12 enormously useful products for the DIY-ITer [Gift Guide 2012]

12 enormously useful products for the DIY-ITer [Gift Guide 2012]

Summary: In honor of 2012, we've selected some of the most interesting, helpful, and unexpected products for geek DIYers.

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  • PhpEd and CodeLobster PHP Edition

    As a developer, one of the most valuable tools I have in my coding arsenal is the development environment and interactive debugger. There are many IDE options for PHP development, but two that I like are NuSphere's PhpEd and CodeLobster's PHP Edition.

    Now, if you've noticed (and you have, haven't you?) the screenshot above is XP. It baffles me why the developers haven't updated their screenshots when their software is constantly updated, but it takes a different set of muscles to be in marketing than to write great IDEs.

    One thing to like about CodeLobster is that there is a free edition. I like PhpEd because the debugger is quite versatile, and (after a few bumps in the road), the development environment is quite pleasant to use.

    What I like: Good development environments.

    What I'd like to see: Meh documentation and support.

    Find them here and here starting at under $80.

  • SyncBack Pro

    I admit it. I'm something of a sync-geek. I love software that helps me fling files far and wide. I have machines all over the world, doing all sorts of interesting things, and I constantly need to move files hither and yon.

    One of my favorite tools for this is SyncBack Pro. This thing has a tremendous number of options and capabilities, can sync locally, to FTP, SFTP, S3, Google storage, and even Microsoft Azure. I use it as the core of my backup strategy, and also use it to keep a wide variety of servers updated with various content bits here and there.

    What I like: Easy, reliable, fast, robust, flexible.

    What I'd like to see: Easier way to send settings between instances or some centralized management control (which, apparently, is actually in beta).

    Find it here starting at about $55.

  • Bosch DLR130K Digital Distance Measurer

    I've recommended what I call my "magic measuring machine" before, and I'm doing it again. This thing is a huge help whenever I'm trying to size an area in the house or workshop. This thing is different from sonic-based measuring devices, which shine a light beam just to give you an idea where you're pointing. This uses a refracted laser to measure and, over the past few years, where I've measured things down to the quarter of an inch, it hasn't missed once.

    An essential tool for the homeowner and DIY-ITer, especially if you're trying to setup a workspace.

    What I like: It works.

    What I'd like to see: Easier way to record measurements, perhaps the ability to send them to my phone. Can you imagine this with Siri? Hey, one can dream, right?

    Find it here at about $90.

     

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Topics: After Hours, Tech Industry

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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11 comments
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  • Unique and Thoughtful

    Unusual selection of DIY products not seen elsewhere. Good scoop.
    BSalita
  • if you want customizable keys...

    Go with the Razer Anansi. It currently doesn't have drivers for windows 8 (it works fine for Windows 7), but for $25 more, you get an entire keyboard where every key is customizable, including 10 extra keys specifically for custom macros.
    KBot
  • 32GB RAM

    re:"I looked everywhere for a notebook that could handle 32GB of RAM"
    Dell Precision M6700 Mobile Workstation can have 32GB RAM
    JanoLietac
    • Also 32GB RAM

      As can the HP Elitebook 8560w, also.
      bhahbh
  • SyncBack Pro

    Using it for over 5 years to back up our servers and workstations. Very simple and reliable.
    Tomas M.
  • Another article I will not read . . .

    . . . because it uses ZDNet's World War II surplus slide show viewer that flashes and jumps all other the place. Seriously, I watched a slide show on my phone this morning on a Microsoft site that was smooth as silk. Why is the ZDNet web site so pathetic?
    FDanconia
  • running a VM on the Zotac box?

    Perhaps that's why it didn't have enough horsepower for your needs. The Hypervisor you're using may consume too many resources to show the true potential of the Zotac box.
    bhahbh
  • Oh, so THAT'S what you were doing with your hand in your lap!

    Was wondering.
    daboochmeister
  • SSD

    I'm very surprise that you didn't include SSD! It is THE single most effective item that a DIY person can add to their machine.
    slam5
  • SATA/IDE HDD Docking Station

    StarTech also has a cable with power supply that has a multi connector with SATA, HD IDE, and Floppy IDE to use bare drives directly from a USB port. I am a tech and use that thing regularly. Works surprisingly well for as cheap as it is.
    I would recommend that over that box thing.
    MoeFugger
  • It's about looks

    They both do exactly the same thing, except one is a wire and the other is a wire within a case. Some techs prefer a Mad Scientist bench, with wires and parts on display, while others want a neater looking workspace and all wires hidden. Where I work, we have both personalities. As it turns out, the "Mac" guy (neat and ordered) wants the box. The "PC" guy (rather cluttered) uses the cable (whenever he can find who borrowed it last).
    Worth2Cents