Archive for the ‘Product Reviews’ Category.

ZAP L-Series Remote Control Electrical Outlet Switch Manual

Megan got me a remote control switch set for Xmas. It works great.

It’s the Etekcity Wireless Remote Control Electrical Outlet Switch for Household Appliances (Learning Code, 5Rx-2Tx)

Instead of trying to hold onto the manual pamphlet, I put it here:

Etekcity Essentials
ZAP L-Series

Uses 1 12V / LR23A battery in the remote control
maximum load of 10 amps
transmit frequency 433.92MHz

Programming the outlets
– Note: the outlets are pre-programmed for immediate use, but the configuration can be customized to meet your needs.

To program a remote control transmitter and outlet switch receiver:
– Plug the outlet switch into a socket and turn it on.
– Press and hold the programming button on the right side of the outlet until the LED indicator begins to flash.
– Release the programming button and then press the desired On or Off button on the remote.
– The pairing is successful when the LED indicator stops flashing.

Resetting an outlet (cancel all pairings)
To cancel all pairings so that no remote control will control it:
– Remove the outlet from the power socket.
– Press and hold the programming button.
– Plug the outlet back into the power socket while continuing to hold the programming button.
– Hold the programming button for approximately 5 seconds until the LED indicator begins to flash.
– When the LED flashes rapidly several times and stops, the outlet has been reset.

Annoyingly Incomplete Research Breeds Annoyingly Alarmist Message

Annoyingly Incomplete Research Breeds Annoyingly Alarmist Message

I saw this article at ExpandedConciousness.com

“Why You Should Take Your Shoes Off Before Entering Your Home, Backed By Science”

It opens with:

While it may be commonplace in most Asian countries, the cultural norm of taking your shoes off before entering your home has yet to catch on in Europe and America. In Asian cultures it’s easily understandable as to why people remove their shoes before coming into a home as their meals are typically eaten on mats on the floor, and they sleep on rolled out futons at night.

A new study has researchers suggesting that maybe we might want to be more aware of what exactly we’re bringing into our homes via our shoes.

Bacteria in the home – Research conducted at the University of Houston found that 40% of shoes were carrying around the Clostridium difficile, or “C.diff”, bacterium. Infections caused by C.diff are highly resistant to antibiotics, which can lead to difficult and lengthy recovery times for anyone who becomes infected. C.diff is also able to survive in most areas of the household, including toilets, tops and surfaces, and wherever floor dust is found. Ready to take off your shoes yet?

Kinda scary, right? I’m always going to take my shoes off at home so me and my baby don’t get sick!
The trouble is, the article intentionally sensationalized and misrepresented the results of the research.

I read the research paper. The data and conclusions of the research did not match what the article implied. To paraphrase, the research said, “C.diff can get you sick. 1/3 of all our samples in homes had that bug on them. 40% of shoe bottoms had it, 30% of bathroom surfaces, 30% of floor dust. Wow, that’s a lot… we think… maybe.” And that’s where they left it.

So my takeaway is: don’t lick the bottoms of my shoes, the floor, or my toilet. Thanks for the tip, guys.

If they had compared rates of contamination in the different areas of the house, they might have come to some great conclusions. For example, maybe people that have shoe bugs are more likely to have bugs elsewhere in the house (IE, maybe people track the bugs in on their shoes) . Or maybe not. They’ve got the raw data, why didn’t they crunch the numbers?

They didn’t have a control group. They said that floor dust was contaminated, was tabletop dust contaminated too? Maybe if they had tested silverware, frozen pizzas, and kitchen tables they would have had the same 30% contamination rates. But we’ll never know because they did bad science. I know all about bad science, I did some just last month.

Frickin’ grad students and their research projects.

Frickin’ sensationalist websites and their fear mongering.

 

You can find the abstract (a short summary) of the research here. You can find the full paper via a library that has access to scholarly journals. I used my San Jose State University library access.

The Chicco Keyfit 30 Car Seat Has Deceptive Advertising

The Chicco Keyfit 30 Car Seat uses Deceptive Advertising

chiccoshopWe’ve had our Chicco Keyfit 30 Car Seat for a few months now and it has performed well. But our daughter is outgrowing it more than a year and a half sooner than we were led to believe by Chicco.

The Chicco website reads that it holds a baby “from 4-30 lbs” there is no mention of height. See it for yourself on the Chicco website (local archive)

 

The Amazon ad doesn’t mention height either (local archive).

But the manual reads “4-30 lbs, 30 inches or less”30 inches

You might be thinking, yes yes, but that is a small matter. No, it isn’t.

The average baby weighs 30 lbs at 30 months.
But the average baby is 30 inches tall much earlier at 12 months! (see the CDC height and weight tables) Our tall baby is 30″ at 9 1/2 months.

The manual dictates that the product lasts 60% less than its marketing claims. That is deceptive advertising. It’s like buying a new car with a 10 year, 40,000 mile warranty.

It is a fine product, they don’t need to stoop to this deception. This deception is dangerous for children because if you were to only read the marketing information, you might use this seat long after it was safe to do so.

Automotivetouchup.com Review

Automotivetouchup.com Review: Terrible.

My car got some scratches in September. I tried a scratch repair kit that I found online, Automotivetouchup.com. Their website looks professional but don’t be fooled.

The instructions for how to apply the paint were mediocre, especially considering they spent the effort to make a pile of good looking 30-second-long “look how easy it is!” videos enshrined on their website that skip steps to entice suckers. Go ahead and take a look at their instructions. At a glance they look alright enough but can you follow them? Compare that to their jazzy promo video on the subject

The color match was poor. See these before and after photos (click to enlarge)
IMG_20150913_171109884 auto touchup IMG_20151002_121652207_HDR auto touchup IMG_20150918_110956838 auto touchup
Their customer service was nonexistent. I sent them messages on their website on 10-13-15 and 10-24-15 asking for help and I got no response.

Today I googled “Automotivetouchup.com review”. Ugh. They get embarrassingly bad reviews from resellerratings.com. 33 reviews, 3.6 out of 10. Poor reviews for their product and customer service. I don’t have time to deal with this crap.

I know that scratch repair paints aren’t miracle cures. I was just astounded at how hard they are working at making a poor consumer experience.

Prius C Review

A friend asked if Megan and I liked the Prius C we bought a few months ago. It’s a 2012 Prius C Model 2. Here’s the review I gave her.

 

“Bill” at Toyota of Berkeley sold it to us. He was “pretty good”. Of course it’s his job to say that every car we test drove was the best. The folks at Oakland Honda near Macarthur BART were insane (in a bad way). Some lady in the Honda Fremont Auto Mall was also awful. The used car consignment place… Buggy Bank in Berkeley was good but they’ve got a limited selection, and all used.

The Prius C is a great city car, pretty good highway car, a little noisy on the highway, 50+mpg highway (my record so far is 86mpg in a 10 mile stretch), 50+mpg city. It feels zippy (the honda fit 2009-2014 is sluggish get and gets mediocre MPG but the 2015 is zippy and gets better MPG).

The Mazda 3 just about crosses over into “sportscar” territory while being similar.

I squeezed 3 full size guys with 2 folded bikes in the car with no problem (that kind of amazed me)

The honda fit has fantastic views of the road, it’s like driving in a glass car. The Prius C has “very good” views of the road. I found the regular prius to have dangerous blind spots where the “A” pillar is. But your experience will probably be different because you are a much different height.

It’s little bit more expensive than the Fit but since Toyotas (and Hondas) keep their value so well, it wasn’t a stretch. We liked the interior design of the Prius a little more than the Fit. Our 2012 Prius C with 30k miles was about $18k, $19k after taxes etc..

There’s a couple models, the 1, 2, 3, and 4 with different options. I recall thinking “don’t get a 1”, I think it is lacking cruise control. Our “2” is good. I think the “3” has keyless ignition which would have been sweet but it’s like a $2,000 jump in price. And I wouldn’t bother with the navigation package since your phone is probably better than it (though I haven’t tested the prius navigation)

Munchery is Amazing Dinner at Home in the Bay Area

We’ve had Munchery a couple times now and it’s pretty freaking amazing. $10 entrees delivered to your door, ready to be heated into amazing dishes. https://munchery.com

It’s a limited menu and you’ve got to order early in the day. Worth it. Amazing food.