can use it for office conference calls, home entertainment, or blasting your George Michael holiday jams while on the go.
iCooly UBoard – Perhaps the sleekest docking station out there, the iCooly UBoard is Mac-ready, space-saving, and includes plenty of USB ports. And it's makers must know developers quite well because it also includes a cup-holder, perfect for your coffee mug or -- let's be honest -- your beer.
Nest Learning Thermostat – David Pogue of The New York Times calls the Nest “gorgeous, elegant, and very, very smart” -- and we'd have to agree. The Nest learns your schedule and programs itself accordingly so the temperature in your home is always exactly what it should be, saving energy while saving you money on your utility bills. Like several of the other items on this list, it is also easily controllable by your smartphone. Are we seeing a trend here, or what?
Midleton Very Rare – When all else fails, go with booze! Made by the folks at Jameson, Midleton Very Rare is a top-notch Irish Whiskey. Each bottle is aged for 12-25 years, and only 50 casks are released each year, so it's collectible -- and more importantly, it's quite drinkable!