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Reviews of and direct links to products on Amazon.

WD 1TB WD Elements Portable USB 3.0 Hard Drive Storage

Reliable and lots of room for backups

I work out of my home, so my home computer is my business computer. As such, it is vital that I do not lose any of the data on my PC. I have been using an external hard drive to back up my PC for about a decade. My previous external hard drive for this purpose was a 60 GB Western Digital drive. I had about 30 GB of "archived" data on it and would backup about 3 GB of data that might be changed each month. So it had plenty of room for all of my data, but I had to regularly delete older monthly backups to make room for newer ones. That was a pain, and it meant I only had backups going back a few months.

That proved to be a problem recently when I noticed I had inadvertently deleted an old article off of one of my Web sites. I checked in my monthly backups and still couldn't find it. But fortunately I had been in the practice of "archiving" the last monthly backup whenever I had gotten a new computer. I had to go way back to an archive from when I had done so in 2006, but I found the file. But that told me that keeping old backups was a smart idea. Then shortly after that, after a decade of use, my 60 GB WD drive was freezing up when I was trying to make my monthly backup. So I figured it was time for a new drive.

Since my previous Western Digital drive had lasted a decade,  I figured I'd get another one. I was really surprised when I checked Amazon and saw I could get a  1TB drive for about the same price I paid for my 60 GB drive a decade ago. So I ordered it. I got it two days later (Amazon Prime). I plugged it in; it took a few seconds to load the driver, and then it worked. No problems whatsoever. I backed up all of my archived data and did my monthly backup in less than an hour. I have done one additional monthly backup since then, and I backed up my data in about 20 minutes.

I now have all of 35 GB of data on a drive that started with 930 GB of free space. So I should be able to keep doing my monthly backups for many years to come without having to delete older backups. There is security in knowing my vital data is protected and in knowing I will always have very old backups if the need should arrive for such. So I am giving this drive five stars, with the stipulation that I am assuming it will last as long as my old WD drive did.

Kingston Digital 16GB DataTraveler 101 G2 Drive

Worthless drive, but Amazon is great

Amazon is great. I ordered this Kingston 16GB USB drive from them, but it did not work. Kingston support was worthless and just said to return it to Amazon. It only cost $8, so I wasn’t going to bother. But I changed my mind. When I used Amazon’s online return service, it said as a “valued” customer, they’d just refund my money. I didn’t need to actually return the drive. How nice! I later did what I should have done in the first place and ordered a SanDisk drive, and it worked just fine.

 

SanDisk Cruzer 16GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive

Reliable and lots of room for daily backups

I use a WD external hard drive to back up any data that might have changed on my home/ business PC each month. But for daily backups I had been using a 2 GB SanDisk flash drive for the past decade. I will quick reformat the flash drive after the monthly backup on the external hard drive, so the 2GB flash drive was usually plenty large to hold all of my daily backups between my monthly backups. But there had been a few times when it would get full. Then recently it froze up on me. I did a full format and that got it working again, but still, I figured it was time for a new drive.

Since my old SanDisk flash drive lasted a decade even with daily use, I figured I'd get another SanDisk drive. I was pleased to see I could get a 16 GB flash drive for less than I had paid for my 2GB drive a decade ago. I doubt I will ever use that much space between my monthly backups, so I ordered it. I got it two days later (Amazon Prime). I plugged it in; it took a few seconds to load the driver, and then it worked. I have been using it daily for about three weeks now with no problems whatsoever. So I am giving this drive five stars, with the stipulation that I am assuming it will last as long as my old SanDisk drive did.

 

LectroFan - Fan Sound and White Noise Machine

Voices, yes voices!

Getting a good night's sleep has always been a problem for me. And any kind of noise can make it even harder. For several years I used a Marpac Natural White Noise machine. That worked to cancel out sounds, but it would usually only last a year until it would start running "rough" and make an uneven sound that was not conductive to good sleep. If I would oil it, that would keep it working for a few more months. But when I developed multiple chemical sensitivities, oiling it would cause me problems. So I tried various digital type sound machines, but they always had "extraneous" noises amongst the white noise. By that I mean, some type of clicking, beeping, cracking, or other disturbing noise. So I switched to using ear plugs. That worked for a few years, until I developed a sensitivity to those. So I looked for another product and came across this LectroFan.

Since this LectroFan only plays white noises and fan noises and not the myriad of other sounds other digital sound machines play, I was hoping it would not have the extraneous noises that other such machines always seen to have. So I ordered one on July 17, 2014. I got it two days later (Amazon Prime), plugged it in, and it worked just fine. It didn't take too long to play with the different sounds and find the one that was most conduct to sleep and to set the volume as I wanted. I have it set about as loud as the old Marpac machine was, but it can get much louder.

I used it for about a month without problems, and it was helping me to get a good night's sleep. But by experience I know that once I get used to sleeping with white noise playing I cannot sleep without it. So not wanting to risk the machine breaking and not being able to sleep, even if only for couple of night's until a new one came,  I ordered a second one on August 20 for a backup.

But shortly after that arrived, I was woken up in the middle of the night by what sounded like quiet but multiple voices. At first I thought it was my alarm going off, but it seemed way too early for that. When I looked up it was only about 3am. After turning the LectroFan off and on, I realized the voices were coming from it! I played with it a little, and the voices disappeared. It worked fine for about a week, but then I was awakened by the same sounds. This was getting  a little creepy. I tried different sounds on the machines, but they all had the same voices. But after a few minutes, they went away.

The next day, I switched to the "backup" LectroFan. It worked fine for about a week, but then I again got woken up by the same sound of voices. And again, playing with it, the voices were in all of the sounds. I've since gone back and forth between the two LectroFans, and regardless of which I use, about once or twice a week I will get woken up by the voices. It happened again just last night, at about 4 am. It is now October 15, 2014, so this has been happening once or twice a week for almost two months.

No one else has mentioned such a problem with this machine in these reviews, but trust me, I am not crazy! I am hearing voices coming from both of the LectroFans I bought. But since the problems I had with other sound machines would be every night and since I can no longer use ear plugs, I have still been using one of the LectroFans. And for most nights it works just fine. And when the voices do wake me up, I know now to just lie quietly and wait a few minutes, and they will stop, and I can usually get back to sleep. But it is frustrating when it happens. So I am giving this LectroFan just three stars.

 

Meade TM005X-M Wireless Indoor/Outdoor Thermo Hygrometer

Works great, but a little finicky

I've have had an indoor/ outdoor thermometer in my bedroom for many years. I like knowing what the temperature is outside, as that lets me know how many blankets to put on at night and what to wear when I go outside. When my last one broke in September 2012, I logged onto Amazon to look for a new one. I wanted one with large numbers, so I could just peer into my bedroom from the door to see what the temperature is outside. And this Meade one fit the bill. The numbers are very large and easy to read.

However, my previous thermometer had both the indoor and outdoor readings on the same screen, but this Meade thermometer has them on separate screens. That is because it also has humidity readings for both. That is nice plus for the outdoors in the summer. To see both the indoor and outdoor readings, you need to hold down the "Channel" button (the one on the far left) for several seconds. That will cause the display to toggle between indoors and outdoors.

I set up the outdoor transmitter under the downspout on the wall  outside of the garage. That location is in the shade all of the time. The temperature it gives compares favorably with the temperature my Samsung Galaxy S5 gives for my hometown. I had wrapped the transmitter for my previous thermometer in plastic to keep the elements off of it. But I figured if I did that with this Meade product it wouldn't be able to read the humidly, so I didn't cover it at all, other than the slight protection it gets from the downspout. But it is now October 2014, so after two years, it is still working just fine. I liked this product so much that in January 2013 I got one for my dad.

But there is one minor problem with it. On occasion, it will lose the outdoor reading. All that is required is to take a battery out, wait a few seconds, and put it back in. Press the "Channel" to the channel your transmitter is on (probably "1"), and wait a few seconds until it reads the transmitter. Then hold down the Channel button again to get it to toggle. It is no big deal resetting it, but it does happen about once a month or so and is a bit of a pain. But other than this little bit of finicky-ness, this Meade thermometer works just fine, so I am giving it four stars.

The instruction say that if you use lithium batteries rather than alkaline ones, the transmitter will be able to keep working to lower temperatures, and the batteries will last two years rather than just one. So when I first ordered this thermometer I also ordered Energizer L91BP-8 Ultimate Lithium AA Battery (8-Pack). I put two batteries in the transmitter and two in the receiver, and they lasted almost two years. When they died this past August, I used the other four batteries, which were still good. And it has never gotten too cold for the transmitter to work. So it is worth getting the lithium batteries, especially if you in a cold climate like I do (Pittsburgh, PA).

 

Energizer L91BP-8 Ultimate Lithium AA Battery (8-Pack

Lasts as long as advertised

When I got a Meade TM005X-M Wireless Indoor/Outdoor Thermo Hygrometer in September 2012, the instruction said that if you used lithium batteries in it rather than alkaline ones, the transmitter would be able to keep working to lower temperatures, and the batteries will last two years rather than just one. So when I first ordered that thermometer I also ordered these this 8 pack of batteries. I put two batteries in the transmitter and two in the receiver, and they lasted almost two years. When they died this past August 2014, I used the other four batteries, which were still good. And it has never gotten too cold for the transmitter to work. So it was worth getting these lithium batteries for the thermometer. As such, I am giving them five stars for lasting as long as advertised.

 

Lasko 751320 Ceramic Tower Heater with Remote Control

Very reliable, but too hot or too cold

I have a home office and a home gym. Both are in the basement, so I need to use an electric heater in the winter in both areas to keep them warm. But I found out a long time ago that most electric heaters knock, which drives me crazy. But most ceramic heaters do not, so that is what I always buy. I have also found that heaters generally give off a smell when you first run them, so I always run them outside for a couple of hours before running them inside, and some even smell after that, which can be a major problem as I am sensitive to such things. That is why I am always apprehensive when I need to get a new heater.

In December of 2008 I needed new heaters, so I bought this Lasko 751320 heater. I ran it outside, then brought it inside, and it did not smell at all. It heats up my home office with no problems, but it is a small room, about 12- x 12'. The oscillating function is nice, as that keeps the whole room warm. And it is very quiet. You can hear the sound of the fan when it is running, but it is not that loud and is at least a steady sound, not an irritating knocking. And the remote is nice, so I can adjust if from my desk rather than having to get up to do so. That is really nice given the major problem with this heater. The temperature can only be set in five degree increments, so I either set it at 65 degrees or 70 degrees. If I set it to the former, I am too cold; if the latter, I am too hot. So I am constantly adjusting it back and forth all winter long. This can get rather irritating.

But still, with this heater not smelling and heating up my home office without any problems, I bought a second one in January of 2009 for my home gym. I again ran it outside before inside. But this one continued to smell and does so to this day. It is not too strong of a smell, so I can tolerate it for my duration of my workouts. And my home gym is not walled in like my home office; it is a just a section of the rest of the basement, so there is space for it to air out. And I only have it set to 60 degrees for my workouts, so it does not run that much. But I would not want to use that heater in my home office. I have no idea why the first one did not smell but the second one does.

But on a good note, it is now October 2014, so I have had these two heaters for almost six years, and they were still working just fine when I used them last winter. And that is with using the one in my home office every day, all day during the winter. I only use the one in my home gym when I am working out, but still they are very reliable. Six years is a long time for an electric  heater to last. I have yet to use them for this winter, but I will keep using them until they break. But I doubt I will get the exact same heaters again when they do break due to the five degree increments and the smell in one of them, but I'm not sure what I will get instead. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

I am giving this heater four stars for being very reliable, being quiet, and one not smelling, but not five stars due to the five degree increment and the smell in the other one.


 

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