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Author Archive for Janet Cloninger – Page 2

Eton Blackout Buddy emergency lighting and LED flashlight review


We live in a high-rise condo building, and the main hallways and stairways are all interior and windowless.  The building does have emergency lighting, as we found out during a recent power outage, but those are only in the public areas of the building.  Most of the rooms in our condo have floor-to-ceiling windows, so there is some light coming in from outside at night, but that might not be the case if there’s no moon and all the surrounding buildings and street lights are also without power.  It would be nice to have emergency lighting in the unit itself in such a case.  I recently wrote a news post about the Blackout Buddy from Eton, which is an LED flashlight that stays plugged in to keep the battery charged until you need it.  When the power goes off, the Blackout Buddy lights up as emergency lighting to light your pathway.  It can also serve as a nightlight.  I decided some Blackout Buddys were just what we needed, so I went to Amazon and ordered a few.  I’ve been using them for a few weeks, and I like them! Read More →

Set phasers to stun… er, volume control!


This is the universal remote control for the dedicated Star Trek fan.  This Star Trek Original Phaser Universal Remote Control is an exacting replica of a Star Trek phaser.  It was 3D scanned from the last remaining prop phaser in existence, and it has a detachable MK I phaser unit (seen on the top).  The phaser is made of hand-polished, die-cast metal parts.  It plays a variety of phaser and other Star Trek sounds, it has a removable side door that exposes an illuminated dilithium crystal power cell, and it vibrates and illuminates when “fired.”  But it’s not just nice to look at.  It’s also a fully programmable, gesture-based remote control that works with TVs, DVD players, audio systems, and even iPod docks.  It has a built-in lithium-ion battery, a USB cable for recharging, and a display stand so you’ll never have to embark on a five year mission to find the remote control again.  It’s available from Firebox in the UK, but they will ship to the US.  It will ship in November, 2014, but you can either sign up to be notified of availability, or you can pre-order a Star Trek Original Phaser Universal Remote Control from Firebox for about $205 US.


KERO charging cables cover the long and the short of it


Have you noticed how short the charging cables included with devices always are?  It’s really difficult to find an outlet that lets you comfortably use your device as you charge it with those little 3-foot long cables.  The Lasso Lightning cable ($29.99) from KERO is 10 feet long, so you’ll never be faced with having to sit in the floor beside the outlet to continue using your iOS gear when the battery is in dire need of some extra juice.  It comes with a cable tie to keep it organized when you aren’t using it.  The Lasso is also great for traveling, but KERO has some keyring chargers if you prefer to travel light.  The Nomad cables are 3″ long, and they are sync/charge cables.  They are available in two versions:  a certified Apple Lightning cable ($24,99) or a USB 2.0 microUSB version ($14.99).  Both Nomad cables are available in white or blue; the Lasso is available in white only.  Learn more at KERO.

When they call this cooler The Coolest, they aren’t kidding around!


Picnic coolers are just simple insulated boxes that hold ice to keep your drinks and food cold, right?  Wrong!  This Kickstarter project for what has to be the most functional cooler ever just started on July 8, but already they have far exceeded their original goal of $50,000 by raising more than $4.5 million dollars from more than 23,500 investors.  And they still have 45 days left in the funding period!  Why the immense interest in this cooler?  Well, it’s on wheels and lets you tie on your other gear and equipment for easy transport to the picnic or camping spot; the wide wheels make it easy to role over most any terrain.  It has a removable, waterproof Bluetooth speaker in the front so you can share your tunes.  It has a bottle opener built into the front; it can be removed for use, too.  The lid is divided so you can grab a drink without letting all the cold out.  One side of the lid has storage for plastic plates and a knife; the other side has a built-in LED light so you can see in the cooler even at night.  The body of the cooler can be divided so you can keep drinks on one side and clean ice to add to your cups on the other.  The divider can be removed and used as a cutting board.  All this sounds good, right?

We haven’t even gotten to the best features yet.  The Coolest has an 18V battery inside that can run the blender you see on top of the cooler.  The pitcher isn’t just sitting there; it’s actually ready to blend up to 6 gallons of drinks on a single battery charge.  The cooler also has a dual-port USB charger; one port provides 1A power, and the other is a 2.1A port.

The early-bird pledge levels are all claimed now.  The minimum pledge to receive The Coolest cooler is $185, which is said to be $115 off retail price.  You’ll have to add $15 for shipping in the US or $100 (possibly more) for shipping to Canada and most of the EU.  The funding period ends August .  Shipment is expected in February 2015.  Get more details on The Coolest‘s Kickstarter page.

A picnic is in the bag with BuiltNY


You’ve got the Matador blanket that fits in your pocket, so you’re ready for a picnic anytime.  All you need is the food, and you’ll be able to tote everything you need in this Convertible Insulated Picnic Basket Bag from BuiltNY.  The bag measures 16.5″ X 13.6″ X  10″, and it unzips to serve as your eating surface.  Inside are pockets and holders for the included place settings for four (plastic plate, wine glass, flatware, and napkin), and there is plenty of storage space to hold two wine bottles and food, too.  The bag is made of neoprene, so it protects against bumps and spills.  It has a removable drawstring bag to hold food for the picnic and can hold waste items until you find a garbage can.  It also has a corkscrew and a bottle opener, so you’ll have everything you need.  The BuiltNY Convertible Insulated Picnic Basket Bag is $149 at Amazon.

This Planet Waves string winder incorporates a string stretcher


A couple of months ago, we told you about the Stretcha, a tool that would stretch out new strings and prevent tuning problems.  I ordered a couple of those for my husband and daughter, and they do help you stretch out new strings.    Stretchas are pretty big, though, and they don’t always fit in the little cubbies and pouches in all guitar cases.  The Planet Waves Peg Winder for Guitar incorporates a string stretcher and a bridge pin puller.  It works with virtually all guitars, mandolins, and banjos, and it’s small enough that it should fit in your instrument case easier.  The Planet Waves Peg Winder for Guitar is $5.89 at Amazon.  Planet Waves also has a version of bass guitar, also $5.89 at Amazon.

Recording music is easier with the UkeSB from Lanikai


My husband, Butch, helped me review the Squire by Fender USB guitar a few years ago, and he found that it made recording music in GarageBand much simpler because he didn’t have to have some sort of interface to get the music from his guitar to the computer.  I’ve seen a few other guitars that come with built-in USB interfaces since then, but just recently I saw Lanikai’s UkeSB ukulele with built-in USB interface.  Lanikai say these ukes are the first ukuleles with a USB output.  You simply plug the uke into a computer’s USB port, or into an iPhone or iPad with the camera kit adapter, or into select Android devices, and you can record using GarageBand, Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Audacity, and other recording software without requiring any adapters or other interfaces.  The UkeSB models have full Fishman Kula preamps with a built-in tuner.  They are available with a full koa body and top in soprano ($399), concert ($429), tenor ($449), and baritone $479) sizes or with a spruce top and koa body in concert ($479) and tenor ($499) sizes.  All models have real mother of pearl inlays.  You can purchase the UkeSB ukuleles directly from Lanikai.

You’ll be able to rack ‘em and stack ‘em with this sofa


I am fascinated with looking at pictures of those tiny, under 200-sqft houses that some people live in.  While I was looking at information about one of them today, I saw a sofa that would work well for anyone living in a small home without a guest room, or for vacation homes, or maybe even an RV if you could secure it to the floor.  The Proteas Coupe sofa looks like a regular sofa, but it can be converted into bunk beds complete with a ladder and a safety rail for the upper bunk in seconds.  And it’s easy enough that it can be converted by one person.  Although you usually think of bunk beds for children, the Coupe is strong enough that it safely sleeps adults.  The Coupe is available in blue, beige, red, green, or brown fabric.  It’s produced by the Proteas company in Greece, but they can arrange shipping worldwide.  And apparently they are working on finding a US distributor, based on a Facebook conversation one of their representatives was having with some potential US customers who were clamoring for a Coupe.  The sofa costs about $1750 US, but that doesn’t include shipping costs.  If you can’t wait for a US distributor, you can order directly from Proteas now.

(source: TinyHouseTalk)

Carry your MacBook, iPad, and other essential gear in this sleeve from Cargo Works


If you’re like me, you travel with a plethora of Apple products, but you’d like to travel with that gear in the smallest bag possible.  The MacBook Module Sleeve from Cargo Works can carry a MacBook Pro (with or without Retina display), your iPad, and iPhone, and still have room for a charger or a couple other small accessories like a Magic Mouse.  There’s a MacBook Module for 15″ MacBooks and one for 13″ MacBooks.  Both are made of 900 denier polyester canvas, have protective neoprene linings, military-grade nylon webbings, and YKK zippers.  The 13″ MacBook Module is $49.90; the 15″ MacBook Module is $59.90 at Cargo Works.

Monitor your exposure to the sun and know when you should take cover with Sunscreen Bands


Slathering on sunscreen doesn’t make you impervious to the sun, it just extends your safe period in the sun by a bit.  Even reapplying sunscreen during the day only keeps you safe for so long before you need to get out of the sun to prevent damage.  You can use these Sunscreen Bands to monitor when you need to reapply sunscreen and then when it’s time to go inside.  Before going out, liberally apply at least SPF 15 to your exposed skin, then put one of the monitoring bands on when you go out into the sun.  After a few minutes of exposure to the sun, the Sunscreen Band will activate and turn dark purple.  Apply sunscreen to the band and wait about 15 minutes for it to dry, then it will begin monitoring your exposure to both UVA and UVB radiation while you lounge, work, swim, or play in the sun.  When the band turns lavender, you need to apply another coat of sunscreen to both your skin and the bracelet before going back to your activities.  Once any part of the band then turns cream, you need to go inside or place covering over your exposed skin because you have reached the maximum sun exposure that you can tolerate for the day as determined by the SPF factor you use.  Sunscreen Bands are $12 for a pack of ten single-use bands.  They can be ordered online from the manufacturer; they are also available at Amazon, Walmart, ToysrUs, and several other retailers.  You’ll find a compete list or resellers at the Sunscreen Bands site.

Tokyoflash Japan introduces the Kisai Sequence watch


The new Kisai Sequence watch from Tokyoflash Japan features a stainless steel case, leather strap, custom-made curved acrylic lens, “sub-surface digital tube LEDs, and an alternating pattern of raised cubes.”  The time can be displayed in 12- or 24-hour format and in either regular or cryptic mode.  It also has an alarm function and six animations.  The watch has a USB-rechargeable battery and comes with your choice of a white or black leather strap and blue or red LEDs.  The Kisai Sequence is available at the special release price of $109 until Friday, July 11th at 11am Japan time from Tokyoflash Japan‘s website.

Now your child can wash her hands without climbing or needing a stool


As any parent knows, there’s a bit of danger associated with very young children trying to wash their hands on their own.  When my daughter was very young, we had to keep a footstool in the bathroom so she could reach to wash her hands – so there’s a falling danger.  There’s also a scalding danger should the child turn on the hot instead of cold water.  With these Aqueduck products, you don’t have to worry about either of those dangers.  The first part of the Aqueduck kit is the shovel-shaped Faucet Extender.  This attaches to the spout and redirects the water flow out toward the front of the sink, so it’s easier for the child to get their hands or toothbrush wet without standing on a stool.  There’s also a cute little duck extension wand for the water handles.  The top image shows the one for two-handled faucets.  You only get one for use on the cold water handle, so you don’t have to worry about burns.  If you have a center-lever style faucet, Aqueduck has a Single Handle Extender.  On this one, the duck has long wings that hang down on the sides of the spout and prevent the lever from being moved from the warm-water position.  The Faucet Extender is $12.99, and the handle extenders are $13.99 each.  Kits containing one Faucet Extender and one handle extender of either type is $25.  Learn more and order at Peachy LLC.

Share files wirelessly to your mobile device from your camera


Tablets and smart phones are a great way to carry and share photos; they have replaced those little photo albums called “brag books” that people used to carry in their purses or gear bags.  Many of these mobile devices have cameras to take photos with, but let’s face it, the quality of those photos aren’t always up to snuff.  If you have a DSLR, you undoubtedly get much better pictures from it than from the mobile device’s phone.  You’d love to carry those DSLR photos on your mobile device, but it can be a pain to get them loaded from your camera to your tablet or phone.  With the Wi-Fi microSD Adapter from Brando, you can wirelessly transmit photos from your camera to your iOS or Android device.  The adapter works with microSD cards (4-32GB, and you’ll need to supply your own), and it supports the following file formats:  JPG, PNG, BMP for photos, MP4 , AVI, MOV for Videos, MP3, WAV for music.  Of course, what files you’ll be able to use on your mobile device depends upon the device’s capabilities.  You can connect up to three devices, and the card works on WiFi 802.11 b/g/n networks.  The Wi-Fi micro SD Adapter is $28 at Brando.

Your child can learn about the world with the Little Passports sets


With these educational sets, your child can go on a virtual trip with Sam and Sofia as they explore the USA or the world.  Each month, she’ll receive a package with a letter from Sam and Sofia, maps, stickers, souvenirs, activities, and access to online activities.  The World Edition includes a suitcase and a passport with the first shipment;  each monthly shipment contains materials specific to a different country around the world.  The USA Edition includes a letter from Sam and Sofia, a USA Field Guide, a USA scratch book, a map, and a camera in the first shipment; each monthly shipment contains materials to two different states.  The World Edition is designed for children ages 5-10; the USA Edition is for children 7-12.  Monthly subscription fees for either the World or the USA Edition is $11.95/month plus $2 shipping; an annual subscription is $10.95 a month (single payment of $131.40 plus $20 shipping); and a six-months subscription is $13.95 a month (single charge of $83.70 plus $15 shipping).  Learn more about these educational kits at Little Passports.

Your pet will travel in style with the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed


Anyone who has tried to walk a cat on a leash knows there has to be a better way to travel with a cat.  People who infrequently travel with a pet in one of those plastic pet kennels knows that they aren’t all that great either because the dog or cat is often anxious at being stuck in the horrible box that’s used to go to the vet for shots.  The Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed Carrier can be used in your home as the pet’s bed, so he’s familiar with it.  It’s lined with machine-washable and replaceable ultra plush bedding and a water-resistant foam liner.  It has a mesh dome that can be removed for use as a bed, then zippered on when you need to transport your pet.  There’s also a padded shoulder strap that you clip on for carrying.  The Sleepypod is 8″ tall and has a 17″ diameter and fits pets up to 15 pounds; it weighs 3 pounds empty.  It’s available in a variety of colors for $250.00 from Fancy.

Use your smart phone or tablet as a remote shutter release for your DSLR


I’ve purchased remote shutter releases for all of the Nikon DSLRs that I own.  Some are wireless, some are wired, but they all require me to push a button to get a photo – and that’s all it can do.  With the Triggertrap cable and an app for your smart phone (most versions of iPhone and the 5th gen iPod touch, some Android phones) or tablet (most versions of iPad, iPad mini, and some Android tablets), you can trigger your camera in a variety of ways.  You plug the Triggertrap cable into the headphone jack of your mobile device and the other end into the camera’s cable release port to control your camera to take photos in bulb or regular mode.  You control the camera by tapping on the screen, by sound (such as yelling “surprise”), TimeLapse to take a photo at specified time intervals, or TimeWarp (time lapse with acceleration), DistanceLapse (uses GPS to snap photos at specified distances), vibrations, and other triggering methods.  Triggertrap cables are available at Photojojo for Nikon and Canon camera models for $30.00 each.

Coca Cola fridge gives keeps your Coca-Colas cold


In my research of dorm fridges, I’ve seen quite a few styles of small fridges.  This little Koolatron Coca Cola Can Fridge is one of the cuter models I’ve seen.  It’s not practical as a dorm fridge, but it would be cute and useful in your office or rumpus room at home.  It stands 17.75″ tall and 11″ in diameter, has a removable shelf, and it can hold 8 12-oz cans or two 2-liter bottles.  It can chill its contents to 40-degrees below the room temperature.  It comes with a 110V home adapter.  Buy the Coca Cola Can Fridge directly from Koolatron for $149.95.  It’s a great gift for any Coca Cola collector.

Turn your kettle grill into a pizza oven with the KettlePizza


Earlier this year, we told you about a wood-fired pizza oven for your backyard that promised to make great pizza but cost $2700.  You like pizza, but you don’t have that kind of cash to dedicate to a large piece of equipment that can only make pizzas, you say?  What about a piece of equipment that you can sit on the kettle-style Weber grill you already have to turn it into a pizza oven?  (And just as easily remove to turn your grill back into a grill.)  The KettlePizza is made of 20 gauge, 304 grade stainless steel, and it adjusts to fit either an 18.5″ or a 22.5″ kettle grill, such as the Weber One Touch Siver or Gold Grills.  You leave the cooking grill in place to use as the cooking surface, set the KettlePizza on the bottom, then fit the lid on top to keep the heat in for fast, even baking.  You can buy the KettlePizza alone or with accessories, like a pizza stone and wooden pizza peel.  Amazon in the US offers several versions of the KettlePizza, including the KettlePizza Deluxe Kit that includes a 15″ cordierite pizza stone and wooden peel for $199.95.  It’s even available for free shipping if you’re an Amazon Prime member.  Check the KettlePizza site to find other dealers around the world.

Your keys won’t be swimming with the fishes with the WaterBuoy


Summer means swimming, fishing, boating, and other water-related activities for many people.  It’s good, relaxing fun until you lose something overboard.  With the WaterBuoy, you won’t have to worry about losing your keys, fishing tackle, camera, or anything weighing under 2.2 pounds.  With the WaterBuoy attached, your dropped items will float to the surface within seconds, before water currents have had time to carry it too far away from you.  The miniature float has a trigger mechanism that’s resistant to splashes, but it will activate with water submersion.  When triggered, a strong rubber balloon inflates to lift your item to the surface.  (By the way, if your item exceeds that weight limit, simply attach extra WaterBuoys to it.)  It even has a high-intensity flashing LED to help you find your lost item at night; the light should continue to flash for 24 hours.   The list price is about $23 (in US dollars).  The WaterBuoy site lists retailers in the US, Europe, and Asia.

Dyson DC65 Animal vacuum for less than $500


If you really liked the Dyson DC65 Animal vacuum cleaner Julie reviewed in April of this year but were put off by the $600 price tag, then today may be your lucky day. QVC has the DC65 Animal as their Today’s Special Value deal, and they are offering it in red, blue, or purple for $479.95.  Even shipping is free.  This price is good until 11:59 ET tonight (July 5, 2014).  (The above image is from Julie’s review.)

All Keyport Slides 2.0, including limited special edition colors, only $24 for a very limited time


Jackie Cheng reviewed the first version of the Keyport all-in-one high-tech keychain a few years ago, and he loved it so much that he bought another and then backed the Kickstarter for the second model.  Julie reviewed the Keyport Slide 2.0 when it was released last fall, and she still uses her Keyport every day.  I finally bought one in Ice (frosted clear) early this year, and I love it.  I was intrigued when I got an email from Keyport saying that they had gotten so many requests for more of the Limited Edition colors that are no longer available they were going to do something about it.  Keyport has produced small batches of several of the Limited Editions for sale at a special price of $24 each until  4pm PST on July 5th, 2014.  After that time, these limited colors will no longer be available.  The standard colors (black, white, Ice) are also $24 during this sale.  Of course, the key blades and other accessories are additional purchases, just as they always are.  If you need one of these special colors, or you just want the special pricing, you better act quickly.  While I love my Keyport, and I really like the Ice color, I decided I needed one of the black with red versions – because it’s red… 

For more info visit

You might not be able to control the weather, but you can control this cloud lamp


This Interactive Cloud Lamp is more of an art piece than task lighting.  It looks fluffy like a real cloud and hangs from your ceiling like a small thundercloud.  It has interactive, color-changing Philips lights inside and a speaker system that can stream music from any Bluetooth-enabled device or produce the thunder that goes along with the lightning show.  “On one hand, ‘Cloud’ is an Arduino-controlled, motion-triggered lightning and thunder performance. On the other, it is a music-activated visualizer and suspended speaker unit.”  You can set it to simulate a thunderstorm, to interact with your music, or to respond to your presence and to ambient movements and sounds.  The Interactive Cloud Lamp is expensive at $3360.00, but you can get a “lamp only” version or a “satellite” version to add to another Cloud.  Learn more and purchase at Richard Clarkson Art & Design Laboratory.

The new SCOTTeVEST protects your identity with RFID blocking


If you’ve read The Gadgeteer for a while, you’ve surely seen a review of a SCOTTeVEST product.  Their clothing is designed to look sleek on the outside while storing a plethora of tech gadgets and the other gear you need for the day hidden in interior pockets.  Their new RFID Travel Vests are designed with the same storage pockets and with the same headphones wiring system built in, but they add an RFID-blocking pocket to protect your identity.  Some pockets even have Clear Touch fronts so you can interact with your touchscreen devices without removing them from the pocket.  The men’s version has 26 pockets and is available in black, khaki, blue, or olive for $135.  The women’s version has 18 pockets and is available in black, gray, khaki, or red for $135.  You can learn more about and order these RFID Travel Vests at SCOTTeVEST.

mophie introduces a space pack case for iPhone 5/5s with even more space


Earlier this year, we told you about the mophie space pack case for iPhone 5/5s that not only includes a backup battery that doubles the phone’s battery life, but also expanded the phone’s storage.  The original space pack cases added 16 or 32 GB of extra storage.  Using the iOS Space app, you could save extra files of various types, including music files, in the space pack’s memory that you could easily access with your phone.  If 16 or 32GB isn’t enough extra space for you, perhaps their newest version with 64GB will be what you need.  The 64GB space pack can be pre-ordered now in red, white, or black for $249.00; it will ship July 22, 2014.  Of course mophie‘s 16GB ($149) and 32GB ($179) space packs are still available in the same three colors.

Add a Bluetooth speaker to your lamp


I have an iPad mini with Retina display, and I love everything about it except for its wimpy speaker.  I do like that it has an external speaker so I can – in theory – listen to sounds from the mini without having to plug in headphones.  In practice, I can barely hear the thing, even when I hold the mini’s speaker up to my ear like a sea shell.  I’d like to have a speaker for my bedside table that could connect via Bluetooth or even an audio cable so I’ll have a chance of hearing the mini, but I don’t really have room for even a small speaker on that small surface.  The MOCREO Wireless Portable LED Lamp Bluetooth Speaker could replace one of the two bulbs in my beside lamp and serve as both a 5W (600-800 lumens) night light and as a 10W Bluetooth speaker.  It reproduces 300-15,000 Hz sound, so it’s not high fidelity, but it has to be louder than the tiny speaker in my iPad mini.  It has an E27 base, so it fits in most standard lamp sockets.  Because it’s always screwed into a power source, you don’t have to worry about recharging batteries.  It comes with a remote to control music volume, select previous or next song, adjust light brightness, or turn the lamp off.  The MOCREO bulb is available with a white, blue, green, or pink exterior for $43.98 from Amazon.