Hardware investigate

Six things geek dads REALLY want for Father's Day

Don't waste your money on cheap little gizmos on Father's Day. Here are six intangibles that you can do for the geek dad that will be worth a lot more.

Leading up to Father's Day, you're going to see all kinds of lists of high-tech gifts for dad. The cliche Father's Day gifts used to be bad ties and golf balls. Now, it's turning into stuff like premium headphones and inductive chargers.

If you want to make a geek dad happy, then don't worry about the little gizmos. (What he really wants is that 70-inch 240Hz LED-backlit TV, but that's too expensive for Father's Day.) Instead, give him something intangible that will really matter. Here are six ideas.

1. No tech support calls from friends and family

Most geek dads serve as the personal pro-bono tech support department for all of their friends, family, and neighbors. Tell all of the acquaintances, "no tech support calls on Father's Day" -- even if the laptop won't boot, even if the Internet is down, and even if the Roku box isn't working and (God forbid!) they can't stream The Tudors on Netflix. In fact, tell people no calls for all of Father's Day weekend. Better yet, go for a full one-week moratorium.

2. Kids: Don't drop your electronics

Let's be clear, dads love the children. There'd be no Father's Day without them. But, ask the kids to please be careful with their electronics for just one day. No dropping the iPod Touch on the stone tile floor. No slipping and dropping the Leapster into the bathtub. And, while they're at it, tell them no peanut butter-and-jelly fingers all over the Kindle, as a little bonus for dad. When you do these things, you don't realize how much stress it causes for the geek dad. Even if the device doesn't break, the geek dad is thinking that you may have caused long-term damage to the circuitry, and he's going to worry about when the technology will fail, which means he'll either have to fix it or shell out the money for a new one. On his special day, don't leave that hanging over the geek dad's head.

3. No nagging about too much time on the grid

For one day, don't remind dad about much time he spends sitting in front of a computer, give him a hard time about using both a laptop and a tablet while he's on the couch watching TV, or make fun of him for using a smartphone in his right hand while he washes the dishes with his left hand. These things are normal for geeks. There's nothing wrong with this. As the geek dad will gladly tell you, he knows a bunch of people who are way worse than he is about being too connected.

4. Stop touching dad's computer

It's private. Don't touch private parts. It goes for silicon just like it does for the flesh. In case you don't know (even though the geek dad has told you a zillion times), he doesn't like it when you mess with his computer. Do not put your sticky fingers all over his favorite wireless keyboard. Do not change the wallpaper or the mouse tracking speed or any of the other settings that he has precisely specified. And -- this is very important -- when the geek dad is showing you something on the computer on Father's Day and you decide to point at something on the screen, never (I repeat, NEVER) take your finger and actually touch the LCD screen. It leaves fingerprints that have to be cleaned and microscopic residue that can eventually ruin the screen. Again, save the geek dad some headaches here.

5. Spouses: Clean out your own PC dust bunnies

One of the nastiest things about opening up a PC -- especially if it's at least a year old -- is the dust bunnies. And, often when truly geeky dads open up a spouse's PC to add RAM, drop in an expansion card, or troubleshoot a problem, they also end up having to chase out the dust bunnies so that they don't choke the computer's fans or ruin the air circulation. Since today's spouses are a lot more comfortable with tech than a decade or two ago, they could provide their geek husbands with a little surprise by cleaning out their own machines. If you a have a laptop instead of a desktop, just get some canned air and alcohol wipes and clean off the keyboard, screen, and case so that the geek husband doesn't have to the next time he does maintenance on your machine.

6. For gamer dads, time alone to play

Walt Disney said that the whole reason he originally built Disneyland was so kids and parents could play together, rather than parents just watching their kids play. That's a great sentiment, and you've got to love Walt for bringing that idea into reality. However, grownups need their own play time, too. For geek dads who are also gamers, give them an hour or two alone to play on Father's Day. There can still be plenty of time for the family to play some Wii Bowling together, but give the geek dad a little of own time to kill zombies, level up, play the back nine of Augusta against Tiger Woods, or dunk on Lebron James.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

66 comments
boxi.yang
boxi.yang

very funny.btw,what does "It goes for silicon just like it does for the flesh" mean?

WoodyM
WoodyM

The last thing I want to do after working with computers all day is go home and interact with tech stuff. On Father's day I want to go for a long bike ride to unwind and have a nice dinner with my family.

jmferrai
jmferrai

just saying ---- it's not always dad!

nepper
nepper

For the 90% of you that get it, awesome! For the 10% that don't, I'm with Jason's comment - lighten up!

kevin.carrell
kevin.carrell

Reading the tread on this has been quite interesting. As a father, I could relate to all the ideas mentioned. I also believe it was in fun, although I would appreciate all of them in small doses throughout the year :-) I have been involved with IT in one way or another since childhood. If there is one constant it is the OCD. For example the almost fanatical obsession with the care of electrical goods, or in my case a tidy patch panel that doesn't look like a bowl of spaghetti has been thrown at it then painted different colours. That really gets my goat up. Another example We are all different yet strangely festidious about the most unusual things. To people who are not passionate about these things even to fellow geeks/OCD sufferers, it is a constant source of irritation, that others do not share your feelings or the rules you follow. They are convinced you are a fruitcake and need to be told exactly how you should be. In some cases this is true. I do believe however that the more the IQ, that sometimes the infantile humour, and gentle abuse is misconstrued as true abuse and spite when in fact it is just ego and a little bit of the devil in you with the response. Mr Engineering degree man although your reply was terse, were you smiling at the facts you were conveying, in the knowledge it was unlikey this blogger was as Uber geek as yourself? Much respect, and I am sure the recipiant of your reply would agree from his response. At the end of the day my son (11 years old) thought these ideas were right, but could see why some geek dads would never agree. As, not being of a technical nature, but only to do with techie responsibility/care things. Used me as an example. Askin. me whether I would prefer his obedience or a geeky toy? No argument really ..........From the mouth of babes........... Although my son doesnt really give me grief about the time I spend in front of the computer (as I leave him alone and dont complain when is playing Little big planet 2 on the PS3) He did agree that #3 was his favourite Anyway, peace,love and much OCD. It is the way forward. Long may it continue. Great subject , great suggestions, better abuse, with amazing ' i am a geek! ' responses

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

An interweb without whiny spammers and leet-petes...

2rs
2rs

a light-hearted tone - too bad some of you folks feel the need to be overly personally mean-spirited in your replies.

JJFitz
JJFitz

I like helping people with their tech problems or I wouldn't be in the computer technology business. I could do without the dropping of gadgets and my kids know not to bug me when I am on Call of Duty. It could cost me my life. :)

RockerGeek!
RockerGeek!

I never know what to buy anyone... Esp for the guys in my life. So I go w/gift cards. TADA! They pick their own gift, and I usually splurge to get a decent amount, so they love it

seloff
seloff

An easy day at the beach or in bed depending on the weather will do just fine...in reach of any electronic device i can smuggle with me :)

pgit
pgit

I always appreciated when my 2 boys wanted to spend time with me. A physical gift just seems too impersonal.

spin498
spin498

Clean out their own dust bunnies? That was a hilarious suggestion.

JB Tucson
JB Tucson

I like it when the wife and kids get dressed up, climb into the car and go to breakfast without me sometimes!

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

That's what I'd really like for Father's Day. Awww, and here I gave you a complement over on Toni's column. Pity. This time. Your usual stuff is stellar. But, you're entitled to take one column off this year for Father's Day and that's all that counts. Next time though, back to business!

paul
paul

You get paid to write this ? regards Fitvideo

chrisxs5
chrisxs5

Dont let her touch the PC, dont clean it, dont fix it and dont ever think about taking the side panel off. She will screw something up!

rob123q
rob123q

I agree with #4, touching the screen and leaving finger prints is a major issue with me. Right behind my kids not only using my laptop but eating while using it and leaving crumbs all over it!

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

You know, something about the size of the Millenium Falcon. Not too big, but big enough to get up and stretch your legs on a couple hour flight.

andy.hefty
andy.hefty

Breakfast in bed and the remote control. Of course a new stereo bluetooth headset for the iPad won't hurt, either. But as I make breakfast every Sunday before Church, I ask for the chance to sleep in while someone else does the cooking and for complete reign over the TV after Church. But, yeah, these are nice ideas.

ken.middleton
ken.middleton

!!NEVER!! point at dad's screen with your pencil or pen!!

GreenPirogue
GreenPirogue

I did not like that gift - I don't think kids intentionally drop electronics. But I can get behind not pulling electronics by cords, using clean hands to play, etc. It drives me crazy when my son picks up the Wii controller by the numchuck cord. Absolutely crazy.

zoomlenz
zoomlenz

I hope you did this for geek moms too. We need the exact same things!!! It would also be nice if someone would buy us a geeky toy like an iPad.

MaranathaP
MaranathaP

Jason, I liked the post. While I don't think any of us expect our wives to take apart and clean computers on Father's Day, rubbing a damp cloth over some of the electronics is a nice gesture. I'm certainly not looking to be left alone for the day, but an hour of prime time Black Ops instead of Lego Star Wars sounds like a nice treat. If they want to bring home a new 70" TV for me to play on, I won't complain. Heck, come Tuesday, I'll even let her watch Glee on it... : ) Your real point that we don't need another gadget and a little thought can go a long way is really spot on.

dNig
dNig

These blogs just get fluffier and fluffier

ragnar.moller
ragnar.moller

No doubt, like you say, no non Geek would know what's a good present for a Geek, so it's quite difficult to choose for a Geek. Perhaps the other members of the family are also geeks: knitting geeks, manga geeks, football geeks, whatever. For me it comes to the question, what is a geek. For me it's anyone more interesed than the aveage person in s specific area. Personally I'm an outdoor geek, a mointainbiking geek, a GPS geek, a Java Geek a Hardware geek and an anti gaming geek. For me the idea would be for the other family members to do some geek stuff that they have in common with their dad or mom together. Or if there's nothing, consult a felllow geek in the area and find something appropriate. I once got a USB led lamp that way and I must admit it came in quite handy. So it was a good low-cost geek present.

wwgorman
wwgorman

These were stupid suggestions. I want my son and his wife to visit us or we go visit the (preferred). Let my son cook a great steak and we all enjoy a nice dinner-------WITHOUT electronics at all.

RipVan
RipVan

is removing posts!

hthyne
hthyne

if you're techy, then you're probably called on @ church to help too with sound or media....a vacation from that with the youngsters (non-fathers) would be a good gift too!

jwhite
jwhite

Skip the church. Everyone wins. You can sleep in, the kids avoid being exposed to brainwashed bigotry. YAY!

mpukey
mpukey

!! NEVER!! if your kids are like mine, you'd best be clear here - Point with the eraser!

gitmo
gitmo

I want my kids to neatly bundle the power cords and any other cords used with a device when they put it away. Don't just stuff the tangled cables into a laptop bag. And I want them to actually put it away, too.

johan
johan

and the women want more shining toys. what's new? ;)

jwhite
jwhite

Yes, of course, it's the thought that counts, right? All you want as a geeky mom is some thoughtful time alone...Oh, wait, scratch that one kids, buy mommy an $800 toy instead. Mommy forgot she was extremely shallow.

chrisxs5
chrisxs5

I love Lego Star Wars. I hope my kids will turn off Black Ops and let me play some Lego Indiana Jones, or Lego Batman

grist70
grist70

I'm certainly not looking to be left alone for the day, but an hour of prime time Black Ops instead of Lego Star Wars sounds like a nice treat. If they want to bring home a new 70" TV for me to play on, I won't complain. Heck, come Tuesday, I'll even let her watch Glee on it... : )

jwhite
jwhite

FACT: less than 0.1% of all families contain one or more "manga geeks"... but seriously? A Manga geek must essentially be equivalent to being a "80's Mattel toy cartoon geek". Another point: you hate gaming, I understand that, it's not for everyone (but to be so anti-gaming that you're actually a geek is weird). What is ALSO weird is being a Java geek - the worst programming language ever invented (the syntax & language ain't so bad, it's the options that exist to run your code... the JVM on any OS is the largest pile of shite ever... talk about unstable, slow, ugly, inefficient... the list goes on!)

luenib
luenib

Well, we are here, reading an article at TECH!!!!republic so why are you mentioning outdoor geeks, knitting geeks, marketing geeks, and other non technology geeks?

nkozi
nkozi

Way to go, wwgorman. What are you doing on this forum, you have just revealed yourself as a stalker, you are not a geek at all. You have NO sense of humor. Actuary. You're definitely an actuary.

jwhite
jwhite

Because, clearly, in the context of the article (and therefore, what chris was replying to) we're talking about a geek Dad who has a not-so-geeky family. But hey, saying anything negative about someone who happens to be female is SEXIST! RIGHT?

JWLeeson
JWLeeson

good luck with that. That's an aquired OCD

cburke
cburke

I just like the IPad idea. I expect nothing but to see my children and grandchild. If they can afford the $800 to buy me a gift to present me who am I to deny them? Apparently I did something right in raising them. I miss doing the techie stuff for my dad. He won't be here this year (2nd year) but it was one thing I could do for him and it made him proud.

hthyne
hthyne

Father's day is next weekend. Flag day is Tuesday ..

jwildhair
jwildhair

Does adding an 'e' to the end of feces somehow make it more socially acceptable? I simply call a spade a spade. There, I said it! SPADE! SPADE! SPADE!

jwildhair
jwildhair

Does adding an 'e' to the end of feces somehow make it more socially acceptable? I simply call a spade a spade. There, I said it! SPADE! SPADE! SPADE!

rprivett
rprivett

The Java gloves are coming off now!

inouyde
inouyde

Mmm... analog steak... THAT'D be cool, especially if I didn't have to cook it...

wwgorman
wwgorman

Well, with 2 engineering degrees, 50 years of practice, Professional Engineer Registration in 3 states and currently licensed to practice in all 3, plus within the 50 years of practice being the CEO of a company for 21 years that made DNA Fingerprint equipment which was the standard in the FBI laboratories, I do consider myself a geek. I never wrote programs for computers but my old TI-59 programable calculator used to sing with code I wrote for it.

hthyne
hthyne

your posting was cute anyway...no geeks in this house...unless you count me and i'm marginal at best...but unfortunately the go-to person in my family (its sad the low level of tech ability in this family!!! )

auogoke
auogoke

When you are literally immersed -- 24x7 -- in "geekery" as this gentleman seems to be, your priorities change and your idea of relaxation and fun does not include electronics.

stkimmie
stkimmie

I don't know--I think all of it is pretty funny

TheNerdyNurse
TheNerdyNurse

While the man part may be a little difficulty, I think I could master some chicken head biting off action. I've already the small hands part down, and I'm sure the cabbage smell will come after a while.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

I am starting to get to the point where an occasional electronic free day is very relaxing, but calling these suggestions stupid is not very nice. There are a lot of people especially in these forums that identify with these suggestions even if they may not actually entertain all of them (the no tech support I could see applying to most techie type people and is a good suggestion in my opinion). Bill

Dzmitry Z
Dzmitry Z

By the way: I didn't know until today, that a geek is also a "a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake"

TheNerdyNurse
TheNerdyNurse

some geeks lose their sense of humor. I think it's squeeze out during a really intense wedgie at some point in their young lives. It's sad really.

jarlath.walsh
jarlath.walsh

All achieved without a sense of humour. Pity.

raghavendralal
raghavendralal

That's definitely a good reply !! Feelings do exists for geeks definitely :)