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Top SciTech Gifts 2002 165

Steve0987 writes "Scientific American has a list of suggested Christmas presents for the those technical people on your shopping list. There are a couple I might add to my letter to Santa." Um, I'd also like to add some wireless speakers, but the the coal from the Titanic seems a bit macabre.
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Top SciTech Gifts 2002

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  • by Wolfier ( 94144 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:02AM (#4775220)
    The perfect gift is a job...
  • by TobiasSodergren ( 470677 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:03AM (#4775232)
    This frenzy about hitech gizmos makes me think about the introduction in HHGTTG.
  • I'd rather have (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:04AM (#4775235)
    A Soviet Whiskey class submarine. [b-americanboats.com]


    Whiskey tango foxtrot, OVER
  • by carb ( 611951 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:06AM (#4775244) Homepage
    Sure, those pet tornadoes _look_ cute when they're small, but boy, they grow up - they grow up big.
  • But I do. Even those people who come here just to bitch about this post went and read the link. Most of them even got that little lift out of seeing a cool toy they liked.

    I think people cause themselves more stress and concern trying to complain about SPAM, then they receive from the SPAM itself.

    I mean really, if something doesn't interest you...just go away, leave it alone.
    • In other news (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Claritan(TM) is now available without a prescription!

      I'm sure all of you have seen that particular piece of newsvertising by now. I think what is upsetting to most, is the realization that the news is not really so interested in providing information so people can make their own informed decisions but to brute force people into behavior with deception. (ie, disguise advertising as news).

      You might think of the press as becoming some Pavlovian Theater that seeks to control the audience. And once that realization has been made,
      you can't help but feel a little disgusted.

    • it is funny to watch others get so worked up about whats posted on slashdot, i mean, i'd love to have the motivation to have a 40 post long flame war about why that post was taking up to much of their time, and why they object to slashdot wasting its server space with insignificant storys.
  • Cocaine and hookers, and plenty of both...
  • Care (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Trusty Penfold ( 615679 ) <jon_edwards@spanners4us.com> on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:09AM (#4775268) Journal

    Technical gifts are cool; that microscope on page 5 is exactly what I was looking for for my brother.

    But they soon lose their charm, run out of batteries and end up polluting the environment with mercury, Lithium, Chlorine and other heavy metals.

    SciAm should also promote more ethical gifts, such as adopting endangered animals, areas of threatened land and donations to trusts promoting research in to disease cure and treatment.

    It's cliched, I know, but christmas is far too commercial but I hope simple things like this can reverse the trend
    • Re:Care (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:14AM (#4775307)
      Lithium, Chlorine and other heavy metals
      Lithium and chlorine are heavy metals? Wow...

      SciAm should also promote more ethical gifts, such as adopting endangered animals
      Write some letters. I'll be over here destroying the rain forest with my heavy metals if you need me.
      • Re:Care (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jc42 ( 318812 )
        ciAm should also promote more ethical gifts, such as adopting endangered animals

        Actually, in a few cases, you can do this quite literally. A newcomer to our household is a blue-crowned conure whose previous owner was doing so much travelling that it was a growing stress on the bird, who was constantly being put up with strangers for a week at a time. We have two cockatiels (nowhere near endangered), so she asked if we could give the conure a good home.

        Now, blue-crowned conures aren't yet officially endangered, but they are fairly rare in the wild, and their numbers are decreasing. A few years ago, we had a Goffin's cockatoo for a few years, until we sold her to a breeder. This species is rapidly going extinct in the wild. Their native islands in Indonesia are being converted to farmland. They are fruit eaters. They also chew on wood to shape their beaks. So a flock of them can not only destroy your fruit crop, but also do serious damage to the tree. Farmers shoot them on sight

        Estimates are that Goffin's cockatoos will be extinct in the wild in a decade or so. But when raised with humans, they are very good pets. They will probably be saved from extinction only as pets, since the Indonesian government seems to show no interest in saving them.

        This approach isn't generally useful for saving most endangered species. You don't really want a pet American crocodile, for instance. Or a pet condor, for that matter. But a few species can be saved this way, and maybe returned to the wild in the future if the appropriate governments decide that they've lost something important.

    • bats and lemurs (Score:4, Informative)

      by Bogatyr ( 69476 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:37AM (#4775428) Homepage
      My two favorite endangered animals donation sites are the Bat Conservation International [batcon.org] and Duke University Primate Center [duke.edu]'s Adopt-A-Lemur program.
    • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

      by Cap'n Canuck ( 622106 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:37AM (#4775433)
      Um actually, the microscope was on page four. If you RTFA, then you might have seen on page five:
      - Adopt a Whale
      - Sponsor a Big Cat
      - Blue Planet (documentary)

      Or are there specific whales/big cats that are not politically correct to adopt, and therefore don't count?

      Karma: Neutered (Mostly affected by lack of balls)
    • Re:Care (Score:2, Redundant)

      by Greedo ( 304385 )
      SciAm should also promote more ethical gifts, such as adopting endangered animals, areas of threatened land and donations to trusts promoting research in to disease cure and treatment.

      If you had actually RTFA, you would've seen links on the last page to Adopt a Whale [clamshell.org] and Sponsor a Big Cat [wcs.org].

      You sentiments may be well meaning, but get your facts straight first.
    • SciAm should also promote more ethical gifts, such as adopting endangered animals

      Perth Zoo [wa.gov.au] actually allow you to sponsor/adopt [wa.gov.au] one (or more!) of the animals/exhibits and use this money to directly improve the zoo. It makes a fantastic, thoughtfull and memorable gift and it really doesn't cost much (AU$40, approx. US$25) when you think about it.

      I imagine your local zoo probably has a similar scheme - why not go and find out?
      • Thank you, you just saved me a Google.

        I'm a member of the Perth zoo club and I was looking for a batch of gifts for friends. I was reminded of their adoption thing by the parent post and was just about to search for their website.

  • THG (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hitzroth ( 60178 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:09AM (#4775269)
    Tom's Hardware Guide [tomshardware.com] has their list up, too. Nothing spectacular, but looks like some neat ideas if you're stuck.
  • Coal? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:09AM (#4775279)
    I get that in my stocking every year.
  • by hey ( 83763 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:10AM (#4775280) Journal
    Here's a better idea: Buy Nothing Day [adbusters.org].
    • Sounds like a sure way to plunge the economy back into a recession if you ask me. Let's give a little more thought to these ideas in these days of uncertainty.
    • Problem is, people only buy more the following day to compensate for their lack of spending. A noble 'cause, but a futile one, imho.
    • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:49AM (#4775487)
      Right or Wrong - much of the forcasting for the 4th quarter's end output is based on holiday shopping this weekend.

      Retail sales are an important part of the whole economy in the winter.

      If sales are soft, the Stock Market will play off the initial sales numbers. For people in a Public Employee Retirement System a soft market is the last thing those systems need.

      While I understand the BND idea and I've followed in the past, this year I'm going to try and get my walk-in retail shopping done this weekend.
    • Stupid (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GoofyBoy ( 44399 )

      Could someone tell me what is the message they are trying to get to retailers?

      "Stop selling me so much stuff?"
      "Thanks but I'll go shopping on Saturday/Sunday after Black Friday?"

      • Re:Stupid (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Xaje ( 266591 )
        The message is actually aimed at consumers. This isn't an attempt to gouge the revenue of multi-national corporations for one day -- that would be next to impossible.

        Instead, we're trying to get individual people to realize that they don't *need* to consume everything that's offered. Most people who go shopping on Black Friday do so because they know they'll find cheap stuff, without really having anything specific in mind. Buy this, buy that, it doesn't matter because it's all really cheap!
        Buy Nothing Day poses the question, "Do I really need to buy this?"

        If not, then don't! If so, do it Saturday. ; )

        curb your consumption
  • Dear Santa (Score:5, Funny)

    by newsdee ( 629448 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:11AM (#4775289) Homepage Journal
    Dear Santa,

    I've been a really good geek this year. I have studied the intricacies of the quantic string field network and built a beowulf cluster out of my old Apple II. I have also helped my school to install their own park of budget PCs and given classes to the senior citizens in our town's retirement home.

    So I think I deserved that Terabyte HDD system I saw online [pricegrabber.com] [pricegrabber].

    Maybe your elves can built it. I have some schematics for it. Pr0... er... pencil holder schematics are becoming really big, with the internet and all, you know, Santa?

    Yours,
    Geeky Geeks.

    • Re:Dear Santa (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Guppy ( 12314 )
      "Maybe your elves can built it. I have some schematics for it. Pr0... er... pencil holder schematics are becoming really big, with the internet and all, you know, Santa?"

      I think that little slip of the tongue may have just landed you on the "Naughty" list.
  • by Pxtl ( 151020 )
    Slashdotted already. Anybody get a mirror? This shiznit sounds cool.
    • Re:Damn (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by Greedo ( 304385 )
      "Shiznit"?

      Can someone buy this guy a punch in the face, please? Or at least an education.
    • Re:Damn (Score:4, Informative)

      by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:49AM (#4775485)
      Still haven't found presents for the science fans on your list? Before you brave the cold and the holiday crowds again, take a look at our favorite geek gifts to give and get this year.

      That time has come once again when Scientific American editors wrap up their holiday shopping. Okay, actually we're far from done. We admit it. But in our annual mad dash for this season's best science and technology presents, we have turned up quite a few terrific gifts--from pet tornadoes and weather stations to million-year-old fossils and ancient pyramid kits.
      Grouped into five categories below--wearables, novelties, toys, gizmos and other stuff--this collection has something for the geek in all of us. How would Dad like a watch with a built-in universal remote control? How about a chemistry set of delicious bath soaps for Mom? Have a nutty relative who, so far as you can tell, lives in a cave? Give him a bona fide bat detector. Or a lump of coal--from the Titanic. Happy browsing! --the Editors

      Wearables
      Tied to Science
      When you have to tie one on, it might as well be scientifically stylish. Josh Bach offers several options among its offerings of colorful silk ties for $39 apiece, including cartoons of atoms, moon phases and rocket ships.
      http://www.joshbach.com

      Double Helix Bracelet
      Wear your feelings about science on your sleeve--and at the same time commemorate the upcoming (March 2003) 50th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick. The bracelets are fashioned from spring steel and then silver plated. They come in three sizes and prices ($6, $10 or $15). There are also "hematite" and multi-color finishes available.
      http://www.carolynforsman.com/product.cfm?item_i d= 14

      Smart (Alec) T-shirts
      Want to advertise your smarts before you even open your mouth? Some of these T-shirts should do the trick. The Bell Curve shirt shows the simple graph used so often for grading--and nicely points out the wearer's superior spot at the far end of the scale. Another T, in a lovely shade of turquoise, conveniently shows more digits of Pi than you will ever need.
      http://store.thecoop.com/cgi-bin/coopstore.store fr ont /3dde42fa048dda74273fc0a814660702/Catalog/1343

      Space Station Crew Cap
      Is someone on your gift list out of this world in one way or another? Give them this black baseball cap, identifying them as a crew member on the space station. The back of the hat features the IMAX logo.
      http://store.thetech.org/spacstatcrew.html

      Midas Remote Controlled Watch
      Think of it--a universal remote control attached to your wrist at all times. No TV will ever again escape your will, at least not if it's within 20 feet. This watch's database covers every make/model of TV and cable receiver imaginable. What does such power cost, you ask? Only $39.99.
      http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/watches/5a7b/

      Novelties
      Aged Well
      Fossils, skulls, and large insects are among the offerings at Maxilla and Mandible online. When we looked, for instance, the 350 million-year-old fossil trilobite was a steal at $56. Also available was a modern wildebeast skull with graceful black horns ($360), and an impressive specimen of a giant scorpion ($100). Prices and offerings vary.
      http://www.maxillaandmandible.com/

      Titanic Coal
      Need to fill stockings for bad children, large and small? Well, for a mere $21.95 you can give them a piece of coal from the engine room of the most famous shipwreck, the sinking of the Titanic. Each lump comes with a certificate of authenticity.
      http://shop.store.yahoo.com/scimall-usa/titanicc oa l.html

      Test-tube Spice Rack
      For the chemist-cum-cook, this set of glass test tubes in a matching silver rack makes it easy to brew up just about anything in the kitchen. Cork stoppers keep spices fresh.
      http://www.gourmetbistro.com/glastestubsp.html

      Bath Science
      Fill your tub with a variety of potions and lotions from chemistryset.net this season and keep the beakers and vials for later use. The delicious soaps, bath bombs, mineral salts, aromatherapy beads and candles from this site are all you need to dissolve holiday stress.
      http://www.chemistryset.net/

      MC2 Frame
      Hand-made, hand-painted and cast in bonded porcelain, this beautiful frame is a nice way to display your photos of Einstein--or anyone else you hold near and dear.
      http://store.yahoo.com/msichicago/16-538.html

      Surveyors' Bearings
      Antique scientific instruments can be very pricey. But there are some high quality, accurate reproductions available that will put less of a dent in the pocketbook. The classic surveying compass, for example, was patented by Colorado mining engineer D.W Brunton in 1894. It quickly became the standard instrument for explorers mapping new lands and territories and charting coastlines. This faithful replica has a solid polished brass casing that opens to reveal folding peep sights; on the inside of the lid is a mirror with a centre line. The case is heavily constructed from a machined casting, with brass screws and hinges. It comes in a leather case with stitched seams and brass strap fastening.
      www.simplysuperbgifts.com

      Signed by Chuck Yeager
      In 1947, Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager, flew into history when he became the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound. The Bell X-1 Rocket Research plane he piloted. You can't give someone the original X-1--its at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum but you can give them a 1:32 scale model autographed by Yeager. The model is handcrafted of mahogany and presented on a wooden display stand.
      www.smithsonianstore.com

      Astronaut Autographs
      The moonwalker astronauts are now in their 60s and 70s--and most will likely be gone before humans return to the moon. But space buffs can still get the gift of a living remembrance of those heroic journeys in the form of NASA photographs autographed by the astronauts. For example, a signed and authenticated 16-by-20 copy of the famous photo of Neil Armstrong reflected in the faceplate of Buzz Aldrin's helmet can be purchased for $299; framed for $459.
      www.novaspace.com

      Toys
      Rocket Car
      Forget the run-of-the-mill remote-controlled models from Radio Shack. This two-foot long speed machine runs on pure vinegar and baking soda. You might want to send Fido outside before you fire 'er up.
      http://store.thecoop.com/cgi-bin/coopstore.store fr ont/3dde42fa048dda74273fc0a814660702/Product/View/ 5029

      Pet Tornado
      Speaking of pets, why not keep your very own storm around for a, well, sunny day? No need for walks, bones, scratching posts, flea collars or pigs ears. Just spin the cage and watch a baby tornado form. At $4.50, it makes a great stocking stuffer.
      http://store.yahoo.com/msichicago/pettornado.htm l

      Cat-A-Pults
      Watch mechanics in action as Newton the foam cat flies from one catapult to the next. This set contains five catapults, each with 25 adjustment settings to control the cat's trajectory up to distances of eight feet, and 10 actual Newtons, for a total of 90 feline lives.
      http://store.yahoo.com/
      explo/catapults.html

      Pyramid Building Blocks
      Reconstruct Tut's tomb with this 67-piece block set. These hardwood blocks come in 18 different shapes, making it far easier for you to engineer a pyramid than it was for the ancient Egyptians.
      http://www.smithsonianstore.com/product_detail.a sp ?style=67301&catid=10001814&dptid=502

      Talking Globe
      Learn geography plus national anthems and songs. This globe asks more than 10,000 questions and grades your answers. You can create custom quizzes at different skill levels and track scores for up to four players.
      http://www.smithsonianstore.com/product_detail.a sp ?style=6026&catid=239&dptid=235

      Ant-omology
      Like chemistry sets, the holidays wouldn't be the same without some budding entomologist getting an ant farm. This escape-proof set up allows kids to watch these industrious arthropods through the walls of a round-walled clear container with a snap on magnifier for closer viewing. "Sugar Cement" puts nutrients into the sand while making it cave-in resistant and spurs the ants to greater activity. A mail-in coupon brings the ants to their new abode within 2 to 4 weeks. It also gives parents a chance to reconsider.
      www.scientificsonline.com

      Designer Molecules
      Molecular models may be the Tinker Toys of the 21st century. Here's a kit that contains an extensive assortment of 480 atoms molded in polypropylene. Three hundred flexible vinyl connectors represent the bond "linkages." Double and triple bonds are easily constructed. Anything from an acid to an enzyme is easily fabricated. And even if its not the next blockbuster designer drug, the models are nice to look at.
      gallery.bcentral.com

      Unraveling DNA
      It's been 50 years since Watson and Crick figured out that the DNA packed in all living cells was coiled in the form of a double helix. But few people have actually seen this stuff of life. Here's a kit that can give amateur experimenters a look by extracting the DNA from onion cells. By following simple instructions users can see the DNA precipitate from solution and lift it out of the test tube. In the process, they learn about cell lysis, denaturation, precipitation, super coiling, high molecular mass, and the double stranded helix.
      www.books4kids.com

      Gadgets
      Portable Solar Array
      If the batteries in your CD player or cell phone run dry on a clear, sunny day, just plug the little gadget into iSun, a portable solar charger offered by ICP Global Technologies. The size of a small book, one iSun generates about two Watts of electricity, enough to power a Walkman, cell phone or PD. Each unit costs $79.99 a piece, and they can be linked together like a daisy chain to power hungrier devices.
      www.icpglobal.com

      Backyard Weather Station
      Dreaming of a white Christmas? Go one step farther and make your own forecast. These professional weather stations feature anemometers to measure wind speed and direction, rain collectors to track daily and accumulated rainfall amounts, temperature and humidity sensors and much more. They transmit their readings to remote LCD console/receivers that can be placed up to 400 feet away.
      http://www.weathershop.com/davis_wireless.htm

      Bat Detectors
      No, this isn't a giant bat-shaped spotlight you project into the night sky. This palm-held gizmo is the bat-hunter's equivalent to a fish finder. For beginners, Bat Conservation International, Inc., which brings you the Swedish-made devices, suggests the E-5 Microbat model, with high/low frequency capabilities for detecting most bats through a speaker or headphones. For around $89, it comes with belt clip, battery and instructions.
      http://www.batcon.org/catalog/catp3.html

      Time Flows By
      Here's new twist on the time-honored hourglass egg timer. The Bubble Timer is a polished two-inch acrylic cube that reckons the minutes by the lazy ascent of a bubble through a tube. Depending on the face the cube is set on, the tube has three inclinations--and hence counts out three different times: ten seconds, one minute or five minutes. Invert the cube to repeat the measurement.
      bubbletimer.com/

      Don't Party Without It
      No need to fear the consequences of overzealous holiday celebrating is you are carrying this Digital Alcohol Detector. This compact personal breathalyzer uses advanced semiconductor gas sensor technology to approximate the percent of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) from your breath. Blow into the mouth vent and within 10 seconds a precise reading, in increments of 0.01 percent, ranging from 0.00 to 0.19 percent BAC.appears on the LCD display.
      www.scientificsonline.com

      Atomic Time
      With the ExactSet clock there is no reason to call the phone company for the correct time. This compact travel clock sets itself automatically to the radio signal from the US Atomic Clock in Colorado. In addition, the clock incorporates two alarms, time/day/date display, indoor temperature, and low battery indicator. It even has an eight minute snooze for an indisputable wakeup call.
      www.weathertools.com

      Solar Observer
      Here's a safe way to look at the surface of the sun. The Sunspotter is a wooden, folded-Keplerian telescope that uses a system of mirrors and a powerful 62millimeter objective lens to project a brilliant three-inch solar image onto a white viewing screen. Sunspots can be easily tracked as they appear and move across the solar disk. Tracing the images provides an hour-by-hour or day-by-day record of the solar cycle.
      www.scientificsonline.com

      Bright Beam
      Almost everyone has a flashlight--or too many--but the X5 LED Long Distance Flashlight adds a new dimension. Its powerful beam reaches 120 feet but, unlike conventional flashlights, it illuminates that darkness in full spectrum color by combining the light from five LED bulbs. The distinctive blue beam can be seen more than two miles away at dusk or dark. Its aircraft-grade aluminum case is virtually unbreakable, completely waterproof (up to 150 feet), and shock proof.
      shopping.discovery.com

      Digital Microscope
      Another old standby children's gift--the optical microscope--is going digital. The C2D Microscope connects to a PC and can magnify objects up to 220 times their actual size. The software can record both stills and video. Like its mechanical forebears, the kit also contains dissecting tools and prepared slides.
      store.yahoo.com

      Other

      Adopt a Whale
      For only $54 dollars, you can help support research on killer whales and claim one for your very own or for a friend. The killer whale adoption program from the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center sends you an ID photo and biography of your whale, an adoption certificate, a CD featuring the sounds of British Columbia's killer whales and newsletter about the research program. You choose your whale from a pull-down menu: Balaklava, Clio, Echo, Izumi, Nimpkish, Whisky and pals are waiting.
      http://www.clamshell.org/

      Sponsor a Big Cat
      For only $25, you can sponsor a jaguar, snow leopard or Siberian Tiger and get a bunch of great goodies as well. The Wildlife Conservation Society will send you a limited edition T-shirt, one year of their magazine, a brief history of your cat and information about what WCS is doing in its habitat to help protect wildlife. For $35 or more, you'll also receive a quarterly newsletter.
      http://wcs.org/bigcats/#whichcat

      Blue Planet
      This hauntingly beautiful journey beneath the sea made documentary history. From giant whales to tiny coral polyps and the strange organisms that live in the abyssal deep, it contains scenes never before captured on camera. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, it stands as a definitive exploration of the ocean's most breathtaking habitats, from its deepest recesses to its frozen deserts. The entire series is available in a boxed gift set of four DVDs. DVD extras include behind-the-scenes featurettes, interviews, photo galleries, fact files and a Blue Planet music video.
      shopping.discovery.com

      • Time Flows By
        >Here's new twist on the time-honored hourglass egg timer.
        >The Bubble Timer is a polished two-inch acrylic cube that
        >reckons the minutes by the lazy ascent of a bubble through
        >a tube. Depending on the face the cube is set on, the
        >tube has three inclinations--and hence counts out three
        >different times: ten seconds, one minute or five minutes.
        >Invert the cube to repeat the measurement.
        >bubbletimer.com/


        First thought: ooh! Clever!

        Second thought: My kitchen table/desk ain't flat.

        Seriously, I do wonder how accurate these can be. The fact the cube is only a couple of inches per side must mean the slope is accurate to within a tiny percentage to get times of five minutes, however viscous the liquid. A couple of degrees out would be enough to really influence the time period.

        Bah, I burn enough stuff already. Maybe not.
  • by Cap'n Canuck ( 622106 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:14AM (#4775306)
    ...but it does get better.

    I particularly liked the Cat-a-pult, though I'm sure they caution "not to be used with real cats". He-he-he...
  • This [sciam.com] formatting is a little strange, anyone else think that looks like "this delicious 350-million-year old Trilobite"? (in the second paragraph)
  • by GothChip ( 123005 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:19AM (#4775332) Homepage
    I would like a server that can survive a slashdotting.

    I think Santa should give one to the people at Scientific American as well.
  • Tech gifts? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mr. Flibble ( 12943 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:19AM (#4775333) Homepage
    Sci/Tech gifts are easy to think of!

    Now someone come up with a list of flowery/cute/thoughtful gifts for my girlfriend!

    (No, really. I post to Slashdot and have a girlfriend. Incredible but true.)
    • Huzzah, another one. I hear rumours people actually have wives too, so spare a thought for them.

      If you get any ideas for boring^H^H^Hbeautiful things for the old ball and chain, give us a shout. So far I ahve it down to Trip to Rome (too boring), or cuddly teddy bear (she has thousands already)

      *sigh*
    • by falser ( 11170 )
      Uh, I think for the majority of Slashdot readers Sci/Tech gifts are as close to girlfriends as they have.
  • by binaryDigit ( 557647 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:24AM (#4775364)
    Well that is assuming that they transmit at 2.4Ghz, which I assume they do. Everytime Britanny hits a high note, the ftp connection to the warez site will drop. Oh wait, she can't hit high notes so I guess you're safe.
  • by MrFenty ( 579353 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:28AM (#4775380)
    ...presents for the those technical people on

    A grammar checker ?

  • www.scitoys.com (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ParallelJoe ( 624814 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:32AM (#4775402)
    I ran accross http://www.scitoys.com in an earlier /. article. Not only do they have some pretty cool items but they even tell you how to build a lot of them them yourself if you don't have the cash. I bought a Gauss rifle (http://www.scitoys.com/scitoys/scitoys/magnets/ga uss.html) for my boys. I can't wait for Xmas.
  • by scotay ( 195240 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:32AM (#4775403)
    A Zany-Brainy exclusive:
    Cause Kids learn best when they're having fun.

    Pagans MC "Little Cooker" Organic Chemistry Kit (Ages 8 to 80)

    Who needs a wimpy chemistry set when you can give your child a leg up on the competition with our super-fun crash-course in organic chemistry?

    Your child will learn the Ephedrine reduction technique and the German technique to turn Pseudoephedrine into pure organic gold.

    When the experiment is over, simply call the Pagans at 1-800-GOT-METH and we will safely "dispose" of the harmful end product and award your child cash prizes and a Pagan "Little Cooker" merit badge.

    (Pseudoephedrine, rusty bathtub, and HAZMAT team not included.)
  • Missing.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by grub ( 11606 )

    Nowhere on that list do I see a Cray supercomputer [cray.com] c'mon SciAm, it's the dot-com boom! Everyone has millions to throw around!

    err.. oh.. scratch that.

  • Sheesh, that's like for kids. If you really want to want to have a nice Ant Farm setup, check out my personal Web site for resources. At least those Ant Farms aren't kiddie type. You can even build your own. :)

    • Subject: Antzone
      Login: antdude
      SPAMless e-mail: philpi@apu.eduANT
      URL: http://ANTfarm.ma.cx/
      Sig: Ant from The Ant Farm ...
      Abstract: They know sheesh about ants ...

      May I ask ... ANT you going ANT little nuts??
  • What, no GPS? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TravelSizedMonkey ( 585629 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:49AM (#4775488)
    For the geek you want to get outdoors, get a basic Garmin eTrex GPS unit [amazon.com] for around $100, then point them to geocaching.com [geocaching.com]. It's a fun geek activity, but maybe not suited to all geeks during the winter months. I'd be caching this weekend, except that I live in NH and it's about 10 degrees outside. (No, I'm not a New England native.) During the summer and fall, I had a great time hunting caches.

    Even if they don't want to cache, it's still a neat geek toy.
  • by Tar-Palantir ( 590548 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:52AM (#4775506)
    That the top gift for too many /.'ers would be "a love life". :)

    (yes, I'l take one too, Santa)...
  • by clickety6 ( 141178 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @11:55AM (#4775521)
    ... where's my flying car!!??!!

  • Don't Buy Jack (Score:5, Insightful)

    by limekiller4 ( 451497 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @12:01PM (#4775579) Homepage
    Karma hit be damned, don't buy [adbusters.org] anyone a damned thing [buynothingchristmas.org]. Draw them a picture. Write them a letter. Fold them an oragami barn complete with animals.

    I realize the point of this post is to be informative and this is a tech/nerd site. So be it. I'm suggesting that the best tech gift you can give someone is more of your time which, I might point out, is going to be spent working -- as opposed to spending time with them -- to earn the money for that runaway consuermism, optical, wifi, 3D, open-source imbedded OS GPS-capable caffienated, programmable biometric teeshirt.

    Yeesh.
    • Re:Don't Buy Jack (Score:3, Interesting)

      I'm not Christian, so I stopped celebrating Christmas because I thought it was hypocritical of me. (Instead, I celebrate the Solstice. I'm desperate for the days to start getting longer again.)

      Part of my problem with Christmas was that the whole holiday is a lie to most people. Hardly anybody is celebrating the birth of Christ. It's about buying gifts for your friends and family. And the buying gifts and consumerism isn't the problem either, it's the lying and hypocracy. If you want a holiday called 'Have fun and buy gifts for everyone day', then do that. Don't pretend it's about something it's not.

      And by the way, Hooters isn't REALLY a family restaurant, it IS about the women in tight shirts, and don't let them tell you otherwise. Stop going there until they stop lying. Maybe if we stop the lying and hypocracy surrounding ourselves, we'll slowly be able to change the amount of lying that gets done to us by businesses and government.
      • "... 'Have fun and buy gifts for everyone day'..."

        We do have that; it's called Christmas.
    • Re:Don't Buy Jack (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NDPTAL85 ( 260093 )
      Whats wrong with consumerism? What if you don't like doing anything other than being a consumer? I like being able to buy the things I like. Am I supposed to feel guilty about that now?
      • Re:Don't Buy Jack (Score:4, Interesting)

        by limekiller4 ( 451497 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @01:01PM (#4775908) Homepage
        NDPTAL85 writes:
        "Whats wrong with consumerism? What if you don't like doing anything other than being a consumer? I like being able to buy the things I like. Am I supposed to feel guilty about that now?"

        What is wrong with consumerism? Nothing. I'm not worried about people consuming things. Hell, bugs are consumers.

        I'm worried about runaway consumerism.

        Advertising works because it makes a hole that you now need to fill with the product in question. It tells you that you stink, you're stupid, you're abs aren't trim enough, that you aren't dating someone cute enough, that you'd be OH SO MUCH HAPPIER if you could just get that new Lexus, a PalmPilot, or maybe a device that spoots salad ingredients out like an ak-47. Then they can sell you thing x.

        For you to argue that runaway consumerism doesn't exist is to argue that advertising does not work and more importantly, cause people to perceive things irrationally. Years ago Michael Jackson -- bless his nose -- pimped Pepsi despite admitting, in public, that he'd never touch the stuff. It was an enormous success. Why was it a success? Because people like(d) Jacko's music and damnit, if it was good enough for His Transparency, it was good enough for them! *sigh

        If I close my eyes and squint just a little, I can imagine your question being paraphrased at an AA meeting. "What is wrong with drinking six pints of vodka at a party? What if that's all you like to do? Am I supposed to feel guilty about it now?"

        No, you're supposed to recognize your addiction. One of the best signs of an addiction is being unable to stop whilst claiming that there isn't really a problem and that you could, really, stop at any time.
        • Advertising works because it makes a hole that you now need to fill with the product in question. It tells you that you stink, you're stupid, you're abs aren't trim enough, that you aren't dating someone cute enough, that you'd be OH SO MUCH HAPPIER if you could just get that new Lexus,
          [...]
          For you to argue that runaway consumerism doesn't exist is to argue that advertising does not work


          By and large, it doesn't. When was the last time you paid attention to commercials, online or in conventional media? Do *you* have a burning need to buy that Lexus or palm-pilot or to drink Pepsi because the artist-du-jour told you to?

          Advertising influences _what_ people buy quite strongly (by building brand awareness), but not so much how much they spend on buying things. It represents corporations slugging it out with each other to make sure that the money that will be spent, will be spent on them.

          A high-tier executive may spend most of their money on frivolous items. The rest of us spend most of it on things that are necessities (rent/mortgage, food) or things that do substantially increase our quality of life (getting a car instead of using public transit, eating a fancy meal, going to a movie).

          Your argument that we'd be much happier making half as much money and kicking our "addiction" assumes that most of our money is spent on things that do not contribute to our happiness. This does not appear to be the case for most people.

          Thus, your arguments do not seem to apply.

    • There's a very odd contrast between this post and the one at the top of the list about the perfect gift being a job. I've seen several incarnations of this "don't buy anything for a day" drive this year: this Christmas one, and another one dedicated to reducing consumer waste. Kids, if we don't buy anything, where are the jobs going to come from?
      • Re:Don't Buy Jack (Score:3, Interesting)

        by limekiller4 ( 451497 )
        HisMother writes:
        "Kids, if we don't buy anything, where are the jobs going to come from?"

        You're muddying the issue, though I'll grant that I don't believe you're doing it on purpose. The issue is not buying anything, the issue is buying too much.

        Remember that tv spot back in the 80's where there is a guy walking in a circle, saying, "I do cocaine ...so I can work longer ...so I can make more money ...so I can do more cocaine..." and it just keeps going faster and faster? The guy turns out to be in a bottle? This is the same issue.

        You ask where the jobs are going to come from. I'm pointing out that if you didn't have this burning need to buy pointless things, then you wouldn't need to work as hard to begin with. Ie, your need to have a job to support your habit would be gone. Imagine only working 20 hours a week because that's all the money you need to keep yourself supported! Imagine that! An extra 1,000 hours every year to explore your life, experience your kids, take up a hobby!

        And, to be clear, it is only the pointless things I'm bitching about, though it is very easy to rationalize almost anything if you try hard enough.

        Yes, buying things drives the economy. But the economy only needs to be driven as hard as it is because it has a habit to support. Don't you see the circularity in your argument?

        Not a flame, just a thought.
        • Imagine going to your boss and saying "Hey, I don't need as much money to live since I stopped buting things, so I'm only coming in 2 days a week now. You can cut my salary if you like."

          Tell me how that works out for you and what jobs you'll be applying for next.

          You see, there's this thing called disposable income. When you have a job that pays X dollars per year as a salary, once you remove the cost of living (rent, food, clothes, etc) the rest is what gets spent on toys, vacations, and all that other fun stuff. Sure people get caught up in material things, but how will it be any better if they hoard their money?

          • Re:Don't Buy Jack (Score:4, Insightful)

            by limekiller4 ( 451497 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @01:38PM (#4776128) Homepage
            forkboy writes:
            "Imagine going to your boss and saying "Hey, I don't need as much money to live since I stopped buting things, so I'm only coming in 2 days a week now. You can cut my salary if you like." Tell me how that works out for you and what jobs you'll be applying for next. "

            I've got this crazy thought. How about you find a part-time job? Perish the thought!

            Besides, you sound like a guy saying, "man, my dealer isn't going to like that I'm going to stop using heroin." Who gives a flying !@#$ what your boss does or does not like. Is this not enough of an indication that you're a slave when you cannot even bring yourself to determine how much you're compelled to work??

            "You see, there's this thing called disposable income. When you have a job that pays X dollars per year as a salary, once you remove the cost of living (rent, food, clothes, etc) the rest is what gets spent on toys, vacations, and all that other fun stuff. Sure people get caught up in material things, but how will it be any better if they hoard their money? "

            Can you really be missing the point this badly? I'm not suggesting they work just as long so they can hoarde money, I'm suggesting they work less to begin with. I'm also not suggesting that you forego "fun stuff." I'm suggesting that you re-evaluate what qualifies as "fun stuff" and most importantly, what you're giving up to get it. Has it not occurred to you that perhaps you're giving up your time -- and thus your life -- to get something of lesser value?

            My question is "should we?" Your answer is "we can," which doesn't really address the problem, does it?
            • There aren't many part time jobs that are satisfying to work in. Who hires part time coders? Part time chemists? You could always freelance, but there's never a guarantee of even getting enough money. You don't need to be a wage slave to have a full time job, you know.

              Part time at Burger King or Best Buy isn't going to pay my rent....hell, full time there isn't. Denver's not a cheap place to live. Forget even considering part time if you have a mortgage here.

        • You've got an excellent point. I don't disagree with you at all. Now come over and explain it to my wife -- she's ordering new living room furniture right after Christmas!
  • Haven't any of you seen Face Off [imdb.com]?

    That's pretty gross though, I don't think I know anyone that would want the face of someone deceased.

    If they can do it with the face can they do it with fingerprints as well?
  • Um, I'd also like to add some wireless speakers, but the the coal from the Titanic seems a bit macabre.

    So there's coal from the Titanic in wireless speakers? Tsk, tsk ./ this is how rumors get started!
  • by Hieronymus Howard ( 215725 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @12:30PM (#4775750)
    Does the bat detector come with a rabies vaccine [bbc.co.uk]?

    HH

    ps don't mod up as funny

  • My Life for Aiur (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord Omlette ( 124579 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @12:54PM (#4775870) Homepage
    Don't buy gifts for people, any idiot can wield a credit card. Instead, build something for someone. Use Legos, use paper (origami, cards, poetry), grab that game boy sowing machine and make clothes for someone if that's what you think they want, but don't just buy stuff. Make it meaningful, and stuff. Something that you put time and heart into will be appreciated much more than the stupid "duh, i bought you this because it was 15% off, here's the receipt if you don't like it" bullshit that capitalist pigs foist on us for their own pleasure. Or something.

    And while I'm being cantankerous, I have a grand idea: why don't we be thankful before we worry about Our (ok, maybe your, but I'm still a little confused here) Savior's birthday?
  • by dr_dank ( 472072 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @01:02PM (#4775921) Homepage Journal
    I would like my karma set back to a numerical score. I know you and Cowboy Elf are hard at work for Slashdotmas, but that is my wish for the year. I have been very good and not trolled all year long.

    dr_dank
  • Macabre... good SAT word ;-)
  • All I what for xmas is one of those fancy "Rhesus monkey torture kits".
    I just hope that the one who buys it for me, remembers that the monkey is not included. :-O

  • by caveman ( 7893 ) on Thursday November 28, 2002 @03:50PM (#4776716)
    While some countries would rather you didn't know this, in the UK we are either enlightened/crazy (delete as appropriate) enough to allow people to buy Tritium Phosphor Lights [clickandbuild.com].

    Before y'all descend onto the site to buy yourself a little radioactivity, Cash'n'Carrion WILL NOT SHIP OUTSIDE OF THE UK. Various reasons listed here [theregister.co.uk]

    If I remember my nuclear physics correctly, Tritium (Hydrogen-3 (1 proton, 2 neutrons)) decays via a weak Beta-particle emission into Helium-3 (2 protons, 1 neutron). This beta particle, which is not energetic enough to make its way outside of the glass tube in which the tritium is stored, exceites the phosphor on the inside of the tube causing it to glow in one of several cool shades. As Tritium has a half-life of the order of 4500 days, these things should last a good few years (they suggest atleast 10) before the glow fades.

  • A home nuclear reactor kit complete with Boy Scout merit badge.
  • A cancellation of one's subscription to _Scientific American_. The magazine has become complete pap. No "Amateur Scientist", no "Mathematical Recreations", no "Computer Recreations", no Phil Morrison, no James Burke. They booted James Burke for wossisname Shermer? What the f. is this, _Scientific American_ or "Skeptical Enquirer"?

    A hearty "up yours" to anyone on the SciAm publication staff out there. To the rest of you, have a good Thanksgiving.

    hyacinthus.
  • Do I have to spell it out for you all?

    SEGWAY!
  • ... check it out here [fperkins.com]. It costs less than an hundred bucks and all the data is saved with a few perl scripts and mySQL.

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