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J. Donaldson "Cal-diver" RSS Feed (Redding, CA USA)
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WD Elements SE 1 TB USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive
WD Elements SE 1 TB USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive

3.0 out of 5 stars Slow, reliable, functional, April 18, 2015
I've had this drive for a few years. There's no way you'd buy this in 2015 because much faster, larger, and cheaper drives are available today. We have this drive plugged into our Wireless Router. The WD Elements drive has a USB 2.0 interface and so does the Wireless Router. The end result is this is a slow drive - but it works!

Using this drive for backups is painfully slow, so we don't do that any longer although we did for a couple of years. The main use today is sort of an in-house cloud service as a Network Attached Storage (NAS). There are a few files that my wife and I share on different computers in different rooms in the house. For those limited operations this drive serves us well.

I ran the CrystalDiskMark 3.0.4 Shizuku Edition speed test on it. It showed this drive having a read speed of 4.5 MB/s, and a write speed of 7.1 MB/s. I'm sure if I ran the same test a few times the values would vary some but the results would always be in this ballpark meaning slow.


LeapFrog LeapPad Glo Kids Learning Tablet, Teal
LeapFrog LeapPad Glo Kids Learning Tablet, Teal
Price: $55.79
5 used & new from $55.79

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hardware = good, software = good, software cost = very expensive, April 16, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Short story... Hardware Good, Software Excellent, Software Cost Very Expensive. I would recommend other options.

If you want the long story read on...

With the LeapPad2 Glo LeapFrog updated the several year old LeapPad2 giving it new colors, but nothing else. If you've never had a LeapPad2 then this might be a good buy for your child. The colors are a nice change. If you already have a LeapPad2 and are thinking the LeapPad2 Glo might be an upgrade save your money; it's exactly the same hardware. It does seem LeapFrog is offering this product at a reduced price over the LeapPad2 (non Glo).

We now own a LeapPad2, LeapPad2 Glo, and a LeapPad Ultra. We received two of them from the Amazon Vine program for free in exchange for our unbiased review. We wouldn't buy another one. They all share the same games and applications with a few exceptions. As I've said the LeapPad2 and LeapPad2 Glo are exactly the same except for the color change. They both have a 5" screen, where the Ultra has a 7" screen. Our son doesn't seem to prefer one over the other. He has the same set of apps and music on all of them but the screen size doesn't seem to mean much to him.

The LeapPad Ultra has two extra features.

1) Built in lithium ion batteries. I consider this a negative. When the batteries reach their end-of-life what are you going to do? Either there is some way to have a new battery installed at what cost, or you throw it away? I've had internal lithium ion batteries completely fail in less than 2 years. In this case the LeapPad2 Glo is a much better choice. I do see LeapPad Ultra batteries on eBay for around $10 and youtube.com videos showing that, unlike most smartphones, replacing the battery is something the average person can do. This might not be as big an issue for you as it is for me. I just hate the trend of internal non user-replaceable batteries.

2) WiFi. I consider this a marketing ploy to have you spend more money on LeapFrog software so we don't use it. Again I think the LeapPad Glo is a better option. You can download apps and access some safe things on the internet with the WiFi capability but I'd rather not expose my 5-year-old to that option.

The Ultra specifications also say it is faster than the LeapPad2 Glo but that is not apparent when using either device. They both respond well.

So my recommendation is if you're going to buy a LeapPad I'd go with the LeapPad2 Glo.

Hardware

LeapFrog certainly has a durable product in the LeapPad2. Our son has used the older one for a couple of years. Everything still works as if it were brand new. The screen is like new as well, even though he sometimes uses the stylus which has a point that could cause damage. He has banged it with toys, set it down and put things on top of it and it still looks and works like new. The Ultra does have two small nicks on the screen.

The Glo will take 4 AA batteries but very quickly we learned that it burns through batteries rather quickly. Fortunately LeapFrog sells a rechargeable pack for about $30 here on Amazon which was a good investment. We happened to have an extra pair of recharge packs so put those into the Glo right away. I do appreciate that we could always pop in a set of AA batteries should we find ourselves in a situation where we couldn't take time to recharge the batteries. Having user-replaceable batteries is a huge plus for me. When the batteries fail, or reach their end of life (usually about two or three years) I can solve that problem quickly and inexpensively.

The LeapPad2 Glo weighs in at 1 pound while the ultra is 22 ounces. My son has never complained about the weight though. LeapFrog says the LeapPad2 Glo weighs less than 14 oz. but I weighed both of ours (with rechargeable batteries), on a very accurate digital scale, and they both came in right at 1 pound. The LeapPad Ultra weighs about 1/2 pound more than the average 7" tablet. My Nokia Lumia 635 phone (more on that later) weighs just 4.6 oz with a 4 1/2" screen, removable battery, microSD card slot, and better resolution.

The screen resolution of the LeapPad2 Glo isn't very good. It's grany and not sharp. But it is adequate and my son does not complain about it. I just did a side-by-side comparison of the LeapPad2 and LeapPad2 Glo screens and it does seem that LeapFrog has made a change for the worse. The older LeapPad2 does have more vibrant colors, deeper blacks. It's not dramatic but it is true. You'd have to see both side by side to see the difference. I suppose that might be part of the reason for the lower price on the Glo version.

Software

The LeapFog software is really quite good. All of the games and apps have voices to help children get started using a new app or to help them walk through steps to use the app. This means the children can use the LeapPad on their own without a parent having to sit and work with them. There are games but pretty much every app/game is educational at some level. The games are age graded so you have an idea that you are purchasing the right app/game for your child. LeapFrog says there are over 1,000 titles to choose from.

Some games are downloaded from your computer onto the LeapPad while others come in the form of a small cartridge that plugs into the top of the LeapPad. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Apps that are downloaded are all immediately accessible on the LeapPad while they consume some of the internal memory. We haven't used much memory because we haven't purchased many applications. Apps that come in cartridges don't consume any internal memory and they can be moved easily from one LeapPad to another. However like any toy with loose pieces keeping the cartridges organized can be an issue with little people.

Competition

There are other Kid Specific small inexpensive tablets on the market. Not one of them comes close to the LeapFrog line. But look at other options and you can find way less costly and nearly as good hardware and software.

Cost

This is where I have the biggest gripe with LeapFrog. The Glo is really pretty inexpensive in terms of hardware. My guess is the hardware is a loss leader for LeapFrog so they can sell the apps. This is much like Canon selling powerful all-in-one printers for $99 to get you to buy their ink.

You can buy apps/games for $5 from LeapFrog but that level of application would be in the free category on your iPad or Android tablet. You can spend more but you won't get really respectable software until you hit the $20 - $25 range for LeapFrog apps. At those prices I just can't bring myself to buy those applications/games very often. We rarely every buy one but I feel sorry for my son having to play the same apps over an over again. He will set it aside for months at a time.

To me $20-$25 is just way out of line with today's prices. The world of smartphones and tablets has changed things. Literally thousands of apps can be purchased for $0.99 to $3.99 and there are a few much more extensive apps for $5-$10. I couldn't find a single educational app on Android or Windows Phone 8.1 that was over $5. I've heard some people say they buy LeapFrog cards worth $25 for as low as $17 but then if you buy a game priced at $25 your still paying $17 for it.

I recently bought a Nokia Lumia 635 smartphone for $69 (they are available under $50). I don't have a phone plan for it, I just use it on WiFi. It runs Windows Phone 8.1 and has a "Kids Corner" feature that isolates my son from anything other than those apps I put into the Kids Corner for him. I can safely hand him my phone and he can use it without getting on the internet, buying anything on my credit card, or messing up the Nokia. Frankly he plays with that Nokia much more than the LeapFrog. I've loaded it up with about 20 pretty nice games, all free. After writing this review I've decided to load up a bunch of children's educational apps for him. Those apps may not be as good as LeapFrog apps but they are still pretty good and they'll be free, or dirt cheap.

The LeapFrog software is educational which is nice. In my opinion you can't beat the LeapFrog app quality. However there are many educational apps on iOS, Windows, or Android based tablets; actually some of the highest rated children's educational apps on iOS, Windows, or Android are free.

Bottom line:

If you really want a kid proof device that is educational, fun, and safe for your kids, with some of the best educational software, and you don't mind spending the extremely high prices for apps and games then by all means the LeapPad2 Glo would be a great purchase.

If you want to provide a small screen device for your child and save a ton of money then check out one of the many inexpensive Android based tablets or a Nokia Windows 8.1 phone, for example, as I have. In the long run you will potentially save hundreds of dollars while providing your child with a great deal of fun and educational experiences. The AT&T Nokia Lumia 635 - No Contract GoPhone, with the Kid's Corner feature, is available on Amazon for less than $50 today.

My son loves the LeapPads. He has no issues with them (except the battery level indicator on the LeapPad2 and Glo doesn't show up until the battery is low. He sees the Ultra does have a battery level indicator all of the time). The problem is with me, they guy who writes the checks.

Hardware 5 stars
Software 5 stars
Hardware cost 5 stars
Software cost 1 star
Overall Value = 3 stars

Overall experience = for us it is too expensive. You decide for yourself.


Heavy-Duty 15" Cargo Net for Motorcycles, ATVs - Stretches to 30"
Heavy-Duty 15" Cargo Net for Motorcycles, ATVs - Stretches to 30"
Offered by MUAUL
Price: $3.28
28 used & new from $1.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Functional but not what I hoped for., April 14, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Good price. Not as sturdy as I'd hoped but perhaps that goes with the low price.

I was disappointed to see that the plastic hooks don't have the tip molded in but rather there are rubber-like caps on the end that can come off. I actually have another cargo net much like this one with metal hooks but that model too has the rubber-like caps on the end and they come off all too easily. I bought this one thinking it would be better - it's not.

Don't get me wrong. This is functional and can do the job. I was just hoping for more.


XSories Big U-Shot Monochrome Monopod Telescoping Camera Pole 3 Feet Extension
XSories Big U-Shot Monochrome Monopod Telescoping Camera Pole 3 Feet Extension
Offered by The Gear Coop
Price: $49.99
4 used & new from $49.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good selfie stick but a bit pricey., April 14, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
For my review of this product I want to warn readers that this Amazon page currently has three models wrapped up in one page; Big U-Shot, Mega U-Shot, or just U-Shot. So be careful to read the top lines of each review to see which product you are reading about. In my case it is the "Big U-Shot".

This is an aluminum selfie stick. It is labeled Big U-Shot Monochrome Monopod here on Amazon. There is no way this is a monopod. A monopod would have either a rubber foot or a pointed metal foot on the bottom, and the handle would be up at the top near the ball head. So I think it is either mis-labeled or mis-marketed. As an alternative use I think it will be a great extender for my off-camera flash unit. I would put this stick on top of the tripod and be able to have the flash almost 10' off the ground. However I'll review it as a selfie stick.

This stick is said to handle up to 6.5 pounds of camera. That may very well be true but there is no way I'm going to put my DSLR on this stick. If I'm going to mount my DSLR it will be on a tri-pod or my actual monopod.

This selfie stick has a lot going for it, and one problem - the price.

There are many selfie sticks on the market. This one isn't bad, in fact I would give it 5 stars except I think it isn't worth the $49.99 it is listed for here on Amazon.com. At $29.99 it would be a stretch. At $19.99 I think it would be priced right. This is just my opinion based on so many other selfie sticks on the market. Most sticks priced over $25 have a Bluetooth remote included.

It is light weight. I weighted it at 5.4 oz. with the carabiner and wrist strap attached. When fully opened to it's 36" length (actually I measured 37" from the bottom of the handle to the top of the ball head), and locked securely in place, it acts as a single piece of aluminum tubing. It's fairly rigid.

To me a ball head is the perfect type of mount on the end of a selfie stick. I already have a tri-pod mount for my GoPro camera, and every other camera in the house has a tripod mount. We don't put our smart phones on selfie sticks but there are certainly a myriad of solutions with tri-pod mounts for smart phones available.

I have another selfie stick with a GoPro design mount on the end which I find useless outside of that one application. I can't mount my cameras on that stick.

Pros:

- Good 36" length when fully opened. It can be locked in at any length which I find very handy. Fully closed it is 12" long.

- A good small ball head is mounted on the business end. The ball head allows any angle up to 90 degrees, and can be locked in any position. It locks securely and will not budge until unlocked.

- Made of lightweight aluminum weighing in at under 5.5 oz.

- Soft hand grip.

- Included carabiner can be used to attach the selfie stick to a belt loop, purse strap, camera bag, or camera strap.

- Included wrist strap can be used to carry the stick, or help prevent damage when accidentally dropping the camera.

Cons:

- The soft hand grip is just adequate at 4" in length. For my average man size hands it would be more comfortable if it were 5" long. I would prefer that the soft handle be thicker too. I wouldn't take a star off as I do believe the 4" handle works.

- The wrist strap is one of those with a nice thick strap, but it is attached to the stick with one of those tiny thin (1/64") threads that I don't trust. Instead of using that I ran the carabiner through the wrist strap which works fine.

- Price!

My other selfie stick has a built in battery to power the GoPro. I've never found a use for it and due to the internal electronics it isn't waterproof. This XSories stick has no such electronics. While I wouldn't put an aluminum stick in salt water I think it is fine for fresh water use. One of the things I want to do is use the GoPro on our boat this summer. This selfie stick, and the GoPro waterproof housing, will allow me to take video of the kids jumping into the water - from underwater! Fun.

Bottom line is I would recommend this selfie stick if the price doesn't scare you off. If they drop the price then by all means go-for-it.

The following comments are not part of the review but just my thoughts...

If I were on the design team and I wanted to sell this as a selfie stick + monopod there are two changes I would make. These changes would make this into a respectable monopod and go a long way to justifying a higher price (perhaps $29).

1) Allow the ball head to be unscrewed so it could be screwed in the other end near the soft grip handle. I tried hard to unscrew the ball head but couldn't get it to budge.

2) Provide a monopod foot to screw in the end where the ball head was. That monopod foot would have a rubber end that could be retracted to expose a sharp metal point for slippery surfaces.


Lumia 635 Case, E-Time(TM) Nokia Lumia 635 630 Armor Shock Proof Heavy Duty Stand Cases with Swivel Belt Clip Cover + Premium Screen Protector and Ultra-sensitive Stylus Pen (Black/Blue)
Lumia 635 Case, E-Time(TM) Nokia Lumia 635 630 Armor Shock Proof Heavy Duty Stand Cases with Swivel Belt Clip Cover + Premium Screen Protector and Ultra-sensitive Stylus Pen (Black/Blue)
Offered by E-Time Ships From Los Angeles Within 24 Hours, Mon-Fri.
Price: $5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Good case, fits great, good value., April 11, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I like this case. I've had cases like this before with a soft silicone case that wraps around the phone, and a hard plastic case over that. The combination is very secure and protective of the phone. It also provides a good surface to grip with my hand so I'm less likely to drop the phone. The soft silicone case slightly wraps around the front edge of my Nokia Lumia 635 providing protection, but does not cover any of the active area of the screen.

The phone, in the case, fits easily in the holster. The phone won't fit into the holster with the screen facing out though.

The case provides access to the camera lens, microphone, speaker, earphone, external earphone jack, and the USB port. The power and volume buttons are covered by the case but protrusions provide easy buttons for those actions.

The kick stand on the back of the case only works with the phone in the landscape position, but that is likely the only position I'm likely to use it for watching videos. The kickstand is a bit unnerving to extend as it is a bit hard to deploy and I was concerned that I was going to break it. It feels flimsy to me and I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't last long.

The belt clip on the back of the holster rotates 180 degrees and doubles as a kickstand. However that kickstand does not provide any function because you can't insert the phone face out. I wish the belt clip was removable but it does not appear to be so. Fortunately for me my Samsung Galaxy S3 also had a case just like this but the belt clip broke. This holster is a duplicate so it fits my Galaxy S3 even with the screen facing out.

The price is right. This is a good value. I recommend it.


Sophia Global Compatible Ink Cartridge Replacement for Canon CLI-251XL (2 Cyan, 2 Magenta, 2 Yellow)
Sophia Global Compatible Ink Cartridge Replacement for Canon CLI-251XL (2 Cyan, 2 Magenta, 2 Yellow)
Offered by SophiaGlobal-
Price: $22.45

5.0 out of 5 stars Always great, April 10, 2015
Always great. I've been using Sophia ink for about two years. It is WAY cheap compared to Canon Ink.

We bought a Canon Pixma all-in-one printer for $99 last year. On my very first order of Sophia ink I saved more than $99 in ink cost instead of buying Canon ink.

I do not notice the quality difference, if any, between Sophia ink and Canon ink.


1950mah Replacement Li-ion Battery For Nokia Lumia 630 635 638 BL-5H
1950mah Replacement Li-ion Battery For Nokia Lumia 630 635 638 BL-5H
Offered by IDS Online Shop
Price: $6.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Quick reset to 100% charged phone, April 10, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Fits perfect, works perfect. I can't speak for how much longer it might last than the stock battery.

I sure like products with removable batteries!!! It takes me less than 30 seconds to go from having a phone in my hand with less than 20% charged and 100% charged. Neat


Turtle Beach Ear Force Elite 800X Premium Fully Wireless Gaming Headset with DTS Headphone:X 7.1 Surround Sound, Noise Cancellation, Superhuman Hearing, and Mic Monitoring for Xbox One and Mobile Devices (TBS-2390-01)
Turtle Beach Ear Force Elite 800X Premium Fully Wireless Gaming Headset with DTS Headphone:X 7.1 Surround Sound, Noise Cancellation, Superhuman Hearing, and Mic Monitoring for Xbox One and Mobile Devices (TBS-2390-01)
Price: $299.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really Great Sound, April 9, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First I have to say the sound coming from this headset is really good. The whole frequency spectrum is covered. Good base. I used it to listen to classical music which sounded great. For gaming applications the sound is astounding. No headset, or earphones I've ever owned has sounded as good as this Turtle Beach 800X. Really great.

To top that off the headset has noise cancellation which effectively cuts ambient noise making the music and game sounds even better. To add to the audio experience you can select 6 game modes, 4 movie modes, 4 music modes, and 4 surround modes. I just can't stop playing with all of these features. What a toy!

The build quality is top notch. It feels great in your hand. The materials are really good. The back of each earpiece is a large switch easy to access. There are at least 9 features controlled by the buttons on the side (game volume, mute, bluetooth connection, power on/off, hold, chat volume, audio equalizer presets, mike controls, surround sound settings). All of those features can easily be activated with the headset on your head. That's a ton of really great features.

Noise cancellation can be set to four levels depending on how noisy your environment is.

Aside from the Xbox One we connected the headset to our gaming PC, with wires not bluetooth, and it worked great. We also used our Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphones to listen to music. Did I mention the sound was GREAT!

Pros:

- Very good materials and build quality. Even adjusting the head band length for proper fit is a high quality feeling experience.

- There are so many features they could have easily screwed up the design with a series of buttons scattered all over the headset. But the design decision to place all of the feature controls on the large sides was brilliant. There is a learning curve for all of the features but once you learn them making adjustments is quick and easy.

- The charging base is very handy, containing both the power to charge the headset and some of the electronics are all contained in one box. Just set the headset onto the charging base to keep the headset ready for the next use. Magnets in the charging base pull the headset into the contacts.

Cons:

- The headset is a bit heavy. It's easily twice as heavy as my old headset. It might tend to be uncomfortable over time for some people. I weighed both. The old headset was 5.5 oz. The 800X is 13 ox. Quite a difference.

- Both my son and I thought the cups could be a little larger (like our old headset) The 800X tends to touch our ears at one point or another.

- Like so many products these days the 800X has an internal, non-user-replaceable battery. This is a big hot button for me. Most rechargeable batteries have a lifetime of about 1,000 recharge cycles. Use it every day and you get about 2.7 years of use. The entire headset may still be working perfectly, but the dead battery will be the weak point. Even at that the 10 hour single charge use will deteriorate over time. I strongly suggest manufacturers reconsider this trend. It would be so easy to have a small screw on door so the user could simply slide in a replacement battery.

One star off for weight, fit, and non user-replaceable battery.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 16, 2015 12:44 AM PDT


XSories Silicone Cover for GoPro Hero 3+ and 4 Cameras Housing Protection And Increased Battery Life (Black)
XSories Silicone Cover for GoPro Hero 3+ and 4 Cameras Housing Protection And Increased Battery Life (Black)
Price: $19.99
5 used & new from $15.07

4.0 out of 5 stars Maximum protection for your GoPro, April 9, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have a GoPro Hero 4 Silver.

This cover Fits completely over the GoPro camera when the camera is installed in the waterproof housing. It takes less than a minute to manipulate the camera and case into the silicone cover but once in it fits very well.

Perhaps you're working in an environment where your camera might easily get bumped.
Perhaps you are prone to dropping your camera.
Perhaps you are using the camera in a way that it might get scraped such as riding a motorcycle where you might come in contact with branches of trees or bushes that extend onto the trail.
Perhaps you use your GoPro on your boat and hand it back and forth between guests and want to ensure your camera and case are well protected.

Whatever the situation is this cover will add a layer of extra protection for both your camera and your waterproof case.

I tried the cover over the standard waterproof cover, and also over the Frame Mount I have (CamKix Frame Mount for GoPro Hero 4, 3+, and 3 / USB, HDMI, and SD Slots Fully Accessible - Light and Compact Housing for Your Action Camera - Includes 1 Large Thumbscrew / 1 Tripod Mount / 1 Rubber Lens Cap / 1 UV Filter Lens Protector). It was a little loose with the frame mount but fit snugly with the waterproof case.

Just a note: There is no mount on the cover. You must insert a case or frame with a mount into the cover for mounting.

Pros:

- Maximum protection for your camera and case.

- Fits tight with the waterproof case

- Allows access to the three camera buttons.

- There is a slot on the bottom for the camera mount.

- Fits my Frame Mount, but it isn't tight.

- The quality is good. I think it's a good value at $19.99

Cons:

- No access to the Silver touch screen (I've read where another model will be available for the screen access.) You may actually choose to have a cover over the touch screen though if you are using the camera in situations where you need maximum protection for the camera.

- To get to the battery and microSD card slot you'll have to remove the cover, then the case.

I would recommend this cover for extreme cases where you need the best protection available.


Transcend 32GB MicroSDHC Class10 UHS-1 Memory Card with Adapter 45 MB/s (TS32GUSDU1E)
Transcend 32GB MicroSDHC Class10 UHS-1 Memory Card with Adapter 45 MB/s (TS32GUSDU1E)
Price: $14.95

5.0 out of 5 stars So fast it's going into my DSLR, April 7, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've always had good results with Transcend cards. I don't believe I've ever had one fail. I purchased this for my Nokia phone but it is so fast it's going instead into my DSLR camera.

I too ran tests using the CrystalDiskMark 3.0.4 64 program. My computer is a bit old and my USB 3 interface is an add-on running on a PCI Express slot. My setup may be a limiting factor because none of my cards read more than 36 MB/s Read speed. My results for this Transcend are 36.43 MB/s Read and 20.27 MB/s Write which is quite respectable.

My camera can write up to 20 MB/s so this card is perfect for that application. I liked this card so much I bought a second one recently.


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