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. 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!

Amazon

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Belkin Classic Tab Case for Kindle Fire HD


Belkin Classic Tab Case for Kindle Fire HD 7", Purple Lightning (will only fit Kindle Fire HD 7")

This is a nice case for the Kindle Fire HD.  The purple is a true purple and looks good.  It holds the Kindle snugly.   If you are looking for some protection for the Kindle this is fine.  However it does not prop up to sit on a table or your stomach when reclined.  What can I say? I like reading reclined and my other case allows me to prop up the Kindle on my rather substantial belly.   I also like to read while eating and this case, again, does not stand up easel like to make it easy to read and swipe pages.   Then there is the price.   This is currently not priced at Amazon but I did look elsewhere and the price was $28.00.   As much as I like Belkin products and as many as I sold while a computer dealer, I have difficulty with a $28.00 price tag on something that is primarily a glorified protection sheath.   It is pretty though

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Timbuk2 Gripster Jacket Case with stand functionality, Black Faux Leather (fits Kindle HD 7")



This is a nice little cover.  It installs easily and fits snugly.   It does stand up well and that meets the manufacturer’s claim that it will stand anywhere.   Quality is good.   It has a lifetime warranty which is fine but I have long wondered exactly what lifetime warranties mean.  I think it is a good case but the price ($40) is more than double the price I paid for my Kindle cover ($14.95).   Frankly I don’t see enough differential between the cases to justify that significantly higher price.  On the other hand, the company that I bought the first case from no longer has a presence on Amazon so perhaps they under priced their case. 
 


If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Victor M250Pro Professional Electronic Mouse Trap


 
Paraphrasing the old adage of “build a better mouse trap and the world will beat a path to your door”, this does seem like a better mouse trap.  I am pretty much addicted to gadgets.  This mouse trap is a gadget.  Since I haven’t gotten any mice yet, I can’t comment on its effectiveness.  

I like the fact that it included batteries.  I think the instructions with the trap should be clearer as to baiting.  It needs to have bait to work and the instructions on the packaging do not make that glaringly apparent.   I am surprised they haven’t come up with an electronic air freshener type of bait to go with this electronic trap.   I am using peanut butter but so far no mice.  Of course I haven’t seen any mice in my other traps so I have to reserve judgment.   I will report back if any fried mice appear.  


If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Brother HC1850 Sewing Machine



I’m not a person who normally sews.  My pre-existing machine is over 40 years old.  It has a foot pedal and eight stitches.  It has an untranslatable name, in I think Japanese.  I can no longer get needles for it.  With those pre-established criteria, it may be clear why I am totally amazed at the Brother machine.

I purchased the Brother XL2600i for my eight year old granddaughter for Christmas.   She was sewing on Christmas day.  It is that easy to use.  Seeing her delight and the ease of use of the machine, I was totally impressed.   When this machine came available for review, I jumped on it.  

The Brother HC1850 is a degree difference in capability and complexity over the XL2600i.  As an example it has 130 built in stitches compared to the 25 in the XL2600i.  It is pointless to list all the differences as you can do that by just comparing the specifications. 

The 1850 has a DVD which is helpful.  Frankly I am a bit overwhelmed and probably would be better off with the 2600 I got my granddaughter.  This is much like complex software, most people will use 10% of the functionality leaving the 90% remaining for the experts.  I think this is my case here.  I can sew a seam and I am actually thinking about doing a buttonhole just to see if I can do it.  This machine is easily got three times the features of the 2600.  This explains why the price is three times as much.  It is an impressive machine and I feel a bit inadequate on trying to review it.  It is sooo much better than my old machine and has obvious benefits over the 2600.  However if you are looking for a starter machine or one for a talented child, I would recommend the XL2600i rather than this machine.  If you are an accomplished sewer, this machine seems like it would easily fit your needs.  

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Philips CSS2123B/F7 SoundBar Home Cinema Speakers


This sound bar was a bit disappointing.   I was looking for a convenient method of improving the sound on my Toshiba 40” which has lousy sound quality.   It is very inexpensive ($106.00 including shipping at Amazon) so I wasn’t anticipating a $1000.00 Yamaha experience.  Most of the inexpensive sound bars I could find did not have an optical connection.   I figured if I was going to buy an inexpensive audio source the least I could do was connect it with it’s best possible connection.      

Of course the sound bar came with no cables to connect it.   That isn’t really too surprising.   I happened to have a wealth of old RCA connectors and hooked it up via the RCA sound port.  Sound was ok.  I ordered a SPDIF cable from Amazon and hooked it up via the optical connection.  Sound quality was better.

I have not figured out how to have the sound bar respond to the TV remote.  Phillips tells you to hook up the sound bar and mute your TV sound but this means you now have one more &%(*)(#* remote.   It is a very little remote but still one more piece of crap on the coffee table. 

Bass is not particularly impressive.  The sub-woofer works but it isn’t what you would call booming.

The unit works just fine, particularly for the price.   Considering how inexpensive cables are, I would think it would behoove Phillips to toss a couple in the box.  Add $2.00 to the SRP and you would be covered.   I also think it would be nice to be able to run the sound bar from one of my existing remotes.   So far I haven’t figured that out.

In closing, you get what you pay for.   This is an inexpensive sound bar and expecting bells and whistles is unrealistic.   It does have decent sound for the money.
 


If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, March 11, 2013

CyberLink PowerDirector Ultra ver.11




After writing this review I tried to uninstall this software.  It is a major pain in the butt to get off your system.  They even have troubleshooting advice as to how to get it off so they are aware they have issues.  Too bad the troubleshooting doesn't work.  It took me over an hour to get this off.  Amazing and not in a good way. Buyer beware!
 
First impressions often last, my first impression here was how in the world can it take over 35 minutes to install a software package.  When it finally finishes installing and reboots your computer you still can’t use it because it wants you to install the latest updates.   You download the latest updates and here is no flashing icon, nothing to tell you it is working in the background.  So you start the program and it is immediately interrupted by the update finally starting it’s process.  What it was doing in the interim is beyond me.  Now the update just asked me if I would like to start the program after 40 minutes for installation.  Really?   I had inputted 15 digits of the 30 digit security key prior to being interrupted by the “update now” message.  So after entering the security key I can finally see whether the software is worth all the trouble it took to install it.  The installation did suck up 40 minutes of the 60 minutes I planned on using for my initial look at the software.   Oh, now I have to register it or I can skip registration and be badgered every time I start the software to register now.  Software developers wonder why it is so hard to get people to try new software or to upgrade.   Disregarding the learning curve, it is a pain in the butt just to install an upgrade or new software.



The program looks interesting.  It is dogmeat slow so I checked the program requirements.   It recommends 6GB of RAM and I have four so that could be one of the issues for slowness. It requires a 128mb video card and I have a 256mb card so that shouldn’t be a problem.  My processor is an old AMD Athlon II X215 processor running at 2.7 GHz so that could be an issue.   I have to guess that this program would perform better on a system newer and more powerful than mine.



I started anew today to see if my initial impressions were false.  I imported 16 minutes of video.  I added a sound track and I told hit to produce the video.  This was under the Wizard feature.   It took approximately 1.5 hours to render 16 minutes of video.   Needless to say I have to stick with my impression that this software is tedious at best unless you have a very robust system.  I would suggest going to CyberLink’s web site and checking out their system requirements before investing in this software.  It appears to be powerful and even useful but with my system I can not verify that impression. 



If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Firebug by Daniel Berenson



I don't normally put book reviews on this blog, but I feel this book is well worth reading.  

This is a tough story to read, particularly if you have empathy for kids.  Two boys learn a great deal about fire and it’s dangers. 

This book deals with bi-lateral support, perhaps characterized by the blind leading the blind scenario.   This is a tale of two boys who discover themselves by paying for the consequences of their behavior.
Curtis and Bobby are not cut from the same cloth.  They look at life differently and have vastly different skill sets.   Life throws them together and the ensuing story is heart wrenching and heart warming at the same time. 

A pre-occupation with fire can result from may things.   Some of those ways are the same reasons that kids get into drugs, alcohol or other aberrant behaviors.  Kids who are mistreated by family and peers, kids who feel alienated and alone can easily get into areas that can negatively impact their entire lives. 

Daniel Berensen is able to portray scenarios that smack of realism.  Kids can be cruel and they can be amazingly accepting.  In my opinion, the adults kids are exposed to have an enormous impact on whether they behave with compassion or cruelty.   Daniel shows how two boys can change each other’s lives.

 In addition to a very positive cautionary tale, Daniel is donating 20% of the net profits from the book sales of FIREBUG to organizations that care for burn survivors, including the Shriners Hospitals and the Jaycees. 
Daniel Berensen is one of those rare individuals who puts his money where his mouth is, kudos Daniel!

I enjoyed it even as it made me cringe.  

I recommend the book. 


Web Site: http://freakydudebooks.com/book_previews/firebug/firebug_sample.html

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.



Sunday, March 3, 2013

Brother XL2600I Sew Advance Sew Affordable 25-Stitch Free-Arm Sewing Machine


This was purchased for a serious minded eight year old as a Christmas present.  She would have totally disdained a "Dora" or other kid's sewing machine.  This is a nice little machine but it is not a toy.  Frankly considering the price, it seems live an amazing value.  It is also easy to use.  She was sewing on Christmas day.  For ease of use, size, features and quality this is a very nice product.  I am not a seamster or seamstress but this beats the bejabbers out of my old four times the cost and three times as heavy sewing machine. 

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.
 Money Saving Tech Tips