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NETGEAR 8-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch in Metal Case - Essentials Edition (GS308)
NETGEAR 8-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch in Metal Case - Essentials Edition (GS308)
Price: $34.99
2 used & new from $34.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A nice little no-frills swtich from Netgear, August 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'll admit it--I'm a sucker for metal housing on my switches. I mean, I realize there is no difference in performance between metal and plastic, and yet I like the solid feel that metal housing has. I suppose metal dissipates heat better and you could say that's a performance reason to like it, but honestly... I'm going for aesthetics here :)

So this is meant to be a no-frills, basic set-it-and-forget-it home switch (note the name--"Essentials Edition"). As such, it performs just as one would expect.

One thing home users will probably be interested in is power draw. Like so many other switches, this one has power saving features and under no load, I measured it to draw less than 1 watt. That makes it the same as the TP-LINK TL-SG1008D and TRENDnet TEG-S80g that I have measured in the past to be top performers for energy saving features of various switches:

Gigabit switches
** Netgear GS308: less than 1 watt / 8 ports = less than .125 watts / port **
TP-LINK TL-SG1008D 16 port: 6 watts / 16 ports = .375 watts / port
TP-LINK TL-SG1008D 8 port: less than 1 watt / 8 ports = less than .125 watts / port
TRENDnet TEG-S80g 8 port: less than 1 watt / 8 ports = less than .125 watts / port

non-power saving, 10/100 switches
Cisco Catalyst 2950: 23 watts / 50 (48 + 2) ports = .46 watts / port
Netgear F3605: 1 watt / 5 ports = .2 watts / port
EZ500S: 1.5 watt / 5 ports = .3 watts / port

really old 10/100, 4 port hub: 2 watts / 4 ports = .5 watts / port

Note that all power draws listed above are completely unladen. After plugging 6 devices in, I was measuring about 2 watts. My longest cable run was 35 feet and the shortest was 2 feet.

Another reviewer mentioned the switch's jumbo frame support. According to Netgear's support site (, this switch does NOT have Jumbo frame support because it is not included in the list of switches with that feature. Note that as of the time of this review (8/28/2014), that page was last updated on 06/10/2014 and so it may be outdated. HOWEVER, Amazon's UK site lists it as having 9,720 bytes ( Unfortunately, I only have 1 computer that will let me enable jumbo frames, so I don't have a way to test it to make sure one way or the other, but my inclination is to think that it does not simply because if it did, you'd think they would want to advertise that feature.

One gripe (and this is a little thing)--the activity lights are only green. There is no amber color for a lower link speed as is common.

At the time of this review, this switch was just under $35. My TRENDnet 8-Port Unmanaged Gigabit GREENnet Desktop Metal Housing Switch, TEG-S80g is also a power saving switch in metal housing, but only costs $30, advertises jumbo frame support, and has multicolored LEDs for different link speeds. My deduction of 1 star is that the TRENDnet does everything the Netgear does and more and it does it for less and therefore in my mind, the TRENDnet should be rated higher. I'd put this at 4.5 stars if I could.

If you are a Netgear fan or if you like to see the LED status lights right next to the physical cable, then this is a great choice for a basic gigabit, power saving switch. If you want to save a few bucks, if you want to make sure the switch supports jumbo frames, or if you prefer to have the cables plugged in one side and the LED indicators on the other side, then I'd recommend the TRENDnet instead. Either way you will get gigabit speeds and no hassle.

Now Designs Hemstitch Cocktail Napkins, White, Set of 6
Now Designs Hemstitch Cocktail Napkins, White, Set of 6
Price: $13.00
2 used & new from $12.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Soft and fancy, but a bit more work, August 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The first thing my wife noticed when we opened this package was that the napkins feel soft--pleasant to the skin. The next thing she pointed out was that there is a tag on each napkin (like the tag you would find on the back of a T-Shirt) that is somewhat large. Washing instructions are nice and everything, but she thought the elegant look was somewhat hindered by the obtrusive tag. That's OK--we can cut it off.

As other reviewers have noted, these napkins are going to look completely wrinkled after washing. Given that you are considering getting napkins that have the fancy border, such as these, you are probably going to want to iron them. I have never ironed a napkin in my life and I think unless we have company, neither my wife nor I will be doing it much if at all.

Also, since these are 100% cotton, they may stain easier than their polyester counterparts. I don't want to intentionally try and stain one, so this will have to be something that I'll update if/when it happens... Then again, as cocktail napkins, it may not come up for a while.

Let me go back to the pleasing tactile experience. I don't mind if they wrinkle and stain a bit--to me the softer cotton is totally worth it. I hate wiping my mouth at restaurants with that yucky polyester texture.

Final thought: these may require a bit more work, but I think come across as higher class. You know--if that matters to you.

USA Pans 9 x 5 x 2.75 Inch Loaf Pan, Aluminized Steel with Americoat
USA Pans 9 x 5 x 2.75 Inch Loaf Pan, Aluminized Steel with Americoat
Offered by Etailz
Price: $14.99
13 used & new from $14.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best. Ever., August 27, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My wife has declared that these are the best loaf pans she has ever used and I have to agree. We have tried all sorts of other loaf pans that are supposedly non-stick. We've done both silicone and Teflon-coated. We've greased, floured and done all those other things and yet things still always seem to stick. Not that these are 100% perfect, but they are the best at not sticking that we have ever used. Highly recommended.

Baby Stella Peach Doll
Baby Stella Peach Doll
Price: $26.95
35 used & new from $25.00

4.0 out of 5 stars My 1 year old will like this, August 27, 2014
This review is from: Baby Stella Peach Doll (Toy)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The doll is nice and soft--both in texture as well as being plush and squishy. There are beads to weight it in the bottom, which I assume is supposed to help it sit up, although I found making it sit was not an easy task--you have to really convince it to sit by folding it in half and squishing and moving the legs the right way, etc. Not something a little kid will be able to do. Since I think it was supposed to sit up (and all the pictures show it sitting up) I'm inclined to remove 1/4 star...

The magnetic pacifier is a cute idea and from what I can see, the magnets are attached well enough that I don't think we'll need to worry about them coming out (if a baby swallows magnets, you will be going to the hospital to have them surgically removed, so this is a big deal. Note that that is magnetS, plural--both the pacifier AND the mouth are magnetic--that is, it is not the case that one side is just ferrous metal and the other is the magnet. Time will tell if they start loosening up and if they do, I'll be sure to update the review. Something else of note--they managed to get the side in the face to be unobtrusive enough that you can't really feel it when you squish the face.

The hair is firmly attached and should hold up to plenty of baby-tugging.

The clothes are all removable and the baby even has a diaper (or underwear?) that you (i.e. your child) can pretend to change. It even has a cute little belly button (no other anatomic features).

My biggest problem with this doll is the fabric they used on the pacifier. I hate the way it feels. I think they should have just used plastic on the handle like a normal pacifier--it would have been much more pleasant from a tactile standpoint. Ick. -1/2 star (Don't let that deter you too much though--other opinions in the house say that I'm making a big deal out of nothing).

OXO Good Grips Twist & Pop Strawberry Huller
OXO Good Grips Twist & Pop Strawberry Huller
Price: $7.99
7 used & new from $7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great for large strawberries, August 23, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I think this is the fastest and easiest way to hull strawberries with minimal waste that I have ever tried, PROVIDED they are large strawberries. It is still fast and easy with small strawberries, but you get quite a bit of waste... OR you can squeeze the prongs down slightly and get much less waste at the expense of the time it takes to get each of the 4 prongs shrunk down slightly. Really, at that point, I think a sharp paring knife works better.

Room for improvement:
I think it would be fairly easy to make the collar at the bottom of the red plastic part (just before the metal prongs) have threads (i.e., make it a screw) that would move the collar down slightly to bring the prongs closer together for smaller strawberries. If they did that, I would give this 5 stars. As it is, it's really only good for large ones, so that's why I have taken 1 star off. If I could do 4.5, I'd probably go with that.

NOTE: while this was second nature easy for me and my daughter, for some reason, my wife had a hard time with it. She could cut the hulls just fine, but for some reason, they didn't pop out for her like they did for us. I have no idea why. However, I love it. If you ever go and get a large box of large strawberries, this is the only way to go.


Wahoo Fitness RPM Cadence Sensor with Bluetooth Smart and ANT Connectivity
Wahoo Fitness RPM Cadence Sensor with Bluetooth Smart and ANT Connectivity

5.0 out of 5 stars That was easy!, August 22, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was impressed at just how easy this thing was to set up and use. They provide several mounting options; I went with the one where you put it in a silicone holder and then zip-tie that to the crank. It took all of about 1 minute and was completely tool-free (other than scissors to cut the excess zip tie). Pairing with my phone and setting it up in the Wahoo fitness app took another 3 minutes or so (although now that I've figured out how to do it, I could do the next one in about 10 seconds).

Speaking of pairing with the phone and setting it up in the app, the description says:

Works with Multiple Smartphone Apps: Pair the RPM to the Wahoo App for iPhone and Android, or other iPhone Apps such as Strava, MapMyRide and Cyclemeter

Note that "Runtastic Road Bike" is NOT on the list. That's because it will not work with Runtastic. I don't blame the sensor for that, though--it appears to be that Runtastic wants you to use (as in buy) THEIR sensor. That's a shame because I like the Runtastic app better than Wahoo's app. If I was reviewing Runtasic here, I'd deduct a full 2 stars for the incompatibility, but since we're talking about the RPM sensor, I'm not deducting anything.

By the way, there are other mounting options. You can tape it directly to your crank (without the silicone case) or you can put it in a clip and attach to your shoe. I really wanted to do the shoe mount so that I didn't have to leave my sensor out on my bike when I'm at work (where it can get stolen), but I couldn't figure out an easy way to make it work without a Velcro strap on my shoe.

Since I don't know what my ACTUAL cadence was on my ride, I can't say how accurate the measurements were, but if I had to guess, I'd say they seem just about right.

It's small, easy to install and seems accurate. I don't see any reason not to recommend it.

Help Your Kids with Computer Coding
Help Your Kids with Computer Coding
by DK Publishing
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.38
48 used & new from $10.11

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A programer's perspective, August 22, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have read several positive reviews on this book and I think they accurately describe my take on this book. Let me add...

I write code for a living and in the past I've wanted to teach some of that to the kids, but I found it a bit difficult to know where to start. Heck, it can be difficult simply to come up with an example program to write that will be simple and illustrate a particular point. I thought this book did a great job starting at the beginning and laying a foundation to build on. There are lots of samples and examples of code including a game where you make a submarine move around and pop bubbles. (Disclaimer: I have not actually taken the code that was presented and written it out myself to make sure there are no bugs.)

Any beefs I had with this book were little nit-picky things. Like...
* the authors refer to parenthesis as "brackets" (and brackets as "square brackets"). I have never heard parentheses called brackets before and every time I read that I stopped and said, "Huh? That wouldn't work!" only to realize they didn't mean brackets, they meant parentheses. Just to set the record straight:
These are parentheses --> ( )
These are brackets (aka "square brackets", but that sounds redundant)--> [ ]
These are braces (aka "curly braces"; again redundant) --> { }
They might all look similar but mean MUCH DIFFERENT things in programming languages.
* There is a little blurb that said something like "Computer programmers use the term 'GIGO' which stands for 'Garbage In, Garbage Out'...". No we don't. Sure, we all know what it means, but nobody I've ever talked to has ever actually USED the term. It's a word that I have only ever heard used when teaching the concept that bad data yields bad results. However, in every day speech, we don't say GIGO, we say "bad data" or "bad input"; the bad output is implied and understood.
* the book mentions several popular languages, but C#, my language of choice, was not one of them (<frown>).

Other that stuff like that, the book is fabulous and gets my stamp of approval. Even if you don't know anything about programming, you can get this for your kids--I really don't think you will need to supplement anything from this book to help them understand what they are saying (or heck--you can read it yourself if you want to learn about it, too). The only prerequisite would be at least a spark of interest in the topic on the part of the reader (old or young).


C# Game Programming Cookbook for Unity 3D
C# Game Programming Cookbook for Unity 3D
by Jeff W. Murray
Edition: Paperback
Price: $47.40
23 used & new from $42.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Learning by example, August 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The target audience of this book appears to be someone who is familiar with C# and has also done a small amount of dabbling in Unity... and by dabbling I mean least downloaded and installed the free version of Unity, watched all the beginner's tutorials, fired up the UI and played around with it for a few minutes to get an idea of how things work. As someone who hadn't even heard of Unity before seeing this book, I would have appreciated just a bit more hand-holding getting things configured and set up, but that is outside the scope of this book.

The format of the book is, in general, Murray shares a large code block and then goes back and explains what each section is doing. Essentially, it is a book full of code that is very heavily commented. I mean, there's more than *just* that, but that's the bulk of it.

At the time of this review, you cannot "look inside the book" like you can with most Amazon offerings, however you CAN view the table of contents if you go to the crcpress web site and search for this book's title. I'm not sure if Amazon will let me put the URL in or not, but if they do it is:

Since you can't really see much about any of the chapters, allow me to add that chapter 1 (Making Games the Modular Way) is an 8 page chapter which quickly goes over the benefits of and basic ideas behind modular programing; something anyone who is already familiar with C# (or any object oriented language) should already be very familiar with. It covers basic ideas like static variables, the singleton pattern, inheritance, and the use of what he refers to as "Manager and Controller Scripts" which are basically root objects that tie all the other objects together. The chapter is short enough that if you don't already know most of it, it really isn't going to help you other than to teach you terms you should look up and learn about before proceeding.

As a cookbook style programming book, I don't see anything to fault the book on (that may change as I continue to work my way through it and if it does, I'll come back and edit my review). Note that it IS a cookbook which means that you get lots of very specific solutions to specific problems, however once you learn how to deal with that scenario, you can branch out and try other similar solutions. In other words, it is in many ways a learn-to-program-by-example reference which I think is nice, but may not be for everyone.

Chummie Elite Bedwetting Alarm with 5 Tones, Vibration and One Drop Detection Technology, Green
Chummie Elite Bedwetting Alarm with 5 Tones, Vibration and One Drop Detection Technology, Green
Offered by Theos Medical Systems
Price: $79.99
2 used & new from $79.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent moisture sensor. Your mileage may vary., August 19, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There's a note on this product that says:

The Chummie takes approximately 2 months to stop bedwetting in a child. Initial results will be seen in a few weeks. Please consider this when writing a review.

As such, I intend to talk about the product itself rather than how effective it is at its job. I've read several accounts that say this sort of treatment is very effective for most children, but that people are all individuals and your mileage may vary.

This product comes in 2 parts--the moisture sensor and the alarm. The alarm (the part you see pictured) is quite small--maybe 2 inches square (that's an estimate--I don't have a measuring tape with me). Suffice it to say that I was pleasantly surprised that it was smaller than I had thought it would be by looking at the pictures. The other part is a silicone strip with a wire that comes out of it and plugs into the alarm with a headphones-style plug. The silicone strip is... slightly smaller than the alarm unit--let's say just under 1 inch by 2 inches. It is soft and flexible. You are supposed to take this and tape it to the outside of the underwear right next to "the source". You then plug the strip into the alarm and you wear the alarm on your shirt or wherever is comfortable. When the strip detects moisture, it sends a signal to the alarm, which beeps and vibrates. To stop the alarm, you press the button and unplug the headphone jack. The silicone part is waterproof, so you can then easily wash it.

* They claim "1 drop detection". That was a bit optimistic in my tests. I took a thin dishcloth and put it over the sensor and started dripping water on it to see how sensitive it was. In my tests, it required on average about 8 drops before the alarm went off. I suppose you could call those 8 drops 1 GIANT drop, but I think "1 drop detection" is overstating it just a bit. HOWEVER, 8 drops isn't bad--the cloth only had a small spot that was somewhat wet before the alarm sounded. I actually think 1 drop would be too sensitive--let's say it's a hot night and your child sweats a little bit. You really wouldn't want the alarm to go off then, now would you? I think the amount of moisture it senses is perfect.
* Once the alarm sounds, you are supposed to unplug the sensor from the alarm and hit the button to make it stop beeping and/or vibrating. Perhaps I'm doing something wrong, but I found that after unplugging and hitting the button, the alarm/vibration continued for several seconds. On the one hand, I found this terribly annoying, but on the other hand, I guess the whole point is to really wake the child up so that (s)he associates the feeling of a full bladder to to waking up. I think I'll compromise by removing only 1/2 of a star.
* As is often the case, the instructions were heavy on the pictures and a bit light on words in a few areas. I like pictures but let's please put captions under each one so I know what it is you are trying to say. I find that many instruction manuals have a picture or two that just confuse me and then you have to go digging around trying to figure out what that picture means. This isn't unique to Chummie, but rather a general trend. HOWEVER, the device is so simple to use, you almost don't need instructions in the first place, so we'll let this one slide by with only a 1/4 star deduction.

* I was impressed by the fact that the unit comes with tape that you can use to tape the unit to the underwear. It also comes with a chart to help track the child's process and motivate him/her. You can download and print out more of these charts from their website, as needed. They even include batteries. These nice little bonuses made me smile. I'll give them a bonus 1/3 star.
* The fastest, most accurate and most effective way to respond to any sort of leak would be to have the sensor right by the source, which is what we are doing here. However, if your child is an occasional bed wetter, it seems unlikely that he/she is going to be willing to wear this device nightly. In this regard, it seems like a much larger sensor that you keep under the sheet with an alarm they don't have to wear would be a better choice. But, as I said, that would be less effective since the sheets would have to become wet before the alarm went off, not to mention that I'm sure that the larger sensor would cost significantly more. Just a thought...

I think this unit would be very effective for the frequent bed-wetter and if you have one of those, I would recommend it. I'm dubious about the overall effectiveness that this would have for the occasional bed-wetter simply due to the fact that the hassle of wearing it would probably win out over the possible reward of catching an accident (i.e. I suspect the night they actually need it, they won't actually be wearing it).

Fellowes I-Spire Series Pencil & Phone Station, White/Gray (9381301)
Fellowes I-Spire Series Pencil & Phone Station, White/Gray (9381301)
Price: $22.11

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Handy for the night table, August 11, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My wife has been using this on her night table. It holds the phone and her Chapstick--2 things that MUST always be by her in the night, as well as a pen and other items that used to lay around loose and had a tenancy to roll around and fall between the night stand and the wall. Her feedback is that it would be a bit better if it had a weighted base--as is, it tends to slip and/or tip a little bit if she touches the phone's screen while in the base. She says it is not a big deal, but there is a little room for improvement there. Overall, though, thinks it's a great addition and will happily continue to use it.

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