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Python / Tech Culture

2023’s Gift Ideas for the Programmer in Your Life

Whether you're working with a robot dog at your feet, or you're toasty warm with your motherboard-patterned socks, we hope you have a very happy holiday season.
Dec 3rd, 2023 6:00am by
Featued image for: 2023’s Gift Ideas for the Programmer in Your Life
Feature image: A circuit board wreath ornament (saved from Etsy shop CircuitBreakerLabs).

Since 2015, The New Stack has observed our own annual tradition of offering a gift guide for that technical someone in your life.

We’ve described it in the past as “a fun look at how we’re playing with our tools” and a way to shop “for curious minds and novelty-craving hearts.”

This year’s special focus will be gifts for computer programmers. So for all of you who dare to brave the hunt for that perfect technical gift — these suggestions just might earn you a genuine smile…

The Everything Store

This year Amazon added a special section dedicated to Gifts for Computer Programmers. There are over 3,000 results, with geek-friendly subcategories like “Glassware & Drinkware” and “Novelty Clothing“…

For the coder in your life, Amazon offers everything from brainteasing programming puzzles to computerthemed jigsaw puzzles.

Of course, there’s also a wide selection of obligatory funny tshirts

Software Developer Computer Engineer Nerd - Funny Programmer Short Sleeve T-Shirt - screenshot via Amazon

But this year there’s also tech-themed ties and motherboard-patterned socks.

FREEHOTU Unisex Adult Fun Cool 3D Print Colorful Athletic Sport Novelty Crew Tube Socks

Socks

ThisWear Computer Geek Gifts Computer Tie PCB Techie Gifts for Men Coding Gifts STEM Gifts Cool Tech Necktie (via Amazon)

Tie

Amazon isn’t the only place selling programmer-themed novelty gifts. Etsy has its own dedicated page for Programmer Gift ideas, with over 5,000 coder-themed coffee mugs, shirts, tree ornaments, and other crafty stocking stuffers.

There’s even a notepad with stationery emblazoned with multicolored Python code, so your handwritten to-do list forms the comments in a larger Python program.

Programmable Python Pets

Some programmers, though, might prefer a gift that’s both fun and educational. And what’s more entertaining than using your Python skills to program a toy robot dog?

It doesn’t just respond to spoken commands like “Shake” and “Down”. Your loyal new pet “Pyxel” is equipped with a variety of sensors — for sound, proximity, and touch — all of which can be programmed through Pyxel’s own custom IDE.

It supports coding in Python or with the visual code editor Blockly — and finished programs can be executed directly from a PC (or Mac or a tablet), or beamed into a six-function remote. With programmable lights — including its colorful eyes — Pyxel can be programmed to “do tricks, change color, make and react to sounds, and express emotions,” according to the company’s official catalog.

But if you’re shopping for someone who’s more of a cat person, Petoi sells a kit for building a programmable (and open source) cat robot named “Nybble”.

The sophisticated Arduino-powered feline can be programmed with Python and C++ (as well as block-based coding).

Nybble is also compatible with Arduino add-on modules for speech recognition, IoT sensors, and a smart camera.

Give your favorite programmer a chance to explore the new community that’s building around “OpenCat”, the company’s own quadruped robotic pet framework (open sourced on GitHub).

Petoi’s website describes it as “the feature-rich programmable robot cat everyone wants to own.”

Eyes Meeting E Ink

We’ve craved it for years — a work computer that somehow offered the comfortable reading experience of a Kindle. Lenovo’s finally put the E Ink screen front and center — a color, laptop-sized screen using the same tech as Amazon’s e-readers.

Besides using less energy, it’s even touch-enabled, shipping with a stylus that according to Lenovo “provides a natural pencil-and-paper-like feeling when you sketch or take notes.”

Yet the laptop also ships with an OLED screen, that you can swap in just by twisting the screen 180 degrees. And because there’s a screen on either side, closing the laptop just turns it into a tablet (with your choice of either an e-ink or OLED screen).

But November also saw Dasung release the world’s first curved desktop monitors using E Ink technology. One model even comes with a built-in light in the front — a kind of reading lamp for your PC’s screen.

And meanwhile, Bigme has announced an All-in-1 PC — a 25.3-inch E Ink display with built-in PC functionality — promising it’s not only energy-efficient but also “gentle on your eyes.” The 3K high-definition monitor is even voice-controlled, and its page on Kickstarter promises it’ll start shipping in December

Advent with AI

It would’ve been the perfect programmer gift — but in September Copilot’s community manager confirmed that there’s no way to gift a subscription to GitHub Copilot.

But maybe there’s something better — courtesy of the blockchain payments gateway CoinGate.

Coingate ChatGPT gift card (screenshot)

ChatGPT logo

Yes, CoinGate is selling ChatGPT gift cards, redeemable for a coveted $20-a-month subscription to ChatGPT Plus. The official page for the offer claims that in addition to everything else, ChatGPT “specializes in providing convenient and secure ways for customers to purchase gift cards using their preferred cryptocurrency.”

In theory, this will update the lucky recipient to GPT-4 — as well as priority access for new innovations. “OpenAI keeps unveiling new features and rolling them out to its Plus plan subscribers,” ZDNet reported last month — including the ability to create your customized chatbots. A ChatGPT Plus subscription even grants access to DALL-E 3’s image generation.

Unfortunately, just two days before Sam Altman was fired as OpenAI’s CEO — shortly before his eventual re-hiring — he’d announced that ChatGPT was pausing new subscriptions.

But maybe this year they’ll get a server upgrade from Santa Claus…

And this brings us to what’s possibly the most 2023 gift idea of all.

ChatGPT Says: Work from Home

One helpful feed on Twitter — now renamed “X” — has actually been using ChatGPT to generate gift ideas.

I want to believe it ingested the entirety of Amazon.com, then returned to Twitter to report back that you can purchase “Entire houses for less than $20,000.”

“Free shipping.”

I call this the most 2023 gift idea of all because, besides purportedly being generated by ChatGPT — and posted to “X” — it encapsulates what’s perhaps this year’s biggest professional theme: returning to the office. What many programmers really want for Christmas is to continue working from home.

So perhaps the ultimate gift idea is a “backyard office.”

Autonomous offers a do-it-yourself kit for assembling your own backyard office within just “a few hours”. They’re promising that it’s a “prefab pod” — that is, “pre-wired and prepped with air conditioning, outlets, and warm lighting”  for a backyard office that’s both waterproof and soundproof. One model even comes equipped with a convertible sofa bed.

Backyard offices can be a little pricey, but there are ways to finesse the funding… YARDADU’s prefabricated “Zen Office” can be financed for as little as $298 a month — and presumably when filing your taxes, it counts as a business expense. (One enterprising Amazon user even gloats that they “got an appraiser and was told that this can be added to my existing house square footage, so we were able to increase the value of the home by $65K!”)

But wherever 2023 finds you working — with whatever monitor, and whatever AI assistant you can actually get up and running…

Whether you’re working with a robot dog at your feet, or you’re toasty warm with your motherboard-patterned socks…

We hope you have a very happy holiday season.

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