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Brinly 42inch Lawn Sweeper Review

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Man Toys | Posted on 28-09-2006

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Last year after purchasing our new home I spent 3 days during Thanksgiving raking and blowing leaves. I vowed then and there that I wouldn’t be doing again. Several weeks ago I achieved man hood by purchasing a John Deere Lawn Tractor. As a result, I started investigating lawn sweepers to assist me with removing leaves, pine straw (the worst thing mother nature ever created), sweet gum balls, pine combs along with twigs and small limbs out of my yard. I settled on the Brinly 42inch Lawn Sweeper. Here are the specs:

  • Series No. STS-42 LX Deluxe
  • Description Tow-behind Sweeper
  • Working Width 42″ Working width
  • Hamper Capacity 15 Cu. Ft. Capacity
  • Brushes (6) 11″ Diameter
  • Wheels & Tires 12″ x 3″ Bar tread
  • Bearings Shielded Roller
  • Reverse Freewheels in reverse
  • Storage Stores in a compact upright position
  • Warranty 2 Year limited

Putting it together – Score F

It takes about an hour to put the Brinly together, although it may take some 2-3 hours because of the extremely poor manual. You need 2 1/2 wrenches and 2 9/16 inch wrenches. During this stage I was upset to not find any documentation that was clearly labeled as “English”. Brinly is USA made but they seem to have put more effort into documenting things for other languages than English. WTF!? If it wasn’t for my extreme IQ and manliness, I would probably still be putting the dang thing together. Basically you just have to follow the pictures, no words of wisdom will be showered upon you in the manual for putting it together. Brinly can definitely do a better job in this area. Also, there are errors in the manual. Some items are labeled wrong in some pictures and even the pictures they drew aren’t clear. For the person who just spent $239 MSRP on their product, Brinly, you get a big fat “F“.

First Trial Run

After getting the Brinly together I hooked it up behind the John Deere. I started off really slow at first to see how things worked and even varied the speeds. My John Deere runs (according to the manual) about 5.5 miles per hour at full throttle (or wide open as they say in the South). The Brinly can by no means keep up at that speed because the brushes are turning so fast that it slings the leaves and pine combs over the top of the catcher. Speaking the catcher. It is pretty flimsy and I am not sure how long it will last. I had rather have seen them provide a canvas catcher instead of the thin plastic one they provided. Honestly though, leaves don’t weigh much so I understand a little as to why they chose to skimp on the catcher. But since you skimped out on the catcher, you could have put more time in the manual.

But Does it Work? – Score A

The sweet spot to pull the Brinly seems to be about 2-3 miles per hours, probably closer to 2.5 miles per hour. Anything any faster and your leaves will be thrown out of the catcher. After pulling the Brinly around the yard for 45 minutes my yard was starting to look green again. The Brinly does an excellent job and getting up and removing everything I wanted. As a matter of fact, the picture you see to the left is exactly my results. I was really surprised at how well it removed pine straw from the yard as well as twigs.

Broke After 45 Minutes – Score F

After about 45 minutes of going over the yard I was very pleased with the results. But then I turned around and noticed the adjust lever laying over the top of the unit. Aparently the screw worked loose that holds the spring in place on the adjuster. I looked around the yard, couldn’t find it (maybe it got swept up?). So after 45 minutes, I don’t have an easy way to adjust my unit. The way the spring mechanism works isn’t the best design I’ve seen. There is a bolt, washer, spring, screw. Since you can’t tighten the screw all the way (because it then compresses the spring to much and you can adjust the unit), I suspect this is going to be one of those things I will have to do constantly over and over and over. Either that, or do something else to make the screw stay. I had a few screws and washer left over after putting it together so I managed to get the adjuster back in place so I could continue on, but I had to tighten it all the way down and I couldn’t adjust it when going to dump. I called customer service to order another spring and stayed on hold for 30 minutes, only finally to have someone come on to tell me to leave a voicemail. So far it has been 2.5 hours later and no return phone call. Since Indiana is in the EST time zone and I am in Central, my guess is they’ve left for the day.

Conclusion – Score C

The manual is horrible and my unit broke after 45 minutes of use and the quality of the catcher is less than par. With that said though the unit does do what it claims to do and does it very well in my opinion. I know that if I hand raked my yard with a rake I would still be raking. Not on that but the Brinly is going to do a MUCH better job of getting leaves up along with everything else. The easy dumping mechanism of the Brinly is nice although don’t forget to put the rope back into the catcher, otherwise it will get caught up in the brushes (cough, cough, so I was told).”

Ruger P345 .45 ACP Pistol

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Man Toys | Posted on 02-09-2006

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Ruger P345 PistolAfter paying my Jeep off last week I had some extra cash to get something I have been wanting to get for a long time and that is a self defense pistol. After looking, thinking, researching, reading, talking to friends and getting everyone’s input under the sun, I finally decided on the Ruger .45. While no one person recommended this particular model, the reviews on it were great and it had a lot of safety features I wanted. I picked the gun up at a local store in Hattiesburg called Big Buck Sports. I had visited the store about 5 times before making a purchase and each time I went into the store, I dealt with the same kind gentleman at the store. His patience with me, my questions and his immense knowledge is what kept me coming back. Before purchasing the Ruger I probably looked at over 100 different types of pistols at various merchants and gun shows. I looked at Glocks, Sig Sauer, CZ, S&W, FNH and more. Each one I looked at was either priced really high, didn’t offer single and double action, didn’t have the safety features I wanted or were really big and bulky. I was looking at either .40 or .45 caliber and depending on the gun I found is what I would wind up with. One thing that everyone told me that I talked to was either to purchase a .40 or a .45. The .40 has more velocity and is considered to offer a great combination of knock down power, velocity and less recoil. However, the .45 offers more knock down and stopping power. After arriving at Big Bucks yesterday evening I walked up to the counter and started searching the counter for new guns that may have come in. I didn’t notice the Ruger at first but it wasn’t long until the sales associate pointed out they had just gotten it in the day earlier. Upon picking up the P345, it immediately felt as if I was picking up a pistol I had owned for several years. The grips just felt natural and were fitted to fit my larger hands. The size of the P345 is even great for a conceal and carry weapon as well. It isn’t as big as other .45’s (which was one reason I hadn’t initially settled on purchasing a .45). After investigating the pistol things really started to shine about the P345. For starters there are four safety features on the gun. More than any other .40 or .45 I had looked at. Here they are:

  1. Ambidextrous safety – The safety is located on both the left and right side of the gun. I’m right handed so having it on both sides doesn’t really matter to me, however, the location of it is natural and easily excessible with the thumb. It feels very easy to pull out of a holster and flip it off.
  2. Unobtrusive safety lock – On the right side of the gun, when you put the safety on there is a whole whereby you can take the lock provided by Ruger in the case and lock the safety on the gun. There is no way to fire the gun at all once it is locked.
  3. Chamber loaded indicator – On the top of the barrel there is a loaded indicator that rises once a bullet is in the chamber. This is a great safety feature which provides a quick and easy way to know if the gun is loaded. And not all guns have this type of indicator but you see it a lot on Rugers and I like it a lot.
  4. Magazine disconnect safety – This feature seems to be controversial among different gun owners but one that is admired by those in law enforcement. If the magazine is dropped out of the gun, the gun will not fire at all, even if a round is in the chamber. The gun functions as normal but just doesn’t fire. For those in law enforcement this is a welcomed feature. If the officer is about to loose control of his gun, he can eject the magazine and render the gun useless.

Safety Lock

As you can see, Ruger has put a lot of safety features into this gun. The size, safety features, and the price of $419.00 (less than a truck payment) is what put me over the top to purchase this model. Most everyone that has a self defense gun agrees that an unloaded gun is a useless gun. Being able to keep the gun loaded while still maintaining safety is important to me and the Ruger makes that possible. So far I’ve only put one round through it but the trigger pull was smooth and not heavy. The recoil was very manageable as well. All in all I’m very pleased with the quality, price, and saftey features of the gun and would recommend it to anyone that is looking for a self defense pistol.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Man Toys | Posted on 28-08-2006

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John Deere 155CThey say you never officially arrive at man hood until you have purchased your first John Deere Lawn Tractor. The day I arrived at man hood officially was August 27th, 2006. I am happy to report I am the proud owner of a John Deere 155C 48inch 25HP Hydrostatic Lawn Tractor. I almost didn’t achieve man hood though as I was going to opt for the Cub Cadet which was considerably cheaper than the John Deere. And honestly comparing feature to feature I probably would have bought the Cub Cadet if Home Depot hadn’t gotten all crazy on me and sold me the John Deere I secretly really wanted for the same price as the Cadet.

When I was growing up my father purchased a Cub Cadet back when they were owned by International. That mower was the toughest longest lasting thing we ever had. Not to get too red neck on you but back in the day we didn’t have four wheelers (they weren’t even made yet). So we had to make our own. On the farm we used the lawn tractor for everything! Yes, including taking the mower deck off the mower and mudding around in the fields. Incredible fun that kids today will never know about. But, I digress.

Some of you know that I’ve been talking about the Cub for awhile. However, it is August. And August means places like Home Depot and Lowes are running specials on lawn mowers to get ready for winter items. Thanks to Home Depot cutting prices I was able to achieve man hood finally. Now I can start my collection of John Deere T-shirts and caps to wear when I cut the yard. A man has to look good on his tractor you know? In Hattiesburg, Ms where we live we mow until November (not kidding). So although it is late in the summer, I will still get several good months of mowing in with it.

I also purchased the John Deere 10 cubic feet trailer to pull behind lawn tractor. Now that I have a lawn tractor and a wagon to pull behind it I can officially start to clean up my wooded area around the house. Although my yard is in good shape, Katrina’s wrath is still evident in the wooded area surrounding the house. My new tasks now include: cutting down about 25 large trees, hauling those trees to the road, clearing under brush, pile after pile of pine straw, hauling tons of broken limbs and other debree to the road. Needless to say I have a lot of work ahead of me which I plan on working on throughout the fall when it gets cooler.

The title of this post is “Nothing Runs Like a Deere” so let me mention the first yard cutting experience with it. Since my yard hadn’t been mowed in almost a month the first test was going to a be a tough one. One of the nice features about the 155C is it came with a mulcher attachment. I pretty much always mulch when I mow. Not only does it provide naturual fertilizer back to the yard and put the seeds back into the yard, it also leaves a nicer looking cut. Especially if you have leaves in the yard. After getting the mower cranked due to the battery not being charged I drove it around in the yard to get a feel for the transmission, controls, etc. I mentioned earlier that I almost bought the Cub Cadet. One of the things I didn’t like at all about the Cub was the pedal height on the hydrostatic transmission. It was so tall and you had to pick your foot up off the deck to operate it. The Deere is more natural and let’s you just keep your foot rested on the deck. Going from forward to reverse is quick and easy. Roll the foot forward to go front, press on the heel to backwards. Very natural. The 155C is a fairly large tractor. I’m 6’2″ and I fit comfortably on the tractor. After mowing for 1.6 hours I never felt uncomfortable or anything. The seat even has adjustable lumbar support. After mowing for about 30 minutes I started to really get the feel for the controls and the placement of the tires to get the widest cut. Most mowers I’ve mowed with were 36inch cuts. This 48inch cut has a feature called “Edge” which means the blades pretty much cut all the way to the edge of the deck. Having used previous lawn tractors purchased by my father growing up, one of the really nice features of the 155C is the engagement of the PTO. It is an electric engagement which means you just pull up a button on the dash and the PTO is engaged. This means that even my wife could engage the PTO with little effort. On previous tractors I drove you had a large handle you had to pull or push out to engage the PTO and it could be really tough. Overall I’m extremely pleased with the purchase and hope it rains the next several days so I get to mow again. ūüôā

Tech Ed Giveaways Pour In

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Man Toys, Mobile Devices | Posted on 21-06-2006

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Last week was Tech Ed week.¬† Sorry I didn’t blog¬†any entries on it.¬† I¬†was still recovering from my web¬†host loosing 2 months of my data.¬† It is hard to recover from a loss like that.¬† Not to mention¬† I spent ALL of my energy walking 11¬†miles a day¬†riding the bus back and forth from the conference.¬† Everything you’ve read about the bus and traffic situation in regards to this year’s Tech Ed is absolutely true.¬† Enough of that though, let’s talk about the goods!

Now that Tech Ed is over, the raffles and drawings are being done by the vendors.¬† Everyone that went to Tech Ed and registered at every single vendor’s booth like I did should be checking their spam filters daily during this time just in case something gets caught.¬† That would be¬†terrible to actually win and not know about it.¬†¬†

Last night I learned that I was the Tuesday winner of the “Cingular Mobility Pack”.¬† This is a GREAT win because it includes all of the following hotness:

  1. Cingular 8125 Pocket PC Phone (HTC Wizard, I-Mate K-Jam, etc) ($499.00)
  2. Cingular 2125 Mobile 5 Smartphone  ($299)
  3. Sierra Wirelss Aircard 860 PC Modem ($199)

Is this complete hotness or what!!!!!? Depending on how you rate the price of the 8125 phone, this is a $1000 or $1200 retail value.¬†¬† For those “not in the know” let me explain the 8125 phone real quick.¬† First and foremost it is a Pocket PC with a sliding keyboard.¬† Allthough it is branded as the 8125 from Cingular it is in fact known as the HTC Wizard since HTC is the manufacturer.¬† It is also known as the I-Mate K-Jam, the QTec 9100 and so on.¬†¬† The phone has WIFI, Bluetooth, full keyboard etc.¬† It is a beast of a phone and a great form factor.

The same phone in¬†an I-Mate¬†K-Jam¬†unlocked version was being sold at a discounted price at Tech Ed for $630 so it isn’t a cheap device by any strech of the imagination.¬† When I went to the Cingular web site to grab the links I noticed they are running a special on the 8125 phone right now for $189.99.¬† But that is one of those sign up new plan deals, not if you just walk in and buy it.

The funny thing¬†is I picked up an 8125 while at Tech Ed and as of Monday I’ve been enjoying Direct Push email on it after applying the new update.¬†¬†I’ll be doing a post about the phone later to give you some more insight.

Quick FYI:¬† For my personal taste I liked the K-Jam phone better because of the keyboard.¬† But $630.. are you kidding me?¬† I was talking to¬†Steve Riley about his K-Jam phone and his take on it was to get the QTec version of the “HTC Wizard”¬†phone because the K-Jam comes with software that slows it down.¬† Anyway, now I have 2 8125’s and a 2125.¬† I’ll probably give the 2125 to my wife if she wants it.¬† Of course, one of the 8125’s is going on¬†Ebay.¬†

Josh Holmes won an I-Mate K-Jam at one of the parties on Tuesday night and he proudly rubbed it in our face all week. So for Josh, back at you now buddy!!!!!!!!!! Smile

 


Update 6/24/2006 8:56 AM
It turns out the wife doesn’t want the 2125 phone.¬† She wants to keep her Motorola phone that she has been using for almost 2 years now. Her unwillingness to change is my personal gain!¬†So as it stands I think what I’m going to do is keep both the 8125 and the 2125 and simply swap them out when I need to.¬† For example if I go mountain biking, fishing, running, saving the whales, solving world peace and hunger or whatever I’ll just take the sim card out (another reason to have a GSM phone thank you very much Verizon) and put it into the smaller 2125.¬†

My OEM 2GB MiniSD with SD Converter came in that I picked up from Digital Media off of Amazon for the low price of $40.  Not only is the price outsanding, but having the ability to convert the mini to a standard SD card is awesome. 

Glad I dropped Tivo for Media Center

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Computer Hardware, Internet, Man Toys, PC Gaming, PC Software | Posted on 09-03-2006

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It was December 2001 when my wife bought me a Tivo for Christmas (see tivo review). At the time I loved it. It was the best thing since electricity. I decided to not purchase the lifeline subscription because I knew something better was going to come out with more hard drive space, ethernet etc. As it turns out I was right. Back then I think it was soemthing like $9.95 per month. Not too bad really. I remember walking around the office after returning from Christmas break selling Tivo to everyone. One of my co-workers at the time, Mike Kimsal listened to how things worked and in true Mike fashion researched it to death and when he decided he wanted one, like a true geek he wanted it RIGHT THEN! It’s funny because he called me on Super Bowl Sunday during the game wondering where he could get a Tivo in Ann Arbor. Luckily I had Tivo so I could pause the game otherwise he would have been in big trouble. I kept the Tivo around and kept selling them to anyone that asked and that would listen. By now they were becoming main stream. Sorta like Google where you hear people say “google for it” you started hearing people say I “Tivoed” so and so show last night. Probably a year or so after we owned the Tivo they released a newer version which could get its listings via wireless download. We upgraded ours and continued to use Tivo. By this time the price had gone up to $12.95 a month though. Where am I going with this posting you ask? Well, earlier this week Tivo announced new pricing plans. They’ve gotten rid of the lifeline subscription and instead charge you $19.95 a month or $224 prepaid if you want to buy a year in advance. Thanks but no thanks Tivo! shuttle xpcI haven’t posted about it to the blog but I took my Shuttle PC I purchased back in 2003 and converted it to run Windows Media Center several months ago, Novemeber 2005 to be exact. The only thing I had to do to convert it to media center was purchase a Haupaugge MCE 500 tuner. It has two tuners on it which allow you to record two shows at once or watch one and record one. As a side note about MCE you could even add two MCE 500 cards and record 4 shows at once, how cool is that? So for about a $100.00 I took an existing PC and converted it to Media Center and don’t have to pay Tivo a DIME every month. You can do your own research about media center but its a very cool platform and there are tons of hacks and even a complete API to develop custom plugins for it. After several months MCE is still running and recording shows all for the low low price of $0.00 per month. Besides the fact you have a computer and can do WAY more with it than the Tivo I call it a win. Wake up Tivo, you are approaching having to be put into the budget with your pricing and there are cheaper ways to get the same thing.