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Thin Is In

  • December 10, 2001
  • By David Fox
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With Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, and Christmas seasons all entering full blast, I thought you might want to know what sort of goodies to buy for the fun-loving, enterprising, yet hype-saturated code-wrangler on your list.

David Fox

And so, I'm proud to introduce Hypewatch's first (and likely only) annual holiday shopping guide: For starters, your geek is going to need a sleek new machine to run things on. The time to buy PCs and power is never better. Never mind Dell or Compaq or Gateway or IBM, though. The real geek builds his own.

A friend recently pointed me to Pricewatch, which lists every component you could possibly need, as well as the cheapest place to get it. Prices are updated instantly, throughout the day, allowing you to shop for computer components the same way you shop for stocks. If your geek doesn't mind spending a few quality hours with a screwdriver (and what geek does?), then this is the place. At bargain prices, 256-meg DIMMs make great stocking stuffers.

Did I mention the Zaurus SL-5000 also has Personal Java 1.2 onboard?

Operating system? Don't insult your power-geek by getting him Windows, especially not XP. He'll have more fun staying up all night downloading and configuring Linux, anyway.

Handheld? Palm has tons of software out for it, and the iPaq ain't bad when it comes to dazzling color and pure processing power. But one of the neatest items I've seen is Sharp's Zaurus SL-5000, the first PDA put out by a major company that ships with embedded Linux. It also has a neat little slide-out keyboard that your geek can actually thumb-type on, Blackberry-style. It's currently available for a special developer price at Sharp. Oh, and did I mention it also has Personal Java 1.2 onboard? Sweet!

Finally, you could go ahead and buy some productivity, game, or utility software for your geek. But any self-respecting coder would rather hack together her own stuff. While development environments such as JBuilder, Code Warrior, Microsoft Development Network (with Visual J++, Visual C++, and Visual Basic), and Forte are all nice, and all have their pros and cons, your friend will likely just need a command line and a keyboard.

See how easy is it? Real geeks don't need much to get started, just some basic components, an electric socket, and a DSL connection. The rest of it all they prefer to do on their own, anyway.

So thin is in! And in these economic times, that's good news for everyone.

About the Author

David Fox is the author of numerous books and articles about cyberculture and technology.






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