Category Archives: Product Reviews

I think therefore I buy. Verdict and justification of my purchase

Canon 450D

Canon 450D

I have been resisting the temptation to get a DSLR camera for a long time. Finally I gave up and bought a DSLR camera, Canon 450D. I used to have a film SLR camera when I was in high school, so I am not new to photography. I just have too many other hobbies such that I could not afford to spent any time or money in picking up photography. Well, the camera is not for myself, it’s for my wife. She lost her pocket camera and she want to get a DSLR like her friends, so I buy her a Canon 450D for her birthday present. I compare quite a few of entry level DSLR cameras. I rule out brands other than Canon and Nikon at once. For DSLR camera, there are the top two brands with most support in term of lens and accessories. Then I narrow it down to the choice of Canon 450D and Nikon 90D, since I don’t want to get last year’s model. In the end, Canon is cheaper than Nikon, so I go for the Canon.

I just take a few test shots using the camera. It is quite light. The body is not too big. It fits my wife’s small hand better than the more professional models with bigger body. The kit len is pretty decent. It is a 18-55mm zoom len with image stabilizer. The only complain is the aperture is not big enough, only F3.5. I haven’t take serious photos for many years, so I have forgot most of my photography skills. So I also bought a book on how to become a good photographers using 450D in 7 days. It has lots of illustration on how to use the camera. I guess the only way to become a good photographer is to practice more.

Since the camera is for my wife, I bought her a nice purple camera bag, which is her favorite color. Somehow she think the camera bag is blue, although it says the bag is purple in the tag. I can’t really tell whether the bag is purple or blue, it’s kinda in between. But if the tag says it’s purple, it must be purple.

Liger belt

Liger belt

I have been wearing the same belt for 13 years.  I bought the belt in the university bookstore in my first year.  It has made of leather and has a small university logo at the end.  Over all these years, the belt witness my growth in waist size.  I am slowly moving from one the belt hole to another closer to the end.  The belt is surprisingly durable and still survive as one piece under my daily abuse.   Although it is pretty much out of shape, the lining in many places are coming out and the leather surface lost of its texture.  The belt is way past its life cycle but I don’t want to throw it away because a belt is very personal item like your wallet.  I use the same belt everyday and I don’t know what belt should I get as replacement, so I keep just using it.  Finally I made up my mind and buy myself a new belt.

My new belt is a Liger belt made by Maxpedition.  It is literally the king of all belts.  It is the strongest belt you can ever found.  The belt can take over 2000 lbs of tensile strength and 300 lbs of hole pull strength.  The belt is made of composite fiber material that looks like leather.  The bucket belt including the hook is cast in one piece using aircraft aluminum.  The belt is so strong that it will never get out of shape and yet it is still flexible enough to wear comfortably.  Cleaning the belt is very easy since the material is abrasion resistant, you can just rinse it in soap and water and let it dry.  It is a perfect match for my 511 tactical pants.  The belt is so low profile that I think it may even goes well with a suit.

If I change my belt every 13 years, the next time I will buy a new belt will be in 2021.  I have confidence in my Liger belt can last until then or even longer.  The belt is pretty much indestructible.  Maybe it is the last belt I ever have to buy.

Respro Techno Mask

Respro Techno Mask

I have to work in Bangalore for another month.  This time, I am well prepared.  Other than my month long supply of instant noodles, I also bought a Respro Techno Mask from Mountain Equipment Co-op.  The mask can filter out hydrocarbons, sulphur dioxide, lead oxide, smoke, and sub-micron particulates.  It also has two valves for easy breathing and better ventilation.  It may seems too heavy duty to wear it in commute.  But given that Bangalore is so polluted, it is better to get the most powerful face mask I can found.  Wearing the mask makes me look like an funny month alien.  I don’t care how odd I look, as long as I am safe from the Bangalore air.  I don’t want to get sick.  Coughing for 2 weeks is not fun.

Nike ACG Hiking boots

Nike ACG

In English, there is an idiom, as comfort as an old shoe. It is a known fact that an old shoe is most comfortable to wear. However, old shoe wears off, eventually you can’t wear it any longer. So, what is the most comfortable shoe other than your old shoe? Of course it is a new shoe that is exactly the same as your old shoe!

I have been wearing the Nike ACG hiking boots for many years. It has been so long that I couldn’t keep track of how many pairs I had, probably 8 or 10 pairs. On average I wear out a pair every year, so I need to get a new pair every year. Shoes are on sales at Foot Locker, buy one and one half prince. Since I will need a new pair every year, why don’t I buy an extra pair and save it for next year? Not only I got a great discount, but also save me the trouble to shop for shoes next year.

I wonder what should I wear if Nike discount the ACG hiking boots. I guess I don’t have to worry about this question for the foreseeable future. I heard from the sales at Foot Locker, Nike ACG hiking boots are one of their best sellers. It would not make much business to discontinue a popular model.

If you like boots, check out more about boots at Bootbomb

Guns and Ammo Magazine

Finally, I am able to find some firearm magazine in Save On Food, thanks to the tips from Jackson.  I am too cheap to buy an issue, so I just stand there and read all four firearm magazine they have.  What interest me is not only the articles, but also the advertisement.  Too bad that those magazine are published in the States, many firearms in the magazines are prohibited in Canada.  Out of the four magazines, one magazine focus on hunting and rifle guns.  I want to try hunting at least once, but I am not a very outdoor person, and I don’t know how to dispose the moose even if shot one.  Another magazine is targeted  law enforcement readers.  It has police stories and review on various police equipment.  Another one is focus on ammunitions, talk about how to reload cartages yourself, the ballistic of different bands of bullets, etc.  There is only one firearm magazine for general reader, the Guns and Ammo Magazine.  It has product review, columns, history of classic firearms, shooting and cleaning tips and lots of advertisements, a perfect firearm guide for beginner.  Even better is that the magazine publishes all its articles on their website.  It like hitting a treasure chest of firearm knowledge.  I have learned operating theory of firearms from the safety course, now I need to get familiar with different bands of gun manufacturers and gun models.  Just like people need to get some fashion sense to buy decent clothes, a self respectable gun owner should acquire some firearm sense.

Moleskine notebook

moleskine When I was small, I remember I used to buy those made-in-china black cover with red corner notebooks.  The paper quality of those notebooks are not great, but I have wrote countless lectures notes on them and they accompany me through my high school years.  Actually life is quite decent being able to afford those notebooks, some schoolmates only take notes on the back of a pack of staple d recycle paper.  On the other end of the spectrum of notebooks, there is the the legendary Moleskine notebook used by Van Goh, Picasso, Hemingway, and Tom Hanks in Da Vinci’s Code.  The report notebook bound on the top is a standard equipment for journalists portrait in classic Hollywood movies.  Moleskine is made of very high quality paper. The elastic band holding the notebook when it is close gives a distinct look of a Moleskine.  Moleskine is very popular among artists, writers and intellectuals.  In the digital age, many people think PDA and laptops are going to make old fashion notebook obsolete.  A Moleskine notebooks have a special aura that makes it a irreplaceable cultural icon.  I just got my first Moleskine notebook today.  Now the problem is whether the contents in my notebook worth the paper I write them on.

Lock Picking

lock picking A couple of weeks ago, Pat carelessly locked herself outside her home.  She have to call the lock smith to open the door.  It is about 5 minutes of work from the lock smith and he charged a ridiculous price $50.  It doesn’t look that hard and I think I can do it myself.  Then last week I read from the news that in HK, people can get lock picking tools and learn to open locks in a few hours. The HK government is talking about outlaw the buying and selling of lock picking tools to unlicensed locksmiths.  This two events combined get me really interested in learning lock picking.  First I can save money in the future, second I am geniunely interested in anything is on the legal gray area.  In Canada, it is very convinient to order lock picking tools from the internet.  I got a set of 14 pieces lock picking tools, come with a cut away practice lock showing the cylinders and a CD-ROM on lock picking basics.  Lock picking will be the next odd skill I am going to learn by myself, adding to the list of juggling, simple magic, baloon twisting, etc.

Bluetooth Headset

Plantronics 510 My new Treo 680 has built-in bluetooth connection, which is pretty much a standard feature of all new cell phones. To get the most out of my new phone, I set out to buy a bluetooth headset so that I can talk wirelessly. I browsed alot bluetooth headsets and eventually decidded to get the Plantronics 510, which is PC Magazine editor’s choice. The 510 looks quite stylish, unlike other bluetooth headset with a big chunky module clip to the ear, the hardware module of the 510 is very light, compact and hidden nicely behind the ear. Just like any other bluetooth headset, the 510 is very easy to use, just fully charge it, turn it on, pair it up with the phone and you are ready to go. The voice quality is very clear and it has a good range. I can walk around my apartment without losing connection. Using the wireless headset is more natural than holding the phone or with a wired headset. It feel like talking face to face instead of on the phone. I can even have noodle soup and talk at the same time without feeling awkward. You will never go back to the old way once you had experienced a wireless headset.


Dell Inspiron 6400 Laptop

dell-inspiron-6400-laptop

My laptop (Inspiron 6400) ordered from Dell has arrived today. It is the first laptop I ever own, excluding the piece of junk PMC gave me when I started working. I am quite happy with the laptop, except it doesn’t have enough memory. I know it when I make the order to avoid buying over charged memory from Dell. I am going to order more memory online, so I will have to suffer the sluggish performance for a while. There are lots of work to do after getting a new computer. I have to install all my usual software. However before that, I have to uninstall the useless software come with the laptop. Why can’t Dell allow me choose a clean windows install without all those software cogging my registry? I am still not use to the smaller keyboard and the touch pad, that will take me a while to get use to. I will post some more review of my laptop after I have the chance to use it for a longer period.