Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Zukes's Mini Naturals Healthy Moist Training Treats, Delicious Duck Recipe, 6-Ounce / New favorite treat for training, dog likes them better than the roasted chicken recipe

My dog loves the Zuke's mini Naturals roasted chicken recipe treats. I usually use them for obedience training, as they are small and only 3.5 calories per treat.

I've ordered the new Zuke's mini Naturals delicious duck recipe treats when I saw them on Amazon. My dog really likes these new treats but I wanted to see which ones she actually likes better. So I did some pseudo-empirical testing. When I held one of the roasted chicken treats in one hand and a duck recipe treat in the other hand, my dog would always take the treat from my right hand, no matter which flavor I held in my right hand.

After the inconclusive results of my first experiment, I knew I had to change the design of the experiment to reach a conclusion. So I lined the treats up in a straight line and randomly set duck and chicken treats next to each other. Once my dog was allowed to eat them, she ate the duck treats first and then ate the chicken treats. Therefore, I conclude that the duck flavor is her new favorite.

Belkin Wireless AC USB Wifi Adapter (F9L1106) / Good Wi-Fi ac USB-Adapter, terrible drivers, good value

I have purchased this Wi-Fi ac USB adapter as an add-on item and at the time it was cheap enough, so I did not care about the lack of product picture and description and wrong brand in the title. I was rewarded with a Wi-Fi USB adapter that usually retails for a lot more. So my product review reflects the very low price I have paid for this item.

The good news first: This is the Belkin Wi-Fi ac Dual-Band USB adapter. Here are my pros and cons.

Pros:
- Great value (might be different depending on the seller)
- Once connected it works mostly reliable
- Fast for file transfer on Wi-Fi

Cons:
- Drivers from CD do not work properly (Windows Vista was able to locate drivers on disk and install them)
- Instructions are not really helpful (For help on getting this adapter to work, see below)
- Lack of information on Belkin's website
- Needs to be re-installed after reboot
- Larger than some other Wi-Fi USB adapters (this one is about the size of a large USB flash drive)
- Terrible product description

When I received the item I made sure to follow the instructions on the packaging. They recommend inserting the CD with the drivers into the disk drive and installing the drivers. I could not do that on my laptop running Windows Vista (although it should be compatible with Vista). The installation program would simply not start.

To solve this issue, instead of inserting the disk, just plug the USB adapter into a USB port. Windows will ask if you want to install drivers and if it should look for them or if you want to tell Windows where they are. I had it look for drivers, but the search came up with nothing. So Windows asked for the installation CD to be inserted. I did that and Windows was (to my surprise) able to locate the correct drivers and install them. Afterwards, I was able to set up my Wi-Fi connection through the USB adapter. If you are using the USB adapter to upgrade the Wi-Fi on a machine with a working Wi-Fi connection, make sure to turn the older one off at this point. The Wi-Fi USB adapter should then take over. According to Windows' network information I can reach speeds of 867 Mbps on the 5Ghz band. I did a few file transfer from a hard drive that is connected to my router and the speed increase compared to my old Wi-Fi g was very noticeable. A 700MB file took two minutes instead of 7 minutes. These speeds might have been exceeded, but the hard drive is connected to the router through USB 2.0 and also, I have tested the Wi-Fi USB adapter in a USB 2.0 port. Better results with USB 3.0 might be possible and according to the packaging the Belkin Wi-Fi ac USB adapter does support USB 3.0.

If not for the problems with the driver and the lack of support information on Belkin's website, I might have given a higher star rating to this item. I still give it four stars, but this is based on the very low price I have paid for this item and the value others get out of this adapter might be lower, when they are paying a higher price.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

WD My Net AC1300 HD Dual Band Router Wireless AC WiFi Router Accelerate HD / Recommended for apartments, easy setup, reliable connection

Update after a few months of daily use: The WD My Net AC1300 has performed very well for us. We have noticed no outages that were caused by the router and I would say that the latest firmware is very stable. If you have problems with your router, make sure to check for a firmware update. (If you have never done this before: Enter IP address from the manual into the web browser and use the standard login, found on the bottom of the router itself. Navigate to "Settings" and find the button to check for firmware upgrade.)

Speed-wise, the router has not really been pushed to its limit. Our older laptops cannot take advantage of Wi-Fi ac and only one smartphone actually uses it. So the speed of file transfers is hindered by the hardware using the network, not the network itself. However, close to the router my laptop can reach almost the speed of our internet connection. For most users that is all they should really hope to be able to do.

Would I recommend the WD My Net AC1300? I guess it really depends on where you want to use it. If you live in a large house or you want to receive a strong Wi-Fi signal in the garden or your garage, there might certainly be better routers for you. Ones with directional antennas can usually cover large spaces better than routers with in-built antennas. Directional antennas can also be upgraded if necessary, which is often cheaper than setting up a Wi-Fi repeater or an access point. If you live in a small house or in an apartment and don't want the Wi-Fi signal to extend too far beyond, the WD My Net AC1300 is certainly a great solution. It is still one of the less expensive routers with Wi-Fi ac. It also comes with two USB ports, which allows you to connect a printer or a hard drive and share it through the network.

Original Review from September 2013:

This was the cheapest WiFi AC router with two USB ports that I could find. It works well in my setup, because it only has to cover an apartment. This router does not have the range of some other WiFi AC routers. Get the one from Asus if you have a big house or you want to cover a large area. I did not want my network to extend too much outside of our apartment, so this is ideal for me.

Setup was really easy. My laptop (running Vista) actually set up most things automatically when I connected it to the router. Afterwards, I used the browser to connect to the router and changed some settings.

I would recommend upgrading the firmware of the router right away. My unit shipped with older firmware and since upgrading I noticed slightly better performance. You can also set up a guest network, change channels etc.

A nice surprise was, how easy it was to connect the printer and an external hard drive. I connected the printer (brother all-in-one) through an ethernet connection and it was automatically recognized and I was able to print from my laptop right away. I did have all the brother software pre-installed on the laptop. I also got the brother app on my tablet and can easily print from my tablet over the network.

The hard drive just needs to be plugged into the USB port and the router lets you set up a password protection, in case you do not want everyone on the network to have access to the data saved on the hard drive. I connected a WD 500GB 2.5" hard drive and it worked without any problems. Connection speed seemed to be okay. Depending on the location, it took me usually about 1 minute to transfer a 1GB file from the hard drive to my laptop (my laptop is old and cannot take advantage of the WiFi's speed). Newer laptops, and especially ones with WiFi AC should see dramatically increased speeds.

I got a WiFi AC router to future proof our network. We do not actually have any WiFi AC devices yet, so I deactivated the WiFi AC through the router settings. Now it only transmits a WiFi g signal on the 5Ghz band.

Google Chromecast Review / Recommended as upgrade to "dumb" TV

The Chromecast is a great product if you know what you are getting. We have a Samsung TV (flatscreen, but no smart TV). We used our Blue-Ray player to stream Netflix movies. However, the Blue-Ray player took ages to open the Netflix app and navigating in Netflix was horrible and slow. The Blue-Ray player was connected to the router through ethernet, so it was not a connection problem.

The Chromecast solved this for us. We use it mainly to make our TV a little smarter. Mostly, we watch Netflix and every now and then we watch some YouTube videos through it. I also tried the Google Play Music function, which works nicely for me, the same goes for Hulu Plus. The app selection is very limited at the moment. However, it is a product that is very much in its infancy, so I am expecting more apps to become available soon (-ish). I am really hoping that Amazon will make its Prime Instant Movies available through the Chromecast at some point. NHL Gamecenter and HBO Go would also be nice.

Setting up the Chromecast was rather easy for me. Make sure you do have a reliable wifi connection, because the phone/tablet and the Chromecast need to communicate over Wifi. Also, the Chromecast will create its own little Wifi hotspot for a short time, so make sure you are rather close to the TV while setting up, so the Chromecast and the phone/tablet can communicate with each other.

I hope the Chromecast technology will make its way into more products in the future. I would definitely get a soundbar/music system that would let me stream my music (plus Pandora, Rdio etc.) directly to a set of speakers, kind of like a Sonos, just cheaper and super easy to set up.

I would recommend the Chromecast to people who want to upgrade their "dumb" TV or to people who purchase most their digital media from the Google Play Store.