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Tom North "TomN" RSS Feed (Bay Area, CA)

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12 Victor Easy Set Rat Traps Victor Rat Snap Trap Quick Trapping of Rats M326
12 Victor Easy Set Rat Traps Victor Rat Snap Trap Quick Trapping of Rats M326
Offered by Pest Control Pros
Price: $36.95
4 used & new from $34.99

1.0 out of 5 stars I have been a loyal customer of Victor for half ..., October 28, 2014
I have been a loyal customer of Victor for half a century. I purchased 5 of these traps to use around the property. 3 of the 5 are absolutely not settable, totally unstable. The cross arm that holds the spring loaded kill bar is defective by a tiny amount, just enough to keep it from holding the kill bar. Just as you think you have succeeded it slams with lots of force nailing whatever is in the way. The spring end also protrudes from the side just enough to cut your thumb.

The fix is a simple bending the tip of the cross arm out and up a small amount (maybe 5/100 ths inch). Given the hundreds of accidents I am surprised they haven't been recalled. Be careful and let Victor know many are unusable and dangerous.


Velbon PHD-52Q Magnesium 4-Way Panhead
Velbon PHD-52Q Magnesium 4-Way Panhead
Offered by Gabrian's
Price: Click here to see our price
9 used & new from $93.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Lite, compact, smooth, and strong, January 8, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is the perfect match for my Velbon carbon tripod. I've been using a ball head and for the modest extra weight this is SO much better. The longer handle is 5" and the short one is 3" (stubbier than shown in the photo). Tripod top to camera plate is 4 3/4". I put a full frame with 300mm lens on it no problem. Simple review for a simple product.


WD My Passport Ultra 1TB Portable External USB 3.0 Hard Drive with Auto Backup - Titanium
WD My Passport Ultra 1TB Portable External USB 3.0 Hard Drive with Auto Backup - Titanium
Price: $69.00
52 used & new from $50.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No connection and no web driver that will install on Mac Lion, January 8, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Not much to say for a drive that simply is not recognized by my Macbook Pro Mountain Lion machine. I bought this one because my 2 year old WD slim drive is now a bit flaky. I have handled the cables with care, tried switching them, and decided it is time to try a different brand. Maybe just the luck of the draw but a little more support might make quite a difference as well.


No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Modestly sculptured, not tapered, slight ridge under thighs, January 6, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The memory foam is heavy, quite nice but a bit warm after time. The thigh recesses create a modest "hump" in the middle. For most anatomies this may add to comfort but for me I would much prefer not to have the space between my thighs crowded :-) The main reason for 3 stars is the front edge of the cushion is slightly stiffer and has a seam inside. That combination leaves a ridge mid thigh and was not comfortable for me. If I keep it I will cut away that inner seam and trim the foam.


Olympus Stylus 1 12 MP Digital Camera with 10.7X f2.8 Zoom Lens
Olympus Stylus 1 12 MP Digital Camera with 10.7X f2.8 Zoom Lens
Price: $699.00
20 used & new from $529.00

86 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong optics, responsive, modest size considering capabilities, December 18, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This will need to be a multi-part review but I wanted to post my first resolution test results and a few impressions before Christmas buyers ( at least those like me :-). I was delighted that under full daylight conditions the Stylus 1 compared favorably to my full frame Nikon at the extreme zoom range (300mm equiv.). At mid range it was close to my Panasonic GH2 and my Sony RX100 (100mm equiv.) but slightly less. And at wide angle (28mm equiv.) it was slightly better than all but the Nikon. If the subject is strong and the shooting conditions good I doubt any of my friends would notice a difference between any of these cameras.

Another favorite use for me is macro photography, orchids to insects. I tested the Nikon Coolpix P7800 and was very disappointed in it's focus speed and it's macro capability. Low light focus was not good but the real disappointment for me was that it only does macro at full wide angle (same for the Sony RX100). And while the Coolpix macro focus kept hunting the Stylus was quick and solid. Macro for the Stylus is a 1" subject fills the frame horizontally. Another important feature for me is good close focusing at modest zooms and here the Stylus was very good (a 1.5" subject filling the frame at a better zoom/working distance). (Many will note that these are advantages of a smaller sensor.)

The Stylus feels substantial, not quite as rock solid as the amazing little Sony RX100, but much more solid than the larger super zooms I have used. It has a bit of a retro look and feel that I enjoy, more angular, the viewfinder protruding toward the back. The EVF is wonderful for such a small camera. Focus / shooting speed are very good, outdoor color natural for my few shots so far, lots of control and a wonderful manual focus system (really a treat). My impression to date is that this is by far the best small / belt-case-size camera for my particular needs. The Sony RX has great optics and low light capability but in the rain forest I need the extra zoom range and better macro working distance. The micro four thirds cameras are exciting but not quite equal to my full frame and too big for the belt (with longer lenses). The Stylus 1 is impressive where I need it.

Update:
Two annoying issues.
First, you can access many settings using the touch screen but in some lighting situations the shadow of your hand shuts off the screen (thinking you have your eye up to the viewfinder). The place to change this is located in the Utility menu, OK, but better would be to assign it to a function button (not possible).
Second, the camera ships with the 2x digital extender assigned to the fn1 button. That makes it very easy change and then think you just haven't pulled back to wide angle somehow. I assigned this button to force center focus, nice to be able to do this quickly.

A shot a sequence of comparison photos to post but it seems Amazon is blocking that again. Jerks. At 40mm (equiv.) and f2.8 or f4.0 the crispness of the Stylus was amazingly close to equaling the Nikon D600 (tripod). It drops off a touch at f5.6 and f8.0 shows some softness. Disabling image stabilization on a tripod seems important.

Update2:
I should have noted how quickly you can access many settings by simply clicking the center "OK" button and then selecting one of the 22 icons for further adjustment (ISO, IS, ND filter, RAW, vivid,focus, flash, WB, Face, and so on). Fast and efficient but you need to be a little bit quick before the display returns to shooting.
Cases: First I tried the Click Elite, too small. Next was the Lowepro Dashpoint 20, still too small. Finally the Lowepro Apex 60, snug fit but a some practice and a little lift on the back lip of the case and in it goes.
See posted cushion 5x7 photos cut from 20" x 30" blowups. It took some effort to match the Nikon's color and sharpness and conditions were perfect for the smaller sensor but amazingly hard to tell the final results apart. Indoor oil painting copies for a publication for a small reproduction were acceptable but the larger format and a perfect 50mm f1.4 showed its advantages.
Modifying the uploaded Amazon photo captions seems to have deleted them. The two cushion photos are 5x7s cut from the middle of 20x30" prints taken outdoors in perfect lighting. The first one is taken by the Olympus, tripod, IS off, ISO 100, 1/800 @f4.0, auto WB, 9mm (42mm equiv.), quite a bit of photoshop color and sharpness work but great results. The second is labeled "Nikon" and taken by Nikon D600 24-85mm at 40mm, ISO 100, IS off, 1/400 at f8.0 no photoshop required.
The third is a nice working distance shot of a pineapple.
Indoor trampoline photos taken without flash at ISO 1600 are generally correctly exposed and focused. Noise (shadows)and grain are visible in an 8x10 but acceptable (much like 35mm tri-x film). Of course this is large sensor territory but a modest print of a great subject and not many would care.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 26, 2013 4:36 PM PST


Sirui P-324X 10 Kg Load Capacity Carbon Fiber Photo/Video Monopod
Sirui P-324X 10 Kg Load Capacity Carbon Fiber Photo/Video Monopod
Offered by PhotoCraft
Price: $219.95

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast, Strong, but heavier than expected, October 13, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The Sirui is a beautifully constructed piece of equipment. The specifications give a shipping weight of 4.8 pounds but that includes the box and a very substantial case. My little Manfrotto 676B monopod weighs .79#, my Velbon EC540 (carbon) tripod weighs 2.71#, and on my scale this Sirui weighs in at 2.86#. Much of that weight is in the 3 steel feet; that's great when using it but it is long (30.5") and heavy to carry. I am unclear why you invest in such beautiful and light weight carbon columns and then use a heavy base.

Mounting a Nikon D600 with a 70-300mm lens and slow shutter speed gave impressive results, on this day equal to the tripod (VR off for both!). It is much faster to set up than the tripod and quicker to adjust as well. I was pleased that with the base tightened it would free stand with the camera (uses an Allen head lock screw and then turn the large ring on the tilt ball in the base). Hands free support was good as long as the unit was close to vertical, easy to do. The manfrotto monopod seemed hardly worth using in comparison.

For video I found it necessary to loosen the base ball slightly. It rotates perfectly and tilts quite well. It is quiet, fast to adjust and move, and has a compact footprint; probably what most will use it for. I have not put my fluid head on it and probably prefer to keep it simple.


Martin Prestige Aluminum XL Artist Easel
Martin Prestige Aluminum XL Artist Easel
Price: $53.80
6 used & new from $53.80

5.0 out of 5 stars Exceeds expectations for a cheap easel, June 28, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have now had the opportunity to see a couple of the cheaper easels in the store and feel this one is significantly better built. The leg clamps, center clamp, and canvas tray supports are all non-adjustable plastic rockers. They worked well and I will down grade my review if they fail in the future. It is, as you can see, quite simple and reasonably sturdy and stable. Not much more to say.


Gurin DHMD-210 Electric Compact Dehumidifier
Gurin DHMD-210 Electric Compact Dehumidifier
Price: $44.35
17 used & new from $37.70

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In my large buffet it drops the humidity 20%, June 10, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
We are in a humid climate and I am using this to protect my camera stored in our large 5 door buffet. According to my meter this has only dropped the humidity 20% in this small but unsealed space. That is enough to be protective but given the small space I would have expected better results.


WordPress: The Geekified Guide
WordPress: The Geekified Guide

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well written intro plus a bit more, May 18, 2013
Please excuse this short review but it seems important to have at least one review for this very well written introduction to WordPress. It is the most clearly written of the intro books I have read but it is quite short. In that space it manages to cover the basics of creating a WordPress site in an easy fast read format. It also throws in a few important more advanced considerations including a peak at code modifications and the benefits of a manual install verses using one of the auto install tools (security). I would normally be unforgiving of the lack of an index but since it is a Kindle only book one can easily search instead. If you want to go beyond a basic site you will want to either rely on the web for your specific needs or move on to a more comprehensive book.


Bluecell 20 Pcs CR2032 Lithium Button Cell Battery 3V for Watch Toy Calculator
Bluecell 20 Pcs CR2032 Lithium Button Cell Battery 3V for Watch Toy Calculator

4.0 out of 5 stars Worked well for us no dead cells, February 18, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Not much to say except some have suggested that off brand cells often are duds. I have used 6 cells so far and all have been good. 4 stars because I didn't do anything to test capacity and so can't claim they are as good as the big brands.


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