Merry Christmas & Happy 2014!

Wishing everyone a most joyous Christmas and New Year. 

Regular posts will resume January 2, 2014.

Town Farm Bay on Lake Champlain in North Ferrisburgh, Vt., after a 24-hour ice storm, shot on December 22, 2013.

Town Farm Bay on Lake Champlain in North Ferrisburgh, Vt., after a 24-hour ice storm, shot on December 22, 2013.

Yule log, the making of, from @Netflix

You need a last-minute Yule log. Netflix has a last-minute answer.

Just stream its popular 2010 title "Fireplace for Your Home" — it's 1 hour, 2 minutes of single-camera, single-shot fireplace action.

But since this past year was, among other things, the "Year of the Maker," Netflix has issued a behind-the-scenes video of how this iconic film was made. They have a trailer, too.

It's part hipster, part pretentious, part holiday fun.

Enjoy.

3 gifts your friends won't return (@fieldnotesbrand, @kravejerky, @aperturefnd)

Here are three quick ideas — all available online — for the holiday shopping procrastinator.

For someone who needs to get organized:

Field Notes: I always have tech in my pocket or at my fingertips — my iPhone, iPad and my Mac. But I always have a little Field Notes notebook handy as well. In fact, they are stashed around the house, in the car and in all my jackets. The annual subscription is $97 and gets you quarterly shipments of the coveted "COLORS" series — a total of 30 memo books over the year. As Field Notes slogan says, "I'm not writing it down to remember it later, I'm writing it down to remember it now."

For someone who's an active foodie (as in active AND likes food):

Krave Jerky: My wife and I often quip that we went to Napa and Sonoma for the wine and came home with a year's supply of jerky. It's Krave jerky — and well deserving of the name. It's fresh, natural and ridiculously flavorful — and a great source of lean protein. We can't decide whether our favorite is the Sweet Chipotle beef jerky, the Grilled Sweet Teriyaki pork jerky or the Lemon Garlic turkey jerky. Wait, maybe it's the Garlic Chili Pepper beef jerky or the Black Cherry Barbecue pork jerky or the Chili Lime beef jerky. Oh, forget it, we get them all. That's why the monthly shipment works for us. Krave has gift options starting at $42 and the subscription gives you a sweet 15 percent discount and free shipping. And the peace of mind that you never have to worry about running out!


And finally for someone who's a bit photo crazy:

Aperture: This quarterly magazine, relaunched this year, bills itself as a "sophisticated guide to the world of contemporary photography." It's all that — and a great source of inspiration if you want to up your photo game. Each issue has some drool-worthy images — and some mighty fine writing as well. A year costs $75 and it comes with a free digital edition you can view on your iPad (but you'll want to hold the paper magazine in your hands!).


 

Happy shopping!

 

Turkey Talk topics: Health, tech & memories (with @1Password, @dnanian, @crashplan, @dropbox & @evernote)

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As you gather with family and friends, take a moment to tackle three important topics.

1. Health

Thanksgiving dinner is a great time to talk about two related aspects of health that are often overlooked: what to do when you can no longer make decisions for yourself and your desires for end-of-life care.

Start by having everyone complete a health care proxy. This little document is vital to ensure that your wishes are carried out by someone who knows and loves you.

Make sure you discuss what should happen in one's final days. This is no "death panel" — it's a serious and heartfelt conversation about setting and respecting everyone's personal end-of-life care preferences.

2. Tech

Take this downtime to make your passwords truly secure.

I have been a user of the password manager 1Password for Mac since it was released and also use it on iOS. I was a beta tester during the recent launch of 1Password 4. 

1Password (and other products) allow you to create super secure passwords for every online account and manage them with a single universal password. You only have to remember that one password — hence, the name — so make that super secure as well.

If you already use 1Password, it's easy to change all those old passwords to something long, random and secure by using the "Security Audit" feature. It will show you all of your weak passwords, duplicate passwords and those you haven't used for a while.

3. Memories

The holidays are built for creating memories — memories you don't want to ever lose.

So back them up!

A solid strategy means having your data in multiple places — a regular physical backup and a cloud backup.

For the physical backup with a Mac, use SuperDuper! from Shirt Pocket software. It's simple and free. Pay just $27.95 and Dave Nanian will give you super scheduling features and, so far, lifetime upgrades.

For cloud backup, I use Crash Plan, which last year had an awesome Black Friday deal. It takes a while for the initial backup, but then works seamlessly and quietly in the background.

Also consider using Dropbox to automatically sync your photos from your smartphone (requires a Pro account).

And then organize your memories — and keep important papers handy (like health care proxies) — in Evernote. Again, the "Premium" service is well worth the upgrade.

Enjoy your turkey (I'll be having steak!). But also take care of these important tasks.