Breakfast. Books. Productivity tools. Beer. Sounds like a full day in the editorial office. Check out what we like this week.
Breckenridge Brewery's Vanilla Porter -- Last year, I made a batch of vanilla porter home brew and although it turned out pretty well, it was nowhere as tasty as Breckenridge's version of this thick, slightly sweet brown ale. This Colorado-brewed beer has traces of both chocolate and vanilla, which is why it also makes a delicious milkshake. It's true: combine a half of a bottle with a few scoops of ice cream, mix it in a blender and have yourself one delicious spiked shake. You can find this beer at most liquor stores right now, and it's definitely worth a try with or without the cold, creamy stuff. --Molly Snyder Edler
Yelp for iPhone v.4 -- Yelp's "augmented reality" feature was apparently big news in 2009, but I guess I missed it. And I suppose it's just as well considering I just recently installed the latest version (4) of Yelp's iPhone app and it's full of improvements on the previous versions. For those who don't know, Yelp's "monocle" works like a virtual, moving database of bars and restaurants in whatever area you happen to be in at the time. You just hold your iPhone out in front of you and up pop all the listings. Turn to your right, and the listings for establishments in that direction appear. And since it's brought to you by Yelp.com, you can of course click on any listing to find more information, read reviews and get directions. In this latest version, holding your iPhone flat shows you an actual map of your area that moves with you as you move. Geek alert: it's fun to use even if you're not looking for anything in particular. And in an unknown city, this thing could be a life saver. --Julie Lawrence
Dragon Dictation -- One of the crappy things about being a journalist is transcribing notes and interviews. For decades, people in our business have wondered if there is a fast, accurate dictaiton/transcription service. Dragon, a free app on the iPhone, is a pretty good start. It's good for quick memos that you can send as e-mails or texts. It's not perfect, but it's a start. --Drew Olson
"Open" by Andre Agassi -- I'm usually a bit skeptical of sports stars and their autobiographies. Too many are atonements for lives gone wrong. And, way too often the media and book tours kill the "story" leaving little new to learn from reading the books. Yet, even though I've always admired Andre Agassi and know his "story" rather well, I'm really enjoying his book, "Open." It's extremely interesting, well-written and even gut retching at times. I love tennis, almost as much as basketball, and played the sport for years -- so naturally I like this book. But, even if you're not a fan you'll enjoy this look into the life of one of the sport's greatest players. --Jeff Sherman
The Hofner Guitar: A History (Hal Leonard) -- This slim hardcover by Gordon Giltrap and Neville Marten has a kind of dated look that perfectly suits a book about Germany's Hofner guitars, makers of Paul McCartney's trademark violin bass. The book has about everything you'd want to know about Hofners, including an interview with the company president, details and photos of all its models, profiles of the famous people who have played them (McCartney, Alvin Lee of Ten Years After, Midge Ure of Ultravox, etc.) and cool reproductions of old advertisements from the late '50s / early '60s. While Hofner made some really cool guitars -- like the violin bass and a varied range of hollow body electrics -- I never realized that in the '80s it produced some of the ugliest axes I've ever seen. Luckily, the '90s and 2000s saw a return to its roots and Hofner began to remake its classics. --Bobby Tanzilo
Aquafresh Iso-Active Whitening gel -- I had no problem with the toothpaste, itself, that I've used for years. In fact, I like the unsweetened Tom's of Maine peppermint, but I can't stand the antiquated way it's delivered -- through a metal tube. Maybe I'm becoming crotchety in my mid 30s, but I feel like most of my morning routine is spent trying to squeeze enough toothpaste from a tube. I've also tried the toothpaste that comes in those teardrop shaped plastic containers, and that's a little better. But this new offering from Aquafresh comes in a container that's similar to shaving cream. You just push a button and out squirts the gel. Apparently, this is no mere toothpaste, either. According to the Aquafresh Web site, Iso-Active's revolutionary gel activates the moment I start brushing, transforming into a micro-fine foam. Well, that sounds cool. But I'm most excited about never having to squeeze another tube to death again. Tom's of Maine, are you listening? Give me a modern toothpaste delivery device and I'll be your customer for life. -- Andy Tarnoff
Lean Cuisine Breakfast Classics -- During a recent sale, I inadvertantly grabbed a sausage and egg panini. At first, I considered returning for an exchange but decided to give it a shot. I couldn't have been happier. Think pieces of egg and sausage with a hint of maple on cinnamon-toasted bread. Yum. A hot and tasty treat to kick off the day and for about $2. --Andrew Wagner