I'm trying to decide what to get for my hacker friends (old style, hardware hackers, white hats) for Christmas. I think I've settled on ZigBee controlled lights from Lowes. It unusual enough and interesting enough that it most likely will get used and played with. I'm still checking the lights out but I think that's the route I'll go. They already have a Raspberry Pi so that won't be an issue (node.js + Pi + IP = Linux HA ;-) ). I'd also like to get a couple of the Philips Hue WiFi bulbs.. I love the idea of it being able to change color. Could be useful for an alert system. We'll see what I can find after Christmas.
In November I picked up an inexpensive desoldering station. So far I've been practicing on single sided boards but all I can say is: Wow!!! I unsoldered a 40 pin DIP chip in about 20 seconds with no need to fight with the chip. Once unsoldered I pulled it from the board with my fingers. My next test will be on multilayer, through hole board and see how well that works. My Solderpult is good but it's a bit more work. It is nice to have the right tools.
And finally for those who have been following along. Yes, I'm actually working on several things at once. I suffer from the typical mental afflictions many geeks suffer from, ADD. But I've taken a bit of advantage of it in recent years. Since my mind likes to wonder from project to project (I wonder if Divinci suffered from ADD?) I do something I refer to as "5 minute programming". I attempt to do only small chunks of a project, something that can be done in about "5 minutes" (not literally). This seems to work well with the Agile testing work I'm doing at work (change one thing at a time, until it works). It's not the best way to get a project (or projects) done but it does fit the time I have. I try to keep the number of projects to a small set, though I'm not usually 100% successful.