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

Monday, December 28, 2015

Invicta Women's 21397 Pro Diver Analog Display Quartz Gold Watch

The watch is beautiful.  The three things my wife didn't like are it is too heavy.  It is too hard to get on and off and too big.  The size makes her think it looks like a man's watch.   In fairness that may be age related as the younger women do seem to wear much bigger watches. 

This is the second Invicta watch I have reviewed.  Both of them should have had a diagram on how to use the watch band.  Keep in mind I'm a technut and can get a hard drive out of a laptop and not destroy anything.   I note that because having issues with how to make a watch band work sounds ludicrous but both bands were difficult to figure out.  

The hard off and on didn't bother me once I figured it out but this watch fastens in a manner which and I quote my bride, "will ruin my nails!"

The watch was easy to set and the manual did have a clear diagram on that.   So you have a very attractive watch that needs better documentation and a fastener that doesn't ruin nails.   Oh and the mandatory $28.00 check you need to send with the watch if you ever need warranty work is absurd.  If the watch is truly worth the price then the warranty shouldn't be needed and you need not insult the buyer with a mandatory $28.00 check. (For return shipping?  Really?)

Vendor Details
Date window at 3:00
Gold dial with gold tone and white hands and gold tone and crystal Arabic numerals; luminous; 18K gold ion-plated stainless steel bezel with white crystals; mineral crystal; 18K gold ion-plated stainless steel case and bracelet
Quartz Movement
Case Diameter: 38mm
Water Resistant To 660 Feet

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

Friday, December 25, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Invicta Men's 21474 Pro Diver Analog Display Swiss Quartz Black Watch

This watch looks great.  It is striking in appearance and looks quite manly.  It feels heavy on the arm.  Just for yucks I weighed it and it is 4.1 oz compared to my dress watch at 3.2 oz.  It felt like it weighed a lot more than my very slim/sleek dress watch.  I think that is due to the size.  2 1/8 " from the 9 to the tip of the middle stem vs. 1. 1/4" on my dress watch.  With all that said, if you are looking for a diver looking watch this looks the part.  It is water resistant not water proof so it is really a diver looking watch.  The two extra large buttons are for quick correction of date and quick correction of the 24 hour second time zone.  That allows you to fix those without pulling out the stem (crown).   The day and the date are pretty much irrelevant to any one with normal vision.  I guess you  have to have extraordinary vision to use them.  Even with my bifocals, I had to lift them and squint to see the day or time. 

If you are looking for a smart looking watch that appears to belong on a Navy Seal and you have exceptional vision and don't mind the size and the weight, if may be perfect for you.  I asked my teen age grandson his opinion thinking it might appeal to the younger crowd and he asked me, "why would I wear a watch when I have my  phone?"  So this isn't an overt criticism of the watch as it seems just fine for what it is.  Apparently it isn't for me though.  Oh and it only has a one year warranty which is surprisingly short for a $100.00 watch.  If you need to send it in for repair you have to include a check for $28.00 for return shipping which is more than 25% of the price, that just seems exorbitant.

From the vendor:
24 hour, day of the week and date subdials
Black dial with silver tone and white hands, hour markers and Arabic numerals; luminous; tachymeter; flame fusion crystal; black ion-plated stainless steel case; black leather strap with white contrast stitching
Swiss-quartz Movement
Case Diameter: 49mm
Water Resistant To 330 Feet

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

Monday, December 21, 2015

FREE eBooks From Author William G. Bentrim

Merry Christmas!
Free eBooks!
19 of my eBooks will be listed as FREE on Amazon December 22-December 24, 2015 as my gift to my friends and readers. (Often the same people.)  All of my eBooks would have been free but apparently Amazon has some limit as to how many I can give away over the same time period.  Please share with anyone,  any or all of your friends!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

CAILLER Dark Chocolate Selection, Large Box Assortment, 7.9oz

It is entirely possible this is famous chocolate but I was not familiar with it. I have not eaten the entire box yet but aside from sharing with my bride, this will not be offered to others. It's that good! I know selfish is wrong but this is really tasty stuff and everyone KNOWS dark chocolate is good for you so how can you go wrong. It is good, I don't know what it cost which is probably just as well. It had nice packaging and would make a very nice unisex gift. Who doesn't like chocolate? BTW I did find the price after I wrote the above and at $35 that makes this about $70/pound. It is good but I've had better at half the price.  

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

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Lucien Piccard Men's LP-40052M-02S Trevi Analog Display Mechanical Hand Wind Black Watch

This is an attractive watch.  It is hard to find a watch without all the buttons, features and gimmicks.  I'm not a diver and I don't need a watch to be waterproof to 300m.  This is just a watch, no calendar, nothing but the time.  The skeleton style is very popular at the moment.  It is fun to watch a watch.  Overall it is a good looking watch that keeps good time.

The negatives are not a big deal.   First I am guessing but I don't imagine many millenniums have seen a watch that winds.  I haven't had a watch that you needed to wine since my 1964 Bulova.  There was nothing in the instruction manual that showed how to wind the watch nor how to set it.  Pictographs are not always insulting.  A couple showing how to wind the watch and set the time would be nice.  In the interest of accuracy I did call the customer support number and found that the watch wound exactly how I thought it should.  However the 1964 watch had you turn the stem clockwise then counter clockwise through the winding process.  This watch, you only turn it clockwise.  

The other issue was the clasp.  Now perhaps the average buyer has seen this type of clasp before but I haven't.  It took several minutes to figure out. I suspect my bride would have gotten it sooner as ladies jewelry seem to have a wide variety of clasps.   Nothing wrong with the watch clasp.  A simple pictograph would have made figuring it out much quicker.  There was a photo on Amazon that showed the clasp open and , it would make sense to have same photo in the watch documentation. 

I received the watch from Amazon with the understanding I would do an honest review.

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

Friday, December 11, 2015

Kidde AccessPoint 001166 KeySafe 3-Key Portable Push Button Key Safe Box, Titanium Gray

This is a good solution for relatives or cleaning people or really anyone you want to get in but don't to give out a lot of keys.   It set up easily and works easily.   The combination setting is simplistic and as long as you input the correct numbers they do NOT have to be in the correct order.  That isn't really an issue as your average burglar is going to break the window so you really are only deterring relatively honest people.

  • Portable push-button combination lock locking box; padlock stores up to 3 keys on doorknob
  • Key lock box allows for easy key-access in real estate, construction, and general security applications
  • The key lock safe has a push button combination for quick entrance into the box and to retrieving your keys
  • Set your own combination with 1,000 combinations available; keep doors locked for optimal security and allow keyless entry for those you want in
  • The door knob key locker ships in Certified Frustration-Free Packaging; easier to open in a plain brown box

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

Monday, December 7, 2015

Harmony Ergonomics Air Chair, Black

I had initial reservations about this chair as it looked suspiciously like a lawn chair.  It isn't a lawn chair and the straps feel more like elastic than the vinyl straps used on lawn chairs.   I like the open weave as it allows for air flow.  When you are parked in front of your computer with the same frequency as I, you can really crave air flow.   The chair is comfortable and has lumbar support.  The head rest is fine but frankly I don't lean back like that while at my desk.   The reclining feature is equally fine but again, not something too useable for me.   The chair comes unassembled.  The good news is they even include a couple of extra bolts and all the tools needed for assembly.   There is bad news though, the assembly instructions are marginal.   The illustrations need to be much larger and or more detailed.  They are to unclear to be much help.  The assembly is fairly intuitive but I suspect there will be some issues with assembly for those who are not patient or handy.   Overall it is a very comfortable and useable chair and due to the open weave it is far more comfortable in warm weather.  (caveat, if your bride is a light sleeper, this chair does make a lot of creaky, squeaky noises that are amplified when the house is quiet.)

·                        Patented ultra-ergonomic design
·                        Breathable Elastic Premium material
·                        Patented 120° recliner
·                        Large adjustable headrest
·                        Two-way adjustable armrest

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

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Woods 041453 6-Outlet Home/Office Surge Protector with 4-Foot Cord, 1000 Joules of Protection

The right angle ac plug is nice.  The surge suppressor has mounting slots on the back.  It appears to have a fair level of protection.  I'm not equipped to generate a surge to truly test that aspect.  The downside is there is no consideration for the myriad types of power plugs currently out there.  Entirely too many devices still come with odd shaped power adapters and this surge has no way of plugging in an odd shape without covering another outlet.  The price is $11.00 on Amazon at that price range I didn't see more than a couple of surges that had one outlet located far enough from the others to be used with a larger adapter.  This will be fine as long as you are aware of it's limitations regarding plug usage.

A few of the types of power adapters.

Note there is only room for one odd shaped power adapter.  There seems pretty limiting. 

From the vendor:
1000 Joules of protection, 6-outlet, cord length is 4-Feet
Ideal solution for computers, printers, general household electronics, and small home appliances
Built-in EMI / RFI noise filtration - Prevents circuit interference/degradation
Sliding safety covers prevents accidental contact and keeps dust and debris away from unused outlets
$100,000 connected equipment warranty

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

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

FIOS Bait And Switch

It's a good thing I am retired.  I spent close to 3 hours on the phone or on an Internet chat with FIOS representatives today.  I haven't been jerked around that much since the roller coaster at Hershey Park this summer.  Cable in general and in this case FIOS in particular needs some oversight.  A seat mate from France on a flight this summer was highly amused that we pay so much for our "triple plays".  He pays less than $50.00 American for TV, phone and Internet and his Internet is running at more than double the speed of mine.  I was quoted a price in September when I called to complain about the increased lease cost of the "adapter" boxes.  I was told my bill would be reduced if I signed up for a new contract.  The agent told me to ignore the next bill but the following bill would show a $40.00 a month discount.  It didn't!

I called and got another rep who denied finding any notes on my file regarding the discount.  I called again the next day and got another rep who discounted my bill $40.00 and apologized and said next month my bill would be correct.  I got my bill for this month and it was the same as the original bill of the process.  I spent 3 hours trying to find out why no one seems to keep their word at FIOS.  I dropped two of the adapter boxes to cut my bill $15.98 per month.  The woman I spoke to said my free HBO was going to cost me $20.00 now.  I guess that was the penalty for questioning my bill.  I dropped HBO in spite of Game of Thrones.  Note I remained civil on all of these calls in spite of my rapidly rising blood pressure.  I hung up and brought up My Fios webpage which states it has what I am currently paying which was $10.00 a month less than my current bill.   I called back and was told that the bundle price shown on My FIOS page was incorrect.  I found another page stating my current plan price and got the same $10.00 less price.  I was told I was wrong and there was never a price like that.   All the reps said they could not access the page showing me that price so essentially bend over and kiss my behind good bye.  

Oh, during the process of many transfers my call was dropped twice and I had to start the process all over again.  I was told the only way the price on My FIOS page could be verified was to do a chat on that page.  Then they could look at the price.  I did that and the Chat rep told me that the price was before taxes.   I looked at my FIOS bill and the taxes were added after the bundle price that was $10 higher than what showed on MY FIOS page.  So again,  I am fed a line of crap that just doesn't add up.   I looked at Comcast after my calls and found that it would be slightly less than I am currently paying but we all know Comcast isn't any better than FIOS or the other monopolistic connection entities.   

I guess the title here should have been bait and screw rather than bait and switch. 

I am well aware that this is nothing but a rant.  No one at FIOS gives a damn any more than the people at Comcast give a damn. 

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

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Timex T121B Alarm Clock with 0.7-Inch Red Display

This is a nice size, a very clear display and on the loud setting a very loud alarm.  Luckily it has a softer setting on the alarm. It was easy to set the clock and the alarm without opening the included documentation.   The battery backup is nice, but someday I would like to see a clock that the battery backup would keep the clock working through the power outage and not just hold the settings.  Overall this is a nice clock at a good price at $14.49 on Amazon at the time of the review. 

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

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wrangler Men's Authentics Premium Straight Stretch Pant

I am sitting here in my new Wranglers and being totally impressed with how comfortable they are.  The fit is spot on and they move as I move with no binding.  They are jean cut but not denim.  The fit is more "modern" and much more acceptable to my kids and grandkids than my old jeans.   These are dressier than my new jeans and sharp enough to wear with a sports coat for that casual semi-dressy look.  I like them.  I did check the label after I saw a negative review stating that they were mis-labeled as 5% spandex and were only 2%,  my label says 5% and I have no clue how you would determine otherwise so it isn't a problem for me.   I like them!

·                        95% Cotton/5% Spandex
·                        Imported
·                        Machine Wash
·                        Regular seat and thigh
·                        Stretch fabrication
·                        1 year warranty
·                        Engineered for comfort
·                        Made in Bangladesh

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

Friday, November 20, 2015

Folkmanis Harbor Seal Hand Puppet

This is really a cute seal.  It seems well made and has a very appealing, gentle expression.   I am not sure how you control the front flippers as I saw no means of doing that.  The mouth is traditional hand puppet controlled.  I have a large adult hand and my fingers were no where near the flippers.  There are minimal insets or pockets at the flippers either so don't anticipate using the flippers regardless of the sales description.  If your hand is low enough to put fingers in the minimal flipper pockets, there is no way it will be long enough to operate the mouth.  I like it regardless of the flipper control but more as a stuffed animal for the grandkids than a truly functional hand puppet.

·                        Made using the highest quality materials
·                        Award winning design
·                        Great fun for toddlers and children
·                        Easily animate the antics of this engaging Harbor Seal plush hand puppet
·                        Ideal for stage and puppet theater, storytelling, teaching, daycare, pre-school, pretend play, role-playing, presentations, games, parties and gifts
·                        Your hand controls the mouth, expressions and front flippers of this interactive aquatic mammal puppet
·                        Constructed from high-quality materials with exceptionally realistic details; easy to care for years of play
·                        Comfortably slips over the hand; measures 19 x 7 x 8 inches (LxWxH)

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

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Panasonic RP-HXS400M-A Sound Rush Plus On-Ear Headphones, Blue

These have a very good sound.  I tried them on my computer and my phone.  I called and left a message on my land line and the microphone performed just fine.  They were as comfortable as my much more expensive headphones are, which sadly isn't all that comfortable.  I frankly prefer ear buds but you do seem to get better sound out of this style.   The switch or microphone on the line is a bit obscure.  There was zero documentation so I pushed it, I guess that cut out the microphone, I wasn't 100% sure.  I would like a clearly labelled off or on and gasp maybe even some documentation.   However I suspect that old guys are not their target market and the kids probably have had this kind of switch on their gaming devices.  I liked the sound but am not keen on zero documentation.

·                        On-ear headphones deliver dynamic sound and comfort
·                        Powerful bass and treble with 40mm neodymium drivers
·                        Foldable design and padded ear cups -- perfect for storage and travel
·                        Integrated mobile controller, compatible with iPhone, Blackberry and Android
·                        Tangle-free cord, four bold colors to choose from

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

Monday, November 9, 2015

Lenox Expressions from The Heart, Love China Ornament

This is a very attractive and stylish Christmas ornament.  Lennox is a brand that has a long and illustrative history with my family.  It has epitomized quality.  This will make a nice gift for those of you who gift ornaments.

From the vendor:
      Crafted of porcelain and accented in gold
              Includes a gold tassel cord for hanging
              Measuring a height of 3.5 Inch
List Price $20.00
$12.00 at Amazon at time of review. 

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

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Kaplan New SAT Premier 2016 with 5 Practice Tests: Personalized Feedback + Book + Online + DVD + Mobile

SAT seems like a harmless word but it strikes fear into the stoutest hearts of high school students.  I recall concern about the SAT way back in the 60's when the test was printed on papyrus.  Not overt concern because I was luckily or lucky regarding standardized tests.  I had class mates that quite literally threw up due to stress over the SAT.  Colleges are finally realizing that the overemphasis that has historically been placed on tests such as the SAT has blithely ignored more accurate and reliable measures of potential academic success.  However digression is doing ill service to a review of this product.

The first word that came to mind when I picked up the 1336 page behemoth of a book was hernia.  The second, after perusing the table of contents was comprehensive. Not being a teen I was peripherally aware that the SAT has been redesigned for 2016.   (about time)  This book, the accompanying DVD and the Kaplan web site are designed to help the next generation of guinea pigs, I mean students, successfully get high scores on the SAT.  As near as I can tell without taking the SAT this book should provide a measure of comfort for the student that can wade through it.  There is a wealth of material and it should give a close to substantive experience that hopefully will transfer to the actual test.  Traditionally SAT scores have risen as students retake them.  The experience and perhaps the wearing down of anxiety no doubt contribute to that phenomena.  

Perhaps the best advice I saw in the book was the encouragement to complete the now optional essay portion.   If at the time of testing the student has no interest in a school that requires the essay they may feel why bother with the essay.  Reality is that people change their minds and directions.  The essay portion can not be taken separately.  Imagine a student's frustration if after taking the SAT a school that requires the essay is suddenly leavened into the mix.  The entire test would have to be re-taken.  If a school does not require the essay,  the completion of the essay will not count against a student.  However if it does require the essay, it must be completed.  The simple solution is to complete the essay regardless of it being labeled optional.

This book and its five practice tests should allow a student who diligently utilizes all its tools to approach the SAT experience with a modicum of confidence. 

An editorial aside to this review is that as a high school guidance counselor I saw students who aced the SATs crash dramatically in college.  Conversely I saw  students who despaired over even getting admitted to college after an abysmal SAT experience graduate college with honors.  It is so very difficult to measure motivation, desire and ambition.  This book should provide confidence but please remember the SAT is not in any way a measure of future success in life.  $25.50 at Amazon at time of review.  

From the vendor:
Prepare for the New SAT with confidence! With more than 75 years of experience and more than 95% of our students getting into their top-choice schools, Kaplan knows how to increase your score and get you into your top-choice college!

Prep Smarter. Not Harder. Our comprehensive SAT prep program for the new SAT reviews every concept tested on the new exam. You won't find a more complete guide on the market! It features exclusive methods and strategies as well as more than 2,000 practice questions guaranteed to raise your SAT score! Each practice question is accompanied by a detailed explanation that includes strategic advice and step-by-step instruction that shows you how to get the right answer the expert way.

Kaplan's New SAT Premier 2016 program includes:

* 5 realistic, full-length practice tests, including a Diagnostic Test to guide your studies
* More than 2,000 practice questions, with detailed explanations
* A DVD with expert video tutorials from master Kaplan teachers
* An online center with additional practice questions and prep resources
* A comprehensive overview of the changes to the new SAT
* Kaplan Methods for the more challenging Reading Comprehension, Writing and Language, and Essay sections of the new SAT
* Kaplan Methods for the new difficult math content tested on the new SAT

Kaplan's New SAT Premier 2016 provides you with everything you need to improve your score, guaranteed. Kaplan has helped more than three million students successfully prepare for standardized tests, so we know that our test-taking techniques, methods, and strategies work. Kaplan's New SAT Premier 2016 is the must-have preparation program for every student looking to score higher and get into their top-choice college!

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

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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