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 3 stars to: Making Money Online – How to Work From Home Virtually with Mechanical Turk
Ed Kohler reviewed:Very brief mturk overview for workers,
April 6, 2014This review is from: Making Money Online – How to Work From Home Virtually with Mechanical Turk (Kindle Edition)One could learn as much from blog posts or popular mturk forum posts. But, if you prefer ebooks, give this a shot. About a third of the book is a roundup of feedback on using mturk from workers. That provides some insight into what it’s like to make sense money from the service.
- Ed Kohler gave 5 stars to: The End of the Suburbs
Ed Kohler reviewed:Great breakdown of housing trends in this day and age,
April 6, 2014This review is from: The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving (Kindle Edition)Does a nice job explaining how various styles of development came to be, and gets into whether current trends will hold up over time. Factors like rising gas prices and the trend back toward urban living may impact the fringes of metropolitan areas. it has a conversational tone. Very accessible to anyone interested in understanding residential housing developments a bit better.
- Ed Kohler gave 5 stars to: Guns (Kindle Single)
Ed Kohler reviewed:0 of 1 people found the following review helpfulGood insights,
April 3, 2014This review is from: Guns (Kindle Single) (Kindle Edition)A great reminder that mass gun killings (nd every day killings by guns) are a uniquely American phenomenon that we could solve if we cared enough to do so.
- Ed Kohler gave 3 stars to: OXO Tot Sippy Cup, Pink, 7 Ounce
Ed Kohler reviewed:The rubber stopper pops out too easily,
February 4, 2014This review is from: OXO Tot Sippy Cup, Pink, 7 Ounce (Baby Product)It works great when it works, but doesn’t work often enough to cause headaches. The stopper that throttles the rate of liquid pops out easily if the cup is dropped or even set down less than gently, as infants often do. That makes things messy since you then have to fish it out to put it back in place.
- Ed Kohler gave 5 stars to: Melissa & Doug Wooden Table and 2 Chairs Set
Ed Kohler reviewed:Easy to assemble,
February 4, 2014This review is from: Melissa & Doug Wooden Table and 2 Chairs Set (Toy)I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the instructions were to follow for assembling this set.
I’ve found it to be safe and sturdy for our daughter. She’s a big fan of having a table of her own to eat at and do projects.
- Ed Kohler gave 3 stars to: Columbian CO284 (#10) 4-1/8×9-1/2-Inch Self-Seal Security Tinted White Envelopes, 100 Count
Ed Kohler reviewed:1 of 1 people found the following review helpfulA little clunky to seal,
February 4, 2014This review is from: Columbian CO284 (#10) 4-1/8×9-1/2-Inch Self-Seal Security Tinted White Envelopes, 100 Count (Office Product)The dual seal system doesn’t work as well as it should. I find it frustrating, and don’t always have confidence that it’s going to stay secure, so have used tape from time to time for extra security.
- Ed Kohler gave 5 stars to: Chamberlain MYQ-G0201 MyQ-Garage Controls Your Garage Door Opener with Your Smartphone
Ed Kohler reviewed:1 of 1 people found the following review helpfulEasy to install,
February 4, 2014This review is from: Chamberlain MYQ-G0201 MyQ-Garage Controls Your Garage Door Opener with Your Smartphone (Tools & Home Improvement)The instructions were easy to follow for installing this. The smaller sensor mounted with screws into existing holes in my garage door’s brackets. Connecting to my home’s WiFi network and connecting the hub to send signals to my garage door opener were both very intuitive processes. The only downside is the app takes a while to refresh in order to check the status of the garage door (~15 seconds) so it’s a bit frustrating waiting for that. However, that’s probably better than having it constantly running in the background churning phone battery life for closer to real-time garage door status.
- Ed Kohler gave 3 stars to: Fisher-Price Amazing Animals Press & Go Crocodile
Ed Kohler reviewed:1 of 1 people found the following review helpfulFingers can get pinched behind wheels,
September 29, 2013= Durability: = Fun: = Educational:This review is from: Fisher-Price Amazing Animals Press & Go Crocodile (Toy)My daughter likes watching this cruise across the floor. However, she’s managed to pinch her fingers behind the wheels enough times that we had to give up on using this. Perhaps the wheels are a bit too wide on the one we got?
- Ed Kohler gave 5 stars to: GE Lighting 61927 Energy Smart LED 20-Watt (75-watt replacement) 1050-Lumen PAR38 Floodlight Bulb with Medium Base, 1-Pack
Ed Kohler reviewed:3 of 3 people found the following review helpfulExcellent Light,
February 7, 2013This review is from: GE Lighting 61927 Energy Smart LED 20-Watt (75-watt replacement) 1050-Lumen PAR38 Floodlight Bulb with Medium Base, 1-Pack (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:19 of 20 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 Accessory)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 Tools ASDTR1 Triangle Screwdriver
Ed Kohler reviewed:4 of 5 people found the following review helpfulWorks for Krups Grind & Brews Too,
August 31, 2010This review is from: Silverhill Tools ASDTR1 Triangle Screwdriver (Misc.)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:
Ed Kohler reviewed:1 of 1 people found the following review helpfulQuiet and drainable,
October 1, 2009This 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, 2008Generally, 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.
For hotels, check out this page of Hotels I’ve Stayed in AND Would Stay in Again.