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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Product review: NaturalAreaRugs Natural Fiber Amsterdam Jute Rug, 8-Feet by 10-Feet

This is an updated review after using the rug for over a year.  I originally ranked it as a 5 star product  because of how nice it looked.  However after a year of use in a fairly heavy traffic area it began to fall apart.  I am reducing the rating to 3 star "okay".  If you use it a heavy traffic area expect to replace it in a year.

Original review: This rug is made out of Jute (90% Jute and 10% Cotton). I love natural colors and I think this rug has beautiful colors: beige, rust, brown. It is hand made by a good artisan - the edges of the rug are straight, it lays flat, the weave looks very even. I own a couple of smaller rugs in the similar style as door mats and such and some of them have wavy edges, but this one looks expertly made and looks good in the center of the room.

If you are not familiar with Jute it is made out of the bark of a Jute plant that is spun into coarse strong threads. It is more coarse and rough compared to cotton. If you step on it with your bare feet you can feel the difference, it feels rougher than cotton.

Even though I like the looks and workmanship of the rug, I have to include one negative. When the rug first arrived it had a scent - it is not a moldy scent, and does not smell chemical either, but mild scent not I am not able to identify. Initially as I spread it out on the floor the room had a scent, however now 2 weeks later the scent is no longer there.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Product review: Satechi Audio Move SD Portable MP3 Player Stereo Speaker

Satechi speaker is a small wired speaker and MP3 player (from micro SD media source). It has a crisp and pleasant sound at most ranges but at the very deep bass it does not deliver the full sound. The volume of music cannot be made super loud, but it is sufficient if you are near by or if you want to have quiet background music in a larger room. The speaker is 5.35" long, 2.5" wide, and 1" tall. It has rounded sides so it cannot be balanced on its sides, only on the back panel with the speaker facing up.

The speaker runs on a lithium battery. It is charged by a standard USB cable.

In the attached video I show MP3 operation from a micro SD memory card as well as using the speaker as a wired external speaker for my tablet (this speaker is not a bluetooth speaker).

To help me evaluate and compare different speakers I always use the same pieces of music to test the speakers. This way I can compare the speakers using this "apples-to-apples" comparison. As a stress test for the bass I use Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Satechi speaker handled the most of Bach Fugue well, with the exception of the section with the deepest bass where it sounded a bit muddy. However it did not crackle and handle that section better than many small speakers.

This speaker is not going to satisfy an audiophile but given the price this is a nice little speaker.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Friday, January 19, 2018

Product review: Fresh Brand Men's Cotton Sweater and Cardigan

This is a nice quality sweater with a big BUT.  The size is totally off.  I originally got it for my husband and he wanted a loose comfy sweater so I ordered one size up.  When it arrived it was so tight that he rejected it.  It does fit me (I wear medium size) but I need to roll up the sleeves or they are too long for me.

The sweater is a very dark navy color (almost black) with black synthetic leather elbow patches. It is made from 80% Cotton and 20 % polyamide.

The workmanship on the cardigan is nice - neatly finished seams, no hanging threads. It comes with a spare button.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★☆☆☆

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Product review: Key Finder Phone Finder Anything finder by YOUDUO

I got this key finder for my mother who is getting forgetful.  She often loses her keys and spends a lot of timing searching for them.  The key finder allows an app running on her phone to activate a ringer attached to key chain.

The connection between the phone and the ringer is made via Bluetooth so the distance is limited.  However, it does work between two floors of the house. The ringer comes from a small speaker in the receiver, so it is not very loud. My hearing is very good and I can hear it when the ringer is on another floor, but my mother's hearing is as good as mine and she can only hear the ringer when the ringer is on the same floor.

The package comes with a spare CR2032 battery as a key that opens the receiver.  The unit comes with the battery installed so I did not need to install the spare right away.

What could be better? I would nice of the receiver was even smaller. I show it on 1/2" grid and on key ring for size reference. It also would be nice if the ringer was louder.

Tips on connecting:
1. Do not use the phone's bluetooth settings.  Connect the app and the ringer using the app.
2. How to use the app to connect the phone to the device.  After you install the app (app name is Rtrivr2) click on the bluetooth icon on the screen.  This will start the wizard that will guide you through establishing the connection.

Keys seem to be the most natural thing for the key finder, but you can attach it to other things you might want to track. I like the idea of attaching it to my suitcase when I travel so I can easily tell it apart from other suitcases on the carousel.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Monday, January 15, 2018

Product review: GranVela Trail Camera Night Vision, 12MP 1080P HD Hunting Camera

We are big animals lovers and own several wild cams so we can observe the wildlife visitors we are lucky to get every day. Having several cameras gives me a base for comparison.  I rank this camera high among the ones I have tried:
(1) Video quality is good during the day and during the night.  The camera does best in indirect light (i.e. when the sun is NOT directly into the lens). When the light is directly into the camera the contrast in the shadows is not as good. I am including example of different light conditions, including a short night time clip.
(2) The camera has an easy to use menu-based interface.
(3) The sensativity of the motion detector is pretty. In the night time video you see a little bird triggering the camera at a good distance.

The camera has a good motion sensor and is activated only when something interesting is happening, so every video it captures has something good on it. The camera can be mounted in a number different (strap to attach to a tree or a tripod mount).  I am using a tripod.

The camera runs on eight AA batteries (not included). The battery life is pretty good.  After running for a week taking hundreds of videos every day the camera's battery indicator shows that it is half full. SD card is not included. The camera produces AVI and JPG output.

This camera case is robust.  The tripod with the camera has been knocked down by animals several times, and the camera still running, no problems. The case is waterproof and has been out in several rain storms and snow storms without any problems.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.
Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Book review : Fluid Art Mastery: 8 Steps To Being A Paint Pouring Artist byRick Cheadle

This book is written by a self-taught mixed-media artist.  The book includes examples of his artworks which I liked and found them very useful in the context of the technique explanation. 

The book starts with a brief history of fluid art. The history starts with Savid Siqueiros, but  unfortunately does not show any of his artwork. I was able to locate his work on internet as I wanted to see what his art looked like to  influence so many other artists.  

Then the book describes how to set up your own studio, including the safety equipment such as fire extinguisher. I liked that the author included photos of his own studio as well as the price of the equipment. 

Finally, the author moves to explaining the technique he uses.  The explanations  were clear and useful, and the artwork itself is beautiful.

One thing I found a little distracting is that the text of every line in this book is centered, rather than using the traditional type setting technique of filling each line start to end. However,  I was enjoying the content and the formatting annoyance was minor.

You can find this book on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Food review: Slim-Fast 3-2-1 Plan, Low Carb Diet Ready To Drink Shake, Vanilla Cream

The good news is that I thought the taste of the shakes was not bad (I have tried both chocolate and vanilla).

The bad news is that Slim-Fast gives me the runs. I have tried it a few times hoping it was a fluke, but no... I get uncontrollable diarrhea after the second shake.

My suggestion, when if you are trying this product for the first time do not leave home for a few hours after the first few times you try the shake in case it gives you the same side-effect as it gave me. I was not able to complete either the chocolate or the vanilla containers, as the side effect was too severe to deal with.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★☆☆☆