I did a large amount of my Christmas shopping before our yearly vacation this year. And one thing I tried to do was order from places that weren’t Amazon. I did order a few things from Amazon, but I made an effort to search other places first.

I don’t particularly mind Amazon—I just think it’s fun to try and support other businesses and manufacturers on the web. Cool?

  1. Jetpens Jetpens has a huge selection of pens and reviews. Only recently after taking a new job that required a bit more sketching and writing did I start really getting particular about which pens I used regularly. In addition to some inexpensive yet durable traveling pens, Jetpens also carries gorgeous mechanical pencils, pencil cases and bags, paper and blank books and assorted office (drool…) supplies.
  2. Adafruit I have to admit I didn’t really appreciate the maker movement until this year. I saw a MakerBot churning away at XOXO and it sparked something in my brain. Then Chris Anderson’s Makers: The New Industrial Revolution was released and now I am irretrievably hooked on the subject. I have a Twine, a Raspberry Pi, an Arduino, and way too many ideas of stuff I want to make. It feels just like 1998 did for me when the web was this massive, exploding software playground. I don’t think I actually bought gifts from here, but if you are buying gifts for me…hinthint.
  3. Tonx If you don’t have a Tonx subscription and you love coffee you are missing out on an amazing service. Every two weeks a new, freshly roasted batch sourced from some place in the world is shipped to your door. Included is a small card describing your coffee’s flavors as well as a bit about the place it came from. EVERYONE who loves coffee would appreciate this service.
  4. Dodocase Two things I want you to know about Dodocase: a couple weeks after my iPad case arrived I dropped and broke the corner. The case is partly made of bamboo and that corner just snapped clean off. Pretty clearly my fault, but I did tweet at them that it had happened in case this was abnormal and they immediately sent me a replacement. I wasn’t expecting it but now I want to recommend them to anyone looking for the type of case Dodocase makes.

    The second thing is that if you have a Kindle Paperwhite you really have to get the Dodocase for it. It sticks onto the case with tape, which one wouldn’t think is going to be very sturdy, but now after a couple months with it, I think I love my Paperwhite twice as much with the case. Tablet and phone cases are a pretty personal thing, and I don’t know if a Dodocase makes a good gift for someone not expecting it, but if you know someone wants that Moleskine-like look and feel I highly recommend it.
  5. 20x200 Affordable art shipped to your door. I heard Jen Bekman speak at XOXO about the art world’s reluctance to provide the ability to shop by category, price, and color. 20x200 is such a great story about taking an idea, routing around the naysayers, and putting in front of customers. We own a few prints from 20x200 and they are prints I surely would not have thought to buy without finding them on 20x200.
  6. Killscreen Magazine Know someone really into video games? No, I mean REALLY into video games? Get them a subscription to Killscreen magazine. I receive the paper edition, but it looks like they have ebooks now.
  7. Assorted things I like: this Maker’s Notebook lays flat, has page numbers and a header on each page you can fill out about which project the page is about. Distance Magazine: “smart essays about design and technology.” TopatoCo! Diesel Sweeties Store!

Indie Relief is a Mac software fundraiser for Haiti. All proceeds from today's (January 20th) purchases will go to charities chosen by the developers. Such a great idea. Buy something!

I love this piece of marketing from Burger King: Whopper Sacrifice. You use the Facebook App to "sacrifice" 10 friends by un-friending them, and you then get a coupon for a free Whopper. Those friends receive messages stating they were unfriended by their former friend and a chance to install the app and get a burger for themselves.

People I know who are using it are dumping friends for the burger but will likely re-friend them later which is just perfect. Good stuff.

Whopper Sacrifice Website

There are some wicked ideas, and then there are some truly wicked ideas. Swoopo is about the most wicked I've come across in a while. It takes a few minutes to understand what's going on, but when you do you can't believe it's really happening.

I'll blow your mind even more: a current auction for $225 worth of "bids" is currently at $480. These are bids you can buy on the site for $225.

The Wikipedia explanation is probably the best one.

Michael on the math behind the new Starbucks Gold Card.

Zappos has an interesting way of testing new hires, after four weeks if you're not happy about the job and the company, they'll pay you your full salary for the time you've been there, and give you a $500 bonus (possibly $1,000 soon). The reasoning is if you haven't bought into what the company is about, you probably won't be the type of Zappos employee they need.

Oh, also they expect about a billion dollars in sales this year.

If you're not following Zappos on Twitter, you should. They're one of the few companies understanding how to use Twitter as a component of their company.

Mule Design is having a sale on their shirts.

The Droste Effect is when a package contains a photo of the package. It goes without saying that this sort of thing is the sort of thing I like.

Notcot went to CES and brought back a list of items that are both cool and available (or nearly so).

Leo Burnett's retirement speech found on his Wikipedia page.

Also, I hadn't heard this fact from Wikipedia: "Burnett's use of the animation medium to sell products was slyly given a nod in the anime series Pokémon. Disguised as muffled backwards dialogue, the character James of Team Rocket, is heard mumbling a line in the grip of a Pokémon's mouth. The line is "Leo Burnett and 4Kids are the devil, Leo Burnett!", mocking both Leo's introduction of animated commercialism, and Pokémon itself, which promotes the Nintendo games of the same title."

Update: the audio. Thanks, Adam!