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Reviews Written by
Thomas Duff "Duffbert" (Portland, OR United States)
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Ivation Multipurpose Gooseneck 7-LED Dimmable Clip Light with Stand - Battery operated, or plugs into USB or outlet - Can be used for BBQ, grill, reading, tabletop/desktop, tasks, computer ect.
Ivation Multipurpose Gooseneck 7-LED Dimmable Clip Light with Stand - Battery operated, or plugs into USB or outlet - Can be used for BBQ, grill, reading, tabletop/desktop, tasks, computer ect.
Offered by Canadian Shoppe
Price: CDN$ 29.99
2 used & new from CDN$ 27.99

5.0 out of 5 stars This works for a number of various situations..., Dec 6 2014
I read a lot, and I need decent lighting. Using the Ivation gooseneck 7-LED clip light has been a wonderful experience, as it clips to just about anything and has a number of power options.

The light source has seven LED bulbs which put out strong illumination. There's a touch-sensitive indentation on the top that turns it on and off. If you continue to press the indentation, it will dim and brighten the lamp based on your preferences. It has a number of potential power sources. It uses 3 AAA batteries if you want to run it away from a plug. If you need/want to work from a plugged-in power source, you can use a regular outlet or a computer with the USB cord. The tip that plugs into the lamp is a non-USB style tip, so you have to make sure not to lose the cord or it'll be a battery-only lamp for you.

The gooseneck is nearly 12" in length, and it's stiff enough to hold the lamphead in just about any position or angle you'd want. The clip base is unique in its design. The clip will work on anything up to 1.5" in width. The tip of the clip is hinged, so it can remain flush on surfaces that aren't completely flat. It also has two arms that are flush with the base. They swing out to allow the lamp to stand on its own instead of clipping onto something. I really like that design, as it turns it into a desk lamp with no issues.

If I could change anything on the lamp, it would be to make the power cable a micro-USB type. That way, if you lose the cable that comes with the lamp, it would be simple to replace it. I also wouldn't mind if it was a rechargeable lamp instead of using AAA batteries, but that's pushing it. :)

Nice design and features, and good lighting. I like this a lot.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Vendor
Payment: Free

Ivation 8400mAh External Battery Pack With Backlit LCD and Built-In LED Flashlight - TITANIUM BLACK - Dual USB-Port (1A/2.1A) Portable Power Pack Charger for most Smartphones, Tablets and other USB-charged devices - 5V/1A and 5V/2.1A output
Ivation 8400mAh External Battery Pack With Backlit LCD and Built-In LED Flashlight - TITANIUM BLACK - Dual USB-Port (1A/2.1A) Portable Power Pack Charger for most Smartphones, Tablets and other USB-charged devices - 5V/1A and 5V/2.1A output
Offered by Canadian Shoppe
Price: Click here to see our price
2 used & new from CDN$ 34.99

5.0 out of 5 stars My new favorite daily battery unit for my iPhone 6 Plus..., Dec 6 2014
The Ivation 8400mAh external battery pack might be my new favorite portable battery for my iPhone 6 Plus. It's a very good combination of size and power with some great features that make it a joy to have around.

The 8400mAh size makes it more than adequate for an iPhone 6 Plus. I was able to get the equivalent of 1.6 charges over a series of partial charging sessions. It was recharging at the rate of one percent per 1.75 minutes. Instead of just a single output port, it has both 1A and 2.1A output. That makes it perfect for both low-draw and high-draw devices like mine. It's only 3" by 4" (with less than 1" depth), so it fits easy in a jacket pocket. It has a built-in flashlight, which is a nice touch. What I find *really* valuable is the LCD display to tell you *exactly* how much power is left in the battery (as well as where it is in the recharging cycle). No guesswork or estimation needed...

With my iPhone 5S, this would have been a two to three charge battery (which is exceptional). For my iPhone, it gives me everything I want in a daily charger... plenty of power, fast charging times, and the knowledge of how much power I have left. I really like this unit.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Vendor
Payment: Free

MeasuPro IRT20 Temperature Gun Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer with Laser Targeting
MeasuPro IRT20 Temperature Gun Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer with Laser Targeting
Offered by MeasuPro
Price: CDN$ 25.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Very versatile and useful..., Dec 6 2014
I've had a lot of fun playing around with and testing the MeasuPro IRT20 temperature gun. It has a lot of uses that I didn't think about (until after I stumbled on them), and one that was totally unexpected (but a lot of fun).

Operating the gun is incredibly simple. Once you put the 9 volt battery inside (the front of the handle flips down for the battery compartment), you pull the trigger. This activates the laser so you can aim at whatever surface you want to measure. The temperature constantly changes as the laser moves around. When you release the trigger, it freezes the last point and displays the results on the screen for few seconds. Then it shuts off to conserve the battery. It measures in both Fahrenheit and Celsius, and switching back and forth between the two is a single touch on one of the buttons.

The range is stated to be from -58 to 716°F. I'll admit right off that I don't have anything that can verify that, but around the house it seemed to be very accurate. One of the tests I did was to point it against an internal temperature gauge I use in the office. The gun measured exactly the same as the temp gauge. It was also interesting to check out certain objects, like the portable radiator heater I have down here. The carpeting around it was 60 degrees (it was cold that morning). The front panel of the unit was right at 70 degrees (which is very safe for touching, like I expected). But measuring the heating coils showed surface temps of around 150 degrees. Good way to know that it's a VERY good idea to not have it anywhere that could cause it to come in contact with bare skin. Using the gun for weatherization is a good idea, too. It was amazing to see the temperature differences on my windows and the cracks around the doors. I'll know what to be looking at for saving energy.

The unexpected use was as a cat toy. :) Both cats were fascinated by the red dot, so of course I had to keep moving it around for them to chase...

While I wouldn't have thought I need something like this around the house, I now realize that it has a lot of uses that make it worth it. MeasurPro has a great product here.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Vendor
Payment: Free

The Bible's Cutting Room Floor: The Holy Scriptures Missing From Your Bible
The Bible's Cutting Room Floor: The Holy Scriptures Missing From Your Bible
Offered by Macmillan CA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Adds color and background to the history of the Bible..., Dec 4 2014
This title intrigued me, so I gave it a read... The Bible's Cutting Room Floor: The Holy Scriptures Missing From Your Bible by Joel M. Hoffman. It's an interesting look at some writings that aren't part of the "normal" Bible as many people know it. It adds some additional perspective to what and how we got here in our understanding of scripture and history.

Contents:
Introduction - The Abridged Bible; Jerusalem - An Eternal City in Conflict; The Dead Sea Scrolls - How a Lost Goat Changed the World; The Septuagint - How Seventy Scholars Took Seventy Days to Get It Wrong; Josephus - The Only Man to Be a Fly on Every Wall; Adam and Eve - Falling Down and Getting Back Up; Abraham - Humans, Idols, and Gods; Enoch - The Beginning of the End; The Big Picture - Finding the Unabridged Bible; Appendix - Suggestions for Further Reading; Index

Hoffman is a Jewish scholar who has focused on history and religion. He examines material and additional books (such as the Dead Sea Scrolls) with a bent towards examining their story and place in history. For most people (like myself), things like the Book of Enoch consists of strange stories that kept it from being included in the Old Testament. But when placed against the backdrop of the times, it starts to make a bit more sense. It's also interesting that there are references to Enoch and his prophesies in the New Testament. It's very likely that material was familiar and accepted at one point, and at some point further down the line, others decided it was less accepted. Our perceptions are shaped by those decisions. He also does a good job in discussing how the same words in the Hebrew texts ended up being translated completely different in various places, often by minute alterations or shaping of certain letters.

I can see how some people would have a hard time reading this, as it forces you to challenge some of the conventional wisdom that's been handed down over centuries. But it also adds depth and color where it's lacking. If this is a topic of interest, it's worth reading.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed

Gray Mountain: A Novel
Gray Mountain: A Novel
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 13.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Back to not reading Grisham for a long while..., Dec 4 2014
I have a love/hate relationship with John Grisham novels. Some of them are outstanding. Others are... less so. I took a break from the crapshoot some time back, but I decided to venture back into Grisham's world with Gray Mountain. I found myself drawn by the Appalachian angle, and thought it might be interesting. Unfortunately, this turned out to be one of his "less so" efforts for me.

Overall, I liked where the plot could have gone. Younger female attorney in NY doing high-priced legal grunt work gets laid off from mega law firm when the economy craters in 2008. She takes an offer to do unpaid intern work in a small coal town with an underfunded legal aid outfit, working with people who have nowhere else to turn in legal matters. While she knows she doesn't fit in there, she also sees that she's making a difference in people's lives. She also becomes involved with another attorney (and his brother) who make enemies by suing coal companies and litigating black lung cases. Coal companies don't play fair when it comes to legal matters, and "eliminating problems" is part of their plan.

But what could have happened... didn't. The individual interactions she had with her clients were interesting, but things seemed to move a bit slow. The other attorney and his brother are used to soapbox about the evils of the coal industry (and it's probably deserved), but it's a bit on the heavy side. What *really* irritates me is the ending... as in, there isn't one. With about 30 pages left, I got a sneaking suspicion that I was going to get the "oh, I have two days until my deadline so I better end the book here" finish. I did. There's little resolution to everything that was transpiring, and the attempt at a "I found myself and a higher calling" ending fell flat.

I'll go back to my Grisham hiatus for a (long) while. It may well be that his next one will be great, but I'm tired of what seem to be 50/50 odds of that happening.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed

Raging Heat (Nikki Heat)
Raging Heat (Nikki Heat)
Price: CDN$ 14.57

5.0 out of 5 stars These Castle novels are a guilty pleasure of mine..., Nov. 29 2014
The Nikki Heat series by Richard Castle is a guilty pleasure for me. I love the tie-in with the Castle TV series, and how Richard Castle/Nathan Fillion is the "author" for a story about an author shadowing a NY cop (Nikki Heat/Kate Beckett). Raging Heat was a perfect installment that played out like a long episode of the TV series. I don't know who actually writes these novels, but they are doing an excellent job.

In this "episode", Heat gets tagged to cover an unusual death. An unknown person apparently fell from the sky into a glass-walled and -ceilinged atrium, not leaving much to identify them with. With the help of Jameson Rook (the writer Castle) and her detectives, they start piecing together (pun intended) the body and the case for a homicide. The clues and facts don't fit together very well, and the parts that *do* fit together have Heat looking at a very powerful city politician who can destroy her career if she's wrong (or maybe even if she's right).

All the action is set in New York and the Hamptons as Hurricane Sandy is approaching the city. That works very well in the story, as it adds a sense of urgency to getting the crime solved without the normal resources she'd have available to her. There's also a sub-plot involving Heat and Rook that will either bring them closer together or completely destroy the relationship. The combination of the action and the emotional angles gave the story a depth that was satisfying, and also advanced the character development. And finally, I *love* the dialog involving Rook. It's a lot of fun.

Whoever writes these stories... great job. Now get back to work on the next one.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed

Havana Storm (Dirk Pitt)
Havana Storm (Dirk Pitt)
Offered by Penguin Group USA
Price: CDN$ 15.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A good "escape from reality" for a bit..., Nov. 29 2014
I haven't been reading Clive Cussler books on a regular basis, as I burned out a bit on them (along with all the variations of author combinations/series). I happened to pick up Havana Storm by Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler at the library recently, and it was an enjoyable read after having had a break from the characters.

The main action involves Dirk Pitt and his two children Dirk and Summer. Dirk is investigating some mysterious toxic mercury blooms in the middle of the Caribbean, and his son and daughter are tracking down an ancient Aztec stone that tells a story of treasure and intrigue. Both of these situations have the involvement of the Cuban government in various ways, and when things go wrong, they have international implications.

As with all Cussler novels, the adventures are one continuous cliffhanger after another, with death-defying escapes and rescues. The book was a bit on the long side (450+ pages), and I felt it could have been condensed down with little effect on the action. Still, it was easy to keep saying "just one more chapter" to find out whether Dirk could pull off another rescue/escape/"stop the bad guy" action (knowing full well he would). Havana Storm was a good beach novel to escape from reality for a bit.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed

Jumbl High-Resolution 14MP Scanner/Digitizer - Converts 35mm Negatives & Slides to 14- or 22-Megapixel Digital JPEGs Using Built-In Software Interpolation - No Computer/Software Required to Operate - Features 2.4" Color LCD & TV Out
Jumbl High-Resolution 14MP Scanner/Digitizer - Converts 35mm Negatives & Slides to 14- or 22-Megapixel Digital JPEGs Using Built-In Software Interpolation - No Computer/Software Required to Operate - Features 2.4" Color LCD & TV Out
3 used & new from CDN$ 181.94

4.0 out of 5 stars This does a good job with the older negatives of my family pictures..., Nov. 28 2014
This was an interesting device to try out... the Jumbl high-resolution 22MP scanner/digitizer. This device allows you to scan and digitize 35mm negatives and slides without having to hand-scan pictures. Having never used anything like this, I went in with no expectations. Overall, it worked pretty good for scanning typical instamatic-style negatives with relatively good results.

The unit works in a stand-alone mode without needing to be connected to a computer. The only thing you need to have hooked up is the mini-USB cord to a power source (which *can* be your computer). It can either store pictures with the on-board memory (100MB) or you can use an SD card to get more capacity before you upload to your computer. One of the menu options is the transfer setting, which allows you to view the file system via Windows Explorer (provided you're using Windows).

It comes with two trays, one for negatives and one for slides. You open the tray, position the slides/negatives, and then snap it closed. The trays feed in from the side, and you just position the image on the screen for the scan.

There are five buttons on the top: power, left arrow, right arrow, scan/menu, and OK. The left/right buttons advance through menu options, as well as flipping and mirroring captured images. The scan/menu option shows the menuing on the screen, and the menu covers capture, playback, format, USB connection, language, film type (negatives, slides, and B/W), and resolution. The resolution setting is for 14 megapixels (jpeg images around 1.7 MB) or 22 megapixels (2.7 MB). There's also an option to play around with color balance if you're so inclined.

In terms of ease of use, the Jumbl is very simple. I was scanning negatives in less than five minutes after powering it up and not reading the directions. Unlike any devices, the instruction booklet is detailed AND easy to read (once you get around to it). Image quality is reasonable. The original pictures I took from the set I was scanning were taken with a cheap instamatic around 20 years ago. Both the 14 and 22 megapixel resolutions captured detail at the level of the original picture. The color balance was close. I could have attempted to play with the balance using the menu options, but it didn't seem very intuitive. The screen was also not large enough to get a true feel of how the picture would look color-wise once scanned.

I spent a number of hours last year scanning my photos using a Doxie scanner. I would have enjoyed having this option available to me, but any negatives I come across will definitely go this route.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Vendor
Payment: Free

Ivation Hi-Power WHITE LED Automatic Motion-sensing Directional Night Light - Battery Powered Hallway Light with a Built in Motion and Light Sensor - The Light can be adjusted to any Desired Angle (360 Degrees)
Ivation Hi-Power WHITE LED Automatic Motion-sensing Directional Night Light - Battery Powered Hallway Light with a Built in Motion and Light Sensor - The Light can be adjusted to any Desired Angle (360 Degrees)
Offered by Canadian Shoppe
Price: CDN$ 18.99
2 used & new from CDN$ 18.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great for my wife's closet..., Nov. 27 2014
The Ivation LED motion-sensing night light works out perfectly for my wife's closet. We have an older home, and the closet in our bedroom doesn't have lighting in it. This does a perfect job in addressing the lighting issue without her having to turn on the bedroom lights to use the closet.

The unit uses 3 AA (not AAA as the description says) batteries. The battery cover is a bit hard to get off, but it popped right off when I put a knife in the seam. The light portion swivels a full 360 degrees on the base, so it can be pointed in any direction as needed (VERY useful). The base can be screwed into a surface, or you can use the included velcro sticker patches for quick mounting.

There are three settings for the light. Off is the first one (naturally), followed by motion-detection, and then a constant on setting. The detection mode only works when the lighting is sufficiently dark (the documentation says under 5 lux), so it won't trigger in regular light and waste the batteries. The unit also slides off the base easily so you could use it as a flashlight if you have a power outage.

I wasn't sure if my wife would care about having a light there, but she was thrilled once I showed her this. She can now grab stuff out of the closet without waking me up by turning on the light in the bedroom. Very much an appreciated item in the household...

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Vendor
Payment: Free

No Time to Die
No Time to Die
Price: CDN$ 7.98

5.0 out of 5 stars What would happen if you could turn off the aging gene in people?, Nov. 23 2014
This review is from: No Time to Die (Kindle Edition)
I picked out No Time To Die by Kira Peikoff based on the teaser on the back cover written by Joseph Finder likening her writing to Michael Crichton. And as usual, Finder was right. No Time To Die was a great story involving the bio-ethics of aging, and what lengths people would go to in order to find a key to stop it.

The story revolves around Zoe Kincaid, a college student with a rare gene abnormality. At the age of 14 she stopped aging. No more growth, no puberty, no physical changes. She desperately wants to find a way to turn off that particular gene so she can start to live life as an adult. Unfortunately, the medical climate in the US is such that doctors and researchers are forbidden from research and experimentation in genetic therapy. That doesn't keep an underground group of researchers from trying to bypass those regulations. The government knows about this group, and is determined to shut them down as a terrorist group. Zoe gets involved with the group as they want to offer her research and a cure for her condition, but she's still torn over whether the group is what they say they are, or whether they're moving into a position to completely destroy society as we know it.

I really enjoyed the characters in No Time To Die, and there were more than a couple of ethical dilemmas that came into play during the story. Is a "cure" for one person a "curse" for society? If you can turn off aging, what does that mean 10, 20, or 50 years down the road when no one is dying? This is definitely a great story and one that will have you thinking about harder questions.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed

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