Thursday, February 26, 2015

Product review: TabletTail: Lynx by Octa


This is a truly ingenious gadget. An engineer in me marvels at its construction. If there was a competition for making the most mechanically sophisticated and complex clamp possible this little guy could win! The amount of gears and mechanisms for making every part work is pretty impressive. And it works exceptionally well, this thing really holds! I just needed to consult the manual a few times.

It might be quite complex to figure out the first time without a manual, but the manual is excellent and shows every step in many clear diagrams. My video includes a sample page from the manual as well as the images of the tablet holder in use.

This clamp is quite universal - it accepts a large range of tablet sizes and can clamp to anything. I was able to mount my oddly shaped 7 inch tablet (7" x 4") to a floor lamp with a round post. It has been up there for close to 2 weeks being used daily and charging. It has not budged.

In a world of tablet holders that look similar this one really stands out as different. If you know a gadget geek this tablet holder would make a great gift.

You can find this tablet holder on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Product review: Qi Charger WiPack Qi Wireless Portable Battery Charger 3000mAh


I have been using Qi chargers with Nexus 5 for about a year. I love the technology, it is convenient and does not stress on the micro USB connector by constantly needing to connect and disconnect it. I own several Qi chargers and through experience found several features that make some Qi Chargers work better in day to day use than others.

➀ Speed of charging

Some charger charge my phone faster than others. Speed is always important to me. I compared charging Nexus 5 with WiPack Qi Charger to the same test run with the other chargers and found that it falls in the middle of the pack. It is not the speediest and not the worst. On avereage it up charges the phone 5% in 10 minutes.

I was able to charge the phone from 65% to full in 1 hour and 20 minutes. The battery in WiPack went from fully charged 4 dots to 1 steady dot.
Looking at the level of charge during this charging cycle:
Start -------------- Phone battery is 65% full, WiPack 100% full (4 dots)
15 minutes later --- Phone battery is 76% full, WiPack at 3 dots
52 minutes later --- Phone battery is 93% full, Wipack at 2 dots
1h 20 min later --- Phone battery is 100% full, Wipack at 1 dot

Note: Nexus 5 is running Lollipop 5.0.1 release of Android OS.

➁ How well the phone stays on the Qi charger

The phone can be easily knocked off the sweet spot of the charger unintentionally (especially if you have kids or pets). The charges that handle those unintentional bumps best are the ones that have non-slippery finish. WiPack has a slick surface which looks great but has a drawback of being slippery. The sweet spot is average size. As you can see in the video I have slightly under 1/2" in either direction.
WiPack size is 5.125" x 2.5" x 0.31", it is a good match for Nexus 5 which is 5.43" x 2.72" x .34". WiPack weighs 3.90 oz.

My trick for charging on the go: When I need to charge the phone on the go (i.e. when it cannot lay flat) I double wrap a rubber band around the phone and a Qi Charger. This keeps the phone on a sweet spot charging in a pocket/purse. I like it better than having a micro USB connector which can be damaged if the phone/battery are jarred. The rubber band trick works very well with this Qi Charger because it is square, thin, and similar in size to Nexus 5.

➂ How easy it is to see that the phone is charging

I like being able to see a visual indicator that the phone is charging. If the phones stops charging I like having a quick way of telling this without having to look at the phone charging status. Nexus 5 is 5.43" x 2.72" x .34" in size, so WiPack is just a little bit smaller than Nexus 5. But because the difference is fairly small I can still see the charging indicator under the phone (as shown in the video). The indicator lights are pretty small, I prefer slightly larger and easier to see indicators but they work ok.

When Qi charger is working you see a red light on the charging indicator. If it is not charging the lights are green.

➃ Is the battery using standard cables

I like the chargers that use a standard micro USB cable, so I don't need to worry about losing a special cable. WiPack uses the standard micro USB cable. Excellent!

➄ Whether the Qi Charger provides charge through charging (i.e. I want to be able to charge the charger while my phone is charging on top of the charger).
WiPack does NOT support charge through charging when it is in wired mode, however it does charge in wireless mode when the battery is plugged in and charging. Since the capacity of the battery is not that large this is critical for over-night charging. It works!

✔ Wireless Charging (Nexus 5 phone)
5% upcharge in 10 minutes (average)

✔ Wired Charging (Nexus 5 phone charging via micro USB cable)
current monitor: ~~~~~ 1.11A and 5.05V (Excellent)

✔ Wired iPad Mini Tablet
0.93A / 5.08V (below average in general, but typical for 1A port)
(for comparison, for the fastest charger I own the current monitor for Nexus 5 shows 1.42A/5.21V)

✔ Wired Charging (Galaxy Nexus phone)
0.88A / 5.07V (below average)

Bottom line? I thought it was good. Its thinness and shape makes the battery work well with my rubber band trick and that is very important to me for charging on the go. The battery is average in the speed of charging. It looks sleek and is a good match for Nexus 5.

I received this Qi charger with a request for a detailed and honest review from Wireless Efficiency. I hope the pluses and minuses I described will help you determine if this charger a good match for you.

You can find this wireless charger on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Product review: Mobin Series - Wall Mounted Organizer with Detachable/Tilted Bins - works on a pegboard


I was very happy to discover that this bin can be mounted on my peg board. I used regular small hooks which line up perfectly with the two mounting holes on the back.

★ The dimensions of the back panel are 16.5" x 4.25". The two mounting holes are 11" apart. Note the package does not contain any mountain hardware.
★ Each bin is each bin: 2.5"H x 2"W x 2"D. They easily remove from the holder, and also can be tilted forward for easy access. The covers lock in place.
★ With the bins mounted the storage extends 3.25" out from the wall.

Everything fits and operates well. I am very pleased with it as an easy to access storage for my frequently used screws and nuts.

You can find this organizer bins on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, February 21, 2015

What to do if your social security number was stolen by a thief who filed a tax return using that number?

 During the last year there were many different data breaches and some people's social security numbers have been stolen.  It appears that some thieves filed returns using the stolen social security numbers.  If this happens the person who tries to file an electronic  return using H&R Block or TurboTax software they will get the following error:

IRS records show the spouse's Social Security number (SSN) on this return is the same as the primary taxpayer's SSN on another return already filed this year. Double-check your spouse's SSN. Fix any issues and e-file again. Otherwise, you'll have to file a paper return.

What to do if this happens?

1. Call H&R Bock (1-800-472-5625) told them of the issue

2. Call IRS (1-800-829-1040) had them flag the SS#
IRS states that people need to mail completed return, a copy of police report or Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit, copy of Drivers License or passport or SS card.

3. Call Equifax and had them put an alert on the SS# (They notify Experian and TransUnion as well)

4. Call Social Security Administration and notify them (1-800-772-1213)

5. File with FTC

6. File a police report of a possible identity theft

Friday, February 20, 2015

Product review: HIS® Gear Up AC Power 65W - Power bank with AC outlet plug


I have been wishing for a power bank with AC outlet for a while. I have several reason why I wished for this type of device.

✔ It seems I lose electricity at least a few times every year. In the summer when I lose power I keep cool by using a veryy small fan which can run from a USB battery. It was better than nothing but how I wished I could power my regular tower fan from a battery! Now I can!

✔ I use a lot of desk LED lamps powered from external power banks. I prefer power banks because I don't need to run cords, however my favorite desk lamps do not have a cable which can be converted to run from USB power. This power bank solves the problem and now I can use my best desk lamps rather than just the ones that happen to take a USB adapter.

✔ I own Neos, an Android PC, which is a large tablet but needs to be plugged into AC to work as it has no built-in battery. I have it located in a spot which does not have a convenient AC outlet and this means requires a long extension cord running across the room. Now I can run it directly from this power bank sitting next to it.

✔ I have an old PC which I still use but don't use it enough to justify a new battery. Now I can run it from the power bank without needing an AC outlet.

To charge this power bank you need a special cord and a special AC adapter. This is the only part of the package I did not like, I would have preferred something standard. The package also includes a universal AC adapter for international travel and pouch which can fit either the cords or the battery, but not both.

To fully charged a completely drained Power Ups battery takes me 2 hours and 30 minutes.

So now did GearUP perform each of my tasks?

AC port
♦♦♦ Using Windows laptop
I started with the laptop at 30% and with HIS Gear Up fully charged. 28 minutes later the laptop beeped to tell me that the charging stopped. The laptop was at 74% and HIS Gear Up totally drained. The battery got quite hot powering the laptop. This turned out to be my least favorite use of the battery.

♦♦♦ NEOS Android PC
I started with HIS Gear UP fully charged and was able to watch Netflix for 2 hours and 20 minutes until the battery was totally exhausted. The battery remained cool through out. This is enough power to watch a movie or a few episodes. Useful!

♦♦♦ Running a large fan
I started with HIS Gear UP fully charged and it kept the fan working for 5 hours. In 1.5 hours it was down to 3 dots, in 3 hours it was down to 2 dots, in 4.5 hours it had a flashing 1 dot indicating it was running out of power. Excellent. I am ready for the next hot weather power outage!

♦♦♦ LED desk lamp
I started with HIS Gear UP fully charged and was the lamp stayed lit for 5 hours 10 minutes. After 3 hr it was at 2 dots, at 4 hours and 20 minutes at 1 dot. 4 hours 45 minutes it 1 dot was flashing indicating it was almost out of power. Excellent. I use this frequently.

USB ports
In addition to the AC outlet this power bank has a regular USB port. I measured its performance with a current monitor and even though it provides rate higher than USB rate it performs below average compared to a dedicated USB only external batteries. It does not provide charge through (i.e. it cannot charge when the battery itself is being charged).

♦♦♦ Galaxy Nexus phone:
0.73A / 5.04V
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this phone is 1.00A/5V)

I mostly use Gear UP at home getting power to spots without needing an extension cord. This power bank fits my needs very well, especially for lights and fans because this battery lasts a long time. Being able to run a large fan during a power outage is going to make a big difference in comfort.

You can find this power bank on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Product review: GROSCHE Boston Premium French Press Coffee and Tea Maker


We have been using a French Press on regular basis for many years. I have a small French Press at work and a large one at home. We like using French Press because it produces a full bodied coffee flavor and it gives us control on how strong the coffee is. My husband likes it stronger than me and it is easy to make different strength by varying how long I wait before pouring.

Grosche French press feels well made. It has mostly stainless steel construction, only the underside of the cap and the handle are made out of black plastic. The mesh is very fine and leaves no sediment.

The capacity of this beaker is 4 cups (4 cups fills it to the top of the chrome band). This French Press is 9" tall from the bottom to the top of the cap handle, the glass beaker itself is 7" tall. It is dishwasher safe.

This is a nice looking French Press and operates smoothly.

You can find this french press on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Monday, February 16, 2015

Product review: Sabrent FAN-NTP3 Business Notebook Cooler Pad


Number of fans:____ 3
Air flow:__________ One speed, low air flow
Cord:______________ non-detachable USB cord
On/Off switch:_____ yes
Size:______________ width 11.85" x front to back 10"W x height 1.125" to 0.5"
Noise:_____________ VERY quiet
Color:_____________ black
Feet:______________ Has plastic feet (pad itself is metal)
Stand:_____________ non-adjustable, single height, slightly angled
Flaws observed:___ None so far
USB ports:________ no USB ports on the cooling station, it has a USB cord to plug into a computer
Packaging:________ no manual, documentation is on the box

This is a relatively small cooling station, it is extremely quiet. It gets it power from the computer it is cooling and requires it to have an empty USB slot.

I have an older Acus netbook that began overheating (I suspect the internal fan failure). Without a cooling pad I was not able to finish an OS upgrade (it shut down due to overheating), putting it on the Sabrent cooling pad allowed me to complete the upgrade.

I measured the CPU temperature when the system was idle as well as under a large load.

On idle the Sabrent cooling reduced the CPU temperatures by 5C.

Without Sabrent cooling pad (idle system):
Core 0: +75.0°C
Core 1: +73.0°C

With Sabrent cooling pad (idle system):
Core 0: +70.0°C
Core 1: +68.0°C

I ran system diagnostics to generate a heavy load. Without Sabrent cooling pad it was able to run the diagnostics for 36 minutes before it reached a critical temperature (> 100C) and shut itself down. With the Sabrent cooling pad it was able to run the entire diagnostic set (3 hours) reaching the following maximum temperatures:

Motherboard: 99C
CORE 0: 98C
CORE 1: 96C

Sabrent cooling pad certainly made a difference for this old netbook and I am able to keep it going even though at these high temperatures I suspect it is not going to last very long. It is best when computer CPU core temperature is under 50°C, if it is the in 60°C or higher it shortens the life expectancy of the computer components.

The cooling pad should be blowing towards the device you are trying to cool. How well it cools depends not only on the cooling pad but on how many ventilation holes each device has on the bottom. In addition ventilation holes on the computer tend to fill up with dust. If you are not getting good results with a cooling pad try vacuuming the ventilation holes.

So far I had no issues, the fans are operating quietly. Attached video shows the cooling pad in operation, I hope it helps to illustrate my review.

You can find this cooling pad on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★★