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 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.
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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.
March 19, 2018 – Trapstik is back on Store Shelves
New Version is Safer for Birds
I have just received a brand new version of Trapstik. Just about seven months after being pulled off the shelves due to being a bird safety hazard, Rescue has come back to the rescue with another product that should continue to be as effective at catching wasps, yet be much safer for birds. The new re-design comes with safety guards that prevent birds from getting stuck to the ultra-sticky surface. I have not had a chance to review the new Trapstik yet as March is still just a too little early in Colorado for wasps. I will tell you, and as you can see from my Wasp Catching videos below, Trapstik is the most effective device for catching and thinning the wasp population in your home environment. I will report back with a full review later this Spring. Meanwhile, here is the story and details from Rescue:
As it turns out concerns over trapping small birds and other animals were not only well-founded, but led to the demise of what seemed like a great idea. After the stories I heard about these, I took extra precaution myself and never did feel comfortable having them in my yard. I decided I would never hang them anywhere, though I have used them low near wasp nests and never hurt a small animal or bird. Apparently, the birds are attracted the bright yellow color just as are the wasps. Birds also see the trapped wasps on the sticky surface as an easy meal. The TrapStik did an amazing job attracting and trapping wasps. Unfortunately, some of the environmental side effects of products like these are not always easy to predict. I applaud Rescue for coming to the rescue of small birds and discontinuing a very effective wasp elimination product. The occurrence may have been rare, but who wants to be one of those rare people trying to remove suffering and/or dead birds from traps? Rescue did the right thing. Now, what can we expect?
How to Design a Better TrapStik for Wasps
Rescue mentioned in their press release that their product engineers are working on ways to improve TrapStik to make it environmentally safe. Here is my idea: They should place a transparent, plastic cone with small holes around the same, wasp-attractive, colored, sticky surface. The colorful design would invite wasps to step inside through the holes, while preventing birds from access to touching it. One question I have is whether or not they could improve the design of their other, current wasp traps by mimicking the same colorful yellow and green pattern. The serum alone, did not seem to be nearly as effective in attracting wasps as the colorful surface of the TrapStik. The colors combined with the scent of the serum, I would think, would make them far more effective at getting wasps to come in through the bottom holes. I will keep you updated on the reinvention or improvement of TrapStik as well as other effective products for getting rid of wasps as I hear about them. Wasps in our own backyard continue to be a huge problem for us.
How to get rid of Wasps – A Review on Trapstik
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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.
The 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?
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.
Before I purchased the Kobalt cordless hedge trimmer, I found myself searching for a battery powered chain saw and I’m not sure why. While a cordless hedge trimmer does resemble a gas-powered chainsaw with it’s inch long spikes minus the chain, it is completely different in form, function, and purpose. When I think of chainsaws I think of a heavy duty piece of machinery designed to saw through massive tree trunks. I have a hard time believing any battery powered chainsaw is going to have enough power and endurance to get through a thick tree trunk. The Kobalt 40V lithium powered hedge trimmer comes with 24″ duel action blades that can easily cut through tree branches and trim hedges and shrubs around the home and it does the job far more quietly than a chainsaw.
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Why a Cordless Hedge Trimmer is better than a Gas Trimmer
While I have not tried any other battery-powered hedge trimmer brands, the Kobalt 40v Lithium-Ion hedge trimmer, in my opinion, puts any gas-powered tool to shame for most jobs around the house. While it is true that gas gives you more power and the ability to do larger jobs, the Kobalt cordless hedge trimmer provides you with a lightweight tool that is sure to get more use due to its convenience, ease-of-use, and instant-on operation. In the time it would take me to merely think about gassing-up and starting up an old gas hog, I could just about have the entire pear tree in my back yard pruned and trimmed. Because the Kobalt cordless hedge trimmer is so light-weight and easy to handle, it instantly creates trimming opportunities that might otherwise be pushed aside or forsaken for too much trouble and effort. In short, a cordless hedge trimmer makes you more productive
Uses for the Kobalt Cordless Hedge Trimmer
Because it is light-weight, I don’t mind taking the Kobalt cordless trimmer with me up a ladder to prune the higher-up limbs on our trees. It cuts through most tree limbs in one-pass though it is light-weight enough that I don’t have to worry if I miss a few here and there – I simply go over them again. My wife has used our Kobalt cordless hedge trimmer to reshape bushes, hedges and trim an entire row of butterfly bushes along our backyard. The key advantages here are ease-of-use and convenience. It is literally probably more work to clean up the branches and mess afterwards than it is to actually trim and cut down limbs, branches and re-shape rows of bushes.
Compatibility with other Kobalt Tools
The Kobalt battery-powered hedge trimmer uses the same 40V battery as my other Kobalt Tools: Kobalt Lawn Mower and Battery Powered Leaf Blower. Now, owning all three Kobalt tools, I have more batteries and more chargers than I will ever need. If I have one and only one complaint It might be that Kobalt should offer its customers an option to buy their tools without the battery.
Demonstration of the Kobalt Cordless Hedge Trimmer
The convenience and light-weight operation of battery-powered tools has encouraged me to do a lot of little extra yard work that I normally wouldn’t have done. Whenever I see something around the lawn that needs a little trimming, I know that my cordless hedge trimmer is only the press-of-a-button away from making me instantly productive. If I see a few grass blades on the driveway that I normally would have let go, I don’t hesitate to put a battery in the leaf blower and get them cleaned up. When my grass was growing twice as long in the early summer, I mowed more frequently than I normally would have thanks to the easy, light-weight operation of the Kobalt Battery Powered Lawn Mower.
If you are really into keeping a neatly groomed lawn and garden, I cannot recommend the Kobalt cordless hedge trimmer enough. On the other hand, if you don’t care much for doing yard work and extra trimming around the house, that is probably the best reason of all to get a cordless hedge trimmer.
This affordable rice cookeroffers a very simple, fast, and easy way to make perfect rice every time. While this product is certainly not limited to a single function, I bought the Aroma rice cooker solely for this purpose. Gradually, I became intrigued and even excited as I discovered some of the other meals that can be made using the Aroma rice cooker. First, let’s talk about how to make rice with the Aroma.
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How to Make Rice
Using the Aroma Rice Cooker
We’re not huge rice eaters in my household, but we enjoy it enough to tell the difference between good rice and rice that is poorly made. Prior to buying the Aroma rice cooker, our conventional way of making rice was to add two cups of water and 1 cup of rice to boiling water, then turn it down to low and wait until it appears to be ready to eat. This 20-year old method of ours was inconsistent at best. We still have our old rice cooker, which we seldom use because it is small and inconvenient to clean. The Aroma rice cooker solves both problems by making consistently good rice very quickly and conveniently, with very little hassle cleaning up.
To make rice with the Aroma rice cooker, simply fill the inside of the cooking pot to the indicated number line with water and add the equivalent number of cups. For instance, if I want 4 cups of cooked rice, I fill the cooking pot up with water to the line numbered, 2. Then, I simply add 2 cups of rice using the cup that is included. Note: the cup included is specifically equal to 3/4ths cups of uncooked rice. I’ve included a picture of the chart showing how much water vs. rice to use. You can make between 4 and 20 cups of rice. With water and rice in the cooking pot, I simply close the lid of the steamer, turn on the power button on the left-hand side, then press the digital button, labeled, White Rice. The rice will be finished in about 30-35 minutes, will beep to let me know it is done, and then the light will go off. The rice will stay warm until we’re ready to eat it. The quality, I think, is as good as it is at any Asian restaurant. It comes out consistent, thoroughly cooked, not too watery, not too sticky (unless it is sticky rice), and not crunchy at all even if left on warm for a long time. Finally, the Aroma rice cooker has a very nice ‘delay-feature’. Let’s say it is 3PM and I want to have 4 cups of cooked rice ready at 5:00PM. Instead of worrying about whether or not I will remember, I can simply put the rice and water in the pot and set the program for 2 hours. The rice will be completely ready by 5PM! Now, that is how to cook rice with little trouble or guess-work. I’m no expert on rice, but I think the Aroma rice cooker is worth the $30 I paid, just as a rice cooker, alone. I would even go so far as to say that I am actually enjoying plain, ol’ white rice a great deal more than I ever have in the past. I am finding that it goes well with just about anything and am finding myself looking forward to eating rice more than ever. My wife and I love the fact that the pot inside the cooker is removable and extremely easy to clean. The other good news is that the Aroma rice cooker does a lot of other things well, too.
Other Used for the Aroma Rice Cooker
In addition to cooking white and brown rice, the Aroma rice cooker will steam vegetables, saute, simmer, slow-cook soups, stews, sauces, and even cook an entire beef or pork roast, complete with potatoes, carrots, and vegetables. The aroma rice cooker can actually replace our old crock pot as a slow-cooker. One particularly brilliant and convenient feature, I think, is the saute and simmer function. Let’s say, for example, I want to brown some Italian sausage and/or meatballs, then simmer them in a pot of spaghetti sauce. Instead of having to use a separate frying pan to brown the meat, I can put them right into the rice cooker pot. Next, I simply press the saute-then-simmer button and let it brown for a while. Once the meat has been browned to my satisfaction, I can add the spaghetti sauce, and the cooker will automatically switch-over to simmer mode! This is handy as all get-out, and it really works as advertised. The Aroma rice cooker is one of the best things we’ve gotten for our kitchen since the Veggetti and Ninja Express Chop. Besides rice, the Aroma does a whole lot other things. The graphic to the right will give you a much better idea of its features and capabilities. Use your imagination. By searching YouTube, you will find a variety of other ways to cook various foods with a rice steamer or rice cooker. The Aroma is programmed and designed in a clever way to make full use of its cooking possibilities. In case, you’d like to see an actual demonstration of the Aroma rice cooker, I’ve located a great video for you below.
A Video Demonstration
How to Make Rice with the Aroma
A Video Demonstration
Making Spaghetti Sauce
No doubt, I probably made everyone a little hungry talking about spaghetti sauce. I was not able to find a good video demonstrating the saute and simmer feature of this versatile steamer/rice cooker, so I will have to come up with my own in the very near future. I promise to include a video using my recipe, Homemade Spaghetti Sauce from Scratch, using the Aroma rice cooker next time it’s on our household dinner menu. It’s not just a rice cooker, the Aroma really does do a lot of things very well. If there is one limitation I can think of, it’s that the 20-cup capacity will probably not be enough to handle a large, Italian family dinner. Still, the Aroma is a great rice cooker, and more!