The Logitech G602 Gaming Mouse

Computer mice are one of those items I’m never quite satisfied with. Since I found my dream keyboard in the Corsair K95, I’ve been searching for a replacement for my 3-year old Logitech Marathon Mouse.

The Marathon Mouse had two major features going for it: the battery lasted up to 3 years and the mouse fit my hand well. The battery lived up to its claims, but the buttons felt cheap from the start. But lately, it was giving me a problem when I tried to copy and paste sentences and paragraphs in Microsoft Word. I tried replacing the batteries, but that didn’t solve the issue. Eventually, I realized the right mouse button would work for awhile and then stick. It was incredibly frustrating.


I decided to head over to Best Buy and try out a handful of mice. The ideal situation would be to test a number of different models at home and keep the best one. But that wasn’t possible, so I narrowed my choice down to three mice that I could test at the store. During my search, I found that most gaming mice were corded rather than wireless. There was no way I was going back to a cord which limited my choices even further.

I ended up purchasing a gaming mouse even though I don’t do a lot of gaming. The Logitech G602 feels like a substantial upgrade in craftsmanship and materials compared to the Marathon. The scroll wheel has a wonderful feel to it and the right/left click feels solid if a bit louder than I’m used to. Some reviewers at Amazon knocked its 2500 DPI, but that is plenty for most people, even gamers. It’s larger than the Marathon but not so large that my hand tires after hours of use.

The Logitech G602 costs a bit more than the Marathon, but not much. The Logitech Gaming software allows you to customize any of the buttons. But I don’t really care about doing a lot of customizing. I merely want a solid, everyday mouse that gives me decent battery life, a solid feel, and responsive movement. So far, it checks all those boxes and then some.

Brill Razorcut 38 Reel Mower

We ended up leaving our gas-powered John Deere mower in Washington. I sulked over that decision for a few weeks before borrowing my father-in-law’s gas mower.

But our backyard is made of clay and a basketball court and our front lawn is very small. It’s maybe a 10-minute job with the gas-mower at most, and that includes moving the mower out of the garage and checking the gas and oil levels. It’s really that small.

So I began researching various mower options online. I looked at electric and smaller gas options first before I began reading reviews on the Scotts 20-inch classic push reel mower which were overwhelmingly positive. They carry Scotts at Home Depot which is close to my home so I stopped by to check it out. Home Depot had a wall of them in stock, all boxed up and ready to go, and it took some time to locate an assembled model on the floor.

I pushed the Scotts mower up and down the aisle a few times and was surprised how loud it was and how difficult it was to push. I wonder now if the demo model wasn’t assembled correctly, but it was enough to keep me searching for the right model.

That night I began researching other reel mowers, and one name popped up over and over: Brill. I watched a number of reviews on YouTube as well as read as much as I could about the Brill Razorcut 38. One feature stood out over the Scotts model: the blades are designed to work like scissors, barely missing the cutter bar by less than a millimeter which makes for a smooth and nearly silent cut. It also means the blade can go years without being sharpened.

I decided to order the Brill from Clean Air Gardening because I liked their video and customer reviews. Plus their prices were lower than Amazon on nearly every model I researched. I did call around to see if I could find the Brill from a local shop, but it was either not offered or a special order.

My Brill arrived a few days later and I’ve had a chance to use it twice on my own lawn and once on my in-law’s grass. It took less than 10 minutes to assemble and attach the handle. If you’re used to pushing around heavy gas mowers the super-light 17 lb. Brill is a gift to your back.

I began mowing my lawn and could not believe how quiet it is. I can barely hear it slicing through the grass. The Brill isn’t a good choice if you’re used to going weeks between trimmings as it handles shorter grass much better than long grass or weeds. If you like to fire up your mower and shred everything in its path including weeds, patches of leaves and small branches then the Brill isn’t for you either.

But if your lawn is fairly flat, your lawn is clear of debris and you don’t mind mowing your grass at least once a week then the Brill is a wonderfully designed mower. I watched my 10-year old son zigzag around the yard today with a smile on his face even though our lawn is thick enough to work up a sweat on his brow. Yes, it takes twice as long and you may work up a sweat but it’s a worthwhile change compared to the loud, gas-sucking, fume exhausting model we owned before.

I’d recommend the Brill even if our yard was 3x as large. It’s been that enjoyable.

Diablo 3

When I want to escape I usually put on headphones and fire up Spotify. It’s easy to get lost in the sea of music for a couple of hours. Or I’ll check out ESPN or a while before switching over to American Pickers. I know, I know.

But lately, I’ve been playing a PC game called Diablo 3 from Blizzard.


I can’t recall the last PC game I got into more than a few days. It might have been Half Life 2 so it’s been a few years.

But Diablo 3 is one polished entertaining game. It tells a story along the way, but I really couldn’t tell you much about it because I skip it whenever I can to get back to the fighting and looting and often, getting my butt kicked.

A while ago I bought Skyrim for the Xbox and played it for a few days, but never got hooked. So I sold it.

Diablo 3 grabbed me right from the start. I’m sure one reason is that I prefer a mouse/keyboard to console controller. I also like that I can drop in for 15-20 minutes and still have fun without feeling I have to dedicate three hours in order to accomplish anything.

I’m hooked.

My Favorite Sunglasses

Eight years ago I visited a Sunglass Hut looking for the best pair of sunglasses I could buy. I’ve owned models from Vaurnet, Oakley, Ray Ban, and Bolle, and couldn’t say one pair of lenses was better than the other.

I tried on a number of frames, and found a couple I really liked. I couldn’t tell the difference between the lenses so I figured I’d buy the frame that looked best on my face.

The salesperson offered to let me take five or six of my favorites outside in the sun to see if one stood out from the rest. She asked if I’d looked into polarized lenses and handed me a wired framed model from Maui Jim. I thought they looked good. She explained that Maui Jim made excellent lenses but cost about three times more than those models I had in my hand. I had never paid over a $100 for sunglasses let alone over $200. 2012-07-28 18.22.37

I walked outside, put on the Maui Jims and was sold immediately. Everything was so crystal clear and colors were vibrant. I didn’t want to take them off.

That was in 2004, and I’ve worn that same pair of Maui Jims until last week.

They have held up remarkably well over the years, but one too many drops had put a small crack in one lens so I decided to send them to Maui Jim to be repaired.

Their website provided instructions on where to send my glasses and what to expect in terms of cost to repair. So I send them in and a few days later I received an email confirming they had been received and were in the process of being repaired. Frames and lenses are $60/each to repair or replace which is not cheap but far less costly than a new pair.

A couple days later, I received an email saying my sunglasses had been repaired and would arrive within a few days. Today a package arrived and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I opened the box to find the original case I sent them in, a new zippered Maui Jim case, casual cloth case, and a thank you note.

I unzipped the case and to my surprise, Maui Jim replaced my sunglasses with a brand new pair.

Sure, it cost me $120 but that’s about a third of what  new pair would cost. That works out to about a $40/year and goes down each year I wear them. That’s a bargain for one of the few items I wear nearly every day.

*I haven’t recommended a product on my blog for a while, but want my readers to know that I don’t accept products in exchange for a review.

Dark Sky

Have you ever wanted to know if it’s going to rain soon?

Until I started biking to work, I didn’t give it much thought. Dark Sky is an app that tells me what the chances it will rain within the next hour. It won’t give you a 5-day forecast of conditions and temperatures, but it has this uncanny way of predicting precipitation.

Sure, you can view a full-days worth of predictions, but the focus is on the next hour. It also includes gorgeous high res radar images, if you’re into that.

Dark Sky is available for the iPhone and iPad. It looks gorgeous in the iPad but I just it almost exclusively on my phone.  My father is a weather nut, and I’m hoping this is the straw that finally pushes him into getting an iPhone.


Meguiar’s Headlight Restoration Kit

Both of our cars are a few years old now and their headlights were looking cloudy and a bit yellowish. When I took our Honda Odyssey in to have its oil changed last weekend, the cashier recommended Meguiar’s Headlight Restoration Kit.

That night I checked out the few reviews on Amazon. Most were positive so I decided to give it a try.

The kit contains two sanding disks, a hand pad (on which you attach the disks), buff pad you attach to a drill, microfiber cloth, a bottle of polish and a bottle of plastic restorer.

The entire process is quite simple. I filled a small bucket full of water and used the sanding disks to remove most of the oxidation on the headlights while keeping the disks and the surface wet. I then used my drill and the buffing pad to polish the lens for a few minutes before wiping everything clean and applying the plastic restoration solution.

In less than an hour I had cleaned four headlights. Below is a picture of the first lens I completed on the Odyssey. I can actually see the bulbs through the lens now. The results were even more dramatic on our Nissan Maxima where both lenses had turned yellow. They look nearly brand new now.

Highly recommended.

*I do not use affiliate links.


Timberland 3-Eyelet Lug

I bought my first pair about twenty years ago, and my sixth pair from Zappos last week. It’s the perfect shoe I can wear year-round in Seattle without having to worry about my feet getting damp.

Every few months I’ll grab a soft cotton rag and rub mink oil into each shoe which brings back the burgundy tint and helps to waterproof the leather. Once the leather laces get worn in, they stayed tied unlike leather laces in my other shoes.

Tip: running the mink oiled cloth over the laces helps speed up the process.

I’ve paid $120 for every pair I’ve owned, and I’ve never seen them discounted.  I don’t know why that is, but I’ve purchased less expensive similar models of Timberland and seldom been happy with them.

When Kim and I were in New York about 13 years ago, we wandered into a tiny shoe store not far off Times Square. Kim bought a pair that she still has today. They look brand new because she only wears them a few times each year. That was the year I bought my third pair.

I can’t imagine my closest without a pair of Lugs on the floor.



“How can you not be romantic about baseball?” – Billy Beane

Moneyball was the best movie I saw this year. I read the Michael Lewis book a few years ago and liked it, but didn’t think much of it. When I heard Brad Pitt was playing the role of A’s general manager, Billy Beane, I shrugged it off and didn’t plan to see the film.

But Ebert gave it a good review and I decided to see it. So glad I did because I really enjoyed the performances from Pitt and Jonah Hill who plays an understated statistic whiz kid who understand that the goal of teams should be to buy  wins instead of players.

Basically, invest your money in players who get on base. It doesn’t matter how. A walk or hit by pitch is as good as a hit.

Not only are the performances good, but the music and cinematography are excellent. We’ve seen the ball sail over the fence for the winning home run dozens of times. You’ll find it in Moneyball as well but it’s done with such a deft touch that it feels authentic.

I highly recommend Moneyball even if you’re not into baseball. In fact, it’s as much about business and mathematics as it is about the game of baseball.

Software For A New PC

Apps for smartphones and the iPad have stolen most of the thunder away from PC programs. And with good reason because that’s where most of the excitement is these days. Had someone told me a year ago that I’d migrate a third of my PC usage over to the iPad I would have called them insane.

But even with all the iPad excitement many of us still rely on a Windows PC for at least a portion of our computing needs. I still prefer to browse the web, write and listen to music on my PC. Sure, I can do all that on my iPad, but I still enjoy sitting in front of two large monitors when I’m juggling a few tasks.

This time of year, I’m often asked to take a look at a computer that’s been giving a friend fits. The question I hear most is, “Can you fix my computer or determine if I’d be better off buying a new one?”

That’s not always an easy question to answer because it requires asking a number of follow-up questions. Often I see a newer computer that has been taken over by children who bring it to its knees by installing toolbars, P2P apps, plugins, and a bunch of other performance killing junk. The state of software is such that crapware often piggybacks onto legitimate software, and you end up with a lot more than that irresistible free game.

Even Apple pulls this stunt by trying to get you install their Safari browser at the same time you install a new version of iTunes. And it gets worse when that unwelcome software changes your default browser, search engine and media player.

Installing PC software today is risky business. Although I’ve moved some of my work to the web through the use of Gmail and Google Docs, which decreases the amount of software on my PC, I still rely on a number of programs to keep my PC running smoothly.

So if you end up with a new PC under your tree on Christmas morning, he’s my list of software that I install on each PC I own. I highly recommend upgrading to Windows 7 if you haven’t already.

1. Windows Update – I run this before I install anything. This will install any new drivers and update some software for you. This could take a while if your new PC was sitting in a warehouse for months. Technically not a program you can download, but important nonetheless.

2. Firefox or Chrome – Launch Internet Explorer and download yourself a much better browser. Then close Internet Explorer and you’ll never need to run it again. I switch between Firefox and Chrome, and both work well. (free)

3. Microsoft Security Essentials – There’s no need to pay for anti-virus software because this free program works great and won’t slow down your system like Norton and others will. If you’re running McAfee or Norton my suggestion is to uninstall them before installing Security Essentials. (free)

4. Threatfire – Picks up where your antivirus leaves off by protecting your PC against malicious behavior from bugs your antivirus program doesn’t yet know about. I’ve used Threatfire in conjunction with Security Essentials for nearly five years without a single infestation. (free)

5. CCleaner – Wipes your PC of temporary internet files and old registry entries. You won’t believe all the junk it cleans off your system the first time you run it. I run this each week. (free)

6. FileHippo – This nifty utility will help you update all the software on your PC that Windows Update skips right over. I prefer to ignore the beta updates and only installed the released updates it finds.  (free)

7. Dropbox –  Dropbox allows me to sync important files to the cloud as well as other PCs, my iPhone and iPad. So simple and elegant I can’t imagine computing without it. (free for 2GB)

8. GFI Backup – I’ve tried so many backup utilities over the years. Most have been an exercise in frustration. But GFI is different. A simple step-by-step wizard walks me through the process of backing up my music, photos and videos to a backup USB drive. I use Dropbox to sync files I need access to on my my devices, but I use GFI to backup my large collections to an removable drive. (free Home edition)

I have more software than this on my system, but these are the programs I install on every PC in our home. And they are the set of software I suggest to others when I’m asked to assist in setting up a new computer.

What programs or utilities do you install on a new PC?