Monday, December 10, 2012

2012 Gift Guides: Tech

Getting the perfect gift for the technophiles in your life can be a tough row to hoe. Most fans of technology have the best available already. Here are 10 suggestions for gifts that are sure to keep the “techie” in your life enthralled until next Christmas and also won’t break the bank.

10. Subscription to — More and more people are getting their news straight from a computer these days, but one of the things left out with that is comic strips. This is the perfect gift for those that live on the ’net, yet can’t go without, “Garfield,” “Calvin and Hobbes,” “Peanuts” or dozens of others. And at just 99 cents a month, the subscription won’t break the bank.

9. Desktop Robot Vacuum — Available at, this little helper will clean up after anybody who spends time eating at their desk. It also works well for small tiled rooms. Only $14.95 at press time for this gift.

8. Finger Mouse — From Logisys, the finger mouse takes a regular old computer mouse and brings it into the 21st century, allowing users to operate it with just one finger. Available on Pick it up for under $20.

7. Portable USB Turntable — This little thing from ION Audio is available all over the Internet. It plugs into the USB port on a computer and allows the user to play records. Great for the music lover, or anyone who wants to edit audio and needs to digitize it from a record first. The best price I found was at for $84.99.

6. Oakley Split THUMP sunglasses — That’s right, both a stylish pair of sunglasses and an MP3 player. These shades can be picked up at for under $200.

5. Virtual Laser Keyboard — Much like the name reveals, this is a keyboard made up entirely of a laser grid. Using both infrared and laser technologies to create this fully functional accessory. Available for $199.99 at

4. iCade Jr. Mini Arcade Cabinet — Only available for people with an iPhone, this replica miniature arcade turns cellphone gaming up to another level. Available for $39.99 on

3. Roku LT — It won’t play in 1080p but this machine is still a neat little media hub. This box will connect your TV to netflix, HBO Go, Hulu Plus and many other streaming-media services. The best part is that it allows you to link in your mobile devices, laptops and other gear for viewing on the go.

2. Tech Cufflinks — offers a variety of “tech” cufflinks that plug into a computer and store at least 2GB of memory. Perfect for the Techie who saw the recently released James Bond movie “Skyfall” and wants to try a little spy action of his or her own.

1. Wii U — The next generation of console gaming, the controller includes an LED screen that can be used either as a second screen or to play from after the main TV is turned off. Already hard to find, the console retails for $299.99 for the basic package.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

2012 Gift Guides: Top DVD’s for tech geeks

People can be very specific in their wants and needs when it comes to electronics. I know -- I’m one of them.

The next best thing to getting someone the latest piece of technology is getting them something to use their their technology with. Purchasing a DVD is the perfect way to do that, as new combo packs offer a variety of ways to view each movie, whether it’s in 3D, Bluray or a regular old DVD player, or even as a digital copy now available on many mobile devices. There is nothing better to get someone that has everything than some of the latest and greatest films.

Here are the 10 movies (in no particular order) that will be released between Nov. 20 and Christmas that will have just about any pop-culture savvy person salivating.

M.I.B. III — Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) are back. J has seen some inexplicable things in his 15 years with the Men in Black, but nothing, not even aliens, perplexes him as much as his wry, reticent partner. But when K's life and the fate of the planet are put at stake, Agent J will have to travel back in time to put things right. Available Nov. 30.

The Dark Knight Rises — Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy concludes with this Warner Brothers release that finds the Dark Knight pitted against Bane, an unstoppable foe with tremendous physical and intellectual strength. Nearly a decade after taking the fall for Harvey Dent's death and disappearing into the darkness, a fugitive Batman (Christian Bale) watches from the shadows as the Dent Act keeps the streets of Gotham City free of crime. Meanwhile, an elusive cat burglar seizes the chance to strike, and a masked anarchist plots a devastating series of attacks designed to lure Bruce Wayne out of the shadows. Available Dec. 4.

Ice Age: Continental Drift — Scrat's acorn obsession sparks a continental catastrophe that sends Manny (Ray Romano), Diego (Denis Leary), and Sid (John Leguizamo) on an epic adventure involving a shipful of fearsome pirates, and an unexpected reunion. Available Dec. 11.

The Expendables 2 — When things go wrong and one of their own is viciously killed, the Expendables are compelled to seek revenge in hostile territory where the odds are stacked against them. Hell-bent on payback, the crew cuts a swath of destruction through opposing forces, wreaking havoc and shutting down an unexpected threat in the nick of time. But that's nothing compared to the justice they serve the villainous adversary who savagely murdered their brother. Available Nov. 20.

Resident Evil: Retribution — Awakening in a top-secret Umbrella facility as the T-virus threatens to wipe out the last remnants of humanity, Alice (Milla Jovovich) must battle her way through virtual simulations to break out of the complex and save Earth. Available Dec. 21.

Premium Rush — A crooked cop (Michael Shannon) pursues a New York City bike messenger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) carrying a mysterious package in this urban thriller from director/co-writer David Koepp. Available Dec. 21.

Arbitrage — When we first meet New York hedge fund magnate Robert Miller (Richard Gere) on the eve of his 60th birthday, he appears the very portrait of success in American business and family life. But behind the gilded walls of his mansion, Miller is in over his head, desperately trying to complete the sale of his trading empire to a major bank before the depths of his fraud are revealed. Available Dec. 21.

Total Recall — The planet has been decimated by nuclear war in the late 21st century, leaving only two nations -- the United Federation of Britain and the Colony. Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a factory worker with a stable job and a loving wife (Kate Beckinsale), but upon learning that a company named Rekall could grant him the memory of the ultimate espionage adventure, he decides that a virtual vacation is better than no vacation at all. Available Dec. 18.

Ted —  The story of John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg), a grown man who must deal with the cherished teddy bear who came to life as the result of a childhood wish ... and has refused to leave his side ever since. Available Dec. 11.

The Bourne Legacy — The fourth installment in the highly successful Bourne series sees the return of the franchise's screenwriter, Tony Gilroy, stepping into the director's seat for an entry that sidelines main character Jason Bourne to focus on a fellow estranged assassin (Jeremy Renner). Edward Norton and Rachel Weisz costar, with Joan Allen and Albert Finney reprising their roles from previous films. Available Dec. 21.

2012 Holiday gift guide: Books

I’m an avid reader and always looking to discover a new writer or book that I’ll enjoy.

I’ve never been one to stick to a specific genre or style, which makes buying for me easier, but tougher because you never know if it will be of interest to me. This shopping list is for readers like me.

Here are 10 books that have been released in the last 12 months that should appeal to broad audiences.

“Matched” (trilogy) — Ally Condie’s first book “Matched” was released in 2011 and two follow-ups, “Crossed” and “Reached,” both were published this year. The books draw strong connections to “1984” and “The Giver” as the reader is introduced a “perfect” society where every decision is made for people, from whom they will marry to what job they will have. But then there’s a glitch.

“The Mark of Athena” (Heroes of Olympus, Book 3) — Rick Riordan continues the story of Percy Jackson, which began in a previous book series. Here, Percy takes a back seat to allow other characters shine through. Riordan wrote the book for young adults, but it can be fun for all ages if you let your imagination wonder. In this series, the ancient Greek and Roman gods still exist, but their worlds are hidden from modern society behind a “mist.”

“Game On: Find Your Purpose” — Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, “Dancing with the Stars” champion and successful real estate investor, outlines the principles that helped him become a winner on and off the field. Great for football fans or people that love autobiographies.

‘Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power” — Pulitzer Prize winner Jon Meachem chronicles the life and times of Jefferson during his rise to the presidency. It perfectly details the man and his passions.

“Frozen Heat” — The fourth book written by Richard Castle in the “Nikki Heat” series. Castle is the world famous author played by Nathan Fillion in the hit ABC television show “Castle.” In a media crossover, the network hired ghostwriters to bring the series to life in novels. All four have been mainstays on the New York Times best sellers list.

“Gone Girl” — Penned by Gillian Flynn, this thriller could be snatched from recent headlines. It’s the story of a wife gone missing and her husband is the main suspect. But after more clues begin to reveal themselves, just how many enemies did the wife really have?

“Deadlocked” — Charlaine Harris hits another home run with the 12th book in her “Southern Vampire” mysteries series, which has been turned into the HBO series “True Blood.” Here, Sookie must look into the death of a young girl who was killed at a vampire party.

“The Book Thief” — Markus Zusak is the author, but Death is the star of this book. The Grim Reaper narrates a story about a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter and quite a lot of thievery.

“The Casual Vacancy” — J.K. Rowling’s first foray into adult literature and the first book of any kind since the end of the “Harry Potter” series. The story is set in Pagford, a small town in England, and watches how small-town politics affect life as the town tries to fill a vacancy on the town council after a member dies.

“The Fault in Our Stars” — John Green writes about Hazel, a 13-year-old girl diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer. She was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrinks the tumors ... for now.

CAUGHT IN THE WEB: I wanna write about me!

This was written for the Dec. 9, 2012 editions of The News-Herald Newspapers.

This is the final time that I will write this column

If a prediction by the ancient Mayan culture is correct, that is. I only write this column every couple of weeks due to a rotation with our other Web-centric workers here in the office. That means my next turn isn’t until after the time the Mayans have predicted the end of the world, which is scheduled for Dec. 21. But hey, if the Mayans are right, the people I didn’t buy Christmas gifts for won’t be mad at me.

Not that I buy into that doom-and-gloom scenario of the end of the world. I mean, it’s silly, right? Ah well, at least I’ll get to see my birthday (which is Thursday for any adoring readers who want to shower me in praise and well wishes).

Then again, why is a birthday something I should celebrate; it’s more an accomplishment for my mother than it was for me. I mean she did all the work, right? Maybe this year I’ll get her a gift for my birthday.

Being that this could be my last time writing this column, though, I want to write about me. I mean, normally, I like writing about you, usually, but occasionally, I wanna write about me.

When you started reading this you thought I was going to ramble on about what we did on the Web this week. Don’t worry, I’ll get to that later. But now, more about me. It’s the subject that I am the world’s foremost expert on, after all. Like did you know that I am an only child, but I have three sisters who are blood-related. Or that when I graduated from high school U.S. Sen. John Kerry was our keynote speaker?

OK, maybe you knew that last one, but did you know that I’m an avid science-fiction fan? No matter the medium. Star Wars or Star Trek? I’m not choosy; I’ll take them both.

I suppose that’s enough about me, but I reserve the right to revisit the issue if it turns out that I’m right and the Mayans were wrong. Now it’s time to talk about my co-workers and all they have brought to you this week on the Web, and, in turn, what you, the readers, have enjoyed on our website and social media accounts.

Our top stories this week include one by Alan Burdziak out of Southgate about the potential closing of three schools as early as next school year due to financial troubles facing the district. Not only was this our most popular story, but it also was one of our most commented on, both on Facebook and on, as parents, students (both current and former) and many other people weighed in on potential solutions to the problem. People also discussed problems that might arise from closing the schools. However, a decision is likely to be made quickly in order to let the planning for next year move forward as smoothly as possible.

The second most popular story blew up Wednesday morning when it was posted. More than 4,000 people read Andrea Blum’s story about Rich Pyle, who is on the truTV reality show “Hardcore Pawn,” about a Detroit pawn shop. Pyle is a Woodhaven resident and is in a band that is releasing it’s second album soon. We did not expect so many to read the story so quickly.

The next couple of popular stories, both from David Komer, came out of Taylor. A police officer, Christopher Cates, was making a routine traffic stop when the driver grabbed his shirt and attempted to drive away while dragging the officer with him. Cates was uninjured and the driver was later arrested in Wyandotte.

Komer’s second story was tragic. Thursday morning a mobile home caught fire, causing the death of a 73-year-old woman who was visiting her son. Investigators believe the fire was caused by a space heater, but the investigation is ongoing.

A story out of Riverview rounded out our top five most popular stories last week. It was written by a former News-Herald reporter and longtime contributor, David Gorgon. It was about Riverview Community Schools dedicating a tree in memory of a student who died in a car crash in Monroe County over the summer. The story wasn’t about the horrific crash, but about the beautiful dedication ceremony with family and friends that will allow Amanda James to be remembered as students and staff walk past the tree on a daily basis.

As many of you already have discovered, our high school sports coverage moved to a new website ( at the beginning of the fall season. Tens of thousands of you have moved over there to find the source of prep coverage Downriver, but now for our Twitter audience: Just this week, the sports department started a strictly prep Twitter account, and they promise to be using it as much as possible in the winter season. Follow them on Twitter @MIPrepZone_NH.

I guess until next time, I’ll see you in the inter-Web; check us out daily.

Contact Video Coordinator Dave Herndon at 1-734-246-0867 or Follow him on Facebook and @NHDaveH on Twitter.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Look at this Instagram

Quite possibly one of the best parodies ever written. And yes, that is a picture of me as I watched the video for the third straight time. Flippin' hilarious.

New comic book releases Dec. 5, 2012.

Gary Banac, the manager of Big Ben's Comix Oasis in Allen Park discusses some of the newly released comics for Dec. 5.

Telephone: # 313-382-0700

Fax:# 313-382-0772


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Castle - Secret Santa, reviewed

Castle season 5, episode 10: Secret Santa. In a Castle holiday episode, when a bearded, rotund man in a red Santa suit with an ID reading Kris Kringle falls from the sky in Central Park, Castle and Beckett are on the hunt to find the person who killed Santa. But everything isn’t holiday cheer, as they discover St. Nick may have been more naughty than nice. Meanwhile, Castle and Beckett prepare for their first Christmas together. 
The episode is one of the strongest of the season, and includes something for every fan of the series.

Captain Gates is becoming a real character, rather than just the curmudgeonly boss, Javier has some great scenes, including a fight with a group of Santa Claus' a la Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Jingle All the Way," and there is some key developments for both Alexis and Castle and Beckett's relationship.

Overall it's a solid A.