My personal Christmas list is often too geeky for my family and friends to believe.  I want software and utilities and tools that make my time at the computer easier, more interesting, or more fun.

If I asked for games, especially if I wanted them to run on an Xbox or Wii, people would understand what is on my list.   Instead I hear, “I can’t get you that!   It’s too much like work.  Shouldn’t you buy that yourself and declare it as a business expense?”

To support my fellow geeks… or to give hints to the family and friends of geeks, I’ll share the best 6 gifts that have been on my list:

  1. Kindle Fire from AmazonA Kindle… now a Kindle Fire.
    This is probably the easiest to understand, crossover-to-the-mainstream, geek gift.  Kindle is simply a great technology to take a lot of books with you on trips without getting overweight baggage fees, plus you can get new books on a whim in less than a minute via the Internet.
    Why is this a geek gift: Only a Kindle Fire is really geeky in 2011. Other Kindles are great, but really not geeky any more (sigh!). The Fire is 1st generation, controversial, color, and probably a lot of fun.
    Cost: $199.
  2. ESET Smart SecurityESET anti-virus and security system.
    By now everyone knows that they need an antivirus program on their computer, and ESET’s software is the best in class.  Experts say that ESET watches for and protects against all of the known evils, and in our house it protected my computer against a virus that got on to other computers that were running a different anti-virus program.  Plus, ESET’s products run very quickly and don’t take over and slow down your computer as others do.
    Why is this a geek gift: Your geek probably has months left on their old anti-virus subscription. Giving them a better security solution without waiting until the Norton (or McAfee or whoever are using) expires is a geek luxury!
    Cost: $59.99 a year.
  3. A WordPress blog hosted by Blue Host.
    WordPress is the free software that drives this blog and many of the most popular ones on the web, and Blue Host provides one-click installation and updates.  It’s the easiest to use that I’ve found.
    Why is this a geek gift: Your geek wants to share their wisdom.  Giving them a hosted blog not only will let them sound off, they’ll get to tinker, download, and tune the many add-on customizations available for WordPress systems.
    Cost: As low as $6.95 a month for hosting.  The WordPress software is free.
  4. Dreamweaver.
    Fire your web designer and do it yourself!  Dreamweaver is the industry-standard web page authoring tool.  Your techy person can show their artistic design side while geeking out on the latest in scripts, panel layouts, and even mobile formats.  Hours and hours and hours of work… I mean fun.
    Why is this a geek gift: Complex, robust, and top-of-the-line software. Give this to your Geek for Christmas and you won’t see them again until Ground Hog Day.
    Cost: $399. Ouch!
  5. Photoshop Elements.
    An eye for photography with Photoshop ElementsEveryone wants to edit their photos, and most of the free software does a tantalizingly okay job.  Photoshop Elements is a more satisfying group of commands and functions than the free programs.  The industry standard in photo editing is Photoshop, and Photoshop Elements is a sub-set of commands that will let you do anything a mere mortal — not a photography god — will want to do.
    Why is this a geek gift: Your geek will be able to create custom mouse pads, touch up photos for Facebook, and create a whole new visual reality.  What fun!
    Cost: Currently on sale for $89.99
  6. Food for Your Hungry Neighbors.
    In our balance budgeting frenzy, government grants to local food banks have been cut back or cut out.  Too many people are un- or under-employed, and don’t bring home enough money to feed their children and themselves.  If you can afford to give your geek something, but there’s nothing that they trust you to buy, then donate a nice gift to your local food bank in their name.
    Why is this a geek gift: Because geeks are caring people.  Really!
    Cost: 100% of what you can afford.
    Give to your local food bank

May you and your geek have a very warm and happy Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukkah, Yule, and Solstice.