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I kept seeing ads for this product online. I generally ignored them because I already have an electronic stud sensor as well as one of the older fashioned magnetic gizmos. I finally decided to give this a try when working on a busy and confusing wall -- the studs were not evenly spaced and I was having a hard time getting a "map" of what was behind the wallboard.
I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised by how well this stud finder works. As you pass it over the wall, the LEDs light up over the stud. Because it's wide and also very accurate, the LEDs very nicely light up the whole width of the stud behind the wall. Using this device, I was able to accurate mark the edges, not just the centers, of all of the studs in my busy wall.
I'm glad I made the investment, even though I had other stud finders from years past. This tool is a big improvement over my older models, and it saved a lot of time and frustration. Works well, and is well worth the money.
We live in an area with lots of power outages, so I have a number of solar panels for charging my mobile devices. Before receiving this panel, I primarily used two different "fold up" panels, an Instapark 10w panel (with three panels) and a Goal Zero Nomad 7 (with two panels). The fold-up style panels typically have multiple panels sewn into a cordura nylon case that folds up like a hanging style shaving kit to protect the panels when they're not in use. These fold-up style panels can often be used to charge smaller devices like phones directly, but tablets and some phones require an external battery between the panel and device -- the panel charges the battery, which then dumps a charge into your tablet/phone. (You can buy bundles that include panels and battery, but the bundles are just separate products that ship together.) The fold-up panels offer a number of advantage: They protect the panels when not in use, and you can pick your solar panels and external battery separately based on your needs.
This Eton device is different. It's a single, integrated unit that includes both the solar panel and the battery. It's not a bundle -- the panel and battery are designed and manufactured to work as a single, integrated unit. The battery snaps into the back of the panel. It doesn't require any separate cables for the panel-to-battery connection. The panel charges this internal battery, and when it's full (enough) you plug your device into the battery which charges the device.
The power-out ports are very clever. You can plug your device into the USB port on the side of the case to charge the device. That much is pretty standard. But the removable battery also has its own micro-USB connection, and comes with a micro-USB to female USB cable, so you can remove the battery, leave the solar panel in place, and charge your device directly from the battery. This is pretty slick. It means you can hang the panel up during the day to charge the battery, then leave it hanging while you take the battery elsewhere to charge your device. This configuration provides the best of both worlds: The Eton is a single integrated unit, with no dangling cables or external battery packs, when that's more convenient, but the battery and panel can be snapped apart when that's more convenient. As I said, it's a very slick design.
The whole unit is about six inches square and maybe half an inch thick. The battery by itself is about half an inch all around larger than a 3x5 index card and is about a quarter inch thick. The unit comes with the aforementioned micro male to female USB cable as well as USB to micro USB cable that can be used to charge the internal battery from a non-solar power source (i.e., your regular mobile device charger or a computer USB port).
The battery is rated at 5000mAh. I charged it in a sunny window until the LED indicator said it was full, then used it to charge a fully discharged original iPad. It brought the iPad up to roughly half a charge. That's a little less than I expected, but still very good for a solar charger of this size.
One small downside of this design relative to fold-ups is that there's no cover over the panel. If you're carrying it in a backpack, you'll have to think about where you pack it to protect the glass. Also, the unit can charge the internal battery, or have the internal battery charge your mobile device, but it can't do both simultaneously -- it's a charge-and-dump design, not a direct pass-through design.
This is my new favorite solar charger and battery, hands down. It's significantly smaller than a fold-up unit plus an external battery, and the all-in-one integrated design is very slick and well thought out. It's not a big panel and battery, so it's more suitable for phones than for full size tablets, but it will bring a tablet up to half charge. The small size and simplicity of the design is a big plus -- this will probably be my solar charger of choice for field trips and when traveling to countries with limited/unreliable power supplies. I'll still use my fold-out panels when I need more charging power, but this nicely designed unit is my new default choice for keeping my smartphone charged.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: I'm now on my second use cycle with this panel, and the additional experience has revealed a significant downside. When I received the unit, the battery was already largely charged. I topped it off by putting it in a sunny window, then used the internal battery to dump a charge into my iPad. I recharged it from wall power, which was pretty quick, and dumped the charge into my phones. This time, though, I tried recharging the battery, from empty, just off solar. It's been pretty cloudy around here the past couple of days, so the window didn't get bright sunlight. The Eton panel has struggled to recharge the battery, which is showing only a minimal charge after three days. Under the same conditions, my GoalZero and Instapark panels, and my dLight lanterns, were able to produce enough power to slow charge up their batteries. The Eton panel is good, it's just much smaller than fold-out units like the GoalZero or Instapark. As a result, it struggles with limited sun. I still love the Eton unit because it's small, integrated, and convenient. But the small, single-panel, integrated design also has a downside, which is that it really only works if the small single panel gets enough bright sun to recharge the integrated 5000mAh battery. Tradeoffs.
I have found George Yip's research and writing valuable over the years, and this is a critically important topic, so I hoped to gain significant insights from this book. I'm sorry to give this book a less than positive review, since it's clear the authors put a great deal of effort into the research and writing; however, the lessons from the book could have been covered equally well in a much shorter business journal article.
When evaluating books for use either in business or in teaching, I assign greatest value to research that yields conclusions that weren't obvious before the fact, but that make sense once one has evaluated the data. The conclusion of this book is that successful strategic transformers need four traditions:
1) A tradition of continuity, meaning that leaders look for ways to reinvent a company's historically distinctive business model rather than breaking with it
2) A tradition of anticipation, meaning they create opportunities for at least some leaders to starting envisioning and building towards the new variation on the old success theme
3) A tradition of contestation -- one that encourages debate and self scrutiny
4) A tradition of mobility, meaning that a company is willing to bring in mavericks and move out the old guard
All of these lessons seem fairly obvious, and working through the case studies didn't change my understanding or strengthen my belief in what seem like common sense principles. I might have been more convinced had the authors called out common sense principles that their research disproved (or at least marginalized).
One issue might be the nature of the research. It was based on just three primary case studies, each of which is paired with a less successful comparator company. Further, all three of the central case studies (Cadbury Schweppes, Smith & Nephew, and Tesco) are UK companies, leaving a question of how general the lessons are to companies based in China, India, the U.S., Germany, Japan, etc.. Finally, across all three case studies, the research included interviews with less than 50 current and former executives. Although I found the case studies interesting, I found it difficult to embrace broad generalizations based on a fairly limited number of interviews with three companies based in one country. The authors went through a meticulous process of picking these three companies to ensure that they were focusing on top performers, but the sample is nonetheless small.
The book seems more targeted at academic readers. For business readers, the level of detail in the case studies and the number of pages devoted to methodology will be excessive. For example, in Chapter 1 (which is itself a fairly lengthy but useful review and critique of the literature on related topics), the authors note that "In Chapter 2, we explain in more detail how this study was undertaken. We do this in part because it is an interesting story in its own right." Few practicing executives will find this to be true. Academics may want to assign each of the book's case studies for reading and discussion. To business leaders I would recommend reading Chapter 1, pages 3-24, and Chapter 7, pages 159-186, and skimming the detailed case studies in between only to the extent that there's a specific point you want to drill down on based on the conclusions you read in Chapters 1 and 7. For business leaders, the book's lessons could have been dealt with more effectively in an article than in this book.
I admire the author's historical perspectives. Long-view business histories can be quite valuable, and relatively few researchers (with the notable exception of legendary figures like Professor Chandler) take the time to explore and capture the evolution of companies. The authors are to be lauded for constructing histories, rather than spinning stories based only around companies' current successes or failures.
Ultimately, though, I believe the cases will prove too limited to support the generalizations we might want in an area as broad as "strategic transformation", while the level of methodological detail will prove too much for business readers.
We live in an area that loses power frequently, and when there's a big storm we can lose power for days at a time, so we have quite a collection of solar lanterns and chargers. This Goal Zero Nomad 7 has become one of my instant favorites. The craftsmanship and attention to detail are excellent. The case has nine hanging loops, which provides a lot of options if you're using it while camping, and the case seals with a magnetic closure, which I find more convenient and less bulky than velcro.
The Nomad 7 has two standard panels, each about the size of a half sheet of notebook paper, so it's about the size of a pad of paper fully opened. It has three different outputs on the back: A USB port, a dedicated cable to feed into a Guide 10 battery charger, and a 12v DC female socket (i.e., a "cigarette lighter" socket like in your car). The 12v DC out is not included on any of my other portable solar panels -- it's a nice addition. The panel also has an input to chain it to other Nomads. The output/input connections are all in a single block, which is covered by a zippered mesh pouch on the back of the panel so you can keep all of your charging cables neatly stored with the panel. The port labels are printed right on the case so you can't lose them -- a handy and smart detail.
The Nomad 7 can charge some devices (like my phone) directly, but it won't charge my iPad directly. To charge an iPad, you need to use the Nomad 7 to charge a battery pack (Goal Zero recommends the Guide 10 battery charger; I use an Anker 5V/2A external battery, which doesn't have removable batteries but is smaller and works great), then dump the charge from the external battery pack to your iPad. This isn't just because the Nomad 7 doesn't pump out enough power, it's also because the iPad doesn't like power that fades in and out, which happens frequently as clouds cross the sun. My Instapark 10w solar panel also needs an intermediate battery to charge my iPad reliably, even though the 10w panel is sufficient to charge the iPad directly on a completely clear, sunny day when the panel output doesn't fluctuate.
Because it has two panels instead of three, the Nomad 7 is a bit smaller and lighter than the Instapark, and the 7w output seems to charge up an external battery pack very quickly. During outages around the house, I'll use both, but for camping I would probably take the Nomad 7, both because it's a bit smaller/lighter and also because the build quality seems top notch.
If you have kids, grandkids, nieces, or nephews, this Ferris Wheel cupcake display will be incredibly popular. Each of the eight "baskets" holds a cupcake and the wheel really turns, so you can rotate the wheel until the cupcake each kid wants is at the "loading" level. It looks great on the table, and spinning a Ferris Wheel to pick your cupcake is so much cooler than just taking one off a plate. It's even more fun to decorate each cupcake a little differently
Each basket hangs from a hook so the cupcakes stay upright as the wheel turns. The stand is made of heavier metal than I expected, and has a nice shiny finish. The wheel is over a foot in diameter, and the whole thing stands a bit over 18 inches when the wheel is on the base. The upper and lower rings on the baskets seem a bit closer together than in the picture, which is a good thing since it makes it easier to remove the cupcakes. I would recommend cooking your cupcakes using liners (as shown) for easier insertion and removal.
We have birthday parties and tea parties fairly often, and "fancy" serving plates make the party more fun. For the past couple of years, we've used "cupcake trees", which have been a bit hit every time, but I expect that the trees will be retired now that we have this Ferris Wheel.
I would think twice before using this with a bunch of rambunctious third-grade boys. The wheel spins quite well, and an overly aggressive spin would send the pastries flying.
The unit disassembles to store back in a box that's about 13x13x4 inches, so it doesn't take up an excessive amount of room in the cupboard between parties.
This is a guaranteed childhood memory maker. Very cool.
We discovered Charmin Sensitive several years ago and haven't used any other TP since. When our local grocery store stopped carrying this product, we were delighted to find that it's available on Amazon.
Charmin Sensitive has just a bit of lotion in the paper. If you've used tissues with lotion, you already appreciate the general idea, although the amount of lotion in the Charmin TP is much less than in tissues with lotion. It's just enough to create a somewhat smoother experience for your backside. When you hold the paper in your hands you can't feel that there's anything in the paper.
This brand of TP is also pretty thick relative to bargain brands.
With this praise for the product, you might wonder why only 4 stars. The answer is that they seem to have reformulated the paper a couple of years ago to be more "normal" and not have as much of a lotion feel. That has advantages, but personally I preferred the old formulation with more lotion-y feel. This is still the best TP on the market, in my opinion. I give the old version 5 stars, this new version 4 stars, most other name brands 3 stars, the TP used in my company's bathrooms 2 stars, and airport bathroom TP 1 star.
In the past, I've used two different types of cases for my iPhone. The rubbery cases seem to offer better shock absorption and protection for the phone, but they don't slide into and out of tight pockets as easily as hard surface cases. Hard plastic cases make it easier to pull the phone out of a jeans pocket, and seem to be more durable, but they don't seem to offer as much protection. This case is an interesting, and cheap solution that combines hard and soft. It's a rubbery silicon case (for shock protection) nestled inside a hard plastic case (for durability). The rubbery layer (light grey in the product photo) is next to the phone, and the hard plastic case (black in the product photo) is next to your pocket. Win-win. The whole sandwich is still quite thin, which is my preference. This is a minimalist case, not a super rugged case (like an OtterBox). If you drop your phone a lot or subject it to other abuse, this will not be the right case -- it's a light case designed for basic protection from scratches and bumps. It's also definitely not a fashion statement. This case is about simple, unadorned, base-level protection for your iPhone 5....Read more
I've been a longtime subscriber to Cook's Illustrated magazine, have enjoyed their TV show on PBS, and own two previous Cook's Illustrated cookbooks, "The New Best Recipe" and "Baking Illustrated". I was raised in the restaurant business, and I've always appreciated Cook's Illustrated approach of bringing the classic "scientific method" to cooking and baking. They systematically test variations on recipes to find the one that works best. Then, in their cookbooks, they don't just give you a recipe and instructions, they also explain why a recipe works and provide illustrations of proper technique for key steps in a recipe.
The Cook's Illustrated style isn't for everybody, but within their niche they're unique. Their approach has special appeal for nerds, who want to know the "why" as well as the "what" of cooking. I've also found that the cookbooks are great for younger folks who are just learning how to cook and bake and need a little extra instruction. It's not as good as having grandma and grandpa around as coaches, but it helps.
If you've ever read Cook's Illustrated magazine or watched their show, you know what you'll be getting with this book. A typical recipe covers 1-2 pages and includes explanations, detailed instructions, and illustrations. The book is quite large (518 full notebook-sized pages ... almost identical to the 515 pages in "Baking Illustrated"). It emphasizes depth over breadth -- cookbooks that include just ingredients and brief instructions might fit 2-4 recipes per page, and therefore might include thousands of recipes in a book this size, whereas Cook's Illustrated "Baking Book" includes a few hundred.
There's some overlap with "Baking Illustrated", but not as much as I expected. I haven't done an exhaustive comparison, but I picked two categories (Muffins and Tarts) and found no more overlap than I'd expect in baking books from two completely different publishers. Under "Muffins", the old book had: Blueberry, Coffeecake, Corn (with sub-entries under each). The new book had: Apricot-Almond, Bakery Style, Banana-Walnut, Blueberry, Bran, Cheese, Corn, Cranberry-Pecan, Lemon-Blueberry, Lemon-Poppy Seed, Mocha Chip, Raspberry Almond, etc. Same with tarts -- some overlap, but also a lot new. It also includes new categories, like Naan. As I said, I haven't done an exhaustive comparison, but there's enough new to keep me busy.
One think I like about the new book is the paper. It's a clay-coat (shinier) paper, vs. the rougher finish paper of the old book. It feels like it will handle the occasional spill better, and it also makes for a slightly thinner book, despite being the same number of pages.
Bottom line: If you like Cook's Illustrated, or if you're a new cook (or teaching one), this is a great cookbook to have. If you have Baking Illustrated, have tried all the recipes, and are looking for new ones, this is a good addition to your cookbook collection.
A couple of years ago, I bought an Amazon Basics TPU protective case for my iPad. For those not familiar with the material, it's a very flexible plastic that feels sort of like silicone -- i.e., sort of rubbery, rather than like hard plastic. The TPU case became my favorite protective case for my iPad.
Amazon Basics now offers this TPU case for the Galaxy S4. The case offers several advantages:
+ It stretches slightly, so it can be stretched to fit around the S4 then shrink back for a very snug fit.
+ It's a bit thicker and more rubbery than many hard plastic cases, which I believe will provide an extra measure of shock absorption if I drop the phone (I haven't done a scientific test of this hypothesis, since I can't afford to do destructive testing on my own phone).
+ The case wraps slightly around the front face of the screen, providing an extra measure of screen protection.
+ The Smoke color is transparent, so I can put a lost-and-found sticker on the back of the phone that's visible through the case but still protected from rubbing off.
The only downside is that the material provides just a bit more sliding resistance than a smooth hard plastic case. This is noticeable when fishing the phone out of a tight jeans pocket, but not an issue otherwise. I debated whether to take off a star for this, but since this is a matter of personal preference and product use, I'm giving it five stars.
Bottom line: Good quality S4 protection at a rock bottom price.
This tool is great. The T handle provides significantly more leverage than a normal screwdriver, and the ratcheting mechanism makes it much faster to drive in screws quickly. If I'm going to being driving a lot of screws, I'll get out the cordless driver, but for a few screws, or hard to reach places, this tool is perfect. The tool does not come with a bit set -- you'll need to buy that separately if you don't have it. The driver securely grabs standard hexagonal bits. The mechanism also directly grabs the heads of lag screws. Driving a 3" lag screw into a stud to hold up some heavy-duty shelving was no problem. In fact, it was easier than with a socket wrench, which was my previous tool of choice. Great to have in the tool box.
Update, November 2013: I just used the driver again to attach railing to posts using lag screws. The driver worked great. It provided plenty of leverage. I've also used it recently, with a bit, bot drive screws into wall studs to secure tall shelving that I didn't want to tip over. It's great when a screw driver doesn't provide sufficient leverage.
I noticed that a number of folks have rated this review as not helpful. I'm guessing that means they don't live the driver, but my experience with it has been great.