Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Product review: Link Laces No Tie Shoelaces - Elastic Shoe Laces


This my second set if shoelaces of this type. Turns out I like these better for two reasons.

(1) The opening through which one needs to thread the shoe laces opens wider on Link Laces and it took me no time to thread them through. In addition the tips of the shoelaces are stuff, so it easy to make them go through the hole. Because the threading mechanism is easy to work with you can reposition the round lock easily - how tight it is or which direction it faces (this is not the case with my old shoe laces).

(2) The second locking mechanism that holds the tips is small and it looks better and less noticeable. Note the tips lock is permanent, once you close it you cannot open it again. I wanted to make the tips shorter but turns out it was not possible. So to shorten the tips I just tied a knot to prevent the tips from hanging down (see video).

This shoe laces work well for anyone who has trouble bending or does not want to spend time lacing the shoes/sneakers/hiking boots. Before my bike accident that resulted in a back surgery that made less flexible my favorite footwear was hiking boots even when I was not hiking. Since my back surgeries I rarely wear my hiking boots because tying the shoe laces puts my back in a position that is not comfortable. With elastic shoe lace system I am back to wearing my hiking boots and other shoes that lace up. Elastic shoe laces stretch and allow me to just slip into the boots/shoes.

The laces do not hold my foot in the shoe as tightly as regular laces because they stretch. They are perfectly fine for walking around on flat surface. If I was hiking the boots would be too loose for me on uneven rocky surface. However, the target audience for this shoe laces is unlikely to need the type of lacing you would want while climbing a mountain so I don't think this is a problem.

To lace up the shoes for the first time:
♦ First you lace the boot with the elastic shoe laces like you would normally do
♦ Then you need to thread both ends through the round lock
♦ Next step is to tighten the laces to your liking and cut the laces 3" from the lock
♦ Finally, put the ends into the tips lock and close it. This lock cannot be opened, so be sure that the ends are not too long.

These shoe laces let me wear lace-up shoes again without hurting my back, so I am very pleased.

You can find this shoe laces charger on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Monday, January 26, 2015

Product review: BESTEK® 4 Groups Timer


Update 12/30/14.
I had to come back and update this review. The timer exhausted the new batteries in about 16 days with very light use. I used this timer 5 times in addition to demonstrating how it works in the video. If I have to replace the battery every two weeks this is going to be one expensive timer! I have to downgrade this review from 4 stars to 2 stars. Now that I discovered this flaw I need to remove the batteries after each use - there is no off switch.

Original review:
This is a very handy timer if you need to time multiple things at the same time. This timer is quite compact: it is 5" x 3.5" in size. The left hand side has a display for 4 timers, the right hand side is a writing area where you can make a note of what each timer is timing. The package includes a white board pen with an eraser. And the white board pen does not stink! A big plus in my book.

4 buttons control this timer. The "event" button lets you select which timer you are using, "HR" button sets the number of hours, "MIN" buttons selects the number of minutes. If you select hour, then the timer shows hours and minutes. If you select minutes, then the timer shows minutes and seconds. "st/sp" button lets you start and stop the timer.

The only thing I don't like is that there is no "clear" button. So unless I manually use HR and MIN buttons to set values to zero there is no way to remove the values. The only way I can tell that the alarm is inactive is by looking ":" which is either blinking or not. If you are timing in minutes and seconds it is easier because you see seconds either changing or not.

When the timer expires it begins counting up. I find this very helpful because if I miss the alarm it tells me how much time has passed since the alarm time. Very handy!

The timer runs on two AAA batteries which are not included.

In addition to not being able to clear the values, I have one more small quip. The magnets on the back of the timer are not strong strong enough to hold the unit on my refrigerator. The timer slowly slides down. They must have tested it without batteries! This is not a deal breaker for me but worth mentioning.

This timer is provided by Bestek.

You can find this timer on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★☆☆☆

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Product review: Renergy®All in One 5200mAH Portable External Battery Charger


This power bank can be used an AC wall charger as well as an external battery. It can charge mobile devices while external battery is being charged itself. On a standard power strip this charger takes up 3 slots unless you plug it in one of the end outlets. The battery has retractable prongs and the package includes a travel pouch.

The fact that it takes a lot of slots on a power strip is a problem for me as I am always short of space on my power strips and end outlets are in high demand as I have a lot of devices competing for those slots.

Weight: 6.25 oz
Size: 3 3/8"L x 2 5/8"W x 7/8"

To see how well different chargers and external batteries charge my mobile devices I use a Nexus phone and an iPad Mini to test each of them. I do my tests with the devices charged to the same level, running the same applications and using the same cables to keep everything the same. This allows me to compare them to each other in a fair way. I use the current monitor to see what current is delivered to each device which tells me how well each battery/charger is working. I ran these test with this wall charger plugged in as well as disconnected from AC. In these tests Renergy did very well for iPad Mini on 2.1A port, but not as well as other wall chargers for my Android phone. I am including the numbers below for those are interested in the nitty gritty details.

Nexus phone:
Port 1A (plugged into AC)__________ 0.75A /4.99V (below average)
Port 1A (disconnected from AC)_____ 0.75A /5.01V (below average)
Port 2.1A (plugged into AC)________ 0.80A /4.99V (below average)
Port 2.1A (disconnected from AC)___ 0.77A /4.98V (below average)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this phone is 1.00A/5V)

iPad Mini Tablet:
Port 1A (plugged into AC)__________ 0.93A /5.01V (average for 1A port)
Port 1A (disconnected from AC)_____ 0.93A /4.99V (average for 1A port)
Port 2.1A (plugged into AC)________ 1.61A /4.99V (excellent)
Port 2.1A (disconnected from AC)___ 1.48A /5.01V (excellent)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this tablet is 1.70A/5V)

So, what's the bottom line? I own both Android and Apple devices so I prefer smart chargers that have a chip that changes the charging protocol based on the device the charger is charging. This adaptable logic allows smart chargers to charge each device equally well on each port. However, for folks who only need to charge Apple devices this charger did quite well.

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

Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Product review: Wool Dryer Balls


This is a set of 6 wool balls, each one is 3" across. They come in a cloth storage bag, which is where I keep them when they are not in use. The balls are made out of (mostly) white wool. They had a bit of an odd scent when they first arrived, but the scent dissipated after the first dryer run.

The balls jump around in the dryer and mix up and fluff up the items as they dry. The towels and clothing definitely comes out softer. I like them better the fabric softener because many fabric softeners have a scent and I prefer a natural clean smell without the fragrance. I use all 6 balls for a large load and fewer for a smaller load.

According to the description the balls also supposed to reduces laundry drying time by mixing up the fabric. I always dry my laundry with an automatic sensor. Comparing two similar loads the load with the balls was done about 5 minutes faster: 50 minutes vs 55 minutes. Not a huge difference.

The balls do make a bit of a banging noise as they jump around but it is not bad. I captured a short clip of the noise as the balls do their thing in the attached video.

These wool balls are provided Je T'aime Baby. I like them!

You can find these balls on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Product review: JENNIELIU Women's 80" X 28" Tissue Wight Wool Cashmere Wrap


It is made out of very fine (i.e. fairly thin) wool and cashmere: 70% wool and 30% cashmere. The material is light and soft. It feels softer than 100% wool, but not as soft and fuzzy as pure cashmere. Due its size and weight I would describe it as a shawl. It has a look and a feel of a top quality product.

I got the "Purple" version of this scarf. I would describe this shade of purple is "plum". Beautiful!

The shawl is 81" long (not counting the fringe) and 28" wide. The fringe is slightly over 4".

It feels very nice around my neck, it drapes well. The fringe on this shawl is very attractive, it is tightly wound and has a "crisp" look. My video includes some close ups to give you a better idea of what it looks like in person.

You can find this sweater on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Product review: Perixx MX-3200, Dual Mode Wired and Wireless Gaming Laser Mouse


This is an okay mouse. I have used a large number of mice and I have to say this mouse is pretty different from other mice I have used. I will try to go over the Pros and Cons of my experience in a systematic way.

First its shape. This mouse is quite flat. I have a small hand and I like flat mice. However, if you like tall rounded mice be aware that this mouse does not have a pronounced arch. The sides on the mouse are also not rounded. My video shows the mouse from different angles to help the verbal description. The thumb button are raised and quite pronounced. They are very easy identify by touch with a thumb, for gaming and shooting action this is excellent. This mouse is 4.75", 2.625" wide and 1.25" high at the tallest point.

Second, optical controls. It has two different optical controls: an IR control for office use and a laser control 5040 dpi go faming. The switch between the two is on the bottom of the mouse.

Third, communication with the computer. In the wireless mode the mouses uses a 3.5" x 3.5" control station which plugs into USB port on the computer and (a) communicates with the mouse (b) can be used as a charging station for the mouse when it is not in use. I leave it sitting on it every night. The control station that comes with this mouse comes with a proprietary two headed cable. The control station is always plugged into the computer with a data cable so it can communicate data between the mouse and the computer, and it also has a charging cable which can be plugged into the second port to provide extra charging power. I am not fond of proprietary cables as I am worried about misplacing or breaking a special cable. To have both cables plugged in one needs to give up 2 USB ports. To switch to wired mouse you need to disconnect the control station as the package comes with one cable.

Forth, charging. This mouse has a non-replaceable rechargeable battery. It can be charged either by plugging a charging cable or from the charging station that comes with this mouse. I am not fond of non-removable batteries because eventually they stop holding charge eventually. This is not going to be a problem in the short run but my favorite mouse is about 10 years old... This mouse is not going to last that long.

This mouse works both on Windows and Linux. In Windows you can use enclosed software to program the mouse button to record macros. On Linux you get the default behavior of the button, in addition to the standard buttons (click, left, right, scroll wheel) I also get volume up and down and next previous screen by using the thumb buttons.

I spend almost the entire day with a mouse in my hand so I am very sensitive to the mouse shape. I like flat mice so I like the shape of this mouse. I like the extra buttons and their shape. I am not fond of the control station, the propriety charging cable, non-replacable battery, and having to give up 2 USB ports.

You can find this mouse on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Friday, January 16, 2015

Product review: Scarf Holder - Snag Free Design


This hanger works pretty well. It is made out of smooth plastic, each hole is neatly finished, scarves have nothing to get snagged on. The openings are big enough to work with thin silk scarves as well as thick wool scarves. My video shows how it holds thick and thin scarves. I love scarves and thing hanger lets me organize them so I can pick exactly what I want to wear.

This hanger is collapsible, however when you collapse it the hook is turned to be hidden between the two arms. It would have been nice if I could rotate the hook so the four loops are below the hook. I can see how that configuration could have been useful for someone who only wanted to hang 4 scarves.

I am finding the hanger quite useful, I have it hanging on a coat tree in the entrance. We used to sling the scarves over the tree, and, of course, sometimes would always hang the coat over the scarves so the next time you'd have to hunt for the scarves among the coats.. Now the scarves are nicely hanging on the hanger and they are much easier to get.

You can find this hanger on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★★