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Profile for J. Whiteside > Reviews


J. Whiteside's Profile

Customer Reviews: 97
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Helpful Votes: 1524

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J. Whiteside RSS Feed (Missoula, MT)

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Cable Matters® Gold Plated Toslink Digital Optical Audio Cable with Metal Connectors and Braided Jacket 6 Feet
Cable Matters® Gold Plated Toslink Digital Optical Audio Cable with Metal Connectors and Braided Jacket 6 Feet
Offered by Cable Matters
Price: $7.99
3 used & new from $5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Great "Cheap" Toslink Cable, October 26, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a really good toslink cable in my opinion. It screams quality, very good construction and sports a nice look and feel. It's certainly of a professional grade without the high end price tag commonly associated with such things. I use this to pipe my TV's audio to my DAC in order to prepare the digital signal for my Hi-Fi/theater audio system. I really appreciate the braided cable, it really takes things above your typical plastic/rubber coating that you'll find on most inexpensive cables.

For a test, I set it up on my true "hi-fi" system, for which I typically use a (high end) coaxial connection that "supposedly" has better audio production capabilities. With a fairly high end audio setup, I was barely able to discern a difference from the DAC's optical input and coaxial input...and what difference might exist is probably in my head or more likely, has more to do with my DAC's inputs than anything else. I would be totally happy using this is a fairly high grade Hi-Fi application, especially considering optical connectivity isn't something that will degrade all that much unless the cable is truly poor quality. Admittedly, I have nothing to measure the bits across the wire, but perception is most important in audio applications anyway.

Overall, high value and reasonable price...what I look for in a purchase!

Cosco Products Centerfold Folding Table, 6-Feet, Black
Cosco Products Centerfold Folding Table, 6-Feet, Black
Price: $52.74
15 used & new from $50.99

5.0 out of 5 stars For A Cheap Computer Desk, It'll Do For Now!, October 26, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'm using this table as a computer desk, probably not the intended purpose, but it works well enough for the application. For the price, it's difficult to find something in the six foot range that can handle a decent sized dual monitor setup, a pair of monitor speakers and all the other items you might want within arm's reach on a computer desk. I really like the black color, it doesn't scream "temporary table" in the office and provides plenty of storage underneath for computers and such. The working height is comfortable for this application, not too high and not too short...just about perfect. I can kick my feet up on it without feeling like I'm doing yoga. The surface has held up to relatively heavy use, seems like it's going to last until I'm in the mood to buy a real desk.

I can confirm that the table's top isn't perfectly level on both sides of the fold. This does cause a minor issue in my application where my two monitors don't line up absolutely level. No big deal for me, really, eventually I might just cut a nice oak board or something to act as a level plane. If you're looking for something with absolute flatness on both sides, though, this table might not fit the bill.

I liked the unit enough that I purchased a second one for it's intended purpose...a temporary table. We occasionally get some big cooking projects going on and find it really helpful to add additional food preparation space since our kitchen has limited counter space. I like that we can just fold up the table and store it, taking up minimal space when it's stowed away. For this, it's absolutely perfect...plenty of working space and places to put things when you need to.

Duck Brand Commercial Grade Packaging Tape, 1.88-Inch x 54.6 Yards, 6 Rolls per Pack, Clear (240053)
Duck Brand Commercial Grade Packaging Tape, 1.88-Inch x 54.6 Yards, 6 Rolls per Pack, Clear (240053)
Price: $8.80
15 used & new from $7.19

3.0 out of 5 stars Derp...Get The Bigger Rolls!, October 26, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I was apparently an idiot when I decided to purchase this item. I thought, wow, what a good deal for a decent quality, name brand tape! The problem isn't the tape,'s a fine tape that did the job I expected it to do. The problem is that I purchased the 54 yard rolls and was expecting the more substantial, and clearly a better value, 109 yard rolls.

Overall, I can say that the Duck brand tape is really good. On my recent move from Montana to Alaska, I had a number of boxes that failed well before the tape did. The AlCan is a punishing road for a move, and let me tell you, this tape held at least a couple cases, it was the only thing standing between a full box finding it's contents inadvertently emptied. I really didn't need a low temperature application, as I see they make specific tape for...but we'll see how this "sub standard" version holds up to our punishing -50 degree winters for the stuff still left in outdoor storage. If it holds up, consider me me a fan...otherwise, it's just tape.

Oh, and make sure you get the bigger rolls for a moving job. You'll go through these faster than you'd like.

MTM ACR8-72 Ammo Crate Utility Box with 7.25" Deep, Large, Dark Earth
MTM ACR8-72 Ammo Crate Utility Box with 7.25" Deep, Large, Dark Earth
Price: $19.99
5 used & new from $19.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect For Transporting Ammunition Via Common Air Carrier, October 24, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I recently moved to Alaska and needed something to transport ammunition via common carrier flights, as our Canadian friends frown upon bringing these items through their country. It was somewhat difficult to find something reviewed for this particular application and I wasn't quite sure whether this unit would fit the bill or not. I can happily say that these utility boxes have been safely used without incident to transport 49.5lbs of ammunition from Montana to Alaska. (50lbs is the maximum you can transport on most carriers, check your carrier's rules before committing to a flight!) There were no issues from TSA transporting ammo in this box, I've successfully made multiple transports without a single objection. I did remove the "Ammo Crate" sticker, which was easily done, so as to not draw unnecessary attention.

These things are very well built, no major concerns about loading them up with 50lbs or more. The handles are probably a bit underengineered to carry the rated weight comfortably by hand, but at 50lbs, it can be lifted without issue. Most of the time during transport, you'll want something to assist - a cart, over the shoulder, a hand cart, something - the handles just don't provide much room for grip when manhandling the case about. Important for me, I was able to secure the box with two padlocks and felt like this was adequate protection for the relatively short period the box would be in other people's hands.

50lbs of ammo will easily fit inside the case, I would suspect 70-80lbs would be fine depending on the ammo stored. I used packing paper to secure the top of the case as 50lbs will not quite fill the entire space and this adequately prevented things from moving about during the flights. From there, these units make nice storage compartments to keep things relatively secure and organized when stored up.

If you're looking for this application, I can heartily recommend them and they should suit you just fine!

Modi 2 Uber Digital/Analog Converter
Modi 2 Uber Digital/Analog Converter
Offered by Schiit Audio
Price: $179.00
5 used & new from $167.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crushed A Two Thousand Dollar DAC!, October 24, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've been into Hi-Fi audio for better than 20 years. My current main audio system consists of a 1978 pair of Klipsch Lascalas using custom ALK crossovers, a Cary Audio preamplifier, a BelCanto amplifier...connected by relatively high end balanced uplinks and RCA cables. All of this is driven by Toslink via a media PC I built. It's about a $11k audio setup and one that will reveal any substandard equipment.

My previous high end DAC decided to give up the ghost after over 7 years of use, $2 grand down the drain. :( These days, I just don't have the carefree budget I used to for audio gear, even though long standing "wisdom" in Hi-Fi dictates you should pair reasonably similar caliber equipment together for best results. I really wanted to see what a "lower end" DAC replacement could do for this system as I just didn't have the budget to throw another expensive DAC at my system. My extensive research brought me to Schiit Audio's line of DAC's, I liked that they seem to focus on connectivity and solid audio instead of trying to be just another expensive alternative. I was torn between the more expensive Bitfrost and the Modi 2 Uber, ultimately settling on the Modi to really push the "low end" concept to its maximum potential. Considering the Modi 2 Uber is billed as a lower cost, non-upgradable Bitfrost alternative, it seemed worth the shot.

Thoughts after burn in? Just wow. The Modi 2 Uber literally puts my old $2 thousand dollar DAC to shame...maybe not shame, per se, but it's certainly on par. I can't even believe that a sub $200 DAC can keep pace with high end audio gear, musically and with an incredible soundstage! This DAC is musical, offering a semi analog feel without the lazy, somewhat muddy side effects of analog gear. The soundstage makes my Lascalas sing like they can, allowing the speakers to resolve clarity and detail like few other drivers can. I was a bit worried that the DAC might be a bit bright from my research, which can really be a problem on Lascalas...but I'm happy to report clarity without overabundance on the tweeters. (I will admit my custom crossovers are set to -2db on the tweeters, my preference after extended listening on my old DAC.) Bass is tight and fast, another problem substandard equipment will reveal on the Klipsch speakers...maybe a little less than my previous high end DAC, but almost better to some degrees. The midrange, however, are the Lascalas strong point and this DAC makes the horns sing like I expect allowing vocals to come through strong without getting bogged down by anything else. 24/96 recordings really shine with this DAC, something my previous DAC really didn't reveal as much as I had hoped.

I don't know if it's a matter of design, or that audio-centric capacitors and such have significantly improved in the last ten years...but I would say that this DAC is overall maybe 99% compared to my older, and much more expensive, DAC as far as audio quality. In the early days of external DAC's, I could tell the difference between a high end and low end unit. These days, that line has been blurred much more than I would have expected. For one tenth the price, this Schiit is a sure-fire win for me.

Drawbacks? The supplied power wall wort is a little on the short side...I wish it had a couple more feet of range. I would have appreciated a slightly higher end power input, but also can't say that the supplied power supply is inadequate for the unit considering its size. The input selector switch floats a little bit, this isn't an issue to speak of, but some people expect a solid feel on selector switches. For me, it works and I'm betting it won't be a long term issue. Other than that, I'd have a hard time coming up with flaws. I'd prefer a larger footprint, but for a budget DAC designed primarily for headphone use, the smaller footprint makes sense to me and works for the application it's designed for.

Overall, I'm totally happy with this DAC and am super pleased I gave Schiit Audio a shot on my system. Big picture, this DAC will eventually be replaced by a Bitfrost and sent up to my office system...but it solved an immediate need and allowed me to hear Schiit's sonic signature without breaking the bank. I wouldn't hesitate recommending this DAC for either a headphone setup or Hi-Fi audio scenarios, it's a solid unit for a really fair price and likely better than anything else you can get in a similar price range. In my opinion, I've thoroughly debunked that price is a considerable factor when it comes to DAC's. Thank you Jason Stoddard for bringing high end audio at an acceptable price!

Camco 20183 1" Hose Filter Washer - Pack of 3
Camco 20183 1" Hose Filter Washer - Pack of 3
Price: $1.47
24 used & new from $1.47

5.0 out of 5 stars Keeps My Sprinklers Free and Clear!, June 24, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've been working towards getting fully automated watering systems going for our gardens this year. We use water timers and standard garden hose for our water distribution. I needed a few hose filters to protect the sprinkler systems as we're on a well and sometimes get a little bit of sediment that makes it through. I was a little bit dubious as to how well these cheap hose filters would actually work, but I can now confidently state they do an excellent job.

Just a couple nights ago, I noticed that one of the hose/sprinkler combos was performing extremely poorly. I took a look at this filter and found a bunch of organic material that had gotten caught by these filters and was blocking the flow. I would MUCH rather be able to clean out a filter than I would unclog a sprinkler system from any organic debris that happens to make it into our plumbing! After a few moments, I was back up to full flow and very happy this cheap investment had protected the rest of the system!

I definitely recommend having one or more of these installed on your hoses, especially if you're using well water and don't have a whole house water filter inline with your water supply. A little bit of cheap insurance goes a long way!

Nikwax TX.Direct Spray-On Waterproofing
Nikwax TX.Direct Spray-On Waterproofing
Price: $21.50
9 used & new from $19.45

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good For Vertical Flooding Conditions, February 23, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've tried several of the alternatives to Nikwax products and every single time I keep coming back. Although I have probably a half dozen stories to tell about my experience, I only need to relay one fairly recent story to tell you why I trust this (and the other Nixwax products) for most of my waterproof gear.

In 2014, we set out for a month long road trip to Alaska in the middle of summer, planning to tent it all the way up and back. Unbeknownst to us, we made the trek in the wettest summer that pretty much everyone alive could possibly remember, it was wet! For 30 days straight, it rained 27 of them. This wasn't your average drip-a-bit then blow over type of rain. No. It was torrential downfall followed by a downpour followed by a steady drench thereafter. It was an unreal bout of rain, like we were living in a rain cloud for a month.

All my gear, including my tent, footprint, rain fly and gear's duffel bags were treated with this stuff or other Nikwax products. It's never a cheap preparation, but in hindsight, it's always worth every penny. Night after night, my aging camping gear and waterproof clothing were pounded from all sides with unrelenting rain, put away wet only to be brought out into more wet. What little breaks in the weather we could get usually dried things out just enough to get wet again a few hours later. We could barely get a break, except for maybe once every 8-10 days or maybe a lucky clearing during setup or teardown of camp.

The point? We stayed mostly dry. Our clothes, our sleeping gear, our camp gear. Dry, all of it. Every night. Every storm. It kept one pretty lady awfully happy, and that's no easy feat faced with constant rain! To be certain, some of it was probably technique as I cut my teeth camping in Oregon where you learn how to deal with rain well before you can afford technical preparations. But from one rain master to another, the secret to maintaining technical gear for whatever gets thrown at you is Nikwax. Bottom line, it's proven itself to be my trusted waterproofing material and probably always will be.

Is it perfect? No, it's not going to make Goretex out of nylon no matter how you slice it...but it'll be better than pure nylon, for sure. Does it help? Without a doubt. When your gear is starting to see it's age, will it revive it enough to keep it going? Yes, and my 20+ year old used and abused Cascade Designs tent that I'd take anywhere, anytime proves it. Do you need to augment your preparations for rain otherwise? That's probably a good idea, at a minimum a solid seam seal on all rainfly seams and liberal use of tarps, when needed.

I've used this stuff for years and that's only the latest reason I keep coming back for more.

Homemade Soda: 200 Recipes for Making & Using Fruit Sodas & Fizzy Juices, Sparkling Waters, Root Beers & Cola Brews, Herbal & Healing Waters, ... & Floats, & Other Carbonated Concoctions
Homemade Soda: 200 Recipes for Making & Using Fruit Sodas & Fizzy Juices, Sparkling Waters, Root Beers & Cola Brews, Herbal & Healing Waters, ... & Floats, & Other Carbonated Concoctions
by Andrew Schloss
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.51
98 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Choice For A Recipe Hunter, February 23, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'm a somewhat experienced home brewer, wine maker and about five years ago, added soda making to the repertoire. The soda making has been the culmination of years of trying to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from my body completely, preferring natural sweeteners overall. With the addition of a kegging setup to my brewery, I had a lot more options at my finger tips than my previous "add yeast and drink before it blows up the bottle" methods used to provide. Specifically, I wanted to start looking into syrups that I could add to carbonated water, similar to a "SodaStream" but at a "pro" level, if you will.

I had read a couple recommendations about this book providing syrup recipes, so eventually decided to pick it up. I was surprised that it didn't only provide syrup recipes, but alternative methods as well such as the traditional yeast/brewing methods for most of the recipes. This was really nice as it gives you a bit of flexibility in how you want to approach making the soda, particularly making things accessible if you don't have a CO2 setup.

This book doesn't disappoint with quantity or variety of the contain recipes...from modern to old, classic to bleeding edge, you're sure to find something you'd enjoy. I was surprised, compared to other soda books I own, with regard to the diversity of the recipes. Just a whole lot of options, some of which I would have never thought of and probably make a fine tasting fizzy drink! It's always a joy to crack open the book when we're planning out a new soda and so far, haven't duplicated a single recipe. (Not because they're not good...but because there's so much to try!)

To be entirely honest, I don't feel I'd be a good judge of the quality of this publication in actually teaching a person how to make home made soda. Reason being, I'm well versed in transferring liquids, steeping materials and pretty much all the techniques used to bring a batch from material to quality drink. I skipped over those sections almost entirely, but did note there was some good info on sweeteners and other basic topics. It might be OK? I don't honestly know.

I can probably say that of the three books I have on the subject, this one is my favorite. Certainly other books offer some recipes that I wouldn't want to go without, so I appreciate them all, but this one is the most accessible, current and fully featured of them all. If you're looking to dive into the deep end with home made soda, I wouldn't hesitate recommending this book! Cheers!

DampRid FG30K Moisture Absorber Refill, 42-Ounce
DampRid FG30K Moisture Absorber Refill, 42-Ounce
Price: $4.22
44 used & new from $3.86

5.0 out of 5 stars So Good I Haven't Had To Use It Yet!, February 23, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I purchased this refill kit for the two-pack DampRid containers, also purchased here on Amazon. I was originally anticipating needing to change out the material every couple months or so, but I'm thrilled to report that I haven't even had to change it once after 6 months. So, while I haven't technically had to use the bag I purchased as of yet, the original material outperformed my expectations by a long shot.

I use the stuff to maintain the moisture levels in a freezer based fermentation chamber. Prior to it's introduction, I was constantly battling moisture buildup, mold problems and other issues that were directly related to high humidity. Afterwards, zero problems. Better yet, I've gotten at least six month's use from the original container, so even on a maintenance schedule and near daily use, one of these bags will easily last me well over a year or more.

For the general cost of this stuff, it hardly even makes sense to try and research a DIY alternative...probably wouldn't save you much at all. I like's not an overpriced chemical that can be bought in bulk for pennies on the dollar, just because you don't know what it is. (It's calcium chloride, by the way.) Sure, it costs a bit more than the bulk stuff...but you get a free, identifiable bag and can be relatively sure it hasn't been exposed to the air.

It's good stuff. Their little containers are a pretty good value too. If you're looking for a way to keep moisture in check, this (or the bulk alternative) will work out just fine for you. 5 stars!

DampRid FG60 Refillable Moisture Absorber, 2-Pack
DampRid FG60 Refillable Moisture Absorber, 2-Pack
Price: $4.97
4 used & new from $4.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Great For A Fermentation Chamber Or Keezer!, February 23, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
After fighting humidity, constant wipe-downs and significant cleaning efforts in the freezer based beer and wine fermentation chamber, I finally decided to look into something that would help control moisture over the long term. I looked into the electric units but wasn't quite comfortable with their long term reliability and considered this consumable option for a trial run. Well, I'm into 6 months on my first unit with about 6 10-gallon batches run through the chamber and it's still running well on the original crystals. The chamber stays dry, whether I'm lagering at just above freezing temps, doing an ale around 62 degrees or even saisons at higher temps.

I was most worried that I'd have to constantly be changing out the DampRid material, but so far, that hasn't been a concern. Even if I went through a 42oz bag twice a year, that would work...but looks like I'm doing much better than that. At six months, no moisture to report and the stuff looks good, no pooling water or anything. May just replace once a year or so on a maintenance cycle, certainly economical enough and works out to pennies a day.

I did have to reduce my air circulation on the internal fan a fair bit when adding this as it was causing my bubblers to dry up within a day, something that would quickly expose the beer and wine to air. (At least I know it's working!) Once I dropped air circulation down to a trickle, I can easily maintain a batch's bubbler for the 2-3 weeks it'll typically stay in the fermentation chamber. Other than bit of tweaking, they pretty much just sit there and suck the water vapors right out of the air.

I don't know how well they'd work in a really humid environment, but these units have saved me a lot of cleaning time and other efforts related to brewing for that, it gets a win sticker!

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