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CrunchyCookie RSS Feed (Palo Alto, CA)

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Zalman CNPS7000C-ALCU 92mm 2 Ball Cooling Fan
Zalman CNPS7000C-ALCU 92mm 2 Ball Cooling Fan
Offered by OutletPC
Price: $20.81
10 used & new from $12.00

5.0 out of 5 stars An obvious reduction in noise, June 21, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I built myself a Core 2 Duo computer in 2008, which means I was always stuck with the annoyingly loud stock Intel fan. Switched to this Zalman today and HOT DAMN, WHAT A DIFFERENCE -- the new fan is still audible, but the volume is noticeably lower, and more importantly, the constant high-frequency pitch of the Intel crap (the unpleasant part) is totally missing.

Since I also use a similarly expensive silent power supply (and a fanless video card), pretty much all I hear from my computer these days is the hard drive when it's working.

My subliminal daily rage is gone. Well worth $23.

Oral-B Complete SaTinfloss Twin Pack 100 M
Oral-B Complete SaTinfloss Twin Pack 100 M
Price: $4.62

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Shreds on contact, June 5, 2014
Are any of these reviews real? This is a disgraceful floss that starts falling apart after 2 or 3 insertions between your teeth. After you're done, it feels like you have to floss a second time just to fish out the shredded strands.

It didn't use to be this way. I consistently used Oral-B floss for years starting around 2000, but right around 2007 they downgraded to this lower-quality material (for both their "Satin Floss" and "Satin Tape" lines), and so it remains to this day.

The main alternatives are Glide (now owned by Oral-B, strangely enough) and Johnson & Johnson's Reach. I've had better luck with both of those, though Reach is a tad thick.

Dickies Men's Solo Soft Steel-Toed Work Boot
Dickies Men's Solo Soft Steel-Toed Work Boot
Price: $59.99 - $147.03

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Neither steel-toed nor wide, April 25, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Amazon's product listings can sometimes be wonky, and so it is with these Dickies Solo shoes. There exists a duplicate listing for what seems to be this exact same model ( For THAT one, the words "steel toe" are printed right on the shoe, and it's only available in regular sizes. For THIS one, you can only buy Wide sizes, and while there's no marking of "steel toe" on the shoe, it does say "steel toe" in the title, which I figured I could trust.

Well, the shoes arrived today, and they're definitely not steel-toed. I also doubt they're Wide -- they don't feel it, and nothing on the inner label or box indicates they are. Are there two versions of this model? Hard to say, since it doesn't exist on Dickies' website and there are no reviews on it anywhere. Dickies and Amazon both need to get their act together.

From what I can tell after 10 minutes of wearing them around the house, the shoes themselves are OK, nothing special. Comfortable enough, but not very plushly padded and they kind of stab my front ankles. The fit is a tad loose, too.

If you need steel toes and want a sneaker-style shoe, I'd go for one of the models in Reebok's "Work" line. I went with the Leelap ($81) and find them awesomely comfortable. A cheaper alternative is going to Payless and picking up a pair of Dexter Men's Wrench Steel Toe Hikers for $40 -- they're great aside from the front being too narrow/hard for me (it hurt my right big toe). Skechers also sells a pair, and Wal-Mart has some crap too. Not a lot of choices out there, though.

ASICS Men's GEL-Contend 4E Running Shoe
ASICS Men's GEL-Contend 4E Running Shoe
Price: $52.97 - $75.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Half of a great shoe, April 15, 2014
Asics calls the Contend an "entry-level" shoe for new runners, which sounds about right. It's perfectly decent and well-made, but the plush, luxurious feeling in some higher-end Asics (like the Kahana) just isn't there. It seems like they only put the "Gel" stuff in the back half of the shoe; the front of your feet sort of feel like they're barefoot. Still, they're light, breathe well, and are comfortable enough for long-distance walking.

I bought mine in 2013 when they were a new model; 11 months later now, they're starting to fall apart -- a decent lifespan. They were born with a retail price of $60; I got them on a $50 sale, and can easily recommend them at the $40 clearance price that Amazon, Big 5, and Sports Authority all seem to be promoting now that the sequel (the Contend 2) has come out.

PS - Asics tend to run narrow. Consider buying this 4E size even if your feet aren't wide.

Metra 99-7506 Single DIN/Double DIN Installation Kit for 2006-2008 Mazda Miata MX-5 Vehicles (Black)
Metra 99-7506 Single DIN/Double DIN Installation Kit for 2006-2008 Mazda Miata MX-5 Vehicles (Black)
Price: $17.99
39 used & new from $15.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Inspect the contents carefully, February 14, 2014
Much like the first reviewer, I got a packet that was missing pieces -- in my case, the two side brackets that attach to the sides of the radio. Metra seems to frequently have issues with shoddy workmanship, missing parts, and incorrect item numbers on their website. Expect to be ignored if you call in for help.

So if you buy one of these kits, be sure to do the install before your return window closes.

Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion for Normal to Dry Skin, Fragrance Free, 16 Ounce (Packaging May Vary)
Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion for Normal to Dry Skin, Fragrance Free, 16 Ounce (Packaging May Vary)
Price: $6.97
38 used & new from $2.08

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Watch out for allergies, February 1, 2014
After a lifetime of using Vaseline, I spontaneously thought I'd give Lubriderm a try. Big mistake: within a week or two I developed a rash on every inch of my face and body -- redness, uncontrollable itching, etc. I've never had a physical allergic reaction to anything in my life (I'm 33), and it took three visits to a dermatologist, experimentation with three exotic prescription creams, and 4+ months of sleepless nights before I finally got things under control. Apparently I solved the problem too late, because here I am a year later with permanent scars and discolorations throughout my face and body. Needless to say, I am not a satisfied customer.

My reaction seems to be common. Just Google "Lubriderm rash" or "Lubriderm allergy" and check out the boatload of victims on the first link alone (the MedHelp message boards).

Your mileage may vary, but my advice is to try another brand first. Vaseline seems like a safe bet, and right now I'm having a good experience with Curel.

ZTE Valet Android Prepaid Phone (TracFone)
ZTE Valet Android Prepaid Phone (TracFone)
Offered by shopcelldeals
Price: $39.99
21 used & new from $19.88

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good enough if Wi-Fi doesn't matter, January 5, 2014
I was a TracFone customer for years, but feeling the need to drag myself into the whole smartphone thing, jumped ship on them in 2013. Funny timing: mere weeks after I switched, they spontaneously joined the fray with 4 Android phones that all hit the market around last October (all featuring low-end hardware and 3G, but also low prices). Still being a minimalist who places high priority on rock-bottom bills, I decided to jump back in.

I decided on the ZTE by way of elimination. From what I've read, the other 3 phones are all deal-breakingly bad:
-The LG Optimus Dynamic ($80) is an anachronism with an ancient version of Android (2.3 Gingerbread) and a small 3.2" screen. Worse, it only has ~150 MB of internal memory, so it can only fit like 4 apps before the phone's full.
-The Samsung Galaxy Centura ($130) has decent specs (Android Ice Cream Sandwich, 1 GHz processor, more memory) but everyone says it's prone to randomly crashing, freezing, and forgetting what time it is. Having recently owned a Samsung that did the same stuff, I believe it.
-The Huawei Glory ($100), which sucks because it's a Huawei, no further explanation needed, though there are plenty on Amazon.

On paper, this ZTE matches/beats the others on all counts: it has one of the freshest version of Android (4.1 Jelly Bean), a 1 GHz processor, 4 GB of internal storage, 3 MP camera with flash (and is the only one that lets you turn off the shutter sound), 3.5" screen, not too much bloatware, and a competitive price of $100. But it has a couple flaws of its own, just not the kind that show up on paper:
-The touch screen kind of sucks -- it's spontaneously sensitive, sometimes registering your button presses and sometimes ignoring you.
-The Wi-Fi is an abomination -- unless you're in the exact same room as your router, it probably won't work. My bedroom is one room away from where the router sits, yet this phone is blind to it 80% of the time. Every other Wi-Fi device used in this house can get reception at the end of the driveway and beyond. Since you pay for every megabyte of data, a flaw like this kind of defeats the point of going with TracFone in the first place.

In theory, TracFone's still the best deal in town for super-light users. Example: if every 3 months you buy one of their "120-minute" (actually 360) cards for $30 + a 2 GB pure data card for $50, then every month you'll be paying $27 for 120 minutes of talk time, 120 texts, and 787 MB of data -- not too stifling.

The good news is that the LG Optimus Dynamic 2 is supposedly right around the corner, which supposedly solves the problems of the first version (more memory, faster processor, bigger screen) and so has a chance of becoming TracFone's first good smartphone. Wait for it.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 6, 2014 5:07 PM PST

The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel (Revised Edition)
The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel (Revised Edition)
by Benjamin Graham
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.46
211 used & new from $8.76

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two books in one, and I prefer the second, January 5, 2014
The Intelligent Investor is basically two books in one: the original by Benjamin Graham, interspersed with a ton of commentary/reinterpretation by some CNN writer named Jason Zweig (written in 2003) that forms a story of nearly the same length. Most of the high-rated Amazon reviews have been praising the original material while dismissing the updates as annoying or distasteful, likening Zweig's contributions to that old Microsoft paperclip that springs up when you're trying to write a Word document.

I'm gonna go against the crowd here by proclaiming Zweig's stuff the main attraction. It's hard to explain why exactly, but I found Graham's writing to be a bit dense and uninvolving. And while his foundational advice may be timeless, it's also outdated at the detail level, having been written in 1949 and last updated in 1973. As a result, I found myself kind of skimming over his stuff and only half-absorbing it.

Zweig, on the other hand, is a talented storyteller. There's a flair in his writing and he's an easier personality to relate to. These qualities also come with no sacrifice, since I found his advice equally sensible and his examples just as meaty. The simple fact that it was written in this century also helps quite a bit, since aside from the business world changing quite a bit in the past half-century, it's nice when the discussion involves companies we can actually relate to. The difference is so pronounced that after the first 10 chapters (there are 20 in all), I just stopped reading the old stuff and went straight to the new. They cover the same material anyway.

I agree that Zweig's eternal footnotes can get annoying (they often take up half a page or spill over onto the next one), but other than that minor issue, I enjoyed The Intelligent Investor quite a bit.

JVC HAS650 Black Series High Quality Headphones
JVC HAS650 Black Series High Quality Headphones
Offered by Direct Distributor
Price: $34.95
17 used & new from $24.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to ask for more, December 26, 2013
It's hard to choose a pair of headphones going on looks, specs, or reviews. This pair taught me you can't go on brand, either. I recently owned a lower-end model in JVC's family, the "Flats", and found them a tad too true to their name, with flat, boring sound that takes all joy out of listening (it's probably a Japanese thing -- they seem to like things plain). But just a few more bucks buys these HA-S650s, JVC's top-of-the-line "on-ear" headphones that post better specs and a more vibrant personality: the trebles have more crispness, the bass has punch, and the presentation of sound is more pleasing all-around.

Sound quality is of course subjective, so FYI my personal bias is about halfway between that of an audiophile and a typical American kid: I like that "power" sound but don't want to sacrifice accuracy. The objective part is that these JVCs blow away those pathetic $200 Dr. Dre Beats headphones on both counts.

These headphones get the details right, too. Specs are impressive (8-26,000 Hz range, 112 dB sensitivity), thanks in part to bigger-than-average 36 mm drivers. They look good, and at 3.6 oz, they're light. They use a high-quality steel headband and the earpieces fold flat. They clamp around your ears with just the right amount of force (certain Sennheisers, Pioneers, and Yamahas suffer from excessive tightness, say the Amazon reviews). Finally, they have an MSRP of $70 -- pretty reasonable considering Pioneer/Yamaha/Onkyo/Denon/TDK think they can charge ~$150 for something similar -- and the actual Internet street price seems to be half that amount. Better headphones exist in this world, but not under $50.

When a product nails every category you can think of and then underprices the competition by a matter of multiples, you can't NOT give it five stars.

T-mobile Samsung Sidekick 4g
T-mobile Samsung Sidekick 4g
7 used & new from $59.89

2.0 out of 5 stars A one-trick pony, October 20, 2013
I bought this phone because I was set on having an QWERTY keyboarded Android smartphone, and it looked like the best choice on T-Mobile (which I was drawn to for having the cheapest plan in the cellular world: $30/month for 100 voice minutes + unlimited data). Even by today's standards, the specs sound decent (aside from having Android 2.2, aka Froyo) -- 4G, 1 GHz processor, 3 MP camera, 3.5" screen -- and every review gave accolades to the keyboard.

Well, the keyboard really is probably the best in the world -- firm, clicky, roomy, and a full 5 rows (though it could use directional keys) -- but aside from that and the pretty sharp camera, this phone sucks. First, the ergonomics are a throwback to the Sidekick's non-Android predecessor, and placing the 4 physical buttons in the corners ends up being kind of weird ergonomically, and with so many buttons throughout the phone, it's easy to accidentally press the wrong one at the wrong time. Battery life is mediocre: basically, if you use this smartphone as a smartphone, it'll be dead by dinnertime. But the real downer, noted by at least 10 other reviewers, is the phone's tendency to freeze/crash about 3 times a day. Whether surfing Firefox, opening an e-mail, loading Google Maps, or even switching from Portrait to Landscape mode, the phone will lock up, then vibrate intermittently in despair, and finally make you yank out the battery and boot it back up. It's constant, it's random, and it's a pain-in-the-ass dealbreaker. So yeah, I recommend buying something else.

Given the pace of smartphones, you should try to buy a fairly recent model; the Sidekick came out in April 2011. According to my research, only four other QWERTYs have come out on T-Mobile since then. Here they are, and the notes I took from reading reviews:
1. HTC MyTouch 4G Slide (July 2011, $200 originally) - 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, actually HSPA+ 3G, Gingerbread, 3.7" screen, 4 GB storage + an 8 GB MicroSD card, claims of having the "most advanced camera" (8 MP wide-angle autofocus dual LED with 2-stage button, fast 0.6 sec auto-focus, 1080p video, front camera), mushy keys, feels like a heavy brick, comes in black or khaki
2. LG MyTouch Q (Nov 2011, $80 budget phone) - 1 GHz, 3G, Gingerbread, 3.5" screen, 5.6 oz, 5 MP camera with flash and 720p video; criticized for sluggish CPU, crappy display, bloatware, slow camera, no camera button
3. Huawei MyTouch Q (August 2012, $50) - 1.4 GHz, 3G, Gingerbread, 4" screen, 6.5 oz, 5 MP camera with flash + 0.3 MP front camera, stiff clicky keys, Wired magazine called "a hardware bottom-feeder among tech enthusiasts"
4. Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G (September 2012, $150) - 1.5 GHz dual-core, 3G, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, 4" screen, 5.3 oz, 5 MP camera with flash, 720p video, 1.3 MP front camera (average performance, 1.2 sec shutter delay, no camera button), stiff keyboard

I'd probably go with #1 again if I had to, but my trial run with this phone also taught me that T-Mobile sucks anyway. At both home and work, I usually have a whopping 1 bar out of 4 (sometimes 0, sometimes 2 if I'm really lucky), and in normal conversations, the other person's voice cuts out with unacceptable frequency. Before choosing a carrier, check cellreception dotcom; T-Mobile and AT&T seem to score lowest in almost every city near where I live (the Bay Area), a result that happens to mirror the national findings of Consumer Reports.

So I've decided to jump ship on both the Sidekick and T-Mobile, instead paying the extra $5/month and going with the next-cheapest carrier, Virgin Mobile (300 voice minutes + unlimited Internet, though throttled after 2.5 GB), which is owned by Sprint and runs on their network. Over there, the only recent QWERTY smartphones are the LG Optimus Slider and Kyocera Rise (the latter still available in stores for the moment).

Hope this helped!

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