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Mark "Technology, Music, Books and Movies" RSS Feed (East Coast)

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Contender Fight Sports Mexican Style Headgear, Large
Contender Fight Sports Mexican Style Headgear, Large
Price: $38.39
3 used & new from $38.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Contender Mexican Style Headgear - Great Protection, Great Value, November 26, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Contender Fight Sports Mexican Style Headgear, Large is a very nice piece of gear. It's definitely good enough for sparring and could even be used in live amateur bouts. There are one or two quirks to note, but if I had to outfit a whole gym with headgear this would be a top contender.

I have devoted a lot of my life to the sport of boxing. And amateur boxing has a special place in my heart. Equipment and training are the most important elements to help you get the most out of your training sessions and bouts. So many details that people might overlook are actually extremely important.

++ Great design which covers all key head regions (maximum safety)
++ Very nice opening so you still maintain visibility with the headgear on, can easily spit out your mouthpiece, etc.
++ They say it's made from PU synthetic leather for durability, but quality is so good it compares favorably to leather headgear
++ Open top allows you to stay cool during rounds
++ Ear openings are also perfect, protecting your ears but still allowing you to hear everything
++ Sizing is spot on, and laces make it very forgiving

-- Laces are almost too long for the top part; I had to triple tie mine, but there is a risk they can whip around to your face when you are sparring; Laces are also not as rigid as I would like, so make sure to loop them tightly so they don't come loose during a round
-- Wish the flares on the back went just a little lower to protect against those flailing blows that hit the back of the head
-- Padding is so stiff, will require a lot of breaking in (though it should also last longer)


The main goal of headgear is to prevent cuts, bruises and permanent damage to cartilage. Contrary to popular myth, headgear will not prevent you from getting knocked out or possibly sustaining a concussion. But once this headgear is broken in from use, it may actually cushion some punches and lessen their damage. This is a quality product and it's well worth purchasing.

1946: The Making of the Modern World
1946: The Making of the Modern World
by Victor Sebestyen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.57
55 used & new from $14.59

5.0 out of 5 stars 1946 - History Come to Life, November 18, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Seldom does a book of history become a pivotal riveting must-read. This is one such book. Written in self-contained chapters that illuminate many dark corners of post World War II history, this book attempts to connect the events of 1946 to all of the arching story lines of history that have developed since. In my humble opinion, the author succeeds. But much more than that, the author manages to make the history come alive with relevance and urgency.

While Europe is necessarily the center of these vignettes, this book truly spans the whole world. The author includes tons of reference notes, though nobody who reads this will have any doubts of the research pedigree of this work. More importantly, the author has written this book in such a style that it is an engrossing read. It's a testament for a history book.

I mostly appreciated the portrayal of the deft way that Russian thinking drove foreign policy and military positioning in the middle east. Though this is by no means a new topic, the author manages to connect it well with events from during and after WWII.

I am very happy to have read this book. And I wholeheartedly recommend it to readers of every ilk.

Old Wisconsin Fast Fuel High Protein Beef Snack Stick,18 Count
Old Wisconsin Fast Fuel High Protein Beef Snack Stick,18 Count
Price: $27.15

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Old Wisconsin Jerky - Good Taste, Too Much Sodium, November 15, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I must say, I am really torn by these snacks. On the one hand, they are just kind of generic jerky snacks. But compared to most jerky, which is rarely super tasty, these are not that bad. They definitely taste like real meat more than several other jerky brands I have tried.

On the other hand, the extremely high sodium content is a worry. That's not unique to this brand, because all jerky must be high in sodium in order to remain fresh. But in the case of this brand, it just seems like the sodium is much higher than the taste would lead you to believe, which is dangerous.

According to the company, this jerky is:
• Hardwood-smoked for authentic and delicious flavor
• Crafted using only the finest ingredients and spices
• Contains No MSG, BHT, BHA, binders or extenders
• Gluten free and zero trans fat

I already consume tons of salt, and to me these did not taste too salty. They come in very long 90 calorie packs and also come in smaller packs that are about 1/3 that length.

Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if you only ate the small pack, or only ate half of the longer 1.5 ounce pack. I think I have lost that discipline. I literally wanted to eat all the samples the minute I received them. That’s either a really good endorsement of this product or a sign of how far I have fallen.

I tried two varieties. The beef was very standard beef jerky, perhaps more meaty and less spicy than Slim Jim. But the turkey contained a lot of sugar, which really showed in the flavor. Both taste good in my opinion but both are high in sodium.


If you are too young and healthy to care about how much sodium you are eating, I still recommend you get the 0.5 ounce packages instead of the 1.5 ounce ones. These are indeed a convenient and tasty snack. But for everybody else, make sure you have serious portion control discipline before diving into these.

House of Marley EM-JA008-BK Chant BT Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker, Black
House of Marley EM-JA008-BK Chant BT Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker, Black
Price: $69.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars House of Marley Chant BT Bluetooth Speaker & Speakerphone – High Quality Compact Bluetooth Sound With Cool Styling, November 15, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The House of Marley EM-JA008-BK Chant BT Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker, Black is a very high quality Bluetooth portable speaker. The sound quality is significantly above average for this size unit. It's also a functional Bluetooth speakerphone. The battery is listed as having an 8 hour playback capacity, but I got about 50% more than that on my initial tests. The unit is meant to be mobile, with a denim sheath for durability and a loop / carabiner to hook on to your backpack. Only much higher end full sized Bluetooth speakers are going to offer more sound amplitude and better stereo quality than this unit.

++ Very good sound quality with a dedicated subwoofer
++++ 2” (52MM) Active + Passive Sound driver
++++ Vented base for low level (bass) sound separation
++ Above average battery life for 8 hours of play time (actually got 12-14 hours when playing down from full charge on initial tests)
++ Great amplitude (maximum sound output) for a portable wireless speaker
++ Nice speaker and microphone sound quality for phone calls
++ Highly up to date Bluetooth version 4.1 + EDR, A2DP mono audio
++ Pairing is fast and simple: just hold the power button and search for it on your device
++ There is also a Bluetooth button that acts as a Play / Pause button for music or a Call button to pick up / hang up calls
++ Large buttons are simple and functional
++ Indicator light is easy to see
++ Easy to switch between an incoming phone call & music
++ Includes a 3.5mm auxiliary port to connect non-Bluetooth devices
++ Rechargeable battery has 2000 mAh capacity and can be factory replaced in some countries
++ Battery stand-by life also seems good
++ Functional belt loop lets you grab the Chant BT and go
++ Solid base with four feet
++ Attractive unit with sustainable materials used in assembly:
++++ Blended bio-plastic, silicone and recyclable aluminum housings
++++ Bamboo trim ring (not wood) painted an attractive red
++++ Exclusive REWIND cloth wrap (denim)
++ Includes a short USB cable for charging
++ Limited 2 year warranty (see the product website for full details)

-- No BT FF / RR play controls; headphones can have play controls, why not BT speakers?
-- BT button works to pause / play but it’s not intuitive
-- No included aux cable for non BT devices
-- No included USB power wall adapter
-- Documentation is minimal
-- A carrying case / cover to protect against water and sand at the beach would have been nice
-- Higher end price than many compact wireless speakers
-- Not as powerful as full-sized wireless speakers


This unit is very powerful for its size. More than just loudness, there is a lot of nice nuance to the sound quality. It may not be the most value oriented Bluetooth speaker on the market. But if you want quality components and a compact size, it’s hard to find many better options. I recommend this device.

Scharffen Berger Assortment Gift Box, 24 Ounce
Scharffen Berger Assortment Gift Box, 24 Ounce
Price: $33.76

3.0 out of 5 stars Scharffen Berger Gift Box – High Quality, But Imbalanced Flavors, November 12, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)

Not everybody loves dark chocolate, but this is a brand I have used in the past. Their dark chocolate is the highest quality, and not nearly as bitter as similarly potent bars from competitors. Milk chocolate is of course more accessible to more people, but with dark chocolate it’s easier to tell what quality of chocolate you are dealing with.

The main issue I have with this chocolate is that the salt profile is slightly out of balance with the dark chocolates. I am normally the person adding salt to my food. And I love salted chocolates. These simply have too sharp of a salt level for most dark chocolate lovers.

The reality is that getting the salt to taste right in a packaged good is nearly impossible. It’s better to buy plain dark chocolate bars and salt them yourself for taste. If you love pairing dark chocolates with deep red wines, you will know exactly what I mean. And Scharffen Berger sells plenty of other varieties without this emphasis on sea salt.


The gift box includes eight 3 ounce chocolate bars, two of each flavor:

-- Scharffen Berger Milk Chocolate with Toasted Coconut & Macadamia
-- Scharffen Berger Milk Chocolate with Sea Salted Almonds
-- Scharffen Berger Dark Chocolate with Sea Salted Pistachios
-- Scharffen Berger Dark Chocolate with Raspberries & Sea Salted Almonds


Both dark chocolates contain 72% cacao by volume, near the highest cacao content percentage available in consumer dark chocolate. The milk chocolate and sea salted almonds variety contains 41% cacao, and the toasted almond and macadamia nut variety is the lowest at 33% cacao. But it is also the creamiest and the sweetest.

Each bar has nutritional facts based on containing 2 servings. Each bar is 240 calories per serving, thus 480 calories for the total bar. The only exception is the milk chocolate with sea salted almonds variety, which is listed at 220 calories per serving, or 440 calories for the complete bar.

It should be noted that these are completely “Gluten free.” In fact all this company’s products are. However, if you try to limit your milk intake please note the following: both milk chocolates have milk as one of the top 3 ingredients, and the dark chocolates have it as the last ingredient by volume.


Chocolate lovers have been hit by many price hikes over the last few years. Literally every ingredient has gone up in price. While this is clearly comes at a premium, it is by no mean out of line. In fact compare this product on an ounce by ounce basis to premium makers like Cailler, and you will see it is a relative bargain.


The company’s bio notes that “chocolate connoisseur Robert Steinberg and winemaker John Scharffenberger founded SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate Maker in 1997.” So in less than 20 years they established a premium confectionary brand and managed to be bought out by a big player, Hershey’s. That is impressive. They seem to maintain their own manufacturing, and include a higher degree of quality ingredients.


This is a premium product made with high quality ingredients. I personally felt the salt profile was too high, but everybody has a different palate. I recommend you review other varieties before selecting this gift box. Enjoy.

Belkin Sport-Fit Plus Armband for iPhone 6 / 6S (Gray / Fuchsia)
Belkin Sport-Fit Plus Armband for iPhone 6 / 6S (Gray / Fuchsia)
Price: Click here to see our price
54 used & new from $7.50

3.0 out of 5 stars Belkin Sport-Fit Plus Armband for iPhone6 – Basic Design, Super Tight Fit, November 11, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Belkin Sport-Fit Plus Armband for iPhone 6 / 6S (Gray / Fuchsia) is a basic armband case for the iPhone 6 / 6s. The main problem I have with this case is that the iPhone pocket is too tight of a fit. The armband is also tight, but more adjustable than previous versions of armband cases. There are some other design quirks of note.

++ Functional arm-band case for your iPhone (marketed for iPhone 6 / 6s, I feel like tight fit makes it better for your iPhone 5)
++ Clear plastic protector allows full access to the device’s touch screen
++ Armband is just slightly longer than previous versions, making it easier to use for most men
++ “Sweat protective hood” provides protection against moisture, sweat and the elements (but it doesn’t cover 100% of the device; more on this below)
++ Velcro strap is easy to use and made from breathable synthetic fabric
++ Convenient safety “no-slip” strap with a catch at the end of it (stops it from completely slipping open and falling off when you haven’t fully closed it)
++ Accent color is minimal, so this can still be considered unisex
++ Designed for the Apple iPhone 6 but in theory could work for the Samsung Galaxy S6
++ A good value for an armband case
++ 2 year limited warranty is a bump up from prior versions

-- Pocket was much tighter / more difficult to slide in iPhone than prior versions (device can’t be in a case)
-- Poorly designed for using side buttons, i.e. changing your phone's volume controls while in the case
-- Sweat protection doesn’t cover 100% of the device; tight fit may also aid sweat in passing the barrier
-- Key / card pocket is also very tight
-- Minimal cushioning for protection against drops
-- Includes a headphone hole but no opening for the charging connector
-- 1 year limited warranty is slightly short for this kind of product
-- No included instructions


This case is a good value for smaller touch screen phones. But the phone pocket is so tight I really don’t love using it for the iPhone 6 or GS6. The slightly improved band will be more comfortable for men than prior versions. But the poor sweat coverage on the back means this is not the ideal case for true hardcore running.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 17, 2015 11:06 AM PST

BAKTH Wired Adjustable Rainbow Backlit Gaming Keyboard and Automatic Changing Colorful Backlit Gaming Mouse + BAKTH Customized Mouse Pad as Gift
BAKTH Wired Adjustable Rainbow Backlit Gaming Keyboard and Automatic Changing Colorful Backlit Gaming Mouse + BAKTH Customized Mouse Pad as Gift
Offered by BAKTHDirect
Price: $59.99
2 used & new from $37.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Bakth Backlit Keyboard / Mouse / Mouse Pad Combo – Great Value, November 11, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The BAKTH Wired Adjustable Rainbow Backlit Gaming Keyboard and Gaming Mouse Combo + BAKTH Customized Mouse Pad is a high value combo for your workstation. The keyboard and mouse may not have the absolute nosebleed responsiveness you would want for hardcore gaming. But this setup will do in a pinch for any general computer use and the casual gamer. And it’s such a good value, you can’t go wrong.

The mouse and keyboard are both backlit with low light LEDs. The keyboard backlight shuts off after a little while, but the mouse stays lit. The colors seem to cycle randomly with no customization options that I can see. Considering how costly those features usually are, those are small trade-offs.

++ Very good value given all you get
++ Super useable synthetic cloth mousepad for your crowded desk
++ Keyboard and mouse are both plug and play
++ Backlighting cycles through various colors / patterns
++ Keyboard backlight shuts off after a little while, turns back on when you press a key
++ Braided cables are a nice extra for value devices
++ Media keys and volume controls are gaudy but functional (red buttons on top of the keyboard)
++ Despite concerns, both keyboard and mouse seem durable enough for regular use
++ 2 flip up keyboard height adjustment legs for an inclined angle
++ Mouse includes scroll wheel, Fwd / Bwd buttons and a CPi button
++ Integrated number pad

-- Key action is squishy (pretty common with low and mid-range keyboards)
-- Plastic body is less durable than higher cost / metal alternatives
-- Recessed keys are difficult to clean in between
-- Lacks the mechanical key switches that are in high end gaming keyboards (obviously)
-- No built-in macro keys


This is a good value for what’s included. There are several alternatives that look like they are based on the same platform. But this is a good setup for your workstation.

Fodor's Brooklyn (Travel Guide)
Fodor's Brooklyn (Travel Guide)
by Fodor's
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.58
79 used & new from $8.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fodors Brooklyn - Style Over Usability, November 9, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a super attractive guide-book. It's just not as functional as it could have been. While this is still probably one of the best guidebooks to get for Brooklyn, I sincerely hope they make some improvements to the next release.

It has a rigid binding that does not allow the pages to open flat. And all the maps are these really lovely hand-drawn maps, but there is not a single real map of Brooklyn included in this book. One only needs to glance at the map of Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights to see the limitations of that approach. How those two areas get combined in this book is an entirely separate problem. Those are the main things that kind of disappoint me about this guidebook.

With any guidebook you are always going to have debates about what goes in and what gets left out. So I think this case is no different. I managed to find most of my favorite places were included here. But look at the short shrift given to Coney Island and Brighton Beach, once again combined even though they are completely different neighborhoods, and you will realize they chose to try to keep it lean. Sadly, a lot of really good places are going to have to be left out of a book like that.


There are not many guidebooks on Brooklyn and this one is probably a good option because of that. But I am hoping for a better edition next year.

Afterglow LVL 1 Chat Communicator for Xbox One
Afterglow LVL 1 Chat Communicator for Xbox One
Price: $16.99
10 used & new from $16.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Afterglow LVL1 – Good Value Compact Gaming Headset, November 5, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Afterglow LVL 1 Chat Communicator for Xbox One is a good value for a budget gaming headset. Sound quality is acceptable, and the microphone clarity is very good. The main selling point is the compact and lightweight build of this unit. The headband is somewhat “no-frills”, which may lead some to complain of an uncomfortable fit. But for this picky reviewer, the fit seemed fine. There are some cheesy details included right alongside some cool features. But given the value, I think this unit will be a decent option for some.

++ Decent value for a compact and functional headset
++ Microphone sound quality is above par for a budget headset
++ Convenient microphone boom arm can be adjusted or folded out of the way
++ Inline volume dial and microphone mute are super convenient
++ Compatible with standard 3.5mm aux ports (such as on the 2nd generation Xbox One Wireless Controller; adapters are available for other controllers / devices)
++ Ear piece is adequately comfortable
++ Compact enough for portability
++ Hold up well enough to daily use
++ Straight jack is superior to L-shaped plug for durability
++ 2 Year Limited Warranty is very good for a budget headset

-- First generation Xbox1 controllers require an adapter for the 3.5mm jack
-- The faux circuit board side window is somewhat cheesy looking
-- Build quality is super light, especially on the headband; this is a positive for me, but may deter some users
-- Tiny headband cushion may make the fit uncomfortable for some, though I thought they were fine
-- Pleather on-ear cushion may wear poorly, and is less ideal then over-ear alternatives IMHO
-- Cable is shorter than average (but that is OK considering it’s designed to connect to a wireless controller)
-- No padding on the upper headband, though unit is so light it’s not really a serious issue
-- The list price does put this in league with budget headphones with better performance and features; if you don’t absolutely need the microphone, it might be worth checking out those alternatives


There are clearly better headsets on the market, but for these are a pretty good value for a budget set. Those who want more immersive sound can move up to the LVL3 or LVL5 as well. But if you need a gaming communicator and microphone sound quality is a high priority, this is a good option.

At-A-Glance Monthly Planner 2016, Collection, 8.12 x 11 Inches Page Size, Black (YP2060516)
At-A-Glance Monthly Planner 2016, Collection, 8.12 x 11 Inches Page Size, Black (YP2060516)
Price: $18.17
2 used & new from $18.16

4.0 out of 5 stars At-A-Glance 2016 Monthly Planner - Compact and Functional, November 3, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a great slim planner for 2016. Unlike many other planners, this one is thin but still has the perfect layout to include everything you need. The monthly "at-a-glace" pages give you a great way to view your schedule over the short term to really avoid conflicts. And also included are standard time zone maps and holiday pages.

The cover is thin black cardboard, but it is coated in something to make it slightly more durable and spill resistant. And it's got a really functional band to both keep it closed or to use as a place holder.


I have tried several 2016 planners and this one is my favorite so far, even more so than several with fancy bindings. This one is the most compact and functional for a full page planner. So this product is definitely worthy of consideration.

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