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Goal Zero 94014 Rock Out 2 Green Solar Rechargeable Speaker
Goal Zero 94014 Rock Out 2 Green Solar Rechargeable Speaker
Price: $129.99

4.0 out of 5 stars No need to worry about running out of power if you are under the sun, October 11, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Goal Zero 94014 Rock Out 2

The ability to maintain full charge when playing music under the sun is the best feature. This means the speaker uses no battery power and relies on solar power whenever possible. It would be even nicer if there is a switch to choose to have the solar power charging the internal battery OR an attached USB device (MP3 player or smartphone).

Another good feature is the internal compartment to house a smartphone/MP3 player while it plays music. Although the method of connection can be a 3.5 mm audio jack direct connection or wireless Bluetooth, to save precious battery power on the smartphone/MP3 player, it is best to use the direct method. You will also get better sound with this method. On the other hand, the music player controls on the speaker's front panel can only be used if the method of connection is Bluetooth. The same is true for using the speaker as a speakerphone and mic for your smartphone.

The speaker sound is very good for this class of product where the emphasis is on ruggedness.

Note that there are at least four sub-model numbers (94014, 94013, 94005, 94004) for the Rock Out 2, although Goal Zero's website has just one model. I believe the 94013/94014 are physically larger, although all of them are known as Rock Out 2.


AmazonBasics Premium In-Ear Headphones
AmazonBasics Premium In-Ear Headphones
Price: $14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great set of in-ear headphones with microphone at an excellent price, October 11, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
AmazonBasics is Amazon's house brand of product item types (cable, camera case, tripod, rechargeable battery, headphones, etc.) that sell well enough that Amazon decides to produce itself. You can type "amazonbasics" in the website's search field to get a list of these products. I have purchased many of them because they typically cost far less than competing products and are very well-made and perform excellently.

The AmazonBasics Premium in-ear headphones is no exception. It is well-made and feels sturdy. The near 4-foot cord is the flat type which minimizes tangling. Three sizes (S/M/L) of rubber eartips are included and I suggest you to try all of them to determine the best fit and audio performance. You will get the best sound when the fit is snug, not tight.

The inclusion of a microphone makes this headset versatile because it then can be used for not only listening to music but also for conducting a conversation.

I like the right-angled 3.5mm audio jack and the right-angled earpieces. I believe they are designed this way to minimize damage to the connectors during daily use.

As to audio performance, these AmazonBasics Premium headphones could easily match competing products that cost two to three times more than its $15 price. The sound is crystal clear and well-balanced.


Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon
Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon
by Kim Zetter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.63

5.0 out of 5 stars Real life science fiction, October 1, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Countdown to zero day is a real life account of a U.S. government-made/bought computer worm called Stuxnet that was designed to sabotage Iranian nuclear enrichment facilities by causing industrial centrifuges to overspin and destroy themselves. This is a form of cyber warfare that countries and their leaders need to learn about.

A Zero Day attack is one that no one has yet known about a software application's vulnerability, and therefore there is still no software patch to fix this flaw.

Kim Zetter is an experienced computer security reporter who described in minute detail from the conception to the self destruction of the Stuxnet computer worm on June 24, 2012. The book reads like a science fiction but it is actually real life. It also signifies the importance of safeguarding every country's information and other infrastructures from attacks that can come from domestic and foreign sources.


Black and Decker TO1303SB 4-Slice Toaster Oven
Black and Decker TO1303SB 4-Slice Toaster Oven
Offered by Girly Giggles Toy Shop LLC
Price: $59.98
9 used & new from $26.93

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Versatile toaster oven, October 1, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Black and Decker TO1303SB 4-Slice Toaster Oven

This B&D toaster oven is longer in the depth dimension in order to accommodate 4 toasts at the same time. It measures 14.5 x 8.8 x 10.8 inches.

This toaster oven can take in a 9-inch pizza, but I'd suggest watching over the baking process to avoid overcooking.

There are 3 knobs on the right which have temperature, mode, and time functions. To make toast, you have to set the first knob to the 7 o'clock position, the second knob to the 3 o'clock position, and the third knob to a position between 9 and 12 o'clock. This may seem complicated, but because I use this appliance as a toaster almost exclusively, I just use the third knob to set the toasting time.

The B&D TO1303SB does a pretty good job producing evenly toasted bread slices, but you need to accumulate enough experience in order to get it just right. Beware that toasts after the first time will require less time. In other words, if you use the same time setting for subsequent toasting sessions as the first one (from cold), you will get browner/darker toast results.


OXO Good Grips Professional 8-Inch Bread Knife
OXO Good Grips Professional 8-Inch Bread Knife
Price: $19.99
6 used & new from $19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars This knife has a lot more utility than just slicing bread, September 19, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I don't keep a whole set of knives in the kitchen because I deem it unnecessary. I use just two: an 8-inch chef's knife to cut and slice through raw meat, and this 8-inch "bread" knife for everything else.

Because this bread knife has a serrated edge, cutting through all kinds of food takes little effort except raw meat (use a chef's knife instead).

It is so sharp and remains that way even though I use only glass cutting board during food preparation. I use glass because it is the most hygienic when compared to plastic, wood, and bamboo. There is no fear of causing damage to the cutting surface (and perhaps generating bits of undesirable plastic or wood/bamboo in the process).

The bread knife has a grippy handle and feels well balanced in the hand.

Even though most knives can be washed in the dishwasher, I recommend hand washing using baking soda mixed with water. I use a plant-based brush and wash the knife under hot running water for 10 to 15 seconds. The knife will last longer this way.


AmazonBasics On-Ear Headphones
AmazonBasics On-Ear Headphones
Price: $14.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best headphones $30 or even $45 can buy, although Amazon sells it for just $15!, September 15, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have bought many AmazonBasics items in the past because they offer tremendous value for the price. The quality of this Amazon house brand is always very good to excellent, much like Costco's house brand Kirkland.

The AmazonBasics On-ear headphones is no exception. Looking at its material quality and audio performance, it could easily be priced at $30, or even $45.

This headphone provides very good sound isolation even though it is the on-ear, rather than the over-ear type.

There is plenty of bass to impress unsuspecting users that a $15 pair of headphone could be this good.

The headphone is very light and comfortable to wear for at least two hours continuously.

At this price, I could easily buy several to keep one in each room or area in the home.

Highly recommended.


Eton All-Purpose Weather Alert Radio, FRX4 (Gray)
Eton All-Purpose Weather Alert Radio, FRX4 (Gray)
Price: $61.50
3 used & new from $55.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Multi-function radio that is not just for emergencies, September 11, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Eton is well known for making weather alert radios that support multiple power options.

The FRX4 is compact in size (5.5 X 3.2 X 2 inches) and is powered by a 1000 mAh rechargeable battery or 3 AAA batteries (not included). The battery can be charged using home AC current via a micro USB connector, a built-in hand crank, solar power panel, or a portable USB battery. If you plan to use the 3 AAA battery option, I'd suggest using LOW SELF-DISCHARGE RECHARGEABLE batteries instead of regular "D" brand or "E" brand alkaline batteries. I have had terrible experiences with these alkaline batteries leaking damaging fluid, many of them prematurely before expiration date. I emphasize LOW SELF-DISCHARGE RECHARGEABLE because you want to make sure that there is power when you need it most.

The radio has AM/FM/NOAA weather bands and a single front speaker. Its ability to pull in radio station signals is good.

The FRX4 also has built-in flashlight and red emergency beacon, as well as the ability to charge external USB devices such as a cellphone.


Case Logic TBC-411 DSLR Compact Backpack (Black)
Case Logic TBC-411 DSLR Compact Backpack (Black)
Price: $59.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Compact and convenient medium camera bag, August 29, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Case Logic TBC-411 has a dimensions of 9.1 x 6.3 x 15 inches and weighs 1.1 pounds. It's size is appropriate for carrying a medium sized DSLR (Sony Alpha 77 with 16-50 mm f/2.8 lens) or superzoom (HX300) camera plus two pieces of accessories such as small lenses or flashlight.

This compact backpack style bag has five compartments. The camera is stored in the center bottom section and accessed in a 2-zippered, flip-out flap fashion. There is a small zippered pocket on the flap for small, flat objects such as lens cap, memory card, and battery. The bag organization allows quick access to the camera with disturbance to other things stored in the bag.

There are two side pockets and a large opening top compartment. A tablet computer can be stored vertically in the top compartment.

While traveling in a crowded surrounding such as urban streets, train station, and airport, I'd suggest wearing the bag in front of you instead of on your back, for security reason.


HP Chromebox CB1-014 Desktop (White)
HP Chromebox CB1-014 Desktop (White)
Price: Click here to see our price
32 used & new from $133.01

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars HP Chromebox vs. Asus Chromebox: Pay attention to the expansion/cost details, August 29, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A Chromebox is a desktop computer that runs Google Chrome OS. I do almost everything online, so this is a perfect computer that can do things quickly and costs very little. There is no need to bother with security software because Google does that (maintain tight security) behind the scene. There is no need to buy Office software either, because there is plenty of free ones to choose from in the Chrome Web Store.

It is currently manufactured by Asus, HP, Acer, and LG. The specification of a base Chromebox is: Intel Celeron 2955U Processor 1.4 GHz(2 MB cache), 2Gb DDR3 RAM, 16Gb Solid State Drive, Intel HD Graphics, Realtek ALC283 audio, 10/100 Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI, DisplayPort, and four USB 3.0 ports.

While the Asus model is available only in black, you can choose among three colors for the HP: White, Smoke Silver, and Ocean Turquoise. Although the base HP Chromebox costs $179, a much more powerful Intel Core i7 version with 8Gb costs a whopping $659! Note that Chrome OS, unlike Windows, is very efficient, so it can already run very well using an Intel Celeron CPU and 2Gb of memory. Cold boot time to the log in screen is just 8 seconds!

The HP Chromebox and the Asus Chromebox may have almost identical specifications, but they are different in terms of expansion flexibility/cost.

The Asus unit has two memory expansion slots, whereas the HP has only one. Although they both start with 2Gb of RAM, you can add a 4Gb DDR3 SO-DIMM to the Asus to make it a 6Gb Chromebox, while for the HP, you'd need to remove the 2Gb memory before you can install a 4Gb memory to make it a 4Gb machine. The cost of a 4Gb memory is about $45. Spending the same money, you therefore get 6Gb for the Asus, but only 4Gb for the HP. Having two memory slots on the Asus means you don't have to throw away the 2Gb memory when you want to upgrade, and the 2 extra Gb also gives Chrome OS more working room for quicker and smoother performance.

The Chromebox can be attached to the back of a flat-screen TV or monitor via the VESA mount. The mount bracket and screws are included in the Asus, but you'd have to spend extra money to buy a mounting/quick-release kit if you want to attach the HP unit.

I recommend attaching the Chromebox to the rear of the screen because it clears up the desk and makes the setup very Apple iMac-like, but without the serious drawback of the iMac's integrated design (if the screen of the iMac breaks, the computer part can't be used, and if the computer part breaks, then the screen can't be used.).

Acer is also coming out with a Chromebox called the CXI with similar specs and prices to the Asus and HP in September 2014. Compared to the Asus and HP, the Acer CXI does have two distinguishing features: built-in TPM 1.2 (Trusted Platform Module) and two of the four USB 3.0 ports are the always-on type for portable electronics charging convenience. It is upright in orientation and comes packaged with a VESA mounting kit. I do not know whether the CXI has one or two memory slots.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 2, 2014 2:23 PM PDT


Linksys AC1200 Wi-Fi Wireless Dual-Band+ Router, Smart Wi-Fi App Enabled to Control Your Network from Anywhere (EA6100)
Linksys AC1200 Wi-Fi Wireless Dual-Band+ Router, Smart Wi-Fi App Enabled to Control Your Network from Anywhere (EA6100)
Price: $97.89
6 used & new from $65.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good for most home needs, useful Smart Wi-Fi App, August 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Linksys AC1200 EA6100 is a basic wired and wireless router that supports the new and much faster 802.11 AC standard. It is about three times faster than the older 802.11 N. It runs at the 2.4 and 5 Ghz bands. There are 3 other models (EA6350, EA6400, and EA6900) in this line that have additional, enhanced features and corresponding higher prices.

For my home, I found the EA6100 more than sufficient for my requirements (up to three computers and two tablets using the Internet at the same time. I have Netflix subscription but don't use it everyday).

Although the wired portion of the EA 6100 router supports only 10/100 Mbps speeds, it is not necessary to have a Gigabit (1000 Mbps) router unless you often stream video within your home network or copy a large amount of data among computers.

I like the ability to monitor and control the router remotely via the Internet using the Linksys Smarat Wi-Fi App. These capabilities used to require additional third-party software and cost, but now it is included with the router.


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