Anyone who's ever grappled with the many USB devices on a modern PC - and the cables that go with them - knows that very few motherboards offer enough slots to accommodate everything you're likely to want to hook up. As your authors write this story, in fact, one of them has 7 USB devices connected: a keyboard, a mouse, a headset, a Flash card reader, two external hard disks, and an extension cord to the four-port hub in his Dell UltraSharp 1905 monitor. Clearly, this shortage of USB ports can be a significant issue.
The obvious answer is a USB hub, and there are certainly plenty of offerings to choose from in this space. We fell in love with the LaCie Hub, aka "The Octopus" or "Huby" (though we think it's rather more squid-like in appearance) - its rakish good looks, cool LEDs, and small personal fan make it both functional and appealing. Please note that it includes two Firewire 400 ports as well as 5 USB 2.0 ports, plus the fan, for a total of 8 cables (and a perfect explanation for its informal moniker).
The LaCie Hub has a round, bulbous body and 8 cables (5 USB 2.0 and 2 Firewire 400).
Admittedly, $80 is a lot to spend on a USB hub, but that makes it a great gift for cheapskate gearheads who are too cheap to buy themselves nice (or nice-looking) peripherals. Why not bring a little charm, or even a little whimsy, to something your sweetheart will look at every day for at least the next few years? As cool gadgets go, this one's got geek chic to spare!