Category Archives: reviews

BossaCucaNova Best Of … Fresh Air with Terry Gross

I wanted to find the Bossanova-style album they were reviewing on Fresh Aire today (BossaCucaNova from Brazil) and couldn’t find it easily at NPR or Amazon so here it is for you! Hope that helps!

The Best of Bossacucanova released August 12, 2016

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Filed under erik-reviews, reviews

REVIEW: Sorry EWG… physical sunscreens aren’t doin’ it for me… but….

Physical (not chemical) sunscreens are well-loved by the testing for bad things at EWG but:

1. They are difficult to apply and you end up looking white and doesn’t feel great

From Kottke.org:
“Buying a more expensive sunscreen with fewer potentially harmful chemicals that feels gross, smells weird, and doesn’t make you want to reapply is going to result in skin damage that will far exceed any potential damage done by chemicals.” http://kottke.org/15/07/whats-the-best-sunscreen

2. The “data gaps” in what EWG is able to figure out is good or bad is pretty large. So even if you take the top performers, if 50% of the stuff they don’t know about ends up being bad, then that completely rejiggers the scale of good vs bad. They’d still probably be better than others, but not quite a good. For example, EWG a few years ago added the “physical” and “chemical” filters and also a “no nanoparticles” option, since there is disagreement on whether that’s safe.

REVIEW: Beyond Coastal Active SPF 34 Sunscreen

But I haven’t completely given up!
1. Endocrine disrupters are nasty things, so if you CAN find a sunscreen that doesn’t have them (or less of them) then it’s worth it.
2. Broad spectrim UVA and UVB is worth it
3. There are some chemical sunscreens that do well on EWGs scale and since they are chemical, not physical, they don’t have all the problems.

A few years ago I found an EWG pick that smells fine, goes on fine (as in, the kids can do it themselves and without complaint), and ok, is kinda expensive, but oh well. The kids needs sunscreen almost year round since they are outside at sudval.org so much.

Amazon, around $14 but I’ve also seen it at Whole Foods I believe for about the same price.

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Filed under reviews, safety

Alternative Methods for Roof Snow Removal

Sure you can pay someone to shovel off your roof.

But also consider these other ways!

Wire Trick

Snowblower!
(Comment: “Snowblower $900 Ladder $190 Gas $5.00 New Shingles every year $5000”)

Sounds crazy, but if your roof is flat, an electric snowblower might not be a bad alternative since small ones are much lighter and some are mostly plastic. I’ve seen stores do it.

Electric, like the Toro or Snow Joe ones.
example: Toro 38371 15-Inch 12 Amp Electric 1500 Power Curve Snow Blower

Or a “power shovel” might be even better. Won’t be able to do very deep snow, but maybe worth it since it is so light and easy to get up there.
example: Snow Joe 323E 13-Inch 10-Amp Electric Snow Shovel

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ENViROnMENTAL FAIL: review: Briggs & Stratton Smart-Fill Spout vs…

1.9 stars. Typical 1-star review excerpt: “I’d like to discuss this matter with the numb-skull who though that it would be more friendly to the polar bears to pour gas all over oneself rather than venting the can as it has been done for years…through a vent hole.” LINK

So stick with the vent hole method if possible! 1 spill is worth 1000 ventings. Go with the ventings.

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Filed under contrarian, erik-green, green, reviews

2015: Android Tablet Remote Erase and How to get Amazon Instant Video to play on Android

Recently had a close call with a tablet being lost (misplaced!) and learned that it is pretty important to have enabled the feature allowing you to remotely contact the tablet to either LOCK (with a msg on how to contact you) or ERASE it via https://www.google.com/android/devicemanager?u=0.

The corollary is that if you FIND a lost tablet, with no identification info either taped to it or in the contacts app, then if it is unlocked, do the owner a favor and connect to a local wifi network so that the magic of the REMOTE LOCK feature can work, allowing the owner to contact you via the LOCK MESSAGE. (this isn’t as much of a problem with a lost phone due to wireless broadband. But in either case, charge it up if needed of course. Very cool.

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OK, since I didn’t find a good guide to this in 2015, here’s the quick steps for Amazon Video circa 2015. I assume at some point Amazon will realize they are losing business by making this complicated. People don’t buy Kindle Fire tablets to avoid this issue do they? Is that what they are hoping? I’m not sure they could be since they DO allow it on iPads and iPhones. Maybe it is akin to the early days of Netflix when it was not available widely on Android. Who knows.

(BTW, my advice on a great tablet to buy in Jan 2015 is the slightly old Samsung Tab 3 8.0 for around $150 or Tab 4 8.0 for a little more. Plenty fast. Perfect size (ipad mini size). 7-inch tablets are too small in my opinion (my eyes!).

1. Install normal latest dolphin browser via google play store. (dolphin will allow you to use flash… some other browsers might not)
2a. Make sure flash is turned ON or ON DEMAND in dolphin menu… settings… advanced
2b. Make sure user agent is set to “desktop” in dolphin settings.
3. Install flash 11 in dolphin.
4. In dolphin login to amazon.com and go to amazon website settings… under Digital Content… Amazon Instant Video Settings… set the default to FLASH instead of SILVERLIGHT (since silverlight is not installable on android)
5. Reload a page for a video. It should work now.

If flash isn’t installed yet, I think a popup will happen asking to install flash. It might also first ask you to modify a setting in android security settings to allow you to install things that don’t come from the google play store. It will let you do it for “just this one installation”. reload the amazon page and it will work.

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Filed under reviews, tablets, technology

Simple.TV vs Aereo — A Replacement Review

I just bought a Version 1 Simple.TV (aka STV1 or STV-1000 or “the white one”) via Amazon with “Lifetime Premier Service Included” for around $120 total.

What you will also need:
– a spot to put it such that it has ethernet and antenna access (no wifi, but one could use a powerline ethernet adapter)
– an ethernet cable long enough to reach
– a second OTA antenna
– a spare USB2 or USB3 hard drive
– a little patience
a Roku, chromecast, etc. (But you probably already have one if you’ve been using Aereo)

I only needed to buy an extra ethernet cable and for now am putting up with an old smallish HD and a less-than-ideal antenna (meaning I am not getting one of the 17 channels I should be getting) but I wanted to test things before I bought something better.

SO FAR SO GREAT
I mean, it’s not as easy as the zero set-up / zero hassle of Aereo, but it’s working well.

PROS vs AEREO
– no monthly fee. It will be break-even in 10 months
– quality of programs seems to be at least as good as a the aereo quality we were getting via our Roku 3.
– slightly better show guide layouts both in Roku 3 and browser

CONS vs AEREO
– no ABC until I get a better antenna
– not cloud… one needs a place to put the gear (and the patience for setup) and stuff can break and who has time for more junk?
– My white rev1 has only one tuner, but there is a rev2 model with 2 tuners, though I have heard it has a fan, so this is a tradeoff depending on where you need to put it
– Their scheduler for recordings doesn’t have a few nifty filters that the Aereo one had, but fingers crossed that it will improve
– My old USB drive is only 40GB so it holds 17 hours which is good, but I had 60 hours with aereo, so I might buy a $50-$60 drive like this one and then I’ll have even more than 60 hrs

I will update this in a few weeks to let you know how it’s going… whether it’s a pain, or what.

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5-star reviews: Lego Chima vs Lego Hero Factory

So you are trying to choose between a Lego Chima and a Lego Hero Factory set? I don’t think there is any issue. Both are great. I mean, look at the amazon links above to see the endless pages of 5-star reviews parents have given the sets. Kids love them both. My boys (6 and 9) play with their Hero Factory and Bionicle sets for HOURS and HOURS.

The only thing with as much or more staying power in this house has been the 2-sets of 100-piece magnatiles we have.

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Filed under lego, magnatiles / magformers, reviews, toys