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Geek Holiday Guide: Gifts, Stress-Busters and a Fast Track to Jan. 4

Geek Holiday Guide: Gifts, Stress-Busters and a Fast Track to Jan. 4

You know that the spirit of the season has expanded some hearts when a Linux geek actually suggests the gift of Windows 7 -- "for all those poor souls in your family trapped on Vista," Slashdot blogger hairyfeet quickly added. "Get over all this gift nonsense," drinkypoo recommended. "It isn't about the toys or the tech. ... Take some time to enjoy the time you have with those you love."

By Katherine Noyes
12/14/09 4:00 AM PT

Now that the holiday season has descended upon us once again -- or, come crashing down on us, depending on your perspective -- it seems safe to say that not everyone is filled with glee at the prospect of the countless determinedly cheerful festivities and gift-giving occasions looming on the horizon.

No, shocking though it may be for the chatty extroverts and perky party planners of the world, the fact remains that for some of us, the holiday season is primarily a time to be endured, with only occasional bits of peace and quiet to get us through.

Linux geeks, in fact, tend to be among the ranks of those endowed with perhaps slightly less holiday cheer, as Linux Girl knows all too well. So she has taken it upon herself to put together a small selection of gift ideas, survival strategies and proverbial "chicken soup for the Linux geek's soul" to help guide her readers through the excess cheer -- a fast lane, if you will, to January 4.

Interested? Read on, then, for the Linux Blog Safari Geek's Guide to the Holidays.

Free Love From FOSS

It should come as no surprise that our favorite operating system -- which brings us so much joy throughout the year, and for free! -- can also help spread noncommercial cheer during the holidays.

To wit: How about making your own holiday cards with GIMP? Linux Planet's Akkana Peck shows us how in step-by-step fashion, including how to incorporate your own photos.

Then there's the Colorado neighborhood where Linux is powering a massive display of Christmas lights for charity. Carbon offsets have been purchased ahead of time to cover the use of electricity; meanwhile, visitors can check out the display's webcam to have a turn at controlling the lights.

Thanks to OStatic for drawing attention to that one!

Hacking Humor

The Linux Foundation, meanwhile, has launched a special "give one, get one" promotion: For every new individual member who joins the group before January 31, it will give a free membership to a student for one year.

How's that for spreading the Linux love?

For those of us more in need of a little comic relief, Linux enthusiast PhrankDaChicken has created a script that will fully theme your Ubuntu desktop to look like Windows XP.

Just imagine the prank potential among your Linux peers!

'7 Fabulous Gifts'

Those with more traditional gift-giving propensities might find some help in Linux Planet's list of "7 Fabulous Gifts For Your Favorite Linux/FOSS Geek," put together by Carla Schroder.

Schroder's top four suggestions: "beautiful computer speakers," a good Linux sound card, a hands-free flashlight and rechargeable batteries.

Hope you're listening, Santa!

'A Guide for the Unimaginative'

Of course, ask five different geeks what they'd like to get as gifts, and you'll probably get five different answers.

So Linux Girl did just that.

"It's not impossible that I might do physical harm to someone who sent me any of that stuff" in Linux Planet's list -- except perhaps the sound card," Slashdot blogger drinkypoo told LinuxInsider.

"I mean, rechargeable batteries? And not even the low-self-discharge kind? This is a gift guide for the unimaginative," he said.

'Hoping to Eat Some Really Nice Food'

"That hard drive dock in particular is genuinely worthless; bare drives are not the basis of a backup strategy, and most disks in the world that you will otherwise want to dock (to remove data from them one last time) have a PATA interface," drinkypoo added. "The bamboo speakers make me think I should take up re-casing, though; you can get bamboo cutting boards for pennies on the dollar, and I own a router. All I need is a band saw..."

Drinkypoo's own gift wishes?

"I already gave myself the gadgets: I got a new motherboard, four gigs of DDR3, and a new video card, then put it all in one of those goofy light-up cases," he said. "I'm just hoping to eat some really nice food. My lady is a chef, and she gets motivated around the holidays."

'Lots of Roast Turkey With Stuffing'

Blogger Robert Pogson expressed similar longings.

"I have all the gadgets I need for life: mp3 player, Quad-core beast, notebook, a bunch of thin clients and network gear," Pogson told LinuxInsider. "On the other hand, I could use lots of roast turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce, followed by pumpkin pie and maple-walnut ice cream.

"I will resume my diet and exercise later," Pogson added.

Hmm, Linux Girl detects a theme emerging...

'I Would Recommend Windows 7'

Then there was Montreal consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack, who's dreaming of "a decent mp3 player with OGG and FLAC support that only needs standard USB drivers to work.

"Combine that with a decent set of noise-isolating ear canal headphones, and you have a surefire way of letting your favorite geek avoid all of the over-repeated, attempting-cute-but-failing-badly, ridiculously annoying music that tends to get played over the month of December," he explained.

"I would recommend Windows 7 for all those poor souls in your family trapped on Vista," Slashdot blogger hairyfeet bravely opined.

Tech Stocking Stuffers

"I would also suggest something that many don't think about: the CPU," he added. "Both AMD and Intel are getting ready to release their next generation CPUs, which sadly won't fit on many folks' boards, so now is the time to buy yourself that new Quad if you have been holding out.

"I myself got the new AMD 925 Quad as a little Xmas present to myself, and the performance over a dual is frankly scary," hairyfeet told LinuxInsider.

For stocking stuffers, "there is [no] such thing as too big a flash drive -- those little things are SO handy to have in your pocket!" he added. "Gift cards to places like Newegg for your hard-to-shop-for geeks are also quite nice."

'Just Give Me Money'

For Slashdot blogger David Masover, "it's really safer just to give me money," he told LinuxInsider.

"I'm not trying to be cranky, uncooperative or shallow," he added. "Some of my favorite gifts are handwritten poems from my grandmother. But if you want to buy me the perfect tech gift, give me $50 or $100 and a note that demands I use it for something fun."

Ah, fun. That's something that can be in short supply when the 27th family get-together comes around.

What can geeks do to survive?

'Get Over the Gift Nonsense'

"Become an antisocial recluse? :P" Masover suggested.

"I had a friend grab a tube of reindeer salami from Finland as my personal protest against the Christmas season's overcommercialized madness," Mack told LinuxInsider.

Similarly: "Get over all this gift nonsense," drinkypoo recommended. "The various obligations placed on you by Hallmark Corp can safely be ignored without causing any actual harm to the universe."

In fact, giving just to give is "just one more form of unnecessary economic activity, which is a big part of what's 'killing the planet,'" drinkypoo asserted. "Why buy people more junk that they don't need and won't appreciate? If you are straining to figure out what to get someone, just stop."

'Enjoy the Little Moments'

Instead, "why not get together, and get holy for the day?" drinkypoo added. "Gathering the tribe to make the starving jealous doesn't make the world a better place."

Indeed, "as someone who lost a close family member this year, I would tell readers to enjoy the little moments, for you will never be able to recapture them," hairyfeet recommended.

"Remember that ultimately it isn't about the toys or the tech, it is about being close to the ones you love and sharing the occasion with them," he concluded. "Take some time to enjoy the time you have with those you love."


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