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 
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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Mega Bloks First Builders ABC Spell School Bus

These are colorful blocks that are safely unisex.  This is not a boy toy or a girl toy, it is just a simple toy for toddlers.  The size of the pieces and the ease of assembly make them quite nice.  The stickers allow you to add alphabet to the blocks.  I am not particularly fond of stickers for toys but I guess it saves labor cost.  The quality seems better than what I recall from Mega Blocks.  I notice they are now from Fisher Price and if recollection serves me that wasn't always the case.  Overall I have found Fisher Price quality above average.  This is a nice set of beginner blocks.  $12.75 at Amazon at the time of the review. 

From the Vendor:
Teaching tool for lots of learning fun with letters
Over 40 pieces with colorful letter stickers to decorate your little learner's school bus
Sturdy lid doubles as two building and stacking base plates
Compatible with all Mega Blokes First Builders sets for endless building possibilities and family fun

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

Happy Halloween 2015

Monday, October 26, 2015

Dickies Men's Slim Taper 5-Pocket Jean

Tried these on as soon as I got them.  The fit is spot on!  They fit perfectly and I like the trim look.  I now find my old jeans too baggy now.  Just because you are over the hill, doesn't mean you have to look like it.  $31.00 at Amazon at the time of the order.

From the Vendor:
Machine Wash
Sits below the waist, slim through the seat and thigh, leg tapers down to a 14.5 inch opening
Signature deco stitch on back pocket
Authentic Dickies branding on the inside waist
Reinforcement throughout the jean

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hot Wheels Track Builder Volcano Blast Trackset

I tested this set with a variety of die cast cars.  It works, as it should with Hot Wheels but it also works with Little Tike, Matchbox and Corgi Junior.   I only not this because I have had some minor issues in the past with Hot Wheel track being a smidge too narrow for other brands.   This set connects up with the old track but has a much better connection scheme.  The old track and new has grooves on the bottom and you inserted a connector in one end of a piece and the same connector in another piece to hold them together.  This new track has a hole in the end and the more rigid pieces have a knob that goes into the hole, this would keep the track from separating as easily as the old track separated.  Just wish they would have included some extra connectors to connect to the old style track.   This set works well and should be a welcome addition to your Hot Wheels collection. 

From the vendor:
·                        Load up to eight cars on top of volcano
·                        Hot Wheels Cars race down the top of the volcano, crash through the fiery lava and make their escape into four different adventures
·                        Kids control all the adventure with the push of a button
·                        Unique experience every time
·                        Super fast 1:64 Hot Wheels vehicle included

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

Sunday, October 18, 2015

FIOS Retention Scam, Comcast Lack of Competition or A Sad Commentary and Maybe a Ray of Hope

Face it we are captive to our TV and Internet providers.  It is a major hassle to change from one provider to another.  Awhile back I got a price increase by FIOS.  I called and expressed my frustration with the continuing inflation of my bill.  More fees, bumping up the box payment leases a dollar or two a box.  Doesn't sound like much but consider the customer base and what a single dollar increase per customer equals.  Try $9,000,000.00 for a single dollar increase. (9,000,000 subscribers as of 4/24/14)   I called FIOS and a service rep told me because I wasn't screaming and ranting she would talk to her supervisor to see if she could help me.  She came back on line and told me she got my bill reduced $40.00 per month.  Wow!  I was totally impressed, I called over a $6.00 per month increase and she was going to get me a $40.00 per month decrease.  Just sign up for a two year agreement.  I would get an email that I should ignore the prices on as the decrease wouldn't come until it was processed.  Foolishly I believed her!

Got my FIOS bill today, not only did it NOT show a $40.00 decrease, it showed a $9.00 increase.  So that is $15.00 over the August bill.   I called and got another very nice rep who said the best she could do was take me back to the original bill I complained about.  So I am paying the $6.00 increase, not the $9.00 increase and supposed to be relieved I am not paying more?  Was I scammed into another two year contract by the ever so friendly rep who promised a decrease and delivered an increase?   I'll never know!

Consider the alternative, Comcast bandies about numbers that appear to be a savings but when you add in the box fees, the lease fees, the taxes and other mysterious fees they aren't any better than FIOS.  

Face it we are being hosed.  On a flight recently from LA to Denver, my seat mate was from France.  He said he is astounded that Americans put up with the prices from our TV/Internet/phone providers.   He has what is equivalent to triple play for just less than $50.00 American in France.  He laughed at how foolish we are to pay the ridiculous fees that our "unregulated" vendors charged.  Collusion?  Monopolies?    I spent 1.5 hours today trying to improve my communications pricing and saved $9.00/month, of course, that will probably disappear by next month. 

Yes I could drop it all and save money but sadly I am not willing to go off the grid.  I guess I don't have to worry, I am sure I will get an increase in my Social Security this year, Oh Wait, that isn't happening either. 

Addendum later that week: a different representative at FIOS found the info about the price decrease  and had no idea why it had not been done.  Said she would look into it and bump it up to her supervisor. In the meantime she credited my current bill the $40.00 discount I was suppose to get.  She said that discount should show
up regularly as per my November bill.  I won't hold my breath but I will cross my fingers.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Linksys High-Gain Antennas, 4-Pack (WRT004ANT )

I tried these antennas on a NetGear Wifi router and a Verizon Fios Modem with wifi.  I used Wifi Analyzer 3.9.5 to test the signal.  Both wifi signals on both devices are normally -50dbm.  They fluctuate but that is the normal signal strength. From what I have read on the Internet, 3 dbm difference in signal strength, depending on which direction, is a signal either 2 times as strong, or 1/2 as strong.  Both devices went to -40dbm which seems to signify that the antennas do what they are suppose to do.   Now to add a caveat to that information, those were the signals within 10 feet of the devices.   Thirty feet away I saw significant fluctuations and about a -45dbm signal strength.  Still that appears to mean a doubling of signal strength.   My only criticism of the product is that it came with zero, that is ZERO documentation.  Not one single piece of documentation was in the box.  I went to the Linksys site and the product hasn't been released yet, there did not appear to be any support documentation on the site either.   I have to ding them a star for no documentation.

Linksys Info:
Up to 2X gain than standard antennas for stronger for greater coverage and signal strength than standard antennas
Dual bands deliver up to 4 dBi (2.4GHz) + 7 dBi (5 GHz) per antenna for up to 2x the antenna gain on the 5 GHz band and 1.5x the average antenna gain on the 2.4 GHz band compared to standard antennas
Omni-directional design strengthens the Wi-Fi signal and then transmits it in all directions in a horizontal plane, while optimizing mobile device connectivity
Easy-to-install, these high-gain antennas are compatible with routers featuring an RP-SMA connection
If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Chamberlain Group WD1000WF 1 1/4 HP Smartphone-Controlled Wi-Fi Garage Door Opener with Battery Backup and Ultra-Quiet Operation

I have never lauded a garage door opener before.  This one deserves accolades.  Jason Steich of Jason Steich Overhead Doors Inc. installed this for me.  It claims to be a DIY product but I would suggest it for only reasonably competent DIY folks.   It has a LOT of parts.  Jason had only two concerns, the rail is multi-part which is necessary to get it into a box and the battery backup wire was tucked very securely out of the way and necessitated some gymnastics to attach.  Jason told me that this is the consumer model, top of the line and comparable to the commercial model he sells from the same manufacturer. 

He said outside of the two minor issues noted above that it installed very easily.  This door is super quiet.  It came with an outside key panel.  The inside button has a screen that gives you the time and the temperature.  There is also a motion detector which turns on the door opener light when ever there is someone in the garage.  The opener has battery backup which will be invaluable for the number of times power has gone out over the last few years.  I pulled the plug on the opener and it ran just as smooth and quite on battery, plugged the AC back in and it speeded up, that was the only difference I saw. 

I don't anticipate using the Wi-Fi aspect but reading about it leads me to believe it is pretty darn slick.  I am not keen on having every aspect of my life controlled by Wi-Fi and vulnerable to hacking.

Overall, if you are very handy, I think you can install this.  For those of us who have aged out of the DIY mode,  installation can be accomplished by two hours of someone else's labor.  This is a really top shelf garage door opener for a quite reasonable price.

From the vendor:
myq smartphone control with built-in Wi-Fi
Built-in battery keeps you running even when the power is out
Whisper drive, the ultimate in quiet and performance
Home link compatible

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

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Belkin Universal Mobile Keyboard Case, Wirelessly Pairs Two Smartphones and/or Tablets, Compatible with iOS and Android

This is a good idea and possibly for Apple people it is easy to implement.  Those of us in the wider non-Apple world may find it more problematic.   I got this to pair quite easily with my Galaxy Tab however it wouldn't work.  I paired it with my S4 easily and it worked just fine.  I tried rebooting the tablet to make it work to no avail.   I went to the Belkin website as there is zilch documentation with the keyboard.  The packaging shows you how to pair it and the documentation stops there.   The website appears to be Apple-centric.   Every reference I could find referred to pairing with Apple products.   I eventually got the keyboard to work with my tablet but frankly I am not sure how as I kept re-pairing and rebooting until it worked.   I am dinging this in spite of the functionality and the good idea of  a two channel pairing because the documentation is flat out dreadful.   If Belkin sees that the majority of the world is NOT Apple and provides some documentation on Android devices,  the product should be a winner.  

This is my third portable, bluetooth keyboard and the two channel means I may be able to take just one keyboard when I travel but...I still have reservations.   It is better than my smallest and not as good as my biggest bluetooth keyboard again but.. the two channel aspect could be a deciding factor on purchase.  Belkin, take note, better documentation for the "real" world, there are lots of folks who are not Apple-ish!

  • Bluetooth Smart wireless keyboard
  • Pairs with up to two devices
  • Kickstand holds up to two 10" devices
  • TruType keys for easy typing
  • Kickstand acts as protective cover with magnetic closure
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Compatible with: iPad mini 3 / 2 / 1, iPhone 6 / 6 Plus, iPhone 5/ 5s / 5c, Galaxy Tab 4 (7.0" and 8.0"), Galaxy Tab S 8.4", Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4" and Galaxy S6 / S5

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

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wrangler Men's Authentic Classic Carpenter Jean

Wrangler is still a good brand for jeans.  The fit on these was perfect.  With this said, they are most definitely relaxed fit and they are most definitely work jeans.   They have a hammer loop and an old fashion rule pocket which doesn't hold my larger cell phone.  My old flip phone fit in just fine.  These aren't jeans I would wear out at night but they are jeans I will use for working around the property.

·                        80% Cotton/20% Polyester
·                        Imported
·                        Machine Wash
·                        Classic carpenter jean styling
·                        Rule pocket with cell phone pocket
·                        Hammer loop
·                        1 year warranty

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