Dec 272015
Shark Rocket Professional

Shark Rocket Professional

The Shark Rocket Professional Performance Plus replaced our old, 'beat-up, falling-apart' Dyson DC14 Animal Vacuum. About eight years ago, we paid around $500.00 for the Dyson after being told these were the best vacuum cleaners money can buy, hands-down. The Dyson was okay, but not once, not even right-out-of-the-box,  was I ever wowed by its features and performance. On the other hand, we paid only $179.00 for the Shark Vacuum Website vacuum cleaner. At less than half the price, the Shark Rocket has already left a much more favorable, initial impression on me than the previous, Dyson Vacuum Website. Here are some of the things that stand-out about this new vacuum cleaner, and how it compares to the Dyson.

Shark Rocket Professional

Suction, Power, and Performance

The first time I powered-on the Shark Rocket Professional, it had noticeably more power than my old, Dyson DC14 Full Kit, reviewed here.  The brushes on the Sharp Rocket really dig into the carpet. In fact, the brush rollers are so strong that they practically propel the entire vacuum unit along the carpet by itself. After vacuuming our entire, my wife took the Shark Rocket over to my parent's house to demonstrate. The carpeting of both houses look significantly better than they ever did with the Dyson. The Shark Rocket Professional advertises that it has more suction than the latest Dyson DC50 vacuum. The results leave little doubt in my mind that this is true.

Features and Operation

Lightweight Sleek Swivel Performance

The Shark Rocket Professional is only 14lbs. The low, sleek swivel-based vacuum head makes it a breeze to vacuum underneath beds, sofas, chairs, and other furniture. The vacuum head includes nice bright, LED lights so you can see what you are doing as you clean up under those dark pieces of furniture. As I wheeled the Shark Rocket around our living room for a while, I immediately noticed that less effort is required of my back and legs.
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Aug 112015
how to get rid of wasps

TrapStik for Wasps

How to get rid of wasps is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The answer depends on the type of wasps, location, and situation. I have had great success removing wasps from the row of hedges along side of our swimming pool late in the summer simply by spraying them with a couple of cans of wasp spray. Other times, I was able to control wasps by hanging up a couple of Wasp Traps with Wasp Attractant around the perimeter of the yard. This summer, we had a different problem: Wasps were gaining entry into the bottom of our porch through an open hole. Dozens were coming in by the hour I tried using wasp spray and tried using wasp attractant, but none of these things seemed to make a dent in the wasp population flying in and out of the porch hole. Finally, I sprayed the hole shut with insulation foam. The wasps appeared to not be able to get anymore, but it didn't stop them from trying. The area was now a complete mess, swarming with wasps who were bound and determined to get inside the bottom of our backyard porch. Finally, I found something that appears to be working.

TrapStik for Wasps

TrapStik Wasp Trap


While at Walmart, my wife and I discovered a very inexpensive product called, TrapStik for Wasps. Unlike other products, the TrapStik actually serves as a wasp attractant. Unfortunately, the box indicated that this trap is only intended for paper wasps, not the Yellow Jackets that we identified under our porch. Also, you would think how to get rid of wasps in this manner might not be an option if attracting them is not a problem.  Still, it makes sense that if you really want to know how to get rid of wasps, you have to attract them first. Attraction, in our case, was not a problem. They were attracted to the hole in our cement porch like magnets. I decided to try one of the TrapStik devices by placing it right over the area that the wasps are so fondly attracted to. Below are some of the results.

Wasp Trap Results

The TrapStik is a green, cylinder-shaped box made by Rescue.  We placed it on it's side, partially covering the hole. To the left of the TrapStik, you will notice the foam that was sprayed to cover the hole.

Wasp Trap Time Lapse Photos

Wasp Trap after 5 Minutes

Wasp Trap after 5 Minutes




Wasp Trap after 30 minutes

Wasp Trap after 30 minutes

Wasp Trap After 24 Hours

Wasp Trap after 24 Hours

Conclusions on Trapstik for Wasps

As you can see by the two images above, TrapStik does trap wasps with ease. If you count carefully, you will notice that at least 42 wasps have been trapped in the bottom image. As this is written, the death toll of these Yellow Jacket continues to mount. Only time will tell if it will completely solve the problem. I will report back here soon.

Video Demonstration

How to get rid of Wasps

Warning: Wasp Trap can Harm Birds

The TrapStik wasp trap is meant to be hung from a tree, deck, or some other surface. Many users have complained that it has captured some birds who are unable to get away from the sticky material. This could be the reason why this wasp trap was on clearance at my local Walmart store. In my case, I wasn't too concerned because birds never come down as low as the patio by my walk-out basement. So far, I have not had a problem.

Aug 022015

ethernet over powerThe Netgear Powerline 500 uses Ethernet over Power technology to solve wife range problems in the home. Ethernet over Power technology has been around several years. With numerous products on the market designed for the home and small office there is a large selection of competing brands to choose from at a very affordable price. I am a disappointed in myself for not thinking of this sooner. Unlike modern homes today which are built with technology and digital entertainment in mind, my 28-year-old home is not equipped with ethernet jacks in every room. In fact, I am writing this article from my office on the only computer in the house with a wired, ethernet connection. All of the family's laptops, PC's, and mobile devices rely on the latest Cable Modem / Router provided by Comcast.

What is Ethernet over Power?

How does the Netgear Powerline 500 Work?

Netgear Powerline 500

Netgear Powerline 500 Adapter

Ethernet over Power (not to be confused with Power over Ethernet or PoE) offers you a rock solid network connection in situations where WIFI just isn't cutting it in your home or office. With Ethernet over Power  you are provided with two or more RJ45 Network adapters. The Netgear Powerline 500 comes with two adapters, two Ethernet cables, and documentation. One adapter is plugged directly into your wall outlet. An RJ45 Cable is connected between the adapter and your router. The other adapter is connected to the power outlet near the remote PC. An RJ45 cable goes between the adapter and the remote computer's Ethernet port. Once connected, you have a  rock solid network connection between the wired PC and the router with absolutely no dependence on WIFI range, distance or limitations. The Netgear Powerline 500 works completely independent of your router's WIFI. Using Ethernet over Power is basically as good as an RJ45 connection.

Why use Ethernet over Power instead of WIFI?

The modem/router combo unit that Comcast provided me is supposedly the very latest and was designed to address the numerous complaints from customers about limited WIFI capabilities around the house. Despite being designed with the very latest WIFI capabilities and adequate, advertised range, the Comcast router still drops connections on other, distant WIFI devices, particularly on my son's PC which is a fair distance away and separated by a couple of walls and different floor level.  This problem continued even after my son changed his computer from the upstairs bedroom to a closer downstairs bedroom and was well within the acceptable range of the router. His internet performance was extremely show even after trying three different network cards; and even when his WIFI status shows that his connection was rated as excellent. I was about to try a fourth network card when I remembered a similar situation at my school. Teachers relied on various routers throughout the building for WIFI on their laptops. We all had problems with very slow performance and losing our connection. The only exceptions were those laptops that were located in the same room as the router or at the very least on the same floor, in close proximity. In our case, we had to have additional routers installed which involved some additional and somewhat complicated setup from our IT professional. While it might be worthwhile to do this at a school or office, it might not be practice for a home situation. You might ask, why not just have an Ethernet drop installed in your house? The answer is cost and convenience. Either you'll have to be handy drilling holes and dropping cables through them yourself, or you will have to pay someone anywhere from $85.00 to $200.00 per line drop. What does it cost to get a couple of Powerline Adapters, instead?

Netgear Powerline 500 Cost and Performance

I chose the Netgear Powerline 500 because it was the only Ethernet over Power product available at my local Best Buy Store at a reasonable price. There are other, cheaper powerline adapters with very good ratings, but I was not able to find any of them locally. Still, I paid only $55.00 for the Netgear Powerline 500. In other words, I paid roughly half the price of what it would cost to have a line dropped in the house. Even the line drop is a somewhat limited solution. Would if you were wanting to move the computer to another location or room? As its name implies, the Netgear Powerline 500 offers network speeds of up to 500Mbps. Real-world tests indicate that these kinds of speeds are not actually achieved, but it really doesn't matter. The Netgear Powerline 500 blows away the speed of any 100Mbps wired connection and is way faster than any internet connection of today will require. Now, you might be asking, why don't all businesses use Ethernet over Power technology instead of wiring cabling all throughout their buildings? This might have to do with the actual speed limitations. Businesses today, are looking ahead at the very fastest connection speeds available, including things like Fiber and PoE. Power over Ethernet or PoE is basically a way of transmitting power over existing data lines for maximum speed and connectivity. There are other, faster and more expensive Ethernet over Power products that might find its way into enterprise and data center markets, but as of today, this technology is mostly desired by home users and small office environments. While I am not aware of speed and distance limitations of Ethernet over Power technology, I am sure there is much information to be found online in case you are curious.

Does it Really Work?

Connecting the Netgear Powerline 500 was probably the simplest and fastest hardware installation I have ever made.  Unlike setting up WIFI devices, Ethernet over Power requires absolutely no connection or security settings on the computer or router because you are hard wiring into your router. It is as much plug-and-play simplicity as you can possibly get. While other users have complained of a little hitch or two getting it going, I had no such trouble at all. The instant I plugged my son's computer and ethernet cable into the powered Netgear adapter and his Ethernet jack on the back of his computer, he was connected to the internet.  Since making the Netgear Powerline 500 installation 3 weeks ago, my son's internet connection has remained fast and connected 24-7.