Thoughts From My Life

Advice from someone who does not know everything.

Category: Product Review

Replacing Hood Struts on 2006 Dodge RAM 1500

I had to replace my hood struts the other day.  Essentially I would open the hood on my 2006 Dodge RAM 1500 and there wasn’t enough strength left in the hydraulic hood struts to keep the hood lifted.  I ended up having to take a scrap piece of 2×4 wood and jam it to keep the hood up.

So I looked around the local part places and it seemed to be more money that some I could find on Amazon.  I ended up purchasing the hood shocks/struts at this paid link:

ARANA Qty(2) 4364 Front Hood Shocks/Strut/Front Lift Supports/Gas Springs Compatible with 2002-2010 Dodge Ram 1500/2500/3500/4500/5500 (paid link)

Once they arrive, you can probably figure it out yourself, but if not there are many hood strut videos available on YouTube, but I found this one useful.

Stupid to the Last Drop by William Marsden

I just finished reading Stupid to the Last Drop: How Alberta Is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada (And Doesn’t Seem to Care). It is a very interesting look at the oil industry in Alberta and I would recommend it for anyone who lives in Canada or is from here to read.

It covers a lot of history as to how the industry developed and is also very critical of the Alberta government and industry in general in terms of the environmental policy (or lack thereof).

Be warned: it is very critical and does not portray a very positive image of the province in general. Regardless of your opinion though, it is a worthwhile read with a lot of interesting points to consider and debate.

Below is a paid link to purchase the book.

Roland FP-4 Digital Piano

I have purchased my first digital piano recently. The Roland FP-4 is an excellent keyboard. Full set of 88 weighted keys, in a compact body, that Apple iPod white color, and built in speakers is exactly what I wanted.

In particular, the weighted feel (or the action) is quite nice on the Roland and more of what I wanted, even though it is in a higher price range than a number of other keyboards.

One thing I have to say is that any of the advanced features on the piano do not have an intuitive interface to use them (recording and playback, etc).

The music rest is neat on the white Roland as well. It is a clear fibreglass back with white metal base for the music to sit on.

Roland FP-4

PowerBlock Adjustable Dumbbells

I recently purchased a set of PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells. Probably one of the smartest fitness purchases I have done. I own the PowerBlock Classic 45. These dumbbells can adjust from 5 to 45 pounds in 5 pound increments. This is all I need at this point, but they do have other sets that are capable of being upgraded to go as high as 130 pounds if you are looking for more weight.There are newer versions that have more room inside the handles as well. The Sport 5.0 and Sport 9.0 series are the latest generation that have a little more room between the handles and actually go up to 50 pounds.I was motivated to buy them because I am doing the P90X workout program. For a guy doing the classic version of the program and trying to build a little muscle, you really need to be lifting dumbbells to get enough strength training resistance. The PowerBlocks were a perfect fit for my house because I really don’t have the room at my house to store it, nor do I want to pay to have a rack of dumbbells with the same range.If you are looking for some dumbbells and are tight for money/room, then these dumbbells are a good option. I simply bought my used in the city I live in, but you can find them wherever. There are a few different brands too. The other popular one are the Selecttech Nautilus ones that Bowflex is affiliated with.

Below is a paid link to purchase them.

Public Mobile – Ultra Discount Cellular Network in Canada

I recently signed a family member up for a Public Mobile account. I have to say I am quite impressed at what you can get with the ultra-discount mobile providers if you don’t have a lot of needs.

Essentially, the plan we selected is as follows:

  • $23/month (it is actually $25/month, but you automatically get a $2 discount if you automatically pay with a credit card)
  • 1GB of data (500MB is standard and you receive another 500MB for autopaying)
  • Unlimited calling Canada wide
  • Unlimited text and picture messaging
  • Voicemail and call display

What Are the Cons?

They are ultra discount for a reason, so there are a few things you should know about.

  1. Minimal Customer Service: There is a non-existent customer service. Not even a phone number to call. Information is available online and they utilize a forum to ask questions and other users answer them.
  2. 3G Data Speeds: The data is at 3G speeds and not LTE or 4G.
  3. Priority on a Tower: I’m not 100% on this, but it was described to me that if a specific cellular tower had a lot of customers trying to use it, then Telus/Bell/Koodo/Virgin customers would be prioritized higher than you would be. I’m guessing at a sporting event or festival this may be an issue. I haven’t heard of anyone experiencing this though.
  4. Add on data is expensive. For some reason just adding a GB of LTE data is $30. Seems pricy if you needed it. If you needed more data within a billing cycle, you can just switch plans as well and get pro-rated at the new plan data size.

What are the Pros?

  1. Great Coverage. Public Mobile is a division of Telus. So it is on the Telus/Bell network. So the coverage is great and works for rural users that would normally be with Telus/Bell.
  2. Cheap, cheap, cheap. Hard to beat the plans. They start as low as $10/month and go up to $60 (the latter actually includes 2GB of U.S. roaming data).
  3. Referral Discounts. If you refer other customers to sign up (and they use your referral code), you receive $1/month discount per customer while they stay on Public Mobile.
  4. Helping Discounts. If you help out by answering questions in the forums, you can earn up to $20 per billing period against your bill.

Am I Limited to 3G Towers?

No. From what I can see, you are only throttled to 3G speeds and you will still connect to any of their towers.

Nikon Remote – ML-L3 – Review

I received this for Christmas this year. What a handy little gadget.

The ML-L3 (paid link) is the infared remote for Nikon cameras that support remote shutter release. It lets you snap the shutter from a distance.

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Kill A Watt – Measure Your Power

Have you ever wondered how much power you are using? I’m a bit of a geek and I always wanted to know how efficient the devices are in my home. A friend of mine recommended the “Kill-A-Watt” a couple years ago and I have ended up buying them for gifts now (for those fellow geeks who would appreciate it).

I ordered it online and I can’t even remember where, but the thing is called the “Kill-A-Watt”. It plugs into the wall and has a plugin receptacle on the front to plugin whatever device you want to test. There is also a digital display to show the results.

Anyhow, once you plug it in, you reset the values and just wait. Kill-a-Watt measures how many killowatt/hours the device has consumed. This directly translates into how you pay your energy bill.

Below is a paid link to purchase from Amazon.

Kill-A-Watt

I stole this picture from The Gadgeteer so I will give them a free linkback for stealing their bandwidth. I think you can order it from there. You can read more about it anyways.

I did my two slice toaster and I figured out that for every 40 pieces of toast (20 times I ran it) that it only consumed 1 cent worth of power.

Stay tuned, I will post other energy findings in later posts.

Switching to Koodo

I recently switched from my cell phone provider of 15 years (Bell) to Koodo. I will describe my experience a bit here.

Why The Change?

Two main reasons.

  1. I was looking to upgrade my phone hardware.
  2. I was looking for a cheaper phone plan.
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