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Profile for N. J. Simicich > Reviews


N. J. Simicich's Profile

Customer Reviews: 233
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Reviews Written by
N. J. Simicich "Gadget Geek" RSS Feed (Labelle, FL United States)

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Viaaqua 80 - 74 GPH Submersible Pump
Viaaqua 80 - 74 GPH Submersible Pump

4.0 out of 5 stars works for low temperature sous vide stirring, July 30, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I use this when I sous vide at 150F or below to stir the water in the heated bath. Rumors are that they fail at some temperature between 150 and 180 - if someone wants to buy me a pump I'll up the temp 2 degrees per hour until the pump fails. But I use a bubbler to stir really hot baths.

White SiliconeTubing, 3/16"ID, 5/16"OD, 1/16" Wall, 10' Length
White SiliconeTubing, 3/16"ID, 5/16"OD, 1/16" Wall, 10' Length
Price: $11.40
3 used & new from $6.22

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sous Vide stirrer - works great., July 30, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
In order to get an even temperature in a sous vide bath, it needs to be stirred.

There are two stirring schemes in common use - one is to use a small liquid pump that goes into an aquarium or fountain. Those pumps have a problem in that they won't stand up to temperatures higher than 150F or 160F. They seem to work OK at 145 and they work great at 131. But at some temperature short of 180F, they fail because parts soften. Bad pump, no biscuit! I wanted something I could stir simmering water with - I was not going to stir something with body, beans or polenta or such. Mechanical stirrers on Amazon got horrible ratings with the exception of those built into a pot. But while you can't stir beans with a bubbler, you can stir water with a bubbler - it is the being stirred that keeps the fish alive - more water is exposed to the surface.

This tubing has the same inside diameter as standard aquarium tubing, so it fits an aquarium pump's air fitting perfectly. My feeling is that if an aquarium pump won't kill fish, the air produced is probably safe for food. The food is protected from the bath with a plastic barrier, but it seems to diffuse a bit, you can smell the spices from inside the bag in the water bath, and what diffuses out will diffuse in. Thus I didn't want to use standard aquarium tubing in the water. Even silicone aquarium tubing. I probably could have boiled standard silicone tubing, changing the water at least five times, or until no dye leached into the boiling water after five changes. But this stuff, well, I could just use it.

I folded the end over, stuffed it into a 1/2" stainless nut that had been through a dishwasher, which nut held the end folded over and sealed, and then I used the nuts and a couple stainless washers that had similar treatment as weights. I clipped little crescent moon shaped holes in the tubing with diagonal cutters, one hole every half inch over four inches - to get bubbles to come out in small streams, so that they would stir more water. Worked perfectly.

I selected this tubing, even though it was more expensive than other tubing, because it was food safe and rated for temperatures well higher than boiling. Nothing else came close - but I would have bought 1 meter if I could have. Or a half meter would have been enough. It is not cheap, but I didn't allow price to affect my rating, I knew what it cost when I bought it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 13, 2012 9:19 AM PDT

Containables 4" x 4" x 7" Plastic Container with Removable Lid
Containables 4" x 4" x 7" Plastic Container with Removable Lid
Offered by U.S. Acrylic, LLC

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lid would not snap down, July 28, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Ridgid R82235 12V Cordless JobMax Oscillating Multi-Tool Starter KitI was building a sous vide controller, and I wanted to put my components in something. Other people had used this plastic box as a project box, so I decided to, as well.

It arrives without a coating, and the plastic is so thin it is hard to cut. I tried to decide on a scheme - hot exacto knives? I finally went out and bought a tool to cut it, a gadget that had a vibrating saw - I bought one from Ridgid,Ridgid R82235 12V Cordless JobMax Oscillating Multi-Tool Starter Kit but Bosch and Dremel have the equivalent. I went with the Ridgid because it came with adapters to use the other companies tools, and, in fact, I used the dremel tool because I liked it better. A hundred dollar tool to cut a $5 box, sigh. The problem was that the lid didn't fit - and it never fit, from even before I started cutting it..

If I were planning on using it as a display case or a storage case, I would have returned it. This is the sort of thing that wouldn't bother you in a store. You'd pick the cases over, and you'd look for the ones where the lids fit well, and you'd take those with you, putting the others on the shelf.

But you can't do that when you mail order, you expect someone else to pick the item over for you.

I cut a little out of the rim of the case (always in my plan) and that allowed me to deform the lid enough that I could force it on - it wanted to pop off, but I taped it down (something else that was in my plan) and it stayed down. So it gets a three star review from me, even though I was not using it as a storage container because a storage container that has a lid that won't fit does not cut it.

If you are going to use it as a project box, and you are OK with taping the lid down, it will work OK.

I got another one of these from a different vendor and the lid on that one fit fine, but I believe that to be random.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 28, 2013 2:16 PM PDT

JW Pet Company Fusion Air Pump 400 Aquarium Air Pump
JW Pet Company Fusion Air Pump 400 Aquarium Air Pump
Offered by Fat Happy Pets
Price: $14.69
24 used & new from $4.20

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What can I say, it pumps air., July 28, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I wanted an inexpensive air pump to move the contents of a sous vide bath around. The features that I wanted were the ability to control air at the pump, quietness, adequate air, and reliability. I was looking for a goldfish bowl size pump, so I started at the bottom. I've only had this pump for a couple weeks, so I can't rate reliability. There is another review here that says that the pump won't push air out of his airstone...that is another thing I can't rate since I don't have an airstone. I bought some 3/16" inside diameter hose that was silicone and food grade, and I folded the end of the hose over, and stuck it in a 1/2" stainless steel nut to weight it down. Then I clipped little snips into the hose. It worked amazingly well. The dial on top of the pump allows me to contol the air without a $5 gadget.

The pump is as quiet as any aquarium pump I've ever had. It is not soundless, but the bubbling is louder than the pump, in my opinion. I understand that this other reviewer had a terrible one, but Amazon will pay return postage on defective items. Another possibility is that his pump was just turned to minimum, when you do that the air turns almost off, and the power of the flow goes down.

All in all, this is a good cheap pump, and perfect for my purpose. I have no idea what else I could possibly want from a little cheap pump.

mCover Polycarbonate Hard Shell Case for Amazon Kindle 3 Keyboard Model (Pink)
mCover Polycarbonate Hard Shell Case for Amazon Kindle 3 Keyboard Model (Pink)

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It took some doing, but it worked..., July 28, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I put this cover inside a blue zipping kindle cover. It works, and it fit. It took some doing to get the whole thing to clamp up, once I got past the problem, it worked.

The screen cover is optional, it is a thin piece of clear plastic that seemed to be good, optically. It is not glareproof like the original is, but it will provide way more screen protection than a thin piece of stick on plastic will. I will get another if this one ever gets scratched up, not sure if I will go with a different color or not.

FunBites FlatSticks Calcibone, 60-Count (Pack of 5)
FunBites FlatSticks Calcibone, 60-Count (Pack of 5)

5.0 out of 5 stars Belle loves them!, July 28, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My girl dog, Belle, is a real fan of dog treats, She has offered to taste test any that I happen to get. So when the FunBites FlatSticks Calcibone, 60-Count (Pack of 5) came up, it seemed like a marriage made in heaven.

She sniffed them once, and treated them like a long term treat, one that she would take back to her cave rather than eat right there.

The first ingredient is beef hide, the second ingredient is rice flour. Maltodextrin, the third ingredient, is a starch that soaks up fat, you can turn olive oil into a powder. They mighr use ut to make the treats not feel greasy while still allowing them to have some grease, for flavor.

Finally, there is calcium, sugar, and calcium again.

These days, this is a more or less normal ingredients list, I'd actually call it almost natural, I;d eat any of this stuff.

GPU Computing Gems Emerald Edition (Applications of GPU Computing Series)
GPU Computing Gems Emerald Edition (Applications of GPU Computing Series)
by Wen-mei W. Hwu
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $62.03
54 used & new from $23.93

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book, if your expectations are in line with what the book delivers, July 27, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have been donating spare cycles to Folding@Home. I have a 4 way Intel, and a NVidia graphics card, and the NVidia card outperforms the main computer engine by far in churning out the floating point calculations Folding@Home wants... So I had been interested in what was available. NVIDIA has a toolkit out that allows you to access the CPUs on the graphics card. The toolkit is called CUDA.

I'm a retired programmer with 30 years of programming experience. While I don't work hard, these days, I like to keep my hand in, keep up with technology.
And it seemed that the floating point processing power that was available in the GPU had to be looked at.
It seemed serendipitous that this book became available from Vines just as I was looking at CUDA and the power of the GPU.
Now, when I was a young (19 year old) programmer, someone gave me an enormous scheduling problem to do. A hundred students had to be assigned to discussion groups. Each student was available at some times and not at others (they might be in class, for example). They were male and female and it was imperative that the sexual balance of the group be respected. Study groups had to end up with 4-8 people, if too few or too many, try again using another choice set.
The student's numbers, requested discussion group numbers, and sex were punched onto cards.
I wrote a FORTRAN program (it was 1970) that read the cards into an array (as few bytes per student as possible) and started traversing the problem set. And it was taking a very long time. Finally, I modified the program to check one of the toggle switches on the console, and to dump its state to the console and stop if one of the switches was toggled, and left, late Friday night, with instructions on the console that the operator, on Monday when they needed the computer, should flip the switch and wait for the program to print. The program ran for a CPU Weekend. CPU Weekends were important back then. The most processing that one programmer could do was to run for a weekend. When I worked at IBM Research, Fractals were developed by that MIT guy using spare CPU Weekends.
Now the machine I had use of in 1970 was an IBM 1130. It had 8k of core memory and a 3.2 microsecond cycle time, and a 1 megabyte hard drive. I expect that I could exhaustively search through all potential solutions and find the best fit in a few minutes to an hour today, on my desktop PC. But this was a slow machine. It finished no more than 20% of the search in the CPU Weekend. I declare d the problem "too large to compute" and tried a Monte Carlo approach, where I learned the weaknesses of pseudo random number generators.

These days, the CPU Weekend, the largest piece of work that can be computed in spare cycles, is what can be processed on a Desktop PC with a high end NVIDIA graphics card, over a weekend -- because the $200 NVIDIA Superclocked GTX 460 is the most powerful mass marketed computer to date.

So, I started to think, was this power accessible? Could one reprogram the calculation loop of a spreadsheet, one that might have a million or more rows, to calculate in parallel? How about inherently parallel languages, like J, where data is commonly held in matrices and procesed all at once, in parallel. Could you speed up that sort of processing by reprogramming the calculation loops of J, so that when you casually toss around a large matrix it can be processed in parallel?

And then I saw this book. I was intrigued. Actual projects? Source code, maybe? Explanations?

And today the book came.

Now, I was a bit disappointed. These were all independent papers. Many of them basically say the same thing. We had a computationally hard problem. We reprogrammed it to use CUDA. It sped up a whole lot. We were happy. There is a chart that was repeated in study after study. It goes something like:

We had been running the app on a 2.6 Gz Intel core ?? chip. The app ran in 50 seconds. We reprogrammed it for an 8 way Intel chip, the latest, and we were able to do the computation in 10 seconds. When we ran it on a NVIDIA using CUDA, we were able to run the app in 0.12 seconds after applying full optimization. Our first try at NVIDIA got us a 3 second compute time, but we did something fancy and we were able to get another 75% reduction over these three stages. But the detail of that optimization is not explained here.

The chart is almost exactly the one in the CUDA Programming Guide, where they note that the GTX 480 has a theoretical floating point output of over 1.3 teraflops. Some of the researchers got 85% of theoretical max.

One line from the Introduction intrigued me. We expect processing power to double every two years, although these processors are not getting faster, they are just adding more cores. When people port their compute bound app from a high end Intel box to a GPU, the app runs 10 to 100 times faster. So, in a way, people who port to GPUs travel 8-12 years into the future. And there is no reason to believe that GPUs won't continue to add processing power, since they can add more cores or speed up the ones they have, since right now they are loafing at 1500 mz. So they have traveled to the future and need not come back, but we can reap the benefits of their computation.

There was a lot of detail in the book, but it was the wrong sort, for me. If I were a physical chemist, say, the equations that describe the end location of the electron in the shell and how its position was calculated would have been more useful. It was probably obvious to other physical chemists how they would translate those equations to an algorithm, but it wasn't to me. In a few places people included application pseudocode, while, all too briefly, actual code was quoted, but I didn't see any explanations - especially not in the detail I hoped for. To be clear, there was plenty of detail; it just wasn't where I needed it.

In "A Brief History of Time", Hawking was warned by an editor that every equation he put in his book would halve the readership. By that principle, this book is flat out of readers. '

So in the end, I was disappointed. If I were looking at the cost of a supercomputer, and needed a lot of floating point processing to achieve computational goals, and was told that my budget was so large that it meant layoffs, well, I might see this as proof of concept. I could use this book as a justification in putting a staff together to investigate the use of CUDA and NVIDIA rather than more traditional supercomputer vendors.
If I was one of those investigators, this book would hardly be useful, other than as a way to determine if the speedups I was getting were in line with what the rest of the industry was getting on similar projects.
All that said, this is still a four star book. If you are the person who needs this book, it is a great book, pretty much unique in its field.

Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 [OLD VERSION]
Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 [OLD VERSION]
Offered by Clardelune
Price: $28.99
7 used & new from $22.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If any review should be a video review, it is this one, July 27, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have a windows 7 box. It is fairly high end, it has a Nvidia video card, dual 3.2 gig cores and six gig of ram.

I usually run folding at home on my video card. These video cards have, essentially, a couple hundred processors, and they can do a lot of supercomputerish work.

The Corel program requires that I stop the Folding at Home application before I use the VideoStudio application - it would run most of the time, but performance was horrible.

I had used one other video editing application before I used this one. It was the "Windows Live Movie Maker" that can be downloaded for free from Microsoft's The two programs have essentially the same structure. I thought that the Corel program was harder to use at first, but once I climbed the learning curve, I felt like the Corel product was easier to use. So, easier for someone who knew what they were doing, but less intuitive.

The Corel product is documented with videos. The videos are, for many things, the only documentation of the program. I prefer to have both a video and a regular manual page. The instructions are why the program loses a star for me. It was a good, professional program, that allowed me to edit my scenes exactly how I wanted to, and it had a lot of stuff that the free one didn't.

But the learning curve was steeper than it needed to be - different people learn differently. I got tired of looking at a whole video to get refreshed on one point. I thought about that, and decided that this product, like its help screens, didn't need a video review.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 4, 2011 12:46 PM PDT

Tonka Chuck and Friends Fold and Go Tumble Tower
Tonka Chuck and Friends Fold and Go Tumble Tower

5.0 out of 5 stars I didn't think my three year old would like it as much as he did..., July 21, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I gave this to my three year old, and he played with it for hours. It actually seemed better that the toy was not perfect, because when Chuck made it all the way down all the ramps, it was an achievement. Chuck had to go up the elevator...but wait, where was the voice coming from? If you are a three year old, you hold the toy to your ear and you listen, and the voice isn't coming from the truck, it is coming from the tower.

Then he folded it all up and made sure chuck was put away (chuck had to be facing out so he could see) and he took it to bed with him.

It seems like such a simple toy, but the kid was telling himself stories about what chuck was doing (they were simple, that is not the point) and also putting himself into the action, learning coordination since it is not automatic, and having a great time.

Frankly, this is all I can ask for from a toy.

Wixey WR100 6-Inch Digital Calipers with Fractions
Wixey WR100 6-Inch Digital Calipers with Fractions
Offered by TigerSupplies
Price: $38.95
6 used & new from $29.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars These are probably the best of the cheaper calipers, July 20, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I am pleased with these calipers. The battery is easy to install and one of the common buttons, a 2032, I think. The calipers come to the same value when measuring the same thing. I have no blocks but they match my rulers as close as I can see.

The calipers are easy to use, the electronics work well, the fractions in inch mode are cute. There is a metric mode as well.

I bought them to transfer small measurements for faceplate cutouts and they worked perfectly for that.

There are expensive and cheap calipers. These are in the cheap range and may be some of the better or the best of the cheap calipers.

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