Best Gifts in Recent Years

I don't receive many gifts at Christmas anymore. This year, I received exactly two presents: my favourite gum from my oldest son and a water resistant bluetooth speaker from my daughter so I can listen to podcasts and mp3s while in the shower. It was a great Christmas.

Over the last few years, there have been a few gifts that have really changed my day-to-day. One per year, actually, and only one was given to mark an occasion.

In 2012, for my birthday, my girlfriend (now wife) bought me a new bicycle. She had heard me talk about how much I loved cycling the city in my younger years and thought new wheels might spark a return. She was absolutely right and just last week I cleared 4500 km for the calendar year, a personal best.


In 2013, I bought myself a podcast recording studio. I wanted the audio I recorded at home to sound professional, so I truly splurged to do this right. Just last week I sat down with Strombo to record my 103rd episode and produced what I sincerely believe is my finest work to date.

Many thanks to @stoakleyaudio for helping me set up my new podcast studio

This year, my wife and I decided to buy a couple of Chromecasts, one for each television in the house. It has completely changed the way we watch television, movies and YouTube. I can't recommend Chromecast highly enough if you stream entertainment via Netflix, YouTube or even if you're just watching a local MP4, AVI, MOV or MKV file. It's brilliant.

So as much as I talk about not wanting any more stuff and rejecting most consumerism, there have been a few gifts in recent years that have changed my life for the better. And they often come without reason or fanfare and once they're here, they stick.

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Yamaha YAS 62 Sax.

December 28, 2014 @ 12:51 PM


I love Chromecast, but I'm not sure it's necessarily the greatest product for everyone. Some people might be better served by a more full-featured streaming box at around $100. (That said, Chromecast at $40 is a steal. Mine came with $20 Play store credit too.) It does a lot, but it does not do everything.

Something that may be a con for people with very large TVs is that it only supports 720p video.

Do you have any tricks for streaming local video that is unsupported by Chrome? Or local music playlists? I know you can use VLC to open practically any video, and then use Chromecast to stream your entire screen, but the framerate suffers too much for me. For music I end up just using the Songza app. I wish there were plugins for typical PC media-players to stream to Chromecast.

December 29, 2014 @ 8:26 AM

Eekan Boo



December 29, 2014 @ 7:49 PM

Eekan Boo

No wait!! Not "Chews". "Thriils".

Geez, I'm such a bonehead.

December 29, 2014 @ 7:52 PM

Eekan Boo

Mike + Markosaar:

My Samsung is geared to Allshare Cast. Is it the best option for Samsung-ites, or would Chromecast be better?

December 29, 2014 @ 7:55 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Eekan Boo

I don't know anything about Allshare Cast, but I have an LG G3 and my wife has a Samsung Galaxy S3 and Chromecast works perfectly with both.

It also works perfectly with my son's Windows laptop and my MacBook Pro.

It just works.

December 29, 2014 @ 10:42 PM

Eekan Boo


Okay, thanks. I may ask this question in Tuesday' s Open Mike, see what the community has to offer.

And the gum?

December 29, 2014 @ 11:43 PM

James Edgar

My wife got me a few months of In home guitar lessons this year. I haven't met the teacher yet so i can't say it will be a BEST EVER! Actually i can't say that any way as we met at Christmas 3 years ago but i have some real hope it will be #2 Best ever.

January 1, 2015 @ 12:16 PM

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