Thursday, October 27, 2016

Are You a Tea Noob or Connoisseur?

I have had the Stainless Steel Tea Infuser Strainer from #bizzonegroup in my possession for a while and just today was able to use it. Earlier this week I received the Premium loose leaf teas gift box from #Vadham and just had to try one. The tea sampler comes packaged in a holiday themed box which means one less package to wrap if you are giving it as a gift.

The tea selection is not what I was expecting. According to the amazon listing I was supposed to get black, green and chai teas. I did get a nice assortment but they were all black teas. I will be contacting the seller to see if I received the wrong box or something else went wrong. Regardless, the teas are nicely packaged in a high-quality food grade pouch that is very easy to reseal. The seal is tight and the scent of the tea, when opened, is very appealing. I chose the Orange Earl Grey to try first.

The strainer is a very well-designed piece of kitchen equipment. They took into consideration the range of mug openings and the red silicone covered piece fits in all my mugs but also covers them completely. This allows for the tea to steep without losing too much of the heat of the water. The lid has enough weight to create a nice seal and the blue silicone adds to the viability of the seal because it is soft enough to mold with the red silicone below.

It was so easy to fill the strainer with a small amount of the tea and then pour almost boiling water over the top. Then I placed the blue lid on top of the strainer and let it steep for 20 minutes. 3-5 minutes is the generally recommended time to steep, but I got distracted (yes, really) and got to it after 20 minutes.
I thought it was easy to use, but I was amazed at how easy it is to just take the strainer out and you're ready to drink the tea. Just watch the quick video! The micropores in the strainer do not let any of the loose tea leaves (or bark, fruit peels, whatever you're brewing) get into the water. The tea, even at a 20 minute brew, was clear and smooth. I was extremely impressed!

One caution or potential issue for the teas. They do not come with instructions. The instructions are on the amazon listing, but that is not the greatest place to have them when giving the teas as a gift. As you can see in the photos there is a large white card with the Vadham name and logo on it. It would be simple to print the instructions on the back of that card before packaging.

On the right you can see the tea as it started to steep. I took the picture within the first minute after pouring the water. On the left is the tea once I removed the strainer after 20 minutes of steeping. Look at how beautiful the color is! The tea is clear and really went down smooth. I did not need to add any sweetener because the flavor was so pure. 

I do think these two items work well together. If you plan to get one for the tea noob or the connoisseur, I would suggest getting the other as well. They make a nice gift set and will be greatly appreciated by the recipient.
I did receive both items at a discount or free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Will this ebook help me to stop hating photoshop?

I don't review many books because I usually give away the ending, but the Guide to Photoshop ebook is a different story (see how I did that?).

I hate #photoshop but love Adobe Illustrator. Yes, I know that is not normal, but there are so many terms in photoshop that just do not make sense to me. Regardless I was intrigued when I came across the opportunity to read and review this ebook.

The tool primer is the first part of this ebook. Unfortunately most of what is written here can easily be found online and in the photoshop help. There really is no new information or even an attempt at a new way of explaining the function. The images the author uses in this section are average.

The author tends to assume much of his readers especially with a beginners' guide. The following quote is taken directly from the section subtitled "What Are Layers?":

In the above image, it is clear that all the layers that are present in a Photoshop project can be seen in the layer panel located at the bottom right side of the screen. 

While the writing is clear, the image that is placed immediately above this statement is not. The layer panel is the same height as the image of the photo and is not shown "at the bottom right of the screen". I do not know if the image used is skewed in order to show detail, but a large image and then a zoomed in one for detail would be much more clear. I would also appreciate labels on the image that are made with crisp text. There are images previously in the ebook that do have some labels but the quality of the text makes me think the image was titled while in photoshop, not after. 

The above may seem a bit nitpicky, but there are reasons I point them out. First, it is a concrete example of the issue and secondly, it is a continued problem throughout the book.

I would like to suggest to the author that he have a professional editor go through the book with him. Not that there are any huge editing mistakes (that I have found yet) but the writing is quite repetitive and needs suggestions from someone who is familiar with how to engage readers.

I do think I can learn from this ebook and will continue to read it. I look forward to implementing new techniques but I do not feel as if I will be mastering photoshop in one week with just this ebook. This is a good reference book for me but not as practical in use as I would want in order to "master" a program.

I received this ebook from the author for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

AYL's Torch Light is a DUD

It is times like these that I wish I had not received a product for free. Some sellers have a weird way of treating reviewers by not offering customer service.

I received the AYL 900 Lumens CREE XM-L2 LED Tactical Flashlight for free and it never worked. The #AYLFlashlight came with a 2200mAH 18650 rechargeable battery and a case for three AAA batteries if you wanted or needed to use those instead. I charged the battery using the included charger. When I placed the battery in the torch it was not able to power on. I tried the AAA batteries and no dice. The product was a dud.

I emailed the seller and received no response. Because of the way the item was sold amazon said they would refund anything I did pay out. However I have Prime (aka free shipping) and I paid nothing for the light.

I feel kind of bad that I can't get a different unit to review because it looks like a good product. Unfortunately with amazon's policy and an unresponsive seller, there is nothing I can do.

I do like the bright silver color that is all over the torch. It is a wonderful non-working prop for a costume if needed sometime in the future.

Bottom line is I do NOT recommend it because my experience was with a broken flashlight.

RemoMore Needs More Help

RemoMore is an app that is supposed to help #KeepKidsSafe. There are some good aspects to this app but I do not recommend it at this time.

Just a quick reminder that I was given a year long subscription to this service for free in exchange for my review. I was not paid other than with the use of the service.

So there are two main parts to the RemoMore software, the website and the app that is placed on the phone to be tracked. This software could be quite powerful but seems to me it is target audience may not be tech savvy enough to use it correctly. And if you are not tech savvy (I do think I normally am, but some of that is due to ComputerGenius Husband answering my questions. He was not available to help me on this one) then your children need to be young enough to not be able to figure out how to disable the app.

Their customer service, in my experience, is nonexistent. Granted, my time with this app is a bit different than the standard customer because I received a coupon code for the subscription. At first I could not figure out where to insert the code in order to get the subscription going and emailed their tech support. That was at the beginning of August. It is now a week away from Halloween and I have never received any actual response. I did figure out how to get it going, thus I was able to publish this review.

I do like their weekly emails which show information that you want to track on the phone(s)/device(s) upon which you have installed the app. This is the only connection between me and the makers of the software at this point.

I have used other security software on my devices and have also installed other apps that have helped with the device health. To my knowledge this is the first one I have come across that has done a pretty good job of each. This app allows the parent to get alerts, lock the phone, put time locks on it and even access health band (ie. fitbit) information for each person who has one attached to a covered device.

Basically this is a great idea, okay execution and poor customer service in my experience. If they would fix the customer service I would be happy to recommend this!