Misc Gear

Coghlan’s Magnesium Firestarter Review

I really liked the Flint Striker from Coghlan’s I reviewed in September.  It works really well but sometimes you need a little more.  The Magnesium Firestarter from Coghlan’s not only gets the spark you need, but also provides you some tinder that burns a little hotter than dryer lint.


Voiis Stereo Wireless Music Gateway Review

Stereo Bluetooth is a great innovation for the freedom it grants from cables.  I was quite pleased when Apple finally added stereo Bluetooth functionality to the iPhone.  Not that being connected to a headphone cable is a huge problem, but it’s nice to be able to set my iPhone on my desk while listening to music, and still be able to move around my office without needing to pick up the iPhone and carry it with me if I’m just moving a few steps to get something off a shelf. Mobile Action understands the appeal of eliminating wires. Their new Voiis Stereo Wireless Music Gateway…


Walmart Selling Caskets Online

Wal-Mart has started offering caskets and urns at prices that are probably cheaper than what you’d pay at your local funeral home. Online casket sales are not a totally new concept as Amazon offers them and so does Costco. But somehow a Wal-Mart casket seems, well, cheap. Take comfort knowing that you didn’t overpay for Mom or Dad to be laid to rest in a specially designed $999 “Dad Remembered” or “Mom Remembered” casket. Wal-Mart even ships coffins directly (embalming sold separately) to the funeral home which I’m sure will cause your local funeral director to be really friendly when…


Cordless Charging with the Powermat Wireless Charging System

We’ve mentioned WildCharge – the company that allows you to use inductive charging with nearly any mobile phone or other power hungry gadget – before on Gear Diary, but tonight I realized we hadn’t given any coverage to Powermat, another company with a similar premise (but a better looking design). What premise would that be? Why the one that says plugging your devices in to charge them is so passé; the idea that all you should have to do is lay your gadget on a mat to charge it, even if the trade-off is having to keep your phone in…


Novatel Mifi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot Review

I get asked an awful lot to name my favorite mobile device.  My answer is usually the same.  Well, I like this device for these things, or another device for those other things, but favorite device really depends upon what you want to do.  I never found a device which was perfect for all things.  Until now. Today, I am ready to name my favorite mobile device, and it is probably not what you expect.  This one does not have a screen or a keyboard.  It does not make phone calls.  It does not access the Internet.  What it does…


Altec Lansing Orbit USB iML237 Speaker Review

Last year Judie reviewed the Altec Lansing Orbit speaker.  It was an interesting speaker that can be used with any device sporting a normal 3.5 mm headphone jack.  The downside to using such a speaker with a laptop is that the internal sound card in most laptops can be a bit noisy. Altec Lansing recently sent me a sample of their  Orbit USB iML237 speaker. It solves the sound card issue perfectly.  


Techlasers Infiniti II 95mW 532nm Green Laser Pointer Review

Back in late June Judie reviewed the SKYlasers 125mW green laser pointer, providing a fun look at some of the interesting things you can do with a laser such as that. Soon thereafter, TechLasers provided us with one of their 95mW Infinity II 532nm Green Laser Pointers to evaluate for review. Judie also sent me the SKYlasers pointer, so I could do a bit of comparing. I will also attempt to answer a slightly more serious question – why the heck does someone need a 95mW laser pointer?


Dymo LabelWriter 450 Twin Turbo Review

If you have to send large numbers of snail-mail, a dedicated label printer may be just the thing for you. If you want speed and flexibility in your label printer, then the Dymo 450 Twin Turbo is definitely worth a look. While having a dedicated label printer with two different bays that hold two different sizes and types of labels may sound like overkill, it isn’t. In fact, it makes life even simpler by allowing a degree of flexibility that can save the time of switching from one type of label to another. For example, one side can have address…


Spyderco Native Pocket Knife Review

Every year my family takes a week long vacation to visit my mother at her cabin in Maine.  We make it a habit of passing through Freeport, Maine on the way up to her house each year.  Freeport is not only is the home of L.L. Bean but it’s also the home to one of my favorite knife shops, the Freeport Knife Co. I am a collector of pocket knives and I carry one almost all the time either in my pants pocket or my turnout gear.  It’s a tool I end up using several times a day be it…


Gorillatorch: Coming to a Dark Room Near You

I am a huge fan of the Joby Gorillapod, a fantastically flexible mini tripod.  It is one of my favorite gadgets for my camera.  Well, now the good folks at Joby have brought the latest in the Gorilla line, the Gorillatorch.  This is an ultra-bright light, mounted atop the same three flexible legs as the Gorillapod.  At the end of those legs are magnetic feet, which allow you to position the light wherever you need it most.  This would be the perfect solution for workshops, autoshops, and even camping.  Hit the jump for the full press release.


Olympus E-P1 Digital Pen Review (Part 1)

This is the Olympus E-P1 , the digital camera that set a million tongues wagging when it was announced. The first Olympus camera to be based on the Micro Four-Thirds standard co-developed with Panasonic, the E-P1 is supposed to be able to capture close to professional DSLR (digital SLR) quality photographs, in a form-factor barely larger than a compact point and shoot camera. The E-P1 is also one of the smallest digital cameras with interchangeable lenses. I’m not a professional photographer, and my experience with digital cameras has thus far been limited to point and shoots, so bear in mind…


CozyHoze Boss Management System Review

I have been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea over two years ago.  Obstructive Sleep Apnea is where your airway closes off while you sleep causing you to stop breathing.  CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure is the best therapy for the moment.  It uses a blower and a mask system to blow air into you as you breath in.  This helps keep the airway clear so that you don’t stop breathing and you don’t wake up. As a Obstructive Sleep Apnea sufferer there are many frustrations.  The first one is the mask and you just kind of have to get…


Buying Prescription Eyeglasses Online – Why You Should Consider It

In 1999, I had Lasik surgery to correct my severe nearsightedness and astigmatism. At that time I was 32 years old, and I had been wearing prescription eyeglasses or contacts since I was 12. I have the ugly yearbook photos to prove it — just ask anyone who went to school with me in Eldorado. 😉 Because of my vision problems, it became a yearly ritual to go to an ophthalmologist or optometrist, have my eyes checked, get a prescription, and get a new pair of glasses; at best there may have been one or two years where I kept…


The FroliCat BOLT Automatic Laser Light Review

There aren’t many things more amusing than watching a kitten chase a laser pointer’s dot. Kittties are playful and energetic to begin with, but giving them an impossible to catch “mouse” creates a game which never seems to tire them. My cat Avah is two years old, and while she no longer has quite the playful moves she used to impress me with, she still shows moments of friskiness when a moth gets in the house or a string is dangling. We’ve played the laser pointer game before with comedic results, so I figured that she would be the perfect…


EasyBloom Plant Sensor Review – Help Your Plants Thrive!

I do not have a green thumb, but through much trial and error over the years I have compiled a list of plants I can keep alive. I have also learned that there are some, that when I see them seemingly thriving and beckoning to me at the store…no matter how good they look, I should just keep on walking. When dealing with indoor plants, I know that I do best with ones that can handle diffused light and weekly watering; since I love blooming flowers, I tend to buy orchids. Outdoor plants must be able to handle direct sun,…


The SKYlasers 125 mW Green Laser Pointer Review

Not long after I received this rather benign looking kit containing a 125mW Green Laser Pointer and a pair of Laser Protective Goggles from SKYlasers, I started really paying attention to all of the reports regarding people with lasers – red and the stronger green, interfering with pilots flying passenger airplanes. In February 2009, there were already 148 reported incidents of laser attacks, and just last week a plane arriving at Sea-Tac was lasered no less than 20 times. What’s the big deal? Well to start, shining a high powered laser at a plane creates the possibility of messing with…


Dakim Brain Fitness Unit Review

Imagine trying to explain a computer to someone who has never seen one. Try explaining this strange thing called a mouse, and how you use it to control your interactions with the screen. Try explaining how you type on a keyboard, and through the magic of wires and electronics the words appear onscreen. And if you want to move something from point a to point b, hold down the mouse and drag…but have some fancy moves if you need to drag beyond the room you have on your mousepad. I know it sounds crazy, but if you’ve never used a…


Bullard TrakLight: Integrated Lighting System

Just in case you thought fast changing technology only exists in cell phones and Mp3 players I bring you this Gear Diary entry. This one hits especially close to home for me because, well you know, I’m a firefighter.


USB Fever Borescope Review

Have you ever dropped something in your PC case, and then could not find it amongst the chips, resistors, capacitors and other various nooks and crannies?  Next time, you can use this nifty USB Fever Borescope to find it.



Bug Catcher Vacuum Review – a Nifty Device

Spring is here, and along with the rains and milder days have come droves of moths, gnats, flies, mosquitoes, june bugs, mayflies, scorpions, spiders and every other weird bug that will scramble in when someone accidentally leaves the screen door open for longer than a second. I live in the country so I might have a few more bugs on my list than you would, but I know that you “city dwellers” have to deal with some of the same. I was recently on the Home Improvements website looking for some heat register deflectors and recycling bins, and I saw…