1. Fitbit Force
The thought of a nerd sitting inside on a computer all day is so 1984. Today’s techies are fit and active. The ‘quantified self’ trend is real, and done right, can be very useful. The FitBit Force helps do it right – measuring not just your stairs climbed and calories burned but also the other side of healthy living: your sleep. Stay active and sleep well – that is something everyone can get behind.
2. Karma Wifi
Until the day when universal wifi coverage comes to the US, the best investment a tech-oriented person can make is in their own mobile wifi hotspot. The Karma is ideal – pay-as-you-go mobile wifi, with the upside that when you share your hotspot with the people around you, you get free data.
In the past few years, Bitcoin has been the thing to talk about. The decentralized, encryption-based currency is a powerful idea – a currency whose fiat is in it’s algorithm, code, and design. Recently, Bitcoin speculation has pushed prices through the roof – up towards $1,000 USD – 1BTC. While the idea is powerful, Bitcoin itself is not without it’s challenges – namely, the lack of full buy-in by governments and the banking system, encryption and theft issues with users’ digital wallets, low volumes, and the lack of places at which to actually spend Bitcoin.
Ripple is basically establishment Bitcoin – backed heavily by Silicon Valley and bought into by the banks. It may not work – Bitcoin’s anti-establishment virtues may be exactly what make it appealing – but, at roughly 50 Ripples for every $1, it is probably a speculative bet worth making. Buy some Ripples as a gag gift – and if it goes through the roof, you can laugh all the way to the bank.
4. GoPro – Hero3 + Black Edition Camera
The GoPro camera is the force behind literally all of my favorite viral videos this year. I’m not a pro skater or anything, but if someone gave me one of these I would spend weeks thinking up cool ways to use it. Some ideas already:
- Crowd surfing at a concert
- Sticking my head out of the sunroof of the car while blasting down the freeway
- Backflips into the swimming pool
And that was just 30 seconds.
This one is simple – we all need to be entertained sometimes. The big decision is between the Roku and AppleTV. The verdict: Roku has better content, and more of it, so go with the Roku.
Even techies have to read the old-fashioned way – it is the best way to center yourself and consider the big picture before diving back in to the internet’s buzz. Here are three books essential books about technology, work, and business that will help anyone start the year right:
The Mythical Man Month is a classic book on engineering management – dealing with the paradox of how adding more developers to a project can actually increase the amount of time to completion. It is a must-read for anyone who works on technology products. The Year Without Pants is a take on the future of work, in the form of a study of WordPress, a distributed, open-source, “few rules” company that is making great products, happy people, and plenty of money. Finally, The Shallows talks about how the internet is changing us, as consumers and as thinkers – a worthy consideration for any techie, on both sides of the ball.
7. Super Remote Control Car
It is only recently that I learned that remote control cars are not just for kids anymore. For a few hundred bucks, you can get a souped-up remote-control car that does 80 miles per hour, goes off jumps, through puddles, and is generally just awesome. These RC cars are measured as “1/10”, “1/8” and “1/6” – meaning the scale that they are against a real car. The best ones use gasoline or nitrous oxide, but an electric brushless steel motor suits any reasonable purpose. I got something like this for my nephew, and ended up mostly playing with it myself.
8. Stir Kinetic Desk
Tech people spend large parts of the day sitting in front of a computer. It’s not good – studies show sitting, even if you exercise daily, has significantly bad effects on your health. The standing desk seems like a good solution, but no one wants to stand all the time, and the adjustable versions are generally unwieldy or unstable. The Stir Kinetic Desk, though, looks awesome. It’s clean and beautiful, it’s easy to adjust, it’s electronic, and it will even adjust throughout the day automatically, if you so choose. It’s also several thousand dollars – which is tough. But hey, if you spend more time at your desk than, say, at your apartment or in your car, doesn’t that make it worth it?