Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book review: When can you start? How to Ace the Interview and win the job, by Paul Freiberger

This book is a keeper! I found ideas and suggestions in this book to be interesting, practical and useful.

Paul Freiberger covers the interview process from many different angles. "When can you start" covers interview questions, salary negotiations, and preparation, preparation, preparation.

The book divides potential questions into three categories (1) tell us about yourself (2) perform some task related to your experience (3) quasi-philosophical conundrums. I work in the technology field, where the puzzle type questions are common, so I found that section most useful to me personally. I have a better insight now in how to approach these questions. It helped me re-orient my goal from trying to solve the puzzle in the exact way it was meant to be solved to showing that I am a creative out of the box thinker. I am much likely to be successful if I am not flustered because I don't know how the exact solution to the puzzle. The fact that I can morph the puzzle was a revelation.

The book makes it clear that most questions do not have the right and the wrong answer. The interviewer is looking to see how the candidates reacts, thinks, and behaves rather than getting a specific answer. "When can you start?" not only provides some sample questions and answers, but also helps you prepare for questions you have not anticipated.

The interviewer is looking to see if people will enjoy working with you. The book helps with what to stress and what to avoid to give the interviewer a positive answer to this question. The interviewer is trying to find out whether you will succeed in your job. "When can you start" tells you how to make it obvious that you will. Even the questions about your weaknesses can be turned around to be positive.

Almost as important as the question the interviewer asks the candidate, are the questions that the candidate asks the interviewer. This is another chance to highlight your strengths and your preparation. The book provides a long list of good question which can be starting point for forming your own questions.

I found a section on phone interview techniques quite useful. Ideas and techniques for keeping track of people during a phone group interview were funny and helpful at the same time. Phone interview, according to the book, is an open book test. And the book makes sure you fully take advantage of having helpful materials at your hands.

There is a long chapter on salary negotiations. It is very explicit with suggestions on how to put off the salary discussion and turns specifics into ranges. All these techniques are designed to make the other side make the first offer. The book also helps you recognize the situations when you can't avoid being first.

Confident people are judged to be competent. Using this book as part of your preparation for an interview will make you more confident.

Table of Contents

Introduction
1. Preparation: An Oxygen Tank for the Job Interviewee
2. Design Your Research Manual
3. Master the Informational Interview
4. New Rules for the Phone Interview
5. The Only Question You Must Be Able to Answer
6. (Don't) Tell Me About Your Weaknesses
7. How to Succeed in a Panel Interview
8. Where Does the Law Draw the Line?
9. Trick Questions
10. Say "Thank You" and Mean It
11. The New Interview, Courtesy of Google and Others
12. Turn the Tables: When It's Your Turn to Pose Questions
13. A Guide to Salary Negotiation
14. More Linchpins for Success
15. The Ideal Interview

I am grateful to the publisher for sending me a review copy of the book, I enjoyed reading it, and I especially appreciated the new perspective I now have on the puzzle interviews.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Product review: Cielux LUNE Touch Controlled Color Changing RGB LED Mood Light

How many different things can a light do? Quite a few! I am attaching a video which shows Lune light doing five different tasks.
video
 
✔ The first segment shows Lune light lighting wall art. The top of the light can be rotated and aimed at many different angles. The color changes totally change how the artwork looks. As the color changes it almost looks like the sail boat is moving.

✔ The second segment shows Lune light by itself as a modern shape sculpture. It would fit nicely in a modern style decor.

✔ The third segment positions the lamp to reflect from the wall silhouetting the pottery on top of by book case.

✔ In the fourth segment I put Lune light inside the china cabinet so it can highlight my holiday dishes.

✔ The final segment show this light as ... a burglar deterrent. As I was trying to find a perfect place for the light in my house it occurred to me that the color changes observed from the outside look like TV is on. I have been considering buying a [[ASIN:B00BTKGHDE FakeTV FTV-11 Extra Bright Burglar Deterrent]] which makes the house look occupied when you are away. The Lune light performs the same function but looks a lot prettier. When I am home the light decorates. When I am away it protects! The video shows what the light looks like from the outside. I aimed it at the wall near the window. Note that for burglar deterrent purpose I am using the light on a separately purchased timer so it comes on every evening like a real TV would.

I am also attaching a collage of 6 photos which you can find by following 'customer photos' link under the main photo.

   
✔ The first photo shows how the Lune light arrived - it is very well protected by its packaging.

✔ The second photo shows the light and its power cord. The top section containing the light rotates 50 degrees in one direction and 240 degrees in the other direction. This allows you to select the angle of the light - whether you want to light something on the wall, have the light reflect from the wall or the ceiling, etc. The cord is fairly short (56 inches), I really could not reach any of the location I wanted to place the light without using an extension cord. The plug is not polarized. The light is 7.5 inches tall, 8.5 inches wide, 3 1/8 inches thick.

✔ Photos 3 through 5 shows several different colors the light produces and how each shade changes the appearance of the room it is in.

The light has seven preset color options: 5 solid colors (red , yellow, green, teal, blue, purple, white) and 2 changing colors (fast fade 1.5 seconds between colors and slow fade 2.4 seconds between colors). My favorite is the slow fade.

It took a little practice to turn the light off and to change colors reliably every time. I found that capping the base of the light with my open palm works best for me. To turn off the light I hold my palm in place longer, to turn on and change settings hold my palm in place briefly.

I received a sample unit for providing an honest review be it positive or negative. I have no financial interest or business relationship with the manufacturer, and this review represents my independent opinion of the product.

I really like the Lune light not only because it looks good and is a conversation piece but also because it can serve many different functions including making my house look occupied when I am not there.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Friday, April 26, 2013

Product review: Tsirtech® Standard Monitor Riser For Printer/Notebook And Most Flat Pannel Moniters Upto 24"

Tsitech Riser is a sturdy riser that can be used for a number of purposes such as to create extra shelve room or to raise the monitor to a more comfortable level. I am using it to raise the scanner and to create an area for charging my tablet and various tablet accessories. The riser is rated to support flat panel monitors up to 24 inches (there is no weight limit specified on the riser or in the documentation).





Photo #1 shows everything in the package: the riser, its legs, and the rubber feet that go on the bottom of the riser legs. Each leg is made out of two sections (2" and 1"), allowing you to have the riser at three different heights: 3", 2", and 1". The rubber feet make the legs non-skid as well as protect the surface that the riser is standing on. The platform is sized 13 1/8" by 13 1/2". The photo shows two cut outs which can be used to hold the cords in place. All pieces fit together very well, it took me about 10 seconds to put it together.

Note that the color of the riser I received is black. The stock photo makes it look grey. I prefer the black color, so I was quite pleased that it was darker than the photo.

Photo #2 shows the riser on my bookcase. The legs of the riser are spaced so that they just fit on 33" shelves, overhanging by 3/4" on each side. In this photo you see the legs being used in their tallest configuration of 3".

I have a few other risers at my house, I like this one better than the others for two reasons: it can be adjusted to different heights and it has rubber feet. The other risers do not have these extra features.

I received this riser for evaluation and for an honest and unbiased review.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Product review: Organix Cosmetix Nourishing Body Butter

Organix Cosmetix Body Butter is a very soft and a very rich cream.  It has a very light fruity scent.  The body butter is absorbed well by my skin and does not feel greasy on my hands.  I use it all over my body.  I like how it feels on my skin, I like the light scent, and I like the results. My skin feels softer. One of my trouble spots is a scar on my shin from a fall last summer, and it looks less noticeable after I apply the cream to it.

The cream comes in large glass jar with a tin cover. The wide tub makes it easy to scoop up the cream and control how much you want to spread.  The tin cover, however, is easily damaged as I found out by accidentally dropping it.  Because of the drop I have a dent in the cover.

This body butter is certified to contained organic ingredients. 99.08% of the total ingredients are of natural origins. 12.76% of ingredients are from organic farming.

Ingredients:
---------------
aqua, glyceryl stearate SE, butyrospermum parki (shea butter),cetearyl alcohol, gluceryl oleate, glyceryl stearate, potassium sorbate, simmondsia chinersis oil, macadamia terriofolia seed oil, cetearyl olivate, sorbium olivate, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, olia europea, squalane, hordeum vulgare, saccharide isomerate, benzyl alcohol, citrus aurantion duclis (orange) peel oil, citrus medica limonum *lemon) oil, beeswax, glycerin, marrubium vulgare, peucedanum ostruthium, hyssopus officinalis,sodium benzoate, dehydroacetic acid, citric acid, benzoic acid, tocopheryl acetate.


I received a free tub of Organix Cosmetics Body Butter for providing an honest review be it positive or negative. I have no financial interest or business relationship with the manufacturer, and this review represents my independent opinion of the product.

Bottom line: I like it and will continue to use it. 


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Monday, April 22, 2013

Product review: Electric Heated Booties for cold feet

I get cold feet in the winter. The kind of cold feet that are not just cold but hurt. If you get this condition you know what I mean. The pain is not possible to ignore, you need to do something to warm up the feet. I have been using rice socks (the kind you microwave for a couple of minutes), but was looking for another option that does not require me to repeatedly warm the socks up. I looked at a large number of options and all of them had fairly bad reviews, these booties were the best of the bunch and I decided to try them.

I have been using them for a month. They have pluses and minuses that I describe below. But they work!
 
 
I am attaching a collage of three photos. The first photo shows the booties out the box as they arrived (before I shaped them to my feet). The second two photos show them on my feet from a couple of different angles.

✔ The most important thing - they work. They stopped the pain and I don't keep to keep running somewhere to keep the booties warm.

✔ The booties have two cords: one cord plugs one of the booties into the electric outlet, the second cord connect the first bootie to the second. The first cord is 94 inches, the second cord is 22 inches. This is a fairly short leash. I had to re-arrange my power strips to be able to use the booties while I work at my desk.

✔ The booties are not meant for walking (according to instructions and the presence of a short cord), so even if I need to reach for something that is only 4-5 steps away I need to take them off.

✔ It takes about 10 minutes for the warmth to becomes strong enough to help the painful feet. I usually turn them on at first sign that my feet are going into that painful state. With my rice socks I get relief in 2 minutes (i.e. time to microwave). With these booties I need a bit more planning ahead.

✔ The controller has three settings off, high power, and medium power. I start out on high power for probably 30 minutes. Then it becomes too hot and uncomfortably warm at the high setting and I switch it to medium heat. Then I typically turn them off in another 30 minutes, while keeping them on until they totally cool off.

✔ The booties are made out of plastic. They arrive as two flat pieces of plastic, and initially are fairly stiff. However, after wearing them for a few days the plastic shapes itself to your feet and they become more comfortable.

✔ One size fits all means they are pretty big on my size 7.5 feet. Since I can't walk in them anyway, this is not a big deal.

✔ I wear them with regular socks on. The top of the booty can be closed with a tie, but I don't bother. This allows me to put them on and take them off quickly, and they keep the heat well enough without being closed.

✔ Unfortunately, according to instructions they cannot be worn at night in bed. If my feet feel bad at night I wear the booties for half an hour while I read before going to bed and then take them off.

The bottom line is that they booties work a lot better than they look. Once you shape them to your feet they not uncomfortable. If you suffer from painful cold feet and need something to keep your feet warm while you sit at the desk these booties are a good solution.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Product review: Brightech - BT Remote - Bluetooth Multi-Media & Camera Remote Control for iPhone iPad Nexus Samsung Galaxy

I tested this bluetooth remote with Nexus 7 Tablet (JellyBean 4.2.2), Samsung Galaxy 7.7 Tablet (ICS 4.0.4), and Samsung Galaxy Nexus cell phone (JellyBean 4.2.2). All three devices worked very well. According to documentation the remote is also compatible with all iPhone devices and Laptops running Windows XP and Windows 7 if they have bluetooth capabilities.

I am attaching a collage of 4 photos that I will be referencing in this review.

The remote is 3 5/8 inches in length by 1 3/8 inches in width, it is 1/4 inches thick.

The bottom panel of the remote slides down to reveal a keyboard which is used for pairing the device with your mobile device. You can see the keyboard in photos 2,3,4. The keyboard keys are tiny and fairly difficult to press accurately. To activate the pairing mode you need to hit the right most key on the top row. The remote shows up as "UConnect" in the list of Bluetooth devices (see photo #2) for Nexus 7 Tablet and Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone. It shows upas "Bluetooth Media Control" on Samsun Galaxy 7.7 tab. When your mobile device detects the remote it will prompt you to enter the randomly generated security code displayed on the screen on the key pad of the remote (see photo #3 and photo #4). You only have to do this once, the next time you connect the device it remembers the security code.

The remote can control the volume level of of the mobile devices (tested with Pandora and TuneRadio apps). For MP3 players it can perform fast forward, reverse, pause/play operations.

I also tested the remote for activating the Camera/Video recorder and it worked smoothly.

Remote Presenter capability only works for Apple devices (it requires Mac Air, Mac Book Pro, iMac or Mac Mini). Siri capability is available for iPhone 4S and later.

I received this remote from the manufacture to share my experiences with it (positive and negative) with potential future buyers. I have no financial interest or business relationship with the manufacturer, and this review represents my independent opinion of the product.

Overall, I was impressed with this remote control. It looks sleek, it works well. My favorite use for the remote control is for controlling Grace Digital ECOXGEAR waterproof bluetooth speaker that has no volume control. I keep the speaker in the bathroom so I can listen to it while taking the shower. Brightech remote control allows me to change volume and pause the sound something I have not been able to do before.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Product review: DB-Tech Compact Foldable Bread Slicer


This bread slicer helped me slice the bread into thin even slices and it packs away very compactly. I like it. I am attaching a video which demonstrates how I assemble the bread slice, cut the bread, and disassemble the bread slicer for storage.

video

The bread slicer fits breads up to 6 inches wide, 5 inches tall. The length of the cutting area is 11.75" inches, but the bread can be slid off one side, so there is no limit in length. The cutting slots come in three width 3/8 inches on one end (what I used in the demo), 1/4 inch in the middle, and 5/8 inch on the other end. When the bread slicer is closed up it measures 12" x 8" x 2". I found it is easy to pack and assemble, so I stored flat on a shelf, and pull out when I need to cut bread.

It is made out wood (bamboo), so when I need to wash it I do so by hand (not in the dishwasher).

I received a sample product from the manufacture to share my honest experience with the product. In the past there was a problem with assembling the bread slicer sides correctly (because the slats on one end are meant for thicker slices, and both sides need to be oriented the same), this problem has been corrected.

Overall, I am pleased with this bread slicer, I particular like the thin slices as making them even without the aid of the bread slicer is hard. I like storing bread in the freezer and taking it slice by slice (this allows me to eat bread yet not to worry about eating too much of it). Now I can buy artisan breads which are not pre-sliced, slice them in the bread slicer, freeze, and consume slowly.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Product review: Sleep Lavender Bath Salts

I have a bad back and after a couple of back surgeries I learned a number strategies that help my back feel better. One of them is a 10 minute hot bath every night - it really helps feel and sleep better.  Recently I included Sleep Lavender Bath Salts from San Francisco Bath Salt Company into my routine. I love it!  The Lavender salt bath smells really nice.  I don't like strong scents and this one was just right for me - not too strong yet noticeable.  It made my soak more luxurious and pleasant.

Note that if you don't like flowery scents, San Francisco Bath Salt Company offers other salts with different scents, for example this muscle soak salt which smells minty.



I am attaching a collage of three photos.  The first photo shows salt in my hand, you can see the size and texture of the salt grains. The second photo shows the bag the salts came in, the salt has a light purple color.  The third photo shows salt as it begins to melt in the tub.

I find that the hot soak reduces pain and relieve muscle cramps in my back. I also found that if I have a migraine a hot soak helps to ease the headache as well.

I usually use one or two hand fulls of salt per bath, so one 2 pound bag will last quite a long time.

I received an evaluation bag of Lavender Salt for evaluation and an honest review. I have been using salt soaks for a couple of weeks now. In addition to making my bath soaks more pleasant I noticed another other benefit.  I noticed that the calluses on my feet are easier to treat after the soak in the bath with salts (compared to the soak in plain hot water).  It takes fewer strokes with a pumice sponge to get my feet totally smooth.

In addition to the use in the tub, I also enjoyed using a bit of salt as skin exfoliator. It works nicely providing a gentle scrub and massage.

Overall, I am very pleased with Lavender Salt and will continue to use it.


You can find Lavendar salt on Amazon by following this link.


You can find Musle soak salts on Amazon by following this link.




Ali Julia review ★★★★★



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Product review: Hipe Waterproof Wireless Bluetooth Shower Speaker

This speaker looks like a toy, but don't let the looks fool you. It sounds really good. I am attaching a video which demonstrates the sound: first with the speaker on and then, for comparison, turning off the speaker so the sounds comes through the tablet speaker. I am also attaching a collage of three photos that I will be referencing in this review.



The speaker is 8 inches wide, 3.25 inches tall, and 1.75" thick. It weight 9.9 inches. It comes in two colors: black and white.

The front of the speaker (see photo #1 for reference) has controls that allow you to to turn the speaker on and off, change volume, skip forward and backwards, go to the end, and use the phone. The little port hole above the command dial is the microphone.

The back of the speaker (see photo #2 for reference) has a watertight seal covering the compartment that has a charging port (5V IN), on/off switch, and Power out DC 5V port. The difference between the front on/off switch and the back on/off switch is that the front switch leaves the unit in stand by mode. The switch in the back can be used when you don't want to drain the battery.

The speaker has built in handle that can be used to hang the speaker in the shower (see photo #3 for reference).
 
video
 
The speaker's sound is very good, it is very clear and crisp at all ranges. The volume can be made fairly loud (I put it to the max in the video). In a small room like the bathroom it sounded especially good. I was also glad that it had controls right on the speaker. When the reminder alarm went off on my tablet while I was in the shower and unable to turn it off, I was able to switch off the speaker so I did not have to listen to the ding of the reminder for 10 minutes until it would automatically shut off.

To pair the speaker with your device you need to turn the unit on and then hold the on button for a few seconds until the light on the front start flushing red and blue color. While it is flashing red and blue you can scan for bluetooth devices on your phone/tablet and it this speaker will appear as HIP400. Documentation says that if you are prompted for the password enter 1234. I was not prompted for the password.

I received this speaker from the manufacture for evaluation and an honest review. I hope the video will give you a good idea of what to expect in terms of the quality of the sound. I really like this speaker, I like it better than the bluetooth shower speaker I have been using previously. While both have good sound, Hipe speaker has controls right on the speaker and that makes it much more convenient.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Product review: Bolse® Dual Desktop Charger Cradle Dock with Spare Battery Charging Slot


The idea of having a dock which can charge the phone as well as an extra battery outside the phone at the same time was very appealing to me, as my husband uses the cell phone for business and it gets a lot of use. He uses Nexus Galaxy phone with Hyperion Verizon Samsung Galaxy Nexus 3800mAh Extended Battery which makes the phone extra thick.  I tested the dock with both regular slim battery and the extra thick extended battery.

I am attaching a collage of 4 photos that I will be referencing in this review.

The first photo shows that the dock did not fit the phone when it had the thick extended battery installed. Photo #2 shows the bottom of the phone and extra thickness this battery forms.  The phone with the regular battery fit without problems.

Photo #3 shows the extended battery in the dock, the contacts of the battery did not line up with the contacts of the charger due to the thickness of the battery.  The green light on the dock indicates that the dock is plugged in, not that the charging is happening.

Photo #4 shows a regular battery in the dock, and it the charging of the regular size battery worked without a problem.

I received this item for an honest review and shared both positives and negatives aspects of my experience with this dock.

Overall, if you have a phone with a regular size battery this device works without problems.  If you use extended battery in your phone this charging dock is not for you. 


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Product review: Bolse 3.1 Amp Dual USB Car Charger with Nexus 7 Tablet, Samsung Galaxy 7.7 Tablet, and Samsung Galaxy Nexus cell phone

Review of Bolse 3.1 Amp Car charger
I tested Bolse 3.1 Amp Dual USB Car Charger with Nexus 7 Tablet (JellyBean 4.2.2), Samsung Galaxy 7.7 Tablet (ICS 4.0.4), and Samsung Galaxy Nexus cell phone (JellyBean 4.2.2).

I own several car chargers and ran the same set on tests on each of them to provide unbiased results as the numbers speak for the performance of the unit.

To test Bolse car charger I ran my 10 minute test for each of my 3 devices on each of the 2 ports for a total of 6 tests. I repeated the same tests with a data cable and with a charging cable. The results of these 12 tests are included in the tables below.

I am attaching a collage of 4 photos labeled with numbers 1 through 4 under customer photos that I will be referencing in this review. You can locate this photo by following 'customer photos' link under the main photo.

Photo #1 shows the charger on a gridded mat next a pen for size reference. The car charger is 3.5" long. The charger's face is 1.25" by 1".

Photo #2 and #3 show how the charger fits into our two cars. It has a relatively log neck and fits very well in both car configurations. It goes in firmly, forms a good contact, and stays plugged in well even over rough roads. The charger has two outlets labelled 1.0 AMP and 2.1 AMP.

Photo #3 shows one of the tables during the testing. I use Battery App by Elvison to determine how each device recognized the charging source. 'AC' status means the charging is at full charging rate. 'USB' status indicates charging at a lower charging rate. 'Discharging' status means that the charging rate is below the power that the device is consuming so it slows down the discharge rate but does not re-charge.

My methodology is to charge each mobile device on each port of the unit for 10 minutes and measuring how much each unit was charge in that 10 minute period. Each line in the table below represents a separate 10 minute test

The key findings:
(1) Samsung Galaxy 7.7 cannot be charged with this car charger with either port
(2) Both Nexus phone and Nexus 7 tablet running Jelly Bean 4.21 charged at AC rate on both ports.

The table below summarizes my findings:

Nexus 7 Tablet
--------------
1 AMP port.......AC rate.....1% charge increase (data cable)
2.1 AMP port.....AC rate.....1% charge increase (data cable)

1 AMP port.......AC rate.....1% charge increase (charging cable)
2.1 AMP port.....AC rate.....2% charge increase (charging cable)

Samsung Galaxy Nexus Phone
--------------------------
1 AMP port.......AC rate.....2% charge increase (data cable)
2.1 AMP port.....AC rate.....3% charge increase (data cable)

1 AMP port.......AC rate.....4% charge increase (charging cable)
2.1 AMP port.....AC rate.....3% charge increase (charging cable)

Samsung Galaxy Tablet 7.7
--------------------------
1 AMP port.......AC rate.....discharging (data cable)
2.1 AMP port.....AC rate.....discharging (data cable)

1 AMP port.......AC rate.....discharging (charging cable)
2.1 AMP port.....AC rate.....discharging (charging cable)

I received this car charger from the manufacture for an honest review be it positive or negative. Running the same set of test on all the chargers I own allows me to provide an unbiased review. By comparing the results of the tests for chis charger to the other car chargers I tested, this car charger earned a 5 star rating. The only thing this charger did not do well is handle my Samsung tablet. However neither did other generic car chargers, Samsung tablet only works well with the car charger made by Samsung.
You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Friday, April 12, 2013

Product review: Sandisk 4GB MicroSDHC Memory Card with SD Adapter

I bought Sandsik 4G MicroSDHC card for LG 800G. The card worked well in the phone. I also tested the card and the SD adapter in my PC and the adapter worked well as well.

The card and adapter came in bulk packaging as mentioned in title of the listing, this means in came in the plastic case enclosed in a plastic zip lock baggy. No blister pack.

Overall, I am pleased with the memory card: good price and it works.

Inserting memory into LG 800G had a couple tricky spots, so for other LG 800G owners I am including steps for inserting the SD Memory card into the phone.

1. SD memory card slot is located under the battery. This means that you first need to remove the cover by sliding it down. The first time I had to remove the cover it was a bit difficult, as the cover is very slippery and has no groves to hang on to. I finally was able to do it by using the grippy material used to open cans. The grippy material generated enough friction that the cover finally slid off. After removing the cover, you need to remove the battery.

2. The memory card slot is on the left side of the white SIM card. The gold bars on the card should face down towards the gold bars on the phone. The memory card goes under a metal holder. You need to lift the metal holder, place the memory card, and then lower the card holder, and push it down until it snaps in place. Note that lifting the holder for the first time requires some force. I used a tiny screwdriver to give me leverage to push it up. I am attaching a photo  which shows the holder in the up position, so you can see what you need to do to insert the memory card.

3. After the memory card is in place, you need to replace the battery and the phone cover, and power up the phone.

4. Now, you need to set your default memory to external, and tell the camera, the video recorder, and the voice recorder to use the external memory rather than the internal memory like before.

5. To set the default memory:
- Tap the following sequence MENU - Settings - Phone - Memory Info - Primary storage settings
- Tap on External memory (red check will appear)
- There will be a FORMAT button at the bottom of the screen, tap on it
- The phone will ask for a security code, enter 0000. Once you enter the security code, OK button will appear on the bottom of the screen. Click ok. Format takes about 1 second.

6. To set the camera:
- Tap Camera icon on the main screen holding the phone vertically, turn the phone to horizontal position, as you turn you will see camera control setting appear on the screen.
- Tap the gear icon which is on the lower left side of the screen.
- The memory setting is on the second screen of camera settings, so you need to tap the slider on the right hand side (it will say 1/3, first page out of three) once you tap it will change to 2/3.
- On the top row you will see a square called 'select storage'. By default it will look like a cell phone, once you tap it will look like a memory card.
- Hit OK to save your change

7. To change the video camera:
- Tap Camera icon on the main screen holding the phone vertically, turn the phone to horizon position, as you turn the camera controls will appear
- Tap the gear looking icon on the bottom left
- Now you need to switch from camera to video, which is done by sliding your finger from camera to video camera icon on the right hand side slider
- If you do it correctly, you will see a red button appear where the video camera is. If you do it incorrectly, you will take a photo. It took me a few tries to get the pressure and location of where my finger slides correctly.
- The storage setting is on the second page of the video camera, so you need to page down on the slider by tapping on 1/2.
- Tap on 'Select storage' icon, and make sure you see a memory card, rather than the cell phone icon.
- Click OK to save your change

8. To change the voice recorder
- Voice recorder is on the second page of Settings. To get there select Menu - slide you finger right to left to page - tap on Voice recorder.
- The top option is 'Storage', tap on it to change cell phone icon to memory card icon.
- Click ok to save your change

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Product review: Satechi 4 Port Portable USB 3.0 Hub

The Satechi USB hub 5.5" x 1.25" x 1". Its 4 USB slots are well spaced out  and are located on the top of the strip. I found that this configuration makes it easier to plug and plug USB memory sticks. I like it better than the ports that have slots on the sides. Its power cord cord is 10" long. The unit weights 3 oz.

The documentation states that this hub USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0. I tested with USB 2.0 and USB 1.1, and it is backwards compatible with both. I included the speed results for both below.

I tested he hub on Windows XP, Windows 7, and Linux. Each operating system I tested saw the memory stick plugged into the hub without problems.

I tested each port by copying a directory with mp3 files totalling 638916 Megabytes. I measured CPU time and clock time. I wanted to test that all ports worked, I wanted to test if there was a significant difference in performance between ports, and I wanted to see if copying to multiple memory sticks at the same time would slow down the copying.

✔ First, I tested each port using 2.0 USB memory stick. I ran each test two times on each of the 4 ports. All ports worked with a normal small variations in performances.

✔ Second, I tested copying files onto two 2.0 USB memory sticks at the same time, to see of the copying slows down compared to working with one stick at a time. The performance remained similar to to test 1.

✔ Third, I tested copying files to 1.0 USB memory stick. The hub is backwards compatible to USB 1.0

✔ Fourth, For comparison I plugged the same memory stick directly into the computer without the USB hub.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TEST#1 (one USB 2.0 stick)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Here are clock times (two columns represet each of two tests):
-------------------------------
Port1:_______2:09:54, 2:12:02
Port2:_______2:09:71, 2:04:81
Port3:_______2:16:36, 2:19:16
Port4:_______2:10:60, 2:07:77

Here are the CPU times:
-------------------------------
Port1:_______1.256s, 2.083s
Port2:_______1.524s, 1.692s
Port3:_______1.538s, 1.562s
Port4:_______1.465s, 1.869s

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TEST#2 (two USB 2.0 sticks at the same time)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Clock times for two devices at the same time:
-------------------------------
Memory stick #1: 2:10:29, 2:22:41
Memory stick #2: 2:10:40, 2:27:58

CPU times for two devices at the same time:
-------------------------------
Memory stick #1: 1.718s, 1.127s
Memory stick #2: 1.781s, 1.459s

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TEST#3 (one USB 1.0 stick)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Clock time:_______5:08:30, 5:06:75
CPU time:_________1.191s, 1.433s

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TEST#4 (one USB 2.0 stick plugged directly into the computer)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Built in Port CPU:____2.873s, 3.325s
Clock time:___________4:03:30, 3:55:16

I was provided a sample for evaluation and I ran it through 32 tests in order to provide unbiased and honest review. The unit performed well and met my expectations for a 5 star rating. If there was anything I wanted to change about this unit, I would have made its cord just a little longer.

I am attaching a photo of this unit during the two memory stick test. The photo gives you a good idea of the relative size of this unit.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Monday, April 8, 2013

Product review: Intocircuit Power Castle Series PC11200 11200mAh Heavy Duty 5V 2A/1A Dual USB Ports External Battery Pack with Nexus 7 Tablet, Samsung Galaxy 7.7 Tablet , and Samsung Galaxy Nexus cell phone

I tested Intocircuit Power Castle Series PC11200 11200mAh Heavy Duty 5V 2A/1A Dual USB Ports External Battery Pack with Nexus 7 Tablet (JellyBean 4.2.2), Samsung Galaxy 7.7 Tablet (ICS 4.0.4), and Samsung Galaxy Nexus cell phone (JellyBean 4.2.2).

I own several external battery packs.  To test their performance I run the same set on tests on each of them in order to provide unbiased results as the numbers speak for the performance of each unit.

To test Intocircuit power pack I ran my 10 minute test for each of my 3 devices on each of the 2 ports for a total of 6 tests. In addition I charged both Nexus phone and Nexus Tablet at the same time, one in each port. The results of these 7 tests are included in the tables below.

I am attaching a collage of 2 photos. You can locate this photo by following 'customer photos' link under the main photo.

Photo #1 shows the power brick on the digital scale, its weight is 9.9 oz. The size of the power pack is 2.625" by 4.375" by 0.875".

Photo #2 shows the top of the unit which has an LED screen showing the level of charge.  Next to the screen there is a small lack button which turns on the LED light. The light is pretty dim. Some other power bricks I have have a much brighter light, however this is not a key feature of the battery pack and the underpowered light did not effect my rating of this unit.

This power pack has two outlets, they are not labelled.

I use Battery App by Elvison to determine how each device recognized the charging source. 'AC' status means the charging is at full charging rate. 'USB' status indicates charging at a lower charging rate. 'Discharging' status means that the charging rate is below the power that the device is consuming so it slows down the discharge rate but does not re-charge.

My methodology is to charge each mobile device on each port of the unit for 10 minutes and measuring how much each unit was charge in that 10 minute period. Each line in the table below represents a separate 10 minute test.

The key findings:
(1) Both Nexus phone and Nexus 7 tablet (both running Jelly Bean 4.21) charged at AC rate on both ports.
(2) Samsung Galaxy 7.7 works, but show different behaviors on the two ports

The table below summarizes my findings:

Nexus 7 Tablet
--------------
right port.......AC rate.....1% charge increase
left port........AC rate.....2% charge increase


Samsung Galaxy Nexus Phone
--------------------------
right port.......AC rate.....5% charge increase (among the best rates in my tests)
left port........AC rate.....5% charge increase (among the best rates in my tests)


Nexus 7 Tablet and Samsung Galaxy Nexus Phone at the same time
--------------------------------------------------------------
Tablet...........AC rate.....1% charge increase
Phone............AC rate.....5% charge increase (among the best rates in my tests)


Samsung Galaxy Tablet 7.7
--------------------------
right port.......AC rate..... 1% charge increase
left port........AC rate..... discharging if screen is on, 1% charge increase if screen is off

In addition to the tests above we used Nexus 7 Tablet to navigate during a several hour trip while plugged into Intocircuit Power Castle Series PC11200 11200mAh external battery (rather than the car charger).  Nexus 7 remained charged at 100% at the end of the trip.

I received this battery pack from the manufacture for an honest review be it positive or negative. Running the same set of test on all my external batteries allows me to provide an unbiased review. By comparing the results of the tests for this battery to the other external batteries I tested, this power pack earned a 5 star rating.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Product review: Instapark YT1008 Solar-powered Dusk-to-Dawn Outdoor Motion Sensor LED Light, Weather-proof, Color Black Instapark YT1008 Solar-powered Dusk-to-Dawn Outdoor Motion Sensor LED Light

video

Instapark YT1008 solar light is 5" x 3.35" in size. When it is mounted on a vertical surface the top part of the light that faces up and the entire surface facing up is the solar panel. This light is both motion and photo sensitive. The light turn on at dusk and shines dimly when noone is around. When the light detects motion it turns on the brighter setting. At the brightest setting Instapark Solar light is not very bright but sufficient to light the area so you can see. After a full day of charging in the sun the light stay on for approximately 6 hours.

To activate the light you need to turn on it with a provided pin by inserting into small hole on the under side (white) of the light. You only need to activate the light once. I suggest you do it before installation as to find a spot where to push inside the light is a little tricky. Just keep poking inside at different angle until it clicks and turns off. The light is water tight and this on/off mechanism provides a way to save the battery when you don't need it operating without compromising the water proof aspect of the light.
  
The attached video shows a close-up of the light, how to turn it on with a pin, then I turn off the lights so you can see the amount of light it generates after a full charge.


I am also attaching a collage of three photos.
Photo #1: show both sides of the light: the top with the solar panel, and the bottom with the light.
Photo #2: shows the lights in the two states: the left light shows the bright state (when motion is detected), and the left light shows the dim state (no motion detected).
Photo #3: shows both lights on bright setting in total darkness. All the light you see is generated by the two solar lights.

I mounted the light on the deck near the rear entrance of the house. The light detected me approaching from any direction (180 degrees) from about 10 feet away. After the movement stopped it went back to dim setting in about 2 minutes.

I received this solar light from Intapark for providing an honest review be it positive or negative. I have no financial interest or business relationship with the manufacturer, and this review represents my independent opinion of the product.

Overall, the light worked well. It detected motion in a good range and turned on to the brighter setting. However it does not light a large area so I recommend using at least a couple of these lights together.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Book review: If I Should Die Before My Dog by Joe Connolly and Cathy Connolly

This book turned out to be even more useful and practical than I expected. I thought it would a list of suggestions, a check list of options I should consider for making the best possible arrangements for the canine member of the family in case the owner dies or is not able to take care of their dog.


 But this is not what this book is about. The person who writes most of the book is the pet owner with thoughtful and useful prompts from the authors. The purpose of this book is to share the information about your dog likes, dislikes, habits, health, and so forth with the person who will be taking care of the dog after the owner is no longer able to do it. I am attaching a photo of a typical page, this randomly selected page is on Grooming.




 The questions on the page prompt the owner to fill out whether the dog like warm or cold bath, if the dog has sensitive skin, what shampoo he likes, whether he takes baths at home or at the groomer, address of the groomer if applicable, if he likes or does not like to be brushed... Every possible topic is covered with the same amount of thought and detail. This book is 102 pages. More than half of them are pages that the owner needs to fill out. This book is meant to be given to the next care taker. 

The information in this book is sure to make the life of the dog easier during the transition period. There is no way to replace the loved one, but keeping the routine the same would ease the transition.

I received an evaluation copy of this book for review purposes from the owners, and it over exceeded my expectations. I recommend it to every pet owner.


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



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Product review: i-Ecko Fitted Jeans Sleeve for Ipad Nexus and other tablet 7-10"

This is a casual looking case for tablets 7" to 10" in size. The front and the back of the case made to look like the front and the back of jeans: pockets, stitching, even a fly! The inside is lined with a soft fleece-like material to protect the tablet. It has a double zipper, which is quite sturdy and operate smoothly. The case has one compartment on the inside. 4 major pockets, and one tiny pocket within a pocket.

I am attaching a collage of three photos.


The size of the case is 11" wide x 8" height x 7/8" inch in thickness.
The large front pockets are 4.5 inches deep in the low part and 5" wide. The small pocket within the pocket is 2" by 2" (it triangular shaped). See photo #1.
The back pockets are 4" deep by 3 1/4" wide. See Photo #2.

The back pockets are well suited for sticking in a stylus or a pen. The front pockets will accommodate a charging cable, a car recharger, or a cell phone.
It is a well designed case.

Photo #3 shows my 7.7" tablet in the case, I turned down one side of the case so you can see the fleece material that lines the case. There is plenty of room left after my tablet is inserted, but the case is not bulky.

It is a nice quality, cute case. Especially perfect for a person who lives in jean!


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Product review: Gurin Digital Bathroom Scale

Gurin precision digital bathroom scale is made out of tempered glass. More than half of it is made transparent glass, so it fits nicely into any decor.  



I am attaching a collage of 4 photos, photo #1 shows the scale in my bathroom and you see that the tile of my bathroom is visible through the scale and so the scale fits right in. I looks a lot nicer than the white scale this Gurin scale replaced.

The glass platform is 12" by 12" and is raised 1" from the floor.

The display is 1.5" inches in size and lights up when you step on the scale. My old scale did not light up, so I had to move it into the light every time I used it to see the reading. Gurin scale allowed me to hop on the scale in the corner where it is stored, since the display is clearly visible even in the dark. The display is shown in photo #2. The display stays on a couple of seconds after you step off the scale and then automatically turns off.

The third photo shows the scale upside down. You can see the scale has feet with traction pads so it does not slide on my tile floor. The feet contain the sensor which turns on the display. The "unit" button allows one to change the units in which the weight is displayed on the scale: kg, lb, or st.

The forth photo shows the battery compartment, the scale runs on four AAA batteries (included).

The glass of the scale look very pretty, but does have some down sides: (1) It is slippery if it gets wet. (2) The surface gets pretty cold in the winter. To solve both problems I keep my socks on when I weigh myself.

I received this scale from the manufacture for unbiased evaluation and review be it positive or negative. I like how this scale looks, I like how the display lights up so I can weigh myself in a dark(ish) corner of the bathroom. I cross checked my weight with my old scale and it is accurate. Thumbs up overall!


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Product review: i-Ecko Eco-Friendly Speakers for mobile devies, wired

video
At the price point of i-Ecko speakers I did not expect them to be great speakers, but I hoped that they would be better than the built-in speakers of my tablet. They fell somewhat short of that expectation. I made a video where the same music is being played by my tablet with these speakers, my tablet using built-in speakers, and finally the same song played by a fairly inexpensive bluetooth speaker of a similar size. In the video the i-Ecko speakers are pointing right into the camera, where the tablet speaker is pointing to the side, despite this advantage the built-in speaker at times sounds louder than external speakers. The final segment of the video with the bluetooth speaker (the best overall sound) provides another reference point.



i-Ecko speakers have no volume control of their own, they are controlled by the volume settings on the device. As you see in my video I put the volume control to the max.  The speakers do not have the battery or AC cord and run from the power from your device.
 

The case for these speakers is made out of cardboard. You can create a triangular shaped case for each speaker by folding cardboard tabs. Folding the tabs are important for creating a reasonace chamber. I tested the speakers with and without tucking in the tabs, and the sound was weaker without the folded tabs.
   
I am attaching a couple of photos which show the folding process.   This process is a little fussy, I found that doing all bottom tabs and then all the top tabs was the easiest way to keep tabs from popping out.

For travel purposes in a tightly stuffed luggage the cardboard should be disassembled to avoid tearing the cardboard tabs by something pushing on them. The cardboard case is unlikely to hold up for a long time, but given the price this is not a big issue.

I really wanted to like these speakers: inexpensive and eco-friendly is a good combination. However, I was disappointed. The main issue I had with them that I did not think the sound was better than the built-in speakers. I hope the video will help you decide for yourself.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



I was provided a sample unit for evaluation and unbiased review.

Ali Julia review ★★☆☆☆

Monday, April 1, 2013

Product review: FRIEQ® Wide Grip Capacitive Stylus for Touchscreen Devices




This stylus is 4.7" long and 1.75" in diameter at the grip point.

I am attaching a collage of three photos (which can be located by following 'customer photos' link under the main photo) that I will be referencing in this review

I LIKE
---------------
1. Comes in a nice looking box (Stylus shown in the opened box in Photo#1). The presentation looks nice for an inexpensive but impressive looking gift.

2. Sensitivity and performance was good. I most frequently use the stylus for typing and editing text as it gives me best precision for positioning insertion point between characters.

I DO NOT LIKE
---------------

1. This stylus is quite heavy. It weight 1.4 oz my digital scale (by comparison the weight of this other  FRIEQ stylus  is 0.4 oz). I had two issues with this heftier weight: (1) the weight made it less comfortable to hold when used for a long time, (2) if the stylus dropped on glass surface it has potential of damaging it.

2. It has no clip to secure it while carrying it around. Given that this stylus is rather heavy it would be better if I could secure it.

3. This stylus as the name implies has a wide grip. I am a female with small hands and I did not find it comfortable to hold. Note that my husband found it comfortable. Photo #3 shows my grip as I use this stylus.

Overall, this stylus is best suited for people with large hands. It has an "expensive" look when presented in its box, so it makes a nice small gift.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

Note: I was provided a free sample for evaluation and unbiased review.