Tag Archives: Amazon

It takes $3 and 5 minutes to become a best selling author

Here is how to become a best selling author on Amazon.com, the world’s largest book retailer.

Because of the high bar, the term “bestselling author” was a term with some meaning. It was seen as something that was earned through a lot of hard work. But today, that designation has changed—for the worse. It’s like when you see a food described as “natural.” The FDA doesn’t actually regulate that term, so it’s basically meaningless.

It’s about time that readers—and the media, which breathlessly repeats the best-selling claims of these authors—wised up. So let me show you exactly how I became a became a #1 Amazon bestseller for $2 and a photo of my foot in less than five minutes (with screenshots and proof). Hopefully, as my partner Ryan has put it, once you understand how the sausage is made, you won’t want to eat it any more.

Christmas Gift Guide for the Men in Your Life | 2015 Edition

It’s Wendy again.  I am here to write and publish this year’s inaugural Christmas Gift Guide on jordoncooper.com.  As is custom around here, this is for all of the men on your holiday check list.  So whether you are shopping for a husband, boyfriend (hopefully you aren’t shopping for both), father, kids, or friends, I’ve got gift ideas for all of the men in your life.

Audio

Does anyone use CD’s anymore?  We don’t.  If we do get them, they are immediately ripped and then imported into iTunes to be played on our iPods.  From there they are played via Bluetooth.  So here is a selection of portable Bluetooth devices that will sound amazing anywhere that you bring them, even if the guy you are shopping for loves to play Bon Jovi.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo is designed around your voice. It’s hands-free and always on. With seven microphones and beam-forming technology, Echo can hear you from across the room—even while music is playing. Echo is also an expertly tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound.

Echo connects to Alexa, a cloud-based voice service, to provide information, answer questions, play music, read the news, check sports scores or the weather, and more—instantly. All you have to do is ask. Echo begins working as soon as it detects the wake word. You can pick Alexa or Amazon as your wake word.

Think of it at Siri for your home… or for you Iron Man fans out there, it’s getting close to what Jarvis is.

Amazon ECHOAmazon ECHO

Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III

Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III

The SoundLink Bluetooth speakers are among the most popular — if not, the most popular — portable wireless speakers in terms of sales.   I have listened to it a couple of times while out and about this year and they sounds amazing while filling a room beautifully.  Not only that but if you bring them on the road with your or even just into the backyard, they have a 14 hour battery life.

  • Purchase at AmazonHouse of Marley Chant Portable Bluetooth Audio System 

    House of Marley Chant Portable Bluetooth Audio System

    Jordon has wanted one of these for a while.  This spring he went out and bought one.  It is battery powered (charges via a USB cable) and is a constant companion.  It is small enough to toss in a bag on a road trip which makes travelling a little more pleasant.  If you are buying for a road warrior or just someone who likes to chill outside while listening to music, this is a great gift idea.

  • Purchase at AmazonLogitech UE Mini BoomLogitech UE Mini Boom

    This is what The Wirecutter says about the Mini Boom

    This is the second year in a row that we’ve picked the Mini Boom as our top pick, but it’s the first time I’ve personally heard it. As an audio reviewer with a quarter century of experience, people often ask me what portable speaker they should get. It’s a difficult question to answer because they come in so many styles and sizes, and widely range in price, but the Mini Boom makes it easy.

    There’s so much to like about it and so little to dislike. In fact, if all my stuff disappeared tomorrow, the Mini Boom and our home Bluetooth pick would be the first audio products I’d buy. It plays about as loud as a large flat-panel TV set, and because it’s only about the size of half an orange, it’s easy to take almost anywhere. It sounds good enough that you can hear almost every element of a music track, from the cymbals all the way down to the lowest notes on a guitar (although maybe not the lowest notes on a bass).

    I have always thought of Logitech in terms of mice and trackballs.  Then Jordon went out and got a set of Logitech surround sound speakers for our television and I was surprised at how good they sound.  They had a way better sound than our soundbar and in 5.1 Dolby surround sound.  This little speaker has won a lot of awards and a lot of acclaim.  Logitech may not have the name that Bose does but it is a third the price and the sound quality is worth it.

  • Purchase at Amazon

Electrohome Archer Vinyl Record Player Classic Turntable Stereo System with Built-in Speakers

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Backed by over 100 years of manufacturing high-quality audio products, Electrohome is pleased to introduce the Archer Turntable Stereo System: a fully automatic turntable with built-in speakers housed in a 60s-style suitcase that blends vintage charm with twenty-first century convenience.

Enjoying the classic style of a retro 60s turntable doesn’t mean you have to miss out on 21st century convenience; play songs from your smartphones, tablets, or USB flash drive using the system’s AUX and USB input. For private listening, simply connect your headphones and drift away into the world of vinyl without disturbing a soul.

It’s also the gift that keeps giving you gift ideas. From speakers to vintage records, there will always something you can keep adding to this gift.

Now on to headphones for those times when you don’t want to listen to what they are listening to.

Sennheiser HD 202 II Headphones

Sennheiser HD 202 II Headphones

These amazing headphones are the #1 best selling over the ear headphones from Amazon and for good reason.  They are consistently rated as excellent.  The Sennheiser HD 202 II are closed, dynamic hi-fi stereo headphones. Good insulation against ambient noise and a deep bass response make them the ideal companion for DJs – or anyone who likes to listen to modern, powerful music without disturbing others. High efficiency drivers for maximum performance.   Jordon bought me a pair to replace my other Sennheisers that Marley chewed up.  What you notice about them is the sound but also how comfortable they are.  You can listen to them for hours.

  • Purchase at AmazonIn Ear HeadphonesDon’t let them keep using the Apple earphones that came with their phone.  Upgrade their in-ear headphones with Brainwavz Delta Red In Ear Earphones With Remote & Mic.

    Brainwavz Delta Red In Ear Earphones With Remote & Mic

    Never heard of them?  Here is what The Wirecutter has to say about them.

    If I wanted to buy a cheap pair of earbuds to replace the ones included with my mobile device, I’d get the Brainwavz Delta with Mic. After spending 32 hours researching literally hundreds of in-ear headphones under $40, then seriously considering 179 and testing 68 with our panel of audio experts (40 last time, 28 this round), we came to a decision: The Brainwavz Deltas are the best for the money. Our panel unanimously voted them the best sounding of the entire bunch, plus they fit comfortably in most ears and are a total steal.

  • Purchase at AmazonPanasonic RP-TCM125-A In Ear HeadphonesMy next suggestion is ones that we are big fans of around here and that is the Panasonic RPTCM125A Headphones Blue.  They were the winner last year on The Wirecutter and are runners up this year.  Here is why we love them.  The sound is excellent, the price is fantastic but they are so comfortable.  We have bought them for Mark and the advantage of getting these over more expensive headphones is that when the dog chews them, they get lost or stolen, it’s not the end of the world.  Great quality, comfortable, affordable price.

    Panasonic RP-TCM125-A In Ear Headphones

  • Purchase at AmazonComputersWe spend all of these hours in front of our computers and for many people. they are still using the same keyboard and mouse that came out of the box with their desktop or laptop.  Upgrade their computer with a new keyboard, mouse, or trackball.  It’s a great gift and his hands will thank you for it.

    Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard

    Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard

    If the guy you are buying for spends a lot of time in front of computer as a writer, photo editor, or coder, get him a keyboard that is better that what came with her computer.  Perhaps one of the best ones out there is the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard.  It is split in the middle, has a nice touch and feel, and has a built in pad for your wrists.  Studies are inconclusive on whether or not they prevent carpal tunnel but they are a lot more comfortable to type on than a desktop or laptop computer keyboard.

  • Purchase from AmazonLogitech M570 Wireless TrackballLogitech M570 Wireless Trackball

    A trackball is something that so many people I know have loved as soon as they have gone to it yet it isn’t something that many of us are going to go out and get for ourselves.  One of these or a Microsoft Sculpt or Arc Touch mouse and the sculpt keyboard would be a great gift for any one who spends some time in front of a screen every day.

  • Purchase at AmazonLogitech HD Pro WebcamLogitech HD Pro Webcam

    Being seperated from family is tough.  So whether you are shopping for your husband, boyfriend, or father, treat them with a high definition webcam.  You can get one for them so you can benefit or get one and place it on your own computer so they can see you better.  Ideally you will both have one so you can have conversations in 1080p High Definition video.

    Breathtaking full HD 1080p calls on Skype, with the sharpest video-call picture available. 16:9 widescreen keeps you all in the picture. Easy HD 720p video calls on Yahoo! Messenger, Gmail Voice and Video Chat and most other favorite IM services.

    If he is still getting by on a 640×480 screen, upgrading to a Full HD webcam will make a world of difference.

  • Purchase at AmazonTabletsSo many of us have tablets now that we have even started to upgrade our older ones.  If the person you are shopping for has a tablet that is more than a few years old, it is time to upgrade it.  New processor, better battery life, and overall performance makes this upgrade a great gift.

    Amazon Fire 7” Tablet

    Amazon Fire 7" Tablet

    $49.99 for a tablet! Are you kidding me Amazon?  Despite the really low price, it has a Quad-core 1.3 GHz, 8 gb of storage (expandable of course), a VGA Front-facing camera + 2 MP rear-facing camera with 720p HD video recording.   As for battery life, it offers up to 7 hours of reading, surfing the web, watching video, and listening to music

  • Purchase at Amazon (where else?)Google Nexus 9” TabletGoogle Nexus 9 Tablet

    If the Kindle Fire is the best Android budget tablet out there, then here is the flagship, the Google Nexus 9.

  • 8.9” IPS LCD display with 4:3 aspect ratio constructed from Gorilla Glass 3
  • Dual front-facing speakers with HTC BoomSound
  • 8MP rear camera – 1.6MP front camera
  • 64-bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 Dual Denver @ 2.3GHz CPU
  • Micro-USB 2.0For the accept no compromises Android user out there, this is the tablet they want.
  • Purchase at AmazoniPad Mini 4Apple iPad Mini 4

     

  • Purchase from Apple

Give the gift of a great book this year.

The Generals: Patton, MacArthur, Marshall, and the Winning of World War IIDevotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and SacrificeBetween the World and MeDestiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker BushThe Betrayal: The 1919 World Series and the Birth of Modern Baseball 81 Days Below Zero: The Incredible Survival Story of a World War II Pilot in Alaska's Frozen Wilderness

Kenneth Cole Reaction Leather Messenger Bag

Kenneth Cole Reaction leather messenger bag

 

Upgrade his shoulder bag or backpack with a leather 4 inch double gusset flapover portfolio/ 15.4 inch computer case with pull through handle.  Stylish enough to take to work everyday and rugged enough to take with him on the weekends.

Fossil Card Wallet

Fossil Men's Bradley Slim Card Case

If he already has a great looking bag or maybe you are looking for something less expensive, check out the Fossil card wallet.  Jordon went to one of these a couple of years ago and he has loved it.  Low profile, fits in any pocket and carries enough cards and I.D. to keep you going while forcing you to ditch the other stuff that clutters up a wallet and weighs you down.

Timex Expedition Field Watch

Timex Expedition Field Watch

The Timex Expedition field watch were inspired by the field watches issued to soldiers during the first half of the 20th century and look great with a wide variety of get-ups. While there are more expensive name-brand versions out there, if you’re looking for a simple, yet handsome-looking watch, this is perfect.  You can spend hundreds on a field watch but it’s hard to beat the quality you get from a Timex Expedition for the cost you are paying.

Spend your hard earned money on other things with the money you save on this watch.

Outdoors

Nikon Travelite VI 8×25 Binoculars

There is always a pair of binoculars in Jordon’s day bag.  For years they have been a pair of Nikon’s because you can’t beat the quality of the optics for the cost and portability. Nikon Travelite 8x25 Binoculars

A rubber armored carbon fiber body offers lightweight and impact-resistant performance, and the contoured body with textured gripping surfaces provide slip-resistant handling, making the Travelite VI well-suited for sightseeing on vacation and glassing the ball field from the stands.  Reviewers in multiple publications have said that these are the perfect balance between power and weight with no compromises either way.

Gerber Ripstop I Knife

Gerber Ripstop I Knife

Jordon started to carry this in his pocket because he wanted something small and functional for work.  This fit the bill perfectly.   He has one for every day use and then he keeps packed and ready to go in his day bag.  He likes this knife because it is big enough to do what he needs it to do most days but small enough to fold up and fit comfortably in his front pocket.  It’s also small enough that when he pulls it out at work, no one goes, “HE’S GOT A KNIFE!”.  Instead they often go, “cool” and want to take a look at it.

Leatherman Skeletool CX Multi-tool

Get back to basics — the very cool basics — with Leatherman’s Skeletool CX.  It keeps weight and volume to a minimum while still having the tools he will need.

Leatherman Skeletool CX Multi-tool

Stanley Mountain Vacuum Coffee System

Stanley Mountain Coffee System

The thing that stops so many people from camping…the perception that they have to "suffer" out there and can’t enjoy the comforts of home. Instead, Stanley said, "Oh no, nobody goes without good coffee while camping…not on our watch!"

The entire system might look a little bit like overkill, but when you keep in mind the fact that the components are all useful for other purposes this system does far more than just make coffee.

First of all, they thought of everything with this kit. The bottom (outside) layer is the pot to heat your water, complete with latching pre-installed handle. Just give the small button a squeeze to lift it up or put it down. This layer is obviously a great pot for heating up your meals too, especially if you pre-pouched it and just need to reheat with a hot water bath. The next layer is the French press plunger, and yes, if you pour really, really carefully, you can strain other foods with it (like pasta) when you’re not making coffee. The next nested layer is the famous Stanley vacuum bottle, so basically you use your kit to make a whole pot of coffee and then pour it into the bottle to keep it hot. The lid that closes the bottle actually has a small twist off lid the store your coffee grounds, and the exterior lid twists apart to form two cups.

Gourmet coffee.  In the woods.  He’ll love it.

If he likes to cook and grill, check out these fun books for aspiring chef.

Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book: Recipes and Secrets from a Legendary Barbecue Joint The Essential Guys' Cookbook by Company's ComingCompany's Coming Cooking With BeerEat Like a Man: The Only Cookbook a Man Will Ever NeedGordon Ramsay's Sunday LunchThe Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science

While you are at it, consider upgrading his grill.  The Weber Original Kettle Barbecue is the best selling grill on Amazon and is less then $100.

Eagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Hammock

Eagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Hammock

Light and compact enough for backpacking, yet robust enough for backyard luxury, the popular ENO DoubleNest Hammock sets up in seconds and has plenty of room for 2.

Moleskine Classic Notebook

Every man needs to keep a journal and this basic, yet classic Large Plain notebook is one that he will want to keep this thoughts and projects in. This reliable travel companion, perfect for sketches, thoughts and passing notes, has a cardboard bound cover with rounded corners, acid free paper, a bookmark, an elastic closure and an expandable inner pocket that contains the Moleskine history.

Sphero BB-8 Droid

Sphero BB-8 app enabled droid

This gift hits two big things in your guys life

  • It from the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie which if he is like most guys, is dying to see.
  • It’s a programmable robot which he wanted since Tomy released the Omnibot.

This is THE toy of the holiday season and is one that the entire family will get a kick out of.  If the guy you are shopping for still enjoys a remote controlled car, a drone, or just having fun, make sure you check out this gift and pick up one early, they won’t be around as we get towards Christmas.

  • Authentic Movement: Guide your BB-8 with a smartphone or tablet
  • Listens & Responds: BB-8 recognizes and reacts to your voice
  • Holographic Messaging: Record and view virtual holographic videos with BB-8
  • Autonomous Behavior: BB-8 has a mind of its own – explore the Star Wars galaxy together
  • Adaptive Personality: Your BB-8’s unique attitude and actions evolve as you interact

 

Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 | Corel Paint Shop Pro X8

Adobe Photoshop Elements 14Corel Paint Shop Pro X8

If he is a creative type and a photographer, get him some software that will fuel that creativity.  While the Adobe Creative Cloud is excellent, you have to pay for it monthly.  As an alternative Adobe has Photoshop Element and Corel has Paint Shop Pro 18.  Both will help him (and you) create your best photographs ever whether you are using a Nikon D810 or a iPhone 4.

Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone

Blue Microphone Yet USB microphone

If he is a podcaster or musician, check out the Blue Microphone Yet USB microphone.  It allows you to record just yourself, a conversation with two people or an entire room of people.  Great sound, solid design, and a lot of fun as he takes his first steps towards being an internet sensation.

Shure MV88 iOS Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone

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Another option for the aspiring radio star is this Shure microphone for any iOS device with a Lightning connector.  Compact enough to fit in a pocket and be with you anywhere at anytime.

  • Apple MFi certified compatible with all iOS devices equipped with a Lightning connector
  • Matched cardioid and bi-directional 1 cm cartridges for best-in-class audio
  • Mid-side architecture for a phase-perfect, clear stereo image
  • 5 DSP preset modes (Speech, Singing, Flat, Acoustic Instrument, Loud)
  • Automatically adjusts EQ, compression and limiting for optimal results
  • Innovative hinge/rotation design supports multiple recording angles, including video applications
  • Free ShurePlus MOTIV recording app featuring 24-bit/48 khz .wav (uncompressed) recording,control over DSP mode selection, microphone gain, stereo width, raw mid-side adjustments, wind reduction, capsule selection, Left-Right Swap, 5-band EQ and compression/limiting
  • All-metal construction engineered to withstand the most demanding recording conditions

 

Zippo Lighter

Zippo Lighter

Since 1932, Zippo has been making the finest and hardiest fire-making machine around. The Zippo is refillable, and nearly every part is replaceable, meaning the engraved metal casing given to your guy that will last just about forever.  Even if he doesn’t smoke, he’ll love having one.

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife

This is the knife that MacGuyver (and the Swiss military) made famous –

  • 2 Blades, 2 Screwdrivers, Wood Saw and other handy tools
  • Corkscrew, Reamer and Key Ring
  • Toothpick and Tweezers

Camper II Swiss Army Knife from Victorinox

Christmas-Gift-Guide[2]Holiday Gift Guides

Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies

A couple of months ago I was sitting down for beverages with Wendy and some friends when we started talking about some hikes we wanted to take in the Canadian Rockies next year.  Scott Theede recommended that I get Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies by Kathy and Craig Copeland which is a self-proclaimed opinionated guide to hiking trails all over the Rockies.

Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies

I looked on Amazon and they wanted $400 for it.  Indigo wanted over $1000 for it.  Fortunately it was just between print runs and I was able to get it from Indigo for about $30.

One of the hikes we want to take is to Berg Lake and Mount Robson (a hike that Scott has taken and posted to Flickr).  It is highly recommended in the book.  Wendy was chagrined to find out that the hike she wants to take next year to Lake Agnes Tea House is not recommended at all (we will do it anyway as it gives ideas to make it a better trip.  That and Wendy really, really wants to have tea in a mountain tea house).

The book arrived in a heavy duty case.  Half of the case is full of opinions about which hike to take.  The other half is small booklets that offer the technical details on each hike.  The idea is that you do your research ahead of time and then carry only the map and details with you.  It makes a lot of sense.

So the plan is to hike to Grey Owl’s cabin in June with Wendy and Mark (for his birthday).

In July we are heading to Banff, Lake Louise, and Calgary for a holiday and plan to hike Johnston’s Canyon then.

In the summer of 2016, we are going to camp in Lake Louise for a week at a rustic campground (where there are no showers) in the Bow Valley (grizzly bear country) and take in six day hikes through the Bow Valley with Mark and Oliver.  I’ll be honest, this no shower thing is already freaking me out.

In 2017 Oliver will be old enough (he’ll be 9) and we will take a multi-day hike into Berg Lake and Mount Robson (with some time exploring Jasper National Park and the town of Jasper).  Hopefully we won’t be wasting much time in the Canadian Rockies (Wendy’s trips to mountain tea houses excluded).

Am pretty excited to explore the rest of the book and the trails in contains in it.

King of the Hill?

While the story is about Wal-Mart, the interesting point is that failure comes very, very quickly in retail.

Wal-Mart recently reported that it will be laying off 2,300 workers at its Sam’s Club subsidiary, reportedly to cut the fat of middle management. Layoffs in and of themselves aren’t uncommon at any large company — competitor Target (NYSE: TGT ) also recently said it would lay off nearly 500 employees and keep hundreds more positions vacant — but such personnel reductions also aren’t something a growing company does very often.

What’s worth keeping an eye on is whether the Sam’s Club layoffs are a symptom of much larger problems at Wal-Mart. The company has been a giant of retail for decades, but there are signs that its reign is coming to an end.

Retail is a tough business to be in.

It doesn’t take long for a retailer to go from the top of the world to bankrupt. Kmart lost just $22 million in the second quarter of 2001, but was bankrupt by Jan. 22, 2002. In the four months leading up to bankruptcy, same-store sales fell 1.8%, 4.4%, 2.6%, and 1%, respectively, from a year earlier. You don’t need a big decline in sales to suck up all of your profits in retail.

Circuit City reported a 4.2% rise in same-store sales as late as December 2006, even raising its fiscal-year guidance to growth of 7%-8% in U.S. stores. But by December 2007, same-store sales were down 11% for the month and the company would be out of business by November 2008. From optimism to bust in less than two years.

The reason that retailers are sensitive to declines in sales is that there is a lot of overhead that goes into selling in brick-and-mortar stores. Wal-Mart spent $89.2 billion on overhead over the past year, and based on current margins and overhead spending, it would only take a 13.6% decline in sales to eat up all of Wal-Mart’s profits.

Amazon is Wal-Mart’s biggest competitor

What makes Amazon a bigger threat today is the company’s sheer size. It’s now bigger than Target, and every percentage point of growth takes growth away from Wal-Mart. In fact, Wal-Mart’s budget-conscious consumers are probably more likely to shop on Amazon than Target’s consumers.

Christmas Gift Ideas for the Photographer | 2013 Edition

Looking at what to get the photographer in your life for Christmas?  Here are some ideas that are sure to make every photographers Christmas season.

I know it’s a lot of money but no photographer I know would not love to have their camera upgraded.  Check out Canon’s 70D, the winner of quite a few camera of year awards or the Nikon D7100.

Canon EOS 70D DSLR cameraHere is the highlights of Canon 70D

  • 20.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor, 14-bit A/D conversion, ISO 100-12800 (expandable to H: 25600) for shooting from bright to dim light and high performance DIGIC 5+ Image Processor for exceptional image quality and processing speed.
  • EOS Full HD Movie mode with Movie Servo AF for improved continuous focus tracking of moving subjects, manual exposure control and multiple frame rates (1080: 30p (29.97) / 24p (23.976) / 25p, 720: 60p (59.94) / 50p, 480: 30p (29.97) / 25p), built-in stereo microphone, manual audio level adjustment with attenuator function to reduce audio clipping, and Video Snapshot with editing for expanded movie shooting options.
  • Canon’s innovative Dual Pixel CMOS AF enables you to shoot video like a camcorder with smooth, fast, and accurate autofocus; lets you enjoy instant and precise autofocus even when shooting stills from a variety of angles with the freedom provided by the Vari-angle LCD. 19-point all cross-type AF system (including a high-precision f/2.8 dual cross-type AF center point) with a wide area array for exceptional autofocus performance and greater compositional freedom when shooting with the viewfinder. Intelligent Viewfinder with superimposed LCD display provides approximately 98% field of view, and Multi-Aspect ratio in Live View broadens your choices in composition.
  • Vari-angle Touch Screen 3.0-inch Clear View LCD monitor II (approximately 1,040,000 dots) with smudge-resistant coating features multi-touch operation and Touch AF for an easy and intuitive experience, flexible positioning, and clear viewing even when outdoors in sunlight.
  • Built-in wireless technology allows you to wirelessly transfer your images to social networking sites through CANON iMAGE GATEWAY, share your images with wireless-enabled Canon cameras, or upload virtually anywhere on your iOS® or Android(TM) smartphone* with the free download of the EOS Remote app.

Highlights of the Nikon D7100

Nikon D7100 DSLR cameraThe Nikon D7100 Digital SLR Camera features a specially designed 24.1-megapixel DX-format image sensor, superior low-light performance, ultra-precise autofocus and metering, advanced video recording features, built-in HDR, mobile connectivity and much, much more. Enjoy speed, precision and convenience at every step, from shooting up to 6 fps to instantly sharing your shots with the optional WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter. Create dazzling Full HD 1080p videos and ultra-smooth slow-motion or time-lapse sequences.


Personalized leather camera strap

Personalized leather camera strap

Nothing says, “I’ve put more than the usual amount of consideration into your present” than having something personalized, and Ukraine-based Etsy seller Viveo has the perfect item for camera enthusiasts: a fetching hand-cut leather camera strap that can be personalized with up to five letters.


Manfrotto 190CX Pro Carbon Fibre TripodManfrotto 190CX Pro Carbon Fiber Tripod

The Rolls-Royce of tripods, especially for anyone with an aversion to lugging around heavy gear, the 190Cx is constructed of carbon fibre – a super-strong but lightweight material best known for its use in Formula 1 cars. That means that despite being able to hold up to 5kg of camera, lens and flash, it weighs a mere 1.3kg.


    AmazonBasics 62-Inch Aluminum Ball Head Tripod

    AmazonBasics has been quietly creating a name for itself as affordable and high quality photography gear.  It’s heavier than the Manfrotto tripod but is still an affordable and sturdy ball head tripod at a fraction of the price.


    Gerber Steady ToolGerber Steady Tool

    Military and outdoor specialist Gerber shows some love to shutterbugs with the Steady Tool, a multi-tool that features a tripod alongside the usual selection of stainless steel blades, screwdrivers, pliers and a bottle opener. The tripod works with compact digital cameras (up to 340g) and smartphones (up to 170g).


    Canon Camera Lens Coffee Mug

    Canon's 18-135mm zoom lens travel coffee mug

    It’s not a zoom lens (although they make a great Christmas gift too) but it’s a coffee mug based on Canon’s near-ubiquitous 28-135mm lens.  The stainless steel lining helps keep 12 oz. of your favorite beverage at temperature longer, and once you’re ready to break it open, you can remove the lid to use it as a small plate. Basically, it’s a good thing made even better.


    A 50mm Lens

    Nikon 50mm f 1.8 prime lensWhile most cameras kit lens covers the 50mm range, none of them compare to the 50mm in terms of sharpness, bokeh, and versatility.  It isn’t a reach to say that the one lens every DSLR should have is a 50mm.


    Sony DSC-QX100 Smartphone Attachable Lens-style Camera

    Sony DSC-QX100 Smartphone Attachable Lens-style CameraOne of the more interesting products of 2013 is the Sony DSC-QX100 Smartphone Attachable Lens.  The world’s first pro-grade lens and sensor combo that clips to your smartphone. Now you can shoot breathtaking, DSLR-quality pics and instantly share them online for more “likes” than ever. Sporting a 1” sensor and a Carl Zeiss f/1.8 lens, this innovative camera captures beautifully defocused backgrounds for that professional look you crave. It’s a dream come true for lovers of photography—and convenience

    Simply attach the compact and lightweight

    QX100 to turn your Smartphone into a professional grade camera to capture beautiful DSLR-like 20MP still photos.


    SD memory card carrying caseMemory Card Carrying Case

    You can never have enough memory cards but keeping track of them can be a pain.  That is why a memory card carrying case is such a great stocking stuffer.

    • Purchase at Amazon | $6


    • Photographer’s Wristband Set

      Photographer's Wristband SetGet the gift that says, “I have this lens and I’m using this wristband too."


      Leica DLUX 6 10-megapixel Digital Camera

      Leica is such an iconic brand that most photographers take notice of everything that they do.  Why not give the gift of a Leica Compact Camera this season?

      Leica D-Lux 6 compact digital camera

      The Leica D-LUX 6 perfectly represent pre-eminent Leica quality in a compact camera format. Its outstanding lens and the versatile capabilities for creative photography make it the perfect camera for capturing inspiring moments- in the typically brilliant image quality you expect from Leica. This new extremely fast lens makes it particularly suitable for available-light photography and creative experimentation with planes of focus and depth of field. Its full-HD video recording capability and numerous manual setting options can also offer even more creative freedom.


      Sony RX-100 II

      Sony RX-100 II digital compact cameraI have been a fan of the Sony RX-100 since it was released and the Sony RX-100 II is even more exciting.  When beautiful scenery inspires the artist within, capture every exquisite detail with the compact Cyber-shot RX100 II. You’ll enjoy extraordinary light sensitivity, breathtaking image quality and beautiful background defocusing thanks to a newly developed 1.0-inch back-illuminated CMOS sensor and F1.8 lens.

      CTV Reporter Tom Podolec has been getting amazing images around Toronto’s Lester B Pearson Airport with the camera.  Check out this shot of a Jet Airways Boeing 737-800 in low light or this photo of a Cathay Pacific Boeing 737-300.  Fantastic and sharp images in low light that all of us would love to capture.


      Veho VCC-100-XL MUVI X-Lapse 360-Degree Photography and Timelapse Accessory

      Veho VCC-100-XL MUVI X-Lapse 360-Degree Photography and Timelapse AccessoryThe MUVI X-Lapse is the must have accessory for every film maker who wants to add something different to their movie edits. The MUVI X-Lapse enables a film maker to take up to 360° degree sweeping time-lapse images that when edited together create an amazing movie effect.It has both male and female standard 1/4 -20 UNC tripod screw threads for both mounting cameras on and also for mounting the MUVI X-Lapse onto a tripod, perfect for lightweight action cameras with a continuous photo mode such as the MUVI HD or GoPro or standard cameras with a time-lapse feature up to a weight of 750 grams. For cameras that are slightly top heavy the MUVI X-Lapse has integral fold out feet to support and distribute the weight. As well as using with camcorders/cameras the MUVI X-Lapse ships with a holder for iPhone/Smartphone and in conjunction with a multitude of smartphone apps enables even the most inexperienced user to make super cool sweeping time-lapse movies. Another option for the most creative of photographers is creating panoramic super wide angle photos by using the MUVI X-Lapse to slowly sweep a panoramic view while the camera or smartphone takes intermittent shots. NB -The MUVI X-Lapse does not come with an app or software but these are readily available on app stores and the internet.

      Create 90° degree (15 minutes), 180° degree (30 minutes), 270° degree (45 minutes), 360° degree (60 minutes) sweeping time-lapse films.


      12 inch Digital Photo Frame12 inch Digital Photo Frame

      You better get something so they can show off their photos.  Why not wow them with a 12 inch digital photo frame that has 4gb of internal memory so they can upload thousands of their favorite photos.

      It comes with a remote control and will play photos (yay!), videos (meh), and music (don’t do it).  The timer settings allow you to set the screens up and never need to manually switch them on or off again, whilst never wasting electricity – perfect for commercial use. The X12B comes with a fold out stand and wall mount holes (VESA standard 75mm x 75mm) as standard. Sleek design coupled with plug & play simplicity, this frame is ideal for your home, as a gift or for use as a digital advertising screen.


      Christmas Gift Ideas from Jordon Cooper.comIf you are shopping for someone who isn’t a photographer or are still looking for other ideas, check out all of the Christmas Gift Guides that are on the site.  You never know where you will find inspiration.

      Seattle tries to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up

      A conversation every city needs to have

      Does Seattle know how to grow?

      You’d think so, with all those construction cranes back and so many mega-projects underway. We’re about to get expanded light rail, a new waterfront, a massive downtown tunnel, a super-sized 520 bridge, and a Mercer Mess that has been tidied up after 50 years of complaining. Growth would seem to be the least of our problems.

      But there are some who think these endeavors are not enough. We could do more, do it bigger, do it better and, they believe, we had better get to it because we’re facing big economic challenges. Boeing, for example, has become a constant worry. The company is doing a slow retreat from Puget Sound, and keeping key parts of Boeing’s work here is getting increasingly expensive for taxpayers. Some $9 billion in new tax breaks have been offered to keep 777X work here. Even so, without a major transportation package and with major union concessions just voted down, Boeing is looking for a better deal elsewhere.

      Another foundation of our economy is showing signs of change, and age. Microsoft has reached maturity and experienced enough marketplace failures (Vista, Zune, Surface) that a major management shift is underway. We’ve grown accustomed to Redmond being a perennial powerhouse and millionaire-generator in the Gates-Ballmer era, but will that roll continue?

      Seattle sees itself as a special incubator of the next big commercial success — and the new Bezos family-funded “Center for Innovation” at the Museum of History and Industry that opened this fall is a shrine to this self-image. We’ve scored with Starbucks, Nordstrom, Costco and Amazon, for example. But in the tech sector there’s some thought that we haven’t reached our silicon potential, that we’re over-due for a new major success a la Google or Facebook.

      Sure, we’re a pretty good place for start-ups, but Seattle tech booster Chris DeVore recently wrotethat while Seattle is pretty good at launching companies, “It’s been a long time since a new Seattle-based company produced a huge windfall.” He means a company, like Microsoft or Amazon, that lifted employees and investors by generating lots of wealth. “If I had to put my finger on the one thing we could do to improve our weak ‘startup rate,’ it would be to produce more explosive wins in Seattle…” he wrote. That would benefit start-ups and companies all up and down the food chain and generate money to invest in new ventures. Apparently, the tech sector needs a new blockbuster.

      Another voice encouraging Seattle and Washington to take it to the next level is Microsoft executive vice president and general counsel Brad Smith. In October, he addressed the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s annual Leadership Conference, an appropriate place for business leaders to inspire the team with a growth-oriented Gipper speech. I also had a chance to talk with him afterwards. In his speech, he said “[I]f there is a moment in time when we can come together and focus on raising our ambition, I think that moment is now.” With the state recovering economically, with greater global competition ahead (China, Brazil, South Carolina…), and with so much potential here, we need to get going, and set our sights higher.

      To that end, his Gipper — or maybe "Skipper" — speech cited a nautical example. It was inspirational achievement of the University of Washington rowing crew who beat the odds to win a gold medal in 1936. These were local boys who had to raise their own money during the Depression to go to Germany, who had to race under rules that favored Hitler’s rowing team, and who took on the task of making America proud at the Nazi’s infamous Olympic Games. “It’s a reminder of what nine young men from humble background could achieve when they reached beyond themselves and worked as a team,” he said.

      Christmas Gift Guide: Gift Ideas for your Husband / Father / Boyfriend (all of the men in your life) | 2012 Edition

      It’s Wendy again and I am pretty lucky as Jordon does all of the Christmas shopping in our family and over the years he has created some incredible Christmas gift guides for his website which have generated a loyal following.  I traditionally write the Gift Guide husbands/boyfriends/fathers and here it is.  Hopefully I don’t disappoint and as always if you have good ideas, leave them in the comments below.  For the entire list of Christmas gift guides, click here.

      Tablets

      I bought Jordon an iPad last Christmas and has has loved it.  Now he is an Apple person (iPod, iPad, iPhone, and a MacBook) but not everyone is.  The good news is that there are some amazing tablets on the market for both Android, Apple, and even Blackberry users.

      When you are looking for a tablet, make sure you understand how the person is going to use it.  I bought Jordon a 16gb iPad because Jordon is going to use it for some writing (using Pages, the occasional Keynote presentation) and surf the web.  He had no intention on putting his music on his iPad because he uses his iPod for that task.  If he was going to use it as a all-in-one machine, I would have gone out and got him a 64gb version.

      Also, some have bought them with the idea that they will replace their laptop or computer.  They really don’t for most of our friends (although as I was typing this, Jordon points out that he has never seen Saskatoon City Councillor Charlie Clark use anything but his iPad and his Logitech keyboard/case).

      Whatever your preference,  I have listed tablets from all operating systems below.

      Google Nexus 10Android | Nexus 10 ($409) and Nexus 7 ($209) from Google.  Both offer world class speed and design and in a lot of ways are designed and produced to set the standard for Android devices running on tablets in the same way Google designed the Nexus phone to do for smartphones.

      Android | Kindle Fire 8.9 ($299) and Kindle Fire HD($199)  Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire to mediocre reviews last year but has stepped up their game with the Kindle Fire 8.9 inch tablet and the Kindle Fire HD which offers retina level display on an Android device.  If you surf the web a lot, the Kindle Fire has the fastest wifi of any tablet out there.

      kindle-fire-hd-89

      iPad MiniApple | iPad ($499)) and iPad Mini ($329) | While more expensive then the Kindle Fire HD, it has the advantage of the most spectacular collection of apps out there.  Also it offers fantastic integration between your iPhone and Mac.  Like I said  before, Jordon has an iPad 2 and loves it.

      Blackberry PlaybookBlackberry Playbook ($194 for a 32gb model) | I include this here because I know there is still a passionate community of Blackberry users out there.  It’s a good value for the price but it doesn’t have a lot of apps for it.  It’s one of those things that I would get for a guy who knew what he was getting and still really wanted.  When I asked Jordon, he said there are those out that that still live and die on Blackberry Messenger and it has that… kind of.  Maybe you should just get any Blackberry lovers on your list, a new phone.

      Music

      iPod Classic ($249) | iPod Nano ($149) | iPod Touch($299)

      iPod ClassiciPod TouchiPod Nano

      Depending on the person you are shopping for, they are going to have different demands on what they want out of a iPod or MP3 player.  Some people want all of their music at their fingertips all of the time, some want something to work out with, and some want to be connected to all of their apps while they are listening to their music.  Whatever kind of person you are shopping for, there is an iPod for them.

      Sony WalkmanIf the person you are shopping for isn’t an Apple fan, look at a Sony Walkman ($110).  While the design and features look amazing, I am a little surprised it only comes in a 8 gb version, of which 1.25 gb is used by the software.  So if you are looking for a 6.75 gb MP3 player in a great design package and a good price, here it is.  It is slightly smaller than the Apple iPod Nano but has a lot of the same features.  While MP3 quality is lacking, with Sony you know you are getting something that is quality made and designed.

      41mxVSz7SkLWhatever MP3 player you get, you will want to upgrade the headphones.  JVC’s Xplosive Xtreme ($17) headphones are much loved at an affordable price.  The series feature a bass port for outstanding bass reproduction, a durable rubber protector for impact protection and to help withstand heavy use, and a gold-plated 3.5mm stereo plug.  The Xplosive Xtreme also comes with a handy carrying case. 2.6mm-thick and robust 1.2m pure copper cable (Y-type) Special hard carrying case included S/M/L silicone ear-pieces included Gold-plated 3.5mm stereo straight plug iPod, iphone and iPad compatible.

      If you aren’t sure the person you are shopping for would appreciate a MP3 player, why not pick up a Polaroid 8 gb MP3 player ($40)?  It may not have the features of the iPod or Walkman but it does offer a really good value and is expandable with a SDHC card.

      iHome Rechargeable Mini Speakers ($45) | These are incredible speakers that provide a rich sound.  They have a carrying case which means that they get taken with us everywhere, just like our iPods.

      iHome Rechargable Mini Speakers

      They work great with our iPods, netbooks, and our portable DVD player.

      Tivoli Model One ($149) | Old school AM/FM in a timelessly sleek design. I bought Jordon one a couple of years ago and he loves it.  We actually went and bought a second one for the cabin.  It gets great reception in the middle of nowhere and on a hot summer day when the Saskatchewan Roughriders are playing, it’s a great way to listen on the deck with all of your friends.  The Tivoli Model One has a rich, full sound thanks to sound pioneer Henry Kloss, and the radio has come to be a modern design must-have. This gift is perfect for a desk, in the kitchen- anywhere he can listen to the baseball game, CBC Radio One, or the oldies station.  Another tabletop option worth considering is the classic Sangean WR-11 radio.  Different design but same classic look.

      Office

      Cross Bailey Fountain Pen ($38)

      Cross Bailey Fountain Pen

      Every guy needs a nice pen and this fountain pen is both affordable enough to give a nice gift but if high enough quality to last for decades.  If you aren’t sure the person on your list would appreciate a fountain pen, you won’t go wrong with a Parker IM rollerball pen($19).

      Parker IM Rollerball Pen

      Tabletop fountain ($49) | It depends on the office environment that your husband works in.  At The Lighthouse, Jordon’s office was both too hot and too dry.  A tabletop fountain added some humidity into the air and cooled it down a bit.  Just make sure you get him a plug in version, not one that runs on batteries.  It’s one of those things that once the batteries run out, it never gets used again.

      Wrapped leather journalOf course he will need something to write down his profound thoughts in so why not give him a leather wrapped journal for Christmas?  Chapters/Indigo has an amazing one for $45.  While you are at it, check out this $15 5 inch globe.

      Video and Camera

      71cqBTpP-3L._AA1500_GoPro HD Hero 2 ($199) | Born from a passion to capture your love of life from your perspective, this camera is a feat of engineering. Wearable and gear mountable, waterproof to 197′ (60M) and boasting an immersive 170° wide-angle lens, the HD HERO2 has ushered in a new era of image capture. Professional quality 30 fps 1080p and 60 fps 720p video, combined with 11 megapixel still photo capture that has landed magazine covers.  It’s a great camera and a lot of fun for the entire family.    With this grab bag of mounts, you can hook it up to almost anything.

      Sony Bloggie ($69) | Jordon has a Kodak Zi8 for years and has loved it.  We gave Lee a Flip camera a year ago and even Mark has one.  While you cell phone can record HD video, it doesn’t have the same kind of quality than a dedicated video camera gives you and it is a lot easier to deal with a SD card than trying to get a video off your iPhone.  If the guy you are shopping for is one that loves to take video, make sure you check this camera out.

      Fuji Fine Pix XP50 ($150) | For years we have been fans of Fuji point and shoot cameras and the XP50 is no exception.   It’s waterproof to a depth of 5m and can capture both movies and still images underwater. The camera’s casing will withstand shocks or drops from a height of 1.5m, while cold environments are also no problem for this rough and ready device. The FinePix XP50 can withstand temperatures down to -10°C and dust is never a problem, with all the camera’s access points specially sealed for ultimate protection.

      If the guy you are shopping for loves audio or is a podcaster, consider getting him a Blue Snowball ($60)or Yeti USB ($109) microphone.  Both provide amazing clear sound and are a significant upgrade over the internal microphone in a laptop.

      Home

      31531_lBlack and Decker Thermal Carafe Coffee Maker ($48) | Jordon is a coffee connoisseur and while the ultimate way to make a cup of coffee is with a French Press or a Aeropress coffee maker ($25), he doesn’t always have time.  For times when he needs 8 cups of coffee relatively quick and wants it to stay fresh for a while, there is this thermal coffee maker from Black and Decker.  With a stylish design and durable stainless steel carafe, this 8-cup coffeemaker is perfect for home, office or practically anywhere you want hot, fresh coffee at the touch of a button. All this, plus an easy-clean control panel and dishwasher-safe removable parts for effortless clean up.  The advantage of the carafe is that you won’t be stuck with hot burnt coffee in case you don’t get it off the maker in time.  The coffee will be as hot and fresh later as it is right now.

      Atari Flashback ($50)| Over 75 Atari 2600 games all in one console.  Jordon laments the exclusion of Pac-Man but you can get Missile Command, Asteroids, and Combat all on console.  Let him relive his childhood at the same time making him a subject of mockery of any child in the family.

      PlayStation 3 ($269) | Yes it’s a game console but it’s also a Blu-Ray and DVD player, a Netflix player (which works way better than the Wii), and allows the family to play online.  We use it all of the time to watch Netflix, movies, and also we still play a fair amount of games.  While it’s not something that we would ever consider essential to our family life, it’s hard to imagine doing without.

      Leatherman Skelatool ($42) or the Gerber Suspension Multitool ($26) | Both are amazing multi-tools and life is just better for men when they know they have a great multi-tool within reach.  If the guy you are shopping for needs something even smaller, then check out the Cabela’s multi-tool.  A great tool in a small package.

      While the guys I know aren’t big on jewellery, they do appreciate a nice watch.  If the guy you are shopping for loves a nice watch, check out the Timex Expedition Rugged Field Watch ($46), the Timex Expedition Digital/Analog watch ($44.96) or the rather classic Timex Atlantis 100 ($31).

      Parrot AR Drone 2.0

      Finally don’t forget probably the most wanted gift of the season, the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 ($300) The Parrot AR.Drone is the first quadricopter that can be controlled by a smartphone or tablet. By tilting your device, you control the direction of your AR.Drone, and by releasing it, the AR.Drone is instantly stabilized. Thanks to the AR.Drone’s autopilot feature, anyone can be an expert as the AR.Drone allows for an easy take-off and landing.  It’s about as amazing and as much found as it sounds.

      Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

      E vs. ink

      My friend Karen posted some thoughts on Twitter about ebooks and readers.

      Been thinking about how e-books/Ipad exclude poorer readers. Continued…. Folks with literacy/soc. justice concerns should keep zines/broadsheet etc. in mind. If medium is message, cost of readers excludes many.

      It would easy to dismiss Karen’s thoughts because of her history with paper but she has a good point.  A Sony Reader ranges in price from $240 in Futureshop ($179 online) to $149 at Wal-MartChapters is promoting a new reader for $149.00 which isn’t that bad except you realize that a) that is all you can do with it and b) I am buying it so I can buy new books.  I am paying $199 (or $259 if I am looking for a Kindle) so I can spend even more money to use it.

      Most of our gadgets are like that.

      In our household right now, we have:

      • 2 Sony PSPs and games are anywhere from $15 to $40
      • 3 iPods and songs are $.99 to $1.29 but we can use our own CDs to rip music.  Apps range from free to $4.
      • 1 PS2 and games are $10 and $25
      • 1 Nintendo Wii and games are from $20 to $60 (yet all have come from Lee).

      So what’s the difference.  Well I don’t think you can compare Backyard Football or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare to books and education.  My quality of life is not reduced because I don’t have a PS3 at all but my quality of life is greatly reduced by lack of access to books and news media.  Low cost news media serves several important functions in our families life outside of the obvious.

      While driving to the cabin a couple of weeks ago, I stopped in Watrous (at Pip’s Esso) for a snack and grabbed a copy of Popular Mechanics and tossed it the backseat for Mark to read on the way up there.  It opened up his mind to several things as he poured over both the articles and the ads.  How many times has all of our lives been enriched by someone doing something similar.  A lot of my spring reading was done by people wandering in to my office and tossing a book on my desk and saying, “you will like this”.  With publishers and their DRM restrictions, you can’t do that.  Even if Wendy and I both get Sony Readers, we can’t share a book.

      Reader Store screen capture Everyone is touting Google Books as the answer.  Even Sony has a link to Google Books on the front of their Reader Store.  I have spent hours going through there looking for books to download.  Most of the books you can download in ePub format for free are in the public domain and therefore really cheap to get at Indigo/Chapters/used book store in paper.  Sadly even many of them are not available because of the edition they scanned it from has restrictions on use and you are left with a snippet of what is available.

      So even if I do purchase it and really like it, how do I make sure Mark can read it other than giving him my reader.  Even if we bought a reader for him, I can’t transfer it to him there.  Everyone has been fawning over the new iPad app from Marvel and it is very cool but Cory Doctorow makes this point about the iPad but he could be talking about any ebook reader.

      Marvel app for the iPad I mean, look at that Marvel app (just look at it). I was a comic-book kid, and I’m a comic-book grownup, and the thing that made comics for me was sharing them. If there was ever a medium that relied on kids swapping their purchases around to build an audience, it was comics. And the used market for comics! It was — and is — huge, and vital. I can’t even count how many times I’ve gone spelunking in the used comic-bins at a great and musty store to find back issues that I’d missed, or sample new titles on the cheap. (It’s part of a multigenerational tradition in my family — my mom’s father used to take her and her sibs down to Dragon Lady Comics on Queen Street in Toronto every weekend to swap their old comics for credit and get new ones).

      So what does Marvel do to "enhance" its comics? They take away the right to give, sell or loan your comics. What an improvement. Way to take the joyous, marvellous sharing and bonding experience of comic reading and turn it into a passive, lonely undertaking that isolates, rather than unites. Nice one, Misney.

      That’s what I am realizing that we are losing.  Books, comics, and papers are part of the social ties that bind people together in communities.  Around work, the Star Phoenix is a communal paper.  It is read together, digested together, shared, it’s flyers are passed around and deals discussed.  Also, it gets treated as exactly as what Karen is talking about.

      Well, we aren’t going to turn back time and to be honest, many publishers are banking everything on the iPad to save them (anyone else find it an odd coincidence that the financially struggling New York Times is features so prominently in Apple advertising)  As I was thinking seriously about buying a ebook reader this week, I took a step back from the side of the cliff and asked myself if what I am losing more than what I was getting and I had to admit it was.  From a design and an engineering point of view, the iPad/Kindle is a great piece of technology and a lot of fun (and yes I know the iPad comparison isn’t fair as it isn’t really designed as a book reader but rather a tablet computer).  Is it good enough to stop supporting a local bookstore (although Indigo/Chapters made those pretty rare in Canada) or lose the social element of reading and learning as an entire community.

      So in the end, I continue to support print magazines.  For the record, those include National Geographic, Explore Magazine, Mountain Bike Action, Sports Illustrated, The Atlantic Monthly and The Walrus via subscription or purchasing one monthly at McNally Robinson.  While I only read The Star Phoenix online, we do subscribe at home (where Mark reads it with me every evening) and at work.

      To e or not to e

      I am trying to figure out if I want to purchase an e-book reader.  Actually I am trying to decide if I want to pressure Wendy to get me an e-book reader for my birthday.

      The three main choices seem to be:

      Amazon Kindle

      The Amazon Kindle is finally available and functional in Canada.  It’s has a six inch screen, I can read newspapers and magazines on it, and of course I can subscribe to some blogs on it.

      Here are the highlights

      • Slim: Just over 1/3 of an inch, as thin as most magazines
      • Lightweight: At 10.2 ounces, lighter than a typical paperback
      • Books in Under 60 Seconds: Get books delivered wirelessly in less than 60 seconds; no PC required
      • 3G Wireless: 3G wireless lets you download books right from your Kindle; no annual contracts, no monthly fees, and no hunting for Wi-Fi hotspots
      • Global Coverage: Enjoy 3G wireless coverage at home or abroad in over 100 countries. See details. Check wireless coverage map.
      • Paper-Like Display: Reads like real paper without glare, even in bright sunlight
      • Carry Your Library: Holds up to 1,500 books
      • Longer Battery Life: Now read for up to 1 week on a single charge with wireless on, a significant improvement from the previous battery life of 4 days
      • Built-In PDF Reader: Your Kindle can now display PDF documents natively. Native PDF support allows you to carry and read all of your personal and professional documents on the go.
      • Read-to-Me: With the experimental Text-to-Speech feature, Kindle can read newspapers, magazines, blogs, and books out loud to you, unless the book’s rights holder made the feature unavailable
      • Free Book Samples: Download and read first chapters for free before you decide to buy
      • Large Selection: Over 400,000 books, including 101 of 112 New York Times® Best Sellers, plus U.S. and international newspapers, magazines, and blogs. For non-U.S. customers, content availability and pricing will vary. Check your country.
      • Low Book Prices: New York Times Best Sellers and New Releases are $9.99, unless marked otherwise. When traveling abroad, you can download books wirelessly from the Kindle Store or your Archived Items. U.S. customers will be charged a fee of $1.99 for international downloads.

      Of course what has really gotten me excited about the Kindle is the apps that will be coming.  The ability to blog, Tweet, or do other things from this device would make it exponentially better.

      The Sony Reader

      I hadn’t really thought of the Sony Reader until Warren Kinsella talked about his Christmas gift on his blog.

      I got Sony’s gadget for Christmas, and I haven’t put it down yet. Right now, I’m re-re-reading Vonnegut stuff, and plan to re-read The Great Gatsby.

      The eReader lets you download books super-cheap – sometimes free, for the classics – and then upload them to the eReader through an iTunes-like interface.

      It’s easy to read, and you can increase the font size if (like me) your eyes are getting a bit older. You can load music on it, and even photos (but they’ll be in a quaint black and white).

      It’s gotten me reading fiction again, big time. I don’t know why. A gentleman spotted me using it this week, and we chatted about it, and I told him it makes reading funner. (I didn’t say funner, however, I said something else, which my sleep-deprived hockey Dad brain now forgets). It’s easy to carry around, among other things.

      I don’t know anything about the Amazon Kindle, but I’ve heard it’s pretty cool, too. There’s lots of AppleBuzz about Steve Job’s tablet thingie, per usual.

      The old-fashioned way of reading books is swell, of course, and has the added advantage of being bathtub-friendly. They also don’t require re-charging.

      I just wanted to opine that these new devices are pretty neat. And anything that makes reading easier is a good thing, no?

      Sony Reader

      The reviews talk about a two week battery life and there is a general consensus that the Sony ebook store is less expensive then the Amazon one.  When you purchase as many books as I do, that is a big deal.  They both have six inch screens and weigh about the same and in Canada I need to use Wifi to download books.  The Kindle has a keyboard but the Sony Reader has a tough screen.   Of course the Kindle has apps coming and Sony has never embraced the idea of apps for it’s PSP so I doubt it would for the Reader.  Of course one of the reasons I love to read a book is that it takes me away from technology so perhaps a Twitter free Sony Reader is a plus, not a negative.

      Another big plus for the Sony Reader is that it has access to the entire Google Books library.  With the Kindle, you (or I) am locked into Amazon.  The Sony Reader has a bigger world.

      Here is the feature summary

      The Kindle 2 vs the Sony Reader

      PC World thinks that the Sony Reader has the advantage over the Kindle.

      Here is my dilemma.  Most of the books I read, I don’t care if I ever read them again.  While some of been lovingly published (the BLDGBlog Book comes to mind), much of them are poorly bound, edited and even written.  While I care as a book as piece of art, I don’t care that much for books as paper and ink. I read them and give them away.  For those books, I would love a ebook reader.

      I have a small house and need to literally give away 600-700 books for the space they take up.  A device that allows me to store books internally or with a SD card is my friend.

      Of course there is the iTablet but I find Apple stuff really overpriced at launch as you Apple nerds rush out to get them and when I want to read, I don’t want to watch a movie. So while Darryl Dash keeps the share price of Apple strong, I ask the question… Kindle or Sony Reader?

      Christmas Gift Guide: Gifts for Really Smart People | 2009 Edition

      You need a gift for someone smart, someone who wants to know about everything – what happened, how it works, why it all got started. Fortunately, the globally curious have a lot of hobbies which makes them kind of easy to shop for, even if you don’t always remember to sleep and eat.  Below are some ideas for the smart people in your life.  If you are looking for something not so elitist, check out my other Christmas Gift Guides.

      Sangean WR-11 AM/FM Table Top Radio :: CBC Radio and NPR sounds so much more profound coming from a wooden radio.  Speaking from personal experience, there is something about sitting around a radio on a hot summer day, sipping iced tea, while reading a good magazine.

      Lomographic Holga Starter Kit :: You could get them a DSLR but they already have a digital camera they like.  You could try and get them something a little different and get them a Lomo camera.

      The Invention of Air by Steven Johnson :: I blogged about it before and this is a great book out the life and work of Joseph Priestley, the Yorkshire dissenting theologian and chemist, who then went on to emigrate to America and advised the creators of the new republic—Thomas Jefferson, most notably—on how best to run their country.

      This is an intelligent retelling of a rather well-known story, that of Joseph Priestley, the Yorkshire dissenting theologian and chemist, and then went on to emigrate to America and advised the creators of the new republic—Thomas Jefferson, most notably—on how best to run their country.

      The Long Emergency by Howard Kunstler :: Kunstler has a remarkable look at what peak oil will mean for western society.  Don’t take my word for it, check out this interview in The Morning News and this article over at Rolling Stone before you buy a couple of copies of this book, one for the person you are shopping for, one for yourself, and one to lend to your friends.

      Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization by Jeff Rubin :: This is another fascinating look at what the future will look like with higher oil prices.  Globalization is powered by cheap oil and without cheap oil, our world, economy, and the way we live is going to go through a massive transition.  While a lot of books about economics can be dry and hard to get through.  Both the Long Emergency and Why Your World are both very accessible, interesting, and very well written.  They will also make for some fascinating discussion over the breakfast table on Boxing Day.

      The BLDGBLOG Book by Geoff Manaugh :: What a wonderful book.  It’s not just a book about architecture, it’s a book that reimagines what urban spaces can become.  The book is more than just text, it is full of fantastic diagrams, graphics, draws, and unbelievable photographs.  I read it once for the content and then read it again and just soaked in the photos and graphics – they are that good.

      The Lost Massey Lectures: Recovered Classics from Five Great Thinkers by Martin Luther King Jr., John Kenneth Galbraith, Jane Jacobs, and Paul Goodman.  In case the person you are shopping for has read those, check out, More Lost Massey Lectures: Recovered Classics from Five Great Thinkers

      Speaking of great thinkers, if your loved one hasn’t read A Heretics Guide to Eternity by Spencer Burke and Barry Taylor yet, they really need to.  Spencer and Barry received a lot of criticism from some people who were threatened by their ideas but the book offers up an important voice to the conversation about salvation, eternity, and the church.  Plus if the person you are shopping for is really that smart, they can handle new ideas.

      While I am a fan of paper, have you thought of giving the gift of ebooks with a Amazon Kindle?  It’s only 10.2 ounces, lighter than a typical paperback.  It downloads books in Under 60 Seconds over the 3G Wireless network.  Despite that, you have no annual contracts, no monthly fees, and no hunting for Wi-Fi hotspots.  It’s battery can run for one week.  You still have to pay per download in Canada but at least we can get it here now.

      If you don’t think they want a Kindle, how about Sony’s Digital Touch Reader? By supporting both industry standard formats, ePub and PDF, you can access books at Sony’s eBookstore, check out books from public libraries, access over 500,000 free public domain titles from Google, as well as sharing sites, online aggregators and personal publishers (Internet access is required).

      Chess for Three? You heard me right, a three person chess game.  This unique hexagon shaped board is designed for three players putting a new twist on a beloved classic. No new rules; still the same chess you know and love! Set includes board and 3 different colored chess pieces.

      Your own personal card cataloging system :: It seems like book thieves are everywhere these days. Even your closest friends will try to keep your rare, out-of-print novels if you don’t keep an eye on them. And no one really wants to pay $60 for another one. Thankfully, there now is a solution to your book-losing woes. The Personal Library Kit provides everything you need for keeping track of books, and an eye on those shameful book thieves.  Of course card cataloging your books is only half the battle, keeping them organized is the second half.  Sure you could use LibraryThing but check out this old school way of keeping your cards organized.

      The Complete Collection of National Geographic :: Sure Wikipedia is great but there are things covered in old National Geographics that Wikipedia has never even heard of.  While you are at it, have you considered getting a subscription to magazines like The Walrus, The Atlantic, or the New Yorker?  How about Architectural Digest, New York Times weekend edition, or something else that will feed their mind and inspire great discussions over coffee?

      Mark was given a copy of Planet Earth: The Complete Series by the Reimers for Christmas and he loves it.  Not only does Mark love it but so do Wendy and I.  Its a series we will watch again and again and harkens back to the days of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom where the entire family gathered around the television to take in the sites and sounds of animals we came to learn a lot about.

      I know the commute would be horrible unless you lived in New York City but a membership at Paragraph would be a lot of fun.

      Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

      Selling out for the holidays

      I have gotten a lot of feedback for my Christmas Gift Guides.  It seems to fall into three categories:

      1. People selling their own books/gadgets/junk who are link baiting.
      2. People accusing me of selling out to rampant commercialism.
      3. People who are happy for the ideas.

      Let me explain the context that they are created in.

      Wendy and I have a hard cap for Christmas shopping.  It has been the same for the first 11 years of our marriage and only this year did it go up by $50 for each of us.  We spend about $150 each on each other which includes all of our gifts from the kids as well.  The amount works out really well for us.

      We spend about $100 on each of the boys and a little more on Lee.  We also exchange gifts with some friends who on top of that amount.  Shopping around the house starts in September which allows us to take advantage of any sales that come up like weekly loss leaders at Canadian Tire.  A the end of the day it allows us to avoid the panic that sets in with too many.  On Saturday, I was picking something up for Wendy with Mark and a women actually tried to take our item out of our hands while in line (which both freaked out Mark and the staff of the store who had to escort her out) and it wasn’t even December yet.

      Google Docs Logo Wendy and I create a Google Spreadsheet where we list everyone we plan to buy gifts for and then we start listing ideas.  Some of the ideas are horrible but they start as a base for what we need to budget for and also starts a place where we can discuss and revise the list.  It’s the countless versions of the spreadsheet is where the gift guides emerge from.  The hope is that they serve as gift ideas for others.  We decided this year

      While quite a few links head to Amazon.com, I link there because I really enjoy shopping from Amazon and because I find their prices are often better than other retailers.  I am also partial to linking to MEC because I am a long time member.  In case you are wondering, I do also get a portion of sales to Amazon.com and Amazon.ca that my site generates and that is dealt with in this sites disclosure statement.  It isn’t a lot of money.  Back in 2000, it generated about $200 each quarter but while the sites traffic has grown, the lack of dedicated store has meant that my revenue from Amazon dropped to $10 each quarter.  When I do get a gift certificate from them, it means that Mark gets a PS2 or Nintendo DS game.  The last thing I am thinking is that I want JordonCooper.com to be an online shrill for affiliate related goods.

      msdjoin Many of my friends have alternative visions of what Christmas is supposed to be.  Jason Evans and the Ecclesia Collective has done a really good job with Make Something Day.  Mennonites across Canada are behind Buy Nothing Christmas and of course Ad Busters has Buy Nothing Day.  All are in some way or another reactions against an overly consumeristic Christmas and I understand where they are coming from.  When I was working as a pastor, I heard people talk about spending $5,000 over Christmas and I was shocked until I knew someone who spend over six figures for two consecutive years putting on the perfect Christmas between work and home (a couple of big parties, a couple of big gifts…) which is exactly what people are talking about.

      At the same time our annual Christmas spending as a household is under one thousand dollars, we pay for it in cash with no credit card debt at all.  Part of the creativity of Christmas is not spending a bunch of money but finding a gift that articulates both who we see they are and what we value about them.  It’s why when Oliver opens his gifts, he will find things that Lee and I loved while growing up, it is why when Mark opens his gifts he will find his gifts are things that we will do together, why when Wendy opens her gifts she will find gifts which honor who she is and even the dogs are going to find something that they love (for Maggi is squeaks and needs to be fetched).

      Yeah, I could be selling out to the consumeristic machine and encouraging people to commercialize Christmas but my intent is to just share some of the cool stuff that I have seen over the last couple of months in my quest to find some fun gifts for friends, family, and the arch-nemesis on my list.  You are more than entitled to disagree with me in the comments below.

      Christmas Gift Guide: My Wishlist (Christmas ideas for a father of two great kids) | 2009 Edition

      Update: 2010 Christmas Gift Ideas for All of the Men in Your Life by Wendy is now online.

      I do most of the Christmas shopping in our house which leaves Wendy to get my gift.  I generally update my Amazon.com wishlist and use their universal wish list button to create on central wish list for her and Mark.  Our goal is to be done Christmas shopping by December 1st every year and we finished everything up last week so we are good.  Since I started posting the Christmas Gift Guides, people have asked me how many things I was asking for Christmas and the answer is I don’t want that many things but here is a short list of things I asked Wendy, Mark, Oliver and Maggi to get me for Christmas.  Since they are done their shopping by now, I feel fine in posting this.

      In case none of these gifts strike a chord with you, check out my Christmas Gift Guide for the Emotionally Distant Father.

      A new Swiss Army knife :: I bought one for my groomsmen and myself from MEC 12 years ago and it is showing it’s age and needs to be replaced.  This year might be a good year to do it.  While I really like my multi-tool, a lot of days, I just want a pocket knife in my front pocket.  I still have the worn out pocket knife that my grandfather had and a pocket knife in my pocket not only is handy but reminds me of him.

      I couldn’t help but notice this Pathfinder watch from Casio.  Is there anything this watch can’t do?  It includes a digital compass, altimeter, barometer and thermometer.  It’s altitude measurement up to 10,000 meters in the air and 100 meters under water.   For a lot less money, this version from Casio has a thermometer and digital compass in it.

      I am still a fan of Timex Atlantis 100 watches which you can give with the stainless steel or the more traditional polyurethane strap.  Timex also has put out these really nice looking NHL team watches.  Not that I am biased but I think this one looks the best.

      This is more for the cabin but I thought these dynamite fire starting sticks from Cabelas were a lot of fun. Though the contents of this sturdy wood crate will not move mountains, they will start your fireplace. One look at the realistic “dynamite” crate will have family and friends looking twice. Each cedar wood crate contains 20 fire-starter sticks. They are made of paraffin and sawdust for a long, hot burn. Each stick will burn approximately 30 minutes setting ablaze even the most stubborn wood.   Plus, Cabelas sent me a $20 gift certificate a months ago because I responded to a question on Twitter for them and I need to spend it on something.

      Snowshoes and Solitude :: We are a big fan of the show Survivorman around the house but one of the questions I always have is how we he do if his isolation lasted longer than 7 days.  According to some friends who have seen the DVD, Snowshoes and Solitude goes a long way in answering that question and I am told it is worth watching and owning.

      Survive! by Les Stroud :: This is a huge best seller in Canada and is by the creator of Survivorman.  It’s a gift not only for me but will be fun for years to come as I hike with Oliver and Mark.

      The Pod :: I have a camera and about four tripods.  This is a great addition to the list because it is what happens when you combine a camera mount with a bean bag and it’s a lot easier to pack along on hikes.

      Saskatchewan Roughriders: Welcome Sign :: If I get this, I plan to hang it in the cabin but it would also look good at home.  I also am hoping for a Saskatchewan Roughriders water bottle and a Saskatchewan Roughriders magnet.  The water bottle is for our house.  The magnet is for the Reimer’s front door which they painted Rider Green while at the same time still being Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans.

      Harmonica :: While I still can play the alto saxophone (or as I and Homer Simpson prefer to call it, the Saxomaphone, I really don’t have the desire to get the rust off and I never learned to play by ear.  The other night I suggested to Wendy, “I want to play the harmonica.” which threw her for a loop.  After waiting for the punch line, she asked me why I would want to.  At least it’s not the bagpipes.

      The SAS Survival Handbook :: Mark and I are planning to do some hiking this summer and I think it would be fun to teach him some of the stuff found in this book and Les Stroud’s book Survive!.  Mark loves watching Survivorman and I think we will have a blast learning this stuff together.  Plus, Mark has already said he was going to eat a grasshopper kabob after watching this episode of Survivorman and wants to learn how to make a fire to cook them on.

      NCAA 2010 for the PSP :: While I love the NFL, there is something about college offences and the ability to run a triple option attack is fun.  Plus, I now know that Notre Dame can’t stop it.  That being said, Madden 10 would be pretty cool and I can see if I can do more with JaMarcus Russell than Tom Cable can.

      LittleBigPlanet for PSP :: I was over at my brother Lee’s place and he has it for the PS3.  Mark was enthralled, Wendy had fun and even Lee was enjoying it.  It looks fun, Mark will borrow the game, and I can see Wendy killing some time with it.  Good enough for me.

      I couldn’t help but notice these great customizable Denver Broncos shirts from NFL Shop.com.

      I am not a big Bocce ball kind of guy but I know we would have a lot of fun playing this as a family at the cabin.  It may in the end be a better Father’s Day kind of gift because of the weather in Saskatchewan, if you live in a warmer climate, it may be a fun gift for your father.

      There you go, it’s not a big list but it doesn’t really matter what I get for Christmas but I thought I would post it to give some ideas in case you know of someone who is as insane as I am.

      Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.