Photography and crime fiction vignettes by John W. DeFeo.

Broken old men told me about the glory of the shipyards when I was a boy. But all that remained was rust and rubble. These same old men, once strong like the cranes they worked, suffered the indignity of age. Their minds would succumb to doddery. One day, they’d return to the earth just like the ore that was purified, then corrupted by time.

Oh, to be a spectator! But the world I was born into was too small. I gazed at something bigger and it took me across the sea.

New York: The capital city of decay. The ancient…


Using data science to find the most trustworthy brands online.

Good, Cheap and Fast Venn Diagram
Good, Cheap and Fast Venn Diagram
My website, Good, Cheap and Fast, didn’t make it through 2020, but I’m proud of my work. See below.

I ran a product review website called Good, Cheap and Fast from Oct. 2018 to Dec. 2020. During that time, I tracked the prices of several thousand products and I analyzed around 2,000,000 online reviews in search of above-average products that were selling for below-average prices.

Along the way, I noticed that roughly 300 companies kept turning up in my analyses. These companies consistently sold high-quality products at fair prices. In fact, products from these companies were around 570% more likely to achieve a satisfying outcome than a random product.

This gave me the idea to create an awards program…


How to change your language settings back to English.

Why is my Amazon homepage in Spanish? I didn’t change anything, and now that the drop menu is in Spanish, I don’t know where to click to change it back to English. Sound familiar? Don’t worry: Here is the link to change language settings on Amazon.com.

Amazon in Spanish
Amazon in Spanish
I clicked a link in Google expecting to go to Amazon.com. Instead, I was taken to Amazon ES (the Spanish version of Amazon). Because the page was written in Spanish, Amazon assumed that I wished to see the entire site in Spanish thereafter.

Amazon automatically changes language preferences when you click a foreign link. This is easy to do without realizing it, especially on Google. For example, I searched “Theo Big Daddy Marshmallows” and navigated to an Amazon listing. The search result snippet was in English, but the link pointed to Amazon ES (Spain). …


Above-average ratings, below-average prices, no fake reviews.

Best Cheap Phone Gimbals for the Money
Best Cheap Phone Gimbals for the Money
From a statistical perspective, these are the best phone gimbals for the money. Several were priced under $75 in the past year.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I might earn a referral fee (at no expense to you) when you click a link.

Handheld video is shaky, but a stabilizer gimbal is designed to make it look fluid. Gyroscopic image stabilization dates back to 1976 when Garrett Brown’s “Steadicam” was used to film the movie Rocky. Remember how the camera follows Rocky Balboa as he runs up the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art? The footage is shake-free because the camera was mounted on a gyroscopic gimbal. …


Above-average ratings, below-average prices, no fake reviews.

Best Wireless Chargers for the Money
Best Wireless Chargers for the Money
From a statistical perspective, these are the best wireless chargers for the money. Several were priced under $20 in the past year.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I might earn a referral fee (at no expense to you) when you click a link.

Qi, pronounced CHEE, is a wireless-charging standard developed by the Wireless Power Consortium. Many smartphones, including iPhones and Samsung Galaxy models, support wireless charging. So do other small electronics like true wireless earbuds.

The latest Qi-standard, released in 2015, allows for fast charging: a significant improvement over older wireless charging standards. A fast charger provides excess power to a device, but in controlled way, to prevent damage from overloading or overheating a circuit.

How Does Wireless Charging Work?

A…


Above-average ratings, below-average prices, no fake reviews.

Best Immersion Blenders for the Money
Best Immersion Blenders for the Money
From a statistical perspective, these are the best hand blenders for the money. Several were priced under $30 in the past year.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I might earn a referral fee (at no expense to you) when you click a link.

An immersion blender is a handheld blender that mixes and chops. These wand-shaped devices (sometimes called “stick blenders”) are used to blend ingredients inside of container. For example, an immersion blender can be used to purée soup inside of an Instant Pot.

Immersion blenders aren’t designed to crush ice or replace a food processor. Nevertheless, they can do some things faster (and with less effort) than using a hand mixer, like frothing milk or…


Above-average ratings, below-average prices, no fake reviews.

Best Electric Griddles for the Money
Best Electric Griddles for the Money
From a statistical perspective, these are the best electric griddles for the money. Several were priced under $20 in the past year.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I might earn a referral fee (at no expense to you) when you click a link.

Electric griddles have a flat cooking surface with a heating element beneath it. No kitchen gadget is better suited for cooking breakfast foods like pancakes, bacon and eggs. A griddle is an especially useful appliance for large families. (If you’ve made one-at-a-time pancakes in a frying pan, you know how thankless it can feel.)

Some electric griddles claim to be dishwasher safe, but take those claims with a grain of salt. The screws that…


Above-average ratings, below-average prices, no fake reviews.

Best Android Auto Head Units for the Money
Best Android Auto Head Units for the Money
From a statistical perspective, these are the cheapest Android Auto head units worth considering. Several were priced under $250 in the past year.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I might earn a referral fee (at no expense to you) when you click a link.

Android Auto is a hands-free way to use a smartphone in a vehicle. Many new cars have Android Auto built into the “infotainment” system: Plug a smartphone into the dashboard with a USB cable and voila, you can make and take calls, send texts, stream music, talk with Google Assistant, use GPS-navigation apps like Waze and Google Maps.

What if your car doesn’t have Android Auto? You’ll need an Android Auto head unit, i.e…


Above-average ratings, below-average prices, no fake reviews.

Best Apple CarPlay Stereos for the Money
Best Apple CarPlay Stereos for the Money
From a statistical perspective, these are the cheapest CarPlay stereos worth considering. Several were priced under $250 in the past year.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I might earn a referral fee (at no expense to you) when you click a link.

Using a cell phone while driving creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

A recent study published in Safety Science suggests that hands-free phone usage can reduce that risk, however, both the National Safety Council and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute dispute this idea. On the other hand, a study conducted by AAA identified navigational programming as the most distracting task for drivers


Above-average ratings, below-average prices, no fake reviews.

Best At-Home Microneedling Products
Best At-Home Microneedling Products
From a statistical perspective, these are the best derma rollers for the money. Several were priced under $10 in the past year.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I might earn a referral fee (at no expense to you) when you click a link.

Microneedling can reduce the appearance of scar tissue and make skin look younger. It sounds like a beautician’s form of snake oil: Stick small needles in your face to rejuvenate your skin, but microneedling is a legitimate medical treatment that is supported by clinical research. A recent article published in the Journal of Dermatologic Surgery called microneedling “safe, minimally invasive, and effective.” Other medical papers specifically discuss the benefits of dermarollers, stamps and pens.

How Does Microneedling Work?

John W. DeFeo

Dad, data scientist, market enthusiast, moonlighting photographer and search engine geek. Website: https://www.johnwdefeo.com

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