As noticed by Chris Enns, OurYXE‘s podcast appeared in iTunes’ New & Noteworthy category last week. You can listen to our podcast online, subscribe via RSS, or listen in with iTunes. There are also two new episodes that went online this weekend. Episode 8 with Pat Lorje and Episode 9 which features Sean and I talking about an independent election commission and Saskatoon’s inability to understand how things like snow removal is an essential service that needs to be provided.
For those of you who are tired of reading what I have written; I have put together a new medium to grow tired of; a podcast. Sean Shaw, DeeAnn Mercier and myself (along with some soon to be announced contributors) are going to talking city politics, urban planning, and other issues that affect us as a city at ouryxe.ca. We have some great guests lined up and at times it can get rather testy but a great city needs a place to debate things and talk about new ideas. This just happens to be one of them. The RSS feed is live and we hope to hear back from iTunes in a couple of days and I can post that link. The first episode can be found online here. Expect to hear our episode with Councillor Zach Jeffries to go live as soon as our iTunes page goes live.
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 gift guides for his website which have generated a loyal following. I traditionally write the Gift Guide husbands/boyfriends/fathers and this year I get to kick off the festivities as mine will go first. How cool is that? Hopefully I don’t disappoint and as always if you have good ideas, leave them in the comments below.
Leatherman New Wave Multitool | Last year Lee went out and bought Jordon a nice multi-tool and he has used it every day since then. It’s amazing how many times it has come in handy around the house or when we have been out driving or at the lake. It’s been used to fix the car, perform first aid, cut down a tree, screw in more than one screw, and open many a package. You really don’t realize how handy and indispensible they are until you don’t have one around. We have picked up some less inexpensive ones over the years and we keep one in both of our car safety kits and also up at the cabin. If the guy you are shopping for doesn’t have one, get him one.
($62 at Amazon.com)
iPod Touch | If the guy you are shopping for has an iPhone then don’t bother but if he has an Android or Blackberry powered phone, don’t buy into the hype that they can listen to music with it. They can but you can’t use iTunes and it’s a big time drain on the battery. Get them a 4th generation iPod Touch and let them put their videos and music on it. For Jordon, his iPod has many of the same apps that his phone does, it means that he can grab it any time he needs it, even if his phone is out of reach or charging. Plus no matter how easy people tell you it is to get music on your Android or Blackberry, iTunes makes it easier. While it won’t replace your HD camcorder, there was been a lot of times when we have it with us and it takes excellent HD video. Photos are generally grainy but the video is good to excellent.
(32gb for $279 at Amazon.com)
Seinheisser CX 500-B headphones | Whatever you do, upgrade his headphones. The Apple headphones may be iconic but they aren’t very comfortable. Instead try the CX 500’s which are high quality, noise-isolating ear-canal phones with a crisp, clear, bass driven stereo sound. They feature a volume control integrated in the cable and come with a new, unique type of ear adapter for an improved fit and an even better passive noise attenuation.
($30 at Amazon.com)
Kindle Fire/Kobo Vox | If a iPad is out of your price range and you don’t want a Blackberry Playbook (not many of us do), why not look at an Android powered Kindle Fire or if you are in Canada, check out the Kobo Vox. They aren’t iPads but they are not $500 either. They allow you to install apps, read books, watch some video, install apps surf the web, play Angry Birds, tweet, and check email easily.
Which one should get? Amazon has a faster tablet while the Kobo Vox is available in Canada. There have been some pretty annoying issues with the Kobo Vox as Kobo has a reputation of shipping before it it is ready. They have however released five firmware updates which means that the Vox is getting better with each release.
(Both are $200 at Amazon.com or Chapters)
Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson | Read the summary and tell me that the tech geek in your life won’t want to read this. Plus, after he is done with it, you can read it.
Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.
At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.
Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.
Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple’s hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.
($18 at Amazon.com)
The Wire | Season 1 ($21)| Season 2 ($21.49) | Season 3 ($21.49) |Season 4 ($21.49) | Season 5 ($21.49) | Complete Series ($149) | If you haven’t seen The Wire, you are missing out on one of the best shows ever made for television. It’s more than the acting and the writing, it’s the concept of dedicating an entire season to one story and crime and letting it unfold. I have watched the entire series twice with Jordon and it gets better wit age. I really is worth watching and owning. It would be a fantastic gift to any man on your Christmas gift.
(All seasons available at Amazon.com by clicking on the season link)
Ken Burns: Prohibition | Well let’s see you have Ken Burns telling the story of prohibition so you have gangsters, smugglers, corrupt cops, good cops, and a government that was comfortable actually poisoning alcohol to keep it from being consumed. Yeah, this is going to be a good documentary series.
($19 at Amazon.com)
Mad Men | Jordon got into Mad Men last Christmas and while advertising isn’t my passion, I have come to really enjoy the series. It’s also reassuring that someone, somewhere is making television worth watching again.
(Season 1 is $10.49 at Amazon.com. Seasons 2, 3, & 4)
Tivoli Model One | 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.
(Tivoli Model One is $149 at Amazon.com | Seagean WR-11 is $80 at Amazon.com)
Wooden Pocket Knife | Jordon’s grandfather carried a wooden pocket knife with him his entire life. Today while in Eddie Bauer he was surprised to see a great looking wooden pocket knife for sale. Eleven functions in one beautifully crafted tool: scissors, fish scaler, hook remover, reamer with sewing eye, can opener, Phillips screwdriver, bottle opener, flathead screwdriver, small blade, and large blade.
($15 at Eddie Bauer)
MI5 | I fell in love with this long running BBC series along with Jordon. This is adult, post-watershed drama clearly inspired by the hard-hitting style of shows as 24 and The Sopranos. I have never seen a show so willing to kill off major characters but the one that remains (Harry) pulls show all together. It’s a lot of fun, action packed and even controversial.
(Season 1 is $22 at Amazon.com Seasons 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9)
Defend the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 by Christopher Andrew | I bought this book for Jordon tis summer and he really enjoyed it. It’s not a light read as it is a scholarly history of MI5 but it is readable and incredibly interesting. I found myself fascinated by some of the stories he would read from it as well as the personalities of the people behind the vaunted intelligence agency. If you loved one is a fan of history, you can’t go wrong with this book.
($18.15 from Amazon.com)
Fuji Finepix XP20 | Jordon bought this camera this summer and loves it. It’s waterproof and ruggedized design means that it goes everywhere with him, including the sometimes clear/sometimes murky waters of Last Mountain Lake. It features 14 megapixels resolution with an impressive 5x wide zoom with dual image stabilization to shoot sharp image quality in any condition. The 2.7 inch LCD is clear and easy to see even in bright conditions and the bright LED lights the way in the dark. Also it is equipped with a strengthened glass lens cover providing outdoor protection. Other features include one touch underwater movie recording, Motion Panorama with automatic stitch, Face Detection, HD Video, and more.
($135 at Amazon.com)
The Power Broker by Robert Caro | Both the postman and myself got hernias when this book was delivered. It is 1344 pages and a Pulitzer Prize winner about Robert Moses. Who was Robert Moses? Well he was the urban designer that changed the face of New York City and much of New England forever. His car centric urban design probably influenced how we live more than anyone else. He was feared, hated, and admired all at the same time. Just as it’s a book about Moses, it’s a biography of New York City. This book is coming out as a movie (or a long mini-series) next year. Read the book first.
($16.50 at Amazon.com)
Sergio: One Man’s Fight to Save the World by Samantha Power | I haven’t read it yet but Jordon said it was the best book he read in 2010. The book is about Sergio Vieira de Mello’s who was a Brazilian United Nations diplomat who worked for the UN for more than 34 years, earning respect and praise around the world for his efforts in the humanitarian and political programs of the UN. He was killed in the Canal Hotel Bombing in Iraq along with 20 other members of his staff on 19 August 2003 while working as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Iraq. While the book was quite compelling, it has also been made into a HBO movie.
($6.80 at Amazon.com)
Survivorman: The Complete Series | A couple of years ago Jordon was surfing the television and stumbled upon Les Stroud surviving a week in Alaska and all of us got hooked on the show. We own all three seasons (Season 1, 2, 3) but you can get the entire series in one box from Less Stroud’s online store. If you are interested in the cultures Stroud interacted with on the show, make sure you check out the complete series of Beyond Survival
($69 from Les Stroud.ca)
Tabletop fountain | It depends on the office environment that your husband works in. At the Salvation Army Community Services, 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.
($37 from Amazon.com)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 | I never bought Jordon video games but he has made a sacred vow never to let Mark beat him at a game and so every once in a while Jordon takes a couple of days and beats a game. This year he beat Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Battlefield: Bad Company, and Call of Duty: World at War and InFamous for the Playstation 3. While he talks of the sacred vow, deep down he does it to escape and unwind. If Jordon was creating this list, he would add Infamous 2 and Battlefield 3 to the list. Depending on how old the game is, you can get them for a really good deal.
(Call of Duty is $59 at Amazon.com)
Kodak Zx5 Playsport | Jordon is a big fan of is Kodak Zi8 camera but Kodak isn’t making them any longer and has instead brought out the Zx5 Playsport. It’s ruggedized, water proof (even has underwater white balance and shoots stunning video). While we have a camcorder, you would be amazed at the amount of time we shot great video with our Kodak because we had it with us.
($109 at Amazon.com)
Creative Vado | The third generation of the Creative Vado may not be ruggedized but does have an external microphone port which means that with a lavalier or a shotgun microphone, you are going to get much better audio than you would with most standard camcorders. Not only is the price right but along with Kodak Playsport, it offers up a wide variety of video options as well.
($79 at Amazon.com)
Note: If you are looking for some inexpensive video editing software, check out this list from PC World.
I turned 37 today. Not much of a milestone but it was an enjoyable day. I fell asleep on the sofa last night so I woke up early to the family and a really sore neck. After some stretching and straining I got up and opened some presents. Mark gave me a 70-210mm Sigma lens for my camera and a Lowepro Exchange Messenger camera bag while Oliver gave me a DSLR for Dummies book and a new camera strap.
Wendy gave me a mini Denver Broncos helmet, some new in ear headphones and some upgraded noise cancelling headphones while Hutch and Maggi got me an iTunes card so I could get some music. The helmet made it’s way to my office and Oliver isn’t pleased. He sees an Oliver sized helmet and doesn’t understand why there isn’t a football game breaking out.
While the Broncos helmet was pretty cool, our timing was odd with the negotiations breaking down between the owners and the players. For NFL addicts around the world, it gives new meaning to the Day of Rage.
Keeping with the audio theme, Lee gave me a Best Buy gift card and I picked up some iHome Rechargeable Mini Speakers which will be making a trip to Toronto with me in a couple of weeks (as will the noise cancelling headphones).
To celebrate, the family took me out to Alexander’s Restaurant for supper with Michaela and Taylah. Michaela decided that since we share three hugs a year (our birthdays and on Christmas), we must be family. I am not so sure. We just became Facebook friends last year.
Thanks to everyone who emailed, tweeted, and Facebooked today. I appreciated them all.
I awaited the news about Google Chrome OS today with some interest to see if it was going to provide me with some guidance over whether I should finally give up Windows and move to Chrome OS. The advantages of Chrome can be found in the video below. It’s faster and really optimized for the web which is cool as I spend probably 90% of my time on the web now.
That’s the kicker, I spend probably 90% of my time there but even with my laptop, a netbook, or even my iPod Touch, I spend some pretty critical time offline (click here to see my list of essential Windows applications) and I just can’t myself giving them up, even on a netbook. Giving up Photoshop (or even Gimp), the Flickr Uploadr, AbiWord, Open Office, or even iTunes isn’t high on my list of priorities. Yes I keep a lot of my photos and e-mail in the cloud and we are highly reliant on Google Apps at work, I just can’t imagine giving up desktop apps, even on my iPod Touch for the sake of more speed in bootup. In fact, I wonder if Google OS’s main competition won’t be my desktop or notebook computer but rather the iPhone/iPod Touch from Apple. Around the house we go days without logging into my computer at home because of the easy and convenience of my iPod Touch. I can blog, Twitter, and check e-mail from while while reading the New York Times and the Globe and Mail (btw, the Globe and Mail app is WAY BETTER than the New York Times app). It’s just so much more convenient and so much faster than firing up the old Dell. Yet at the same time, when I need to get some work done offline, I need that too (like when I am at the lake, on a plane, or in a place that doesn’t have wifi – which even in downtown Saskatoon, there are places that aren’t wifi enabled, despite the best efforts of Saskatchewan Connected!). I will pay for Windows or find a Linux version to run. Since we are an iPod family, it will probably be Windows for the foreseeable future.