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December 31,2009

The snow is falling. We may make it into town this evening for the First Night celebration, but that is contingent on the amount of precipitation.


Happy New Year's Eve!!!!

There will be a blue moon tonight.  What a nice way to close out the year.  We wish you all a fun New Year's Eve and a great 2010!  [Permalink] -New Year's Eve


December 25,2009

Christmas at the White House 2009 from White House on Vimeo.

Merry Christmas!!!!

 [Permalink] -Christmas At The White House


December 24,2009

Happy Holidays!!!!

 [Permalink] -Holiday Catalog

December 23,2009

Tools are perennially favorite gifts, both to give and get. Folks here have had many opportunities to examine some fine ones in 2009. For this year's Holiday Catalog, we have chosen a few items from this and previous years we thought readers would be happy to see under their tree.

Tools from Craftsman, Wagner, and Rockwell have been especially helpful around the RainyDayMagazine office this year. We have quite a few renovation projects in the queue for Spring of 2010. These tools are...[More] -Holiday Catalog: Tools


December 22,2009

Photography is a big part of our daily activities. We used and reviewed quite a few pieces of photography-related accessories in 2009. Many of them are useful, well made, and made great additions to our collection. For the Holiday Catalog, we wanted to highlight the ones which we found either particularly interesting and/or especially useful.

At the beginning of the year, we upgraded our Nikon from the D40 to the D90. The D90 has been a true workhorse. To increase its productivity, we would recommend the following accessories: a Phottox vertical battery grip, a Nikon GPS-1 module, and a Nikkor 50mm 1.8 lens. Readers interested in exploring their creative side should check out the...[More] -Holiday Catalog: Photography


December 21,2009

This year we thought we would pick the toys for the Holiday Catalog based on what we played with the most during the year. What we thought would be an easy selection turned out to be quite the challenge, as there were quite a bit more "toys" around the RainyDayMagazine office than we realized. The more we looked, the more we found. We finally agreed to narrow down the list to the top five out of the lot.

The toy which was the hardest to put down once picked up was definitely the CyberCube. Everyone who played with it instantly became addicted to it. We are not quite sure why...maybe it's the smooth magnetic spheres, maybe it's the way they click together, but whatever the reason, we have...[More] -Holiday Catalog: Toys


December 18,2009

We work to play and play at work. Play helps us relieve stress and is rejuvenating. The holidays can be stressful, but it does not have to be. Stress is often the result of the difference between what we want and what we need. How and what we do to reduce that difference can define how we live.

Self-improvement is not an end in itself, but a means of enabling one to do one's best. Physical activities such as Aikido can stimulate the body and mental exercises such as Zen meditation can energize the mind. More importantly, they are able to...[More] -Holiday Catalog: Zen


December 17,2009

Gadgets are great gifts for guys, but a lot of gals love getting them as well. OK, maybe guys WISHED gals loved getting them ...more. Regardless, we have assembled a collection of our favorites. Some of the items are for guys, some can be for either, but all of them are based on some cool technology of one sort or another.

The first on our list was also the last item we got in 2009. We picked up this Timex Expedition E-Compass watch when we visited the Timexpo museum. We got an awesome discount because...[More] -Holiday Catalog: Gadgets


December 16,2009

Books as gifts, be they in hard copy or audio format, are a perennial favorite for the holidays. We have rounded up some of our favorites from 2009. Take a look through the collection and see if any of them would be a match for those on your gift list.

One of the most enjoyable series we have listened to this year was the three Dan Brown books (Angels & Demons, DaVinci Code, Lost Symbol). If you like conspiracies and intrigue, you will find them enjoyable, exciting, and just...[More] -Holiday Catalog: Books


December 15,2009

Candles are a part of many Holiday decorations. The problem is, so are accidental fires. Candles unintentionally tipped or left burning can turn a celebration into a mess very quickly. We have advocated the use of LED lights (Candela, SmartCandle, etc...) for many years and thought it worthwhile to do so again, particularly at this very special time of the year.

LED candles have come a long way. Many now have a flickering option which is a very good simulation of a real flame. Some have real and even scented wax on the outside to make it even more "candle-like."  Many companies sell LED-based lights, but we have found SmartCandle and OXO products to be BOB (Best-Of-Breed) in this category. Both companies have...[More] -Holiday Catalog: Lights


December 14,2009

A Christmas Celtic Sojourn was a great afternoon of Irish and Scottish entertainment. What was nice about it was that is wasn't completely about Christmas. It was about the season, the darkness of the Winter and how people combat it (with song and dance, being the Celtic Isles). Karine Polwart of Scotland and Cape Breton has a marvelous voice, and sang pieces that evoked both the somberness and the joy of the season. All of the musicians were unbelievably good, from Christy O'Leary to Seamus Egan of Solas, to Liz Carroll and John Doyle, they are so good you forget how, well, good they are.

“A Christmas Celtic Sojourn reflects the warmth and good cheer of Celtic culture at Christmastime through music, songs and dancing,” said Brian O’Donovan. “We’ve assembled a group of extremely talented musicians and...[More] -Christmas Celtic Sojourn


December 11,2009

The  first snow storm for Boston hit on Saturday. It was wet, sloppy, and pretty soon became more of a pain than pretty. Another wet messy one rolled in on Wednesday. It was quite the morning for those who had to make their way into the office. Fortunately for some, they can work remotely whenever they want. 

Not everyone is productive working at home. There can be a lot of distractions (pets, snacking, napping, etc...). The key to working at home is to have a small office or home office (SOHO) setup. A SOHO can be a separate room, a separate desk, or just a quiet place to focus. The one thing one really need is...[More]-Work smarter, not harder


December 10,2009

We have been wearing the Scottevest convertible vest/jacket for over two years. The pullovers (Microfleece, Q-Zip) have been in-house since Spring. Since we made the FirstLook posts, we have had periodic email requests asking for the InTheWild update. The upcoming Holiday season would be a good time to update folks on how the ScotteVest items have fared.  

ScotteVest has a large line of clothing designed specifically for folks who carry a lot of gadgets. The three that we have are the ones which makes the most sense for...[More]-ScotteVest InTheWild


December 9,2009

Last week we posted a quick mention of the new Soda Stream machines. Today we are going to take a FirstLook at the Penguin unit. The "Starter Kit" comes with the carbonator, two CO2 cartridges, two glass bottles/caps, and an instruction booklet. The unit comes pretty much assembled. The only thing to do is to insert the CO2 cartridge and the system is ready for use.

The Penguin is the only unit in the Soda Stream line which supports the use of glass bottles. The glass bottles are sized specifically for the Penguin. The bottles have a textured pattern for a...[More]- SodaClub Penguin FirstLook


December 8,2009

There were a lot of questions and interest regarding the imation SSD write-ups. Some of it we could but many we could not answer at present as we still have the SSD configured as an external drive. All of our testing to date are from booting and running the OS from the SSD as an external device. All our applications appear to function normally. The OS and the apps running on the SSD does boot, run, and shutdown a lot faster compared to the internal hard drive. Originally we had planned to do the physical swap after a few days of burn-in, but have decided to not do that until the next year. There were a few reasons for this decision. 

The first reason was we experienced a severe disk corruption a few days into the SSD burn-in test. We tracked down the corrupted files but were not able to determine the root cause of the problem. The decision was to run the SSD in an external configuration for a few more weeks to see if...[More]- imation SSD Testing


December 7,2009

Last Friday was a relatively nice day, but as snow was forecasted for the weekend, we decided to take a final roadtrip with the convertible before we accept the fact that Winter is here and put on the Boxster's hardtop. Our destination?  The Timex Watch Museum in Waterbury Conn. The Museum was very easy to find, and since it was a weekday, not very busy. We actually had the entire place to ourselves.

The Museum was a bit over 120 miles from Boston, but traffic was light and we had the Harry Potter audio books to keep us company. Timexpo® The Timex Group Museum is located just off Route I-84, in the corner of the Brass Mill Commons section of the Brass Mill Center Mall. Our directions said to look for the 40 foot high Easter Island statue outside the building!

Sure enough, in a courtyard next to the Timexpo building was the huge stone statue. We took a few photos to give readers a proper sense of scale. Hard to imagine these things were carved and moved by the natives on Easter Island with nothing more than just logs and muscle. The linkage to Timex is an interesting one. To find out what that is, you will have to...[More]- Timexpo Visit


December 4,2009

A few folks from RainyDayMagazine went to NYC for a small media event in November. We used to go to the mega tradeshows like CES, but have been passing on them because of the cost and their sheer size. While it is great to be able to see everything all in one place, what good is it if we get no more information than if we had just read the press release?  Instead, we have started to attend mini-tradeshows organized by companies such as PepCom. The main reason?  We get to actually CHAT with the vendors and to play with their new gear, something which we've found to be seriously lacking at the larger tradeshows.

One vendor we specifically went to meet at this show was the folks from Lensbaby. We were intrigued by the Lensbaby 3G when it came to the office. We quickly realized what a cool and creative piece of photo gear it was when we had a chance to play with it. So much so we created a special container for it so we can take it with us on location shoots, as there are always opportunities to use the Lensbaby.

We met Craig, the inventor, and a few other nice folks (Sam, Keri) from Lensbaby at the show. They took the time to demo for us all of the cool new Lensbaby gear. The newest lenses in the Lensbaby collection are the Fisheye and Soft Focus. These lenses are part of the Optic Swap System. The core of the Optic Swap System is a Lensbaby called...[More]- Lensbaby Composer


December 3,2009

The RainyDayKitchen's new (well, new to us) Jenn Air stove has been getting a constant workout since it was installed over a year ago. However, after using it for more than a year, we realized that we did not use the grill section as much as we thought we would.

One of the many great things about this Jenn Air range is the easily swap-able burner modules. The first step is to remove the grates, the next is to slide out the grill cartridge. No tools are needed to change out one unit and change in another. This design makes it easy to clean the sealed drip burner surface and simple to repair or replace the modules.

We did some online research for the best prices on a two-burner module. The best price we could find was around $130. This was almost half of the price of many of the other retailers. When an online deal is too good to be true, it sets of our "scam alerts." One way to to a background check is to see if there is a "complaint site" set up about that company. The easiest way to find such a site is to Google it with the phrase...[More]- Jenn Air Burner Swap


December 2,2009

We have had a Soda Club soda maker in the RainyDayKitchen since 2005. It has saved us a LOT of money over the past four years. Even better than saving a boat-load of money was the convenience of making fresh, fizzy soda in whatever flavor whenever we want. Oh yeah, we also created less plastic waste than if we had purchased the prepackaged stuff from the "big guys."  Coke and Pepsi...yes, we are talking to you :-)

Soda Club has not been standing still these past four years. They now have a full line of soda makers. The RainyDayKitchen folks thought it was time we took a look at some of their new ones. The two we will be reviewing are the...[More]- Soda Club


December 1,2009

We first learned about Bentley Publishers when we went to a talk in 2005 about Porsches. It has always been on our "to do" list to take a closer look at Porsche historian Karl Ludvigsen's definitive 3-volume work, Porsche: Excellence Was Expected. Last week, we managed to put aside some time to do just that. 

The amount of information in this 3-volume set was staggering. One could only guess at the amount of research necessary to create something like this. What is obvious is Karl Ludvigsen's love for the topic. His interest in telling the story behind the brand and all of the events which...[More]- Porxche: Excellence Was Expected


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