If you’re in need of one last gift for the techie on your holiday shopping list, we suggest the following.

Caffeinated Soap
No, we’re not making this up. 
Between end-of-year project deadlines, gift shopping, and other holiday preparations, a coder can get really squeezed for time. And you don’t want to back a programmer into a corner where they have to choose between sufficient caffeination and personal hygiene. This should avoid any such unpleasantness.

A Blunt Instrument
There are situations in which you simply cannot improve upon a large hammer.  This is the reason that the B-52 has had such a long lifespan. This orange beauty will allow your beloved techie to vent frustration upon keyboards, desks, recalcitrant Solaris machines, etc without the risk of forehead or hand injury.

A “Come home for dinner late” card
It’s surprising how many bugs are found just after the “I’ll be home by 6:15 for dinner” phone call. Your programmer is now torn between a promise to loved ones and a dedication to hunting down that crash before calling it a day. Give them a Monopoly-style “Get out of dinner, free” card so that at least once this year week, they can arrive late without guilt.

A USB-chargeable flashlight
A USB flashlight is insidious in its irresistible blend of techie-seducing features. First off, it’s a USB device. *Anything* USB (and to a lesser extent FireWire) is worthy of investigation. Secondly, it’s the size and shape of most trade show trinkets, which programmers are wired at birth to hoard. Thirdly, it has a genuinely useful function, which all but ensures your coder will make every effort to rationalize this gadget’s place in the laptop bag for years to come.

Carpal Tunnel Therapy
Because sometimes you gotta play hurt.
(Not yet verified, but I think this thing can also make homemade ravioli…)

Yoga Gear
Not only is this great for relieving the tension of long hours frozen at the keyboard, it appears to also be a crafty way of furthering ones career.

The problem of retiring mainframe developers has been well publicized in recent years. Mainframe systems are not going anywhere, and programmers now expect to be working within the comforts of a modern IDE, rather than on a simple terminal. Eclipse-based front ends have become great solutions for this new generation of programmers working on mainframe systems.

Since the Eclipse IDE has become so popular for mainframe developers, we have been dedicating more and more resources to our mainframe language support. The SlickEdit editor is even now integrated into the Compuware Workbench:

Supports a vast array of programming languages for source code editing, powered by SlickEdit.

PL/I is one of the mainframe languages that got a major support upgrade in the newly released SlickEdit Core v3.7.1. The SlickEdit editor now has full support for parsing structures, includes, and even statement level tagging for PL/I code.

SlickEdit Core also has great support for COBOL, JCL, REXX, and other languages. If you are a mainframe developer coding in an Eclipse-based environment, try out the latest version of the SlickEdit Core plugin for free.

Look at this. It’s worthless – ten dollars from a vendor in the street. But I take it, I bury it in the sand for a thousand years, it becomes priceless. Men will kill for it. Men like you and me.
– René Belloq, Raiders of the Lost Ark


Whether it be changing jobs, moving to a new house or office, or simply cleaning out clutter, every so often I find myself sorting through the bits of technology-related junk I’ve accumulated over the years. There’s a fair amount of trade show goodies, some of them entirely too cool or valuable to part with. The bulk of it is reluctantly thrown away, including stress-relief squeezy things, can coolers, light up pens that no longer light, and the like. But there are items that always survive the cut, ones that have some sentimentality attached to them.

Professional Developers Conference 2000 pen

I cannot believe this thing still writes after 11 years. It has lived in the glove box of the three different cars I’ve owned since 2000. This was the PDC where Microsoft formally introduced the .NET platform to the masses. I vividly recall the stunned looks on thousands of keynote attendees as they realized all their Win32 mastery was just rendered obsolete. The pen has actually outlasted several .NET technologies introduced at the conference. I’ve got one from the 2003 PDC ready to go once this one runs out of ink.

Cyrix x86 processor

A leftover from my system building days. It was the first real ultra-cheap x86 alternative, and prompted Intel to develop the Celeron line. I placed this in a slapped-together spare parts budget computer (running Windows 95) that I assembled for my wife’s grandparents. Cyrix as a company didn’t last long, but this chip powered that system for over a decade. Now that the grandparents are gone, I can’t bear to toss this hunk of silicon junk.

NeXT Step poster

I got this gem in a trade with my wife’s uncle, a sysadmin, for a Windows Server 2000 license. It’s a panorama of the first generation NeXT system, replete with all black computer, keyboard, monitor, and printer. I’ve been meaning to put it up on my office wall, but I can’t bring myself to stick pins through it, and I can’t justify the cash it would take to frame it.

Do you have anything like this that you can’t seem to part with? Please share by leaving a reply!

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