Holiday Gift Ideas 2023

Gergely asked, ‘What are some good/fun/interesting gift ideas for someone working in tech?

An animated GIF from 'They Live'. Nada (Roddy Piper) putting on sunglasses and seeing the hidden signs in the world including billboards saying consume

Here are five I use and five I’ve heard good things about that are on my wish list.

The five I own

The Usbourne Book of the Future

I read it in the school library and borrowed the original version from the local library many times. The illustrations are lovely, both the content and the style. The hopeful, optimistic look at the future is what kept me returning. It felt like a book version of Tomorrow’s World. Something I can remember watching every week with my Dad.

People have been asking for a reprint of the book for years. I’d given up on that happening and paid to get a copy of the original. I nearly brought a copy when I heard about the new edition. Ultimately, the new edition is at the top of my list for Santa. Hopefully, I’ve been good enough to get a copy.

A look inside The Usbourne Book of the Future

The Cuckoo’s Egg

The front cover of The Cuckoo's Egg that shows much wear

The book was first recommended to me by a lecturer at my University. She explained how many techniques still worked (five years after publication). The book is over 30 years old now, so I would hope none of them do any more, but I’m not putting money on that being the case.  

The story reads like a spy thriller, but the book has so much more—a look at the historical computer networks and the early internet. The why and how of computer security. What I guess we would call SRE now. When faced with an issue, you can break down the problem and try to find the root cause. After reading the book, I approached debugging more systematically.

The NOVA episode based on the book ‘The KGB, the Computer, and Me‘ is worth 55 minutes.


Other RSS readers are available. Feedbin isn’t flashy but ‘does exactly what it says on the tin‘. I’ve previously blogged about how RSS is the only way to keep up with various topics and news sources. No FOMO. Everything will be waiting for you in the reader. I find being able to dip in and out throughout the day handy when I have a free moment.

Stream Deck XL

I’m not a streamer, but having a programmable macro pad over the last few years has been a great time-saver. If I’m honest, I could automate much more than I do currently, which could be another weekend project for the to-do list. What I have got is a quick way of accessing my most used applications and websites. No more finding where my mouse cursor is and clicking on the launcher. A small saving each time, but that adds up over a day and a week. I have my Stream Deck XL mounted under my desk, so I can hide it away when not in use, but it is just by my right hand if I need it

An overview of the Stream Deck XL

reMarkable 2

I know opinion is very divided over the reMarkable. The tablets are currently too expensive. If they could reduce the price to around £100, that would feel right. They are lovely to use and built very well. I read a lot of PDFs. Kindles have always felt too small for technical and business papers or documents with many diagrams. Reading those documents on an E-Ink display helps me avoid sitting all day at my desk.

A look at the reMarkable 2

And the five still on my wish list

Threats: What Every Engineer Should Learn From Star Wars

Star Wars and threat modelling together at last. Attending a threat modelling course at a previous job gave me a lot of food for thought. The problem was the subject in a dry fashion, which, for me, is off-putting. I’ve heard good things about the book from a friend who received a copy last year and rated it.

Open Circuits: The Inner Beauty of Electronic Components

Again, I learned about this book from a friend who got a copy last Christmas. My friends have much better taste than me—many beautifully shot images of electronics collected into a coffee table book. I blame Tron and Hackers for my love of circuits.

A look inside Open Circuits

Flipper Zero

Tamagotchi for Geeks. Who wouldn’t want to have a little play around in a legal way, of course?

An overview of the Flipper Zero features

LEGO Icons: Concorde

I spent over ten years in Bristol. Most of that driving to work past Filton on the A38. Twenty years ago, I watched the final landing of Concorde 216 (G-BOAF) and any Concorde. I’m not sure I have room for such a large model in my current place, but it would be great to build.

A look at build the LEGO Concorde


I’ve owned this for years on Steam but never got around to playing it. Like so many of my games on Steam. I know that once I start playing, that will end early nights for me. That’s what happened with Oids, Minecraft, while True: learn() and many other similar games in the past.

Factorio gameplay footage