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mhnstr RSS Feed (Christchurch, New Zealand)

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TP-LINK Archer D2 AC750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit ADSL2+ Modem Router, 2.4GHz 300Mbps+5GHz 433Mbps, 1 USB 2.0 Port, EWAN, IPv6, Guest Network
TP-LINK Archer D2 AC750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit ADSL2+ Modem Router, 2.4GHz 300Mbps+5GHz 433Mbps, 1 USB 2.0 Port, EWAN, IPv6, Guest Network
Price: Click here to see our price
48 used & new from $61.78

4.0 out of 5 stars A good set of features for the price, April 19, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The TP-Link Archer D2 AC750 is a combined modem and router that offers multiple wireless protocols over 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz as well as one USB port (2.0), and Four 10/100/1000M RJ45 ports for connectivity. The specifications for this router are good for the price, but TP-Link also makes other modem routers with higher specifications and more features.

The range of the wireless signal depends on the spectrum you are using (2.4GHz or 5Ghz with 2.4 GHz offering better range, but potentially more interference from other devices). I am using the 2.4 GHz spectrum in my two story, timber frame house and the signal coverage is good to strong throughout the house.

Note that the modem is an ADSL modem and it will not work with VDSL. If you are unsure which type of modem you need, check with your provider.

To set up the modem, I connected it to my computer via the included CAT5e, Ethernet cable. I used followed the Quick Installation Guide (you can find the guide and the manual on the TP-Link website). Setup was actually very easy if you want just the basic settings. I had the router up and running in no time. In addition to giving your wirless networks names and security, be sure to change the administrative login name and password to prevent others from accessing the settings and taking control of your network.

Future modifications to the router settings can be done by again connecting the router to a laptop or Using the Tether App, you can manage the router from mobile devices instead of needing to connect to it with a computer. There is a QR code in the Quick Installation Guide which takes you to the App Store or Google Play to download the app.

The AC750 offers a lot of advanced settings for those who want more out of their router beyond the basic settings. The user manual is 120 pages long, but gives only basic information. The manual does highlight what can be done, but you may need to search the internet to figure out what all of the advanced settings mean if you dont know already. However, some of these settings were a lot more difficult than the quick setup. For example, I tried to put the device into the Wireless Router Mode to use it just as a router and found the setup to be not at all straightforward.

If you visit the TP-Link website, you will also find instructions for setting up a media server, storage sharing, a print server and a FTP server.

Overall, a good combined modem and router capable of providing wireless coverage for your home.

Night Heron
Night Heron
by Adam Brookes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.94
99 used & new from $0.62

4.0 out of 5 stars A dark story of espionage in China, April 18, 2015
This review is from: Night Heron (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In the heady days of the '89 Democracy Movement in China, Li Huasheng, commonly known as Peanut found a way to express his anger at the government at the way his father, an intellectual was tortured during the Cultural Revolution, many years before. He begins to give information to British Intelligence from his collection of like minded friends who are working on projects for the military. But, the Democracy Movement came to an abrupt end and Peanut disappeared into prison. Twenty years after that, the anger still burns in Peanut as he escapes and again contacts his network to try once again to sting the establishment that hurt his father. But, China has changed dramatically during Peanut's twenty year absence. He becomes a rogue operator in a world he doesnt understand. So too has British Intelligence where serving ones country is changing into serving ones company first. Peanut makes contact again and this time offers a prize that the British cant help but respond to. And so begins a web of intrigue which drags the characters into it and threatens to destroy them all.

Night Heron is fast paced and an enjoyable read. The author doesnt spend a lot of time describing the locations which the characters are constantly moving through, but when he does the description of the locations in China and the conversations feel real, most likely due to the author's own experience in China. The Chinese government is very definitely shown as Big Brother. The constant motion in the book overrides the chance for character development. We know the main character's past and their current relationships, but we know little about what they are thinking beyond how it impacts their behavior.

I enjoyed this dark tale of espionage and if the author writes a sequel, I would definitely be keen to read it. Just dont expect a lot of depth in the characters.

Avery Index Maker Double-Column Clear Label Dividers, 16 Tabs per Set, 1 Set per Pack (13150)
Avery Index Maker Double-Column Clear Label Dividers, 16 Tabs per Set, 1 Set per Pack (13150)
Price: $9.99
8 used & new from $7.62

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Professional looking binders with lots of tabs, April 14, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Avery Index Maker Double-Column Clear Label Dividers (13150) add class to binders that are in use professionally or just look nice for binders at home. If I am using a binder to organize documents for a project, I really appreciate the nice, printed tabs instead of hand written tabs that tend to smudge. This particular set is good if you want to have a lot of tabs in your binder. Avery also has smaller and less expensive sets if you want to have fewer tabs.

There are minimal instructions with the labels. For some reason, typing in the number on the Avery website didn’t take me directly to Design & Print Online, but a Google search on the product number did. From there, I could choose the text for the labels and add graphics (either my own or a stock graphic). The design you create can be saved which is a time saver for situations where you want to use identical designs for different binders. Printing involves the creation of PDF through the website which you then print onto the labels. The process could be better documented, but it is not difficult once you play around with the different options to see what can be done. There is even live chat available 7 days a week if you run into trouble.

Overall, I am pleased with the results and how the printed labels make the binder look tidy and professional.

by Lisa Moore
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.45
90 used & new from $0.03

4.0 out of 5 stars A page turner with a likeable protagonist who believes against all odds in his friend, April 11, 2015
This review is from: Caught (Hardcover)
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It is 1978 and Slaney has just escaped from prison after serving four years of a sentence for drug running. Slaney and his friend from childhood, Hearn had this great plan to bring marijuana up from Columbia on a yacht. It didnt end well for Slaney which is why Caught opens with Slaney is on the run. While everything in Slaney's life is telling him not to, Slaney has a plan to get back into the drug smuggling business. He just needs to get clear across Canada, get down to Columbia to pick up the drugs and to get them back. What could go wrong?

The writing is good and the development of Slaney's character is excellent. As the reader, I really wanted him to succeed despite it all. There is a constant give and take in the dialogues between characters which keeps the book moving right along. However, the author does use a writing style which I found a bit disorientating at first which is to omit quotes when the characters are speaking to each other. When you pick up reading again after you put the book down, you have to figure out what is being said and what is just an action or a thought. This takes very little time to do, but I found I had to get used to it.

I found the book to be a page turner and I was through it in no time.

Overall, a good read. This is my first book by Lisa Moore and I am now keen to read more of her works.

Seveneves: A Novel
Seveneves: A Novel
by Neal Stephenson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.92

5.0 out of 5 stars Another amazing epic tale by Stephenson, April 7, 2015
This review is from: Seveneves: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Wow. Stephenson is a master of creating world and storylines that are massive in scale.

It is this year and a mysterious agent causes the moon to fracture into seven pieces. This event is met by gawking from earth but not more concern other than beyond what could have caused this. But, then the fragments collide, splitting the fragments into more pieces and the scientific community makes a horrible realization that the world as we know it will end. The exponentially growing population of fragments will eventually fall from orbit, smashing the earth and increasing the temperature of the air to the point that nothing will survive.

A plan is set to launch as many space capsules as possible to create a swarm of survivors that will continue the human population beyond the end of days in the hopes that thousands of years in the future, the Earth can be repopulated. The plan is well thought out at first and then becomes more of a DIY effort as thousands volunteer to help to build the rockets to hurl those chosen by national lotteries into space at a frantic pace. Finally a swam of space capsules hosting thousands of people is created in space to survive as the earth burns, but the survivors are faced with what to do next and how to survive in a very hostile environment where even a tiny pebble flying through space can kill without warning.

It is a story of innovation, sacrifice and tenacity. It is for the most part an optimistic story of how the human race would react to ensure its future when facing the end of the world. But the survivors bring with them the frailties that have plagued civilization including greed for power and life. In that sense, it is not a pretty picture of the future, but probably a realistic one.

The book is very thick and it does take time to get going but that is because the groundwork must first be laid for the story. For example, the title of the book didn’t click into place until I was halfway through the book. From that perspective Seveneves is very similar to Anthem or Reamde. However, the book is very readable and I did have a difficult time putting it down most of the time.

In Seveneves, the author gives the reader a lot of detail to paint the world in which the storyline takes place which is typical of a Stephenson book. The detail can go on for pages and so the author will often then include action or intrigue scenes so that the pace of the book does not get bogged down.

Overall, I really enjoyed Seveneves. I certainly recommend it.

Lucas Film Star Wars Classic Death Star Comforter with Sham, Twin/Full
Lucas Film Star Wars Classic Death Star Comforter with Sham, Twin/Full
Price: $49.99

4.0 out of 5 stars With bright and vivid colors it a really fun comforter for a Star Wars fan, April 5, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The comforter and sham are really eye catching with big panels of images, each with bright colors which contrast nicely with the gunmetal grey border. For example, one panel is of C3PO and he is bright yellow against a royal blue background. In another panel is a grey tie fighter which is firing bright orange lasers. We have purchased other Star Wars products such as drapes and sheets and they have tended to be more subdued. Maybe it is the influence of Disney which is now marketing the products, but the comforter is a nice departure from the more subdued, older Star Wars products that we have purchased in the past and it really helps to accent a smaller bedroom. And our nephew was thrilled to have the comforter on his bed.

The product label indicates that the comforter is 72 in x 86 in, but that the actual size of the products can vary. Ours fit a twin bed just fine. The sham is 20 in x 26 in.

The comforter is made of 100% polyester and is smooth to the touch. Cotton would have been nicer, but also more expensive and the images and colors less vivid.

The comforter can be machine washed on cold and tumbled dry which is good.

Overall, a very sharp looking bed set for a Star Wars fan.

WWE Super Strikers Dual Force Ring
WWE Super Strikers Dual Force Ring
Price: $24.73
10 used & new from $22.95

3.0 out of 5 stars My eleven year old was excited to get the ring, but only really works with a limited number of Super Strikers Dual Force figures, April 5, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The WWE Super Strikers Dual Force Ring includes elastic rings off of which you can launch your wrestling figures and controls on opposite corners to move the figures around. Only Super Strikers Dual Force figures work with the ring. Although other WWE figures can be mounted into the claps that go over the figure’s feat to move them around, only Super Strikers Dual Force figures can be made to use their wrestling moves using the controls. When this review was written, Amazon was selling four of these figures: Daniel Bryan, Big Show, Ryback and John Cena. The figures cost between sixteen and twenty-seven dollars on Amazon and you need two to really have fun with the ring. So expect to pay an additional thirty to fifty dollars for the figures to make this ring work.

Assembly of the ring takes only a few minutes. At first, the posts kept coming out but that was only because we hadn’t applied enough force when pressing them into place. You really have to press down on the posts until they click. We still had some trouble with the controls coming out when figures were made to bounce off the ropes.

The main problem with the ring is that it is very lightweight and there is no way to secure it to a surface. So when the ropes are being pulled back to launch the figures at each other, the ring will tend to move around. Suction cup or even rubber feet would have helped.

My nephews and nieces were keen to play with the ring and figures. I tend to doubt that the excitement will last since the number of figures (and therefore moves) are limited and therefore, they may get bored with it over time. But they were certainly excited when they first saw the ring.

Overall, the ring and figures were well received. But, the ring is limited by only working with a limited number of figures and that it moves around a lot.

Extech EX205T True RMS Auto Ranging Multimeter
Extech EX205T True RMS Auto Ranging Multimeter
Price: $38.99
11 used & new from $31.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great multimeter for most measurements around the house, April 1, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Extech EX205T is a basic multimeter with the added bonus of offering True RMS. The EX205T can measure AC and DC up to 600 volts, AC and DC current from microamps up to 10 amps and resistance and continuity measurements. The meter also has min / max capabilities and is also auto ranging and will automatically adjust itself to the correct range when testing. While other multimeters offer more features such as memory and temperature measurements, the EX205T has enough for most jobs unless you need these specialized features.

While the features of the EX205T are similar to what you can find on less expensive multimeters, the real benefit of the EX205T and what you are paying for is that it offers True RMS. True RMS allows for more accurate measurements when measuring distorted waveforms. Meters that dont have True RMS assume a non-distorted wave form and so take the average, multiply by 1.1 to estimate the RMS value. That is fine if the load is linear, but not when there are nonlinear loads (for example, a dimmer switch). If the same technique of multiplying 1.1 to the average is applied to a signal that is not a perfect sine wave, the result will not be the RMS value but lower. This is a problem for example if you are tripping a breaker and you are using a meter that doesnt have True RMS because it will read a lower current than is actually causing the breaker to trip and therefore wont help with troubleshooting the problem.

The accuracy is listed at 0.5% VDC. More expensive multimeters offer better accuracy, but for the average job around the house, the EX210T will probably be accurate enough.

The display is big and there is a back light. The rubberized case feels rugged. The leads are 3 ft in length. The battery and fuses can easily be accessed by removing one screw on the lower back side of the meter and there is a nice fold out stand to support the meter so you dont have to hold it.

Overall, this is a great meter for average jobs at a great price considering that it has True RMS. It is lacking in temperature measurements. If that is something that you are looking for, then consider the next model up, the EX210T which offers non contact, IR temperature measurements.

Primula Tempo Infusion Hot/Cold Tea and Fruit Water Pitcher, 55-Ounce, Black
Primula Tempo Infusion Hot/Cold Tea and Fruit Water Pitcher, 55-Ounce, Black
Price: $19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant pitcher for making and serving hot or cold teas as well as other drinks, March 23, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Primula Tempo Infusion Pitcher is made of thin glass which gives it a unique and elegant look as a serving pitcher for drinks. Although the pitcher does look delicate, the borosilicate glass should prevent the glass from cracking when hot liquids are poured into the pitcher. (A more familiar trade name for borosilicate glass is Pyrex.)

I have been using the pitcher for making tea but also a pitcher for serving cold juices with fruit or herbs in it when I have guests over. The mesh top prevents the solids and tea leaves from exiting the pitcher when the liquid is poured.

Unless I am making big batches of tea, I mostly reserve the pitcher for use when guests are over since it commonly gets comments about how nice it looks. When it is in use, I keep it on a refrigerator shelf rather than the door out of concern for the pitcher getting banged around too much if the door is opened frequently.

Overall, a really elegant pitcher for making and serving loose leaf teas and drinks.

by Kim Stanley Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.26

5.0 out of 5 stars To grow beyond our home and to reach for the stars is human, but where will this destiny take us?, March 11, 2015
This review is from: Aurora (Hardcover)
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In the year 2545, the earth sent a starship to an earthlike planet named Aurora. The passage would take one hundred seventy years and so was to be a multi-generational voyage. The ship which is basically two toruses with a spine between them is home to not only a human population, but also a population of animals and plants, the ancestors of which are hoped to one day grow abundantly on Aurora. The ship is divided into 24 different biomes, each of which hosts a different climates from earth. There is Labrador, Mongolia and Costa Rica, to name a few. This collective of humans and their children, and their children's children must all learn to get along while they look forward to one day soon, getting off the ship.

The story focuses on the family of Devi, the engineer, Badim her husband and their daughter, Freya and follows their perspective through much of the book. But, the story is not told exclusively from the point of view of the family members. It is mostly told by the ships computer which is an interesting twist. A story told by a computer might tend to get bogged down in details and the intricacies of calculations being made and this does occur in the story telling. I did find myself rushing ahead through some of the details.

The greatest character development occurs with the character of the ship itself. This happens slowly enough that the reader may be unaware until it has already been happening for a while. Because of this, it takes time to get into the story and time to begin to empathize with the people of the ship. Especially so since the story starts when they are already 3/4 of the way through the voyage and it is only the dialogues of the characters that the reader learns of the intricacies and history of the ship and voyage.

It was surprising that the early descriptions of the society inside the starship at first shared many of the problems that also faced the characters in the series Ascension. I assume that many of the problems a society would face in isolation such as the birth rate and resentment that one was born on a starship without any choice but to be on the mission would be well thrashed in other stories. But, as the story moves past the introduction, it deviates from other stories that I have read. Yes, the story is about the ugliness and the beauty of relationships and the length that one will go for those they care about. But by describing so much of what happens in story from the perspective of the ship itself, the story takes a unique perspective.

The writing is excellent and the tone and style change depending on the point of view, the situation and how the story is unfolding. For example, early dialogue by the computer is halting and focused on numbers but later matures as the computer's personality develops. Likewise the story of Freya changes as she matures from a little girl.

This is the first book by Kim Stanley Robinson that I have read. I enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading more by the author.

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