Audiobooks – a geek vacation must!

I can’t travel without a good book. And as a Dallas native who is often making the 10 hour round trip drive to see my family, I can’t imagine vacation without audiobooks!

Whether you use (a paid subscription service), iTunes, or your local Half Price Books… audio books can help a long trip go by faster – and (if you’re feeling extra geeky) you might just learn something along the way.

A few tips for finding good books:

  • Use the library – Most libraries, including The Houston Public Library, allow you to reserve books and audio books online (even from other branches in the system). You’ll get an email when it’s ready, just come pick it up at your neighborhood branch. A great way to get your audiobook fix and be frugal.
  • Ask your network – There is one thing I think LinkedIn does better than any other social network, and it’s probably not what you’re thinking. I LOVE the Reading List by Amazon App! Create a reading list and mark books as Read, Reading, or Want to Read – and then write a review or recommend to friends. The app then shows recommended books from people in your network, in your industry, and throughout all of LinkedIn.

Audiobooks I’m obsessed with right now

Below is a list of the last few audiobooks I’ve listened to. They were all fascinating and (in my opinion) more interesting because they were read by the author.

  1. It’s Called Work for a Reason – read by the author Larry Winget
    This book is made up of Larry Winget’s thoughts on business, getting and keeping a job, and dealing with people you work with. The book is great on its own, but there’s just something about hearing Larry Winget say “be known as the guy who gets sh*t done” in his own voice that makes it that much more powerful (and the stories funnier).
    For more on this book, read Courtney’s recap “Do Work” from the Schipul blog.
  2. Outliers read by the author Malcolm Gladwell –
    Like many of us at Schipul, I have a bit of a Malcolm Gladwell obsession. Gladwell has a way of explaining the world around us that is so logical but also completely different than anything I’ve ever heard. Outliers explains that no one really picks themselves up by the bootstraps and finds success all by themselves. There are no born geniuses, success depends on context and opportunities and practice (practice, practice).

    There’s a reason this man hold 3 of the 5 spots on the top nonfiction audiobooks on iTunes right now. Next up on my to-read list is his latest book “What the Dog Saw.”

  3. Official Bookclub Selection – read by the author Kathy Griffin –
    I couldn’t leave this one out! You might think she’s mean for making fun of those poor defenseless celebrities or you might not get why the details of Brook Shield’s wedding are so fascinating… But if you are a Kathy Griffin fan, you will enjoy this book. It’s essentially 6 hours of stories in the style of her stand up, always hilarious and at times very touching. If that sounds like your cup of tea – Don’t walk, RUN to get your hands on the audiobook. Seriously. Go!

What do you think? What books are better when read by the author? What are you listening to right now? Let us know!

Schipul Cheer Gift Guide ’09 – Geeks and Gamers

Need some stellar gift ideas? We’ve got you covered. Personally, I am a huge Christmas fan (I started celebrating in October) and am always on the lookout for unique gifts to give. This year, my gift to everyone is my secret stash of awesome gift ideas and online shops.

This week, I present to you a quick gift guide for all of those geeks, gamers, and techy people in your life. Feel free to purchase anything on this list and mail it to the Schipul office with an ‘Attn: to Brandi.”

ALSO (BONUS!): If nothing on the list fits for your geek/gamer/techy then leave a comment that tells me a little about them and a price range and I will try to help you find something special! Or, tweet it using the tag #schipulcheer09.

And literally, in no particular order whatsoever, the gift guide:

Kikkerland Wind-up Toys:

Buy 20, wind them all up, watch them go!
Buy 20, wind them all up, watch them go!

These make for some great stocking stuffers, white elephant gifts, and toys for secret Santa. I have a large collection of them and have attempted to take them apart and rebuild them several times. Total choking hazard, by the way.
Price: $12-$18

Mimobot Flash USB Drives:

I wish Darth Vador was my father. Sorta.
I wish Darth Vader was my father. Sorta.

These are totally rad! Perfect for someone needing information on the go and appreciates awesomely designed tech toys. And check out the Halo themed ones that are on sale!
Price: $10- $25

You are the CSS to my HTML T-Shirt:

This shirt was made for lovers. Of code.
This shirt was made for lovers. Of code.

Declare your love in the best way possible. If your girl or guy doesn’t get it, then consider hooking up with a geek next time.   Oh, and you can also buy it in button form.
Price: $25

Xbox 360 Text Messaging Kit:

(Insert "all your base" joke here)
(Insert "all your base" joke here)

If you are playing online and you really can’t deal with n00bs screaming through the headset you can attach a keyboard and type out your insults instead.
Price: $29.46 (regularly $29.99′ gee, what a saving)

Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice) Locket Charm Necklace:


If you are a bit of geek (technically a nerd in this case) who happens to be dating a girl who is also pretty nerdy, this is a good option for jewelry. Some ladies like their Johnny Depps’ and Justin Timberlakes’ but nerd girls get a lil’ flutter for Mr. Darcy.
Price:   $42

Sir Isaac Newton Action Figure:

I would date him if he were still alive.

You know who was the shiz? Sir Freakin’ Isaac Newton. True nerds will appreciate this figurine and forever keep it on their desk–which is most likely at NASA, ‘cus NASA totally gets it.
Price: $4.49

Harry: Thick Tendrils of Organization:

I'd throw it at people. Just sayin'.
I'd throw it at people. Just sayin'.

Geeks are already a little messy, so it is easier to just throw everything into a ball and declare it as being “organized.”
Price: $24.99 (regularly $29.99)

Super Mario Piranha Plant Scarf:

It matches EVERY SINGLE THING. Promise!
It matches EVERY SINGLE THING. Promise!

It may not get very cold in Houston (TX), but who the hell cares. IT IS A PIRANHA PLANT SCARF. I’d wear it in the freakin’ desert!
Price: $38

Command Doormat:

Its for Apple users because M$ people prefer to track in dirt.
Its for Apple users because M$ people prefer to track in dirt.

Someone needs to reassure me that I am not the only one who walks around expecting keyboard shortcuts to work in real world scenarios
Price: $50

Nintendo Controller Knit Hat (Reversible):

Needs more Nintendo controllers
Needs more Nintendo controllers

Gamers know their roots and no matter if they have moved on to the PS3 or Xbox 360, the still pay some homage to the NES. Note: A lot of gamers avoid the outdoors, so buying a hat to wear in cold weather may not be the most practical idea.
Price: $20

Matryoshkus Blanco:

The site also creates them in black
Also comes in black

If you are a geek, you should go out of your way to make sure that every space in your home reflects your geekiness. These Russian doll.. uh.. things.. are great for storing cooking ingredients. Or just for show if you don’t really cook.
Price: $38.46

LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0:

Better than a cat! Then again, what isnt?
Better than a cat! Then again, what isnt?

Give the gift of a LEGO robot! Either give the gift to a friend or build the robot and offer it’s cleaning services to a loved one. Or buy one and keep it for yourself. Or buy thousands of them, build a robot army, and take over the world. Your call. I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.
Price: $279.99

Etre Touchy Gloves:

Not just for iPhones! ... but should be.
Not just for iPhones! ... but should be.

With so many things that require you to touch them with your thumb and index finger, giving the gift of finger freedom is always a sweet idea. Or you can just cut and sew your own gloves if you’re one of those crafty types.
Price: $33.12

PS3 Blu-ray Disc Remote:

The buttons do things
The buttons do things

PS3’s makes for an amazing game console and blu-ray player. Being created for gaming first, the idea of having a remote (outside of the PS gaming controller) was not factored in until later.
Price: $19.82 (regularly $24)

Zelda the Solar Cyborg Bugbot v0.2:

Don't look at it directly in the eye.. uh.. face.. area
Don't look at it directly in the eye.. uh.. face.. area

I hate bugs, I’m not into the benefits of solar power, but holy wow do I love a good ‘bot. Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a handmade toy that serves no real purpose other than ten minutes of amusement.
Price: $85.00

Nintendo Controller Bag:

This bag will bring all of the milkshakes to the yard
This bag will bring all of the milkshakes to the yard

If you don’t think your soon-to-be-gift-recipient needs a bag, then you are sorely mistaken. This. This bag. This is magic.
Price: $42

Screwpop Tool:

Always helpful in computer emergencies
Always helpful in computer emergencies

This little thing is great to have and is one of those “something extra” gifts. If you know an IT guy/gal who is always running around helping people, this tool can come in handy. It also opens beer. So, ya know, that is totally win.
Price: $4.95

MonkeyLectric Bike Wheel Light M133S:

Weird, I have that same blue wig
Weird, I have that same blue wig

I love my bike geek friends! No matter how many times I nearly run them over, they still get back up. These LED lights are super awesome and bring that something extra to a bike. And they are LED lights. LED lights are amazing… and can be used for some weird stuff.
Price: $64.99

Mana Mug:


Ahhahahahahahah ah hah ah ahahahaha hahahaha! Oh MAN! HAHAHA! Ok, ok, if you don’t get it, your gamer friends will. Especially if they are heavy coffee drinkers.
Price: $10.95

Firefly (The Complete Season):

"We're not gonna die. We can't die, Bendis. You know why? Because we are so...very...pretty. We are just too pretty for God to let us die."
"We're not gonna die. We can't die, Bendis. You know why? Because we are so...very...pretty. We are just too pretty for God to let us die."

This does not need any explanation or additional selling points. It is Firefly. That is more than good enough.
Price: $39.99

And so concludes this week’s gift guide. Still looking for something more? I’ll be posting a new guide each week! Next week we will list out some rockin’ gifts for those Designers, Crafties and Indie friends of yours.


But, before I skedaddle, I want to let everyone know about GiftBox! It organizes your present list(s), tracks how much they are, where they are, who they are for, if they have been purchased, how much money you have spent, and so much more! It’s a free service, so go get it!