Kroger Private Selection Salsa

What started out as one of my Critique this label posts on Facebook turned into a full review of this salsa. Some of the comments from others included “Tomatoes are listed 4 times.”, “It’s staunchy design.”, “Pretty generic. Too many fonts…”, and “Tomatillo salsa should not have tomatoes in it.” So here’s my take…

First I’ll start off by saying I bought this because it was on sale for $1.99 USD. I like a good medium salsa, and the “Smoky, Tangy” flavor sounded good. It’s definitely got a smoky flavor to it, though I would call this a “hot” salsa instead of a “medium”. I can handle hot stuff just fine but I really think they should label this hot instead of medium. If they do have a “hot” I don’t think I want it.

My main complaint about this salsa is the amount of liquid content. This is not a “thick and chunky” it’s the opposite, a “loose and watery” or something, though putting that on the label would probably affect sales. I decided to run the salsa through a strainer to get some idea of the amount of liquid in it. See the photo below.

Wow! I got about 5 ounces of liquid, which accounts for more than 25% of the contents of the jar. So even though this salsa was $1.99 USD I really only got a jar that was about 70% full of salsa after the excess liquid removal process. (I also wonder if most of the hotness was in the liquid, because it did not seem as hot after I de-liquified it.)

In conclusion, it’s an okay salsa. Will I buy it again? Probably not. Though the low price was appealing, once I finish the three jars I have (?!?) I’ll probably move on to another brand.


Review: GE reveal LED Light Bulb

GE reveal Light Bulb

I received a GE reveal® LED Light Bulb and was asked to write about it. Besides being given the light bulb, I was not compensated in any other way. Also, I’m sort of a lighting nerd. I use lighting at work for photo and video production, and I’m very particular about much of the lighting in my home and office.

If you want to see some of the typical comparisons, check out the GE reveal® Lighting page. The info I’ll provide below is a bit different.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb

This is a standard compact florescent light bulb. I sort of hate CFL bulbs. I find the light they produce quite terrible, and the big clunky base of the bulb is annoying. From a design standpoint, I find the spiral ridiculous. I do like the energy saving potential of the CFL bulbs, and we do use some around the house, but overall I hate them.

Standard Light Bulb

This is a standard incandescent bulb. I love these bulbs. They tend to produce a nice quality light, and they are cheap, and the design is beautiful. When I think of a light bulb, this is what I picture. Of course, these are quickly becoming illegal (sort of) and being phased out. Sadly, at some point in the future, you won’t be able to buy incandescent bulbs in the United States anymore. Sadness!

GE reveal LED Light Bulb

This is the GE reveal Bulb, which, design-wise, is close to an incandescent bulb, which is nice, especially if you have shades that go directly on the bulb. (Yes, older lamp shades did have a metal clampy thing that went right on the bulb. I still have some of those lamp shades.) One of the benefits of this bulb is that it matches the physical shape and size of the old incandescent bulbs. That’s a big improvement over the CFL bulbs.

Lighting Difference

As for the quality of light, it’s a pretty nice light. I found it to be just a little cooler than the incandescent bulb… in a good way. I definitely like the light it produces. The LED bulb gives off a great light! Slightly better than the incandescent, and much better than the CFL.

One little annoying thing about the design is that you only get light from half of the bulb. I know this is due to having to shove all the electronics into the other half of the bulb, but I can see this causing issues in some situations where you actually do want light spilling out in every direction.

Old Time Light Bulb

I decided to put the bulb into place in my painting room where I’ve been using an incandescent bulb. Now, our house is old, and the light sockets are old, and this old incandescent bulb has been doing the job fine, probably for years and years, but…

GE reveal LED Light Bulb

When I put in the GE reveal Bulb, it did not work. I tried a few times. I also pushed the bulb up against the fixture, and no luck. It’s worth noting that the socket is a bit wobbly, but the LED bulb just did not work. Maybe there are some sockets it won’t work in?

I should also note that I weighed the three bulbs, because I was curious about the weight. The compact fluorescent bulb (the largest I have in the house) weighed in at 6.4 ounces. The good old incandescent bulb was 0.99 ounces. (Yes, it was less than an ounce!) The GE reveal LED bulb was a whopping 7.3 ounces. That’s a heavy bulb! I can see this causing some issues if you’ve got a lamp that may already be top-heavy. I guess if we’re moving to a world were we have to convert high-voltage AC power to low-voltage DC power in every bulb, that may be the price we pay.

GE reveal LED Light Bulb

I moved the GE Reval bulb to another socket and it worked fine. This light also had a metal shade on it which would normally reflect light down, but since the GE reveal bulb doesn’t really shine light up due to the half-bulb design, the shade probably doesn’t do much. But hey, the bulb worked… that’s good!

GE reveal LED Light Bulb

The good news is, the GE reveal bulb is suitable for damp locations, though it does warn that it is not for use in totally enclosed luminaires. This will limit where you can use this bulb. Even though incandescent bulbs can product a lot of heat, they can also stand a lot of heat, like inside your oven! The electronics used in an LED bulb are sensitive to heat, and may not survive being in an enclosed fixture. (And yeah, never use one in an oven!)

There’s one more feature of the GE reveal bulb I’m really excited about… it’s dimmable! Yes, there are dimmable CFL bulbs, but none of the ones I have are dimmable, and the ones that are seem to be pricey. Incandescent bulbs excel when it comes to dimming. I put the GE reveal bulb in our bathroom fixture and it did indeed dim. It did not go as dim as my incandescent bulbs, but hey, it did work. I then tested it in an X10 controlled lamp, and the results were much better, though there did seem to be a slight flicker at the lowest setting.

GE is marketing this bulb to people who want to have beautiful light in their home (or elsewhere) to “reveal” the decor and surroundings, and for that, I’d say this bulb does the job. It provides a lovely light, and is well designed. A quick search online revealed this bulb to cost about $20, which is ten times what you might pay for an incandescent bulb. Of course the LED bulb should be more energy efficient, and should last much longer. In theory.

So that’s my review of the GE reveal® Light Bulb. Pretty much everything in this review had to do with testing, evaluation, and my own opinion. Now that’s all of that is out of the way, I’ll put the bulb into place and give a real-world test for a while, and then if I have new insights, I’ll share those as well.


Laser-Cut Cardboard House

Laser-Cut Cardboard House

I took the family to Discovery World over the weekend and we checked out the Design It! Lab where we built laser-cut cardboard houses. (Well, the kids and I built houses, Dr. Dana made a snowflake ring.)

I was a little disappointed there wasn’t as much “designing” and “making” as I thought there would be. We were handed a piece of laser-cut cardboard (with no instructions) and were tasked with putting it together by folding it along the score lines, and inserting tabs. I was hoping for a bit more… I wanted to use a laser-cutter, or at least see one in operation. It sounded like if you sign up for classes, you get to do a bit more hands-on things like that. Maybe the kids and I are just so used to making things that this seemed fairly simple to us. For first-time makers, maybe this is a good starting point.

On the bright side, I did drop the names of some people I know who work there, and the Design It! Lab guy brought out the Makerbot for me to see. It’s not quite up and running yet, but should be soon.

(If you’re interested, I’ve written up a review of our Discovery World experience over at Yelp.)


iPod Review – Five Years Later


I got an iPod for Christmas in 2005. I’m going to review it now. Wait, 2005… Is that a typo!? No…

I’m still using the first iPod I ever got. My wife gave me the 5th generation 30GB iPod with video. And yes, I did review this iPod back in 2007. So what? I’m reviewing it again.

I love this iPod. I have not felt the urge to upgrade or replace it. It works as well as it did 5 years ago when I got it. The interface is simple and easy to use. It does one thing, and it does it well.

I use this iPod almost every day. At least, every day I drive. I’d guess that 98% of its usage is in my car as an audio player connected to my car stereo. I have no desire to get an iPod touch, as I actually think the interface would be much more difficult to use while driving. In my previous review I did mention something about this:

The iPod interface also requires you to look, or at least be able to feel around and guess where to push. Other players (with actual buttons) allow you to memorize where the buttons are and what they do. I could operate my Rio while driving and never take my eyes off the road. This seems to be a big concern with the iPhone as well, it will require visual attention to be able to use it.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been using the old iPod interface for so long, but I feel much more at ease using it to navigate for music playing than I do for my iPhone. It’s all spin and click, no typing or swiping.

I still on occasion have an issue with the iPod not turning off, but it happens seldom enough that it’s not really a bother. Battery life also seems a bit shorter than it used to be, but hey, it is 5 years old and has been used a lot. The battery does hold a charge, so that’s good. The only really bothersome thing is that at some point it got confused and started showing the wrong artwork for some of the files on it. So I’ll be listening to Sleep and it shows album cover art for Cat Power. I’ve gotten used to it. A restore might fix that, but I’ve never had the energy to do one.

I don’t need apps, or wifi, or a camera, or anything except a music player, so as long as it holds out, I’ll keep using the 5th generation 30GB iPod for my automotive audio needs.

(And yes, I do realize that by posting the sentence above, it will somehow cease to function within a matter of weeks. I’ll let you know when that happens.)


Twitter Apps Reviewed

There are a lot of choices in Twitter apps for the iPhone (and now the iPad) but how do you choose which one you should use?

Obviously there is one criteria that is most important when looking at Twitter clients… Which one has the cutest icon?

Twitterrific Twitteriffic: I’m not a fan of birds, but the name “Twitter” and “tweet” and what not, it’s part of the Twitter brand, so it makes sense. This icon is probably cute if you like birds, but as I said, I don’t like birds.

Twitter Twitter for iPhone: This is the “official” Twitter client, and it’s not very cute. Another stupid bird. I’m not a fan of birds. Couldn’t they make a cute bird instead of this goofy silhouette bird?

Twittelator Twittelator: OK, this isn’t even a bird, it’s an egg! How is an egg cute? I guess if you don’t like birds (like I don’t like birds) then maybe Twittelator would be cute. Well, cuter than a bird anyway. (Though it appears to be a bird egg, so maybe it will be a bird someday.)

TwitBird TwitBird: Another bird? And this is really the most uncute bird of them all. It’s worse that the “official” Twitter for iPhone bird. Who wants to look at this bird? Not me! (The bright orange sunburst is sort of nice though…)

EchoFon EchoFon: Finally, not a bird! It appears to be a word balloon type thing. I suppose that’s better than a bird, but as far as being cute, this is not cute. Unless you somehow think word balloons are cute. Plus, it’s just one word balloon, not two, so it’s not even a proper conversation, it’s just one person shouting.

Osfoora Osfoora: Like EchoFon, Osfoora has an uncute name, and an uncute icon. Not one, but two word balloons! If one isn’t cute, how are two going to be cute? At least it looks like a conversation, which is what Twitter can and should be, unlike the one EchoFon balloon that looks like just one person talking.

HootSuite HootSuite: Finally, a cute bird! It’s an owl, and I really like owls. I like when they turn their heads around and rip apart mice. Owls are cool. HootSuite has a cool looking owl. It’s a bird, but not a stupid bird like other apps have. Owls are the best birds.

Brizzly Brizzly: OMG! From what I can tell, this is a bear wearing a bird costume! How freakin’ cute is that!? I mean, bears are way cuter than birds, but this bear has stepped it up a notch by masquerading as a bird, but he’s not really a bird. The cute-o-meter is almost up to 11 on this one!

Seesmic Seesmic: Home Run! It’s a raccoon! I mean… Come on! How cute is that little raccoon!? He’s got big eyes, and he looks a little startled like maybe you scared him, and he’s wearing a mask, because he’s a raccoon!

Wow, things got exciting at the end, eh? I mean, a bear and a raccoon battling it out for the supreme titled of Best Twitter App (based on how cute the icon is.) It’s a tough decisions… Bear or raccoon? I really don’t think you can go wrong with either one.