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Amprobe THWD-3 Relative Humidity Temperature Meter
Amprobe THWD-3 Relative Humidity Temperature Meter
Price: $108.32
10 used & new from $105.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Give it time to normalize, April 15, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I should note that I'm not an HVAC technician, just a homeowner with an occasional lets-find-the-mildew-in-the-basement problem. But I was pleased to find this relatively easy to use device.

The min-max function and relatively fast response time make it easy to use this to zero in on leaks and damp areas. Because you can see the values changing as you walk around with the probe, it's tempting to try the "getting warmer/getting cooler" game with your mold farm, but this won't work as well as a slower approach - the readings change as you watch, but the sensors still need time to normalize to a particular area (I stuck the meter in my fridge and it still read 64 degrees. Well, I just needed to wait.).

The easiest way to tell if you're getting a real value is if both numbers are going up and down a little bit, but not making larger changes (in a draft-less space they might not change at all, but this is the real world).

I wish the meter had a beep that would sound when the readings were just oscillating within a small (or settable) range. It does beep to warn you when it's about to turn off, so I know it's beep-capable. It would also be cool if it did the wet bulb equivalence calculations for you, though I don't need that particular application.

Rayovac 2-Hour Power, Apple 30 pin, PS71-BT6
Rayovac 2-Hour Power, Apple 30 pin, PS71-BT6
Price: $13.62
11 used & new from $6.85

3.0 out of 5 stars Great idea for the emergency kit, one fatal flaw., April 15, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Anyone who keeps an emergency kit (earthquake, hurricane, etc.) has run into the how-to-charge the cellphone problem. Rechargable juice boxes are a great backup power source for everyday, but dont hold a charge when you leave them sittIng for two years in the box with the candles and the transistor radio. Other strategies, like cranks and solar panels, are either expensive or ridiculous. Enter this charger, which is tiny, efficient (very easy to use the phone while it's still plugged in), and uses batteries that are easy to get but that can hold a charge up to ten years. Woot.

Except, this particular charger doesn't have any way to test the charge reservoir left in the battery. So, you might be plugging your phone into a five-year-old battery, in a critical situation, and discover only after it's too late that you were actually draining the phone (charge, like water, normalizes between two reservoirs - it won't flow uphill).

Please folks. I would totally pay the extra dollar to add this feature.

Sun, Wind, and Light: Architectural Design Strategies
Sun, Wind, and Light: Architectural Design Strategies
by G. Z. Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: $63.84
55 used & new from $56.57

4.0 out of 5 stars For architects who need to hit the ground running, April 15, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As anyone working in a design field these days knows, green is the new black (and black may afford too much thermal gain, depending on solar angle). This work presents strategies for building (and neighborhood, and building part) design that take into account the new energy realities.

The book is not simply a rehash of LEED strategies - in fact, the authors note that current approaches to energy-aware design are pretty much missing the point. Instead, the methods discussed in the book seek to illuminate an integrated approach to things like daylighting and HVAC.

The book is not an easy read. There is a fairly complex taxonomy and design hierarchy developed, and, unless you familiarize yourself with that, using the book and online resources as a reference will be difficult. I was also surprised to see frequent use of old style hand drawn graphics and charts, given that this new edition has embraced technology in so many other areas (both presentation and content).

For readers with a background in design who need a grounding in green energy strategies, the book will be a valuable resource. It's not comprehensive enough to be the primary textbook in a class on the subject, but would be a valuable adjunct in a project-based class.

Frontier Bulk Cheese, White Cheddar Cheese Powder, CERTIFIED ORGANIC, 1 lb. package
Frontier Bulk Cheese, White Cheddar Cheese Powder, CERTIFIED ORGANIC, 1 lb. package
Offered by MightyVitee
Price: $22.00
8 used & new from $18.86

2.0 out of 5 stars Way too salty. I wonder if there was a bad batch?, April 7, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'm used to buying Frontier cheese powder a few ounces at a time from the local health food store, so I was thrilled to find it in bulk on Amazon. This isn't the same stuff.

As a popcorn topping it's great - just like Smartfood or Yaya's or any of the others you pay too much for in the bag.

As a mac-and-cheese ingredient, it's inedible. I'm used to making that with the same recipe as on the Kraft box (milk, butter, cheese powder), but with this cheese powder the result is unbearable. Similar problem with my usual cheddar-yogurt dip (yogurt, cheese powder, pinch of cayenne). I usually have that on veggies, but this is awful. Not because the cheese is bad tasting, but because the salt is overpowering.

A quick trip to the Frontier website tells me they sell two kinds of cheddar powder - non-organic, which is pure cheese plus an anti-caking agent, and the organic version, which is cheese powder, milk powder, and salt, plus the anti-caking agent. I'll assume this is a price-point issue.

Did someone mix up a batch wrong? (it appears the salt complaints are all recent). Is this just intended for popcorn? Dudes, I would totally buy straight organic cheddar powder, even if it were more expensive. I can add my own milk.

The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Southern Revival
The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Southern Revival
by Alexe Van Beuren
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.88
52 used & new from $18.33

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming, with a few quibbles, April 6, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The "BTC" in this book's eponymous restaurant stands for "Be The Change" (as in Ghandi's "be the change you want to see in the world," not as in "zen and the art of the tip jar"). So, if you were expecting the recipes to be solely for sweet home Mississippi grits and scrapple cooking, you will be disappointed. On the other hand, skillet biscuits and red-eye gravy are right smack at the beginning of the book, so if you are the kind of person who can't handle bacon grease and Coca Cola as ingredients, y'all should skip right to the Honey Goat Cheese Frittata and Spinach Artichoke Bisque.

The author is a self-described Yankee, but her restaurant's cook is named "Dixie." The grocery, as the author describes, is the kind of place where you can buy bologna sandwiches, or tomato-caper cream cheese. Thus, the fusion. And the running interstitial commentary, which describes the town, the grocery, and, of course, the cook.

The recipes themselves vary from "mash together five ingredients" to "stand in the kitchen for four hours" (as the author herself describes the chicken and dumplings: "an all day pain-in-the-ass recipe to make"). No pretensions here. Also no odd techniques, or equipment more unusual than an immersion blender.

I do have a small beef about ingredients however - while Coca Cola and Tabasco can be found anywhere (including, for example, Kyoto), things like Ro-Tel tomatoes and Hellman's Mayonaise, which the author calls out specifically, are East Coast brands. "Hoop cheese" is similarly regional. Some of that can be mail ordered from your favorite online grocery, but I really wish there had been alternatives discussed.

Otherwise, the book is charming. And coffee-table worthy.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 18, 2014 9:50 AM PDT

Rayovac Phone Boost Emergency Charge, PS68BK
Rayovac Phone Boost Emergency Charge, PS68BK
Offered by ShipsReallyFast477
Price: $6.98
27 used & new from $0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great for my iPhone 3. YMMV., April 1, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As the owner of a 3G iPhone that gets a lot of use, I'm always on the lookout for good and usable juice boxes. This one is one of the better ones I've found, with a few flaws.


- Once the device is connected to my phone, the phone claims 2/3 charge almost immediately, and battery full in about half an hour. Once the phone is full you'll get the "charging buzz" back and forth as the charge normalizes across the two devices. Alas, however, as with many other juice boxes, the last two charge pips don't have any staying power once the charger is disconnected. This is just a reality of electronics - connecting two charge reservoirs (in this case the charger and the phone) is like putting a pipe between two water reservoirs. The charge will become the same between the two devices, it won't flow uphill and empty the juice box to charge the phone. And this fakes out the battery indicator.

If you must get as much as possible out of the juice box, your best bet is to leave it connected to the phone, so as the phone empties more charge can flow into it. Fortunately, the small size of the charger makes this easy.


- No cables!

- Small. About an inch across, and two inches long without the micro USB adapter. Slightly thicker than my phone in its case. This really is keychain sized.

- There's no way to tell how much charge is left, or how much longer the juice box needs to charge to be full (but this is a size and cost trade off).

- The markings on the in/out switch are tiny and faint. Also unnecessary, because you just put the switch toward the connector being used (USB when charging the juicebox, Apple when charging the phone).

- There are two nice caps to cover the ends of the juice box (good), and the cap for the output side will snap on the Apple connector directly as well as on to the micro adapter (good), but the caps don't attach to the juice box when they are not snapped on (bad). It's just a matter of time before I lose these.

- Similarly, i would hate using this if I needed the micro adapter. It doesn't snap on well enough to not get accidentally lost, and increases the size of the device considerably (dudes, just sell two different models. The price is right.)

I like this charger, but I don't love it. I'm looking forward to the next iteration.

Oxiclean Laundry Detergent, 47 Count
Oxiclean Laundry Detergent, 47 Count

3.0 out of 5 stars Works OK on dirt, smells like the dollar store, March 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been using Oxybrite for years, so I was happy to find this. But since I'm fairly sensitive to smells, I decided to test it out before fully committing our laundry to it. I'm glad I did.

To check out the detergent's cleaning power, I tried it on the dirtiest thing in the laundry - a white terry cloth bath rug that gets walked on in street shoes while it's still damp (thus, more of a GREY terry cloth bath rug, and this is where I usually use Oxybrite). Using a "light" cycle and "tap cold" water (medium load, HE top loader), and one Oxyclean pod, I did in fact wind up with once again a white rug.

However, I then had to rewash the rug twice in Tide Free and vinegar to get rid of the smell. The "scent" of this detergent is an awful floral/chemical smell that is now pervading my house. Oxybrite is essentially odorless - in fact people with chemical sensitivities or asthma use it as a whitener for exactly that reason.

Please folks, come out with a scent-free version.

CHIL PowerShare Reactor 5.1 Amp Multi-Device Home Charging Station - Black (0212-4566)
CHIL PowerShare Reactor 5.1 Amp Multi-Device Home Charging Station - Black (0212-4566)
Price: $44.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Nicely done, March 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This device is really two mated objects - a four-hole USB charger, and a silicone sleeve that holds the charger above with space for the power cord below. It's a nice design, and lets you pull out only as much cord is needed, which keeps things tidy. I had two questions however -

- First, given that the silicone sleeve is really just a sleeve, did it hold the charger firmly enough to let you plug stuff in without the charger sinking down? The answer is yes. There are a couple of studs inside the sleeve to hold the charger up, and some built-in supports to keep it stable.

- Second, is there enough space inside the sleeve to also hold the charging cords? The answer is sorta yes, depending on tightly you wrap things and how hard you push. The better solution is to wrap the power cord around the charger while traveling, shove all the charging cords inside the sleeve, and then recombobulate everything when you get to your destination.

This looks much nicer on my nightstand than a powerstrip with a bunch of little white Apple cubes. I use third-party charging cords that coil like a phone cord, which helps the overall aesthetic (though those wouldn't fit inside for traveling). My only objection is that the printing on the device to identify the different amperages is very tiny and hard to read - I would have preferred three plain slots and one with a black outline or something.

Four stars.

Wilson Jones Big Mouth Filer, Vertical Orientation, Dark Blue (W68583)
Wilson Jones Big Mouth Filer, Vertical Orientation, Dark Blue (W68583)
Price: $9.48
22 used & new from $6.28

3.0 out of 5 stars Good for backpacks, but not for clipboards., March 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's a pain to try to get a clipboard into a full backpack - if you put it in paper edge down the paper gets trashed, but if you put it in clip side down the clip gets caught. I was hoping this vertical filer would help. Unfortunately, it's not big enough to hold anything but folders (even a spiral notebook probably wouldn't fit).

As a filing system it's workable.


- Fits in any backpack that would hold a looseleaf.
- Comes with its own folders.
- No noisy Velcro closure to interrupt class.


- The accordion edges are very stiff, and catch stuff.
- The top tabs on the folders are really hard to write on. I guess I could use crayon...
- The folders are opaque, which makes it harder to identify contents on the fly.
- The top flap is large and stiff, thus it's a pain to open the filer without taking it out of the aforementioned full backpack.

The filer is clearly cooler looking than a lot of other systems. But I personally will continue using a clipboard, and my set of Avery Corner Lock High Capacity Document Sleeves (a pricier alternative, but more convenient).

Zwilling Pour Homme Stainless Steel Multi-Use Tool, 5.25 Ounce
Zwilling Pour Homme Stainless Steel Multi-Use Tool, 5.25 Ounce
Price: $19.58

4.0 out of 5 stars Pour femme aussi, March 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been carrying a little Victorinox for years, but it was never really the right thing for toenails (and you really don't want to cut those at the office) so I was happy to find this for potential home use. It's not quite as much of a work of art as a "real" Swiss Army knife (despite the Henkels name), but definitely better made than the Chinese knock-off dollar store version.


- Nail clipper. Nice and sharp, with a good smooth action. It's sorta spring-loaded into the side of the knife, and will pop out if the knife is dropped (or open into your hand if you handle it clumsily). Not a dealbreaker, just a heads up.

- Blade. Almost indistinguishable from the real SAK blade.

- File. Crosshatched like a metal rasp, not stippled like some others. I'm pretty sure you could do itty bitty horses' hooves with this file.

- Scissors. Unfortunately the weakest link. First because they are a pain to open, inasmuch as the notch for your thumbnail is too close to the side of the knife. Second because they are blunt like kindergarten scissors, which makes them much harder to use on hangnails.

- Misc. The knife feels lighter than the SAK but not really cheap like some others I've seen. The key ring is nice and solid, though again not quite as much of a work of art as the Victorinox version. The knife is made in Korea.

A solid four stars.

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