Date Mon, June 23 2008

I’d recently been browsing some jewelry, especially that with black gems. Onyx isn’t generally considered a precious gem, although it’s popular and it often fitted with diamonds. However, black diamonds caught me eye some year ago and since I saw an advertisement for them, I started browsing. It’s certainly not something I’ll be purchasing in the near future, as it’s much pricier than, say medical id bracelets, and I’m not especially a jewelry aficionado but I certainly like to browse.

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LinkSys Wireless-G Router and Adapter

Date Sat, June 21 2008

The other Linksys router I’ve used, and recall more fondly, is a wireless router. The WRT54G Wireless-G Router by Linksys was the rather unattractive blue and black model (although there are newer models which look much nicer). We used it alongside Linksys’ Wireless-G adapter as my roommate was using a desktop with no wireless card.

My computer, as the master still had one wire connecting to the Linksys WRT54G Wireless Router which, in turn, was connected to the modem why was connected to the phone jack. The adapter plugged into my roommate’s USB port.

I recall that installation was really easy. One can either use the setup wizard software provided on the disc or go to address of the Linksys web utility. I used to software and it was easy enough for me, someone who had never used a router before, to figure out on my own. It included options like securing the network with a password, something I recommend to all. An unsecured network can lead to others leeching your connection, the least possible result is a slower connection and the worst is a hike in your internet bill!

Use is also easy. After all your cables are plugged in, the appropriate lights should turn green to indicate that the Linksys WRT54G Router is powered on, there is an internet connection and that connection is being fed correctly to each connected system.

At the master computer, I had virtually no problems and any I did have were easily solved by resetting the Linksys WRT54G Router by the button on the back of the piece. However, my roommate had more problems than I did. The network usually worked well across a space of 25 – 40 feet (I’m not a great guesser) but obsessionally she would not have any connection while mine was fine. Sometimes this situation would remedy itself and others I would reset the wireless router, reboot my computer or physically unhook the router and modem to fix the issue. Sometimes this did not help and we simply had to wait for the issue to sort itself out.

Now, I’m pretty confident that this wasn’t an issue with my connection because, at the time, it was very fast and very reliable. Furthermore, I had few issues at the master computer. It seems that Linksys wireless options are at the low end of the spectrum and while this was only mildly irritating for us, for someone who requires constant uptime or fast connections, the Linksys WRT4G Wiress-G Router may not be the way to go.

However, it is readily available and, if you find rebates, quite affordable. I think we ended up spending about $40 for the pair from Best Buy via a mail in rebate. For that price, I can’t really complain.

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Linksys EtherFast Cable/DSL Router

Date Fri, June 20 2008

I’ve used 2 Routers by Linksys, one wired and one wireless. The wired, one Etherfast Cable/DSL router actually seems to cause more trouble. It’s the router Ryan bought before I was here with my computer, to use with his laptop and Xbox. Now, ideally, the router will work right out of the box and you don’t need to set anything up. For the most part, this is true. You may want/need to set up the router if you want sometihng besides the default settings for your network or if your ISP requires it.

Now, I hear you asking. “If it works right out of the box, how is it troublesome?” Well, boys and girls, it’s like this. Periodically, out internet just craps out. Now, our internet connection is far from the best so it may not be the router’s fault but I do feel it’s worth mentioning. This issue occurs every so often and starts with the internet being a little slow then gradually receding into the “completely shitty” category where, if we’re lucky, we can refresh a page 20 times and it might load – partially – during one of those refreshes. this seems to occur more frequently when we have both computers hooked up and the typical cure is to unhook everything for a short while, connect the modem directly to the internet, sign in, and then hook up the router once more. This is kind of lame.

We have contacted our ISP and even had someone come out. At these times, the ISP couldn’t detect any issues and we were simply told that they do not “support” routers. This is probably a typical ISP response and I doubt I’m the only person to hear this line of BS.

If you go the way of setting up the LinkSys Etherfast Router, you can use the setup wizard via CD-Rom that comes with the router or go the way of the web-based utility, following the instructions provided. However, this might be easier for those of you whose husbands haven’t thrown those items away. If you’re able to connect to the internet, you can easily find the userguide and quick install, both which should be available with your router when you purchase it.

Overall, the Etherfast Router performs well. There are some gliches with my connection which may be due to my ISP rather than my router but if you have similar issues, be prepared to get the runaround from both your ISP and Linksys’ horrible technical support.

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Because all the cool kids are doing it..

Date Fri, June 20 2008

and, no, I’m not talking about drug rehab. In fact, I’m talking about a cool new social blogging service called EntreCards. You’ll notice the widget on the left hand column. As I get more of a feel for it, I intend to write a review of this service. So far, so good. I’m enjoying finding some new blogs and spreading word of mine as well. It’s fairly new but is spreading fast!

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Writing About Routers

Date Thu, June 19 2008

One of the most important things about having a blog is the act of blogging. One of the most important things about a review blog is having things to review. Actually, as I look at my desk, I see quite a few electronics that I could submit a review about, things that just hadn’t occurred to me. Often, if I find a product that works but is neither exceptionally good or bad, I sort of forget about it. One of the things I could review is several of the routers I have owned over the past few years. Like the KVM “black boxes,” these have helped me connect additional computers to the internet. My own computer has always been the main one so I cannot complain but with Ryan’s laptop being used more frequently, it makes me wish I still had a wireless router. Alas, I gave it to my roommate when we moved out.

So look forward to a couple of those reviews in the future.

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Scotch Brite Dish Wands

Date Mon, June 16 2008

Are really awesome for those who hate touching the wash cloth or sponge when doing dishes. Like me!

They’re very simple creatures; simple enough, in fact, that this review might seem silly. But I’d like to recommended the Scotch Brite Dish Wand to you so here I am, reviewing it.

The wand you buy comes with a sponge head which is replaceable. Depending on the wand you buy, you may get just a sponge or the heavy duty sponge, which has 2 layers: 1 yellow softer sponge on bottom and 1 green scrub sponge on top. I picked up the Heavy Duty Dish Wand because it was all they had. Scratch refills can also be purchased for those really tough jobs.

So what makes this more than a sponge on a stick? Well, the “stick” or the handle is hollow and you filled it with your dish soap of choice. (The end is a cap which screws off.) The soap is then dispensed into the sponge via a tiny hole; it took me a few minutes to locate it when I was actively trying – although this was when there was already soap bubbles on the wand.

Once you fill up the Scotch Brite Dish Wand, you’re good to go. This method really helps regulate the amount of dish soap you use, helping you reduce waste. Furthermor, you always have an adequate amount of bubbles on the sponge to really clean your dishes.

The sponges are typical Scotch Brite quality and the heavy duty sponge head works well for scrubbing dried on food. Of course, after some use (it will vary depending on how many dishes and how dirty they are), the heads will need to be removed. You can probably prolong the life of the dish wand heads by being careful around sharp utensils such as knifes. Nevertheless, they will need to be replaced and doing so is easy, and fairly cheap; the replacement heads seem to run around $2/2 pack.

I love that the Scotch Brite Dish Wand keeps my clean and while making my dishes the same. I love that I save dish soap in the process. I love that I don’t need to use a big, bulky sponge to scrub my dishes.

Of course, there are several aspects I don’t love. Traditional bottle brushes will work better for some dishes (bottles, glasses, jugs) because the heads are more malleable and straight. The particular angle of the Dish Wand doesn’t work well. Sometimes I can’t reach and often, with glasses, I feel like I cannot clean the bottom of glasses adequately.

Also, most of the Dish Wand is plastic which doesn’t make it a very “green” product. I can accept the handle as it doesn’t need to be replaced and can probably be used for some time but each of the replaceable heads have some chunks of plastic on them which get tosses out with the rest of the head. However, for the convenience and cleanliness it offers, I’m willing to make that sacrifice. You might disagree.

If you want something to make doing dishes easier and almost, maybe, a little fun – check out the Scotch Brite Dish Wand!

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Mirro Get a Grip Pans

Date Fri, June 13 2008

When I first moved to Japan, we had to purchase everything new for our household as I couldn’t bring anything I already had. Previously, Ryan was living in a dorm with a common room/kitchen. Needless to say, he didn’t do a whole lot of cooking for himself, especially with a cafe right across the street. The number of kitchen items he owned could be counted on 1 hand: 1 gallon pitcher, spoon, pizza cutter and pizza pan. Although all those items did, and still do, serve us well, I needed to stock my house in order to be able to cook anything.

With limited supply at the BX, we didn’t have a lot of options. At first, we purchased a set of 3 sauce pans for a whopping $9.99. The price looked good and proved too tempting. The quality was sore. However, I made due with those shoddy pans until I couldn’t possible anymore.

It was time to upgrade and upgrade we did. We decided on a basic 10-Inch Saute Pan by Mirro, in the Get a Grip line, in addition to the 3 quart saucepan we already had. Eventually, I added the 12-Inch Covered Jumbo Cooker as well. This remains my current collection if Mirro Get a Grip pans, all in a wonderful red.

I made the purchases separately because, at first, I wasn’t sure how well they would hold up or how much I wanted to spend. In hind-sight, I wish I had purchased the 8-Piece Cookware Set, instead, and might still do so as it contains different pieces than the ones I already own.

With that said, you can imagine that I’m really impressed by the Get a Grip pans by Mirro! I will preface the rest of this review by saying they are not the best pans ever but they are likely the best you’ll find in this price range (The set runs for around $50 on Amazon and each piece I purchased individually ran around $10- $15).

The first thing that I love about the Mirro Get A Grip Aluminum pans is their colour: a beautiful red. It’s a bit darker than the pictures at Amazon show, which I prefer. This is a great, modern colour and will make any kitchen look pretty! In store, they also had black. Mirro cookware can be found in stores such as Target and Ace HardWare. Shoppers beware, the price of individual pans and the set vary greatly from store to store and also by colour. Sadly, some of the colour of my pans has chipped over time, but not much.

The second aspect I love about my Mirro cookware is that it’s non-stick. Now, we’ve all dealt with non-stick cookware that really didn’t live up to its name (my $9.99 trio for example); rest assured that Mirro Get a Grip cookware will! It’s not perfect, I’ll tell you now; I cook with forks sometimes and this has resulted in scratches on the non-stick surface but these scratches do not lead to peeling of the non-stick coating and are mostly due to my carelessness. I’ve had my Mirro Get A Grip 3-Quart Nonstick Aluminum Saucepan with Lid for over a year and a half, now, and scratching is really minimal.

Not only does the non-stick surface hold up fairly well, it works. Not only is cooking a breeze when food doesn’t stick but so is cleaning! Hand washing dishes is much easier than almost all of my other dishes and if there is a little stuck on food, it comes off after a short soak. Although hand washing is recommended, I have had no trouble washing my Mirro Get A Grip Aluminum Nonstick Cookware in the dishwasher.

The other namesake of Mirro Get A Grip Aluminum Nonstick Cookwave is it’s grip. Each pot or pan has a very sturdy handle, coated in quality silicone. You can be sure that your handles will be safe to touch with this cookware. Furthermore, the handles on Mirror Get A Grip cookware won’t slip, slide or turn in use; you’ll never have to worry about handles coming loose or off entirely like cheaper cookware.

Additionally, cooking is really improved with my Mirro Get A Grip Aluminum Nonstick 10-Inch Saute Pan. Not only does food not stick but it cooks more evenly than cheap alternative pans. Furthermore, it cooks faster. there is a noticeable difference in the cooking time and quality when using this cookware.

Lastly, several of my pieces have lids: the 3 Quart Sauce Pan and the 12-inch Jumbo Cooker. The lids are very well made domed “Safe-T” glass with stainless steel rims. They fit snugly over the pans and help reduce splatter messes while letting me keep an eye on the food. My only complaint is that my sauce pan does not also have a lid, which is typical for sauce pans. If any of the lids in the 8 piece set were interchangeable, I’d be in heaven.

So there you have it. Mirror makes aluminum pans with sturdy non-stick coating, secure silicone grip handles, rich colouring, and quality lids all for an affordable price and in available both in a set or individually. If you’re looking for decent cookware at a decent price, Mirro’s Get A Grip Aluminum Non-stock cookware is for you!

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