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Customer Reviews: 17
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Helpful Votes: 220


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Johnathan D. Smith "palo alto geek" RSS Feed (Palo Alto, CA)

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Paddlefish Caviar By Black Diamond Caviar (4oz)
Paddlefish Caviar By Black Diamond Caviar (4oz)
Offered by Black Diamond Caviar
Price: $115.00

2.0 out of 5 stars not so great, buy the Hackleback instead, December 7, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I recently had a chance to taste this caviar as well as the Paddlefish caviar from the same producer. I'll confess upfront that I'm not a caviar aficionado, I've always wondered why people would spend that much money on something that smells fishy and is oversalted, and where the majority of product comes from producers with very questionable environmental records.

I was pleasantly surprised by the Hackleback variety. It's pitch black and has a subtle taste, not fishy and not salty. If you want to see what caviar is about, this is an excellent choice. I can't say the same of the Paddlefish variety which confirmed my caviar prejudices: fishy smell and overly salty.

Black Diamond claims to be "sustainable" and while they don't back that up in much detail, it does come from the southern US.


Hackleback Caviar By Black Diamond Caviar (4oz)
Hackleback Caviar By Black Diamond Caviar (4oz)
Offered by Black Diamond Caviar
Price: $165.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great choice, December 7, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I recently had a chance to taste this caviar as well as the Paddlefish caviar from the same producer. I'll confess upfront that I'm not a caviar aficionado, I've always wondered why people would spend that much money on something that smells fishy and is oversalted, and where the majority of product comes from producers with very questionable environmental records.

I was pleasantly surprised by the Hackleback variety. It's pitch black and has a subtle taste, not fishy and not salty. If you want to see what caviar is about, this is an excellent choice. I can't say the same of the Paddlefish variety which confirmed my caviar prejudices: fishy smell and overly salty.

Black Diamond claims to be "sustainable" and while they don't back that up in much detail, it does come from the southern US.


Light and Motion Taz 1200 Lumens Bike Light
Light and Motion Taz 1200 Lumens Bike Light
Offered by ADAMandSON
Price: $230.00
24 used & new from $230.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best USB-powered bike light, January 31, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
...and expensive, yeah. But it's *very* bright, with a wide and even beam, and you can't beat the convenience of a one-piece USB-charging light. The rubber strap is the weakest part in the design -- I would have preferred a clamp-style mount, with the strap you have to fiddle to get it on. It's a nuisance but not a big one. The light easily lasts for an hour on full power, and charges in a few hours on any phone charger (faster on a tablet charger).


Arcteryx Cerium LT Jacket - Men's Nighthawk Medium
Arcteryx Cerium LT Jacket - Men's Nighthawk Medium
Offered by The Gear Coop
Price: Click here to see our price
11 used & new from $273.00

5.0 out of 5 stars nice, light, warm, January 31, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Very nice down jacket that's not as bulky as most other jackets yet still is warm. High quality materials and finish.


Belkin WeMo Insight Switch, Control Your Electronics and Monitor Energy Usage From Anywhere with the Home Automation App for Smartphones and Tablets, Wi-Fi Enabled, Compatible with Amazon Echo
Belkin WeMo Insight Switch, Control Your Electronics and Monitor Energy Usage From Anywhere with the Home Automation App for Smartphones and Tablets, Wi-Fi Enabled, Compatible with Amazon Echo
Price: $49.99
24 used & new from $42.49

1.0 out of 5 stars Nice concept but not secure, and somewhat flaky, January 19, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Update (Feb 2014): turns out WeMo is totally insecure, anyone on the internet could control your devices because of "multiple vulnerabilities" in the software. See [...] (scroll down halfway). I'm now giving it one star since it's not acceptable to have such low security, and since Belkin hasn't reacted to the problems (apparently they were notified in October 2013 but haven't reacted).

Original review:

I would love to love this product because it promises to do exactly what I need it for: easy Wifi control (and automated control) of anything you can plug into a standard outlet. And, sometimes, it does exactly that. Setup is reasonably easy.

But there are too many glitches for it to be practical. The app starts way too slowly (taking 10-30 seconds to show you your devices so you can turn on/off one of them). Timed events sometimes simply don't work. Wifi reception is weak (in a spot where my phone showed 3 bars of Wifi, the Wemo never connected). It's not possible to control from multiple phones. Operations fail randomly half the time (on a perfectly fine Wifi network where no other device has connectivity problems).

Bottom line: I kept it for one application (turn on/off central heating when on vacation) because I rarely need to use it for that, so that spending a minute to get a working "on/off" button on my phone is ok). I intended it to control some lights, but it's just not usable for that. Too bad companies like Belkin don't spend more on writing and testing software.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 20, 2014 1:50 PM PST


The Savannah Bee Company Honeycomb Box - 1 x 10 oz
The Savannah Bee Company Honeycomb Box - 1 x 10 oz
Offered by Orange Casa
Price: $22.99
7 used & new from $22.77

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overpriced, underwhelming, August 23, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I eat quite a bit of honeycomb and recently came across the Savannah Bee one. It seemed very expensive (2x what you'd typically find at Whole Foods) but I figured I'd try it. I can't recommend it though, the taste is subpar, it has a certain edge / bitterness in the aftertaste so purely on taste I'd rate it below average and wouldn't buy it even if it was cheap.

Also, the packaging is messy--the box comes wrapped in plastic, so the outside is clean, but the box itself leaks so as you peel away the wrapping you get a sticky mess. More conventional boxes (round and sealed) work way better.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 10, 2013 10:52 PM PST


Samsung Series 3 Chromebox
Samsung Series 3 Chromebox
3 used & new from $412.91

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great internet PC, June 2, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
If you want an ultra simple, cheap desktop for Internet use, you'll like the Chromebox. It's probably the easiest computer ever to set up--I had mine unpacked and running in something like 2 minutes: plug in keyboard, mouse, and monitor, and turn it on. The only configuration you need is to enter the Wifi password of your home internet, and then you're done. I'm looking forward to not worrying about viruses, backups, manual software upgrades anymore :-)

The box is quite snappy when browsing with Chrome, it's definitely not an underpowered low-end device.


No Title Available

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philips vs GE LED bulbs, January 14, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bough both the GE and the Philips LED bulbs (GE621819-WattLEDSoftWhiteA19LightBulb and this one). They're both excellent replacements for regular bulbs with great light quality and output. Both bulbs actually are somewhat brighter than a 60W bulb; in one place where I wanted to replace an existing 60W bulb I couldn't use either of these two because they were *too* bright (!)

Both bulbs have slightly unusual form factors. The GE's cooling fins make the overall shape slightly bigger than that of a normal bulb, but I didn't find that to be a problem. The Phillips is somewhat longer than a regular bulb, and in one application (an interior dome-shaped light) they didn't fit. But in most places you'll have plenty of space because we're talking maybe half an inch.

Viewed side by side I like the light quality of the Phillips somewhat more than that of the GE since it's slightly warmer. But if you don't see them side by side you wouldn't notice that the GE has a somewhat whiter light so the difference is pretty minor, and I bet you won't be able to tell the difference to a regular bulb in practice.

The Phillips looks a bit odd since its casing is yellow, but the light is by no means yellow--it's a very pleasant regular bulb-like white light.

I own various older LED light, both the GE and Philips are vastly superior lights. They really are completely suitable for replacing regular bulbs with no compromise. The price may seem high, but at least in California you'll make your money back easily (rule of thumb: for a bulb that burns 8 hours per day you'll save about $1-2/month depending on your utility).

Both bulbs work fine with dimmers, though some dimmers don't work if this is the only bulb they're controlling (because there's not enough load on the dimmer, ironically).


GE Lighting 62180 Energy Smart LED 9-Watt (40-watt replacement) 450-Lumen A19 Light Bulb with Medium Base, 1-Pack
GE Lighting 62180 Energy Smart LED 9-Watt (40-watt replacement) 450-Lumen A19 Light Bulb with Medium Base, 1-Pack
Offered by shoppingwithlandon
Price: $15.99
16 used & new from $12.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GE vs Philips comparison, January 14, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bough both the GE and the Philips LED bulbs (this one and Philips 409904 Dimmable AmbientLED 12.5-Watt A19 Light Bulb). They're both excellent replacements for regular bulbs with great light quality and output. Both bulbs actually are somewhat brighter than a 60W bulb; in one place where I wanted to replace an existing 60W bulb I couldn't use either of these two because they were *too* bright (!)

Both bulbs have slightly unusual form factors. The GE's cooling fins make the overall shape slightly bigger than that of a normal bulb, but I didn't find that to be a problem. The Phillips is somewhat longer than a regular bulb, and in one application (an interior dome-shaped light) they didn't fit. But in most places you'll have plenty of space because we're talking maybe half an inch.

Viewed side by side I like the light quality of the Phillips somewhat more than that of the GE since it's slightly warmer. But if you don't see them side by side you wouldn't notice that the GE has a somewhat whiter light so the difference is pretty minor, and I bet you won't be able to tell the difference to a regular bulb in practice.

The Phillips looks a bit odd since its casing is yellow, but the light is by no means yellow--it's a very pleasant regular bulb-like white light.

I own various older LED light, both the GE and Philips are vastly superior lights. They really are completely suitable for replacing regular bulbs with no compromise. The price may seem high, but at least in California you'll make your money back easily (rule of thumb: for a bulb that burns 8 hours per day you'll save about $1-2/month depending on your utility).

Both bulbs work fine with dimmers, though some dimmers don't work if this is the only bulb they're controlling (because there's not enough load on the dimmer, ironically).


SONOS PLAY:5 Wireless Speaker for Streaming Music (White)
SONOS PLAY:5 Wireless Speaker for Streaming Music (White)
Price: $399.00
10 used & new from $350.00

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars so-so sound quality, January 16, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've had a Sonos system for years and wanted to replace one of my rooms with an S5 (instead of a Zoneplayer plus two small loadspeakers) so I bought one. Unfortunately the sound quality isn't very good. It's perfectly fine for background music but it sounded muddled relative to the inexpensive pair of bookshelf speakers I already have (I think they cost $250 or so). I fiddled with the equalizer settings for a while trying to improve the clarity of the sound but eventually gave up and returned the S5. Too bad, because it looks nice and it's a great idea.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 18, 2012 6:48 PM PST


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