Products I Like
I get pretty excited whenever I discover a really great product, and I’ve stumbled upon or been introduced to a bunch recently, so I thought I’d share some of my latest discoveries here. A few of my favorites:
Panasonic GF1 – This digital camera is a strange but effective combination of a pocket camera and an SLR. Like a pocket camera, it’s small (though technically not pocketable, unless you have really big pockets) and has no viewfinder, but like an SLR, it has interchangeable lenses and a large sensor. The result is a camera that you can carry around without looking like a paparazzi, but that still takes really nice photos, even in low light. It goes with me on all my weekend trips.
Dropbox – Dropbox is cloud-based file syncing and backup done right. The product’s best feature is that it completely disappears into the OS: your Dropbox folder is just another folder that you can put stuff in, and that stuff gets synchronized to the cloud and then to any other computers (and iPhones, Android devices, iPads, Blackberries) you have Dropbox installed on. My Dropbox folder is now home to basically all of my data except photos, music, and movies (see next for where it all goes), and it’s great: I have everything everywhere.
Drobo S – As I accumulated more and more data, I ended up storing my data across several computers and three external hard drives. It was a real pain. (Where’d I put that iPhoto library?) After looking at various options, I found what I think is the best: the Drobo S, a five-drive disk RAID array that makes it really easy to create and manage a RAID disk of up to 16 TB (!). What’s special about the device is that the most important RAID management functions are handled by the device itself (rather than with PC software) so, for example, you can remove a disk to upgrade it to a larger one, or a disk can fail, and the Drobos S just automatically moves your data around to the remaining drives to keep it safe. For a RAID array, it also looks pretty nice.
Sugru – If you’ve ever used Fimo, the moldable plastic clay that you cure in the oven, then the easiest way to think of Sugru is like Fimo without the oven part. It’s great for fixing things, customizing things, and building things. I’ve used it to create a tripod head that lets me spin a camera on the axis of the lens (long story), to refashion a one-time-password key fob, and to fix a wine opener that always hurt my hand.
GelaSkins – Simple, beautiful, and, if you care to provide your own artwork, totally personalized stick-on skins for laptops, phones, iPads, etc. I’ve got one on my work MacBook so it’s easy to distinguish from others’ computers. Almost as cool as the artwork is the material it’s printed on: they use this amazing 3M plastic stuff that’s somehow resistant to the annoying bubbles that usually form under big stickers. My one gripe: for a thin piece of sticky plastic, GelaSkins are rather expensive ($30 for a laptop sticker).
Thanks to the folks who introduced me to some of these products!