Alternatives to crutches

On March 7th I had surgery to fix my right achilles tendon.

For those of you who’re curious this, or this, are both reasonable descriptions of what was done, as per my surgeon. For those of you who aren’t THAT curious, if you know someone who tore their achilles, well, my recovery after surgery is identical to what they went through.

What this means for me? Two and a half weeks of completely no weight bearing on that foot at all, and weeks of only partially weight bearing, and then weeks of PT.

Now I’ve done the crutches thing before. They’re annoying, and tie up your hands, but not the end of the world when all you need to do is reduce the pressure on a sprained ankle.

For completely non-weight bearing? They suck. I mean, they do the job, but what a pain in the ass!

Turns out there are alternatives however. First option is a rolling knee scooter thing. The second option is the iWalk. And lucky me, I get to play with both! My insurance covered (in full!) a knee scooter from the same DME that supplies my cpap stuff. And I made the decision to order an iWalk as I had doubts about using the rolling scooter in the house with the dogs around.

My knee scooter isn’t identical to the one linked above, but it’s close. VERY easy to use on any reasonably flat surface. Works ok on short pile carpet. The dogs are convinced it is THE DEVIL, and we won’t discuss the cat’s response to it. Bumps aren’t quite so nice, even fairly small bumps, and I’m glad I don’t have to rely on it to get into the house cause steps are a complete no-go, and it would require a not short ramp to get up to the height of my front door. Also, it requires at least one hand on the steering handlebars to steer and brake. And it doesn’t fit very well into tight spaces, like, my bathrooms. I did however take it for a proper spin yesterday, we needed to buy some things at my work, and so I went with my husband and took the scooter. On those flat concrete floors it’s pretty awesome and I was having to resist seeing how fast it’d go. There’s almost no learning curve to it though, you put your knee on the pad and push off. If you’re not used to a lot of walking etc you might find yourself with sore thighs afterwards, but really it’s about as easy to use as you can ask for. It’s easier to manage than crutches and requires less coordination to use than the crutches too.

The iWalk peg leg took a bit more getting used to. I do have a decent sense of balance to start with, which helps. I’m also in decent shape and used to walking/lifting/etc despite being overweight, all of which helps when using the iWalk. It did require assembly, and the assembly instructions are entirely on video, which I H.A.T.E, but the assembly is straightforward and easy enough. Its adjustable to fit a variety of heights, and I bought the slippery weather treads to put on mine since this is upstate NY and winter isn’t over regardless of what mother nature keeps trying to pull, having said that, I’m not sure I needed them, the tread it comes with are decent. My first few days using it I used one crutch (on the same side as the peg leg) to assist with balance, and kept my sessions using it fairly short (5-10 minutes). Once I got used to it however its great. While it has a hand-hold on the thigh to help with maneuvering in weird spots or getting over bumps its otherwise completely hands free use. I can go up and down stairs wearing it, though that also takes some getting used to, and you DO need to hold onto the handrail for that. The dogs and cat are FAR less bothered by it than they are by the scooter. The biggest downside is that you have to strap it on, which takes a minute, and then unstrap it to get it out of it, its not just grab and go like crutches or the scooter. Its also easier to forget my foot is sticking out behind me when I’m using it than it is with the scooter. It works better in tight spaces than the scooter, though I still have to be careful in the tight bathrooms here as I tend to bang my foot around.

Thoughts on both: it’s not an either-or thing, they’re both pretty awesome, both have things that make them less than ideal. But I hope if someone else out there is trying to decide which to purchase this’ll help!

Disclaimer: my insurance paid for the knee scooter no questions asked, and we paid for the iWalk ourselves. I was not in any way asked to do a review much less paid for a review, but I have had a couple friends ask me about the differences, and since I was typing it out for them I decided to do a full write up.

Compression socks

A couple months ago the Physical Therapist I was seeing for foot/ankle problems informed me I needed to started wearing knee high compression socks at work, apparently part of the problems I was having was fluid buildup. She said that if budgetary constraints were an issue you can get cheap bulk packs on Amazon.

So I started with a cheap bulk pack. 6 pairs for $15. And, well, they helped with the fluid buildup, but were otherwise horrid to wear.

Poking around further, found a pack of 3 pairs for $20, and a another set where each pair was $15. Ordered a set of each. The pack of 3 was slightly more comfortable. The single pair more so.

I ordered a couple more pairs of the singles to tide me over, and went on a research binge on compression socks. There are compression socks out there that are $50/pair! Or MORE! Pass! But all reviews agreed, the more you were willing to spend on them the more likely they were to be comfortable.

Discovered that Bombas has compression socks. They’re not cheap, $25-$30 a pair, and they’re funky patterned.

Here’s the other thing, I normally wear plain white socks. I’m very OCD about making sure my socks match, not just in color, but in style, because if they don’t match they feel weird like I’m wearing miss-matched shoes, and it drives me nuts during the day. All my socks are white, except for a set that have colored toes, but at least the colored toes means I don’t get them mixed with my other white socks.

But if I’m going to be wearing compression socks they were going to be VERY visible when I’m wearing shorts at work. And I don’t really want to wear white knee highs with shorts at work where I inevitably get really dirty. And black would just make me hotter.

So I said hell with it and ordered a set of funky patterned Bombas socks.

Guys, they’re SO MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE than the cheaper socks. I actually feel like I’m wearing socks, not nylons (sometimes called knee high pantyhose if you prefer that term), which is what the cheap ones feel like, and which I hate.

Lesson learned. I ordered a bunch more on Black Friday weekend. The cheap ones will be donated to somewhere.

Weird bonus, matching the funky socks back up after laundry doesn’t bother me, maybe because they’re so easy to tell apart? Donno, but I’ll take it!

Pod 3 Pet Tracker, a review

So I’ve posted before about how my dogs have an iffy recall.  We also live in the middle of a large area of forest/farm land, so if the dogs did get loose without us right behind them they could disappear easily.  So a while back I started looking at various pet locator/tracker options.

A lot of the inexpensive ones just flat out wouldn’t work for us.  They’re designed to function over bluetooth (BLE) only.  They may work well in cities where there’s tons of folks and phones to bounce signals off of, but not so much here.

So I started looking at the ones that use cell signals.  Reviews were iffy, but one that kept coming back with positive reviews was Pod Tracker.  Concern: they (and all the rest) were running on 2G signals, which many areas are phasing out.  But it quickly developed that they were building a model that ran on both 2G and 3G, as well as wireless internet signals.  Not perfect, but much better than many of the options.  They were running it as a Kickstarter, but they’d run both of their previous models on Kickstarter too, so that wasn’t a huge issue.  We signed up, two units (with two batteries each) plus two “modules” with the choice of oversized batteries.

We got an email in the early spring last year (2017) asking if we’d like to join the Beta testers program, they were having some issues with the programming of the new units and were offering early arrival of the units to folks who were willing to put up with the problems and give feedback, by doing so they’d also give us an extra few months of cell service free.  We’re both fairly tech savvy and agreed that yah, we could do that.

It became pretty obvious pretty quickly that a large portion of the problem was that they’d gone to fancy.  A huge number of the folks who buy these trackers just want to know where their animal is at that point in time.  The activity tracker and adventure settings were cool, but not the real need of most folks.  But there were other issues too.

We were being told to expect THIS behavior, and then, a month or two later, when that behavior would stop, be told that “oh, it wasn’t supposed to do that”.

Folks who were running both Pod 2’s and Pod 3’s at the same time were reporting that their Pod 2 would be working fine in an area (2G signal only), while the Pod 3 (2G and 3G signal) wouldn’t be able to get signal at all.

Physically, several of us had the battery caps (that make them waterproof) pop off our batteries.  These batteries were replaced.

The modules, in our case the extra big batteries, kept getting pushed out further and further till they stopped answering when we asked when they were going to come out.

There has been an ongoing issue where folks using Android phones are unable to connect to the tech support chat in the app.  The app just crashing when you attempt to access it or while you’re accessing it.

And so on.

There were additional issues specific to us.  While we have great 4G signal here our 2/3G signals aren’t the greatest, in addition, with so few houses in close proximity wireless signals travel far further than expected.  This resulted in A LOT of frustration with false locations for us.

One of the “features” was the ability to set a “Home Wifi” where if the Pod3 could pick up that signal then it knew that the dog was at home.  However because of the above stated signal travel problem, and the fact that the Pod is apparently far more sensitive to WIFI signals than my cell phone, it was saying that the Pod3 was at home, when in reality I was standing with it in my hand over 400 meters down the road (a point well past where my cell phone stopped getting the same Wifi signal).  Attempting to turn down the signal power on our router didn’t make a difference.  And the Home Wifi over-rode every other location setting on the Pod, if the Pod saw the Home Wifi it just stopped otherwise trying to find the location.  So I turned off the “Home Wifi” feature.  And promptly got yelled at by tech support for “repeatedly turning off and on the Home Wifi” because the system was to fragile to handle it.  Note, the “repeated off and on” was one on and one off with at least two hours in between.  However without the Home Wifi set the battery life on the Pod3’s dropped considerably due to the constant struggle to get cell signal.  Instead of 2-3 days I was getting barely 1 day.  I eventually turned back on the Home Wifi feature, deciding that the fragile system be dammed, when the dogs took off I’d just turn off the feature then in order to find them.  Signal strength away from our home improves considerably, and since the point is to find the dogs when they’re away from home I figured that we could  make that work.

Folks who were assisting with the Beta were eventually given a free year of cell service, with renewal set 1yr after we’d all received our Pods.  But frustration arose when 2017 Black Friday sales hit.  The sale for the Pod 3, for new subscribers, was a “free lifetime subscription”.  Quite a few folks contacted Pod about how did those of us who’d been dealing with all these problems get a life time sub?  Responses  varied alot.  One person was told that we’d be receiving coupons to get it (as of this time not one person in the FB group has admitted to receiving said coupon), others weren’t responded to at all.  I was personally told that they were unable to give us the free lifetime sub due to physical restrictions on the accounts.  And so on.  Folks who had to receive a replacement Pod for various reasons DID get the free lifetime sub on the new Pods, but that seems to be the limit of it.

The first week of January 2018 the battery life of Apollo’s Pod3 suddenly took a nosedive.  Instead of getting 2-3 days of life it was getting barely 24hrs, and then barely 12hrs.  Tech support first tried to blame this on various things, but then finally admitted that several other pods were having the same problem.  Then Arty’s Pod3 started randomly doing the same.  As of the time I type this review (May 2018) this battery life problem has not been fixed.  It’s definitely not specific to the battery used, all of the batteries I have on hand, including the ones with damaged caps, do it (or not do it, the problem is random, Apollo’s pod hasn’t lasted more than 24hrs on a single battery since January, but Arty’s pod will randomly last two days).

Then over the last month I suddenly noticed that several of the batteries were cracking/breaking where they connected to the Pods.  A check with tech support, and then a closer look at the Pods themselves, showed that Apollo’s pod had somehow become damaged at the rim, putting stress on the battery connections.  They sent me a replacement Pod and batteries.

The replacement Pod arrived last Friday, and Sunday I took the time to try to set it up.  Note the “try”.  When we got the original two Pods they both setup with essentially no fuss or bother despite our poor 2/3G signal problems, nor have I had any issues getting them to connect to the Home Wifi, or getting a firmware update.  Not so this time around.

First the replacement Pod didn’t want to see the cell signal at all, then, after an hour of trying, I got it connect to the cell signal but it wouldn’t connect to the app.

Part of setting up the new Pod is setting up subscription information.  Imagine my surprise when “life time free subscription” was an option on the new replacement Pod.  Yet they “can’t do that” on the original ones…..

Several hours of frustrated trying later I got it to connect to the app, but then it needed a firmware update.

It was late Monday morning before I finally got it to do the firmware update.

Then it needed a new battery, and took several repeated tries (after the battery replacement) to get it to see the cell signal again.

Then it refused to connect to the Home Wifi.  Monday afternoon was spent with both Arty’s Pod (one of our original Pod3’s) and Apollo’s replacement Pod in hand as I argued with tech support and got increasingly frustrated.

Tech support repeatedly blamed the problem on our poor cell signal, yet everything I was trying to do with the new Pod I was also trying to do with Arty’s Pod, with them side by side in my hand.  And Arty’s Pod was connecting with zero problems, while Apollo’s replacement Pod repeatedly refused to connect.

While I was chatting with tech support via the app on my iPad (see above comment about how the app won’t allow Android phones to connect to tech support, yes, that’s still a problem almost a year later), I was also chatting with some folks in both the Official Pod FB group, and the unofficial Pod FB group.  Several folks were reporting sudden problems getting their Pods to connect to the local cell signal (indicated by a solid red light on the Pod), the ones who’d reported it to Pod tech support were told it was due to a problem with their local cell service provider, yet when the local cell service provider was contacted they had no knowledge of an outage.  In one case one person was using a Pod2 that was connecting just fine, while her Pod3 was refusing to connect.

I finally informed tech support that I wanted a refund on the modules that we still hadn’t received and hadn’t even been given a firm date of arrival on yet, and closed the chat.  I received a message an hour later that the refund had been processed (a whole $21, yay).

Repeated tries finally got the replacement Pod to connect as needed.

Monday evening Pod folks posted in the Official Pod FB group that they had become aware of an issue causing cell signal problems (showing as a solid red light on the Pod) for some Pods and they were looking into it.  (Imagine that, it wasn’t a problem with the local cell signal after all……..)

I put new batteries on both Pods Monday afternoon when Apollo’s Pod had indicated it needed a new battery.  Got up Tuesday (today) morning to both Pod’s having reported low battery at some point over night.  Essentially 12hrs of battery life.  But ok, I did spend a lot of time Monday afternoon refreshing and what not.

Replace the battery in Arty’s pod.  It connected to the system no problem.

Replace the battery in Apollo’s new replacement Pod.  Solid red light.  Half an hour of trying before it finally got a solid signal.  But there’s “nothing wrong with the new Pod and it’s clearly a problem with your cell signal coverage, and if you want us to send you yet another replacement pod you’ll have to pay to send the first replacement back to us first”.  Something tells me the battery life isn’t going to be any better this time around…….

Update: Tuesday evening tech support sent us a message that they’d noticed folks were getting “red light-no signal” when the pod was connecting correctly, and gee I wonder if its connected……I rolled my eyes.  Wednesday morning it took three reboots of the new Pod before it would connect.  Thursday morning it only two reboots!  Improvement!  But battery life is still horrid.  Today, Thursday, it gave me a low battery notification barely 6 hours after I put on the fresh battery.

Shoes for working retail (a review)

I’ve griped before about trying to find shoes that fit me, that are comfortable, that have ankle support, and that can hold up to not only the pounding of retail, but specifically the pounding of working retail at Home Depot.

Home Depot is hell on shoes.  Those ugly commercial tiles that most stores have down do actually make a difference in how long my shoes last.  Shoes that last for months and months at most places barely last 3 months at HD.  That straight up concrete is hell on shoes, feet, and joints.

Doing some research and talking with long term HD employees a couple things stood out.  1: I needed at least two pairs of shoes to swap between, as in every  other day swap.  And 2: it might be worth checking out quality hiking shoes, several folks recommended them.

So off I went to a couple different local sporting goods stores.  The next problem was that I wanted high tops without actually getting BOOTS, and I have wide feet (for my foot length) due to having spent my life on my feet.

I ended up with a pair of Ahnu Montara boots, and a high topped set of Keen shoes (I forget which style).  The Keen’s came in wide (so I bought them in size 7), the Ahnu’s didn’t, but I only had to go up 1/2 size to get a decent fit (size 7.5).  I figured that the width on the Keens would be the key factor, but I was wrong.  The Keen’s weren’t bad shoes.  But the Ahnu’s not only broke in faster (with zero hot spots or blisters despite a longer footbed), but remained more comfortable for far longer than the Keens did.  And when the Keens finally died they died all at once and were hell to wear.  The Ahnu’s I could have gotten away with for a bit longer if I’d had to.  I got a solid year’s worth of comfortable wear out of the Ahnu’s, and a year of wear out of the Keens, though I’m hesitant to call it a solid year’s worth of comfortable.

The local Gander Mountain was closing back end of spring/beginning of summer, so I swung through there to see what they had left.  A set of Ahnu Montara’s in a different color caught my eye, but they only had them in size 8.  I tried them on and walked in circles for several minutes in them before deciding to buy them anyway.  A set of Red Wing Irish Setter boots caught my eye, and they had them in 7.5, and they fit and weren’t uncomfortable at first try, so I grabbed them too.

That was May, if I recall right.  Once again the Ahnu’s required essentially no break in period, the extra half size length of the foodbed has caused me no problems.  The Red Wings did, and have remained far less comfortable than the Ahnu’s all the way across the board.  The addition of cheap gel soles under my prescription insoles helped some, but not enough.

For various reasons I’ve basically not worn either pair for the last month except for a few hours here and there.  Black Friday I wore the Ahnu’s for an 8hr shift.  Saturday I wore the Red Wings for an 8hr shift.  Friday, my feet hurt a bit, but thats normal enough after that sort of day.  Saturday I came home with serious hotspots and not quite blisters, and seriously sore feet and ankles and knees.

Today I’m shopping for Ahnu Montara boots.  As I’d hoped several places (including the official website)  have them on very nice sale.  I intend to buy at least two pairs.  And hope and pray that the folks who own the brand never ever change them!  The Red Wings are being relegated to wear around the house work boots.

The Ahnu Montara’s are very lightweight in comparison to every other hiking shoe and boot I tried.  The soles held up very well to the abuse that is HD, though some hiking reviews say they don’t always for things like rock climbing.  I can’t speak for the original insoles as I replace them with my prescription ones.  The soles are soft, but not thin.  They do allow you to feel everything you step on, which is a bit weird till you get used to it.  On the other hand I have yet to slip on wet concrete in them, even in the year old ones!

I was not in any way paid for this review, all the shoes mentioned were bought with my own money.

Kyocera Brigadier

So, I got this phone almost a year ago, so this is the not quite year in review.

I still really like it.

The biggest issue so far has been the port covers.  In order to make it properly water and crud proof it has these little hard plastic covers that cover all of the ports (charging/USB port, headphone jack), and these covers are attached to the phone by little plastic hinges.  I’ve managed to tear the USB port cover off its hinge.  And my Husband has come close to tearing off the headphone jack cover on his.  Now, this doesn’t mean that the cover doesn’t go back on, cause it does, infact it snaps back into place no problem.  But it does mean that every time I have to charge (or sync) my phone I have to remove this little tiny piece of plastic, that’s smaller than the fingernail on my thumb, and NOT LOSE IT.  I have so far managed, but I can see that being an issue in the future.

And I have to add that Android Lollipop and this phone….well, they work together, but not well.  Mind, I’m positive the problem is Lollipop and not the phone, as I know several other Android users, with different phones, who had issues with Lollipop, but still.

Having said all of the above, this phone is awesome.  I’ve dropped it onto solid concrete, from several feet in height, on multiple occasions, and the phone is still just fine.  No scratches, or dings.  Heck, the screen didn’t even flicker!  Not sure I’d want to try letting a car run it over, but it has held up to every bit of abuse so far with not even a blink.

In addition, the gripes I keep seeing in reviews about the camera…..


That is one of the first pictures I ever took with this phone.  Those are ice crystals on the front porch railing.  No photoshop.  I didn’t even have to fiddle with the camera settings.  This is not a bad camera.  Not even a little!

I will say, the phone’s ability to tell when it needs to turn on the flash to take a picture is more iffy than I’d like, but that’s not exactly the end of the world either.

Overall I’d highly recommend this phone!

Long Pie Pumpkin, thoughts and review

According to the internets, the Long Pie Pumpkin was brought to the USA sometime in the 1800’s, where it was dubbed the Nantucket Pumpkin.  Sometime after it was dubbed the Long Island Pie Pumpkin, which was in turn shortened to Long Pie Pumpkin.  Apparently they were quite popular in Maine for a while.  Anyone with grandparents from the area who gardened who might be able to confirm that?  I’m curious.  Supposedly lore states that they were “stacked up like firewood” for storage.  I can believe that.  I paraphrase, there are several pages out there with the history written out if you hit google and do a search for the Long Pie Pumpkin.

Like many heirloom varieties they faded in popularity as the general public was taught to expect pumpkins to be round and “normal” looking.  However they have qualities that make them potentially ideal for growing in colder climates and shorter seasons, on top of being a tasty pie pumpkin with almost no “stringy-ness”, as well as storing well.

They’re listed as having an approx 95-105 day growth period.  Actual reality is that the time spent on the vine can be quite a bit shorter than that implies.  These pumpkins can be picked as soon as the “ground spot” turns orange (from yellow).   Pick that green fruit, store in a cool place for long term storage, or in a warmer place for faster ripening, and they’ll continue to ripen just fine off the vine.

And my own experience backs that up.  I planted out my seedlings in Mid-May.  Admittedly we were having an abnormally warm spring and summer, but I could have picked the first “ripe enough” pumpkins before the end of July.  Two months to produce fruit that could be picked and stored for future use.  Now I left mine on the vine to ripen since we were having a decent summer.  I pulled 6 little (orange) pumpkins off the vines that died early, but left the 4 big ones to finish up.  Picked them back at the end of August/beginning of Sept.  Here’s a photo of 3 of them:


The biggest of those three was 13.5 inches long and weighed in at 5.5 pounds.  Not a bad size for a pie pumpkin!

The little pumpkins had a fairly soft skin and were easy to cut up for cooking and pureeing.

The big ones?  OMG.  I ended up resorting to a clever and soft headed 3lb mallet to get through the rind.  THAT worked quite well.  Every other knife I tried?  Barely scored the skin, no matter how sharp it was.  So if you grow these, be warned, vine ripened fruit have one hell of a rind!

That biggest pumpkin got processed first, so I kept track.  I removed 1.5lbs of seeds/guts and stem ends before putting them into the oven to bake.  When I pulled it back out of the oven I had 2 3/4lbs of puree.  Not a bad harvest!  However that’s where I hit my next problem.

I’ve not processed a lot of whole pumpkins, but I’ve done a few.  Cut them in half, gut them, place them face down on a baking sheet with a pan of water in the bottom of the oven, and bake at 400degrees till you can pierce the skin with a fork.  Right?

That hard rind struck again.  Instead of softening, like every other pumpkin I’ve done, it hardened even further while the flesh softened and fell off.  I over baked that first pumpkin by at least 20 minutes because I didn’t realize what was happening.  Not a big deal, the puree tastes fine, but consider this your heads up!  Now, I haven’t processed the other larger pumpkins, so I can’t swear that it wasn’t something I did wrong, but still….

Very tasty flesh.  Not sure how to compare it to other pie pumpkins as I don’t have a ton of experience with others, but definitely tasty!  I will absolutely grow them again, and will highly recommend them to other folks looking for a pumpkin to grow in a cold/short season summer!

Mumble gripe grumble

So, it turns out that the camera only records if a computer has the IE browser window open to the camera’s IP address…..

This makes no sense.  All that is part of the firmware, the access is JUST to modify the settings, nothing is loaded onto the computer, but if that window isn’t open the camera doesn’t record.  How annoying is that??

So, if I have to leave a computer running something for the camera then I’m going to look at the some of the 3rd party software’s that are supposed to work (and add extra options) to the camera.  I’ve downloaded 4 different trial versions to try, and I’ll update with my final choice once I make that decision.


Edit: I never did update this.  We settled on the Blue Iris software.  Though the most expensive of the ones I tried it was also by far the most versatile of the bunch.  Not the easiest to use, it took some fiddling, but once I figured it out I’ve been quite happy with it since!

Foscam Camera review–Update

Original post here..

As stated in my update of my original post I called Foscam and received instructions on how to send it in for repair or replacement.  I received the new replacement camera on Monday 12/23/13, and set it up immedietly.


This one definetly fuctions better.  Its not rebooting or anything of the like.  And with fairly minor tweaking of the settings we managed to capture a video of exactly what we wanted to capture:



you don’t see her till towards the end.  Based on the the tracks in the driveway she came in very close to the right hand fence, and must of triggered the camera as she did so, but since it takes a good second or two to “wake up” it missed her entrance, only showing her when she came back across.  I’ll take it.  Now if I can tweak the settings so that we’re not ALSO getting video triggered by the majority of the cars going by……

(For those of you saying “wtf?  Its a dog??”, yes it is, and she belongs to the folks who’s house is just visible across the street.  They swear she’s trained to stay in their yard…..)

I will however say, I never did get a response to the email I sent them via the tech support contact page on their website.  And I ALSO, since sending them that email, have received a sales email from them EVERY SINGLE DAY except for Christmas.  So although I’m reasonably happy with their product, and their support via PHONE was great, their basic customer service sucks.

Initial Review: Foscam FI8910W Wireless Camera

So, my mom sent me an Amazon gift card for my birthday.  Love those things, and she knows it.  So, I’ve been wanting a wireless “webcam” for a while.  Partially to watch the bird feeders when I couldn’t be there, and partially to catch the neighbor’s dog(s) in the act (on my property) so I can hand more proof to Animal Control.  I’d poked around and settled on the Foscam FI8910W camera as an inexpensive model that would likely do what I wanted.

It arrived Wednesday, and I spent several hours setting it up.  It shouldn’t have taken that long.  The biggest issue is that although the packaging says it’ll connect via Wireless B/G/N and my router supports all of those AND (supposedly) features a “mixed” setting so as to support all of those at once, the camera refused to connect.  None of my other wireless devices had that problem, but the camera did.  I had to set it to one of the options in order to get the camera to connect.  But it took me a while to figure out why the router could see the camera but the camera said it wasn’t connecting.

It also kept rebooting itself, which was annoying as heck.  But updating the firmware seemed to fix that.  

I set it up at first without any recording, just to see how it would work to view from.  Quickly decided that with the bird feeders placed where they were it wasn’t going to work to watch the birds, but it would work fine to keep an eye out for the neighbor’s dog.  I debated moving the bird feeders.

Thursday it started rebooting itself constantly again.  A factory reset fixed that problem this time.  I was starting to get a bit peeved.

Sunday morning, it had worked fine Friday and Saturday after the reset, so I decided to go ahead and set up the motion detection and recording options.  Discovered that it only detected motion in the center of its viewing window.  Thats a bit annoying, but its hardly an expensive camera, so I guess I get what I pay for.  Adjusted the viewing angle to cover the driveway better so as to catch what we wanted to catch.  Debated moving the bird feeders.

Sunday afternoon it started rebooting itself constantly.

I unplugged it and sent an email off to Foscam’s tech support.  As of now (Tuesday morning) they’ve not responded, but I’m willing to give them a little time at least to catch up from the holiday weekend.  If I haven’t heard from them by tomorrow though I’ll just call them (since I’ll have time tomorrow during business hours).  

Current review: less than impressed.  At least some of the problem IS that I was looking for an in-expensive camera, if I was willing to drop more cash on the problem I’m sure some of the issues wouldn’t be issues.  On the other hand the whole thing has turned into an exercise in frustration.  We’ll see what tech support says……

(disclaimer, I bought the above mentioned camera with my own money/gift certificate, I was not asked to do a review and am receiving nothing for doing so.  The above link to Amazon IS via my Amazon Associates link, and if you buy something via that link I’ll earn a few cents.)


UPDATE 12/5/13 I called tech support yesterday, and after explaining the problem, and what I’d done to fix it, was informed it definetly has a mechanical issue and they will replace it.  I received the RMA info along with return instructions in my email today.  So hopefully we’re good to go!  I will however say that it is QUITE frustrating to give a company my email as part of a tech support request, and to then get a sales email for every single day since, and still not get a response to the tech support email.

Additional update HERE.

Soap and stuff

So lets see, I’ve used the samples of the Peppermint Foot Butter, and the Yuzu Body Butter, the Vanilla Solid Lotion, and opened the bar Beer soap. 

Now I’ve never used body butters before, usually stick with lotion, so I was surprised with how greasy they were at first, but it soaked in very quickly, and a little research tells me thats normal for body butters.  LOVED the pepermint one, but the Yuzu was a bit to citrisy for my taste.  It would be fine if you’d don’t mind citrus, but it was a bit much for me, though the scent faded quickly enough that it wasn’t the end of the world.  I will be getting more peppermint though next time I order, my feet are going to love me next winter!

The vanilla solid lotion has a bit of bite to its scent, not bad, just a bit startling at first, but it goes on nicely (for solid lotions, you warm them up for a few seconds in your hands, then rub on the area you want covered).  The puppy thought so too as he was determinedly licking it off my elbows as I was trying to rub it in.  It doesn’t leave much of a residue on the skin afterwards which was nice (I didn’t feel the need to wash my hands afterwards before I touched anything like I do with some lotions).

The beer soap is, as advertised, free of scent.  Which doesn’t mean it doesn’t smell, just that it smells like fresh clean soap (and not those fake “clean fresh” scents that you get in your laundry detergent).  Its not drying out my skin, but is doing a good job and keeping me clean.  Always nice.

As already stated I tried the Vanilla Lip Balm pretty much as soon as I opened the box, and I quite enjoy it, I think the only change I’m going to suggest to her is to add some mild SPF protection to the mix, as I prefer my lip balms contain such after having had sunburned lips as a kid (so not cool, let me tell you!).

The coffee soap, as I mentioned before, isn’t available on her website.  Its one of her original recipes, and easily the best thing I’ve ever run across for removing odor and residue off skin without excessive drying (though the beer soap is doing a good job at that too, so we’ll see).  Its not scented, and is the chocolate brown of lightly creamed coffee.  When I asked if I could get some for this order (since its not on the website) she admitted that she had lots around the house, as her family agrees with me, and she’s not allowed to run out.  She’s trying to reformulate it with a different oil so she can sell it on the website, but the lard appears to be a significant part of what makes this soap work so well and so hasn’t had any luck.

The Pink Sage soap sample has been placed in the 2nd bathroom by the litter boxes.  Its doing a very good job of neutralizing their odor, and the litter box odor is doing a very good job of neutralizing the very strong scent of the soap.  My intention is to let it air out for a few weeks and then see if I can tolerate it enough to give a review on it, as it is its just to strong for me to spend significant time around (but then I’m sensitive to scents, your mileage may vary).

If you decide to place an order and want to try a bar of the coffee soap don’t be afraid to ask her, just tell her Ruth sent you though or she’ll be going nuts trying to figure out how you found out about it!