Ubergizmo Share the Gadget Love http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo <![CDATA[ What a Great Product]]>
My daughter has been using it on her arms and legs and loves it. She gave it to me to try on a small portion of my chest hair and it easily removed the hair and did not leave any marks and the quick minor pain was easily bearable.

It comes with two size wheels. The smaller is for sensitive spots such as private parts and the bigger on is for larger areas. This product is an excellent buy and if you are a waxer, you will make the cost up fast!

Highly recommended]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Conair_Satiny_Smooth_Total_Body_Epilator-64-1881336-240360-What_a_Great_Product.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Conair_Satiny_Smooth_Total_Body_Epilator-64-1881336-240360-What_a_Great_Product.html Sat, 7 Sep 2013 23:07:43 +0000
<![CDATA[ Did you know that every continuing-care retirement community has its own "cognitive style?"]]> Neither did I until I read Chapter 8, "The First Year and Beyond" of Bernice Kohn Hunt's 2006 WHERE SHOULD I LIVE WHEN I RETIRE? A GUIDE TO CONTINUING-CARE (Retirement) COMMUNITIES...acronym CCRCs. 

 

FYI: my wife and I have lived since March 2004 in one such CCRC. It is called Highland Farms Retirement Community and is in Black Mountain, Western North Carolina 15 miles east of our county seat, Asheville. I am already telling you more truth about my retirement community than Mrs Hunt does about hers. For she gives it a false name  "Kimberly Hills"(for no obvious reason) merely saying that it is in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania about 200 miles from where she and husband Morton Hunt used to live in East Hampton, New York.

 

The book is well organized and should be read in the order given in its Table of Contents, namely,

 

Contents
 

Introduction, 1

 

 

1. Crossing the Age Equator, 3 (NOTE = age 65 and Medicare!)

 

2. Continuing-Care Retirement Communities, 13 (aka CCRCs)

 

3. The Search for a “Perfect” Community, 29

 

4. Looking Over the Information Packet, 37

 

5. Visiting the Communities on Your List, 45

 

6. Checking Out the Amenities, 59 (e.g. swimming pool, cocktail lounge, exercise room, croquet, etc.)

 

7. Taking the Plunge, 67 (signing a contract, packing up, moving in)

 

8. The First Year and Beyond, 75

 

Conclusion, 83

 

Appendix A. Checklist for Comparing CCRCs, 85

 

Appendix B. Directive to Heirs, 93

 

Resources, 95

 

About the Author, 99

 

Index, 101

************************************************

Mrs Hunt pitches her book to people 60 years or older who are wondering how to spend their retirement years: in their old house, somewhere else in a new house or in a retirement community. Bernice Hunt strongly recommends retiring to an organized retirement community with the following three ideal characteristics:

-- (1) it is not-for-profit

-- (2) and accredited by CCAC, the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission

-- (3) And is neither fee-for-service nor modified but "extensive," that is your initial entry fee to the community guarantees you good medical care until you die, including, ideally, an on the campus clinic, private room in the CCRC's medical facility and one-time payment in advance for all prescription drugs!

There are of course dozens of other things that Bernice Hunt would have us all bear in mind as we consider which CCRC to select and move into: villa or apartment? 

laundry in your apartment or down the hall? 

costs? 

food? 

cultural events and much more.

One thing that surprised Mr and Mrs Hunt (and there were many surprises) was that once they moved in to their pseudonymous campus "Kimberly Hills,"  residents already there were not like what the Hunts had expected. Most were from Pennsylvania, not out of state, many had gone through school together. None (an impression later corrected) had ever voted for anyone but Republicans. Dresses for women were almost de rigueur. Men had to wear coats and ties in the main dining room. Intellectuals existed but not many. Too many residents drank more than the Hunts did. More residents enjoyed playing bridge than the Hunts did. And on and on. 

"Kimberly Hills" had its own distinct "cognitive style." Mrs Hunt does not describe that CCRC's unique cognitive style. But whatever it is, it had formed over the years and then become customary. Although the author does not say so herself, it seems to me the reviewer, that her excellent Appendix A. Checklist for Comparing CCRCs might usefully have a box about gathering much more detailed information about your future co-residents before you opt definitively for your dream retirement community.

There is an awful lot of Mrs Bernice Kohn Hunt and her biography in A GUIDE TO CONTINUING-CARE COMMUNITIES as well as a tendency to boost her personal preferences to canonical status for other readers. She is determined that when she and husband retire, it will be their last move and the community's number one service will be to take good care of them when they fall sick, without demanding "pay for service." 

 

By contrast I know quite a few in my own Highland Farms Retirement Community (doctors, missionaries, diplomats, teachers, librarians, who do not come here predetermined to die on the campus. People move out of Highland Farms to be with or near to family. They do not obsess about pre-paying an "extensive" contract that guarantees them residence till death, even if their money runs out.

On the other hand the author's neuroses or druthers or whatever they are are some of the liveliest writing in the book. Without the personal dimension, WHERE SHOULD I LIVE WHEN I RETIRE? might be about as lively as a telephone directory.

-OOO-

]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/book/UserReview-Where_Should_I_Live_When_I_Retire_A_Guide_to_Continuing_Care_Communities-64-1172258-236763-Did_you_know_that_every_continuing_care_retirement.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/book/UserReview-Where_Should_I_Live_When_I_Retire_A_Guide_to_Continuing_Care_Communities-64-1172258-236763-Did_you_know_that_every_continuing_care_retirement.html Thu, 30 May 2013 02:06:44 +0000
<![CDATA[ I tried SCHICK Hydro Five with built-in Hydrating Gel and stored away shaving mug, brush and soap]]> amazon.com's VINE program to send me to use and review a free three pack of its HYDRO FIVE DISPOSABLE RAZORS. After an initial problem or two flowing from lack of information provided by manufacturer SCHICK, I then had three shaving experiences so enjoyable that I have ordered both some disposable and non-disposable ones. 

If you go to the amazon.com web site you should find by now at least twenty independent reviews by new or recent users. My review adds little special to any of them. Except this: I blame Schick for not giving me any enclosed instructions about either five blades or moisture-released HYDRATING GELS. This caused me to make an initial mistake that resulted in yelps, ouches and a cut. I then guessed that hydrating gels were not REPEAT not meant to be used in conjunction with my traditional shaving soap, lathering bowl and shaving brush. Too much of a good thing meant that a weird-looking grey slime oozed down my lathered face as I shaved and the combination of gel and soap seemed to clog up the five metal blades making for painful, irregular strokes.

Eventually I found by googling the manufacturer's site at 

     http://www.schickhydro.com/products-hydrofive.asp

and quickly educated myself about a new world of HYDRATING GELS and more.

I have now used the same disposable HYDRO FIVE four times and the last three experiences have been pleasant. The hydrating gel contains aloe. I can feel the gel being released as I shave. And the gel continues to soothe when all the work is done. 

The five blades are wide. The plastic handle is sturdy and comfortable. My guess is that with proper usage one throwaway set of five will last a week before running out of hydrating gel. The disposables seem ideal for a trip I am about to take to Texas. But the standard non-throwaway with replacement blades sounds right for regular daily use at home and lest wasteful. 

If this SCHICK razor continues to work well for me, then its bottom line will be that it shortens the time to prepare the face for shaving and saves the cost of shaving soap, shaving mug and shaving brush. What is not to like?

Prices no doubt vary according to outlet. But figure on +/- $3.00 for one of the three disposable razors that are sold in a set. Surprisingly inexpensive, I think, for what you get.

-OOO-]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Schick_Hydro_FIVE_Disposable_Razors-64-1859912-234909-I_tried_SCHICK_Hydro_Five_with_built_in_Hydrating.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Schick_Hydro_FIVE_Disposable_Razors-64-1859912-234909-I_tried_SCHICK_Hydro_Five_with_built_in_Hydrating.html Fri, 29 Mar 2013 22:31:08 +0000
<![CDATA[ Something I Really Need!]]>
I really liked it as you attach the strap to the bag handle and lift the bag by the device and hold it suspended for a few seconds until it beeps and the final weight is displayed. For me it fits the bill exactly for what I needed. I would have rated this with a full five stars except for the following reasons and I hope David will take note of them:

1. The instructions were not totally clear on how to use the device. It says to depress the "button" but the "button" was not clearly marked on the instructions and was difficult to find on the device (it is a very thin one just under the digital display and was difficult for me to find without someone else looking for it and pointing it out.
2. The instructions do not show how to properly lift and suspend the device. I am fairly strong but I needed two hands to lift and suspend the bag until the device beeped. My wife would definately have a difficult time doing this with a fifty pound bag. After all we only use roll bags and there is virtually no time when we have to lift and suspend the bag. Again maybe there should have been a picture as to the proper technique for holding the bag suspended that doesn't overstress your wrists and back.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Davidsbeenhere_Portable_Travel_Digital_Luggage_Scale-64-1855928-234079-Something_I_Really_Need_.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Davidsbeenhere_Portable_Travel_Digital_Luggage_Scale-64-1855928-234079-Something_I_Really_Need_.html Mon, 4 Mar 2013 16:23:34 +0000
<![CDATA[ Helped A Lot During Hurricane Sandy!]]>
The flashlight also comes with a case so you can attach it to your belt if you are working. Overall a real good product.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Coast_A25_Stainless_Steel_Focusing_226_Lumen_LED_Flashlight_with_Tactical_Strobe-64-1840167-229521-Helped_A_Lot_During_Hurricane_Sandy_.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Coast_A25_Stainless_Steel_Focusing_226_Lumen_LED_Flashlight_with_Tactical_Strobe-64-1840167-229521-Helped_A_Lot_During_Hurricane_Sandy_.html Wed, 31 Oct 2012 16:12:01 +0000
<![CDATA[ Not a Great Tool For Preparing Avocados]]> http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-OXO_Good_Grips_3_in_1_Avocado_Slicer-64-1834898-227848-Not_a_Great_Tool_For_Preparing_Avocados.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-OXO_Good_Grips_3_in_1_Avocado_Slicer-64-1834898-227848-Not_a_Great_Tool_For_Preparing_Avocados.html Mon, 27 Aug 2012 03:05:01 +0000 <![CDATA[ I wish my new iHOME wired keyboard's F keys had symbols hinting what they do.]]> amazon.com/vine as a free sample to review a keyboard with the long name iHome by Lifeworks Technology IMAC-K121S Full Size Mac Keyboard with 2 USB Ports.  Between us my wife and I have two desktops and one laptops, all Mac.  A few months ago I bought our newest: a large screen monitor. It came with a small wireless keyboard (our first) otherwise identical to the keyboard in our older OS10.6.8 laptop. I was curious how well a larger, wired keyboard would work. So I asked amazon.com/vine to send me one to review.

It arrived today.

I found that a delivery service had deposited a long, slender, rectangular box outside my front door. Inside, with no written instructions was a "made in China" computer keyboard with logo iHOME above the F14-F15-F16 keys -- keys taking up nearly half the 1/3 extra space to the right that my two older mac keyboards lacked.

 Within two minutes I had opened the box  and plugged its cable into an unused USB port behind my  large monitor apple computer with MAC OS 10.74 operating system. A pop-up box announced that it did not recognize the candidate to replace the mac wireless keyboard that had come months earlier with the desktop computer. My first reaction was, "Oh, no!" After all, Amazon/VINE's on line come on had said: "Just connect the USB cable to your computer and you're ready to go." Not quite.

I have used computers for decades. But I mainly read email, do research via GOOGLE and write book reviews for various on-line sites and for my web site (which a friend set up for me ten years ago). The screen now told me to go ahead and strike (but not hold) the key just right of the leftmost of iHOME's three shift keys (it was "Z"). The next screen announced that my MAC had found the iHOME keyboard and it was was either American, European or Japanese standard. The screen had highlighted "American" as correct and told me to strike the key just left of my right-most shift key (it was ? /) and I would be in business. A true forecast!

I then started to make comparisons among our three co-located Macs  My older wireless keyboard was the same size as that embedded in my Mac Book Pro Laptop, and included a helpful feature lacking in the just installed iHOME wired keyboard: intuitive symbols on the topmost "F" keys, at least on F1 - F4 and F7 - F12.  I do miss those symbols. They make it easier to control sound, level of brightness and more.

Otherwise the iHOME keyboard works fine. I see that I can even use it simultaneously with the old wireless keyboard when both are active, though I haven't come up with a good reason why I should. The typing touch of the new iHOME is heavier than what came with my "newish" desktop MAC. But I am rapidly growing accustomed to that difference.

All in all, I am happy to have a plug-in keyboard with two USB cable ports. Another reviewer for amazon.com noted how rare it is -- but very handy -- for a keyboard to have its own extra USB.  I have as a test plugged in my TOMTOM GPS to iHOME for a recharge. And that is notably easier to do than spinning around my wide monitor and finding an empty USB port on its backside. I plan to continue to use both keyboards, wired and wireless, interchangeably. Certainly, when the batteries go on the wireless, it is consoling to have a "big brother" iHOME keyboard handy and ready to roll.

This review of iHOME wired full size MAC Keyboard was typed on that very keyboard.

-OOO-]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-iHome_by_Lifeworks_Technology_IMAC_K121S_Full_Size_Mac_Keyboard_with_2_USB_Ports-64-1832819-226971-I_wish_my_new_iHOME_wired_keyboard_s_F_keys_had.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-iHome_by_Lifeworks_Technology_IMAC_K121S_Full_Size_Mac_Keyboard_with_2_USB_Ports-64-1832819-226971-I_wish_my_new_iHOME_wired_keyboard_s_F_keys_had.html Tue, 24 Jul 2012 22:27:13 +0000
<![CDATA[ A Low-Tech Workaround Finally Gave Me Marley Coffee the Way I Like It]]> Ten days or so ago I accepted an invitation from amazon.com's VINE program to order at no cost to myself and review if I chose to a box of 15 paper pods of ground "organic medium ethiopia virgacheffe." A few days later arrived in the mail a packet under the heading Marley Coffee & Tea One Love Organic Coffee, 15-Count.

 

Inside were 15 "single serve" pods each wrapped in air-sealed plastic. There were no written instructions on how to proceed to prepare the coffee for drinking.

 

"Oh, well how hard can it be," I asked myself.

I had seen pods like this in motels. Typically you tossed one into a small coffee maker, added water to the indicated level, turned the machine on and in a couple of minutes you had two small cups of coffee.

By analogous reasoning I came up with WORKAROUND NUMBER ONE: I tossed four paper pods of Marley ITAL ONE LOVE coffee into my faithful Mr. Coffee CG12 12-Cup Switch Coffeemaker, added enough water to make eight cups (daily ration of my wife and me) and turned on the switch. Six or seven minutes later out came coffee with a fascinating taste unlike anything I had ever had: a sense of three or four ingredients in it beyond the coffee. It was good. It was also far too weak. Conclusion: one pod, one cup; not one pod, two cups!

 

WORKAROUND NUMBER TWO: So next day I tossed one pod into Mr. Coffee and enough water for one cup. Result: good taste, still too weak.

 

WORKAROUND NUMBER THREE: Same procedure as NUMBER TWO except that I first inserted a paper filter into Mr. Coffee thinking that would slow down the runthrough of hot water and strengthen the coffee. It still seemed tasty but weak.

 

Since then my wife and I have introduced and stayed with WORKAROUND NUMBER FOUR: put one pod in one coffee mug, pour hot water over same. Five minutes later return with teaspoon, stir, fish out the water drenched pod and drink the coffee. We still wish the coffee were stronger, still like the taste but wonder what fraction of a cup one pod can make to our taste: 3/4? 1/2?

 

On the periphery of our preparing and tasting experience to date three things are worth mentioning:

 

(1) The absence of instructions in or on the outside of the box containing the 15 pods is inexcusable. Later, on another amazon.com website, regarding the same package I found the following instruction: "Directions  --  For Use only in Single Serve Home Coffee Pod Brewers."

I don't have such a contraption. The best I can do is WORKAROUND NUMBER FOUR above. I find it baffling and inexcusable that the very handsome cardboard outer box did not contain preparation instruction.

 

(2) The plastic box containing the 15 pods of ground coffee has a total of six outside flat surfaces. Five of them (all except the bottom) are covered with words, logos, symbols and a photograph of (I presume) Jamaican musician Bob Marley. We are referred to marleycoffee.com. We read of ITAL, which seems to be a brand within a brand or perhaps the name of the manufacturer who makes the coffee for Marley. We read of kicksforcause.org, a youth soccer program dear to Bob Marley. Some of his coffee profits go to this cause. There is an Ethiopian lion depicted on three sides, representing, I think, the Rastafarian religion's beloved Emperor Haile Selassie the First. We learn that Bob Marley intends his coffee operations to honor his father. Fascinating and informative. But I would replace half a side with preparation instructions!

 

(3) One peculiarity of this ONE LOVE "Ethically Farmed-Artisan Roasted" Ethiopian coffee is the aroma of the ground coffee beans in its pods before soaking in water. It is distinctly acidic. It brings back pleasant memories of my first encounter over 30 years ago in a rural Irish B&B with breakfast kidneys -- a smell which over time grew less and less pleasant. That faintly urine smell from the unmoistened coffee pods has always been gone by the time the coffee is ready to drink. I don't know whether all Ethiopia Virgacheffe beans or powder or ground coffee have that smell. But some people might find it offputting.

 

Bottom Line: a pleasantly different tasting coffee, conveying a sense of multiple high quality organic  ingredients.It might prove expensive to immerse one pod in as little as 1/2 cup of hot water to make it strong enough.

 

-OOO-

]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Marley_Coffee-64-1740913-222423-A_Low_Tech_Workaround_Finally_Gave_Me_Marley.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Marley_Coffee-64-1740913-222423-A_Low_Tech_Workaround_Finally_Gave_Me_Marley.html Wed, 4 Apr 2012 20:53:14 +0000
<![CDATA[ If you are a franchisee you are "in business FOR yourself but not BY yourself"]]> lunch.com to place this review because serious academic case studies of marketing are examples of applied (social) science, part of the domain of ubergizmo as I understand ubergizmo.
=-=-==-==-=-=-=-=-=-=-

The VINE program of amazon.com recently sent me its monthly list of items to receive at no cost to me to do no holds barred honest assessments. I selected three offerings: a biography of King Henry VII, the first Tudor monarch of England, a curry sauce mix and Ilan Alon's pre-publication book GLOBAL FRANCHISING OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT: CASES IN INTERNATIONAL AND EMERGING MARKETS OPERATIONS (April 2012).

Why did I pick a book on franchising?

I spent my junior officer and mid-career officer years in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Department of State helping American businessmen make money overseas. Some of what they did was to offer franchises (be a franchisor) of their trade marks, product or service lines and proprietary knowledge to business people in countries like Afghanistan, Viet-Nam, Pakistan, Germany and Iraq. More recently, I have watched one of our sons take two business degrees related to franchising and to become a full time self-employed franchise professional. Much of what I now know of franchising comes from conversations with him and from books that he has recommended from his own teaching and lecturing.

So who is Ilan Alon and what is in his GLOBAL FRANCHISING OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT?

He is a PhD professor at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and visiting scholar at Harvard's Kennedy School. He has taught franchising in China, Italy and India. He has published prodigiously on his favorite subject. Even a very few pages spent reading his newest book amply demonstrates that Ilon Alon communicates briskly, clearly and in ways that make his lessons stay with you.

The focus of GLOBAL FRANCHISING is franchising outside the United States, a country with "about 785 thousand establishments with an output that approaches $740 billion ... (accounting for) nearly 18 million jobs (1 of 8) and a $2.1 trillion contribution to output" (Introduction). Not only does Alon in this book give most attention to other countries, he focuses on riskier, sometimes younger, markets in four either rapidly emerging or very young economies: Croatia, Korea, China and Indonesia.

Professor Alon looks at the mindsets of potential franchisors and franchisees: what is in it for both sides of the agreement between two independent parties. He looks at the generally weak legal frameworks for franchising in developing markets, the risks to both parties in the relationship and the need for people on the ground in the developing market under consideration to bridge language and cultural differences.

For the handful of countries studied, Alon divides his approach in two. FIrst, in separate chapters early in the book, he introduces the players, their backgrounds and motives, why they select a country and city to set up business in and more. He then leaves the reader dangling just before the franchisors take the plunge. He deliberately makes readers want to learn: how does all this turn out?

The latter question Alon answers at adequate length, case by case, in Chapter 10, "Final Reflections and Epilogues." He tells what happened, warts and all when a Croatian married couple, business-educated and business-experienced in the USA returned home to build the country's first "San Francisco Coffee House" and then expanded it by franchising to other cities. Ilon Alon does the same regarding Chapter Six's tale of Ruth's Chris Steak Houses ("the largest fine dining steak house in the United States") when the chain went overseas, where half its international establishments are now franchised. Ditto the other cases.

If a business-minded American teenager or participant in Junior Achievement (JA), were to pick up Ilon Alon's latest book, she or he would find a simply written, user-friendly book of the first magnitude for clarity and directness. Jack or Jill might not personally want to do business in Croatia or Korea, but they would probably pick up plenty of facts and insights applicable to the USA on the need for capitalization, the importance of location for retailing and much more. This book is, albeit so oriented to developing markets, not at all bad as a general introduction to franchising almost anywhere.

By the time Jack and Jill are in college they may be ready to become franchisees themselves, setting up, for example, their own moving van franchised company, barber shop or something similar. This book is VERY simply written. And yet at the same time, case by case, Professor Alon presents real, complex, very risky life, recent cases of ups and downs within a flexible, rapidly expanding business concept (franchising)  whose motto is "be in business FOR yourself but not BY yourself" (Introduction).]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Ilan_Alon_GLOBAL_FRANCHISING_OPERATIONS_MANAGEMENT_CASES_IN_INTERNATIONAL_AND_EMERGING_MARKETS_OPERATIONS-64-1797094-219886-If_you_are_a_franchisee_you_are_in_business_FOR.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Ilan_Alon_GLOBAL_FRANCHISING_OPERATIONS_MANAGEMENT_CASES_IN_INTERNATIONAL_AND_EMERGING_MARKETS_OPERATIONS-64-1797094-219886-If_you_are_a_franchisee_you_are_in_business_FOR.html Wed, 1 Feb 2012 15:24:35 +0000
<![CDATA[ A Step Up]]> Paper Mate InkJoy pens. They write smoothly, boldly and cleanly, and feel good in my hand. I've yet to have an issue with the ink, and all of the colors are clear and are dark enough to read easily. Blue and black are my favorites. Since they are ballpoints, I expect the ink will be more durable than that of a gel pen's.

They come with a (now more common) wax ball on the pen tip that keeps it from drying out before you use it -- a very good thing. The grip is comfortable and fits in my large/average size hand well, though a little thicker would be better for me. Not as comfortable as a Pilot Dr. Grip, but for less than half the price that is easily overlooked. They are much sturdier than your standard budget ball-point, and feel solid and built to last while using.

InkJoy pens are no match for Waterman, but for the price they can't be beat. They are worth the slight price increase over generic style pens and I will be getting more of these when my current batch wears out.

~ Kort]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Papermate_InkJoy_Pen-64-1796721-219577-A_Step_Up.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Papermate_InkJoy_Pen-64-1796721-219577-A_Step_Up.html Thu, 26 Jan 2012 22:00:25 +0000
<![CDATA[ Get A Recently Manufactured Nighthawk]]>
Overall, I've been pretty happy with KN-COPP-3 Nighthawk -- as much as you can be from a product of this sort. I've not had any low battery error messages experienced by some other reviewers. It should be obvious, but I suspect some people may not realize the battery is just for back-up and the unit needs to be plugged in. The small power brick is inside a back panel next to where you install the battery, and you can change its orientation if you want to plug in the Nighthawk in at a different angle. If you don't want the somewhat large detector cluttering up an outlet, the brick is also removable with a 6 foot cord. On the plus side, the unit was well designed so that it wouldn't block the second outlet.  

After installing and testing the Nighthawk, it now resides on a wall, happily blinking away (this means all systems are go). Thankfully, I've never seen an indication of high CO levels in the house. If there were, I'm confident we'd hear the warning because the unit's alarm is LOUD! I only hesitate to give the Nighthawk my full endorsement because there are purely battery powered CO detectors available for less. These offer the added utility of not having to be in or near an outlet. Also, look around for specials before purchasing. I found this unit specially packaged with a smoke detector for half its current cost on Amazon.  

~ Kort]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Kidde_KN_COPP_3_Nighthawk-64-1770050-213992-Get_A_Recently_Manufactured_Nighthawk.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Kidde_KN_COPP_3_Nighthawk-64-1770050-213992-Get_A_Recently_Manufactured_Nighthawk.html Tue, 4 Oct 2011 17:03:30 +0000
<![CDATA[ Soehnle Brand Scales Keep Getting Thinner and More Fascinating. Maybe I can, too!]]>
I am submitting this review to the Ubergizmo community of Torch.com because I think of Ubergizmoites as hi tech nerds or cosmological speculators a la Immanuel Velikovsky. Well, I am not in that league, but a scale like the Soehnle Easy Control Bathroom Scale Model 63806 challenges me the way rocket science might challenge you, dear reader.

To show you how lo-tech are my wife and I, both in our 70s, it took us two minutes to get the three accompanying AAA batteries into the rear side well of the sleek white scale that we had just unpacked. We had ordered that weighing machine for me to review for amazon.com/vine. It arrived by UPS packaged like and resembling a freshly baked, slightly rectangular pizza. I noted that it had come all the way from China. But accompanying literature assured that, wherever manufactured, our new scale had been designed in Germany by Germans who stand by its quality. It comes with a three-year guarantee.

From then on my wife and I relied on the instruction manual that came inside the pizza box. We were immediately distracted by the 18 different languages for us to choose among. We could handle five of them, but not Portuguese, Danish, Hungarian and ten others. We opted for English.

We flipped to the first five illustrations on pages 5 and 6. English was the second listed of 18 languages spread across those two pages and only required us to do three things in "Start-up operation": Insert Batteries (we were hi-tech enough already to have done that), Set Units and Place Scale on a hard, level surface. Set units meant choosing among kilograms, pounds or the beloved of Brits "stones" (14 avoirdupois pounds). We opted for pounds.

After that all that was left for us to do was to feed in first my height and weight and then my wife's and our desired target weights. The clever Soehnle scale would then notice whether it was 6'1" or 5'8" who had hopped on the scale, tell each what he/she weighed, express his/her body mass index and how many pounds we were away from the target weight in pounds that each had selected.

This phase took us  a surprising amount of time. For some reason we could not get all the numerical inputs to "take" when the scale was positioned on our hard wood dining room table, cheek by jowl with our 35-page instruction manual.

Once, however, we had dared to experiment, had put our new pet down on the even harder tile floor surface just inside our front door, then on our knees try again to input target weight, etc., etc. -- all went well. And the scale has the capacity to take the data of an additional three persons besides us two.

So 32 minutes after we two lo-tech non-nerds had begun with AAA batteries and more, we were done. Our new Soehnle was performing as directed and we have set out with confidence to attain our target weights. The numbers displayed by our new friends in Germany and China are large enough for us to take in without recourse to reading glasses.

Some additional data about our "digital personal scale with multi-function display":   its dimensions are 12.2 x 12 x 0.9 inches ; 3.6 pounds. For the moment at least the Soehnle replaces our beloved but simpler Weighwatchers portable bathroom scale. Soehnle is heavier, slimmer and appears sturdier than its Weighwatchers cousin. The psychology built into our Soehnle must be: if year after year, Soehnle scales grow thinner and thinner, why can't we?

The only negatives, once we got Soehnle up and running, that my wife and I notice after each of us using the

Easy Control Bathroom Scale Model 63086 about ten times is this: sometimes you have to tap it several times to make it enter its start up, lit up phase. And the numbers that we look down at before we step on might vary from time to time: lights flashing or steady and other minor variations. But if we are bold and step on, it works as promised.

Thanks for reading a lo-tech brain's approach to something unthinkable when I was born in 1935.

-OOO-]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Soehnle_Easy_Control_Bathroom_Scale_63806-64-1769714-213968-Soehnle_Brand_Scales_Keep_Getting_Thinner_and_More.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Soehnle_Easy_Control_Bathroom_Scale_63806-64-1769714-213968-Soehnle_Brand_Scales_Keep_Getting_Thinner_and_More.html Mon, 3 Oct 2011 21:00:47 +0000
<![CDATA[ Good Spinner With A Design Issue]]> Leifheit 23200 Signature Salad Spinner. Sturdy design, attractive appearance, effective drying mechanism, a container that doubles as serving bowl, and a mesh cage that can also drain hot pasta. The primary feature is a lawnmower-like pull mechanism that takes a little practice to get the hang of. It isn't intuitive and both of my children (ages 7 and 11) were not able to make it work without overextending the cord. This forced me to rewind it manually by removing the inside lid cover over the pull mechanism; easy enough but a hassle.

The operation of the 23200 is not as idiot proof as OXO's salad spinners' push rotation mechanisms. Where the 23200 has an advantage over the OXO design: the cord is pulled to spin the mesh bowl and as it retracts, it immediately halts the bowl's rotation; dispensing more water from the lettuce. The next pull sends the inner bowl spinning in the opposite direction, and so on. This is a very effective way to dry lettuce, and ours comes out virtually free of water after several pull cycles. The rubber grips on the bottom of the smoke-tinted bowl help keep it in place during this operation, though a firm hand pressing down on the lid is a must. It would have been nice if some English directions were included on the box, but I was able to figure things out fairly easily.

The 23200 Signature Salad Spinner seems well made and comes with a 3 year warranty, but the jerking of the cord mechanism causes me to doubt whether it will last that long. The Leifheit is a German designed product, made in China.

3.6 stars.

~ Kort]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Leifheit_23200_Signature_Salad_Spinner-64-1767773-213771-Good_Spinner_With_A_Design_Issue.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Leifheit_23200_Signature_Salad_Spinner-64-1767773-213771-Good_Spinner_With_A_Design_Issue.html Wed, 28 Sep 2011 13:35:20 +0000
<![CDATA[ LOTS of Outlets]]> The Belkin Twelve-Outlet Surge Protector is one of those products that is hard to get overly excited about. As long as it works, I'm happy. And it does work. I'm not sure if it has ever been put to the test with a powerful electric surge in my home, but if it has, I'm none the wiser and it continues to quietly do its job. No muss, no fuss -- and in lightening prone South Florida, that is appreciated. Brown-outs are a common occurrence in my neighborhood, and none of the items plugged into this power strip have been adversely effected.

It currently is home to seven power cords, 3 of them power bricks and 4 of them standard cords. The symmetrical design facilitates this large number and variety of cords well, and there is plenty of room if I ever need to add 5 more. Frankly, I'm impressed that with this number of electronic devices, it is has no trouble pulling power from a single outlet. Granted I don't generally use them all at once. The Belkin Surge Protector currently resides in our family room with two lamps and our entertainment system components plugged into it. I'm not currently using the Ethernet/phone outlets, but it is nice to have them available and I've run our coaxial cable through the unit. The generous 10' heavy-duty cord and low-profile plug are welcome features as well. The cord routing channel at the base of the unit is a handy feature, though with thick cables its functional space is used up quickly. I have just three of my power cords routed through it, though there is still room for more.

This power strip is rated to 4000 Joules and has a $250,000 equipment warranty. I hope I never have to test Belkin's making good on their warranty, but it certainly is peace of mind to have it. Overall I am quite happy with this well designed power strip and would purchase another if the need arose.

~ Kort ]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Belkin_Surge_Protector_12_Outlet_Power_Strip-64-1767499-213740-LOTS_of_Outlets.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Belkin_Surge_Protector_12_Outlet_Power_Strip-64-1767499-213740-LOTS_of_Outlets.html Mon, 26 Sep 2011 20:14:32 +0000
<![CDATA[ "the majority of feminine tasks are deadly dull and leave the mind so empty" (Ch. 14).]]>  

One late September night around 1947 every single woman within the village of Midwich, England who could become pregnant did become pregnant. It wasn't long before all the startled virgins were flocking to either good ole doc Willers or good ole vicar Reverend Hubert Leebody or both for an explanation. The 1957 sci fi novel's title THE MIDWICH CUCKOOs hints at what had happened: aliens had planted their embryos in the wombs of the good women of Midwich, like some of the 59 species of cuckoos that are full-time or occasional brood parasites.

 

Time marches on. The aliens are born. Most of the willy-nilly mothers of Midwich cherish the slender, attractively built strangers among them who look human except for their golden eyes. After a few years those mothers who have moved away from the village with their Children (note the author's capital C), are compelled by the united wills of the youngsters to come back home.

There the three score boys and girls easily pool their innately superior intellects to learn 100 times as fast as mortals and steadily increase the power of their united wills to inflict vengeance on any human who does them wrong. This is the beginning of inter-species warfare. British Army  Intelligence learns of other similar alien colonies planted all at roughly the same time among Eskimos, in the USSR and a couple of other places. No set of humans anywhere on the globe is happy hosting the Children who, by the time they are eight, look 16. Why are they here?

 

The boy Children learn from other boy Children, not from the girl Children. But both sexes can pool their will power to effect changes at a distance.

Curiously, in the novel there is also a huge gap between the human males and the human females. Many of the males, e.g. the vicar, the doctor, the thrice-married Renaissance man ethicist, Gordon Zellaby, the only man the Children trust: these males can seem obtuse and slow on the uptake. But the women, by contrast, are absolute lame brains. Their maternal instincts are completely predictable. They sacrifice themselves for the good of their alien brood.

 

There are many fascinating layers of meaning in John Wyndham's 1957 sci fi THE MIDWICH CUCKOOS (which has spawned at least three motion pictures). Whether authorial obfuscation is deliberate or simply can't be helped, the way Wyndham words things can be tortured at best. A sample: 
 

Good ole Doc Willers, grappling with the fact of the curiously passive acceptance of most of the women on their unexplained pregnancies, explains the way things are to his fellow males:

 

 

"... if we remember that the majority of feminine tasks are deadly dull and leave the mind so empty that the most trifling seed that falls there can grow into a riotous tangle, we shall not be surprised by an outlook on life which has the disproportion and the illogical consequence of a nightmare, whose values are symbolic rather than literal, " (Ch. 14, " Midwich Centrocline"). 

 

Know your structural geology? Then you grasp the curious title for Chapter 14: like the younger rocks in a centrocline formation, all of the Children who have left the village with their host mothers compel their elders to bring them back to be close to the other alien youngsters. The Children are, that is, centripetal. The aliens are like a hive of bees. Of course, that is not all they are. Read THE MIDWICH CUCKOOS and shudder to imagine how things may turn out.

 

-OOO- ]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-John_Wyndham_THE_MIDWICH_CUCKOOS-64-1765489-213687-_the_majority_of_feminine_tasks_are_deadly_dull.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-John_Wyndham_THE_MIDWICH_CUCKOOS-64-1765489-213687-_the_majority_of_feminine_tasks_are_deadly_dull.html Sat, 24 Sep 2011 20:34:43 +0000
<![CDATA[ Mattel Never Fails To Deliver With Their Annual Barbie!]]> http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Barbie_Collector_2011_Doll-64-1766818-213646-Mattel_Never_Fails_To_Deliver_With_Their_Annual.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Barbie_Collector_2011_Doll-64-1766818-213646-Mattel_Never_Fails_To_Deliver_With_Their_Annual.html Sat, 24 Sep 2011 00:19:09 +0000 <![CDATA[ Water Filter With Pluses and Minuses]]> The Drinkwell Hy-Drate filter/fountain seems like a good idea, but isn't one that I or my cats are overly impressed with. I have both a young and old cat, and they really don't seem to care one way or the other about it. A few weeks of use and their drinking habits remained unchanged. They noticed the filter when I placed in their bowl the first time, but after some initial wariness they just ignore the moving water.

The cord for the filter is a decent length, but having a wall outlet near your usual feeding spot is a good idea. The fountain is a little larger than an egg and is almost too big for my good-sized water bowl. I have to make sure to top off the water daily so that the level does not get too low which could lead to the filter motor burning out. So I recommend using the Hy-drate in an oversized bowl/dish. There is a secondary suction cup on the cord to help keep it out of the way, but it will not stick to my porously painted wall. I'm not a fan of drawing outlet power for something if I don't really need to, so letting this run day and night doesn't sit well with me. My cat's indifference to the filter/fountain makes plugging and unplugging it during meal times unnecessary as well.

I will admit that the Hy-Drate is very quiet and affixes securely in the dish. The white finish blends well with the enamel bowl so it isn't overly visible but for the movement of the water. The filtering action may be handy to some as well, but most of the time I refill my cat's water bowl using filtered water anyway. Upon reflection, I can't really justify the cost of the Hy-Drate (factoring in electricity and replacement filters). If it turns out your cat loves moving water and the filtering feature is important to you, then perhaps Drinkwell's Hy-Drate might fit your needs.

~ Kort ]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Drinkwell_Hy_Drate_Cat_Ice_White-64-1765512-213488-Water_Filter_With_Pluses_and_Minuses.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Drinkwell_Hy_Drate_Cat_Ice_White-64-1765512-213488-Water_Filter_With_Pluses_and_Minuses.html Mon, 19 Sep 2011 21:39:20 +0000
<![CDATA[ You Spin Me Right 'Round!]]>
Leifheit's Twist Salad Spinner stands out though for its long "plunger" neck. This makes it easier to hold and to get the spinner up to speed. It really whisks the water away from the leaves and I like it better than the ones you have to turn to spin (ie,: the Sunbeam Flow Thru Salad Spinner). I tested it on pasta too and it worked well on noodles but angel hair pasta found its way through the mesh. In any event, I prefer the models with the spin-knob that pops up from the lid or is just slightly raised - like the OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner. This makes it easier to store in one piece rather than having to disassemble the top to fit it in a cabinet as you have to do here. Otherwise, it does its job well, cleans up easily and has yet to show any signs of stress or breakage (a few months). It is a useful time-saving, if a little bulky, kitchen gadget. 3.5 stars.

~ Kort]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Leifheit_Twist_Salad_Spinner-64-1764459-213372-You_Spin_Me_Right_Round_.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Leifheit_Twist_Salad_Spinner-64-1764459-213372-You_Spin_Me_Right_Round_.html Thu, 15 Sep 2011 20:41:36 +0000
<![CDATA[ How This Ancient "Plugger" Tested Remington King of Shaves 5 Shaving System]]> Lunch.com is only one of five on-line sites for which I merrily write product reviews, mainly of books. Each review site has its charms, its strengths, its drawbacks. One thing that I enjoy about reviewing for amazon.com is participating in its VINE program. Every month VINE sends its stable of reviewers a list of new-to-market products to select from, try out and then review. If you like what you see amidst the monthly offerings, you can immediately ask amazon to send you a free sample to try out and then write up.

Usually, if I select anything at all, it is a book. Once, however, it was a handsome, functional  $69 metal exercise frame. This second time I chose a non-book called Remington Azor 5 Blade Manual Men's Razor with 3 Cartridges.

 

By the time the Remington five-blader arrived in my  mail, I had already thought out a "plugger's" easy,  lazy way to test. I would compare the unknown Remington five-blader with my tried and true Gillette Mach 3 three blader -- a loyal face scraper of more than five years residence on my bathroom sink.

Down the decades (I am 76) I have generally stuck with Gillettes: one blade, two blades, three blades. Once long ago my late father talked me into trying Wilkinson Sword blades -- and they seemed far in advance of their then competition. As time went on, however, I move higher and higher into technological improvements, especially regarding safety,  sharpness and kindness to my not abnormally sensitive facial skin.

 

So what was my experiment?

For three consecutive mornings I shaved the right side of my face with Remington 5-blades and my left side with Gillette 3-blades. Days one and two I shaved first with the grain of the whiskers (i. e. from up to down). Day three I reversed the order (from down to up -- against the grain). That is, during each shave I worked over my facial hair two times, as I have done since perhaps age 40.

 

Be it noted that for at least three decades I have preferred  to prepare to shave by lathering up my face using a shaving bowl of soap with a brush. Only when traveling light on the road will I use a gel. I always follow up my shaves with a soothing sunscreen spread -- something recommended long ago by an Air Force dermatologist in Viet-Nam.

 

As part of the experiment/comparison I also asked eight adults, both women and men, to feel both cheeks with their hands and judge which side was more closely shaven.  Seven of eight guessed the right or Remington-5 side.

 

As for myself, at first I thought that I was holding the Remington-5 wrong. I felt that nothing at all being cut. The shaver was more or less just brushing across my face, barely in contact with my skin.  But I reassured myself at once that, by golly, it was for a fact "whiskers away!" This was especially true when shaving against the grain where the Remington far outperformed the Gillette.

 

I personally judged from the very first day that the Remington did a notably better job on neck and all parts of the face except the area between upper lip and nose, where the smaller Gillette maneuvered more easily and with a more even shave. 

To be fair, 24 hours after my split-face shaves, I could detect no repeat NO difference in degrees of stubble between my Gillette side and my Remington side. It was simply time to lather up once more.

=-====

 

If you look at the amazon.com product page, you will find, at my last count earlier today, more than 100 reviews, including mine, of the Remington 5-blader. I only glanced at one review, and noticed its complaint that the Remington blades are plastic, though marketed in a way to make you think they are metal. Rather than verify or falsify that assertion, I choose to plead for intervention in this discussion by more learned, presumably far more 21st century hi-tech, colleagues here at lunch.com/ubergizmo to weigh in on plastic v. metal blades.

=-==-=-=

 

This plugger's conclusion: I have now officially  and personally been converted from Gillette Mach 3 to Remington King of Shaves 5.

On amazon.com the Remington-5 lists for $11.99, available on line from amazon for $8.99. That is for razor plus three blade cartridges. Amazon lists a Gillette Mach 3 Shaving system for $14.84, marked down to $8.14 (I don't know how many blade cartridges come with this. Offhand, the price difference between Remington 5-blader and Gillette 3-blader seem insignficant when it comes to make a buying decision.) 

 

I have also learned, via googling, that Gillette, too, markets a five blade shaving system. When I have used up the three sets of five blades that came with my Remington sample (in perhaps three or four weeks), fairness may drive me to try a Gillette 5-blader. It would not surprise me if my old friend Gillette will have risen to the competition. But for now ...

 

Meanwhile I appeal to my younger, more up-to-date, hi-tech colleagues in Ubergizmo to let me pass my plugger baton over to them for a better, more in depth review of Remington Azor 5 Blade Manual Men's Razor with 3 Cartridges .

 

-OOO-

]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Remington_King_of_Shave_5_Shaver-64-1759999-212163-How_This_Ancient_Plugger_Tested_Remington_King.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Remington_King_of_Shave_5_Shaver-64-1759999-212163-How_This_Ancient_Plugger_Tested_Remington_King.html Fri, 26 Aug 2011 20:41:31 +0000
<![CDATA[ A Recessionary Proof Investment! Read to find out why!]]>
Just as the stock markets are being "reinvented", our online and computing experiences are also being transformed by the iPad (currently the iPad 2). I haven't believed our leaders' resolutions to revamp the financial institutions to a large extent for almost 3 years now. There are many reasons but greed is largely one of them. It's just like governments knowing smoking is bad and yet because of the lucrative intakes from cigarettes sales, we still see them selling in many countries and cities. Well, arguments can be made for and against that but that's not the crux of this review. We are not concerned with smokers.

So, the story of the week has to be the crashing of worldwide stock markets. AND, the establishing of new highs in the Gold prices. Have you invested in Gold? If you've, congratulations!



Now, THE next investment. The iPad!
No, I was not one of those who got onto the bandwagon simply because it's cool to own an iPhone or iPad. I still haven't got an iPhone to date considering I'm an early adopter of technology, I've lagged behind. So, you can't fault me for being on the bandwagon. It's not that I don't like Apple either. I had a Macintosh when people didn't and back in the early 90s I paid some US$10000 for those antiques! I also had a Mac Mini and a Macbook Air plus the iPod. 

Why the late adoption of the iPhone and the iPad?
Well, by the time I got all the Apple products, I found that I haven't used as much of them as I'd have had my PC! And, on top of them, for most part, Apple products are proprietary. That gets on my nerves, a great deal! That's also part of the reason why this is a +4 and not a +5. No Flash and a little heavy on the weight which I do think Apple can improve on are the other reasons.

However, after having test-drive it for 3 days or so last week, and considering the investment environment we are currently undergoing, I do believe the iPad 2 will make a worthy investment in the days to come. We are seeing a switch, albeit an unrecognized one and an accidental one, to the tablet world. I even thought to myself that I've bought my last laptop this year! It shall be tablets from now on. And who better than the iPad which had already capture a large and majority chunk of the tablets market share? 



The trend is set, as with the market's! While it's up for the iPad, it's down for the markets. If there is any connection between the two, it's to buy the Apple stocks when the markets hit bottom! When? That's a question you've to answer for yourself! ;-)

IF you're still not convinced, you'd take heart in that it'll be a boon for your eyes reading the updates on Reuters, WSJ, CNN and stock updates! And, if you've to leave your desk your eyes could still be glued to your investments! Should you be trading at this time of the year, watch your investments like a hawk! Do NOT blink!!!


Lastly but not least, the irony?
Creation of Jobs!
And since the iPad is created by Jobs, it will be recessionary proof!!!]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-iPad_2-64-1716359-211360-A_Recessionary_Proof_Investment_Read_to_find_out.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-iPad_2-64-1716359-211360-A_Recessionary_Proof_Investment_Read_to_find_out.html Thu, 11 Aug 2011 04:38:27 +0000
<![CDATA[iPad 2 Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> http://www.lunch.com/businessmatters/reviews/d/UserReview-iPad_2-132-1716359-211359.html http://www.lunch.com/businessmatters/reviews/d/UserReview-iPad_2-132-1716359-211359.html Thu, 11 Aug 2011 04:06:32 +0000 <![CDATA[iPad 2 Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
The 4-letter word is AAPL!!! Certainly sounds like a-p-p-s to me!!! In just a year, it has gone up some 55% while after the 2008 market crash, it's has sprung from around $82 to $400!!!

Apps, baby, apps!!!




Microsoft will be wiped up in no time! Short the stock! It's a replay of Yahoo vs Google!]]>
http://www.lunch.com/businessmatters/reviews/d/UserReview-iPad_2-132-1716359-211018.html http://www.lunch.com/businessmatters/reviews/d/UserReview-iPad_2-132-1716359-211018.html Tue, 2 Aug 2011 02:16:22 +0000
<![CDATA[ In the 60s everyone wanted to "grok."]]>  

In retrospect, Robert A. Heinlein's STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND seems quaintly sub-adult in its message, not much of a story, a very average "didactic" novel. In its decade, be it admitted, the turbulent 1960s and early 1970s, STRANGER was on everyone's lips. Even today, in 2011, it is selling more strongly than probably 90% of the books still in print. What was its astonishing appeal 30 and 40 years ago? What gives it staying power, even if fading?

 

From what I gather, it was kids in 7th grade and higher and college students sophomore or younger who were initially most represented among those turned on by STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND. The novel "liberated" them, taught them to "think for themselves." Today those same people may vaguely recall STRANGER as a seminal book in their growing up but forget the reasons why it moved them. Historians of American culture build careers by probing cultural phenomena such as STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, comic books, anime, the noir and other fashions in writing as providing insights into what nowadays seems an increasingly ancient American -- largely juvenile -- mind set.

An American raised as a Martian on Mars by Martians is brought back in young adulthood to Earth by a follow-on expedition to the earlier one of which young Valentine Michael "Mike" Smith is the only survivor. Mentally, physically and emotionally, Smith is less cross-culturally prepared to become a mainstream human among humans than is a Peace Corps volunteer for coping with baboons in the outback of Burkina Faso.

As the Mars expedition's sole survivor and heir of wealthy parents, Smith has claims to colossal wealth, which crooked politicians wish to deny him. He also has no experience of other earth people, especially earth women. 

In the remainder of STRANGER IN STRANGE LAND Smith first demonstrates alien skills such as "grokking" persons and objects, i. e., cognitively reaching their inner cores through empathetic attention paying. Mars is a dry planet and water is rare. When a nurse brings him a glass of water, Smith is bound to her through Martian water-sharing ritual. He then begins consciously to share with and teach to earth men his skills, attitudes and values. Mike taps into latent human critical abilities, making Martian values so appealing as to inspire previous non-noticers of what they have been doing all their lives to overthrow traditional values such as walking around clothed rather than nude, having sex monogamously and without guilt. Smith teaches that generally doing what one jolly well pleases is good. This culminates in Smith's new-fangled religion. the Church of All The Worlds.

In the 60s STRANGER introduced young people to systematic noticing what they were doing and then asking "why."  They grokked. They proclaimed themselves "only an egg" and assured their chums that "You are God." They solemnly shared water with one another. Socrates had done a suprerficially similar but more philosophical thing with the youth of Athens and paid for it with his life. So in the end would Mike Smith, consciously sacrificing himself to a mob with an eye to toughening up his followers to face a vague threat from Martian Ancients. For those ancients would surely do unspecified bad things to earth people once they started paying the disgusting earthlings more heed.

The book is clumsily written, abounds with cliches, postures and rhetorical strutting, one dimensional characters and is of interest primarily to literary historians. Readers would do better to tackle some Socratic dialogs of Plato or a handful tales of C.S. Lewis, take up Rudyard Kipling's JUST SO STORIES or even the Mars tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Ray Bradbury. Far, far better, in my opinion, might they do.  -OOO-

 

]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/book/UserReview-Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land-64-1543565-210975-In_the_60s_everyone_wanted_to_grok_.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/book/UserReview-Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land-64-1543565-210975-In_the_60s_everyone_wanted_to_grok_.html Sun, 31 Jul 2011 20:11:35 +0000
<![CDATA[ A Portable Magazine; it's ALL about looks!]]> Warning: Once you held it you won't want to let it go!

For the last 3 days, I've spent a great deal of my time "readying" the iPad for my dad's usage. The old man wanted to buy one for stock trading. So, I got hold of an iPad in Hong Kong, which I was told has the cheapest iPad across the region, if not the world. Yes, indeed, it was at least around 10-12% cheaper than its competing city Singapore. Partly it was due to the weakness in the US$ (HK$ is pegged to the US$) and partly due to the lack of GST in Hong Kong.
 
When I got to the store, to my surprise, the 3G models are sold out in the first 2 shops I went to. 3G models are selling like hot cakes! My sister who was the early adopter where the iPad is concerned, had gotten it on the day of launch. She bought the wifi models instead.
 
Now, I know I had to get the 3G+wifi model for my dad. This is through my own personal experience with the Samsung Galaxy Tab. There lies the main observation about tablets, both for the Androids and the Apple's version.
 
This is something you'd like to remember when considering buying the tablet (be it iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab, etc...). The iPad is a gadget that is only versatile when it's fully connected to the internet. Unlike the netbook and the laptop or even the Kindle, iPad draws resources from the internet connectivity and also its apps. It is more like a phone than a computer. 
 
Without continuous connectivity, iPad becomes just a Kindle or a simple game console. I do not suggest you to get the iPad if you are simply playing bejeweled or mahjong, which is what I came across the many times when transiting at the airports. My assumption is that these people don't have connectivity and hence are limited to only games that had been downloaded or books and magazines that had been purchased.
 
Without connectivity, now... imagine your phone where you can't dial out or received calls. You get the drift? (And, I just bought a dual-SIM card phone which is also wifi ready from Samsung for some $150 without a contract! I've many SIM cards, I can't live with no connectivity!)
 
Ok, enough about connectivity, now on with the hardware, the iPad!

What you need to have in consideration when buying an iPad:

1) Internet connection 
 
Before you get excited about using your mobile broadband, there is no usb port on this one (unlike the Galaxy Tab). Wifi is available. So, if you are lucky to have one of those mifi like I do, then no added cost is needed since you can just access it from there. You do have to carry it around with you and one big problem with the mifi is that the battery only lasts some 3 hours or so. As with the Galaxy Tab, you cannot draw power from it as compared with the laptop since there are the USB ports on them. The iPad? Well, I haven't figure a way around it. That translates to loss of connectivity after 3 hours or so if I'm hooking up through the mifi. 
 
That's BAD!!! 
 
Conclusion: If you intend to use iPad on the road, best to get the 3G model. If you use it only at home, then wifi model will suffice. You will save around $130 between these 2 models (with same capacity). With the 3G model, you also need to apply or change your current SIM card to a Micro SIM card. It was a simple enough process but I don't like it when Apple makes me work. Why is everything Apple proprietory and why can't it just conform to industry standard?! That irks me quite a bit about this brand. I don't believe in having to be different just for different sake! 

As an additional consideration, imagine having to apply for another micro SIM card when you are overseas! As far as I know, the daily or weekly SIM connections are quite readily available. But, micro SIM? I'm not so sure about that! Hence, iPad would prove to be a hassle when it comes to connecting while you're traveling on the road (out of the country). For the Galaxy Tab, at the least, the SIM card slot is one that's of a normal size.
 
Lesson learned: Connectivity rules in the tablet world! If you roam while traveling in different country, that won't be a cheap option!
 
2) Capacity
 
The iPad comes in 3 hard disk sizes: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
One difference between the Galaxy Tab and the iPad is iPad has no micro-SD card slot, that means the size is not expandable on iPad. That's one major misgiving I've with the iPad. Why can't I have as much space as I want? Instead, I've to do a lot of spring cleaning along the way.
 
Then again, considering the amount of junks I've piled up in my life, spring cleaning can be a blessing in disguise. So, what I need is a change in attitude! :-)
 
Conclusion: You don't need too much space. For one, cloud computing IS the future and will soon be in fashion. Everything is in the cloud. All you have to do is save as much as you can on the iPad and translates those savings into the cloud! I'd say for most people, 16GB is sufficient. This is also the best selling and most affordable model.
 
Lesson learned: Keep all your stuff in the cloud. 
 
3) Apps, Flash & the looks
 
Lots of apps to download. Without apps, it's like a swimmer without hands.
Many of the useful ones, especially for working adults, can be downloaded for free. I find one app particular useful. It's the app from Reuters. Reuters as we all know it, is a paid service. You need financial information, you go to Reuters. 

 
However, if you've tried reading news or newspapers online, you know it can be tiring on the eyes. With the iPad apps though, that has made me want to read. That, I feel, is a major feat!
 
One thing you must do on the tablets (iPad especially) is to get apps like Zinio and PressDisplay where you can download and/or read magazines and newspapers. Reading magazine is one of life's pleasure when it comes to iPad. This is also iPad major advantage over the Galaxy Tab. The 10" screen size is ideal for magazine reading. Not to mention the high resolution "retina" display makes it unbeatable when it comes to sharpness and beauty of the screen display. I love checking out my pictures which I've uploaded onto my website for viewing! I had recently thought of revamping the site but after accessing it on the iPad I've decided against it. It's a real beauty when it appears on iPad! The slideshow function doesn't work though so I've to think of ways of getting around that. NO Flash on iPad, can you believe it?!?!
 
Conclusion: Crispier images on iPad means that if you do a lot of photo viewing or even YouTube videos which appear like on HD TV (a real pleasure to the senses, I can assure you) then be sure to get the iPad! In fact, don't go anywhere without it! 
 
I can imagine the amount of sales one can drum up when making a presentation on the iPad! So, yes, it's a must tool for your sales team!
 
Lesson learned: If you squint your eyes often when reading online materials, do me a favor. Go get an iPad. If you travel mostly by car, get the iPad. If you take subways and walk a lot, get the Galaxy Tab. 1/2 the weight can mean a great deal if you have to hold this thing in your hand and stand on your feet assessing the net! 
 
The biggest selling point for the iPad is how good it looks! Not just the casing but the display itself. I'm convinced of getting one for myself simply because it's a boon for my eyes! Trust me, I've made a side-by-side comparison when it comes to the LCD display. iPad rules!!!
 
If you visit YouTube a lot, this will be the turning point for you. It's almost as good as watching TV if not better!
 
4) Time
 
Be prepared to spend countless time with this toy. Yes, it is a toy where you will bring into your bed and anywhere that's not wet, I suppose! It's certainly a great one to have when you're doing your hair at the salon! Or waiting for that delayed take-off, etc...
 
iPad kills time for sure.
 
Conclusion: My belief is that if iPad and the Android tablets continue to improve on the infrastructure, in no time the desktop & laptop will be obsolete! 
 
Lesson learned: We are seeing a major shift in consumer behavior. iPad will lead a trend where one day we will no longer visit websites but will instead live in the world of apps! Everything would be simplified. Learning how to use an iPad doesn't take much time or instructions. Most thing are instinctive and that's the beauty of it all. Children, even toddlers, would find it easy to operate an iPad. It's in line with our sense of touch. Not much instructions are needed. All you need is to touch the screen! Be adventurous and be in touch!
 
That's the beauty of the iPad (not forgetting the other Android tablets and gadgets as well). I do believe we are at the tipping point!

Life will never be the same again!
Oh wait, we have not even gotten to jailbreaking the iPad yet! ;-)


 
5) iTunes & Apple Apps Store
 
I've mixed feeling about this one. While on the iPad 2 you don't have to do the sync during start up, one still need to set up an account on iTunes for even free downloading of the apps. For some reason, I feel being tied down by iTunes. Without agreeing to their terms, iPad won't work. So, be prepared to read the terms or if not, signing up blindly is what most people do anyhow! So, know that you're not alone, hehe....

Conclusion: Once you get through with the initial set-up, everything is a breeze. 

Lesson learned: Use a credit card which has the least limit if you're concerned about having it on the file. Otherwise, better still, just buy i-tunes cards which are available in many marts and malls! They can be bought in denomination of $10, $25, $50 and $100.

6) Price
 
For what it can do for me and the quality of presentation, I found it a steal. Hence, I won't be worried about the next upgrade and waiting for it. By the time the upgrade comes, you'd have used so much of it that an upgrade is worth the price (& the hassle). Not to mention the amount of savings one would have on e-books and magazines!

I recently bought a full year of National Geographic Traveler for some US$3.50 for the entire year. That's 8 issues of crisp looking magazine to be kept all in my Galaxy Tab, laptop and iPad. I can even share with friends if I wish as a subscription gives you some 6 downloads of each copy of the magazine! So, think how much savings (a hard copy of that magazine costs at least some US$8-10 in my part of the world) there are if you read a lot of magazines and also how green this is! Not to mention the reduction in carbon footprint since you don't have to drive to the mall to get them!

Conclusion: Get the lower price models as most people won't need so much disk space if everything is kept in the cloud. That will stop you from having to transfer things over in the next upgrades too! 3G model overrides disk space when it comes to price. 

Lesson learned: If want to be at the forefront of technology, get into the game as soon as possible. This is something that's going to stay and not going away in the future. In fact, you'd probably get rid of the TV too after having an iPad and save lots on cable tv subscription! In fact, the young kids are encouraging me to jail break!!!

Having an iPad or Galaxy Tab is not an outlay. Instead, it is a savings in the physical world where you save on price, space and time!




(A Lunch Featured Review)
]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-iPad_2-64-1716359-210949-A_Portable_Magazine_it_s_ALL_about_looks_.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-iPad_2-64-1716359-210949-A_Portable_Magazine_it_s_ALL_about_looks_.html Sat, 30 Jul 2011 18:44:15 +0000
<![CDATA[iPad 2 Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> 1) No flash, that means a lot of sites are not looking like what they should be, that including my personal site.
2) Proprietary software. I don't like the spirit of it.

As for the unexpected bonuses, may be I'll write a review of it when I can find the time!
In a nutshell, there are still room for improvements where the iPad is concerned but that won't stop me from going to the store to get one for myself though. I've found some great uses of it that's unbeatable ;-)]]>
http://www.lunch.com/iPadfans/reviews/d/UserReview-iPad_2-191-1716359-210829.html http://www.lunch.com/iPadfans/reviews/d/UserReview-iPad_2-191-1716359-210829.html Thu, 28 Jul 2011 12:58:52 +0000
<![CDATA[ Laser Beam A Pharoh Just Like The Ancient Egyptians!]]> KHET 2.0 takes chess and turns it into laser tag, but strategy and forethought are still the keys to winning. It's a little easier to learn than chess, but no less complex or hard to master. A simple quarter-turn of a piece can be either a defensive or offensive move, or both! Kids will be attracted to the hi-tech component, but it is a game for all ages. The basic premise is to hit your opponent's pharaoh with a laser controlled by moving your mirrored pieces around the board and dispatching the enemy pieces in your way. It can be as easy as a game of checkers or as complex as a good game of chess.

Having played both this and the original KHET, I find I like this one better. It's much more travel friendly. The laser/mirrors are better aligned (on my set) and they are now movable. It doesn't hurt that less expensive either. Sadly, the TOWER OF KADESH and Khet - Eye of Horus Beamsplitter add-ons doesn't work with 2.0. However, there is enough complexity with the basic game to satisfy and challenge all but the most hardcore player. I recommend getting KHET 2.0 if you want a travel version. Or get the original set if you want to really invest in the game and its expansions. Good luck though, the original KHET (Deflection) game sets are getting harder and harder to find, and mine isn't for sale! ;)]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-KHET_2_0-64-1735228-207304-Laser_Beam_A_Pharoh_Just_Like_The_Ancient.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-KHET_2_0-64-1735228-207304-Laser_Beam_A_Pharoh_Just_Like_The_Ancient.html Thu, 12 May 2011 16:28:20 +0000
<![CDATA[ A bright, if average, tap light]]> The Fulcrum LED tap light is an evolution of the "wire-free light for anywhere" idea. It's 9 LEDs is the most I've seen in this type of product--most offer 3 or 5. It offers both 2 sided tape and screws as means to affix it to a surface. The tap feature works without much pressure making it easy to turn on even if not pressing it directly. Just be careful to not look at the light when turning it on because those LEDs are bright! Especially if you are in a dark space, you'll be blinded for a several moments. The LEDs shine with a cold brilliance, so don't expect warm, cozy illumination from this unit. The cone of light is not overly wide, but perfectly adequate for most applications.

The double sided tape is quite sticky, and will probably be what most folks use. Some surfaces might not play nice with the adhesive though, and the screws then offer a more permanent and sturdy solution. You need to be a little handy for this option though, and popping the light off a screwed-in base to change the batteries requires lining it up just in the right spot. Tricky. In an unscientific test, I put 3 full rechargeable AAA batteries in and left the light on. After approximately 72 hours of constant use, I came home to find the LEDs still shining but very dim. Your results may vary.

While a decent product, there some areas where it could have been more thoughtfully designed:

* The heavy-duty blister packaging made for difficult, even dangerous, product removal.
* The housing feels flimsy but has held up well so far. It doesn't inspire confidence in the tap light's long-term durability though.
* I actually had to read the instructions to figure out how to get to the battery compartment. It wasn't that hard after I figured it out, but it was challenging the first time. I don't look forward to doing this every time the batteries die, especially if the unit were screwed onto a surface (see earlier).
* Once you've stuck it somewhere, it is there to stay. Velcro instead of 2-sided tape might have been a better option. Make sure you get where you want, because you can't pivot the beam, a feature available in some other tap/puck light models.
* There is no dimming mode, just on or off.
* No light or motion sensor.
* It is pricier than many comparable tap lights.

The 30015-301 from Fulcrum is a bright, easy-to-use tap light for those areas that need illumination and wiring is not a good option. Make sure it is the best fit for your needs though. I also have a set of Rite Lites and though not as bright, find them more versatile, attractive and a better value overall. I may just keep my Fulcrum model loose and use it when I travel, or as a back-up in my car.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Fulcrum_30015_301_9_LED_Tap_Light-64-1733538-206970-A_bright_if_average_tap_light.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Fulcrum_30015_301_9_LED_Tap_Light-64-1733538-206970-A_bright_if_average_tap_light.html Wed, 4 May 2011 20:32:55 +0000
<![CDATA[ Much Better than The Prior Belt I Had]]>
- The strap is incredible soft as compared to the Nano strap that was more like a briefcase strap and had a plastic clip that sometimes cut into the skin.
- The cover on the Shuffle provides padded protection to the unit. The Nano cover was just a rubber skin, affording no protection if dropped.
- The cover affixes closed through a snap. The skin that was on my Nano would move around and sometimes come off. The cover also stays put on the strap. The Nano cover used to move on the strap which was annoying.

Overall I am happy with this device and the price is reasonable.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Tune_Belt_Open_View_Armband_for_2nd_generation_iPod_Shuffle-64-1733083-206841-Much_Better_than_The_Prior_Belt_I_Had.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Tune_Belt_Open_View_Armband_for_2nd_generation_iPod_Shuffle-64-1733083-206841-Much_Better_than_The_Prior_Belt_I_Had.html Mon, 2 May 2011 15:47:49 +0000
<![CDATA[iPad 2 Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
Instead, the launch of the 1st Sony tablet in the Fall would be something I'm more keen on. I thought I'd support my favorite brand as well as the Japanese :-)]]>
http://www.lunch.com/iPadfans/reviews/d/UserReview-iPad_2-191-1716359-206643.html http://www.lunch.com/iPadfans/reviews/d/UserReview-iPad_2-191-1716359-206643.html Sat, 30 Apr 2011 06:44:53 +0000
<![CDATA[ For less than $70 you can fill a nook in your home with a versatile workout machine]]> TURBO TOWER by Altus looks like a nearly five foot high clothes rack or a frame to dry a large wet towel. Amazon.com sent me a free sample to try out and then review of this made-in-China, assemble-it-yourself, 35-pound, 57 inch high metal exercise framework.

It took my septuagenarian wife and four-years older me about 20 minutes to assemble TURBO TOWER after five minutes taking the notably heavy, carefully packaged metal components, nuts, bolts and one small wrench out of their colorful packing box. Also another five minutes were given to looking over the clear two-page "Assembly Instructions." Promised assembly time was five minutes, but, hey, we're old and don't assemble bookshelves, exercise frames or toys for grandchildren more often than we have to.

 

I had planned eventually to donate TURBO TOWER to the workout room of our retirement community (and myself, of course). But it is not sturdy enough, I judge, for heavy use by a variety of exercisers (who dare not weigh more than 350 pounds apiece per instructions -- I am 6'1" and weigh 225) over the course of a busy workout week. I think taking it apart (probably to transport 75 miles south and give to a son for his home use) will be very easy, and he can certainly reassemble TURBO TOWER in five minutes or less. I don't have that much extra room to keep the frame permanently in our small retirement house. My wife talks of moving it to a patio and covering it. But I suspect it might rust.

 

As I write this review for lunch.com, I have already had the benefit of reading early reviews on amazon.com. Others agree with my wife and me that TURBO TOWER wobbles a bit, left to right, front to back. That wee wobble is the primary reason I would not expect to find the machine in a professional Pilates Exercise Center or in any public workout facility. For heavy, continuous duty or for public service TURBO TOWER does not claim to be. It's not a big wobble, but by all accounts, friend wobble cannot realistically be eliminated. It took me only about 30 seconds of use to feel familiar and safe using TURBO TOWER.

 

Just beneath TURBO TOWER's fixed top bar is an "adjustable bar" that you can use to chin, do arm presses, leg stretches and the like. Two easily added or removed "cloth handle straps" allow you  to stretch your legs on an exercise mat below you and pull yourself up and down on the adjustable bar. That adjustable bar is easily raised and lowered and fixed firmly in whatever place you choose by two spring clips among 18 parallel holes about an inch and 3/4 apart spread evenly from top to bottom.

 

There are also barbell holders that can go side by side about 32 inches apart if you want to place barbells on the TURBO TOWER. You would have to supply your own weights and weight pressing bench.

 

The packing box contained a page with 27 illustrations of people using TURBO TOWER. Of these one shows the assembled TOWER. Four show people using weights and back supports and fully  22 show things that you can do with the equipment standing alone: except that five illustrations also show a standard exercise (yoga) mat spread under the TOWER for users to slide their feet along.

 

I have notably tight calves and thighs and work on them via tai chi, Feldenkrais and Pilates. I have already had good usage standing erect before the TOWER and placing my heels one at a time atop the adjustable bar at a medium height and stretching. Put that bar a little lower and I have done standing pushups at an angle. In one illustration, a female is doing full pull-ups with legs lifted off the ground. I have also used the cloth straps to pull myself up off the ground. 

 

As I learned from some of the amazon.com reviews, there is a symbiotic relationship between American manufacturer/distributor Altus (of Altus Oklahoma) and fitness trainer Cathe Friedrich. Friedrich enthusiasts among amazon.com reviewers were delighted to use the Cathe-endorsed TURBO TOWER for the list price of $149.99 currently marked down by amazon.com to $66.61. For my part, I was pleased to read a new (to me) theory of exercise: Cathe Friedrich's Shock Training System (STS). Go to the website of both the Altus Company and Cathe Friedrich and find an abundance of training aids, including DVDs. Our congenial TURBO TOWER is no orphan. It is embedded in Cathe Friedrich's theories and practice, supported by Altus's line of equipment and is product of components impressively made in faraway China.

 

I like the TURBO TOWER a lot; and costing less than $70, it's a steal. I might even give TOWERS to fitness-minded friends as birthday presents.

 

-OOO-

]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Altus_Athletic_Altus_Turbo_Tower-64-1732173-206547-For_less_than_70_you_can_fill_a_nook_in_your_home.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Altus_Athletic_Altus_Turbo_Tower-64-1732173-206547-For_less_than_70_you_can_fill_a_nook_in_your_home.html Thu, 28 Apr 2011 13:30:36 +0000
<![CDATA[ Does The Job]]>
Other than that it was easy to install but someone with no mechanical inkling might have had a hard time because the package came with no instructions. I basically had to look at how the old battery was installed and make sure I installed the new battery the same way. Once removed I was able to bring the old battery to Radio Shack for recycling.

The battery has been in for more than a month with no issues. So basically it does the job and it appears that Amazon is the best place to buy it if you need it.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-12v_7000_mAh_UPS_Battery_for_GS_Portalac_PX12072-64-1732035-206491-Does_The_Job.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-12v_7000_mAh_UPS_Battery_for_GS_Portalac_PX12072-64-1732035-206491-Does_The_Job.html Tue, 26 Apr 2011 22:23:21 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Bosch Pocket Driver should be a prerequisite for all IKEA furniture assembly]]> Bhaddad had already done all the homework and hooked me up for my birthday.

I'll admit, when I first saw the Bosch Pocket Drill, I was a little underwhelmed.  All the other drills I'd been looking at were much bigger and came with giant battery packs.  I didn't see how the little Bosch would keep up.  My initial concerns were immediately put to rest.

POWER

Despite the 12V rating, the Bosch has been up to every task.  I've used it to drill holes in our new vanity cabinets for the hardware knobs,  assemble Ikea furniture, hang towel racks, tighten just about any loose drawer pull or hinge I could find in the house.  I basically wandered around the house looking for any screws which looked like they could use a little extra torque and I topped them off.  At no point did I ever feel like I need more power.

TORQUE

The drill has several "torque" settings so you can adjust how much force is applied to the screw you are driving.  This is very helpful when you have plastic pieces that could break if you tighten them too much.  Just set the drill to "1" for a gentle caress all the way to "10" for a solid how-do-ya-do.  And if you're making holes instead of filling them, it has a "drill" setting as well.

BATTERY

With all the projects I listed above, I'm still on the initial charge on the first battery!  Yet my iPhone can barely stream Pandora for a few hours.  What kind of magic is in these batteries??  The Bosch comes with a charger and a spare battery.  From my non-scientific tests, that should be enough to build about 1 1/2 armed and fully operational Death Stars.

SHE'S SMALL BUT SHE'S STRONG

The Bosch's small size makes it really easy to maneuver in tight spaces.  I'm sure there's still places that would be tough to reach with it, but in those cases, a standard screwdriver would be equally challenged.  Even small things like opening up computer cases or the impenetrable battery door on all children's toys are just effortless with the Bosch.  And it still has enough power to put some holes through solid wood when necessary.

Before you drop by Lowes to pick up a screwdriver set, just pony up the extra cash and get this instead.  Why not save yourself the wear and tear on your wrists?  I feel like the tiny allen wrench you get with all Ikea furniture is just Sweden's way of saying eff you.  With the right bit set and the Bosch, you can crank through the Swedish torture exercises  without breaking a sweat or subjecting yourself to premature carpal tunnel syndrome.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/product/UserReview-Bosch_PS20_2A_12_Volt_Max_Lithium_Ion_Pocket_Driver_with_2_Batteries-64-1729845-206100-The_Bosch_Pocket_Driver_should_be_a_prerequisite.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/product/UserReview-Bosch_PS20_2A_12_Volt_Max_Lithium_Ion_Pocket_Driver_with_2_Batteries-64-1729845-206100-The_Bosch_Pocket_Driver_should_be_a_prerequisite.html Tue, 19 Apr 2011 06:24:17 +0000
<![CDATA[Amazon Cloud Player Quick Tip by Kort_Kramer]]> http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Amazon_Cloud_Player-64-1724140-205281.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Amazon_Cloud_Player-64-1724140-205281.html Thu, 7 Apr 2011 18:45:52 +0000 <![CDATA[ Amazon's Cloud Drive & Player]]> Cloud Drive and Cloud Player. User's get 5 FREE gigabytes of content storage in the Cloud Drive, and MP3s purchased (or free) from Amazon do not count towards this limit. Buy an album (can go as low as $.69) and get 20 GB of storage in a year long trial. This offer is good until the end of 2011 and does not automatically renew, and you call also purchase larger storage options.

Your Cloud Drive can also hold music from your computer's personal library, as well as videos, documents, and other digital files. This is very useful if you want to access files at work or on a trip, and don't want to worry about bringing a USB thumb drive or some other storage device. To access these files in the cloud, you just need to log in to your Amazon account. I've uploaded Word documents, music and home video with no problems at all, and have been able to get at them from a number of other computers. You can manage the content of your Cloud Drive simply by clicking on the "Your Digital Items" link at the top left of most Amazon pages. I don't foresee maxing out the 5 GB starter much less my 20 GB trial storage limit any time soon, but you never know how these things will evolve.

Playing music using the Cloud Player is simple. The interface is straightforward, though not overly refined in it's current incarnation. You can sort your MP3 collection by Songs, Albums, Artists, Genre, and Deleted Items. Supported formats are .mp3 and .m4a AAC files (Includes iTunes store purchased files). Playback quality is good and over a few days of listening, I've only encountered one or two hiccups. This was on my Mac desktop at work and at work on another older Mac. As promised you can also download any of these files. Right now Cloud Player also works on Android devices, but Apple i-products are not yet supported. I suspect that may change soon.

Initial reactions across the web have been for the most part quite positive. I know that I've enjoyed the experience so far. Time will tell how reliant people become on services like this but I applaud Amazon for taking pioneering strides towards making Cloud Computing more useful to you and I. For more information, feel free to visit the provided links.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Amazon_Cloud_Player-64-1724140-205279-Amazon_s_Cloud_Drive_Player.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Amazon_Cloud_Player-64-1724140-205279-Amazon_s_Cloud_Drive_Player.html Thu, 7 Apr 2011 18:19:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ "I will be kind to the baby ... for always and always and always."]]>

Just before I wrote this review for lunch.com, I went to wikipedia.org to refresh my memory. In the process I learned three new phrases describing JUST SO STORIES! A just so story is a pourquoi story aka origin story aka etiological tale. Wiki further defines the object of these phrases as

"fictional narrative that explains why something is the way it is, for example why a snake has no legs, or why a tiger has stripes. Many legends and folk tales are pourquoi stories."

 

And indeed the 12 JUST SO STORIES are told to young children and are about origins, mainly of parts of animals but also origins of the alphabet and writing systems and, my favorite, of the  domestication of the first animals by early humans.

Rudyard Kipling published this collection in 1902, five years before he came the youngest person (age 42) even to this date to win the Nobel Prize for literature. The stories are for children.  Some Rudyard had heard from his Indian servants as a toddler in Bombay in the late 1860s. Some if not all he seems to imagine himself telling his "Best Beloved" first child Josephine who died very young.

 

Most of the animal stories are metamorphoses, not of, say, a pig into a mouse, but of a body part, a shape, a coloration into something else on or within the original animal. In the order presented the animals to be transformed are whale, camel, rhinoceros, leopard, young elephant, kangaroo, armadillo and crab. 

King Solomon makes peace among his 999 quareling wives with the help of two married butterflies. A curious elephant's pudgy nose is lengthened into a trunk by a hungry crocodile on the "banks of the great  gray-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees." A well-meaning cave girl causes a lot of trouble when she invents the first pictographic writing. And on and on.

 

Cat lovers everywhere cannot get enough of "The Cat That Walked by Himself." There was a time when every animal in the world was wild. Even the Man was wild until he met the Woman. The aroma of the first meal that the Woman cooked in the couple's neat cave drew the wild dog and the wild horse to the cave, where they agreed to become Man's First Friends. The wild cat was tempted but only observed from hiding how the Man and the Woman and later the Baby related themselves to those wild animals which they tamed.

 

Cat's unvarying slogan was "I am the cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me." And on the basis of that feline Ur-value, Cat negotiated terms useful to himself (including thrice daily milk) first with the Woman, then the Man. Dog then demanded that Cat be kind to the baby, or else. Cat: "I will be kind to the baby while I am in the Cave, as long as he does not pull my tail too hard, for always and always and always. But still I am the Cat that walks by himself, and all places are alike to me."

 

Cat's relationship with humans is unique and not as placid as man's relations with dogs, horses, cows and sheep. Men will throw their boots. And dogs will chase cats up a tree.

 

A grand tale "for always and always and always."  

 

-OOO-

 
]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/book/UserReview-Just_So_Stories_Signet_Classic_-64-1589889-205168-_I_will_be_kind_to_the_baby_for_always_and.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/book/UserReview-Just_So_Stories_Signet_Classic_-64-1589889-205168-_I_will_be_kind_to_the_baby_for_always_and.html Tue, 5 Apr 2011 14:12:40 +0000
<![CDATA[ Keeping my head in the cloud]]> Cloud Drive and while it's not apparently very different to Microsoft's Skydrive or Google Apps file storage, is nonetheless a major step in the direction of cloud-based excellence.

For full disclosure, I'm the author of the book Google Apps Express, and I'm frequently seen on other media ranting on about how much I like the cloud, in between of bouts of being disappointed that this isn't all happening more quickly.

So what is the cloud?

The cloud is a catch-all loose term for technological applications and storage that don't reside on your computer (or your network). You probably already use it all the time, from remote email services such as Gmail to shopping sites like Amazon.com (or even Lunch.com, arguably). The beauty of the cloud is that nothing has to be stored on your side of the equation - you just open a browser and you're ready to go. The cloud can be used to run programs, buy CPU time or store your documents - and amazingly, it does all this much better than you can do it on your machine or network.

Are you trying to sell me a book?

You mean this book? The benefits of the cloud are actually a little more subtle when you dig under the covers:
  • Google and Amazon can store your data more reliably and more securely than you (or a corporation) could. Since they're in the business with armies of security engineers, I guarantee you they do a better job than people who are not. It's seriously hardcore, and I'd bet that not a single other Fortune 500 company could do a better job.
  • If you need scalability, the cloud is your answer - since you only pay for CPU time and bandwidth, then you only pay for the things you use rather than piles of computer hardware. Also called elastic computing, this is actually fantastic if you have websites that suffer from arbitrary demand spikes. As an example, the Wikileaks supporter group Anonymous tried to attack Amazon and couldn't bring it down - even though they tripped over Mastercard with no problems at all (priceless).
  • You no longer have to worry about backups, since many of these services provide highly sophisticated real-time duplication of data invisibly.
What does this have to do with Cloud Drive?

Cloud Drive lets you store any type of digital content with up to 5GB for free. The reason it's different to other services is actually because it's more music-friendly because of additional software they provide. Between the MP3 uploader and Amazon MP3 app on Android and iPhone, it's very easily to scan your computer for all your music, upload it and then consume it from anywhere.

The reason that's different to iTunes is that they don't police the content. So if you own CDs, it's trivial to burn them and send the MP3s whizzing into the cloud. iTunes doesn't allow this and Steve Jobs will have his hounds sent to your exact GPS location in 10 seconds if you try to operate outside the big fruit's ecosystem. Amazon is just happy to be stretching their legs.

But it's not just about music - you could put anything on the Cloud Drive, subject to usual caveats about classified documents, porn and the as-yet-unreleased final final Harry Potter. So it's a perfect backup system, even if you don't believe me about the reliability of their infrastructure versus your lone laptop you've entrusted with the family's entire history of photographs.

Why is this exciting?

Although I rarely listen to music, I think the cloud is a major development in computing, probably the biggest since the Interwebs made everyone addicted to watching cats playing pianos. It means you can access your information anywhere and on the vast majority of Internet-connected devices without needing a Computer Science degree to figure it out. It also means you stop losing files when the cat playing the piano knocks over a diet soda onto your hard drive.

Amazon.com has a seriously robust platform behind the shopping site, and I think this signals the beginning of the cloud reaching new heights... which is a terrible analogy, but since it's all free I urge you to try it out. And yes, I have been listening to music in my car using my Droid running the Amazon MP3 app and I didn't send a dime to Apple - hurray! Though I think I just heard some growling at the front door.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Amazon_Cloud_Player-64-1724140-204942-Keeping_my_head_in_the_cloud.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Amazon_Cloud_Player-64-1724140-204942-Keeping_my_head_in_the_cloud.html Wed, 30 Mar 2011 22:23:34 +0000
<![CDATA[ The iPad 2 Leaves All Other Tablets in the Dust!]]> Lunch.com member asked me how you can upgrade something that is already so perfect?  I asked myself the same question and then on March 2nd, Steve Jobs shocked the world...again.  Since the release of the original iPad, other developers such as Motorola and Samsung have tried to release a tablet that could strongly compete with Apple's latest endeavor and it looked as if there would truly be some competition, but when Jobs and CO. presented the iPad 2 keynote, the competition sank back down to the depths.  For the same low price as the original, Apple has released an "evolutionary" new product in the iPad 2.

THE DEVICE:

The iPad 2 isn't just a rehash of the original device, it is a brand new device and has been completely re-designed, both inside and out.  The iPad 1 closely resembled a mix of the iPhone 4 and the iPod touch where as the iPad 2 has been thinned out and now resembles more than anything, the 4th generation iPod touches.  Immediately noticeable is how much more user friendly this iPad is.  You can tell that you were meant to hold the device as it feels ten times more natural in your hands than the iPad 1 did.  This also has to do with the weight reduction thinness of the iPad 2.  The tablet has gone from 1.5 pounds down to 1.33 Pounds.  At first, the weight difference wasn't noticeable, but once compared to an original iPad, the difference was quite significant. The only drawback to the new device (which is hard to actually call a drawback) so far is that it is a little awkward to hold while the new Smartcovers are attached.  Most of the time that I use the iPad now, I generally take the cover off and snap it back on when I'm done (more on Smartcovers later).  The iPad 2 is now also equipped, much like the iPhone 4 and iPod Touch, with a front and rear camera, however don't plan on taking high quality pictures with them (more below).

FEATURES:

Normally, I don't go into much detail about the inner workings of a device, but an exception must be made for the iPad 2.  Apple debuted its new A5 Dual Core Processor chip along with the iPad 2 on March 2nd and boy is it fast!  If you thought that iPad 1 was fast, think again.  Pretty much anything you do on the iPad 2 is a seamless task.  Whether you're multitasking or playing a game, every process on the iPad 2 is lightning fast. For Example, in Mobile Safari, there is no more page reloading if you have multiple tabs open.  

FaceTime is now one of three new pre-installed apps along with Photobooth and Camera.  Facetime calling hasn't looked better now that it is on the  iPad 2.  The now numerous ways to use Apple's video calling feature really makes it the best option out there right now.  You can call iPad to iPad, iPad to iPhone, iPad to iMac...you get the point.  If you're a Mac user, then you are already familiar with Photobooth, but having the feature on the iPad is loads of fun (A picture of my dog using Photobooth is below).  The Camera app is one of the only downsides of the iPad 2.  The word going around is that the rear camera is less than one mega-pixel, yikes!  Don't even think about using the front camera for anything but Facetime.  The rear camera is redeemed (just a little) by the fact that it takes 720p HD video.  Though in all honesty, the only true advantage of the two cameras is FaceTime.

Not that it is new to the iPad, but on March 2nd, Apple also announced that it finally made a deal with Random House to distribute its entire book collection through the iBookstore, making it a true competitor to the Kindle Store.  For new iPad users, this is great news as you will immediately have access to thousands and thousands of books.  GarageBand and iMovie have also made their way to the iPad 2 and while I haven't been able to try these out first hand yet, I can tell you that GarageBand is awesome after watching an Apple Store employee demo the bass and guitar instruments in the app. 

Finally, onto the Smartcovers.  I am still on the fence about these.  They are incredibly cool and incredibly annoying all at the same time.  What I loved about the iPad 1 case that Apple created was that it acted as sort of an extension of the iPad.  It was easy to hold and you also had the peace of mind to know that the device was safe while inside.  The Smartcovers on the other hand, while they do protect the most important part of your iPad, they don't protect the back.  They are also incredibly slippery and awkward to hold while surfing the web or reading an eBook.  However, the revolutionary magnet system is really cool.  I like knowing that when I put the cover over the screen, it puts the iPad to sleep and vice versa.  The Smartcover is also great to use when typing as well as while watching a movie.  it stands up on its own a lot better than the Apple Case did.  Lastly, taking it on and off is as easy as snapping the magnets on and off.

OVERALL:

Some people will say that this isn't a necessary upgrade.  I agree with them...partially.  You don't need to upgrade to an iPad 2 if you already own the original, but the newer version is such a step up from the iPad 1 that it's truly hard not to want to upgrade.  This is especially true for people who truly utilize FaceTime as either a business tool or way to keep in contact with loved ones who live far away.  The speed difference is also such a drastic change that for those who are looking for better functionality, it is really hard to overlook.  I'm thrilled that I upgraded and getting to finally wait in line for an Apple product was a blast!  If you don't own an iPad yet, this is a no brainer.  If you were on the fence about the iPad first gen and love everything about the iPad 2, pick one up, you won't be sorry.  Good luck trying to get your hands on one though as online orders from Apple.com are backed up 4-5 weeks.  If you can't wait for one that long, check with your local Apple Store, they are getting new shipments in everyday.  The basic wifi only iPad 2 model starts at $499.99.  5/5!]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-iPad_2-64-1716359-203939-The_iPad_2_Leaves_All_Other_Tablets_in_the_Dust_.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-iPad_2-64-1716359-203939-The_iPad_2_Leaves_All_Other_Tablets_in_the_Dust_.html Tue, 15 Mar 2011 14:15:16 +0000
<![CDATA[Stranger in a Strange Land Quick Tip by Crotchetyoldfan]]> I've only read this book oh, about 30 times - but I've been slacking of late;  I don't think I've re-read in the past five years or so.

For someone not familiar with Heinlein or his works, this novel is one of the must-reads for any SF fan who wants to seriously acquire the label.  It's considered to be a major contributor to 60's counter-culture and provides some interesting insights into our own society]]>
http://www.lunch.com/SFSignal/reviews/book/UserReview-Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land-680-1543565-202141.html http://www.lunch.com/SFSignal/reviews/book/UserReview-Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land-680-1543565-202141.html Wed, 23 Feb 2011 11:25:22 +0000
<![CDATA[ Greatest phone ever]]> http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-iPhone_3G-64-1115783-200537-Greatest_phone_ever.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-iPhone_3G-64-1115783-200537-Greatest_phone_ever.html Tue, 1 Feb 2011 14:54:34 +0000 <![CDATA[ Say something about philosophy and phenomenology, please.]]> For six of the seven years from 1956 through 1963 I was largely immersed in the study of academic philosophy: in Mobile, Alabama, Vienna, Austria (Fulbright student) and Austin (University of Texas). Then I opted for a career as a Foreign Service Officer of the U.S. Department of State. I read very little in academic philosophy until I recently decided to return to my old haunts. I decided to begin by re-familiarizing myself with a discipline or school called "Phenomenology" and its modern discoverer or founder, Edmund Husserl (1859 - 1938).

Back when I studied philosophy virtually full time (1956 - 1963), phenomenology was not widely if at all considered a traditional branch of academic philosophy. The classical divisions that I studied were

epistemology,
logic,
metaphysics (ontology),
theodicy (philosophy of religion),
ethics/morals,
cosmology,
psychology,
aesthetics (philosophy of beauty)
and
history of philosophy.

Nowadays, I believe, at some universities phenomenology is treated as a new, separate division within philosophy, along with linguistic analysis and others.

Thales, Parmenides, Heraclitus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Saint Augustine and other great thinkers of antiquity spent their lives in philosophy. That is, they "loved" or pursued "wisdom" day in and day out. Golden Age Athens's non-philosopher leader Pericles once famously orated: "We (Athenians) philosophize, but not to excess!"

These days, a teenager might decide to make a career in philosophy much like any other well established profession: the law, theology, economics, physical fitness. After so many years of writing and gaining respect among his colleagues, he retires like anyone else. Philosophy, that is, is no longer expected to be life-transforming.

Edmund Husserl was an original thinker very much within the well-established general framework of philosophy as practiced from Plato through Descartes, Hume, Locke Kant, Hegel and even Sartre. Alfred North Whitehead once said that all subsequent philosophy is mere commentary on or footnote to Plato.

Certainly, one who knows Plato will feel at home reading Maurice Natanson's 1973 EDMUND HUSSERL: PHILOSOPHER OF INFINITE TASKS. There is constant comparison between what a phenomenologist does and Plato's great Myth of the Cave. In that cave men are chained in place and forced to watch a wall on which torches behind them cast shadows of men and beast who march silently past between prisoners and torches. One day they are freed and out into bright sunshine. From ignorance or partial knowledge into the Idea of the Good.

Husserl's thinking evolved away from the mathematicism, logical positivism and naturalism holding sway in his youth. He felt that all men instinctively believe in the reality of a world outside them that they reach through the "phenomena" presenting themselves in consciousness. He spent his life trying to find a method for finding the necessary, certain, incontrovertible substratum of truth which authenticates our belief in external reality, especially other men and women with consciousness and awareness like our own.

In the process Husserl influenced two radically different students. One was a young woman convert from Judaism to Catholicism, Edith Stein, later a Carmelite nun and recently canonized Catholic Saint, gassed with her sister at Auschwitz in 1942. Husserl said that she was the most gifted student he ever had. And that included Martin Heidegger who became a flaming, much admired senior Nazi under Hitler.

Husserl preferred that his readers be newcomers to philosophy. They brought fewer prejudices to phenomenologizing. And every man must pick his own starting point to begin philosophizing and work out his own reasons for believing in a real world of other knowing egos besides his own. You cannot romp through Natanson's EDMUND HUSSERL. But with patience, you can hardly read a page without new insights.

-OOO-]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Maurice_Natanson_EDMUND_HUSSERL_PHILOSOPHER_OF_INFINITE_TASKS-64-1690449-199633-Say_something_about_philosophy_and_phenomenology_.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Maurice_Natanson_EDMUND_HUSSERL_PHILOSOPHER_OF_INFINITE_TASKS-64-1690449-199633-Say_something_about_philosophy_and_phenomenology_.html Fri, 21 Jan 2011 23:32:03 +0000
<![CDATA[ A Declaration of Love for Chipotle's iPhone App]]>
  • Their usage of fresh ingredients
  • Their serving of Niman Ranch steak
  • Their serving of chicken raised without antibiotics or growth hormones
  • Their sensitivity to various food allergies
  • Their if-we've-got-the-ingredients-we-can-make-it attitude/policy
  • Their ambiance
  • Their serving of of beer

Etc, etc

Just when I didn't think Chipotle could possibly get any cooler, or that I could feel anymore love for them than I already did, they up and adapted technology and social media into their business.  Since I'm a fanatic of both, that just made my heart pitter patter.  You know what sent my heart into a frenzy though?  Their awesome and incredibly informative iPhone application.

With just a few flicks of the finger, I can get their menu options described to me in detail.  I can also read up on the company mission statement, philosophy, and practices, as well as look up Chipotle locations.  Most important and impressive of all though -- I can order food from the app!

I simply set up a Chipotle account and save my info, including payment information, then I'm set to order to my heart's content.  

You start out by picking a main course, either a burrito, taco, salad, or a bowl.  Then you choose a main filling for it, either chicken, steak, pork, or  veggie.  Then comes the fun part -- picking all the other ingredients and condiments that you'd like in it, including salsa, cheese, sour cream, and guacamole, etc.  

Click to see larger image
http://i.zdnet.com/blogs/chipotle_iphone_app.jpg

Another nice thing about the app is that as you're ordering, it tells you if any of the additions will cost extra, and if so, how much, all the while tallying up your cost.  At the end of your order, you can add drinks and other sides.  Then you mosey on over to the Chipotle from which you ordered from, cut the line and pick up your burrito/bowl/tacos/salad/what have you, all paid for.

The icing on the cake?  How gorgeous this app is.  On top of being informative and easy to use, it looks fantastic.  Kudos to the developers.

You know where to find me at lunch today.  With this app, though, I'll be in and out of the store so fast that you wouldn't even know I was there ;)]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Chipotle_iPhone_Application-64-1357031-198807-A_Declaration_of_Love_for_Chipotle_s_iPhone_App.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Chipotle_iPhone_Application-64-1357031-198807-A_Declaration_of_Love_for_Chipotle_s_iPhone_App.html Thu, 6 Jan 2011 09:25:09 +0000
<![CDATA[ This Torch is HOT!]]> No bones about it--I love this thing. The Joby Gorillatorch Blade Tactical Flashlight has got to be the coolest and most useful flashlight I've every had the pleasure to use. The Joby video up top does a great job of illustrating all the cool points, but here is are my favorite things.

• The magnetic feet. An inspired idea and man are they strong! Just two of these will firmly attach the Torch to most metal surfaces. If you use all three it is like the flashlight is cemented to the surface. Great for working under a car's hood.

• The flexible "gorilla" legs. The tripod design bends in just about any direction and and wrap around poles, tree limbs, railings, ...you name it! Once in position they keep their pose too.

• The tilt and swivel base. If the legs didn't give you enough flexibility, then the adjustable base will help you get things perfect.

• The spotlight lens. A feature I never much considered but now see how useful it can be when you want to get the right amount of light over a certain area. It adjusts from a nearly pinpoint spotlight to a very wide beam. Either way, this is a bright flashlight for its size.

• Removable light. The legs getting in the way or do you want to get the light in a tight spot? Just slide it off the rails.

• Durable. The entire Torch is built like a tank.

• Rechargeable. I hate having to put batteries in a flashlight. The flexibility of being able to recharge via AC or USB is a plus, though AC probably would have been enough. And the charge lasts quite a while.

When my Joby Gorillatorch Blade finally bites the dust, I won't hesitate to buy another, even at the current sixty dollar price tag. Yes, I like it that much.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Joby_Gorillatorch_Blade_Tactical_Flashlight-64-1685733-198778-This_Torch_is_HOT_.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Joby_Gorillatorch_Blade_Tactical_Flashlight-64-1685733-198778-This_Torch_is_HOT_.html Wed, 5 Jan 2011 22:31:42 +0000
<![CDATA[ Doin' Da Juice]]> This attractively styled little power brick can be a real lifesaver. It's designed to charge your mobile Apple devices when you're on the go, and it delivers on that promise. It has a sleek look and a pleasant tactile feel to the rubberized center surface. It ships fully charged so there is no need to plug it in to your computer's USB port right away with the supplied included cable. You are supposed to be able to charge your mobile device about 5 or 6 times before it needs to be recharged itself, but so far I've only gotten 4 charges at most before it is empty (1 with the iPad). The Juice Pack itself takes about 4 hours to charge from my iMac, and the iPod Touch I tested it with took about an hour (a little longer for the iPhone). Another neat feature is that you can continue to use your portable device while the Mophie is charging it. You can see how much "juice" the pack has left using the 6 LEDs on the top face.

I think this is excellent option for charging your portable devices on the go. It's small form factor (slightly larger than the iPhone 4) makes it easy to throw into a back for a weekend getaway. If I could make it work with my HP laptop, life would be perfect. The Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation is ideal for charging smaller devices but it's great that it can top-off an iPad as well. I wish it wasn't so expensive, but if it lasts the claimed 500 full cycles and all of its touted safety features work, then it will be worth the current price tag.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Mophie_1137_JPU_PWRSTATION_juice_pack_universal_powerstation-64-1685727-198776-Doin_Da_Juice.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Mophie_1137_JPU_PWRSTATION_juice_pack_universal_powerstation-64-1685727-198776-Doin_Da_Juice.html Wed, 5 Jan 2011 21:17:14 +0000
<![CDATA[ Good But NOT Bubble-Free!]]>
Now for the bad. Installation isn't that hard, but you need an ISO 1 level clean room to keep dust from adhering to the film during the application process. Even if you manage to make the screen spotless and your hands dirt and oil free, some small bubbles form. I read that you can use a soap solution to help eliminate this, but I chose to use the Targus protect as directed. The included cardboard rectangle helps remove some bubbles, but I could not get all of them out. Thankfully they aren't really noticeable when the iPad is on. However, I don't see how the manufacturer can claim it is bubble-free.

I found the Targus Screen Protector to be a capable product even though it does not live up to all of it's claims. It also plays well with my AmazonBasics Black Silicone Skin]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/product/UserReview-Targus_Screen_Protector_with_Bubble_Free_Adhesive_for_Apple_iPad_AWV1216US_Clear-64-1676035-198547-Good_But_NOT_Bubble_Free_.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/product/UserReview-Targus_Screen_Protector_with_Bubble_Free_Adhesive_for_Apple_iPad_AWV1216US_Clear-64-1676035-198547-Good_But_NOT_Bubble_Free_.html Tue, 4 Jan 2011 20:39:26 +0000
<![CDATA[ Be Wary]]>
Right before I stopped wearing it, I had started to develop some irritation on my chest where it rested under my shirt. If I stopped wearing it, it would clear up. When I put the Qlink back on, the irritation would return. So I stopped wearing it completely--or took to wearing it over my shirt on occasion. After no sign of the irritation for a year or so, it began to come back. It is a little patch between my pecs that gets red and itchy. I've not worn the Qlink at all for over a year and it is still there. At first I tried creams to sooth it with mixed results. It comes and goes seemingly at random, but now is in evidence more and more of the time. I don't know if there was something in the black plastic housing of the Qlink that caused this long-term condition, but I would caution others that are considering buying this model, or have it already, to think twice before using it.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Qlink_Pendant-64-1683640-198235-Be_Wary.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Qlink_Pendant-64-1683640-198235-Be_Wary.html Thu, 30 Dec 2010 21:33:13 +0000
<![CDATA[ Can't live without it now!]]> This docking stand for Apple devices has quickly become an essential in my house. I can't imaging going back to the fold out case I was using to prop up my iPad before I got the MP450 Octive Stage. Altec Lansing has long been a provider of speaker docks for Apple iPods and iPhones, and the Octive Stage continues on in that tradition.

I isn't that heavy at around 7 lbs. but it sturdy enough so that you won't worry about accidentally tipping it over. The arm is easily adjustable to get the best viewing angle, but has just the right amount of resistance to make it a great tool for working on the iPad while at your desk or on any surface for that matter. Much better than holding it in your lap or laying it flat. Rotating it from vertical to horizontal format is a snap. It has a clean, contemporary design that compliments the iPad nicely and does not draw too much attention to itself. The MP450 doubles as a charger which is an added bonus and should be a standard feature on all such devices. The control app installs easily (though MENU & BACK buttons don't work w/the iPad) and give some limited hands free control via the remote. It was made mainly for the iPad, so it looks a little silly when you dock an iPhone or iPod in it, but it does work well with them too. I tested it my friends' devices. Sound quality is very good for a dock this size and in this price range. It isn't top-notch quality, but I turned it all the way up while watching Iron Man II and while listening to base-heavy music and it performed well with little or no distortion.

All is not perfect however. If you have some sort of case on your device, you won't be able to fit it in the dock. Tolerances are very tight to give it a snug fit with the iPad. This is a pain if you keep your device in a case when going mobile with it, especially for the iPhone or iPod. The stand arm is not height adjustable but in most cases the tilt screen arm should be adjustment enough. As mentioned, some remote buttons don't function with the iPod, but I expect a future firmware update will fix that. And again, while the sound is very good for what is, it won't blow your socks off.

The Altec Lansing MP450 Octive Stage is a great charging speaker dock for portable Apple devices and it is getting A LOT of use from my iPad. If something unfortunate happened to it, I'd buy another without hesitation.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Altec_Lansing_MP450_Octive_Stage-64-1683637-198234-Can_t_live_without_it_now_.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-Altec_Lansing_MP450_Octive_Stage-64-1683637-198234-Can_t_live_without_it_now_.html Thu, 30 Dec 2010 21:28:15 +0000
<![CDATA[ "Aw, don't make God look so foolish -- findin' fault wid everything He made"]]> This is the story of Janie Mae Crawford. Her mother had been born on a plantation near Savannah in 1864, "with gray eyes and yaller hair" (Ch. 2). Janie Mae's grandfather was Marse Robert and his son, her half-uncle, had fallen at Chickamauga. As soon as the Master rode off to drive Sherman back from Atlanta into Tennessee, the Mistress threatened to whip Janie Mae's grandmother ("Granny") for bearing a baby that looked white. Slave mother and daughter then fled into the woods and a few months later were freed by Union armies. 

 

Granny went to work for "some good white people" and moved with them to West Florida. They were fond of and very kind to Granny's child, saw that she was educated and well cared for. At age 17, this girl was raped by a school teacher who may have been white. So around 1882 Janie Mae entered the world. Her raped mother soon went to pieces and disappeared from Janie's life forever. She was raised by Granny until close to the end of the 19th Century and then pressured by failing Granny into marriage with very black Logan Killicks, owner of 60 acres and a house.

Janie waited for love to begin, but it never did. She explained to Granny:
 

"His belly is too big too, now, and his toe-nails look lak mule foots. And 'tain't nothin' in de way of washin' his feet every evening before he comes tuh bed. ... Ah'd ruther be shot wid tacks dan tuh turn over in de bed and stir up de air whilst he be in dere. ... She began to cry" (Ch. 3).

 

Janie Mae Killicks did more than cry. She up and ran off with Joe Starks, "a cityfied, stylish dressed man with his hat set at an angle that didn't belong in these parts." Joe was passing through from Georgia into the new part of Florida to make something of himself in an all Negro community. So off the couple went down south and were married without Jamie bothering with a divorce.

In a short time, Joe got Eatonville incorporated and became its mayor, postmaster and major property owner. When he died years later he left his widow, Janie Mae Starks with a house, a store and $1,200 in the bank. Still he had not made Janie happy. He excluded her from social gatherings with his dark friends and put her on an exalted social pedestal. She made only one good friend during her 20 years in Eatonville, her neighbor Mrs Pheoby Watson.

 

The nub of THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD is the story that Janie tells Pheoby on the evening she returns to Eatonville in the early 1920s from not very many months in the Everglades near Lake Okeechobee. Jamie Mae is now Mrs Vergible Woods, widow of an irrepressible black man known to one and all as Tea Cake.

With Tea Cake, eleven years her junior, Janie finally found happiness and equality in marriage. They went through a hurricane together, during which Tea Cake was bitten by a huge rabid hound. Tea Cake taught Janie to shoot pistols and rifles. Whenever they were short of ready cash, Tea Cake won what they needed by shooting dice or playing cards. In the Everglades they joined other migrant bean pickers and made a good living.

 

The only serious irritant in the married life of very dark Tea Cake and very light Janie came from Mrs Turner, a neighboring colored woman who ran a very good restaurant on the edge of the Everglades. She hated black skins, worshipped everything white and found fault with everything that blacker people than she did, especially Tea Cake. She wanted Janie to leave Tea Cake and marry her brother.

Once when Mrs Turner was reviling black folks and their carrying-ons at the local juke, Tea Cake snapped:
 

"Aw, don't make God look so foolish -- findin' fault wid everything He made" (Ch. 16).

 

Beyond the bare story just sketched, THEIR EYES WERE ON GOD is linguistically exciting. It is also a partnership between distinguished New Negro/Harlem Renaissance author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston and fictional Janie Mae and her equally fictional friend Pheoby Watson, who draws out and hears the story of Janie's lifelong search for contentment and love. 

 

At novel's end Janie shares important conclusions with her best friend:
 

"Pheoby, you got tuh go there tuh know there. Yo' papa and yo' mama and nobody else can't tell yuh and show yuh. Two things everybody's got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin' fuh theyselves" (Ch. 20).


To which I can only say, "Amen, Sister!"

 

If you would rather find Janie Mae on screen rather than on pages, you can view THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD via netflix.com. Produced by Oprah Winfrey and released in 2005, this made for TV film stars Halle Berry as Janie. What more needs saying?

 

-OOO-

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<![CDATA[Targus Screen Protector with Bubble-Free Adhesive for Apple iPad AWV1216US, Clear Quick Tip by Shopaholic]]>
The matte finish is pretty much finger print resistant, you really have to look closely to see the printer prints or smudges. My nails are pretty long and I can see more scratch lines of my nails than finger prints. Needless to say, the smudges are easy to wipe clean. The texture of the surface takes some getting use to but I really do like it. Because of the matte finish it feels like there is friction, but my fingers easily swipe across the screen. It does make a strange scratchy noise if you are swiping your fingers quickly across playing games like HD Fruit Ninja.

In regards to the anti-glare, it is not really glare resistant. Instead of the mirrored finish you see from the glass, you see a cloudy fuzzy reflection.

Even though it is not anti-glare proof as it states, overall excellent product and by far the BEST iPad screen protector I have tried!]]>
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<![CDATA[ "Knowledge is Power" - Sir Francis Bacon]]> In 1833 The British Association for the Advancement of Science met, 852  members attending. Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge rose and took the meeting to task for the ungentlemanly kind of work that British so called "men of science" or "savants" were now doing. They grubbed in pits for fossils.They played with electricity. They got their hands dirty. They had lost the right to call themselves "natural philosophers." On the spot a new word was proposed: "scientist." The proposer was 30-something William Whewell, Professor of Mineralogy of Trinity College, Cambridge. It was another 40 years before the new word caught on and in the USA before in stodgy Britain.

 

Professor Laura Snyder tells the story of Whewell, the son of a carpenter, and three of his like-minded friends in THE PHILOSOPHICAL BREAKFAST CLUB: FOUR REMARKABLE FRIENDS WHO TRANSFORMED SCIENCE AND CHANGED THE WORLD. The other three were Charles Babbage, inventor of the first computer, astronomer William Herschel and mathematician RIchard Jones. All were students together at Cambridge University. After they graduated and had begun to publish, these four friends between 1820 and 1870 made the practice of science more precise, more mathematical, more inductive, less a priori deductive and more in the service of humanity. This program they had determined to do during a very few Sunday morning meetings after chapel in 1812 -1813 in the St. John's College rooms of William Herschel. With a few others they formed the short-lived but fruitful Philosophical Breakfast Club. Each week a different topic was discussed. But the driving force was Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626). Bacon said, "Knowlege is power." And he meant the power to subject nature to the control of men in a mental structure that Bacon called "Solomon's House." The four friends and their allies vowed to update Bacon's agenda and revolutionize the world of science. And they did. 

 

Author Snyder tells their individual stories and how the four lives, marriages, cooperative projects and much besides interlocked one with another. Each man was a creative genius impacting a United Kingdom and a France and Germany running over with genius. Laura Snyder uses these four lives to frame colossal scientific advances in a score of areas, including  optics, telescopes, astronomy, economics, mathematics, electro-magnetism. measurement of the tides, the first computers and the birth of artificial intelligence. Mapping of land masses, codes and ciphers, natural theology, Darwin and the origin of species, even music: nothing that could be known by men or, increasingly, women of genius, was foreign to the program of the Philosophical Breakfast Club in their desire to bring old Cambridge scholar Francis Bacon back to life. Fossils, minerals, sun spots, new moons and planets, nebulae, ethics: all were grist for their mill. This was also the age of steam engines, power looms, ironclad ships, steamboats, railroads, of Napoleon, Czars and empire-building.

 

THE PHILOSOPHICAL BREAKFAST CLUB is a thorough-going work of careful historical and scientific scholarship. It is also popular, clearly written, fast paced and pleasant reading. Judge for yourselves!

 

-OOO-

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<![CDATA[ Decent Value Range Point & Shoot Camera]]> This HP point-and-shoot offers a lot of value for the money. HOWEVER, there are better cameras out there. While price makes up for a lot, you have to live with it for the long term. HP cameras are not known for their photographic excellence, but I will admit that this one packs a lot of features into this inexpensive and attractive package.

This digicam is small and light and easy to put in a bag or large pocket, so it is there when you need it. The user interface is feature filled and fairly easy to use, and quite a few (25) scene modes, many of them useful. The rear LCD is more viewable than most in outdoor light. The Smile Shutter feature is nice, but Blink Detection hasn't worked very well for me so far. Picture quality is OK, just slightly below similar Kodak cameras if I had to place it. It is acceptable for snapshots can be good if you have bright lighting conditions and a steady hand. The white balance highly variable from one shot to the next, so color consistency is not a strong point. The HP CW450 sucks down the juice from it's 2 AA batteries pretty quickly so having 2 sets of rechargeable NiMHs on hand is a good idea. They also last longer than disposables. The time between clicks is normally 3 seconds or so (longer with flash), so don't expect to go snap, snap, snap. The camera works best with still subjects. Video quality is so-so.

12 MP for around seventy bucks is a pretty good deal. Find it on sale and you have a great stocking stuffer! If you need a camera and are on a tight budget, then you should definitely consider this HP. I would equate it to the film version of a disposable camera -- it's good to have on hand if you need it, but if you want real quality, you should look elsewhere. Make sure to get a memory card too, the HP CW450 doesn't come with one, or any internal memory. An optical viewfinder would have been nice too, but good luck finding one on a P&S these days.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-HP_CW450-64-1673329-195033-Decent_Value_Range_Point_Shoot_Camera.html http://www.lunch.com/ubergizmo/reviews/d/UserReview-HP_CW450-64-1673329-195033-Decent_Value_Range_Point_Shoot_Camera.html Fri, 3 Dec 2010 15:55:46 +0000