Once in a while I get pleasantly surprised with some product or service. This page contains unpaid and unsolicited advertising. Samizdat & Kindle, ROKU Soundbridge, Gillette Fusion, Armor snow blower skid shoes


I recently purchased a Kindle Reader from Amazon.com. which has revolutionized my reading habits! Before I talk about the Kindle, however, I want to say something about digital books.

Back in 2005 I was looking to purchase all 10 volumes of Spurgeon's sermons in hardback form, but in my search for the best price, I ran across www.Samizdat.com. Samizdat not only offered the books I wanted, but 10,000 other books for only $139! They were in digital format on three DVDs. The DVDs included everything from cook books and children's books to classical literature in several languages. I was skeptical when I ordered the set, but astounded and pleased with what I got! My mother was a descendant of the Cooper family which included William Cooper, founder of Cooperstown, NY and the prolific American writer, James Fennimore Cooper. I was enthralled to get all of his works as one of many bonuses!

I have been carrying this gigantic library around in my laptop case ever since. I not only read, but copy and paste parts for inclusion in other documents. I can search the DVDs just like my computer hard disc. The DVDs came with an offer to purchase updates at any time for about one third the cost of a new set. I took advantage of the offer in 2007 paying $90 for three DVDs which now included 12,467 books. I gave my original set to a friend. The DVD set now offered includes 23,416 books on 4 DVDs and costs $149, but I can still update my 3-DVD set for the same price! You don't get many bargains like that anymore!

Here is my assessment of the Kindle in one word: fantastic! And I don't use that word freely, nor do I receive remuneration for recommending the Kindle. I am not familiar with the other digital readers on the market, but in reading forums and talking to owners, the Kindle seems unbeatable.

I authored and published a book in 2005. It cost over $5,000 for 500 copies - paid in advance. I found that I could sell my book for the Kindle Reader with a lot less hassle and at no expense whatsoever. In November, 2010, I purchased a new Kindle Reader for $139. It took only minutes to set up my account and a few hours to prepare the book for Kindle. I plan to offer two more books  through the Kindle Store.

First, I will share what I like and then what I dislike (yes, there are a couple of negatives).

The screen is easy to read - almost like paper. I can read for hours with no eye fatigue whatsoever. The screen is not backlit so you need light to read it. This feature has other advantages. You can read in the bright sunlight. The Kindle uses very little energy. When you turn the pages, it uses minute amounts to rearrange the "ink" and a little more to power up the Reader. You can charge it from a receptacle or the USB connection of your computer, but that is needed only once every month or two.

I like to read in my La-Z-Boy recliner and books tend to get heavy after a while. The Kindle weighs only 8 ounces fully loaded with hundreds of books! Speaking of books, I can read the digital books I got from Samizdat or shop for others in the Kindle Store without getting out of my La-Z-Boy. I first loaded KJV and ESV Bibles from the Kindle store. The KJV was free and the ESV cost 99 cents. Both loaded via the built in wireless in about a minute. Most books (including mine) are sold to provide royalties to the author and profits for Amazon, so you can expect to pay between $3 - $10 per book.

With the 5-way menu button, you can navigate to different parts of the book or switch to other books without losing your place. Next time you open the book, it opens to the same place. You can also click on hyperlinks to footnotes, create bookmarks and write notes.

Amazon gives you a special email address with which you can send any document to your Kindle. I emailed my 278-page book and it arrived formatted in my Kindle within seconds! After some tweaking, I repeated the process to be certain that everything was fine. Then I posted it for sale.

Now come the really juicy morsels. With the wireless you can browse websites, but it is only black & white and you can't write and send messages. For seniors and those who have trouble reading small print, the Kindle allows you to make the type as large or small as you want. If you are totally blind, you can let the Kindle read to you. It has built-in stereo speakers. If you have trouble sleeping, just load my book, relax and close your eyes. You will soon be sleeping soundly! Or load your own mpeg music and listen while reading. If your spouse objects, use earphones!

Now I will share the negative things.

The keyboard and menu button are much too small for a man's fingers. A woman may have pointed fingernails that can peck and scratch, but we men are always biting our nails. Turning pages in either direction is easy, but typing a search is laborious, like typing on the computer keyboard wearing gloves. The Kindle is difficult to hold in your hand without accidentally tapping a key or button. I made a lightweight holder for mine (see photos) so I can hold it in one hand. Perhaps I should get it patented and sell it on Amazon.com!


The ROKU SoundBridge is one of the neatest electronic gadgets I have ever purchased and it cost only $129 in 2007.

Most people are fed up with the radio programs available in their area (I vented my feelings about this dismal situation under "WSNJ Eulogy"), so they buy satellite radio subscriptions with monthly fees. These have the advantage that you can listen in the car as well as at home, but there are many - perhaps thousands of free listening options on the Internet.  Those who don't own a computer or still use analog (dial-up) modems would have difficulty receiving these, but if you have a broadband connection, you can listen to Internet Radio for no extra charge. The biggest downside to this is that the computer has to be on and you need to stay near enough to hear what is playing or to change channels.

In recent months, several firms have developed receivers which can connect "streamed" Internet programs to your home stereo system. Normally, these are connected via a wireless router, which you probably already have installed.

The Roku Soundbridge is probably the best on the market and unlike some of the others, your computer doesn't need to be on to get Internet radio. You can change stations as with a normal radio with the remote.

The SoundBridge 1001 connects to your home stereo system, so the sound quality depends on what you have available. ROKU also has a "standalone" SoundBridge Radio that has its own speaker and receives normal AM/FM broadcasts as well as Internet Radio. That model costs more, but has the added advantage of mobility. You can place it anywhere your router can send a signal including out by the pool or in the garage.

Every SoundBridge has 19 station presets plus a "Favorites" menu where you can scroll through an unlimited number of other stations. Because you can make up your own list, you can include anything you like: classical music, hundreds of Christian broadcasts including one that plays great accapella 24/7, bluegrass, or whatever. You don't need to program any rock or jazz stations because they are a dime a dozen on regular FM radio!  That is more than your present has to offer!

We can now tune in to our favorite music any time and from all over the world and even listen to the local German station we used to hear in Austria. If you have moved and miss your home-town station, chances are, it streams over the Internet. FM radio stations cost millions of Dollars, but just about anyone can operate their own Internet Radio station. This trend may soon take the world by storm. My wife, who is not computer savvy at all, loves this technical marvel. She listens to it all day while I type away on the computer undisturbed.

Update: March, 2011
Roku was nice while it lasted, but the company suddenly stopped supporting it and even deleted the webpage where my stations were stored, so the Roku SoundBridge was rendered worthless! I could see no way to sue the company or I would have! After all my praise, I have only a sour taste in my mouth.

We purchased a Logitech Squeezebox and have continued to enjoy Internet Radio. Although I am satisfied with it so far, I am reluctant to give it too much praise for fear Logitech may also disappoint me later on.



A free testimonial for Gillette! - (Blog from September 20, 2007)

I am one of those die-hards who insists that electric razors give inferior results, and I am also a tightwad, so I always buy the cheapest products that give satisfactory results.

Bic razors are cheap, so that is what I have used for years. Bic had two styles; one for light beards and another for heavy beards. The only difference seemed to be the lifespan of the razor. You could use a heavy duty razor on a light beard with the same results but it lasted up to a week. Apparently too many people with light beards discovered this fact and that was not good for Bic, so you can no longer find the heavy duty variety in stores.

I was deliberating what to do about this when I got a free sample razor in the mail from Gillette. It is called a Gillette Fusion. I tried it and loved it immediately. The handle is sturdy and attractive, but the replaceable end piece with five sharp blades is the best part. You get a very clean shave with no nicks or cuts day after day. My sample razor gave me good shaves for a month and I have a tough beard.

I believe in lauding the good things as well as condemning bad stuff. Gillette has an excellent product and believes in it enough to send us free samples. I can heartily recommend it to all the millions of dissatisfied Bic users.


Most snow blowers are of similar construction and use engines and moving parts built by reputable companies, but they are equipped with cheaply made skid shoes that wear out easily, thus guaranteeing the manufacturer additional annual income. Skid shoes are metal plates that keep the lip and blades of the blower from rubbing on the road, sidewalk or gravel. They are cheaply made but sell for $30 - $60 a pair. To assure that owners buy replacements from the manufacturer, every snow blower seems to have a unique bolt pattern.

My machine is a Noma that is no longer manufactured so it is difficult to find skid shoes that fit. In my search this year, I came across the following website: http://snowblowerskids.com

You can go to the website yourself and check out their products. Be sure to watch the video. They make durable, long-lasting skid shoes of the best quality steel and they are made in USA. The company has skid shoes for just about every make and model snow blower. The skid shoes are not only made to last, but they are designed to save wear and tear on both machine and operator. It glides over bumps in the pavement that used to rattle my teeth and cause the snow blower to stall. I can highly recommend this product.