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Pioneer SE-CX9-S Headphones
Pioneer SE-CX9-S Headphones
Price: $260.79
20 used & new from $203.15

3.0 out of 5 stars Heavy, heavy headbuds, August 17, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
By calling its SE-CX9-S "headphones" and not "earbuds," Pioneer is either trying to imply that they offer the sound quality of headphones or that they are more substantial than mere earbuds. They are something of a hybrid, with the bass response you might expect of headphones and a size and weight that falls in between typical earbuds and a set of headphones. But the overall sound quality, while good, doesn't blow me away, and their size and weight irritate my ears.

Describing audio quality is difficult without resorting to gag-inducing flowery language, but I'll do my best. I compared the SE-CX9-Ss to a couple of pairs of earbuds and a pair of Sennheiser headphones over the course of a week. I used an iPad, an Android phone, a couple of computers, and an NAD stereo system. I was careful to adjust the volume when switching among the earbuds and headphones, because they all have different sensitivity ratings. I found that the SE-CX9-Ss do provide the breadth of sound that you'd expect of headphones. Music sounds full, with good reproduction of deep bass, something that true earbuds usually lack. But to me, vocals don't sound as clear as with the $33 Sennheiser CX 300S Bass-Driven Lightweight In-Ear Headphone (Discontinued by Manufacturer) earbuds they replaced.

One song really showed me the difference: "Angel From Montgomery" from The Bonnie Raitt Collection. It's a live duo with John Prine, and it has this incredibly deep, rumbling bass line; extremely bright guitar lines; and Bonnie Raitt's powerful vocals. If I play it loudly on a stereo system with good speakers, it can make the windows rattle, you can feel the air move, and it will make the hair on my arms stand up. "How can a person, go to work in the morning, come home in the evening, and have *nothing* to say?" But with the SE-CX9-Ss, it just sounds...nice. Better bass than the Sennheiser earbuds, but again, I thought the vocals sounded better with the earbuds.

The SE-CX9-Ss are very big and heavy, too: 1.2 ounces, or 34 grams, compared to 0.35 ounces or 10 grams for the old Sennheiser earbuds. Of course, they aren't as heavy as the Sennheiser headphones I used, which weigh 5.4 ounces or 153 grams, but then, most headphones aren't inserted into and pulling on your ear canals. Forget about wearing these during exercise.

The SE-CX9-Ss have a hard protrusion at the rear of each bud that irritates my ears, too (see the accompanying photos). They fit fine in my ear canals, but their weight pulls them down so that the protrusion buries into an area of my outer ear, and over time, it hurts. I've tried rotating them so that the protrusion doesn't hit me in the same spot, but because the cords are so heavy, they eventually settle in the same spot.

The headbuds are gorgeous, though, and the construction quality is superb. You could probably use them to hammer nails, plug a leaky dike, or--after changing the ear covers, of course--as a baby pacifier. The inline controls work well with my iPad, but they don't work at all with my Android phone or computers.

So, I like the SE-CX9-S's broad audio range and the powerful bass, but not enough to overcome the size and weight issues.


PADDLE DIMMER-450W SP/3W (LED,CFL)
PADDLE DIMMER-450W SP/3W (LED,CFL)
Offered by North Coast Lighting
Price: $43.78

1.0 out of 5 stars Only works with *some* LED bulbs, August 14, 2014
This review is from: PADDLE DIMMER-450W SP/3W (LED,CFL)
This is one of the simpler Adorne switches. You have to be careful to get the version of it that works with LEDs. But even then, you still might have problems, because while the outside of the package says that it works with LEDs, on the inside, it says that it works with only certain LED bulbs (it provides a list). Well, the chandelier for which I was installing this switch has five brand-new Philips LED bulbs, and they aren't on the list. At anything less than 100 percent power, they flicker. Of course, I didn't figure that out until after I'd freed the switch from its returns-discouraging packaging and installed it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 14, 2014 6:32 PM PDT


Linksys WRT1900AC Dual-Band+ Wi-Fi Wireless Router with Gigabit & USB 3.0 Ports and eSATA, Smart Wi-Fi Enabled to Control Your Network from Anywhere
Linksys WRT1900AC Dual-Band+ Wi-Fi Wireless Router with Gigabit & USB 3.0 Ports and eSATA, Smart Wi-Fi Enabled to Control Your Network from Anywhere
Price: $223.13
23 used & new from $189.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great range, but here's how to extend it even further, July 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I upgraded to the WRT1900AC from a Linksys E4200, a Wi-Fi N router that was state-of-the-art when it was introduced in 2011. The E4200 was a great router--and that's why I combined it with the WRT1900AC to extend my wireless *and* my wired network. Here's how.

I needed really good, high-speed connections for a few devices located far away from my router--a television, a TiVo, and a Blu-ray player, and Wi-Fi didn't work very well with these devices. So, I set up the WRT1900AC, and then I set up the old E4200 in bridge mode. (See http://kb.linksys.com/Linksys/GetArticle.aspx?docid=28cee6a2fb0d4176a2210942d1d5836c_Setting_up_the_Linksys_E4200_in_bridge_mode.xml for instructions). I strung Ethernet cables under the house, installing jacks behind the television, and then connected the E4200 below it.

The WRT1900AC has only four gigabit Ethernet ports, but configuring the E4200 as a bridge gave me three additional Ethernet ports in that remote location, and it gave me a strong Wi-Fi N signal in that part of the house. If you decide to do this too, make sure you connect an Ethernet cable from one of the WRT1900AC's Ethernet ports to an Ethernet port--not the WAN port--on the secondary router; otherwise, the Ethernet ports won't work with other devices. I also configured both routers to use the same SSID, so that devices would move from one router's signal to another as the devices moved around the house; the trick was to configure the routers to use different Wi-Fi channels--ones that don't overlap.

Wireless coverage with the WRT1900AC is certainly much better than with the E4200 in my house, I assume because the WRT1900AC has those four external antenna, and the E4200 has none. Still, it isn't good enough to cover my entire house, which is pretty modestly sized, but which has plaster walls, some knob-and-tube wiring, and other things that interfere with wireless signals. I would like to investigate swapping out the WRT1900AC's external antenna for larger/longer ones, but I'm waiting for Linksys to introduce some.

The WRT1900AC has flaked out on me a couple of times, though. Twice in the first month all of its settings have been wiped out, requiring me to set the thing up all over again. It hasn't happened in a more than a week, but now I back up the configuration every time I change something, so that, if it happens again, I can easily restore the settings. (Look under Troubleshooting>Diagnostics>Router configuration to back up or restore your configuration).

I like the new Network Map, which shows you all of your devices and their status. I like that it lets you edit the devices' names and customize their pictures, and that you can make DHCP reservations from this map. However, the list isn't always up to date, and it's often missing devices that are obviously connected. I've had this same problem with the E4200 and the Linksys WRT64GS that I had before it. Also, the Network Map page has an "Internet usage" report, which, obviously, is supposed to show you how much bandwidth devices in the map are using, but it's pretty useless, because it shows you only current, live usage, and only Internet usage. You can't see usage over time, and you can't see local network usage. Seeing as the router uses "open" firmware, it might be nice if someone would make this more useful.

I still have mainly Wi-Fi N devices, so I couldn't test Wi-Fi AC yet (and I'm sure others are doing that). But I did test Ethernet performance, thinking that perhaps the CPU and RAM that Linksys tout might have a positive effect on wired performance. Before I set up the WRT1900AC, I read and wrote 10.6GB of folders and files from a NAS connected via Ethernet to the E4200 router to a computer that was also connected via Ethernet. I also performed the same tests to a laptop connected via 5GHz Wi-Fi N. After I set up the WRT1900AC, I ran all the tests again, and in all cases, the times were almost the same--and certainly within any margin of error. So, if my tests are any indication, any performance boost you might expect will come only with Wi-Fi AC.

I admire Linksys's attempt to pull out all the stops with this product; it really is ambitious. But I'm looking forward to a few more firmware updates, which will hopefully make it realize its full potential.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 21, 2014 10:34 AM PDT


Termidor SC Termiticide 20 oz.
Termidor SC Termiticide 20 oz.
Offered by All Bugs Out
Price: $59.90
17 used & new from $54.36

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste time with over-the-counter ant traps/baits, May 29, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought an old house with, as I soon realized, iffy drainage and a serious ants problem. In the past, at other houses, I had found sugar water mixed with boric acid to be very effective, but in this house, over a few months, it just didn't work. I also tried Terro and other over-the-counter baits; they didn't work either. I think the previous owner of this house either never did anything about the ants or didn't know what to do about them, and so there must have been tremendously large ant colonies under my property and those of the neighbors.

We also had a sub-subterranean termite problem, which the termite guy treated with this stuff. I decided to read about it (trying to figure out which works better, this or that orange-oil stuff), and I saw that it's supposed to work against ants, too. So, I bought this and a cheap sprayer, and I sprayed it into openings between our house and our patios (the house is surrounded by patios and clay tile) and into areas between grass and concrete. I was able to avoid spraying it into or onto places where my kids would be playing, thankfully. It took a while, because the sprayer, while it worked well, sprayed pretty slowly. I saw a YouTube video wherein a pest dude mixed buckets of the stuff, peeled back the grass around a house's foundation, and poured it into the resulting trench, but I think that was for termites; for ants, I don't think you have to use as much.

So now, it's been about two months since I treated our property, and I have seen an ant in about seven weeks. None--none at all. In the first week, I did find several dead ants that had made their way inside the house; I think they came into contact with the Termidor and then expired inside. But since then, nothing.

It does take time to apply, but it's not difficult, and I have to say, this is a very effective product.


Calvin Klein Mens 2 Pack Hip Brief, White, Medium
Calvin Klein Mens 2 Pack Hip Brief, White, Medium
Price: $24.82

4.0 out of 5 stars A reasonably good alternative to Jockey GO Stretch, May 29, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I loved Jockey Go Stretch briefs; I wore them for several years, until Jockey discontinued them (as Jockey often does to my favorite products; it makes it hard to be loyal to the brand when the brand isn't loyal to you). Anyway, I tried a couple of Jockey alternatives, and hated them; then I decided that I was through with Jockey, and I researched and then purchased several possible replacements for the Go Stretch briefs, with one of the requirements being that they were cotton briefs with a little bit of stretch material incorporated; I spent about $120 on several different models. Some so-called "briefs" were really extra-large thongs (Papi Mens' brief); some looked and felt like grandpa underwear (Dockers--ugh).

Of all of them, I like the Calvin Klein model best. It doesn't ride up my derriere; it's supportive but doesn't cramp my style in front. It's a little smaller, and a little thicker, material-wise, than the Go-Flex, so it's tighter around my 34-inch middle, but it's still fine.

So, goodbye Jockey, hello, Calvin Klein. Just like Back to the Future.


The Executioner Fly Swat Wasp Bug Mosquito Swatter Zapper
The Executioner Fly Swat Wasp Bug Mosquito Swatter Zapper
Offered by Sourcing4U Limited (UK)
Price: $19.99
5 used & new from $18.93

5.0 out of 5 stars A big upgrade over manual fly swatters, May 29, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
At not quite 50 years of age, my eyesight isn't what it used to be; my depth perception and ability to perceive small objects--like flies--is declining. We bought a new house with dogs (and dog poo) next door, and the flies were getting to be a nuisance. I tried using a good old-fashioned plastic fly swatter, but it was so flimsy and I was so slow that I wasn't putting any dent in the fly population.

So, I saw this and decided to give it a shot. It really is effective, because you don't have to kill a fly with impact; the fly merely has to touch the metal wires. And, it's much bigger than an ordinary fly swatter, so you don't have to be as accurate. The method I find effective is to kind of push the racket face toward the flyl I think that helps with the accuracy.

This really isn't a product I'd normally write a review for, but the loud snap I often hear when I connect is, well, satisfying. The device works well--surprisingly well. The only negative thing I would say is that it doesn't seem to work on very small insects--but then, perhaps it's just my eyesight that limits my ability to nail them.


Leviton VRMX1-1LZ 1000W Vizia RF ZWave Universal Magnetic Low Voltage Dimmer, White/Ivory/Light Almond
Leviton VRMX1-1LZ 1000W Vizia RF ZWave Universal Magnetic Low Voltage Dimmer, White/Ivory/Light Almond
Price: $77.81
8 used & new from $77.81

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Modern devices require modern wiring, May 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I recently purchased a house that had been built in 1940, and some of the wiring is ancient knob-and-tube, and some is more modern. However, some of the more modern wiring was installed by the previous owner, who is a low-voltage contractor. I heard he drinks, and given the state of this house's wiring, I believe the rumor.

So, with the knob-and-tube, of course, I can forget about hard-wiring Z-wave devices, because they're two wires only. With the more modern wiring, it looks like the previous owner used whatever wiring he had laying around, because I can't tell what's what. Some outlets have Romex, but with one flavor coming into the top of the box, and another flavor coming into the bottom. Unlike Paris Hilton, I can't tell what's hot and what's not. (Sorry--lame old joke).

Of course, I didn't know all this going in. I knew some wiring was knob-and-tube, of course, thanks to the inspection, which also noted some outlets with reverse-polarity. But I thought the more modern wiring would allow me to install Z-Wave outlets in at least a few rooms. That may still be the case, once I get a real electrician to figure it all out.

Okay, so where's the review here? I can't tell you how well the switch works, as I haven't been able install it yet, but I can offer a couple bits of analysis: One, the switch isn't bad looking, but it does look like a switch design that has been around a while. Compared to the very stylish Legrand Adorne switches sold at Home Depot, this switch looks pretty blah. The dim-up and dim-down switches are very tiny, too.

One the other hand, I really like the option to add a second, wireless switch (without hard-wiring). This can be very useful in certain situations--such as in a house built in 1940 with iffy wiring. I want to add an outside light and connect it to a switch near the front door, but if I had to pull wiring, it would be very difficult job.

Third, the instructions aren't quite as easy to follow as those provided with the Jasco (GE) Z-Wave switches, though I wasn't able to get one of those installed yet either. The Jasco switch costs about half what this switch does, and you can add a wireless three-way switch to it, too.

So, in short, I like the function, but I'm not wild about the design or the price. But if I ever get it working, I will love it (and still be ticked off at the previous home's owner).


3M Easy Adjust Desk Mount Monitor Arm, Elegant Space Saving Design, For Monitors Up to 20 lbs and <= 30 in, Silver
3M Easy Adjust Desk Mount Monitor Arm, Elegant Space Saving Design, For Monitors Up to 20 lbs and <= 30 in, Silver
Price: $215.73
2 used & new from $215.73

4.0 out of 5 stars Works well, as long as you research well, May 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I had intended on using this monitor arm with a relatively new Samsung 22-inch monitor. However, in one of my dim moments, I didn't actually look at the back of the monitor--and the monitor in question does not have a standard VESA mount (it mounts on a post that attaches to the underside). Ah, okay, so I then tried to mount it on a Samsung 245T, an older model, but one that was and still is a very good monitor. But it too lacks a standard VESA mount; instead, it has a much larger, wider mounting plate.

The solution, I found, was to purchase an adapter plate, the [http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001M02TKG/ref=oh_details_o02_s00_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1]. I had to round up some appropriate screws to work with the plate, it all went together well.

However, the monitor started to droop, until I really tightened a screw on the back. The monitor arm didn't move as smoothly as I'd like, too. It turns out that, while 3M says that the monitor arm supports up to a 30-inch monitor, its maximum weight is 20 pounds…and the Samsung 245T weights about 24 pounds. So the cautionary tale is, look up your monitor's specs before you buy.

The mount issue is Samsung's (and my) fault, not 3M's, of course. As for the maximum weight issue, yes, I should do better research before buying, but when I did do the research, I found other monitor arms that do support up to 30 pounds and cost about the same, maybe a little less [http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001IWOBGI/]. The mounts in my office (Knoll Sapper50, I believe) support up to 50 pounds, but they cost around $300 apiece and don't allow quick vertical adjustments.

Other than that, it is a nicely crafted piece, and one that has nicely informed my next monitor purchase--one that has the proper mount and a trim weight.


SanDisk Extreme PRO USB 3.0 Flash Drive With Read Up To 260MB/s, Write Up To 240MB/s- SDCZ88-128G-G46
SanDisk Extreme PRO USB 3.0 Flash Drive With Read Up To 260MB/s, Write Up To 240MB/s- SDCZ88-128G-G46
Offered by WebViaduct
Price: $139.48
20 used & new from $92.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Astoundingly fast, April 16, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have blown all kinds of cash on so-called "fast" storage devices--SCSI hard drives, FireWire hard drives, a RAID array, an eSATA hard drive, and SSDs. I own an external, platter-drive USB 3.0 drive, too. But none of these devices can touch the performance of the SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB. (Okay, perhaps the SSDs, but they aren't external).

I tested the Extreme Pro using a five-year-old Windows 7 workstation, which has an SSD and a three-drive RAID array--and USB 2.0 ports. I began by attempting to copy an 86GB folder of GoPro video files--and then canceled that, because it was going to take an hour to complete. Instead, I transferred one 20.2GB file from the RAID array to the Extreme Pro; that took 15 minutes (~21MBps). Before I began, I had to reformat the Extreme Pro using exFAT; the drive comes formatted as FAT32, which won't take any files over 4GB. (Formatting is very quick--a few seconds).

I then took the Extreme Pro over to my wife's Lenovo Yoga 13 Windows 8 laptop, which has an SSD and a USB 3.0 port. The same 20.2GB file took 1:30 to write to the laptop (~224MBps), and then 1:46 to read back to Extreme Pro (~190MBps). For kicks, I reformatted the Extreme Pro with NTFS. The speed was nearly the same: 1:26 to write to the laptop (~234MBps), and 1:45 to read back to the Extreme Pro (~192MBps). Those transfer rates really aren't that far off from SanDisk's claimed speeds, but then again, a single, uncompressed file puts the drive in the best light possible. The drive did get a little warm--not hot--during its workout. Nothing I found alarming, though.

This kind of speed is relatively new; in the past, as new interfaces have become available, the devices that have used them often haven't been able to take advantage of those interfaces. Note that platter-based USB 3.0 drives don't really offer stupendous performance, because they rely on those old platters. But this is the total package--gobs of capacity (for a flash drive), amazing performance, and tiny size.

So, the Extreme Pro 128GB really is impressive--so much so that I find myself rethinking how I use flash drives. True, it doesn't have the capacity of a platter drive or even a moderately sized SSD, so it won't serve as a backup device. But it does give me much more flexibility when transferring files from computer to computer (because my old workstation is about to get a new USB 3.0 expansion card).


Oreck Magnesium RS Swivel-Steering Bagged Upright Vacuum, LW1500RS
Oreck Magnesium RS Swivel-Steering Bagged Upright Vacuum, LW1500RS
Price: $500.61
9 used & new from $425.52

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kid-tested and (somewhat) kid-approved, March 27, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
We owned a cheapo Eureka vacuum cleaner for several years; it's big, it's incredibly heavy, and it made me grumpy every time I have to use it. Forget about getting the kids to use it; I don't need them to be grumpy, too. But the Oreck Magnesium RS presents a possible solution: At, oh, a third the weight of the !@#$@#% Eureka vacuum, even the kids can get in on the action, and keep a smile on everyone's faces. For a few minutes, that is.

My nine-year-old son had no problem operating the Oreck vacuum; it's light enough for him to push and pull, and the handle goes down far enough that it's okay with his height. Even my six-year-old daughter was able to operate it, though not as easily, of course. Now the only problem is getting them to use the vacuum without resorting to blackmail and threats.

In fact, the handle will go all the way to the floor, if need be, and that feature makes it really useful for vacuuming under beds with low side rails. Previously, the only thing that would get under the bed was a Roomba.

However, the handle has no stops--it's either locked in full-upright position, or it will fall to the floor if you let go of it. It's a little awkward to have to step around and onto the front of the vacuum to unlock it from its full-upright position. And, if you need to elevate the front of the vacuum to get over something, like the fringe on a rug, so that it won't get snarled, you have to lift the entire vacuum cleaner.

Perhaps I've seen too many Dyson commercials, wherein those vacuum cleaners seem oh so sophisticated and quiet, but I was a little surprised that the Oreck Magnesium RS was pretty loud--as loud as the cheapo Eureka. The Oreck probably sacrifices sound insulation for weight savings. I'd prefer that it be quieter, but the light weight and the excellent swiveling navigation more than make up for it.

The vacuum works very well on hardwood floors--much better than anything else I've used, because it doesn't scatter dirt and cereal bits and what have you. It's pretty good on carpet--it's not as powerful as the Eureka we had, but it's so light and easy to use that it's no problem going over spots one or two additional times.

As for the scheduled maintenance issue--that you have to take it to Oreck periodically for service--uh, I don't think so. This is not a Kirby; it's not built to last for 40 years. Despite the "Magnesium" in the name, it's not a highly refined piece of machinery; no Apple designers were involved in its design. So, no, I'm not taking in for service until it breaks, and for the price, that had better be a good long time.

But in the meantime, I like the Magnesium RS, and the Eureka's going somewhere that it can accidentally fall off a cliff.


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