6 Top Gifts for Your Techy Geek Friend

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.

5 Questions

When I first meet with a prospective client it’s important for me to know about their vision for their site.

Although most people start off saying that they’ll leave everything to the designer (“just do it”), I have learned better.  Business owners may want to leave all the technical details to their designer, but most people have an idea about some aspects of their future site.

Business woman looking at a web pageI am about to call a prospective customer, so I wrote down what I want to ask her before I can tell her cost estimates and a time schedule.  Here are some of the questions I have that will help her share her web site vision with me. (I’d be happy to hear of ones you think I should add!)

  1. Are there sites you would like yours to look like?
    These examples can be competitors or sites for businesses in different fields. Please send me links to those sites so I can look at them. Then we can talk about what aspects of those sites you like. Is it the color? Layout? Navigation?
  2. How important is search engine optimization (where your site will show up in Google)?
    Creating a site that shows up high on Google for specific phrases requires planning and it also places some design constraints on the pages.  These limitations are reasonable.  However, we will keep bumping up against them and I need to know if you care if people find your site in Google and in other search engines.(Search Engine Optimization, that is getting your site high on Google’s results, involves more than designing a web page.  Obtaining incoming links, regularly refreshing content, and other marketing techniques build upon a well-design web site.  But, designing pages to appeal to Google is the first, most basic, and most important step to take.)
  3. Do you have a list of pages you want on your site and a structure for the site navigation?
    Some people only know that they want a web site for their business.  Others know exactly what they want on their site, how many pages there should be, and what the navigation path through the site should be.Please let me know what you’ve already decided on the scope of your site.
  4. Do you want to be able to updates to your site yourself?
    I currently use Dreamweaver to design and maintain most client sites.  There’s a sister product of Dreamweaver called Contribute which allows non-technical people to update pages, add pages, change and add images, and to make other changes to sites created in Dreamweaver.In general, clients with Dreamweaver-created sites can purchase Contribute from Adobe and start doing their own updates with little web designer involvement.  There is some minor preparation I need to do to make the site Contribute-friendly, and it is good for me to know that Contribute is coming as soon as possible.
  5. Have you already purchased a domain name and hosting service?
    If so, I will need the user name and password for these accounts… For some of my clients obtaining these credentials from past web designers or from their own records has taken weeks of effort.So, if you already have hosting and domain name registrations services, check your records to make sure you can get to the services’ control panels.