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Best Gifts For the Linux Geek, Make Your Own Railgun, and More

Do-it-Yourself Science, Toys, Support Your Favorite FOSS

  • December 15, 2010
  • By Carla Schroder
Tis the season! Linux is the gift that keeps on giving; here is a roundup of my suggestions for treating yourself, your loved ones, or other people with Linux and geeky goodness.

Random Geek Toys

Who needs another salad shooter, Shake Weight, miracle mop, or talking toilet paper? The best geek toys are fun and useful.

Edmund Scientifics is the grandparent of the best geek toys. Telescopes, microscope, science fair kits, optics of all kinds, lasers, crystals and prisms, chemistry sets, robotics, and much much more. Edmund Scientifics is more important than ever since Radio Shack became mainly a cell phone and big-screen TV pusher.

Think Geek is more computer-nerd oriented, with an abundance of gags and pranks, and a nice selection of useful things like a synthesizer shirt, USB monitor, games, music makers, and lots more.

Science Toys is a Web site chock full of cool things you can build at home with common materials, with your kids or without, such as a Magnetic Ring Launcher, homemade batteries, a little steam boat, a railgun, extracting DNA in your kitchen, and many more fun projects.

Worthy Projects to Support

We can't eat code or good vibes, so consider giving a little something (or a little something extra) to a worthy project or two or three. Money, surplus equipment, your own time and talents-- there are many ways to support good projects. Here are a few examples, and I am sure you can find many more. You are invited to send your own suggestions to editor@linuxplanet.com, and I will publish them next Monday:

Groklaw, the pioneer in detailed reporting and analysis of legal issues pertaining to FOSS and tech, and in creating and maintaining deep archives of case files and information.

Electronic Frontier Foundation fights the hard legal battles of digital rights, privacy, and our civil rights.

Software in the Public Interest assists FOSS projects that develop and distribute open hardware and software. Some of its members are Debian, Drupal, OpenOffice.org, PostgreSQL, and freedesktop.org.

The Free Software Foundation maintains Free software licenses such as the GPL, LGPL, and AGPL, campaigns for software freedom, and campaigns against DRM (digital rights management), Trusted Computing, software patents, and other technologies and legal snares that try to control what we do with our own property.

FreeGeek recycles computers, and provides training and experience for wannabe geeks of all skill levels. (Portland, Oregon USA.)

Computer4Kids provides refurbished Linux computers to children who cannot afford them. (Austin, Texas, USA.)

Creative Commons gives artists, musicians, authors, and other creators tools to control and customize the rights to their own works.

GeekCorps pairs skilled tech-savvy volunteers with organizations in developing countries who want help building and improving their tech infrastructures, and help training and educating their own citizens.

Software Freedom Law Center offers free legal services to FOSS developers.

Your Favorite Linux Software

Support your favorite software projects! Pick the ones that you use the most, the ones that you rely on, the ones that save you hundreds or thousands of dollars compared to their proprietary cousins. Even if you can't afford more than a few dollars, it's better than nothing. Money can't buy the dedication and talent that it takes to produce great software, but it does fund developer time and necessary physical resources like computers, test equipment, and Internet bandwidth.
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