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Kevin Nicholls "jaded, aging hipster" RSS Feed (Milford, MI)
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Zippo Wood Grain Lighter, High Polish Brass
Zippo Wood Grain Lighter, High Polish Brass
Offered by Koopa Shop
Price: $17.66
29 used & new from $17.66

3.0 out of 5 stars It's passable, but disappointing for a Zippo., May 27, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is by no means my first Zippo, but I quit smoking cigarettes years ago and haven't really kept up on the quality and designs. I took up occasional pipe smoking, and remembered seeing pipe lighters years ago. So, I picked this up.

In terms of quality, I have to say it's not as nice as any off-the-shelf Zippo from as recently as five years ago. It has a "knockoff" feel, which is accentuated by the painted graphics. The opposite side is plain polished metal, which scratches if you look at it the wrong way. I own several Zippo lighters that have metal and copper emblems, and they weren't high-end, or anything. So, this was kind of disappointing all around.

As a pipe lighter, there's a circular cutout on the side that normally has vents, and a clip over the top to baffle the flame. The clip is easy to remove, if you're going to use this for cigarettes and cigars (I'd go with matches or butane on cigars, but to each their own). This Zippo doesn't travel with me in my pocket every day like my old ones used to, but if it did, I'd be concerned about that clip falling off and disappearing.

It's not a bad lighter by any means, but the lowest-end Zippo lighters have traditionally been brushed metal lighters. If I had found a pipe version of one on Amazon, I would have been happier than with this.


MoJack 47102 Myron Mixon Pitmaster Q3 24-Inch Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker
MoJack 47102 Myron Mixon Pitmaster Q3 24-Inch Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker
Price: $499.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It's not bad, so much as it's not good., May 23, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
For the sake of perspective here, I have a Weber Genesis, a Weber Performer, a Smokenator 1000 conversion kit for my Performer, and an electric smoker. That's just what's in my backyard now. I've built and used a lot of grills, and the MoJack Pitmaster is probably near the bottom of my list.

Out of the box, the lid had dents and scratches, despite being well-packaged, with no signs of abuse, and no parts in the vicinity to cause the damage. The manual was packaged inside the grill, which meant having to put the surrounding pieces all over the place without really knowing what sequence you'd need them in. The manual itself was about as basic as can be. An exploded parts diagram, the step-by-step to get it mostly put together, and that's about it.

Except for the axled wheels, every part felt cheap, like this had come from Target or Sears. Even the screws were soft, and low-quality. Several of the riveted bolts weren't fastened tightly, so I needed to use a wrench and pliers to keep it from spinning. For some reason, they include an Ikea-like stamped wrench, but you're going to need real tools if you want to build this properly. After dealing with holes that didn't line up well, bending some metal, and several "Why the heck did they make it this way?" questions, I had it assembled.

Well... mostly. There were two large steel pieces that seemed to be covered in sticky grease, and smelled rancid. The manual made no mention of where they went, outside of the exploded diagram. I ended up going to the Pitmaster web site and watched the videos to determine the correct placement. Even then, it didn't explain the godawful stench. I can only guess that it's there to help you season the grill, but since this was clearly stamped out at a Chinese factory where quality seems not to be a priority, it's probably melamine-laced waste grease, for all I know.

MoJack also declined to say anything about the (absent) water pan. Luckily, I had some Weber foil pans lying around, and was able to wedge one in to be useful, but I'm really, REALLY puzzled as to why they'd include the dopey galvanized pellet bucket and not a water pan. Speaking of which, the product image shows there's a clip for the bucket on the lower left side. Mine certainly didn't come with one, and I didn't notice it called out in the instructions. Then again, the instructions were wrong in some places (example: the handle on the lid has only two screw holes, not four, as the manual illustrates and instructs you to use).

Once it was together and some pellets were sourced, everything seemed to go pretty well. Keep in mind, pellets were not easy to find. Lowe's only had heating pellets, Home Depot doesn't sell them as in-store items, local big box stores had every grilling and smoking need, except for pellets. I found a local hardware store that was selling mesquite pellets for about $2/pound, so I picked up enough to do a test cook while I waited for the pellets I ordered from Amazon to show up. It went well, but it really got me thinking about my electric smoker in the garage.

Thinking only in the context of a smoker, I have a hard time coming up with reasons to get this over an electric smoker. The same "plug it in, set it and forget it" technique is shared between the two. As a grill, I suppose I get the allure of always cooking with hardwood, and the pellets are more convenient than lump charcoal. But as a grill, you're really not getting the same coverage you'd get in a traditional charcoal grill. The pellets burn in the center, and the heat is dissipated with one of the above-mentioned greasy steel pieces. You're never quite cooking over an open flame, and the left and right sides are major cool spots.

As a novelty at just over half price, I could see picking one of these up for the deck or patio. But for what MoJack is asking, the quality isn't there, the versatility isn't really there, and there's a lot more "show" than "go". I'd pass on this one, and wait for an end-of-season sale.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 25, 2015 6:21 AM PDT


AR Blue Clean AR383 1,900 PSI 1.5 GPM 14 Amp Electric Pressure Washer with Hose Reel
AR Blue Clean AR383 1,900 PSI 1.5 GPM 14 Amp Electric Pressure Washer with Hose Reel
Price: $153.51
27 used & new from $134.32

4.0 out of 5 stars Very good performance for an electric power washer, May 23, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I wasn't really expecting too much from this power washer, since my past experiences with electric models has either been with ones that were horribly underpowered, or ones the constantly tripped circuit breakers. This was a Deal of the Day, and the price was good enough for me to take a chance.

I have to say, I'm pretty happy. The overall build quality is decent for this price range -- about what you'd expect from a Black & Decker tool, for whatever that's worth to you. Getting it put together took less than five minutes, including the time it took to grab a phillips screwdriver. Everything sealed perfectly, and I was washing my siding in no time.

The included gun and wands are enough for most homeowners, but the detergent bottle was a bit of a let down. I would have really appreciated a way to use detergent with the wands, or something that holds more detergent. This bottle is pretty tiny (it might hold 8 ounces or so) and you have to get really close to what you're cleaning to use it. Luckily, the company makes some reasonably-priced accessories that I think will work better for using detergent.

For the price, it's nice to have around the house washing your car, patio, siding, and stuff like that. I wouldn't use it to start a business with, but I'd expect to get several years out of it for home use.


Netgear AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender Dual Band Gigabit (EX6150-100NAS)
Netgear AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender Dual Band Gigabit (EX6150-100NAS)
Price: $119.99
42 used & new from $89.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent range, and very easy to set up., May 19, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Admittedly, I have a bit of a soft spot in my heart for Netgear's wired products, though my experience with their higher-end wireless products has been hit or miss. I wasn't sure what to expect from this extender, but ultimately, I was impressed.

Setting the device up as an extender is pretty straightforward. If you were able to get your existing router set up, you're not going to run in to any trouble here, unless you're looking to branch out and run multiple networks (and even then, it's not terribly difficult to do). The extender worked quite well with my beloved Asus RT-68U AC1900 router and in a couple of minutes, I was pushing my network to my detached garage and beyond.

It got me thinking... what about using my phone as a hotspot? Sure enough, I was burning up unused blocks of data all over the place.

Similarly, as an AP, the range was really excellent. In saying that, though, I wouldn't advise buying this as an AP. You can get standalone AP's with decent range for quite a bit less. (In fact, this one is still overkill as an AP and at the time of this writing, is nearly 50% less, while still offering 802.11ac/1200 connectivity.)

If you're looking to blast a solid signal in problematic areas, this is a really simple set-it-and-forget-it solution. If you consider the target audience (not network engineers who have some CAT5, some old Aironet pieces, and a cantenna array... not that there's anything wrong with that) it's a solid buy.


SunLabz 1000mAh NiMH AAA Rechargeable Batteries - 8 pack
SunLabz 1000mAh NiMH AAA Rechargeable Batteries - 8 pack
Offered by SunLabz
Price: $15.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable quality for the money!, May 15, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've been using Eneloop and Amazon Basics AAA batteries for my kid's toys for some time now, but thought I'd give these a try.

I have to say, I'm really, really impressed. Just for the sake of completely anecdotal and unscientific example, we have a small LED lamp that uses three AAA's that we use as a night light, and usually, the Eneloop batteries make it through 2 - 3 nights before they need to be recharged. The Amazon Basics batteries usually don't make it through 2 nights. These batteries are pushing 4 nights!

I haven't run in to any fitment issues, or batteries with bad cells. I like these so much, I'm picking up another two sets.


Contigo Autospout Striker Kids Water Bottle, 20-Ounce, Tango Pink
Contigo Autospout Striker Kids Water Bottle, 20-Ounce, Tango Pink
Price: $11.99
3 used & new from $11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Another outstanding Contigo bottle!, May 12, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm a huge fan of Contigo's AutoSeal travel tumblers, and I've trusted the Contigo Trekker water bottle as a bedtime companion for my kid for years. With limited exception, Contigo typically makes great stuff.

The Striker bottle is no exception. The composition is every bit as good as the Trekker, but is built for outings. The flip-up mechanism is easy for kids who are developing their coordination to use, and when it's flipped down, it keeps every drop inside the bottle. And, the high-visibility design helps prevent accidentally leaving the bottle behind.

I especially like that it survives the dishwasher!

It's a great bottle that will almost certainly last for years.


Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Canister
Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Canister
Price: $299.99
4 used & new from $239.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So light. So Powerful. It'll make you sound like an informercial to your friends., May 7, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm not quite ready to retire my ShopVac, but I am beginning to wonder if my Dyson Animal is about ready to find a new home.

The Shark Rotator is light. Deceptively light. So light, it almost feels like the canister is going to tip, when you tug it around the house. This is my first experience with a Shark vacuum (I've previously owned Fantom, Oreck, Bissell, and Dyson) and out of the box, it just didn't seem quite heavy "enough". My expectations were pretty low.

I've got a shepherd mix and a pointer mix, and it's springtime. So, the combination of brown undercoat and fine white hairs are no match for all but the strongest of vacuums. I didn't believe for a moment that this light Shark was any match for what it was about to encounter. To my surprise (and delight), it was grabbing hair like no tomorrow. Things were looking very, very good.

The canister filled quickly, which I might take as "Eew, my floor was so gross", were it not for having other vacuums to compare. The container is rather small, so while it does an outstanding job of removing dirt and debris, you'll get a workout emptying it out so often.

To be totally honest, I was pretty geeked about the headlights. I haven't seen such nice ones since my trusty Fantom died, and I'd forgotten just how handy it is to have them. Really nice touch there.

The only real head-scratcher (besides the small canister) is the weird trailer-type apparatus. I get that you're supposed to be able to lift the canister out of the base and carry it around if you want to, but really, the amount of weight you save is pretty negligible. I'm not really sure who this is supposed to help, but I wouldn't use it as a basis for or against this vacuum.

All things considered, this is so powerful, if it was wet/dry, I could probably ditch the small ShopVac I keep around. It's that good.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2015 5:50 AM PDT


Linksys WRT 8-Port Gigabit Switch, Works with Linksys WRT1900AC Wi-Fi Router (SE4008-FFP)
Linksys WRT 8-Port Gigabit Switch, Works with Linksys WRT1900AC Wi-Fi Router (SE4008-FFP)
Price: $54.41

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OCD home network owners, your time has come., May 7, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you have a current-generation Linksys (ahem... Belkin) router to stack this on, and you're just looking to add ports, this switch is a decent buy. For any other purpose, it's really not worth your money. Here's why:

The throughput is fine... sort of. If you want video prioritized over other traffic, the built-in QoS seems to do the job. But let's say you want your work computer to have the highest priority, or that you want all devices to be balanced. Well, too bad. The QoS is baked-in, and you can't shut it off -- even if you want to. Granted, you're not getting Cisco Catalyst, but similarly-priced switches can give you at least binary on/off control over QoS.

While entry-level Netgear and TrendNet switches support jumbo frames and VLAN tagging, you won't find either here. Admittedly, you can make the argument that it's meant to be paired with a router that doesn't support those things... but that router *could* (at least, in theory) if firmware like DD-WRT or Tomato were to come to fruition. And even if that never happens, if you're buying on any requirement other than how it looks, why *wouldn't* you want a switch that does more?

The construction is pretty disappointing, even to Belkin standards. The plastic feels almost toy-like, there's a fair amount of wiggle in the ports. It's just very "blah".

At the time of this writing, you could actually save 20% (after rebate) and get yourself the ProSAFE GS108Ev3 8-Port Gigabit Plus Switch which gives you (again -- 20% less money):
*VLAN tagging
*Configurable QoS and rate limiting
*Support for jumbo frames
*Port mirroring
*All-metal construction
*Lifetime warranty

If they cost the same, this switch wouldn't be a smart buy. But for 20% less? Maybe if I had my switch and router on my desk as a showpiece. Otherwise, the choice is pretty simple.


Contigo Glacier Stainless Water Bottle, 20-Ounce, Monaco
Contigo Glacier Stainless Water Bottle, 20-Ounce, Monaco
Price: $16.99
3 used & new from $13.17

3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to Contigo's standards., May 6, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have a small collection of Contigo AutoSeal tumblers for my morning coffee that have been going strong for years now. I liked them so much, I picked up several Contigo Trekker water bottles for kids. So, I know the brand pretty well, and I've been happy with their products.

This one, though... I dunno. Right off the bat, it started leaking. I discovered if the cap isn't on just right, it won't seal properly. With the other Contigo bottles, you pretty much drop the top on, and start spinning. The lock on the button was way, way too tight. I was really surprised by the amount of pressure needed to move it from side to side. It's a nail-breaker, for sure.

On the other hand, the finish is beautiful. Not a single flaw can be seen in the metal or finish, and the cap (once it's open) is nicely tapered to prevent splashing. Even with the cap open, it kept my water cool for a really long time.

It's not an awful product by any means, but if you have your heart set on a water bottle that's insulated and made of steel, I'd get the Contigo Fit AutoSeal bottle instead. (Or if insulation isn't a dealbreaker, I'd consider something from Liberty BottleWorks.)


Sabrent 2.5-Inch SATA to USB 3.0 Tool-free External Hard Drive Enclosure [Optimized For SSD, Support UASP SATA III] Black (EC-UASP)
Sabrent 2.5-Inch SATA to USB 3.0 Tool-free External Hard Drive Enclosure [Optimized For SSD, Support UASP SATA III] Black (EC-UASP)
Offered by Store4PC
Price: $12.99
13 used & new from $11.51

3.0 out of 5 stars Okay for a permanent solution, but really flimsy., May 2, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It gets the job done with acceptable transfer times over USB 3.0. I kind of like that the connector is male-to-male for ease of use, but it'll annoy you if you're used to the mini connector.

My biggest complaint with this is how horrifyingly cheap the plastic is. I've never used an enclosure that felt this cheap. I'm worried about popping the retaining tabs every time I slide the top off.

If you want to build a cheap external enclosure that you're never going to open again, it's okay. But if you plan to use this for switching out drives often, you'll probably want something made better.


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