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Gadgester "No Time, No Money" RSS Feed (Mother Earth)
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Sony 2.5-Inch 1.5TB External Hard Disk Drive, Black (HDE1H/B)
Sony 2.5-Inch 1.5TB External Hard Disk Drive, Black (HDE1H/B)
2 used & new from $229.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great for Mac and PC, I use 2 for offline backup, June 27, 2014
This is a great portable drive for both the Mac and the PC. I use 2 of these with my MacBook Pro but have also used one of them with my Windows PCs before I switched to the Mac. It has USB 3 super speed, which means it transfers files fast, and comes with a PC utility that come further boost the transfer speed, even over USB 2. One should be aware that, since this is purely powered by the USB 3 port, the speed depends on both the actual supplied power of your computer's USB port and also the quality of the USB driver. Here's where Macs have a distinct advantage over PCs, because the Mac's USB ports use the best components and also the Mac OS X driver seems better than most USB drivers on PCs (I'm saying this from real-world experience).

It's nice that this comes formatted in FAT32 so it plays well with Macs, PCs and even PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.

I use 2 of these to make offline backups of my Mac's internal drive and also of my Synology DiskStation NAS files (via Mac and gigabit Ethernet). I always store one of these 2 in my bank's safe deposit box for off-site storage, and I use the other one for Time Machine backup as well as DiskStation backup. I highly recommend people who have tons of digital photos and homemade videos to consider a safe deposit box. A friend of mine had a fire and all his computers were burned and he lost all his digital files from the last 20 years. After that, I began to get paranoid. Do not use cloud backup because it's not secure and hackers and the people that run the cloud can see your files.


JBL Voyager Portable Bluetooth Speaker (White)
JBL Voyager Portable Bluetooth Speaker (White)
Price: $249.95
10 used & new from $199.92

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent dual-use compact speaker system, June 27, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Overall, this is an awesome compact speaker system that can be used in two ways: at home or on the go.

There're actually two pieces to this system: a Discman-like portable unit that has a built-in LiIon battery (tiny instructions sheet says battery life is 5 hours, my actual on-and-off use came to about 3.5-4 hours per charge), and a flood light-like docking station with built-in subwoofer. The subwoofer has very good sound quality for its size, and is rated at 15W according to the specs. The portable unit is dual-channel, hence the whole system is 2.1. Each channel on the portable speaker is rated at 7W, again according to official specs.

On its own, the portable speaker gives good-quality sound, but nothing to write home about. Paired with the excellent subwoofer, however, the whole system comes to life. I've played all genres of music from jazz to rock to metal to pop to, my favorite, classical, and everything comes across at its best. I played the music from my iPad mini and also from my Sony Walkman MP3 (Android), and I played stored files as well as streamed files from Amazon's cloud player. I'm very impressed with the sound quality.

I connect to the Voyager via Bluetooth. There's also a USB port so you can, for instance, hook up your iPhone or iPad via the old connector or the new Lightning cable. There's also a headphone output port for all other needs. A mini-USB cable is included.

As you can see from the product pictures, this system is quite stylish. The docking station/subwoofer is actually heavy for its size. It must be powered by AC power, and a brick-style adapter and a separate cable are included, of course. Here I wish JBL (or Harmon) had included an Apple-esque one-piece small AC adapter. The brick adapter is quite heavy, and gets in the way at times. Despite this minor gripe, I love this system. I can take the portable speaker on the go, but can also enjoy awesome sound in my bedroom when I'm at home. The 29W (30W at official specs) total output is sufficient for a typical bedroom.


Wilson Jones Ultra Duty Round Ring View Binder with Extra Durable Hinge, 2-Inch, White (W87908PP3)
Wilson Jones Ultra Duty Round Ring View Binder with Extra Durable Hinge, 2-Inch, White (W87908PP3)
Price: $10.79
3 used & new from $10.79

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice ring binder, May 15, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a no-frills round-ring binder for office and school use. The construction is solid, and the ring trigger is the one-touch type where you can press it with one finger and the rings open up for you. This is a 2-inch thick binder, good for over 500 pages of regular printer paper. The binder feels solid, actually a bit on the hefty side compared to my Office Max store-brand 2-inch binders. It should be perfect for archiving purposes. Probably a bit of an overkill for school, but you can get thinner Wilson Jones binders for smaller needs.


iWork: The Missing Manual
iWork: The Missing Manual
by Josh Clark
Edition: Paperback
Price: $26.27
61 used & new from $22.44

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Why do they make this so confusing to read?, May 15, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The book makes easy tasks seem involved. Seriously, does it take several pages just to tell the reader how to start a new file? Instead of presenting the materials in a well-organized and easy-to-digest manner, the book spends an incredible amount of ink and pages on all the mundane topics, things that are just incredibly boring to read. It would have been better to (1) give clearer overviews of each app and its main features, and (2) compare them, upfront, with Microsoft Office. After all, many of us use Office, too.

I recommend you simply play around with iWork. You don't need a manual, from Apple or otherwise, to start using it. If you come from Office, the menu takes a little getting used to but it's easy. The Help file is useful unlike in Office (for the most part). If you want a good reference, try one of those visual guide books where they print screenshots in color on nicer paper.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 18, 2014 10:01 AM PDT


Killzone Mercenary
Killzone Mercenary
Offered by bmogreena
Price: $33.95
57 used & new from $25.33

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Painful load times, choppy framerate, May 2, 2014
This review is from: Killzone Mercenary (Video Game)
I have not been able to enjoy this game. I bought the Vita card version. The load times are just unbearable, especially as I share my Vita so every time when I came back to play I obviously had reload the game and it just took way too long. A mobile game made in 2013 should not behave like this.

and I also had frame rate problems all the time. I hated this game.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 16, 2014 4:02 PM PDT


Getting Started in Advanced Options
Getting Started in Advanced Options
by Michael C. Thomsett
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.27
49 used & new from $16.60

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Comic-style graphics really distracting, plus too many sidebars, April 24, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The advanced option trading techniques included in this book include spread strategies, hedging positions, synthetic positions, and options on futures and market indices. Unlike a traditional finance book, it has a lot of comic-style illustrations, but these are really distracting, not to mention VERY poorly drawn. So bad to the point as to make it hard for anyone to take this book seriously. A lot of materials are placed on sidebars and side boxes, which make them difficult to read and to place in the context. Why didn't they just produce a traditional book on such a serious topic? (Serious because you can lose a lot of money in the options market!)

The text itself is not that bad. I learned a few things especially concerning synthetic strategies, something I've been pondering. One problem with the content, though, is the author comes across as really de-emphasizing the risks associated with these strategies. Sometimes he really sounds to me he's saying there's very little risk in some of them, which we know cannot be true, even with covered call writing. (This book is published in Singapore -- may tell you something about the quality of this volume.) There's also very little credible info on tax consequences. (New legislation in the U.S. has made taxes on options very, very complicated.) They should really take out the ugly comics and instead expand on the text and give us more examples. The book really could have been so much more, in content and in value.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 4, 2014 3:54 PM PDT


AT&T Unite Pro 4G LTE Mobile WiFi Hotspot (AT&T)
AT&T Unite Pro 4G LTE Mobile WiFi Hotspot (AT&T)
Price: $199.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice hardware mobile hotspot, but AT&T's speeds are not so good, April 24, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This "United Pro" LTE hotspot sold by AT&T (post-paid only; I received a review unit with 1GB of data but will have to convert to a post-paid account with credit checks upon expiration) is a carrier-locked version of Netgear's AirCard 781S Mobile Broadband Hotspot (what a mouthful!). Inside is a recent Qualcomm chipset that supports all the LTE bands as well as dual-band WiFi over 5GHz 802.11n ("2x2 MIMO"). This latter feature can be useful when you have devices like the latest iPad air, iPad mini, iPhones, Macs, and a few PC laptops from the likes of Lenovo and Toshiba and HP, because it creates a fast LAN among your devices. However, AT&T LTE is not really fast enough to take advantage of this feature, because a single 802.11g/n band is enough for LTE's speed.

Up to 15 WiFi clients are supported at a time. You can allocate the 15 clients among primary and guest connections. A primary connection requires the password (displayed on the 2-inch-or so touchscreen), whereas a guest account does not require the password. I'd recommend you turn off the guest feature (but allocating 0 to it), because anyone in your vicinity can use your precious bandwidth without needing the hotspot's password.

The United Pro / 781S weighs around 6 oz., but the bulk of the weight comes from the LiIon battery, which is user-replaceable. (Indeed, you have to install it yourself upon unpacking.) Mine came with 50% pre-charged. The battery can actually be used to charge your cell phone if needed, but it's not clear at what amp. The battery itself is marked 4020mAh, and the charge-your-phone feature shuts down when battery life goes down to 10%. A male-female USB adapter is included for this purpose. Unfortunately, it uses the same micro-USB port as the charging function for the device, so you cannot recharge this device and use it to charge your phone at the same time. Fair enough, though. Charging your phone requires you to select the function from the menu.

The touchscreen is okay, but some of the icons are really small. Confusingly, a WiFi icon from the home screen is what you need to access WiFi-related settings, but other settings are accessed from the separate settings icon. The home screen shows your mifi's name, password (can be hidden), data usage for the month (but this does not seem to get updated in a timely fashion). Next to the touchscreen you have two capacitive buttons, home and back. At the bottom of the device are two external antenna ports, a thoughtful addition.

It's a small, if a little too thick, devices. My Nokia Lumia has the same LTE tethering feature (which I don't use) yet is paper-thin. Yes, this unit has a replaceable battery, but the whole device does feel a little too bulky in today's super-thin-device world. Something Netgear should address in the next iteration. (Without the battery, the rest of the device is ridiculously lightweight.)

However, AT&T's LTE network as well as data pricing are the main problems. The network has good coverage but it's been my experience over the last 3 years with them that LTE often does not materialize even in the middle of a covered zone, and often drops to 4G. (Speaking of which, this device works with both.) Even with full-strength LTE reception, data speed can be uneven. Sometimes it's great, in the 20Mbps area, but most of the time it's down to 3-7, barely enough for streaming SD video.

But it's the pricing that kills you, unless your company picks up the tab. The reviewer sheet says there're just two data plans for the United Pro: $20 per month lets you share in group data (I don't know what that means), otherwise it's $50 per month for 5 GB (send and receive, of course). I believe beyond that you'll have to pay $10 per 1GB, which is the case with my individual phone account. That's really expensive for most consumers. Considering median income in the U.S. has declined since 2008 even before adding inflation, this pricing makes it not so affordable for most people. But then, maybe it's not meant for everyone to afford, otherwise it would sure choke up AT&T's network... As someone who pays for his own mobile data, I sure wish there had been an affordable plan, or maybe something like AT&T's competitor that offers throttled speeds after you hit your monthly allowance.

Overall, United Pro is a decent device for those on-the-go with mobile data needs and who don't necessarily want to use their phones for tethering (e.g., battery concerns). The touchscreen makes the device a breeze to operate, if you can overlook the small icons. The "Battery Boost" feature whereby you can use this to recharge your phone for 30, 60 or 90 minutes is quite useful, assuming you leave *this* charged with plenty of battery juice, of course. If you can live with AT&T's network quality (which, IMHO, is still way better than T-Mo's and Sprint's, but I don't know about VZW's), this gives you mobile data at decent speeds.


Able Life Auto Assist Grab Bar
Able Life Auto Assist Grab Bar
Price: $26.13
2 used & new from $24.09

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great idea for older people, but no built-in flashlight feature, April 24, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's just amazing how people come up with some simple yet great ideas. As I grow older I find myself increasingly laboring to get in and out of my CUV but especially when it comes to small cars, like rentals or friends' Fit or Mirage or even Prius.

This is a great solution for helping one get out of a car. You just insert the metal short handle into the door latch on your car, then push on the big handle to help yourself up and out. Then you can take the grab bar out and leave it in your car or take it with you. It supports up to 500 pounds of downward force, or up to 300 pounds in a person's weight. It's really easy to use.

However, unlike what Amazon's description (as of today) says, this does not have a built-in flashlight. It does function as an ice scraper for your windshield and has a spare key compartment, but only for old-style non-electronic keys, since it's small and shallow.

The product not only comes from a simple yet useful idea but is manufactured in high quality. I've used several times and found it excellent for its purpose.


Belkin LEGO Case / Shield for iPad mini (Yellow)
Belkin LEGO Case / Shield for iPad mini (Yellow)
Price: $37.82
3 used & new from $30.99

2.0 out of 5 stars A colorful case that's hard on the hand, April 23, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I didn't realize that the back of this iPad mini case for the Retina iPad mini was actually a Lego base board until I received the product. It was easy to install, but not too easy to remove once installed, so it's no good if you're like me and plan on removing your iPad mini often, for gaming, video shooting, etc.

What I really don't like is the Lego base on the back cover really hurts my fingers when I hold my iPad mini in this case, because the raised little columns really press into your skin. I've been using this for over 3 weeks for review purposes, but I still hate the hardness on my hand every time I hold up my iPad mini.

Finally, after a little over 3 weeks of normal use, the front cover is showing visible wear and tear, and it often does not close properly, which may indicate lack of quality construction and/or material. I'm going back to a rugged case I'd bought from Best Buy.


China in Space: The Great Leap Forward (Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration)
China in Space: The Great Leap Forward (Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration)
by Brian Harvey
Edition: Paperback
Price: $38.65
52 used & new from $32.53

1.0 out of 5 stars Are you kidding me?, April 23, 2014
On p.335, in the section on Mars 500, the guys calls the Chinese doctor "Chinaman." Ridiculous. Can't believe he can be so racist.


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