2018 Gift Guide for Programmers
This year I was asked to write the 2018 Gift Guide for Programmers. While in my day job I’m not a programmer, I do consider myself a developer, I’m pretty versed in most things tech and I’m exposed to cutting edge technology on a daily basis. Plus my main circle of friends and associates frequently discuss new waves in tech. So I thought, “Why not me”.
So here’s what I think would bring a smile to the face of that programmer or developer/tech lover in your life.
Stocking Stuffers ($5 - $25)
Programmer Mugs (under $25)
A gift for the lovers of frontend and those that are backend but are secretly love css too.
I feel that this mug brings out a marmite response in people. They will either massively agree, or be offended. This gift is perfect for those that are frontend and proud of it. And you never know, it may provide some subliminal messaging to those who aren’t too fond of CSS to eventually sway them to love it.
Ah, the age old “reason” for why something isn’t working as expected. We’ve all heard it, as a joke, from other developers, or when we’re just too tired to fix yet another issue.
Every developer needs a mug to drink their coffee, tea or hot chocolate (in my case!) from. So why not do it from a mug that speaks to your soul on all levels.
Simple, plain design and colour to suit any kitchen color scheme. I love programmer jokes as it reveals “who’s one of us” in a simple statement. Or, it may just not be funny :P
However, this mug and joke, is quite a good one and if you don’t fancy it for tea, why not stick your pens in it on that rare occasion that you use a pen.
Programming Tech (under $25)
I've recently decided to go with a single monitor arm because my desk is tiny and my monitor is pretty much the same length as the table. So if I raise it off the table, at least I can utilise the space under the monitor for books and stationary. Plus I think it'll look much more put together.
This inexpensive monitor arm is strong, easy to manipulate into your preferred position on your desk but it's also extremely sturdy once moved.
The monitor can be tilted forward and backwards and rotated from a horizontal to a vertical position.
I'm loving my new monitor stand and I think you or your tech partner will be very happy with this.
Programming Books (under $25)
I read through this week by week when it was being written by John and it did hold a lot of really useful information particularly for those that are first going to embark on your development careers.
I think that the more experienced developer could also find this a useful resource to dip in and out of when they find a useful chapter.
Although written a while ago, clean choice imparts principles that everyone in a technical role should try and adhere to and utilise. The intention is to create code that is maintainable, readable and easily extendable. These principles I find are not only useful for those that consider themselves traditional programmers but also those in QA that have technical roles. The benefits of applying these principles to your code will also positivity impact those that only read the codebase too as they will find the code easier to understand and follow. A benefit to all the team.
While Clean Code was written with Java examples, I've found that (if you have a good understanding of the basics of programming languages) the examples are easy enough to follow.
It's a decent sized book, and a lot of technical knowledge is impart, so it's not a short read, but the wealth of information will last you a lifetime.
Programming Clothing (under $25)
Programming pencil skirt by Red Bubble
I was made aware by this piece of apparel via Instagram from the feed of Adrienne Tacke. At first I couldn't make out the code on the skirt, it just looked like a simple small pattern. That's what's great about this skirt, it's pattern is subtle and could easily become a staple to any tech female's capsule wardrobe.
Going to the site, you'll notice that there are a lot of different designs, so if you want something with a bigger pattern that screams #ilooklikeadeveloper, I know tech or I like tech, then I'm sure you'll find something of your liking.
If you fancy a simple engineering t-shirt for that male or female engineer in your life, this one looks good and is a simple fit. Available in range of colours and fits.
If you are a fan and avid reader of Simple Programmer, then this official shirt does more than just broadcast your programmer status. Show your support and trust in this supremely soft, slightly fitted shirt sold only on the Simple Programmer website.
I love this t-shirt! It’s one of few t-shirts describing females programmers as “women” and not “girls” or “babes”. It comes in five colours and is a nice casual or fitted fit for those “casual Fridays” in the office. And, you can even buy one for your daughter to set them on a good development path early on.
While writing this post, I’ve stumbled upon another treasure trove of awesome programmer t-shirts.
There are a number of simple designs so far, but come in a variety of colours for the logo and t-shirts.
Other Cool programmer stuff for stockings (under $25)
This little cup comes in a wide assortment of colours, sizes and materials.
Many branded coffee shops (and even small ones) are giving a discount to users of these cups when they use them to purchase their hot beverages. So if you want to help the environment and want a discounted great tasting drink when you need your daily dose, this is the cup for you.
Just what you need to keep you warm! Some over the knee, cotton socks. These socks are unisex so you can either wear it yourself, or give as a gift to your partner.
Been on a Few Dates ($25 – $50)
Programming Clothing (under $50)
Developer T-shirt by Maison Futari
I first saw this on the Instagram feed of Borombo. I like this t-shirt because of it's simple design, it's ability to “speak” to different people because of the language variations it's offered in, and that it proclaims “I am a developer”.
It comes in three base colours and you can choose the language you want. Learning Japanese? Why not buy the Japanese version and flaunt your developer nature for all the world to see.
Things Are Getting Pretty Serious ($50 – $100)
Games (under $100)
I've heard so much about this game from the guys at work it's like I've played it myself. Red Dead 2 has got a little bit of most games the wild west, robots, gun fights, horse(pet) maintenance, good story, equipment degradation I've heard it all. So I think that this should appeal to a wide audience.
If Red Dead 2 isn't your (or the programmer in your life's) first choice of game, why not try out the latest installment of Pokemon.
This release on Nintendo Switch is the updated version of the Kanto region and you can ride a lot more Pokemon to get around, similar to what was used in Sun and Moon. Like many of the previous Pokemon games released, there are two versions of the same game which exposes you to different Pokemon to encourage you to swap Pokemon and connect with other Pokemon players. This latest installment comes in the Pikachu and Eevee versions.
I'm a sucker for Pokemon myself so I'll probably end up getting this along with Zelda Breath of the Wild this year, oh and a Nintendo Switch. An expensive Nintendo Christmas for me. How about you?
The Gift of Knowledge (under $100)
Why write code all the code when there are tools that will do the small stuff for you?
Resharper is a developer extension for Microsoft Visual Studio. It's only available on Windows so can't be used for Visual Studio for Mac. It can automate some of your coding routines. It finds compiler errors, runtime errors, redundancies, and code smells right as you type, and suggests intelligent corrections for them.
Since the last few major upgrades, Visual Studio in-built shortcuts have improved, but having Resharper in your toolkit will definitely improve your productivity.
Resharper is available in different subscription models to be flexible to your needs.
If you don't use a Windows machine but use Visual Studio for Mac, you may want to get hold of a tool called Mfractor. Made by Matthew Robbins, this tool is the Resharper for Mac users. It has in built shortcuts and shortcodes and the ability to add your own to make your coding life more efficient even when using XAML.
Mfractor is available in a Lite and Professional version so you can try before you buy.
Programming Accessories (under $100)
I don't know about any of you, but I struggle to find a backpack that emulates a professional look but also can hold my laptop and everything that I could ever need on a desert island that I obviously take to work with me everyday. This bag comes quite close though.
It comes in two sizes and three colours. It’s water resistant and has a strap to secure it on top of a suitcase when being used as a carry on during your holidays.
With USB charging and so many pockets, it’s sure to be a bag to fulfil all your needs.
Wanna Move in Together? ($100 – $250)
Electronics (under $250)
I really love using the Kindle and the all-new Paperwhite is a great addition to the Kindle line. It’s light, small, comes with twice the storage and is waterproof. Perfect for those days when you’re accidentally splashed while poolside relaxing with your device.
It’s battery life can now last you weeks if you’re clever with your Wifi connectivity and backlight, but even with these caveats, you’re still getting a lot of battery for one charge.
I’ve not been interested in a smartwatches before (mainly because I’m concerned that I accidentally knock my current watch into many things on a monthly basis), but after seeing the promo video of this watch on Amazon, even I have been tempted.
This sportwatch comes in a variety of styles and the face can be customised with a number of downloadable designs. It has a 1.4 Inch OLED Display, supports Android Wear 2.0, and is compatible with Android and iOS devices.
Computer Electronics (under $250)
Built upon the Raspberry Pi, the Poco is a multi-functional, easy to assemble pocket computer.
Measuring approximately 8cm x 11cm, with the addition of the free emulator download, you can turn the Poco into a classic games console emulator. However, if gaming is not what you want to do, then you can also use the Poco to make a music or media player, a compact action camera or use it to teach someone coding.
How do you make your developer set up more awesome and make yourself more productive? Two words. Ultra Widescreen! You need this in your life.
The one I picked up this year is the LG 29-Inch Ultrawide IPS Monitor, the sad fact is that my current MacBook Pro (mid 2012) isn't supported out of the box for this monitor but this shouldn't be a problem with the new MacBook Pro's so rest assured.
It looks like a high quality product and if you've not sure whether a 29 inch monitor would be big enough, let me tell you, it is. I think honestly, if you go any lower in size with a this type of monitor, you would get the width but I've noticed the height is significantly lower than a normal or wide monitor. And you don't want to be put off by that sort of thing when you should be deep into your next coding project. I'd definitely recommend this product.
Tech Accessories (under $250)
How cheap is storage nowadays? I only left uni in 2007 and I still have a USB stick (that I used there!) which was 128MB! I don’t even think that size is even made for smartphones anymore. Even more recently when I upgraded my Macbook Pro from a 500GB HDD to an 120GB SSD I paid about £110 for it.
This year you can pick up that size for about £20! I mean how crazy is that. Storage is cheap mainly because the photos and videos we take and software we use take up so much space now we had to be given cheap storage or no one could use all this new fantastic features. So which do I recommend? I’ll stick with Seagate. It’s the brand that I bought for my Macbook upgrade, and the brand of the external SSD I also have.
These are a surprisingly lightweight but well-built product. They have gesture control to allow you to receive announcements with one tap. They also have an awesome noise cancelling function which can even drown out the loud noises of a London tube. It also sports a 30 hour battery life, which would last a normal daily two hour commute to work for over two weeks.
This is definitely a high end gift for that very special tech guy or girl in your life this Christmas.
Electronic Toys (under $250)
How cute and awesome is this lovely robot?! Anki is the tamagotchi for the children of today.
Although not being able to evolve (let's leave that to Pokemon) it actually learns from it's experiences so will be a different Anki for each person. It's small enough to be taken anywhere and it also has an app tie in so you can interact with Anki with different games and activities. It's what every little programmer and big programmer would want after a real pet.
You're a Nerd and I Love it ($250 – $500)
The Gift of Knowledge (under $500)
It's extremely important to keep up with the changes in technology. Being able to learn quickly is only a benefit if you have great resources to help you continually learn.
Pluralsight is an online video platform with a wealth of tech related information. These can range from updates to coding languages, tutorials to create features in projects or even soft skills for programmers. The platform caters to all user levels from beginners to the advanced so there is definitely something for everyone.
There are different levels to subscribe to the platform and they always have a free trial available so you can see whether you think this platform will benefit you along your development career.
Gaming (under $500)
While working as the QA and Release Manager at a VR company in London, I've been being getting daily use out of the Samsung Odyssey since about July of this year. And, while there are a few quirky features, it's easily my favourite tethered VR headset so far. We've also been able to get our hands on the Samsung Odyssey+ and you get all the benefits of the original Odyssey but a higher resolution display and lighter headset. With only two cables to attach to your PC, no lighthouses or external power supplies you will be extremely happy if you want to upgrade from the original Vive or Oculus.
This latest console from Nintendo is still a major Christmas gift for anyone. With this console being both a home and portable console, it caters for those always on a commute with nothing to do but rude Epona through Hyrule fields and those who's prefer to chill out at home blowing up rocks in the Dodongo caves.
With the release of Pokemon Let's Go, they released a limited edition of the console ready to snap up before Christmas. Not sure what colour I'll go for yet, but it'll be under my tree this year for sure.
Computer Tech (under $500)
In order to run the latest games and VR tethered devices, you need to have a high-end PC. And the Vive Pro and Oculus require some pretty beefy PCs to ensure you have a smooth, and awesome VR experience.
Upgrading your PC to a 1070 graphics card will allow you get the best experience and future-proof your hardware for a few years. Bear in mind that the Vive Pro and Oculus require the high-end specs, but the Odyssey can cope just fine with this. So you can always downgrade your VR hardware if the top end devices float out of your systems spec. Just saying...
Let's Make Babies ($500+)
Latest release to the OnePlus family of devices is the 6T. Again, compared to the flagship devices of Samsung and Apple, this is extremely affordable for those conscious about price but still want decent phone specs for under £600. This phone also sports the new fullscreen display like it’s predecessor OnePlus 6.
It has a lot of ram to allow smooth usage between and within apps and a dual rear camera to allow your photos and videos to be on par with the new iPhone.
With it's own version of Android, it strips back a lot of the bloatware that plagues other phone manufacturers so you'll be able to use all that storage for what you need want to.
Now I’m not an iPhone fan but I do like the look of the displays for the new X series models. The wide screen lends itself to more content for apps so I’m very excited to get my hands on one to develop on. Despite the single rear and lower spec camera (compared to the X or XS model), the iPhone XR is one of the newer releases to the iPhone line which means that it’s more likely to be supported by Apple for about five years, so in terms of development, you’re future-proofing yourself. And the biggest seller of the XR is the price! Although only being released in late October 2018, following the XS and XS Max release, this device is actually cheaper than the XS and XS Max.
Computer Electronics ($500)
Have you seen the new Macbook Air? it's thinner, lighter, had an updated processor and boasts a Retina display. Available in three colours, it's all aluminum case makes it more environmentally friendly that previous versions. Apple also states that it has an all day, battery life, which if true could even give the Surface Laptop a run for its money.
The Surface family of products by Microsoft have been a major success for the company. With the flexible customisable spec you can build a product truly suited to your needs.
The Surface Laptop 2, has all the great features that the previous model did however, it also now comes in black. This sleek design and extremely light product comes with an Alcantara keyboard, and improved speed and performance.
I've found the touchscreen display quite useful when using certain tools like calculator where it's super simple and quicker to just tap in your values into the screen.
Compatible with Surface pen, this device is definitely my favourite out of this price range.
Despite being labeled as a Chromebook, this device is of a higher standard and build, therefore it commands a higher price tag. But, with a 360 touch display, fast charging, Google Assistant built-in, being super thin, light, small enough to go into your bag, and having four ways to use it, it would definitely make it onto my shortlist if I were buying a new laptop.
Tech Accessories ($500+)
Available in many colours and finishes, I can't see how this bag wouldn't appeal to any savvy female tech programmer.
This bag can be a tote cross-body, backpack or satchel.
Made from Italian leather, you can definitely glad this high quality product as a statement and investment piece for your work wardrobe.
And if the size is a problem, it also comes in a mini and midi version.