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Greetings dads (and the people who love them). The following are some suggestions of things you might like as gifts. Did I miss something? Drop a link in Comments.

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Make: Void Your Warranty T-Shirt, $10-15
Gotta go with the home team on this killer T-shirt. “Void your warranty, violate a user agreement, fry a circuit, blow a fuse, poke an eye out… ” all good advice (except maybe the eye part) this holiday season. Go ahead, let the smoke out, baby.


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Kinect, $150
This holiday season’s most intriguing gadget keeps getting better. The Kinect is an accessory for the Xbox that scans your movements and translates them into game controller talk. Total gestural control, think Wii accelerometers without the Wii accelerometers! If that wasn’t cool enough, Adafruit offered a bounty for whomever could hack the thing. Well, it was, and now all sorts of mind-boggling possibilities have opened up.


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The 50 Most Extreme Places in Our Solar System, $18
Brainy astronomy book that lures readers in with the promise, as the title suggests, of the most radical volcanoes, storms, craters, and so on in the solar system. But that ruse disguises a wealth of planetary info sure to fascinate dad.


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Rover Puck, $150
Portable wi-fi hotspot enclosed in a sleek disk about the size of a thick coaster. It provides WiMAX connectivity for up to eight wi-fi-enabled devices. Definitely liking the simple rate plans: $5 for a day, $20 a week, and $50 gets you a month’s coverage. I could see it being slick for travelers. Forget searching for a Starbucks or paying ruinous rates to The Man — just re-up for however many days you need.


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Nerf N-Strike Stampede ECS, $55
The biggest and baddest Nerf blaster of the year, a rapid-firing colossus that is guaranteed to win any cubicle war — unless your foe has a Stampede, too! You get three 18-shot clips plus you can use other blasters’ Clip System accessories like the menacing 35-dart drum from the Nerf Raider. The Stampede packs a lot of accessories and the rail mounts to accommodate even more. My favorite attachment is the bipod/foregrip, which you can see in the photo with the bipod telescoped inside the handle. In addition, the Stampede’s tactical rails are compatible with all standard Nerf sights and lights.


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Arduino Uno, $35
The hot new Arduino is the perfect way for dad to dabble in electronics without investing more dollars, minutes, and synapses than he’s ready for. Despite the low learning curve, the Arduino is a robust system with countless tutorials, articles, and projects available for it.


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Making Things Move: DIY Mechanisms for Inventors, Hobbyists, and Artists, $19 (pre-order only)
Roboticist Dustyn Roberts, an Eyebeam alumna who contributes to Make: Online (look for her Robot Gift Guide next week!), has published a book on adding motion to a project using off-the-shelf components. With over a dozen small and large projects, dads are sure to find tons of cool projects here to keep them busy.


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Extech EX210 Multimeter, $70
A feature-packed digital multimeter that will quickly become an essential ally for any dad. Of course, it measures all the usual: voltage, current, resistance, continuity, and so on. However, the EX210’s killer feature is its non-contact IR thermometer, letting you determine the temperature of a particular spot without touching it. And to help aim it properly, a laser pointer kicks in when you trigger the thermometer. As a bonus, the EX210 is very sleek and compact for such a full-featured meter.


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Dear Hacker: Letters to the Editor of 2600, $30
2600 is the longest-lasting periodical covering the hacking phenomenon, dating back to a time before the “Information Superhighway” was even a dirt road. A couple of years ago, they published The Best of 2600: A Hacker Odyssey which compiled hundreds of pages of articles from over the years. It was encyclopedic, the size of a phone book. It was missing something. But what? It was missing what many people say is the best thing about the magazine, the letters to the editor. To a degree, these letters are mini articles. Questions, complaints, sly revelations, sophomoric rants. You get the sense that most of the letters were written by teenagers and younger people. Editor Emmanuel Goldstein’s wry, at times sarcastic, responses turn many of the letters into a dialogue.


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Deluxe Breadboard Jumper Wires, $7
Dude, this kind of connector is a critical component that often gets left out when a person goes down the crooked and mysterious path of the electronics hobbyist. These bad boys connect a solderless breadboard to your Arduino or other microcontroller, fitting into the ports as slick as you could hope for — forget trying to strip and tin lengths of wire when you want to be prototyping. You really do save a lot of time not having to futz with wires. Buy them now, thank me later.


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Zero History, $27
William Gibson’s writing is at its highest level, on par with his masterwork Neuromancer, but this book is completely different. Set in the present day, Zero History follows a eccentric group of investigators trying to track down a “secret brand” of jeans called Gabriel Hounds. That may sound very banal, but it’s not. Gibson burrows into this real yet unreal world and the story unfolds in a convoluted and surprising way without stooping to cheap tricks. Definitely a must-read.


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AKG K172HD High-Definition Headphones, $215
Audiophile quality phones so soft and comfortable you’ll say oooooohhhh sliding them on — and when you turn on your tunes, you’ll say it again. Without a doubt, the best quality I’ve ever experienced. They fit your ears like a glove — not noise-canceling, but even better — they’re so snug, they keep ambient noises down to a mumble while you enjoy your music. And with gold-plated leads, you’re getting the best connection you could hope for.


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Star Wars Force FX Lightsaber Replica, $130
“Luke, I am your father.” “Noooo!” By far, the most authentic and enjoyable light saber replica out there, packing a realistically greebled hilt and a removable blade of durable plastic with a string of LEDs within. The blade lights up from the bottom up, reminiscent of a movie saber. Sound effects are excellent, with a motion sensor giving you authentic saber noises when you wave it around. Even better, a knock sensor knows when you’ve hit something, and produces a saber-on-saber noise. Each blade comes with a display stand, and the Darth Maul model also packs a connector so you can buy two weapons and… oh, you know.


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LaCie iamaKey Flash Drive, $20-100
This durable, metal-housed Flash drive rocks my keychain. Not only is it essentially unloseable, it’s tough enough to rattle around in my pocket all day long. After going through three drives in nine months, I’ve been using this one for a year and it’s been perfect.


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Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, 25th Anniversary Edition, $14
It’s only the most definitive book on the origins of hackers, written by the best technology writer alive. Where did hackers come from? Levy traces their roots from model railroad enthusiasts at MIT, who became the natural candidates to administer the university’s brand-new mainframe computer. These students quickly learned to program the big iron, and challenged each other to write programs using as few lines of code as possible. Meticulous and canonical. Dude, this is required reading.

In the Maker Shed:
330Makershed
Want more? Stop by the Make Shed. We’ve got all sorts of great holiday gift ideas: Arduino & Arduino accessories, electronic kits, science kits, smart stuff for kids, back issues of MAKE & CRAFT, box sets, books, robots, kits from Japan and more.

Holiday Shipping Deadlines in December:

15 (Wed) – Postal shipping deadline
14 (Mon) – Ground shipping deadline
18 (Sat) – 3-day shipping deadline
20 (Mon) – 2-day shipping deadline
21 (Tue) – Overnight shipping deadline

*Orders placed after these dates using these shipping methods may arrive on time; however, the dates listed are what we consider likely “safe dates.”

United States Postal Service (USPS):
Due to the high volume of mail that the postal service deals with around the holidays, please order by Dec 15 if you intend to select this method. However, we have had increased reports of packages sent via USPS lost or delayed in transit during this high-volume period. Since we do not replace or refund any order placed using this shipping method, we strongly encourage you not to use this method in December.

John Baichtal

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal nerdage.net


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