FTC Disclosure

Life is complicated enough without getting into hotwater with federal agencies so: TAKE NOTE Many things I review I got at no charge in exchange for an honest review. Consider this as informing you that ALL things I review may have been gotten at no charge. Realistically about 60% but in order to keep things above board just assume that I got the stuff free. I do not collect information on my readers. If cookies or other tracking stuff is used on my blogs it is due to BLOGGER not ME. Apparently the European Union's new rules state I need to inform you if cookies are being use. If they are it isn't byu me, consider yourself INFORMED.
Words like, “sponsored,” “promotion,” “paid ad” or even just “ad” are clear ways to disclose that you’re being paid to share information and links so BE AWARE that some of what I write can be described as an AD by the government. BTW I will NEVER say a product is great, super or even acceptable if it isn't, whether I got it free or NOT!



Please check out my other blogs
Pick of the Literate 
or Azure Dwarf’s Horde
or visit my web site

Friday, September 30, 2011

Midland Emergency Weather Alert Radio

Midland Emergency Weather Alert Radio

As I look out at the water puddling my yard, I have to wonder about the extreme weather we have been having.   Recently there was a consistent red band on the bottom of the TV warning of tornados.   I don’t live in a tornado prone area so that was troubling, troubling enough that I had difficulty sleeping that night.  I get grumpy when I can’t sleep.  

I got up and found an ap for my beloved Droid X that will alert you to tornados.  It downloaded and setup just fine but it wouldn’t let me put in my location or any other location.  So it was worthless.  

The next day I went to Amazon and searched for an emergency radio.   The Midland WR-120 got good reviews, it has battery backup and it was inexpensive.   The feature I liked most was that you can set it for the weather station closest to your location and filter out the other stuff.   I feel bad if they have a tornado in Harrisburg but I don’t want woken up in the middle of the night about it.   BTW if you set the siren on this puppy be prepared to be launched right out of slumber land.   I had it in another room and still jumped when a flood warning went off last night. 

Overall this is a good product for peace of mind with the crazy weather we have been having. 

Addendum 4/19/12:  The radio babbles constantly, it should have the ability to provide a very narrow range that could be set to hear and to silence the stuff outside of your immediate area. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Amazon’s Kindle Fire-Looks Awesome!

No point in going into specs, look at them here.   Here being the Amazon product page.   Amazon knocked the competition around today with their $199.00 tablet.   That’s $199.00!!!

The specs and content look good, more importantly their new browser named Silk looks very good.  They claim to have married the Kindle to Cloud computing with the “heavy lifting” being done by Amazon’s robust servers lurking in their cloud.   If their claim is valid and this actually does work, it is setting a standard that will have to be met.  Speed is the name of the game and if Silk works as advertised Amazon is going to be way out in front.   Check it out on the Amazon product page!
Amazon’s Kindle Fire-Looks Awesome!

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Number One Example of How Online Marketing Makes Money

A guest post by some blokes from down under.  They have links to their business or somebodies business but that doesn't preclude their post from being interesting.   I checked out the links and they seem harmless.  I'm not recommending them because I haven't used them.   They do write some nice posts though. 

Online marketing has so many avenues to the way it can make revenue. In some cases, we are even seeing ideas that have turned into revenue generating machines in their own right. LaunchRock is a website that is gaining traction and interest that grew out of the idea of launching a website without really having to do it. The pre-marketing made easy before you even invest in the time and money to launch your start-up, if you will. Other simple online apps, have turned into making money from more traditional means. Angry Birds is an excellent example, of how a simple and free app (with supported advertising), has turned into a huge business. Most of the new revenue comes from more traditional means. Here is a look at how and what it has grown into.
·         Initial Release. In 2009, the free iPhone app was released. It has been free (with supported advertising) ever since. The app has recently reached over 250 million downloads over all platforms. That is a lot of advertising revenue. Sales of the full paid version are past 10 million copies.
·         Web. Angry Birds will be available as an app on Google’s Chrome in the very near future. Another extension that will take the application to more users than just all of those smartphone users.
·         TV. We all know TV is big money. An animation on TV that is popular with kids is even bigger amounts of money. Angry Birds has signed up for a TV deal, which is already under production, and you can expect to see it somewhere on TV sometime before this summer ends.
·         Facebook. While probably not generating any direct cash revenue except from data collection and advertising (did I really just write that?), the Angry Birds Facebook page has around 3.7 million likes. That is a lot of data, and a lot of information potentially collected by their app. Who even knows what other revenue they are generating from social media marketing.
·         PSP. The release of the PSP version of Angry Birds was released in the early part of 2011. PSP and game software is a very serious business. The amount of money that Angry Birds has generated from this is probably staggering considering a copy of the game retails at US$3.99.
·         Board Game. Angry Birds partnered with Mattel to release the Angry Birds board game. The board game came out in May 2011 and retails for around US$15.
·         Fluffy Toys. Fluffy toys are a big business when they are popular. Angry Birds is extremely popular. Their online shop sells the toys for prices starting at US$8 and US$12. While exact sales numbers are not known, it is rumoured that over 3 million units have been shipped. It must be the simplest online shop in existence. It could be built with an online web-builder site, it is that simple.
·         Cook Book. Yes. One is on the way. It will be in stores any day. Apparently, all meals only include eggs.
·         Sports Sponsorship and Movie Deals. In this year’s Superbowl, the biggest single sporting event in the world each year, Angry Birds appeared in the animated movie, Rio, which gave secret a secret clue a hidden level in the game.

There is more, but you get the point. It is more than interesting that a simple game, that took little to produce by Peter Vesterbacka and his company Rovio, has blown into a money machine. They had been working on many games for companies like EA, GameHouse and Nokia, to name a few. One of Rovio’s game designers invented the characters out of personal interest, and everyone in the company liked them. From that the game was born. It wasn’t paid project. It was released free. Now it is generating stratospheric revenues, mainly from other sources. Now, there is something to think about. It is an example of pure technology and marketing, essentially marketing nothing, making money from traditional sources.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Black & Decker CCS818 18-Volt Cordless Electric Chain Saw

This saw actually seems to exceed the normal B&D build quality.   I found the saw well constructed and thoughtfully designed.   If you are planning on trimming off small branches it does a nice job on up to 2" diameter branches.   If you plan on cutting anything larger you want to have a large number of charged batteries handy.

My 12" Remington electric chain saw, model LNT-2, died in the middle of a bush stump of roughly 7-8" in diameter.   My initial annoyance abated when it occurred to me that I have had the little beast for possibly 20 years so it provided service well beyond what one could expect for such an inexpensive tool.   The overheated burning smell was some catastrophic failure.  (Yes I did have plenty of oil in it.)

Ironically I now have 4-12" chains, two of which are freshly sharpened and no chain saw on which to install them. 

I borrowed the B&D saw from my son.   It worked fine but I again caution you that the battery life is truly 
dismal.  I had three batteries and all three ran out of juice well before the first one could recharge.   The stump was within the saw's rated capacity but it took 5 battery recharges to cut the whole way through.

In summary, a good trimmer, very light, can easily be used one handed (although that is not ever  recommended), very quiet and reasonably priced.   Do not expect that it is a useful replacement for even something as simplistic as my old Remington LNT-2. 
 Handles both soft and hard wood measuring up to eight inches in diameter
 Makes up to 150 1-1/2-inch diameter cuts on a single charge
Lightweight, efficient, and comfortable to hold
Weighs 9.5 pounds; 2-year warranty
 Includes one 18-volt battery, a guide bar scabbard, and an on-board hex wrench

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Apples iPad2 Smart Cover

I just read a review on the Smart Cover in the June 2011 issue of Wired magazine.   The author states that one of the reasons Apple is so successful is the quality and thoughtfulness of their products.   He accurately describes the functionality and elegance of the Smart Cover and it’s shortcomings as a truly protective cover.  

Admittedly when I saw the Smart Cover I was impressed with it and, yes, it is cool.  However I have 2nd hand experience that you may want to recognize that it is not perfect.   A close Apple-centric relative reveled in her new iPad2 when she visited.   I, sadly, did get tablet envy but that is beside the point.   The point is that she forked out the $69.99 for the leather Smart Cover and was very happy with it.   However on returning home she was using her tablet and ill advisedly picked the iPad2 up by the Smart Cover.   Disaster struck, the magnets released and her new best friend fell screen side down on the concrete porch.   Imagine her dismay!

This is not a criticism of the Smart Cover as much as it is a caveat that you may want to consider a more protective cover and one that won’t pull off when you lose your head and try and lift it by the cover.   BTW due to the fact that she has probably had at least one of every Apple product ever released (including several of the ancient Lisa), the local Apple store replaced her iPad2 at no charge.  (She was 2 days over the 30 day all issues guarantee.)   Not only is this a cautionary tale regarding covers but it does suggest that if you are a good, in this case an absurdly good, customer of a local business, they may actually go out of their way to help you.   In her case, she is now much more cautious with her beloved iPad 2.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Linksys E1200 Wireless N Router

I tend to research tech ad nauseum.   My  venerable 3-Com switch was showing some intermittent issues.   I was getting drop off and I connected my PC directly to the cable modem and the drop off disappeared.   So I added in my 3-Com and it was back.   I tried several other old switches I had and none were seamless.   Since they were all at least five years old, I bit the bullet and bought the E1200. 

The router got four or five stars on several online rating sites.   PC Mag had an article that mentioned it no less than three times as a good value.   It is not a high end switch/router but it is ranked as worthwhile. 

I would have to disagree with that ranking.  I do not have any wireless N devices so that is moot.   It is quicker than the 3-Com and configuration was truly simple.  After I installed the router I turned off the cable modem, turned it back on and Viola! The internet was back.  

Setting up the wireless aspect was not as simple.  First it self configures but doesn’t tell you that it is doing that.   I have not satisfied my self on the security settings yet but it is moderately protected.   The wireless setup instructions need some work.  I used Cisco connect and it walks you through a usb key to set up any other devices.  That didn’t work.

I have a laptop that has been installed on several wireless routers with security.   I have used the laptop in multiple hot spots and gotten on easily.   The guest version of the E1200 which is unsecured works just fine but the secured version will not work.

I spent 30 minutes on chat with a Cisco tech who said they had gotten a lot of calls regarding the E1200 and the Atheros wireless adapters.  He suggested I update the driver for the adapter.  There is no update.  They he suggested I disable the internal wireless adapter and install another wireless adapter to see if that connected.   Since the laptop connects everywhere else and to the E1200’s unsecured version, it doesn’t seem likely that going to all that trouble should be necessary.   Logic dictates the E1200 has a problem.  

I’m disappointed that the E1200 doesn’t meet the standards of the old WRT54G I replaced.   Today wireless security is imperative not optional.  I have to wonder how many of the reviewers that touted the E1200 actually installed one themselves. 

The E1200 wireless router works fine wired, as far as the wireless part is concerned DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Please take 4.25 minutes to watch this remembrance of September 11, 2001.   Please offer a prayer for those who died that day, their families and for all those who are sacrificing themselves for the rest of us on a daily basis; especially our cops, firemen and troops. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Remington Alphagel Sensitive Shave Gel

This came in a tube similar to sunscreen as opposed to the aerosol can.   I have to guess that is “greener” than the can.  The gel goes a long way.  You do not need much to get a very slick feel on your skin.   I don’t know if it was the aloe but it felt good on my skin and the razor glided over it very nicely.  

They claim that it is a benefit that it doesn’t foam so you can see through it to trim beards, mustaches and sideburns.   I didn’t see that as a positive or a negative but if I had a beard or a mustache, I think I, too, would see the clearness as a benefit.  

This worked as well as my previous brands and had a nicer feel.   I did not have any skin reaction to it so it does appear to cater to sensitive skin.  I liked the product and would consider purchasing it.   My normal shaving cream is Nivea for sensitive skin and that seems to be considerably cheaper than the Remington.  Nivea is $5.49 for 7 oz while Remington is $13.89 for 10 oz.  which is $0.78/oz vs. $1.38/oz.   Priced the same I think I would prefer the Remington but the price differential would be a deterrent.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Attention History Teachers!

I feel strongly about history for several reasons, one of which is attributable to George Santayana* and the other is that history is often far more unbelievable than fictional speculation and thus is entertaining.   The problem I saw as a history teacher was that kids have been convinced that history is boring.  I have found a contemporary author who has successfully addressed that problem.  

Lory Kaufman has started a great series called The World of History Camp.   I have reviewed his first two books, The Lensand the Looker and The Bronze and the Brimstone.  In addition Lory was kind enough to respond to an interview request. 

Lory’s work impressed me so much that I am going to be running a six post series on the Back Story of The World of History Camp.  Lory writes a great YA action adventure story that demonstrates the value of knowing history.   Considering the inability of our political leaders to learn (historically) from past mistakes, I feel Lory’s contributions, to promoting respect for history and the consequences for ignoring history are significant.   

Lory has graciously agreed to provide a copy of The Lens and the Looker, his first book, to give away each month on my blog.    
Go to  Azure Dwarf on Sept. 9th to see the first post and the rules for the FREE  book give away.  

*George Santayana is known for his (often-misquoted) comments: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to fulfill it"  which in my vernacular was (when I was teaching history) “if you don’t study your history you are doomed to repeat it.”  

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