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OmarKnows - Product Reviews

Random musings on technology and gadgets

Last Build Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2018 04:05:00 +0000


Parachute Sateen LinensParachute Sateen Linens

Sun, 04 Mar 2018 18:40:11 +0000

Each of you spends probably a third of each day in bed. As you can guess, I spend a fair amount of time researching (and now enjoying) fine sheets. You don't have to spend a fortune on sheets (but you can) and for a long time now (15 years I guess) I have enjoyed what I consider a good investment in sleeping. I replace my sheets about every 5 years. I have two sets and we alternate between them each week. I have settled on Sateen sheets made of Egyptian cotton. If you are a linen nerd you might care to understand the differences between Sateen and Percale (the two most common types of weaves) and if that's the case read this article on the Parachute blog. I'll make it simple. Sateen appears a bit shiny at first and gets softer and more "dull" or normal looking over time.

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Sun, 11 Feb 2018 18:48:16 +0000

It's a momentous occasion when Apple launches a new product. On friday night I swung by the Apple Store Bellevue to get my white HomePod.  As an owner of 10 Sonos devices and 5 Alexas I was excited to finally get my hands on the HomePod.

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Leica DISTO E7100i Laser Measuring TapeLeica DISTO E7100i Laser Measuring Tape

Sun, 04 Feb 2018 19:25:29 +0000

I've always wanted a laser measuring tape for the house, but I didn't realize just how useful they could be. Recently I picked up the Leica DISTO E7100i

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Ceramic Cutters for PackagesCeramic Cutters for Packages

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 18:31:43 +0000

If you get a lot of packages, you know that this involves opening them up - usually with a handy, available sharp object. About a year ago I discovered these ceramic cutters on Amazon and love them.  I have them scattered around the house, garage, and in drawers. I prefer the auto-retractable ones so our kids don't get hurt. The blades stay sharp for a long time, and you can also order replacement ceramic blades. They are really great and I highly recommend having a few of these.

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Toybox 3D PrinterToybox 3D Printer

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 18:16:24 +0000

For Christmas my kids wanted a 3D Printer. A few months ago I decided I wanted a 3D printer for them - so as luck would have it my Toybox 3D Printer arrived. I backed this project on Indiegogo and the timing could not have been better. 3D Printing is a subject I know little about - except that from the people I know that have tried, it can be complex. I wanted easy. I wanted to print from their iPads to the printer and I got just that. The 3D Toybox is a joy. It costs $399 which I find very reasonable. High end 3D Printers will cost you $1,500 to $3,000 - but that's not the entry price I was looking for. Low end 3D printers can end up being more trouble than they are worth. The key for me was can the kids print on their own?

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Omar's Finds in 2018

Sun, 07 Jan 2018 18:41:46 +0000

I had bold ambitions last year to publish more regular / short updates on stuff I was researching - I called this Omar's Finds. It even had its own Newsletter that some of you subscribed to. In the end, I got busy, and well that January ambition fell away to reality.

Instead what I have been doing is posting stuff to Twitter under a separate Twitter account. This is pretty easy for me to do and allows for bite sized posts on stuff I am researching or like.

Going forward I will stop publishing separate "Finds" here on the site and on the newsletter.

You can follow my twitter account to keep getting updates.


Sun, 24 Dec 2017 19:38:30 +0000

This is the last post of the year for OmarKnows and I thought I would end the year with something you should all consider for 2018 if you have not done so already and that is securing all your accounts with strong passwords - and also organizing all the important information for your family (bank accounts, passport info, etc). A few years ago I did a comparison of password managers and chose 1Password. Since then the 1Password team has been busy adding new features. The most significant is their own cloud and Family Plans which makes it easy to setup and use but also share among family members. I have been a happy subscriber of 1Password for Families. I use it on Windows, Mac, iOS and so does Lora. Eventually the kids will as well.

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Omar's Holiday Picks 2017Omar's Holiday Picks 2017

Sun, 03 Dec 2017 18:46:20 +0000

I'm a little late with my Holiday Picks this year, but I hope this helps some of you shop for your family (or yourself).

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iPhone XiPhone X

Sun, 05 Nov 2017 16:32:07 +0000

Let's just get this out of the way. This is the best iPhone Apple has ever made. My first iPhone was the 3G and so this is my 10th iPhone (3G, 4, 4s, 5, 5s, 6 Plus, 7 Plus, 8 Plus). When I think back to the big shifts a few come to mind 1. The stainless and glass iPhone 4 2. The "taller" iPhone 5 with an extra row of icons and the retina screen 3. The Plus sized iPhone 6 which thrust giant sized phones into our lives and faster Touch ID 4. The Plus sized iPhone 7 with two lenses and the buttonless Touch ID 5. The Plus sized iPhone 8 with true tone and true motion screen The reality is that for the iPhone 6, 7, 8 Apple has been perfecting something that is a bit over 2 years old. That's not a bad thing, just not life changing. The camera on the phone has gotten so good that in a few more years we'll probably never see point and shoot cameras again. Computational photography will re-define what we think of as "good" and "artistic" and maybe SLRs will get squeezed soon. But the iPhone X is nothing like the iPhones of the last 5 or so years. It's an entirely new beast.  I have been using an iPhone 8 Plus for a few weeks now and have already gotten used to some of the "new" features found in the X and of course iOS X. So the surprises of the iPhone X are even more profound for me. Yesterday was a magical day of discovery - ways this phone would make my daily interactions better and more delightful. There are months ahead of small things and big things that I will appreciate and come to define a new set of expectations. In the time Apple meanwhile has already made us use to seamless interoperability of watches, headphones, tablets and computers. iMessages are effortless to read and reply to, headphones work across phone and watch and so on. It's a powerful ecosystem that will command Apple nearly 85 billion dollars in revenue this quarter. That's right, Apple is on path to having a market cap of nearly 1 trillion dollars. So, let's get into the details on what I love about this phone.

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OneBlade COREOneBlade CORE

Sun, 29 Oct 2017 17:30:22 +0000

It's nearly impossible to step away from the Gillette Razor machine. Even Dollar Shave Club is now owned by Gillette. I've been shaving with a Gillette razor since I started shaving. In that time I have tried a number of mechanical razors but never loved how it made me feel. I don't find it much of a time savings at all and prefer to have the same shave every day. For the past few years I have been shaving with a Gillette Razor and custom handle and getting my blades from Amazon Prime, replacing them about once a week. A few weeks ago I saw an add for the OneBlade Core, which looked very intriguing. The quality and feel of this razor looked fantastic and I was also curious about shaving with a traditional single blade. I have to say. I am floored by this razor. For background OneBlade started out with an exceedingly expensive stainless steel handle called the Genesis. It costs $400. They then brought to market the Core which is plastic and steel and that brought the cost down to $50.

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Summer 2017 RoundupSummer 2017 Roundup

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 18:38:03 +0000

I took a pretty big break from writing this summer. We did a lot of fantastic travel but I also wanted to maximize the weekends which meant cutting back on my writing time. With fall here, I hope to get back into a regular rhythm, but to set expectations I also have a lot of fall and winter travel so I might end up on a twice a month or monthly schedule. To kick off the fall I thought I would recap all the interesting things I’ve acquired this summer.

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Equifax Data Breach - how to protect yourselfEquifax Data Breach - how to protect yourself

Sun, 17 Sep 2017 17:40:58 +0000

If you haven't heard by now, Equifax, one of the big 3 credit agencies suffered one of the biggest breaches of personal information in history. If you are affected (they claim 140 million people were) then you need to re-think a lot of things. You can check if you are affected by visiting this link. The credit agencies maintain some of your most important and confidential information about you such as social security numbers, addresses, former names, your mortgage, car loans, credit card(s), spending history, balances, divorces, marriages, siblings name and information, children names and information and so on. What is really awful however, is that much of this information is used to verify who are who you are. For example when applying for a loan, or doing a wire transfer your bank may ask you a series of questions. Those questions come from your credit report. Take PayPal and Square Cash - they will often use your credit report to authorize higher transfer limits from your accounts. This information was stolen and it's never going back. Equifax has literally exposed millions of people to future and ongoing fraud and identity theft that they cannot put the lid back on. This is a good reminder of how broken the system is. Too much information, without the necessary protections and a flawed business model. To add insult to injury Equifax has fumbled and screwed up their response and only offered people 1 year of identity theft monitoring. None of that will matter. This information is in the hands of criminals. This information is valuable for the next decade or longer. The exposure you face to fraud has never been more severe or significant. So with this in mind, I recommend you take the following actions.

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Espro Travel Coffee PressEspro Travel Coffee Press

Sun, 27 Aug 2017 14:32:44 +0000

A while ago I wrote up How I make coffee. Since then I continue to use a Ratio 8 automatic pour over and love it to death. We still do 1-cup pour over too using a blue bottle pour over system (replaced the Hario). For travel though, I have been lugging around my pour over setup which is a tad bulky. I discovered that Espro makes a portable french press mug now. I picked one up the other day and took it to work with me. It's truly a remarkable product. Espro is known for making french press systems that have two filters so less "grit" comes through. They are also compatible with small paper filters which produce a pour over like taste as the filter will keep all the oil out.

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LeakSMART - auto water shutoff for your homeLeakSMART - auto water shutoff for your home

Sun, 06 Aug 2017 15:54:58 +0000

I’ve been doing research for a while on getting a whole home water shutoff solution. I previously wrote about the solution I use for the washing machines. I have a 2nd floor washer and this is one of the things that can really mess with your house given washing machine hoses only last a few years and are under high pressure. I’m paranoid about water leaks and water damage when I’m away from home. I’ve always been in the habit of shutting off the main water supply to my house whenever we are gone for more than a day but I was looking for something more automated that I could do from anywhere.  That is when I discovered the LeakSMART. You need to get a version that matches the size of your water supply. In my case I have 1 1/4 inch water supply and LeakSMART did not have a solution till recently. Once it came out I purchased it and scheduled a plumber to install. Well that happened a few weeks ago and so far this has perfectly met my expectations. 

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Current - Money Management for KidsCurrent - Money Management for Kids

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 16:21:58 +0000

Since our daughter was 6 we have followed a simple but effective philosophy for teaching her about money. This was inspired from articles we read (I mean my wife read) about targeting a weekly allowance tied to your child's age, in our case we started at $6 a week. Common wisdom among many parents we knew was to tie allowance to chores and start later than we did. We didn't follow that path and felt that we wanted our kids to have a meaninful amount of money that allowed them to save for things like legos (which are expensive) and also make good choices about small and big purchases. We didn't want to get nagged to buy things for them and wanted them to learn how to save and save up for things they wanted. If you want to read more about this, I would point you to this article and this book called The Opposite of Spoiled by Ron Lieber. About 1 chapter into reading it was already armed with insight and understanding on how to raise kids who thoughtfully consider the value of money.

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Topo Designs BackpacksTopo Designs Backpacks

Sun, 18 Jun 2017 16:29:36 +0000

I've been looking for a great backpack for my daughter for a while now. My friend Kelsi turned me on to two backpack companies: Topo Designs and GoRuck. There are a lot of really good made in America packs these days from Tom Bihn and GoRuck. In fact my son has the perfect backpack, a kid's GoRuck that unfortunately is not in stock till 2018. It is a great size for Kindergarten age kids, and doesn't have that giant look to it. He has the 13L pack in gray and red. Topo Designs is a Colorado company and make their bags by hand. I picked up two bags from them and they are a huge hit with me and my kiddo.

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Acteon Compact Antibacterial Microfiber TowelsActeon Compact Antibacterial Microfiber Towels

Sun, 04 Jun 2017 16:55:13 +0000

For a year now my family has been using these compact micro fiber beach towels by Acteon. They take up a fraction of the space that a regular towel does and they work really well in a pinch.

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Ray-Ban Chromance SunglassesRay-Ban Chromance Sunglasses

Sun, 21 May 2017 16:41:55 +0000

For the past two years, I have been very happy with the two pairs of sunglasses I own. A pair of Maui Jim polarized for driving, and a RayBan Wayfarer Liteforce. You really can't beat the Wayfarer as they are a classic sunglass that work well for most people. I recommend always going for the polarized versions, and the Liteforce are a thinner and lighter series that are great for traveling. I keep these in my work bag and take them everywhere. The Wayfarer is also a great unisex sunglass, and they make smaller sizes for middle school aged kids and even little people.

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simplehuman Foam Cartridge Sensor Pumpsimplehuman Foam Cartridge Sensor Pump

Sun, 14 May 2017 16:33:30 +0000

A few years ago, I wrote about the simplehuman sensor pump. Since that time, I've had a number of issues with clogging. I still have my sensor pumps but 2 of them clogged up needing replacement. The issues seem to arise when you don't use a pump for a long time. Recently, simplehuman release foam based, cartridge pumps.

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Beyond Coastal SunscreenBeyond Coastal Sunscreen

Sun, 30 Apr 2017 16:30:19 +0000

It's almost that time of year.... in Seattle it feels like maybe we will skip spring and go straight to summer?  If you have kids, you know that Summer is filled with creamy white sunscreen applications each morning before the kids go to camp, the beach, or whatever. Having sunburnt kiddos is no fun. Two years ago I wrote an article on my favorite sunscreen, Beyond Coastal. I explained my reasons for why I chose a chemical sunscreen over a mineral one. After years of trying mineral sunscreen I was done. I could not stand how the products felt, were applied, and how they stained my cars, furniture and everything else. I also found a lot of variability in preventing burns and questionable science that mineral is actually, in balance, better. When I have questions about cosmetic products, I usually turn to the Environmental Working Group. They do an OK job of giving you a view on how many cosmetic products stack up. In their mind, Beyond Coastal is one of the best chemical sunscreens out there and I have been a happy customer for 2 years.

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