Monday, March 26, 2012

Product review: Fiskars 9418 Ultra Light Kneelers Knee Pads

I do a lot of my gardening on my knees as I find it easier on my bad back. Until I purchased Fiskars Kneelers Knee Pads I used a pad that knelt on. The problem with the pad of course is that you have to get up before moving to a new spot. It is much easier to garden with the knee pads attached to your legs. I am very pleased with this purchase.

I am attaching a photo under customer photos that I will be referencing in this review.

The photo shows both sides of the knee pads. The top image shows the outer shell of the pad that touches the ground. It is made out of thick (slight under 1/2 inch) rubberized material which provides cushioning and protection from moisture.

The bottom image show the inside part of the knee pad, which is made with soft black non-slippery material. The cavity of the knee pad is 4.75 inches wide, and 7 inches long. It can be made more narrow by tightening the knee straps or wider by pressing on it with the knee because it flexes.

Each knee pad has a rubber band which holds the knee pad to the leg. Each band is 20 inches long and 1.5 inches wide. At each end of the rubber band there is 3.5 inches of Velcro so you can adjust the pad based on the size of your leg. If your legs are particularly skinny you can sew in additional Velcro strip so you can close it tighter. If your legs are thicker you can add another piece of rubber band with more Velcro. I consider myself an average size woman and I got a perfect fit with and without long pants on.

The knee pads are easy to clean by washing them with a hose. They are solidly made and feel like a good quality item.

Fiskars offers lifetime warranty for the knee pads. Even if when I don't plan on using a warranty replacement, it always makes me feel good about a product when the company shows the confidence in the product by offering such long warranty. For warranty service, email or call 1-866-348-5661 or contact Fiskars Brands, Inc. 2537 Daniels Street, Madison, WI 53718.

I am really enjoying my knee pads, in particular because I can move so much easier with them than a knee pad I used before. I recommend this product.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Product review: Whirlpool Beverage and Wine Rack

Not ideal for wine bottles! But I have a solution that is!

We like deserts wines.  One distinctive characteristic of packing for most of these wines is that they come in tall thin half bottles. Because they are tall and thin I had to re-arrange the shelves in my refrigerator to fit them, and that left me with some quite narrow shelves.  In addition because of their small base they are not very stable and have been knocked down a few time by people using the refrigerator to get something else.

So I was looking for an alternative way to store an opened bottle of a desert wine.  The Whirlpool beverage and wine rack looked like something that would work well. On the positive side it fits any refrigerator that has a space between the shelve edge and the wall of the refrigerator.  My refrigerator is not Whirlpool and it worked.  But it had two major draw backs:
1.  To accommodate large Coke bottles the width of this shelve is about 6 inches.  Wine bottle is 2 inches.  It was not a good fit. About half of one shelve space in height was lost for not enough benefit.
2.  It is better to store an already opened bottle of wine not totally flat but with the cork slightly up to avoid any leakage.

These thoughts led me to the following solution, which I hope someone else will find useful.
I am attaching a 4 photo collage under customer photos that I will be referencing below.

1. Photos labeled #1 and #2: I used foam installation which came as packaging of one of my recent purchases (a piece that protected a monitor edge). The hard foam is about 4 inches wide and had a 2 inch slit down the middle. I made the slit slight wider at one end so it would fit the body of the bottle. As you can see in the photos its length is about half of the bottle. This allows me to rest the bottle on its side, with its neck cradled in the foam.  It prevents the bottle from rolling side to side, and provides a slight elevation to the top of the bottle so that even when it is almost full the wine cannot leak out.

2. Photos labeled #3 and #4: These photos show the "wine cradle" in the refrigerator.  It takes up little room, keeps the bottle steady and out of the way.

I am very pleased with this solution.  It is very functional and the price is right!  Hope someone else will be able to use this method for storage of wine bottles.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Product review: Duro-Med Adjustable Multi-Color Small Base Quad Cane

Stability : Wide side away from the body

I purchased a small base quad cane after back surgery to help me walk up the stairs. If you need a cane for walking up the stairs it is very important to get the cane with a small base so all four legs will fit onto a step.

I was taught how to use this cane in a rehabilitation facility. The cane is unstable if you use it the wrong way. The four leg base is not symmetrical. On one side two legs are spaced a little close together, on the other side a little more wide apart. It is very important to have the wide part AWAY from the body. The base can be switched based on whether you want to use right handed or left handed. This positioning makes a huge difference.

When the cane came from the factory it was set for the wrong hand, and if I did not have my lesson on stability I probably would have used it as is and would have been unhappy with stability of the cane. I hope this helps someone else!

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Product review: Microwave Splatter Screen

Flimsier than I imagined, sags in the middle

I use microwave for a lot of cooking with tomato-based and curry-based sauces. A few years back I picked up a hard plastic platter cover screen at Trader Joe's that I have been quite pleased with. However through the years it became some what discolored from curry splatter and when I saw this splatter screen I decided to try it.

I am attaching several photos to accompany my review. Photo #1, which shows my hand under the splatter screen, illustrates what the screen looks like. It looks and feels similar to a piece of sheer window curtain. The edges are not finished in any way and have a ragged look as if someone cut it with scissors (i.e. it is not a smooth edge when you cut it with a circular cutting edge machine). A red bead is glued to the material every few inches along the edge. These beads meant to keep the edges down when the material is draped around a dish in the microwave, but they are too light to do this job well. If you have a large dish the material sags in the middle and touches the food.

What I liked:

1) It does prevent splatter
2) It was relatively inexpensive
3) I was able to wash it with dish washing solution like I would a rag, and the splatter was removed. Curry stains were not, but I don't hold that against the material.

What I did not like:

1) It sags in the middle and touches food
2) Relatively small in diameter, not enough to cover some of my cooking containers (see Photo #2, where the splatter is over a small hummus container for relative size)
3) After I washed it, I had hard time finding a place for it to dry. My hard plastic screen just stands in the dish drying rack, but it was hard to find a place for this large sheer piece of material that was not in the way.
4) It looks rather unattractive, very home-made

Bottom line: It is okay for small containers where the screen has a lot of overlap so it does not sag in the middle, but for my needs it is not good enough. I would not buy it again.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Product review: TRX Pro Pack + Door Anchor

Not for everyone

 I recently had a serious back surgery, and after several years of being in pain I am in bad shape physically. I have been on a look out for various ways to enhance my exercise routine. I have a friend love his TRX system and let me borrow it to try it out to see if I should buy one for myself.

Turns out I am not quite ready for it. I have limited strength and flexibility, and found the exercises too challenging. Some exercises require you to put feet into stirrups and flip into plank and push-up positions, which I could not do.

I liked:
1. The videos are clear
2. It does provide a way to train many different muscle groups

I did not like:
1. You have to be in reasonable physical shape to start this work out
2. Not inexpensive
3. Need to have room to exercise around your doorway
(or purchase and install an anchor in the ceiling capable of supporting your weight)

My friend, who is in great shape, likes his TRX system. I was glad I had a chance to try it before spending the money to find out that I could not use it.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

Friday, March 16, 2012

Product review: GE 50 Pint ADER50LN Basement Dehumidifer

Works great! I modified it to empty into washing machine drain 

 I have been using a dehumidifier in the basement to get rid of the "basement" smell. When my old model stopped working I purchased GE ADER50LN based on Consumer Reports recommendation as their Best Buy. Consumer Reports indicated that models that remove 60 to 70 pints of moisture per day (i.e. the larger models) usually remove the moisture faster and thus use less energy than the smaller ones. I just received my first electric bill and I can see that it is lower than with the old model.

What I like:
1) More efficient, lower electricity cost
2) There is a light that tells you when the filter needs changing
3) It has a timer
4) It has a digital display
5) It has frost control

To evacuate water directly into the drain (so I don't have to empty the bucket manually), I purchased a pump. A small tube empties the water from the dehumidifier into the pump (rather than into the internal bucket). The pump pumps the water into a longer tube which drains into the the same drain where the water from the washing machine does. All I had to do is to purchased a PVC drain splitter in a home improvement store and attach it to the drain I had for washing machine.

I am attaching the photo to illustrate my explanation. The white PVC pipe in the photo is the piece I attached, the beige PVS pipe is the original pipe. I cut down the original pipe so the new pipe would be at a similar height after I attached it.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★ 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Product review: Gilmour 196SPB Pattern Master Impulse Sprinkler on Polymer Sled Base

A lot of control over watering shape, detailed instructions for controls included

Gilmore sprinkler gives you a lot of control of how far the water shoots and the shape of the circle. I have been using it now for two weeks, and I am very pleased with its performance. This is my first sprinkler of this type so I got a bit soaked figuring out how to set it up exactly as I wanted, so I am adding detailed instructions and photos of the controls.

My goal was to set up a 220 degree semi-circle, leaving a small wedge where I can exit the basement and approach the sprinkler without getting soaked. The distance of how the sprinkler head rotates to the left or the right is control by two red levers around the head. The lever on the RIGHT hand side control how far the head rotates to the LEFT, and the lever on the LEFT hand side controls how far the head rotates to the RIGHT. (see photo)

The distance of how far the spray shoots is controlled by a red ring which pushes on the back of the head. The higher the ring is lifted the shorter is the spray, when the ring is at its lowest the water shoots the furthers away. How high the ring is lifted is controlled by the pegs that you can reach beneath the sprinkler (see photo of the sprinkler upside down). When you push on the pegs from below they raise the ring. When you push on the ring from above, you lower the ring. You can control each individual peg, so you have a lot of control and can create a pretty intricate shape for your watering needs.

If you need to the sprinkler to make 360 circle, you need to pull the medal clip towards you.

The sprinkler comes assembled with female hose-end connector with shut-off valve and male hose-end adapter. For some reason the sprinkler's shut-off valve does not want to stay facing up, so I found it easier to turn the sprinkler on and off using the shut-off valve on the spigot.

I have been watering the newly planted lawn twice a day. The sprinkler is working very well. I am pleased with precision of the watering I was able to achieve avoiding various areas that should not get wet yet getting water to everything I wanted to water.

This sprinkler worked all last summer twice a day every day.  The sprinkler was still going strong when I packed it up for the winter. I am very pleased with it.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Kindle book review: Assimilative Memory or, How to Attend and Never Forget

Must have been ground breaking in 1899, still relevant today

This book is available as a free download from Amazon for Kindle or Kindle for PC.

Written in 1899, this book talks different ways human memory works and how to improve your ability to memorize.

Assimilative memory is absorbing of ideas and making them available for recall whenever wanted. It is learning through through grasping the ideas meaning and comprehension of the subject matter.

It is contrasted with Sensuous memory which is association through eye or ear of succession of sights or sounds without any reflection. It is learning by repetition, this is not a mode of learning that is lasting.

These two methods of learning are illustrated by example memorizing a series of words. One by repeating the words over and over, another by thinking of relationships between the words.

The author's premise is that thinking of the relationships between the words makes it easier to memorize the words
and retrieve them later.

The authors method of memorization is based on the three laws are : Inclusion, Exclusion, and Concurrences. The book goes through various example of three laws of forming relationship between words, numbers in improving memorization. Then it progress to more complex examples such as sentences, poems, foreign words.

The book contains a larger number of exercises, starting with simple and ending with quite complex.

Some of the ideas in this book must have been ground breaking at the time they were written. They are still interesting and relevant today.

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

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kindle book review: Mother's Remedies Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remedies from Mothers of the United States and Canada

Very interesting to see how people treated deceases in 1915

This book is available as a free download from Amazon for Kindle or Kindle for PC.

I like honesty in a book, so the first sentence in the preface immediately attracted me. It stated that some remedies might be helpful as a placebo only.

The actual remedies were written in 1915. The book starts with extensive dictionary of medicines and terms.

The book is organized in chapters, each one addressing a number of issues. For example, a section on babies consists of more than 500 questions. The answers are written in plain language, useful and to the point. The section on herbs provides a description of common roots and plants, with recommendations when to collect them, and how to use them. Unfortunately, the illustrations are not part of the Kindle publication.

In addition to mother's remedies some sections have Physician's treatment section.

The book is nicely organized with an index, so you can find topics by either by decease or by remedy.

I found this book to be an interesting read. Both to see how things change and what remained the same. My great grandfather was a doctor at that time frame so the reference had a special meaning to me, trying to imagine his life.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Product review: Review and Cost comparison with OEM for Compatible for Toner Cartridge for Samsung ML 2010, 2510, 2570, 2571N - ML2010D3

So far so good!

This is the first time I purchased a compatible toner cartridge rather then OEM cartridge. I received a replacement compatible toner cartridge for my Samsung ML in different box than the stock photo shows. It was extremely well packaged in good bubble wrap. It was packaged more securely than the OEM replacement toner cartridges that I have purchased in the past. See please see attached collage of photos under "Customer images", photo labeled #1.

The cartridge was clean with no toner residue in the bag. It looked very similar to the original OEM cartridge just did not have the Samsung logo on the cartridge itself. See photo labeled #2, the original cartridge is on the left, this compatible cartridge is on the right.

The installation instruction were a little confusing. The image in photo labeled #3 shows the confusing step. The instruction calls to remove the seal from the cartridge and the image shows like you have to remove some small part on the right hand side of the toner. In fact what they mean is to slide out a large piece of paper laying in a crease of the toner.

The cartridge easily inserted into the printer, and printed flawlessly. The ink was dark and even. There were no streaks on the front or the back of the paper. I rubbed my finger over it and it did not smudge. So far so good.

I had my Samsung ML2010 for a number of years, I have purchased two OEM laser cartridges during its life time in addition to the starter cartridge that came with the printer. I keep track of my laser cartridges in a spreadsheet. I paid $70 and $74 respectively for each cartridge and got a total 46 months of use out of the two cartridges. The average cost of use for the OEM Samsung laser cartridges has been $3.13 per month.

I paid $15.25 for this compatible cartridge, if it lasts more than 5 months I will be saving money.

So far so good! A 5 star rating. Time will tell how long it will last and how much of a bargain this toner is. I will update this review to indicate how it is doing in 5 months.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★