It's that time of the year yet again. Geeks dream of new gifts that they receive from a loved one or buy for themselves. If you're shopping for a geek, it can be difficult to decide on a present. Do they want the red lightsaber or the green one? (Hint: It depends on if they're into the dark side of the Force.) You might buy them a T-shirt, but how can you choose if you don't understand what the jokes mean on the front?
InfoWorld has made its recommendations for the best gadget gifts for geeks, but here is my list of items that go beyond gadgets -- gifts that enterprise admins will appreciate.
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Desktop PC: Need to buy a desktop PC? My favorites have been and continue to be Dell's Alienware systems. The Aurora is a relatively affordable machine, with cool glowing lights along the side and a glowing alien head up top. The keyboard and mouse glow too, and you can customize the lights' colors to your taste.
Laptop: I like Alienware for laptops, too. Although most geeks are into the sub-2.9-pound laptops like the MacBook Air, I prefer the big 20-pounders. For example, the Asus G74SX has an Intel Core i7 CPU, an Nvidia GTX560M video card with 3GB of video RAM, 16GB of system RAM, 1.5TB of disk space, and a 3D monitor.
E-reader: I'll be honest -- e-readers are over. Even the Amazon.com Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook are becoming Android tablets that let you play movies and Angry Birds. At that point, they aren't e-readers any more, but tablets with e-reading software. The only true e-reader left is the Kindle.
Tablet: The iPad 2. Sure, some of the other tablets on the market are cheaper, and they're fine if all you want is an e-reader with Angry Birds and Netflix. But the iPad 2 is much more than that. I finally broke down and bought an Apple product for my wife, and I have to say she loves it. I've been warming up to it myself. I'll admit it it: I want one. But I'll hold the line a little longer to see what the forthcoming Windows 8 tablets look like. If Samsung puts Windows 8 in its Galaxy Tab lineup, no iPad 2 for me.
Book: I'm not above a shameless plug for my own book. Hot off the (electronic) presses is "Conversational Geek (in 7 Days!)" (available in Kindle, PDF, ePub, and print editions), which is fun and informative for nongeeks as well as interesting and nostalgic for geeks. The book is meant to bridge the gap between the two, which it does by explaining the history of the Internet (in five pages), the development of Apple and Microsoft, geek entertainment (such as "Star Trek," "Star Wars," DC versus Marvel, Comic-Con, and so on), and more.
Smartphone: You're thinking I'm going to recommend the iPhone because of my recommendation of the iPad, right? Nope. I really like the Samsung Galaxy S II. And the commercial for it is quite funny; Microsoft should hire the same company to fire back at the Apple commercials.