Monthly Archive for December, 2004

Timeless Keepsake Gifts for Babies

The wife and I are contemplating buying the new baby something really special this year for his first Christmas. It doesn’t need to be anything expensive, just something that’ll last him a long time, than he can appreciate years from now. Here are a few things we’ve thought about:

  • First Piggy Bank – Piggy banks have a great history, and can be important tools, but I think we want to wait to give him one until he can better understand its value.
  • OneShare

  • My First Stock – From oneshare.com (I’ve always been a fan of this company). Classic ideas might include buying your kid a share of Pixar, Disney, Harley Davidson, Apple, GE, or Microsoft, but they have quite a few $14.99 or $29 deals for sale too. (We opted to buy our son his first share of Microsoft this Christmas).
  • Savings Bonds – (Ok, first, since when does a government website look like it’s not a government website? Threw me for a minute how good this site looks). I Bonds or EE Bonds? At this point, I’m thinking I Bond, as it’ll grow for 30 years, and has a slightly better interest rate. We’re not talking major investment here folks, we’re thinking keepsake gift, but it really is too bad they earn only 3 percent or so.
  • Gold or Silver Coins or Bullion – This is a new one to me, and I haven’t researched it much (at all). I’d recommend doing a little more research before you make this purchase, but something tells me a US Gold Eagle or Silver Eagle from the year your child was born, would be a pretty cool gift, though it’ll set you back a little more than the other gifts listed above, and thus really should be researched a little more if you’re worried about getting taken by an unscrupulous dealer.

Like I said, we ended up going with one share of Microsoft… we figure it’s the best investment out of the 3 options we considered at this point.

update: It looks like Oneshare.com can’t sell to people in Texas, so I got a refund for my one share of Microsoft… time to start researching gold coins I think šŸ˜‰

New Kid equals New Camera

So, the kid is two weeks old as of yesterday. The day after we brought the kid home, I headed up to Fry’s for the after Thanksgiving sales.

I was in the market for a new digital camera. You see, the one we had was an old PowerShot S100 DIGITAL ELPH that we bought back when I worked for MacNN, in 2000. It’s a four year old digital camera and it’s definitely seen it’s better days.

I didn’t research this replacement purchase, as I knew from using the S100, that I wanted a Canon again, and that I really wanted an Elph again. So, I figured I’d get the top of the line Elph that was available when I walked in the door.

I needed the camera that day, because the old S100 just wasn’t giving me good enough photos, and I had a new kid to photograph. I wasn’t going to let myself kick myself for crappy photos in 20 years of my first child.

So, at Fry’s last Friday, I decided on buying the S500 for a few reasons:

1. All of my accessories for my S100 work on/in the S500. Same battery (I have two), same CF cards (I have 4 512MB cards), same form factor = same carrying case.
2. It’s Canon Elph, and I’ve never seen anything but good reviews of them (S100S500).
3. I already know the basics of the Elph controls and platform… point and shoot baby!
4. My best friend just bought S400 and really likes it.
5. It was on sale for $360. (I paid $500 for the first S100 I bought 5 years ago.)

I’m really pleased with the purchase so far, and have taken at least 50 pictures a day for the past two weeks (some of them are posted here).

Compare the older S100 photos with the newer S500 photos like:

This closeup of a friends’s kid [S100], versus this close up of my kid [S500].

Compare the way these two photos were shot in automatic mode:

S100 image of my dog, versus this S500 image of the dog and the kid. Notice the better range of colors from the S500 and overall better image?

I took these shots with the new S500 without a flash and using the automatic features of the camera: Tree ornaments and the kid with the tree and a friend. I would have never attempted those shots with the S100, because my experience with shots like this one didn’t turn out the way I’d have liked them to.

At the end of the day, I’m an amateur photographer, and always will be, but I want to take good shots when I do take them, and I think the S500 will help me do that. It’s definitely a leg up on the S100, and it was a good investment. My initial success with some of those photos has encouraged me to read the manual a little more, as well as learn more about shutter speeds, film speeds, and the like, so I can move into using the camera in manual mode… to take better shots hopefully.

I’d recommend this model to anyone else looking for a compact, portable, and more than capable digital camera. I’ve really come to trust Canon with their digital cameras. This is the second digital camera I’ve bought from them, and I also own a Canon DV camera.

Life is Tough

“Life is tough…..it’s tougher if you’re stupid.” – John Wayne

’nuff said.