This is meant for friends, but I suppose it could be useful for anyone looking for suggestions.
The following is a list of products I personally use or have used and recommend. Here’s a list of what I carry in my briefcase.
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Apple MacBook Pro – It’s powerful, reliable, virus free, and comes with fun software like imovie and garageband.
Canon SD800 IS – Current high res shots of mine of Flickr are shot with this, including our Croatia trip. I recently upgraded from the Canon SD600, which took great pictures, but didn’t have the slightly wider angle lens and image stabilization. If you’re looking for something at a lower price point and don’t care as much about size, check out the Canon A550.
SanDisk 2 GB Ultra II SD Plus USB Card – The convenience of having a built-in USB card in this SD card is what makes this card so great. Slide it out of the camera, fold it in half, and plug it into any PC or Mac for easy transfer of photos to your computer. This avoids the need for an SD card reader. But if you’re into that scene here’s an option that I’ve used in the past:
Kingston SD Card & USB Reader – The SD card works in many popular digital cameras, my Treo, in digital printer, etc. The card reader uses USB to make it easy to transfer images to my computer. And it’s only like a dollar more than buying an SD card by itself.
Epson Picturemate Photo Printer – I held out on buying a photo printer because I didn’t think the quality was good enough to justify. That is until I saw this one last year. Beautiful 4×6 prints, easy to use. And it’s less than $100 now. Pretty sweet.
Palm Treo 700p SmartPhone – I’m a big fan or Treo phones. I think they have the best form factor of phones on the market today. The Palm OS is particularly easy to navigate. One exception: if you need need a Windows version in order to sync with your company’s contact software like Lotus Notes, get the Treo 700wx.
Garmin Nuvi 660 Car GPS System – I’m not a huge fan of GPS systems since I’m not all that navigationally impaired. However, I’ve used enough of them on road trips for work to say that the top Garmin models are the way to go. They’re small and travel well, and they actually say the road names you’re supposed to turn on. This may not seem like a big deal until you find yourself in an unfamiliar city at a 7-Corners style intersection. All of a sudden, it makes a lot of sense.
HP DeskJet 6940 Printer – I like my printers simply and specific. Thus the photo printer separate from the main printer. This printer does one thing well: 8.5 x 11″ paper in black & white or color. Printers are getting really cheap these days, but the ink prices can kill you. HP printers have fairly good size inkjet cartridges and they’re easy to find in stores and online for reasonable prices.
iPod Nano – I actually have a regular iPod right now, but will be buying a Nano as soon as my iPod dies. Why? Because my regular iPod WILL die soon due to normal wear and tear. They hard drives are simply not durable enough for things biking and other bumpy activities. The Nano has flash memory rather than a hard drive making it more durable.
Flickr – It’s the place to store and share photos. The annual membership is cheap and makes it easier to upload large batches of photos.
Meebo – It’s a web based IM service that lets me chat using AIM, GTalk, MSN, and Yahoo all at once without installing any of the IM software.
Gmail – Large storage, fast search, and threaded conversations.
- Ed Kohler gave 5 stars to: GE Lighting 61927 20-Watt LED Medium Base 1050-Lumen Outdoor Flood PAR38 Light Bulb, Warm White
Ed Kohler reviewed:2 of 2 people found the following review helpfulExcellent Light,
February 7, 2013This review is from: GE Lighting 61927 20-Watt LED Medium Base 1050-Lumen Outdoor Flood PAR38 Light Bulb, Warm White (Tools & Home Improvement)
The quality of the light from this bulb far surpasses typical non-LED flood lights (incandescent and CFL). You can really see the difference on snow, where the snow actually looks white under this light. The price has fluctuated widely on this item recently, so throw it on your wishlist if the price seems ridiculous now.
- Ed Kohler gave 5 stars to: Baby Jogger Car Seat Adaptor Single, Mounting Bracket
Ed Kohler reviewed:14 of 14 people found the following review helpfulThe Right Adaptor for the Chicco Keyfit 30,
August 10, 2012This review is from: Baby Jogger Car Seat Adaptor Single, Mounting Bracket (Baby Product)
There seems to be some confusion about which adaptor is the right one to use for the Chicco Keyfit 30. This is the one. The other common adaptor model has a u-shape, which works for many models but not for the Keyfit 30.
- Ed Kohler gave 2 stars to: Samsung Galaxy S II Epic Touch 4G Android Phone, Black (Sprint)
Ed Kohler reviewed:2 of 2 people found the following review helpfulHardware if better than the software,
March 20, 2012This review is from: Samsung Galaxy S II Epic Touch 4G Android Phone, Black (Sprint) (Wireless Phone)
I tried this phone for a month after the HTC EVO 4G, but gave up on it due to some software issues. The hardware is pretty impressive. Large, high quality screen. Thin. Light. The battery couldn’t make it through a day how I use it, but it can’t on any other phone either.
But, the software has some quirks that killed it for me.
1. It doesn’t have a way to set a default reminder time for new events in the calendar. Every time you add an event, you need to then click on the event, edit it, and add a reminder. This is painful after being lulled into not needing to do this by nearly every other calendaring program available today.
2. The camera takes great pics, as long as you don’t need to adjust the lighting. One HTC phones, if you’re in a mixed lighting situation, clicking to emphasize a part of the photo not only focuses the lens but it adjusts the light properly. Not on this phone.
3. I often needed to reset or at least go in/out of airplane mode to wake up the GPS.
4. The foldering system for photos is pretty painful as well.
As I said, the hardware if great, but the software has enough shortcomings to make this phone unusable for someone who uses the calendar, likes taking pictures, likes showing others the pictures I’ve taken, and expects the GPS to work when called on.
- Ed Kohler gave 5 stars to: Silverhill ASD3T Triangle Head Screwdriver
Ed Kohler reviewed:4 of 4 people found the following review helpfulWorks for Krups Grind & Brews Too,
August 31, 2010This review is from: Silverhill ASD3T Triangle Head Screwdriver (Tools & Home Improvement)
The Krups Grind & Brew coffeemakers also use a few screws requiring this screwdriver. There is one holding the base on, so you’ll need it if you ever decide to repair the unit. Also, it can be used to remove the coffee bean container so you can send get better access to it to clean it.
- Ed Kohler gave 5 stars to: Soleus Air CFM-40 40-Pint Dehumidifier with Humidistat
Ed Kohler reviewed:1 of 1 people found the following review helpfulQuiet and drainable,
October 1, 2009This review is from: Soleus Air CFM-40 40-Pint Dehumidifier with Humidistat (Kitchen)
This is the first dehumidifier I’ve purchased in ~5 years, so whether this unit is quiet due to overall improvements across the board or specific to this model, I’m not sure. It really is quiet, although not so quiet that you’d want to put it right next to your bed. It’s “can’t hear it turn on in the basement” quiet.
And being able to hook up a hose to run to the drain means I don’t have to remember to empty the bucket. Sweet.
It’s not the cheapest model out there, but it does seem to provide enough extra value to justify the cost.
- Ed Kohler gave 5 stars to: Fisher Space Pen Bullet Space Pen – Red Cherry, Gift Boxed (400RC)
Ed Kohler reviewed:4 of 4 people found the following review helpfulLooks great. Very reliable.,
February 17, 2009This review is from: Fisher Space Pen Bullet Space Pen – Red Cherry, Gift Boxed (400RC) (Office Product)
This is my first space pen. I love it. It writes great, and reliably even on difficult surfaces like sketching on wet cardboard beer coasters (A situation I find myself in from time to time).
If I did it again, I’d probably order one with a clip just to make it more accessible in pockets (it’s small enough to lose in my briefcase from time to time).
- Ed Kohler gave 2 stars to: Now That’s What I Call Christmas! 3
Ed Kohler reviewed:The Chipmunks?,
December 24, 2008This review is from: Now That’s What I Call Christmas! 3 (Audio CD)
I can’t go higher than 2 stars on a CD set that includes The Chipmunks. People, this was released in 2006.
Sure, they made it the last track on Disc 1 because they really knew it didn’t belong there at all, but they were probably shooting for 36 tracks and the price was right.
If you plan on ripping the CD, you’ll have the option of yanking the Chipmunks. Otherwise you’ll have to suffer through them every time Jingle Bell Rock ends.
- Ed Kohler gave 3 stars to:
Ed Kohler reviewed:3 of 3 people found the following review helpfulNot the Most Comfortable Chairs in the World,
August 23, 2008
Generally, I’ve been happy with these chairs. They’re stable and relatively light. However, the design of the back rest isn’t very well thought out. The bars are too narrow, making them uncomfortable for lounging.
If you plan to spend a lot of time on your patio, I’d consider checking other models. If you’re only an occasional outdoor diner looking for a cheap set of decent chairs, these are a good fit.
- Ed Kohler gave 4 stars to: Scotts 2000-20 20-Inch Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower
Ed Kohler reviewed:Works well. Go Narrower for Tight Spaces,
August 23, 2008This review is from: Scotts 2000-20 20-Inch Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower (Lawn & Patio)
I’ve been very pleased with the quality of cutting by this mower. It provides a consistent look as long as you don’t let your lawn get out of control. However, no push mower does well if you let your grass get too long.
While the wide 20″ style may sound appealing, I wouldn’t recommend going that wide if your lawn has a lot of things to maneuver around such as trees or curvy landscaping. It’s much easier to navigate narrower models around tight turns. The handle on this model isn’t sturdy enough to handle much other than back & forth mowing.
- Ed Kohler gave 5 stars to: iTouchless Deodorizer Touch-Free Sensor 13-Gallon Automatic Stainless-Steel Trash Can
Ed Kohler reviewed:Convenient and Sanitary,
August 23, 2008This review is from: iTouchless Deodorizer Touch-Free Sensor 13-Gallon Automatic Stainless-Steel Trash Can (Kitchen)
Before buying this two years ago, I always used trash bins with a foot pedal. They never worked particularly well, so I would end up lifting the lid by hand from time to time to toss something in. Clearly, touching a trash can lid isn’t the most sanitary thing to do during food prep.
Additionally, trash bags are held securely in place so the bin doesn’t become messy over time.
I’ve found that batteries last almost a year and use a set of rechargeables for the task.
The only people I wouldn’t recommend this to are people who own large dogs. Easy access to snacks may a bit too tempting for Fido.
- Ed Kohler gave 5 stars to: Keyspan by Tripp Lite PR-PRO3 Presentation Remote Pro Wireless w Laser, Mouse, Audio Controls
Ed Kohler reviewed:12 of 12 people found the following review helpfulPowerful and Versatile,
April 12, 2008This review is from: Keyspan by Tripp Lite PR-PRO3 Presentation Remote Pro Wireless w Laser, Mouse, Audio Controls (Office Product)
This is the best presentation remote I’ve ever used. Here’s what I like about it:
- It’s PC and Mac Friendly, so I don’t have to worry about compatibility issues. Just plug the USB receiver into whichever computer I’m presenting from.
- It uses AAA batteries, which are easy to find, unlike some other models that use watch-style batteries.
- It has a mouse nub, so I can move the cursor around on the screen. It also has left and right-mouse buttons so I can start videos.
- It works well with Google Reader, so I can also use it for browsing RSS feeds.
For me, that does it. Of course, it’s also very reliable, has a good range, and sleek packaging (USB receiver stores within presentation remote). It’s not the cheapest, but this is one case where you really do get what you pay for.
- Ed Kohler gave 5 stars to: Road Fever
Ed Kohler reviewed:Serious Road Tripping,
April 11, 2008This review is from: Road Fever (Paperback)
As someone who’s driven between Minnesota and Fairbanks, Alaska 3 times, I’m someone who understands road trips pretty well. From my perspective, this book was an absolute blast. The coverage of their preparation for the trip and the adventures they had along the way are phenomenal.
An awesome read.
It’s the type of book you’ll find yourself bringing up with friends, as I still do years after reading it myself.
- Ed Kohler gave 5 stars to: KRUPS KM7000 10-Cup Grind and Brew Coffee Maker with Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder, Black
Ed Kohler reviewed:1 of 1 people found the following review helpfulBest Grind & Brew I’ve Used,
February 10, 2008This review is from: KRUPS KM7000 10-Cup Grind and Brew Coffee Maker with Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder, Black (Kitchen)
I graduated to this model after a long run with a Cuisinart Grind & Brew model. The Cuisinart worked well, but there were quite a few things that helped justify the additional cost of the Krups model.
The biggest advantage of this model is the separation between the grinding and drip portions of the unit. This allows you to only have to clean the drip section between pots.
It has a lot of flexibility in how the coffee is ground and speed of drip. This allows you to dial in what you consider to be a perfect pot.
Setting the time and programming the morning pot of coffee is very intuitive on this model. Just select the number of cups you’d like to make, add an appropriate amount of water, and the grinder will automatically grind an appropriate batch of beans.
The one thing that makes this less that perfect is the shape of the pot. You have to pour quite slowly to avoid having to deal with coffee running over the lip and down the pot onto the counter.
- Ed Kohler gave 4 stars to: Cuisinart DGB-300 Automatic Grind & Brew 10-Cup Coffeemaker, White
Ed Kohler reviewed:1 of 1 people found the following review helpfulBulky, Tough to Clean, But Great Coffee,
February 10, 2008This review is from: Cuisinart DGB-300 Automatic Grind & Brew 10-Cup Coffeemaker, White (Kitchen)
The sound of the grind and brew kicking on in the morning to start making a fresh pot of coffee is pretty awesome. I’ve been impressed with the quality of the coffee this machine generates. It offers settings that allow you to make less than a full pot which can come in handy when you don’t really need to pound that much caffeine.
However, the drawback of this unit’s design is the cleaning time. The steam generated while making coffee leaks back into the grinding area, making it necessary to clean out the drip area, grind cup, lids for both, and pot between every batch.
If you’re into piping hot coffee, this model does a great job with that if you set it to the hottest setting. That’s McDonald’s hot.
Lately, I’ve switched to a Krups model which solves the above problems. However, it’s twice as expensive.
- Ed Kohler gave 5 stars to: Waterpik AquaScape 8-Mode Showerhead with Adjustable Arm, Brushed Nickel #ASD-839
Ed Kohler reviewed:5 of 5 people found the following review helpfulEasy to install. Downpour is awesome.,
December 2, 2007This review is from: Waterpik AquaScape 8-Mode Showerhead with Adjustable Arm, Brushed Nickel #ASD-839 (Tools & Hardware)
This installed in minutes. Just a matter of unscrewing the previous showerhead, screwing this one on (with a wrench), then adjusting the height and spray angle.
The various spray options work well, but like most people, you’ll probably pick one that you prefer such as the downpour since that’s what this type of showerhead does best. It works very well for this.
- Ed Kohler gave 5 stars to: Hound Dog Products HDP1-6 Weed Hound
Ed Kohler reviewed:5 of 5 people found the following review helpfulWorks great. Fun to Use.,
July 26, 2007This review is from: Hound Dog Products HDP1-6 Weed Hound (Lawn & Patio)
I couldn’t believe how well this thing worked. Just plop it on top of a weed – especially dandelions – step on the ledge, and watch the claws sink in and clamp down on the root in a single swoosh. I’ve found that pulling directly up slowly helps me get the entire root out, which is particularly satisfying.
- Ed Kohler gave 5 stars to: TREO 700 PALM
Ed Kohler reviewed:0 of 1 people found the following review helpfulGreat for SMS, email and web browsing,
June 27, 2007This review is from: TREO 700 PALM (Wireless Phone)
If you’re a heavy text (SMS) user, email user, or web browser, this is the phone to get in the United States. Fast Internet access, a full keyboard for fast typing, and a touch screen make this the best phone on the market today for serious communicators.
Be sure to plan on getting an unlimited data plan because you’ll blast through data once you can.
Threaded text messages are awesome. Each person you SMS with gets their own thread so you can easily track SMS conversations. Great stuff.
- Ed Kohler gave 5 stars to: Canon PowerShot SD800 IS 7.1MP Digital Elph Camera with 3.8x Wide Angle Image-Stabilized Optical Zoom
Ed Kohler reviewed:5 of 6 people found the following review helpfulBest camera I’ve used,
June 27, 2007This review is from: Canon PowerShot SD800 IS 7.1MP Digital Elph Camera with 3.8x Wide Angle Image-Stabilized Optical Zoom (Electronics)
The image stabilization feature in this camera really helps when taking pictures in low-light conditions. I also find the custom shoot mode very useful since it allows me to set up a group shot, then have it take multiple photos after a 10 second pause. That way we get at least one where someone isn’t blinking.
It improved over the SD600 model by moving the toggle switch from the absolute corner of the camera where it would occasionally get bumped into video mode.
And 3.8x zoom is pretty dang good for a point and shoot. Yes, you can zoom to 15x, but anything after 3.8x uses digital zoom, which tends to degrade quickly.
- Ed Kohler gave 4 stars to: The Staple-Less Stapler. Pack of Three (Blue,Red,Green) – Sold by InkCityStore
Ed Kohler reviewed:5 of 5 people found the following review helpfulFun staplers. Never need staples.,
June 27, 2007This review is from: The Staple-Less Stapler. Pack of Three (Blue,Red,Green) – Sold by InkCityStore (Office Product)
This works great for up to, say, 5 sheets of paper. You don’t need staples, and it does only a bit more damage to paper than staples would. It’s doesn’t have the highest level of precision manufacturing, but it works fine. And they’re just fun to have on your desk.
- Ed Kohler gave 5 stars to: SanDisk Ultra II SD Plus 2GB Card
Ed Kohler reviewed:Best USB Cards I’ve used,
June 27, 2007This review is from: SanDisk Ultra II SD Plus 2GB Card (Personal Computers)
For the nominal price difference, getting SD cards with integrated USB connections is a no brainer. However, there is more than one style of USB integrated SD cards. SanDisk’s are the best I’ve used since there are no removable parts to lose. The chip simply folds in half. That’s awesome.
2GB is a lot of storage in today’s world. I can take over 1000 high resolution photos on my camera on one chip. I keep a 2nd on my keychain just in case.
For hotels, check out this page of Hotels I’ve Stayed in AND Would Stay in Again.