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May 312012
 

Several months ago I bought an R/C helicopter for the kids myself to play with around the house. What I didn’t realize was how easy it is to break those little blades. It didn’t take long before I was online searching for replacement blades after one too many crashes. Unfortunately, the blades that I received were the wrong ones. Of course, the proper thing to have done at this point would have been to return them, right? Well, you’re talking to Mr. Procrastinator. Being the diligent procrastinator that I am I waited until it was too late to return them. Had I returned them within the eligible window I would have received my money back but wouldn’t be a good procrastinator. See how this works?

Anyway, I was about to just toss the suckers (they were under $10) but realized I can do one better. So, I grabbed my iPhone opened up my eBay app and in 3 simple steps <insert Special Agent OSO music here> I had the blades listed while sitting on the couch.

Step 1

 

                    

When you first launch the app you’re asked if you want to view the tutorial. There is a text tutorial that is really great. It even shows you how to search for items like yours which helps expedite the entire process! If you want to watch a video tutorial instead you can do that as well.

So your first step is going to be searching for the item you’re selling. You can either enter in the keyword of the item you’re selling or scan the barcode using the camera on the phone. I typed in the model number of the blades and it quickly showed other blades for sale. I tapped on one in the list and clicked on the “Sell one like this” button. The beauty of this is that it enters all the pertinent data into fields you’d otherwise have to fill out manually.

 

Step 2

Now that we’ve searched for the item we’re going to sell, we’re ready to create our posting. The following screen shots show how detailed you can be with your listing. Most fields are already filled out as a result of clicking that “Sell one like this” button in the previous step. However, you can go in and change any field you’d like simply by tapping on it. The layout is super simple and very intuitive.

                    

         

Step 3

The third and final step is to submit your post! Once you do, you’ll be presented with the fees your posting will incur and that’s it! In literally minutes you can post anything you want to sell right from your phone!

                    

I am a member of the eBay Parent Panel which is a paid sponsorship between eBay and DadStreet. The views and opinions expressed on this site are mine and cannot be bought. However, I may want to buy yours if I run out of my own.

Oct 032011
 

I love having wifi in my house and to be honest it’s been so long since I’ve had a “wired” connection I can’t even remember. Being able to walk around the house with my laptop, iPad, or iPhone is great. Sometimes if it’s nice outside I’ll walk out there and surf under the sun. Of course those are all the benefits of having wifi in your home. I’m know I’m preaching to the choir as I’m sure your home is set up the same way.

Wifi isn’t perfect, however. My parents and I have completely different type and size houses yet we both share the same problem. The signal is just horrible in one part of the house or the other. For my parents who have a multi-level home their weak spot is on the first floor opposite where the router sits. This sort of makes sense of course being the furthest physical spot from the router. However, I live in a “cottage” that’s less than 900 square feet and yet the back of the house is just awful for for getting a good signal. Of course there are many factors that go into signal degradation including walls, infrastructure, and other devices. This is where a cool little device called a Repeater comes into play. To be honest I had never even thought of getting one until I was approached about doing a review.

The Diamond WR300N Wireless Range Extender looks not much different than a power adapter you’d plug into a wall outlet. What’s great is that it literally takes minutes to set up and is so easy. Sure, I’m a bit of a techie guy but when I went to set it up I didn’t have the manual on me, which by the way, is just one sheet of paper (that’s all that’s needed) and I was able to set it up. I plugged the device into an outlet in between where my current wireless router is and the area of my home that’s not so great. I’m running a Macbook Pro and using Safari so if you’re using a PC with Internet Explorer there may be some very minor differences but overall I think it should be identical. The device came with an RJ-45 cable (that’s a network cable for you non-techie peeps) that I used to plug into one end of the Repeater and my computer. Seconds after plugging in the Repeater (no need for a power button, it just works) my browser came up with the setup page. The browser automagically directs you to the software that resides on the device (there’s no software to install) utilizing the IP address (think of an IP Address akin to a persons phone number) of 10.0.10.245 which should be the address for all of them in case you need it. Once on the page I was asked which network was mine. After clicking on the name of my wireless network I typed in my network password and literally, that was it!! It did mention I might have to restart my computer before it took. I thought this was very weird especially since you never have to restart Apple PC’s but the documentation was right. After a quick reboot of my laptop the Repeater was up and working! As I said, it literally took a few minutes to set this thing up. I didn’t need any tools nor any software to install on my computer.

To test how well it worked I ran a before and after bandwidth test. I use a reputable site I’ve been using for years to test download and upload speeds called www.SpeedTest.net. I ran the test by pointing my browser to the SpeedTest.net site in an area of my house where I knew I got a good signal as it was very close to my wifi router. Please note I had the Diamond Wireless Range Extender unplugged when I performed this test.

As you can see I had some really great download speeds and a respectable upload speed. Should your download speeds fall much lower than this check to make sure your network is set up properly and that you’ve called your ISP (Internet Service Provider) to inquire about what bandwidth plan your on.

Next I wanted to get a gauge on where my connectivity was in the back of my house where I know the signal is poor.

As you can see I lost more than half of my download speed!! The upload speed is the same but I think because it was relatively low to begin with (1.46mbps) and the degradation of my signal didn’t hamper it anymore than it already was limited to. I knew I got a much weaker signal back there but I had no idea I went from 17mbps down to 7mbps!

Okay, so here was the true test. I plugged in the Diamond Wireless Range Extender and ran the test again from the back of the house. Just minutes earlier when I ran the test I was only getting about 7mbps on download speed. I ran the test again with the Diamond plugged in and these were the results I got.

Again the upload stayed the same (no surprise) but look at the download!! I went from 7mbps downloads to over 11mbps! While it’s still quite a bit lower than the speeds I’m getting at the front of my house close to my wifi router it’s more than 50% improvement over not having the Repeater.

I thought it would also be fun to run the exact same test using my iPhone. I’m often surfing the web in my house on my iPhone. Yes, my iPhone does use the cell network (3G) to access the internet but when I’m home it’s actually connected right to my wifi router and does not use the cell network. I mention this to let you know this was a valid test and that my phone was accessing the internet the exact same way my laptop was. So again, I ran the test without the Repeater installed and here was the results.

As you can see my speeds in the back of the house were considerably slower than those I was getting on my laptop. Not a terrible surprise but interesting to note. Also, note on the top left hand corner of this screen shot. See that fan to the right of “AT&T”? That shows you that my phone was connected to the internet using my wifi network and not the cell network. Had it been accessing the internet through the cell network you’d see the characters “3G” there or “E” at the very least.

Once again, I ran the test after I plugged in the Diamond Repeater and got the following results:

Wow!! Results here almost tripled! I was really surprised it made such a difference on my iPhone! Anyway, the Repeater obviously made a difference here as well. Please note the following: I did have to restart my iPhone just as I did my laptop before the iPhone would detect the Repeater. Also, instead of using Safari on my iPhone to perform the test I used the SpeedTest.net iPhone app. It’s the same technology and site as the one I used on my laptop to test, they just happen to have “an app for that”.

If you notice areas in your home where your internet signal drops off this is a terribly quick fix and for only $60 it’s almost a no brainer. I can’t say anything bad about the device and it clearly does it’s job, and well I might add!

One other point to mention is that since this device is so small you can pack it for trips. The next time you’re in a hotel room that has a “wired connection” you can plug this little guy in and turn it into a wifi network!

If you want to learn more about the Diamond Repeater you can visit their site directly.

Full And Fair Disclosure: I did receive a Diamond Wr300N Wireless Range Extender in consideration for this review. I was not compensated in any way and the opinions expressed in this post are mine. Duh! ;)

Aug 262011
 

Every year my wife and I take the kids go to Cancer Survivor’s Day in Monterey. We initially started going as volunteers because my wife treats cancer patients for a living. However, just about two years ago volunteering took on a new meaning for me. My mother was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Today she is doing well and that is why volunteering at Cancer Survivor’s Day means so much to me.

Traveling to a venue like this where you know you’ll be doing a lot of walking, spending time under the sun, and traversing both paved trail and grass requires some baby gear planning. At 3 years old O likes to walk pretty much everywhere and only likes to sit in a stroller on occasion. Jake, who is turning two next week, spends a fair amount of time in a stroller and especially when he’s sleeping.

 

I thought it would be a perfect time to test out my new Racing Red Maclaren Volo. I literally brought it to the Fairgrounds unopened. Once out of the box I only had to attach the canopy (two clips) and connect the under seat bag (4 straps). Outside of that it was completely assembled and unfolded in a quick flip of the wrists as we’ve come to expect from Maclaren.

 

I kind of like louder colors (I have a red pair of Crocs) so the Racing Red stroller wasn’t too much for me at all and in fact matched my shoes. Actually, it was nice in the sense that it was very visible when in a cross walk and crossing the street. For that, even if muted colors are more your style it was a nice safety feature (albeit colors aren’t features).

The Volo is the lightest in the line weighing in at just over 8lbs. With the connected strap it’s so easy to swing over your shoulder when it’s not in use. The grips are really comfortable and padding is just thick enough. There is no pocket behind the seat like you’d find on higher end models, like the Quest Sport but that is why you have options in the Maclaren line up. Even though you don’t get a pocket behind the seat you do get respectable storage underneath. Keep in mind this is a relatively small stroller so you won’t be getting a diaper bag underneath but you can fit all the essentials nonetheless. The sun canopy is pretty wide on this one and although I would have appreciated more extension it worked well and folded back nicely when not in use. The one feature I’ve come to appreciate in strollers is the ability to recline. When kids take naps it’s so much easier to get them down and they’re so much more comfortable when reclining. Unfortunately, the Volo doesn’t have a reclining feature. I don’t think this is a strike against the stroller when you consider weight and price but just something to note.

The 5-point harness belt adjusts quickly and easily and once you get the technique down you can actually unbuckle the little one with one hand. There were quite a few times I stopped the stroller and with a quick press of my foot I had the parking brake engaged. The brake was enough to hold the stroller in place as long as you weren’t leaning on it.

 

The stroller rode really well and handled the smaller bumps of the pavement to the bigger dips and crevices walking through the grass. The handles did seem to flex a bit depending on where you were and how much pressure you were putting on it. This is a really light stroller though so you’re gonna have to expect some flexibility in the frame. Overall, the stroller was comfortable to push through different terrain and both O and Jake seemed to enjoy the ride.

In my experience Maclaren builds quality strollers with a solid feature set. True there were some features or design changes I would have liked but I also know I’d have to pay for them. If you’re looking for a lightweight, quality stroller that’s easy on the wallet I would highly recommend the Volo. You can check it out and purchase your own via the new Maclaren Online Store.

Disclosure: I was provided the Maclaren Volo stroller for purposes of this review.

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