What Point and Shoot Camera Should I Buy?

A friend asked me this question today and I went through the trouble of putting together the (affiliate) links so I thought this would make a decent blog post for the holiday season. This is not a discussion, but rather I was asked what I would buy for a point and shoot and this is it:

Canon PowerShot SX210IS 14.1 MP Digital Camera with 14x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD

This camera is a little bigger than the average point and shoot but it takes incredible pictures. It has a great lens with huge zoom, and can shoot HD video. It’s Ronin approved.

Don’t make the mistake of buying just the camera, if you are giving a gift you want to include the whole set:

A case so it doesn’t get destroyed, an extra battery so you can always have one charged and ready, and a SanDisk 8GB fast memory card – not a cheap knock off stolen out of the SanDisk defect pile.

So that’s a great package for about $350 all in. From there you could go in three directions:

  1. Smaller if carrying it around is the primary concern
  2. DSLR for fantastic pictures but you’ll have to carry around a bag of junk
  3. Up or down if you have a price number to hit

For smaller I’d check out the digital Elph line from Canon, the PowerShot SD4000 IS is around $280 and a great camera.

You can check out and compare the whole Canon Line here.

For DSLR the Rebel T2i is the latest entry level and around $700, plus you’d have to kick in another $300 for a good lens. Expensive and a lot to carry, but great shots.

You can go more expensive on point and shoot but I don’t think it’s worth going over $350. You can get cheaper if you got a model that you can still get new but has been out for a while, like the Canon PowerShot SD940IS for $165.

Amazon is good especially if you have free shipping with Prime, but also and check prices at B&H Photo and go there if you ever have the chance when you are in New York City, it’s right near Madison Square Garden.

Direct Mail

The Problem with Direct Mail

Many moons ago I worked on direct mail pieces. It’s an arcane practice requiring many of the things you hear about at Halloween – eye of newt and the like, and it is far more difficult than it would seem. Sadly, during the primaries here in Massachusetts I had some examples of the challenge. Guy is a fellow UMass grad and I received two portfolio pieces from him (8 1/2 x 17 so it folds into a 4 page brochure). Here’s the first one: Bonus points to you if you can catch the problem here. Look for a second to see if you get it. I ran this by a number of marketing people and few caught the error.

Reign has a homophone – rein (homophones sound alike but have different meaning whether they are spelled the same or not, in this case not). To make things even more confusing I thought this was a homonym, but while fact checking found than homonyms are also spelled the same (e.g. bear – the animal, vs. bear – to carry). After even further review I found that some use homophone and homonym interchangeably, perhaps because I am one of the 4 people left on earth that care.

But alas, if you do know the difference, it’s a huge one: Rein, the word that should have been used, comes from leading a horse and means to control – in this case stop the waste – a great message. Reign refers to the rule of a leader, most commonly referring to a monarch’s rule – so instead of eliminating wasteful spending this says he will be King¬† Wasteful the Great. Again, I ran this by a number of marketing professionals and they didn’t catch it – the point is: copy writing is challenging stuff and good editors are rare diamonds.

Here’s the second one:

This is the one that broke my heart completely. A cynic would say “Yes, that’s what I expect the auditor to do, that’s their job.”, but I love this ad. They look bad ass. Joe Schlump sleeping at his desk in some no show job at the State House would get run out of town by these guys. The other 3 pages were strong too, comparing him to his opponent, and doing a great job of it.

The problem here is that trying hit targets in the postal system is Jedi Master Level only. There are SCFs (Sectional Center Facilities) and a bunch of other crap I don’t even remember anymore that the mail moves through that affect delivery. Plus, every postmaster has to put all the rules and regulations in practice just like a Chief of Police – so every town is different. The postal system got the best of this one – when it arrived in my mailbox I had voted on election day, the day before.

Daily Life

Emergency Plumbing, etc.

Not much writing about marketing lately, I know… contrary to the title of this blog. But hey, you can always swing over to Marketing Over Coffee to get my take there.

I wanted to thank the folks at Suffolk U. who invited me to stop by on Saturday to talk about social media, I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did. It also gave me an excuse to bring the camera downtown for some shooting.

My weekend was a bit messed up while I was getting the house ready for winter and found out that the bleeder valve in the shutoff for the hose spigot was mounted backwards. If you don’t speak plumbing just picture me standing in my basement in socks, jeans and a rugby shirt with water spraying out in a 6 foot jet all over everything. One shutoff and a walk to the downtown hardware store for a $3.50 part and all was back to normal.

Last weekend was a big deal for me. Comic Con came to Boston with a bunch of TV stars from back when I used to have time to watch TV. It’s been decades since I’ve gone to a con but I really wanted to meet Lee Majors. My entire life has been messing around with technology, and when you rewind the tape to the beginning there’s a kid getting his mind blown by an engineer making a bionic man. I figured it would be perfectly normal for a geek, a shadowy government dude and an astronaut to save the world every week. For those who missed the seventies I’m talking about Col. Steve Austin – The Six Million Dollar Man.

I also got to meet a guy you might know from Smallville or The Dukes of Hazzard:

It was great to talk with John, he saw my camera and brought me over to talk to the neighboring booth who was having trouble with theirs. After I got the flash going for them the let me take a special shot on the house:

It’s hard not to yell “YEEE HEEE HAAAAAWWW” when you are sitting in it. Also – everyone asks the same question – no, I did not have to climb in, the door does open.

Last, but not least, this week was Blogtoberfest, Jenny calling down the Martini Thunder yet again. I got a nice shot with the Sony NEX-5 with our own Paul Revere of Video Blogging:

Ok, last shot of my stupid grinning mug: this is my favorite shot of Blogtoberfest (I’m not sure if that link works, of course FB has no sharing URL, so I imagine they’ll sabotage a deep link). Flickr has it, so here it is, Ye Olde Bostone Bloggerse:

I know it’s last minute but if you are looking for a 5k Sunday morning I’ll be doing the Miles for Kyle. Have a good weekend!

Daily Life

Where do you put extra hope?

I am a city person at heart. I like being around a lot of people, when I am downtown during the evenings I can feel the energy of everyone traveling around, each of them with their own story being played out. I get a bit of the same feeling first thing in the morning when I log on and see people from the west coast still posting things in their late night that gets handed off to my early morning, real time. At that point the web joins the ranks of the cities that never sleep.

I saw a flash of truth this morning as opposed to the normal “Gee, I forgot how much I like pickles” kind of crap. Someone mentioned the quiet lonely hours before going off to sleep. I remember, in what seems to be about 2 million years ago, feeling the same way going to bed at some hour when the people who run bakeries and coffee shops are opening up for the morning rush.

It was so well written, not only was it poetic, but it felt like the scene at the beginning of a movie. Like the “I wish” part at the beginning of every Disney movie ever made. The sad part was that it was deleted very quickly. This person is “a big deal on the internet”, but actually is one of the few that really is a big deal on the internet, so I’m sure that when something like that is put out there,¬† there’s a whole parade of pickle liking weirdos that come pouring in.

So, feeling fortunate enough to have seen something real this morning, and having no way to send back a bit of hope, I thought I’d store it here. I’m living proof that a prayer for a busy home can be answered. Although I don’t always get a full night sleep, I am happy in my bed.


Flight vs. Invisibility

Recently This American Life replaced an episode from the archives where John Hodgman (flickr Photo from kodamakitty) did a segment asking “What superpower would you choose?” (available here via Amazon affiliate link).

The rules are simple, you have the choice between invisibility or flight. He uses the question to great success as an icebreaker, and talks about the process that most people go through while answering the question. If you do not listen to This American Life I heartily recommend it, it’s very high quality and family friendly.

And most importantly, which would you choose?

Daily Life Productivity Booster

Q3 Status Report

Q3 mindmap
74% Complete for Q3

And here we are in the 4th Quarter of 2010. I really hate the 3rd Quarter. It’s always the same, the whole world is on vacation so nothing gets done in July or August and then it’s a mad dash to close business in September. Many times I think it might be better just to take all of August off.

It’s also time to look at the goals I set myself for this year. I was pleasantly surprised that things are going well, with 74% completed. The key takeaways – things are going well on the Family front but I have not been able to visit my brother and his family yet this year. Unfortunately changing jobs means I have no vacation in Q4 so I may have to do a red-eye for a weekend if I want to make that goal.

Personal is going well having run the Falmouth Road Race and losing 20 lbs year to date. I need to get a gym membership going because soon it will be too cold to run outside for me. I had a hard time coming up with a “fun” goal for myself, but I did upgrade all of my media equipment so I’ll take that as completed.

Financial Goals are a bit behind, we’ve been burning through a lot of cash with the baby here and Carin working few hours. The good news is that the ReFi happens tomorrow and with my new job there’s a good chance we can up the savings for year end. An interesting thing here is how sometimes you are painted into a corner with these things – Carin can’t work more hours because if we had to use daycare that would eat a huge chunk of the income and I’d rather she take care of our son. I also have a goal for Charitable Donations, but now that becomes a classic numbers game – do I get closer to the goal by giving it to charity or hitting my savings goal? Both the numbers game and my heart are leaning towards charity so I guess you could say the goals are properly aligned.

On the Professional front landing the new job accomplishes most of what I wanted to do this year. I’ve been doing 4-5 year stints so I should be set here for a while. The only question mark here is what should happen next with Marketing Over Coffee. I don’t have the time to do more with it so I may look at outsourcing some stuff via a virtual assistant.

Also new this quarter has been motivation from The Ultimate Warrior. Yes, the man who hoisted a belt at Wrestlemania Ultimate Warrior. A co-worker of mine sent me a link to his blog, Warrior’s Machete, about a year ago and I have been hooked. This is a whole post in itself, which I promise I will put out there eventually. I was just glad to trade email with him, and he ended up sending me a lot of great advice. If you are looking for motivation you should sign up for his email list.

On to Q4!


Marketing at 1.1 Gigawatts

A couple of months ago Mike Proulx from Hill Holliday asked if I’d like to be on a panel talking about the future of marketing. Since it was an evening session when my family was out of town it was a great excuse to get into Boston and talk with people about what’s coming next. It was great to be part of the event and it went off really well thanks to Mike (and I think D.J. Capobianco and his team were very busy behind the scenes).

There are two pieces of good news about this – one is that Steve Garfield was streaming the event so I’ve got the video here (nice to get a break from writing now and then). The other is that it had 7 views before I told my family about it, so that’s a big deal.

The other panelists were great, I’ll post those segments when I need an excuse not to write…

Productivity Booster

Best Stylus for the iPad

More years ago than I care to count I bought a PalmPilot 1000. It rocked. I was so excited just for the fact that PalmPilot 1000I would now no longer have to get a new calendar book every year and copy all of the birthdays and important dates across to the new one. Ahhh, the first spark of fire in the dark ages.

The Palm hooked me on the idea of a stylus instead of my KFC grease coated finger for touching the screen. It’s more precise and the one that I use in my smartphone has a pen in it so I’m never without a writing implement.

When I picked up an iPad I noticed that the guy working at the store used a pogo Sketch so I decided to pick one up. It fit well into the bottom of my Dodo Case (which now comes in green and I want a new one) and all was good for about 3 months. Then the clip broke off and when I looked on Amazon to replace it there were now more options. None of them were that expensive so I decided to order a bunch of them so I could do my own shootout and see what worked best.

The Contenders:

Amazon showed Griffin with one coming out soon so that prompted an email to Dave Delaney, who has hooked Marketing Over Coffee up with stuff in the past. Here’s the required link from them saying they give out stuff for people to try and to blog about. Please also note that the links below are affiliate links so if you could use them I can send my son to college.

I also tested one sold by a company called Acase, which was exactly the same as the Griffin. With the exception of the Griffin logo, it looks like they came from the same factory, the Acase cost me $2.94 more than the price of the Griffin, so I’m only linking to the less expensive one.

The elago is also very similar to the two above, same tip a bit lighter with a different style clip.

The BoxWave is also in this family, again same tip and similar look and clip, but it’s about $10 more and heavier because it has a cap and a real pen that is pretty good.

The iClooly was the unique one of the pack, unlike the others.

I also got some cheapos at $3.95 for a 3-pack that I thought might compare to the pogo sketch.

The Results

iPad Styluses
L to R:Griffin, Acase, BoxWave, elago, pogo, iClooly, & el Cheapos

After a week of use I’ve found that I like the Griffin ($13.04) best. It has a rubber tip that’s sort of like a mushy racquetball. A similar tip is on the BoxWave, Acase and elago.

In second place would be the BoxWave which is almost the same, on the plus side it also has a pen, the cost of that is that it’s more expensive ($24.95 was the price when I bought mine) and a bit heavier. Update : after about 2 months use the tip on the BoxWave did not write a smoothly as the Griffin or the Acase, I tried cleaning it and that made no difference.

The elago is in third ($14.99), very similar to the ones above except for two things – it has their brand and the phrase “Design is Improvement” on it. This is a bit odd to me because the whole Apple thing is not to print anything on an object that’s not required. Ever look at the bottom of a Macbook versus a Dell? Also the clip on mine is slightly loose and rattles a tiny bit. Rattling doesn’t fit well with the Apple design thing either. Otherwise it’s about the same as the previous two.

For Fourth I would replace the pogo ($10.73). The tip is like a tiny peice of shag carpet and it’s thinner and lighter than all of the above. A good choice but for the plastic clip.

The iClooly was less expensive (only $9.99) but very well made. It has a unique tip which is like a very short paintbrush. It’s retractable so you have to click it like a ball point pen. That’s the reason I don’t use this one, it’s two extra steps to take off the cap and click it open. The brush cap is closer to the barrel and pulls straight off, the cap has a second tip in it that you unscrew to access with a plastic point for a resistive touch screen (as opposed to capacitive on the iPhone, iPad family). It’s nice but I found the tips on all the other ones work on both types of touchscreen.

It should be noted that all of the above performed the same. I tested them all on Note Taker HD and they all worked fine. You may have a preference of rubber tip vs. cloth vs. brush for feel, but they all work. I thought the rubber was very similar to cloth, the brush didn’t seem to give as much resistance. If you like the feedback the rubber and cloth work best, if you like it to be frictionless the brush is better.

The only fail in the test was the 3 pack of cheapies ($3.92, but no link because you don’t want them). The rubber tip on the better ones have a matte finish, the cheapos have a glossy rubber tip that sticks to the screen making them unusable. When you want to slide panels on the screen it literally gets stuck to the screen. For uber-geeks out there, I did try using the dremel tool to grind the glossy finish off, it does work better, but still not as well as the ones above. I roughed it up with about a 75 grit sandpaper and could try other stuff but at about $15 for the good ones it’s not worth the time.

That’s the wrap up, enjoy your clean screen!

Update: I’ve been sent a Stylus Socks Pro to review and played with it for a couple of days. Ivo has done something interesting with a different approach – the handle is like a paintbrush with a soft tip and about half of it has a sock made of a capacitive fabric. It’s very smooth and has a unique weighting so it’s a nice alternative. My wife enjoys this one, I stopped using it when I realized I have a habit of holding the stylus as far as possible from the tip. For this model if you are not touching the fabric it will not work. What was more interesting to me in his store were styluses for people with disabilities – there’s a mouthstick for anyone that does not have use of their arms, and the Steady Stylus that has a full hand grip that would be useful for anyone that has difficulty with fine motor control. I’ve never seen these before and was quite impressed.

Update 2: With 6 months of testing under my belt there’s a new champion. Best Stylus for the iPad – Six Months Later