The Weekly Geek: Holiday Helpers for Nerds


If the constant barrage of Christmas music in the mall wasn’t enough of an indication, the madness of the holiday season is upon us once again.

It can be a mighty stressful time of year: Families need visiting, presents need buying, commercialism needs flexing and perhaps most of all, good cheer needs spreading. It’s not hard to feel a little Grinch-like (or left out if you don’t celebrate any of the “big three” holidays this month) with all the stress swirling around, but fear not — I’ve rustled up a few geeky tools and projects that will make the season go down smoothly, like a fine eggnog.

First of all, arm your iPhone accordingly with this stellar list of seasonal survival apps, thanks to the good folks at Mashable. Flightcaster and Gasbag will help with travel woes, while ShopSavvy and Yowza should take some of the sting out of shopping. Mixology (also listed here) has got to be one of the coolest drink-related apps I’ve ever seen. I suspect that self-confessed “drink nerd” Rachel Maddow would be proud.

There’s also the business of home decorating and party-throwing. Need to impress the cute girl at the office party with a bit of brilliant geekery? Try out this insanely cool video for a how-to on making holiday lights dance to the beat of your music. All you need is a string of Christmas lights (cheap ones will do just fine), a wire cutter, and a basic sense of the back of your stereo system (you know, that scary, dusty place), and you’re good to go.

Whether you’re rocking some appropriately cheesy holiday tunes or something with a little crunk to it, you have an instant lightshow. I daresay this is one of the coolest uses of cheap holiday decorations since Clark W. Griswald’s impressive home display in the classic film Christmas Vacation.

Just in case you’re in need of some seasonal tunes on the cheap, check out Amazon’s list of free holiday MP3s. It’s hard to say anything bad about a collection this eclectic and awesome (relatively speaking — these are Christmas songs, after all) for the delightful price of free.

Finally, for the die-hard dorks among us, there is io9’s fantastic assortment of sci-fi themed holiday decorations. The Star Trek stockings, Robot Love Hanukkah cards and True Blood ornaments are a particularly nice touch.

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