Tagged: Amazon

My Favorite Bike Lights: Blackburn 100 Front & 20 Rear Light Set

Having used dozens of different bike lights over the years, my current favorites are the Blackburn 100 Front and 20 Rear Light Set. I bought a set back in December, but they were stolen when I parked my bike on a busy street in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I ordered a replacement set, and because I bought them from eBay, I was asked to write a review. Below is an expanded version of what I posted to eBay.

The set comes with a white front light and a red rear light, each with three modes: a mix of steady light and blinking modes. The front, white light is rated for 100 lumens, and the rear, red light is at 20 lumens. In practical terms, these are bright enough to be seen on city streets, where there is some streetlamp illumination, but they also work in a pinch as “see” lights to shine your path on a dark road.

Mounting the lights is easy. Just stretch the rubber strap over your handlebar and seat post, and fasten the strap over the notch. The lights are also easy to remove and are portable. This is important because you should remove your lights when parking your bike, otherwise you might find that someone has stolen them. That’s exactly what happened to me, as I noted above. However, these lights are a little bigger than most other lights I’ve used, but they’re still small enough to fit in your bag or even your pocket.

The other great thing about these lights is you can use them for a long time between charge cycles. The lights are a bit bigger than the Knog Blinder lights that were my previous choice, but the increased bulk presumably supports a larger battery. You only need to charge these lights about once a week in the dark, winter months, and significantly less often during the summer.

There are a few of minor drawbacks, however. First, the package includes only one Micro USB charging cable. Unless you have other cables lying around, you can only charge one light at a time. However, you can buy short Micro USB cables for a few bucks. Second, if you have a handlebar with an oversized, 31.8mm diameter, you have to really pull on mounting strap to wrap it around your handlebar. I’ve done this for months, and as long as you uniformly stretch it, it won’t weaken or break.

One of the things that you’ll find if you buy bike lights is that there are so many bad ones out there. At the moment, these are the best ones because they offer bright illumination and portability, are easy to remove without tools, cost about $60 for the set, offer a long burn time, and can be charged via USB.

The above links to Amazon are affiliate links. Shopping through those links will kick back a referral fee to me. Thanks for your support!

2006 vs. 2016, Flash Memory Edition

Just before the end of the year, people in my social network—and likely yours—were posting pictures of themselves from 2006 and 2016, ostensibly to compare their contemporary selves to their appearance ten years ago.

Rather than gaze at myself ten years ago, I thought it would be fun to compare a recent purchase of removable flash memory to another similar purchase from 10 years ago.

2006 USB Memory Stick

In 2006, I bought a removable USB memory stick, which was all the rage at the time in the days before Dropbox and other cloud storage solutions. The capacity was one (1) gigabyte and I paid $51.29 on Amazon. It might have seemed like a good deal at the time.

2016 SD Card

A few weeks ago, at the end of 2016, I ordered an SD card for my SLR camera. The capacity is thirty-two (32) gigabytes and I paid $14.99 on Amazon. In some ways, even this purchase seems a bit dated. SD cards seem like a niche product these days since the days of the compact digital camera, which drove those sales, seem to be over. Also, 32 GB is not a lot of capacity. Consider that I could buy 64 GB, 128 GB, and even 256 GB for about $25, $60, and $120, respectively.

To really summarize the difference between the two over the last ten years, consider that I bought something thirty-two times bigger, that is orders-of-magnitude faster, for less than a third of the price.

I may have changed over the last ten years, but I don’t think I can say I changed as much as flash memory.

The Big Lebowski On-Sale

After two moves in two years, I’ve become frustrated toting around my physical media collection, especially books, DVDs, CDs, and VHS tapes. Over the years, I have managed to digitize almost my entire music collection and most of my movies. The physical copies are safely stashed away in a friend’s basement.

My collection of movies and TV programs, however, is almost entirely in SD. I never bought into Blu-ray like I did with DVDs in the late-1990s and early-2000s. It would be nice if I could magically upgrade all my movie files from SD to HD… or better.

One of my favorite films of all time, The Big Lebowski, is currently on sale for $7.99 on iTunes and Amazon. I’ve owned it on DVD for years, and it’s occasionally been available to stream, but I couldn’t resist getting it through iTunes, especially since it’s available to stream on any device.

The sale is for a limited time.

The above links to iTunes and Amazon are affiliate links. Shopping through those links will kick back a referral fee to me. Thanks for your support!

Bike Gear I Bought and You Might Like

Bicycling can be a spendy hobby, and every season is a new opportunity to blow a whole lot of money.

Although it’s fun to shop for new stuff, there’s some anxiety whether you’re getting quality goods, whether you need it in the first place, and whether you spent too much money. As someone who has scoffed at buying unnecessary bike gear, but only after spending thousands on stuff that now sits in a box, I’m here to save you a lot of trouble.

This is some of the cycling gear I bought over the last year that didn’t suck. Buy from Amazon through these links, and I’ll get a small commission.

  • Canari Cyclewear Men’s Velo Gel Padded Bike Short. I bought many of my bike shorts in the early 2000s, back when I first started cycling and back when Cannondale still made things in the USA. To their credit, those cycling shorts lasted a long time, but after thousands of miles and scores of machine wash cycles, the fabric started to thin and began to let the sun shine where it is not supposed to shine. I bought this particular pair of shorts on Amazon because it was really basic. Maybe someone really needs a 12-panel short, but I don’t. After a single seventy-mile–ride, it did the trick. I didn’t think about the short. That’s good because good cycling shorts should be like a good plumber: the best one is the one you don’t notice.

  • Knog Blinder Mob The Face Front USB Rechargeable Light. There are two kinds of bike lights: “be-seen” lights and “see” lights. Because I ride in a city with reasonably well-illuminated streets, I only need lights to be-seen. Over the years, I have bought about twenty different sets of bike lights, and all of them have some fatal flaw. The only “be-seen” lights that I liked were the Kong Blinder 4 series of lights. They offer the rare combination of bright illumination, portability, easy to remove without tools, cost, burn time, and USB charging. However, the straps would regularly break, rendering the entire light useless because the straps could not be replaced. In the last year, they have redesigned the straps and are much sturdier. And should they break, they’re replaceable! The new iteration of the Knog Blinder 4 fixed this fatal flaw. I can now recommend them.

  • Stainless Steel Swing Top Beer Growler – 1 Liter. Regular readers of this site know that I really enjoy a crafty beer after a long ride, especially one that ends at an area brewery. This stainless-steel growler is small—just a little bigger than a pint glass, but holds a full quart (or liter). It is very light so you can carry it in your backpack as you cycle for hours. But most importantly, because it’s made from stainless steel, it won’t break—and won’t cut you with shards of glass—should you crash. Best of all, they will even fill it in California. This might have been my most important cycling purchase of the year.

There’s a lot of other gear you’ll need if you’re just starting out, but if you’re dusting off your bike for the year, consider picking up these goods.

Seasonal Creep and Back-to-School Shopping Season

Remember how upset I was when breweries started offering pumpkin beers in August last year?

Well, starting today, Monday, July 6, Amazon is launching its back-to-school sale.


Although public schools here in New York City just started their summer recess ten days ago, you might as well stock up now before the Christmas shopping season starts after Labor Day.

But seriously, buy stuff through the banner because I get a commission.

So Crazy, It’s Insane

Remember Crazy Eddie?

He was the on-air pitchman for an electronics chain bearing his name here in the New York tri-state area, throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Crazy Eddie’s persona and advertising strategy serves as a classic example of nuisance marketing (or irritation advertising, if you prefer). His ads would grate on you, but those same commercials would also forever remind you of their insane prices. In Los Angeles, I remember that we had a similar pitchman in Fred R. Rated for The Federated Group, a cut-rate electronics, played by Shadoe Stevens.

Both chains are long gone now. Crazy Eddie went under due to some pretty serious fraud and was ultimately liquidated by the end of the 1980s. And I have no idea what happened to Federated, but I don’t think that company has anything to do with the company we now call Macy’s, Inc..

Although I can’t find the reference, I am pretty certain that John Gruber once called Amazon the crazy guy at the party who will accept any dare you propose. Amazon has apparently accepted the dare to sell a over-the-top streaming device for $39. And if that wasn’t crazy enough, Amazon Prime members can buy one for $19 until Wednesday morning.

Fire TV Stick

The Fire TV stick, as it’s called, is basically what Google was selling last holiday season in the Chromecast. The biggest advantage of the Amazon Fire TV stick is that it will play anything from the Amazon Prime streaming library, including movies, music, and TV programs. Consider me tempted.

Can they really make money off a $20 streaming stick? Just sign up for a Prime trial, get the device for $20, and after the trial is over, keep the device to stream Netflix, Hulu, and some other “streaming channel.”

It does seem a little crazy, doesn’t it?

Does Amazon Have a Cycling Team?

Consider this my first fashion post.

Searching for short-sleeve wool jerseys on eBay, I found a lot for sale consisting of an assortment of wool jerseys at a pretty decent price. I was intrigued by the orange color, and upon further shopping, it appears that these jerseys bear the Amazon logo with a cycling gear inset.

 

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Sadly, they're out of my size, but if you keep them free of moth balls, I have a feeling that one of these jerseys could easily outlast Amazon as a company.

 

The Elements of Writing Well

No matter how much writing you do, you can always improve. Arguably, the two best writing guides you could ever read are:

And just in time for the beginning of the semester, you can buy the thirtieth-anniversary edition of Zinsser’s book for your Kindle for $2.99.

Disclosure: Although I participate in the Amazon affiliate program, I did not receive any compensation for this post.

Amazon and U.S. Postal Service Will Deliver On Sundays

Wall Street Journal:

Amazon said Sunday delivery will begin on Nov. 17 in Los Angeles and New York and expand next year to Dallas, New Orleans, Houston and Phoenix, among others. Amazon will bring packages from its warehouses to Postal Service locations on Saturday evening or Sunday morning. The agency will then deliver them to doorsteps.

Sunday delivery of Amazon purchases is great news for the postal service and Amazon customers. It is probably less good for the non-existent brick-and-mortar shops in our corner of Long Island City.

The USPS may not have the global network or the perceived speed of UPS or FedEx, but it has something that’s very important for most New Yorkers: access to your apartment building. UPS, for example, can’t access your apartment building. When they attempt a delivery and you’re not home because you work a regular job, you’re greeted with one of those dreaded InfoNotice slips on your door.

The dreaded InfoNotice that says you'll have to wait yet another day for your goodies.

The dreaded InfoNotice that says you’ll have to wait yet another day for your goodies.

After UPS makes three attempts and they can’t deliver your package, you’re trekking to the calming shores of Maspeth, Queens to get your goods. As you can see in the Lois Stavsky’s photo below, Maspeth sits at the end of the Bushwick Inlet and is, for those not in the know, about as a close to the middle-of-nowhere as you can get in New York City.

In Maspeth, Queens

After missing countless Amazon orders that were shipped via UPS, I resorted to using the Amazon Locker at the local 7-11 store in Long Island City. It’s a reliable way to get your packages because it’s 7-11 and there’s always someone home, but it’s a good 1.3 miles away from home along a heavily trafficked stretch of Long Island City, making it pretty terrible bike ride.

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Since Amazon has been relying more on USPS for deliveries, Amazon packages are reliably waiting inside the apartment building. No more trips to 7-11. No more trips to Maspeth. The same is true for any other shipper that uses USPS for deliveries, such as my precious Tonx coffee.

The best part of Amazon using USPS to deliver to your home seven days a week is that it’s available for everyone, not just Prime members like myself and it starts this coming Sunday in New York.

Disclosure: Although I participate in the Amazon affiliate program, I did not receive any compensation for this post. I’m genuinely excited about receiving goodies seven days a week.