Purchased: ARY VacMaster VP215 Chamber Vacuum Sealer

Order placed through WebstaurantStore.com on 9/25/2014 at 11:25AM CST. They had the best price on the unit and are the largest online-only supplier to restaurants.

The ARY VacMaster VP215 is a chamber vacuum sealer that uses a wet pump. It retails for ~$900 and is also available to purchase on Amazon.com.

Want: Wacom Creative Stylus 2

Wacom is a trusted name in digitization devices. Ask any creative who spends time working in front of a computer, and they’ll tell you about their experience with Wacom’s products.

As the tablet market grew, Wacom decided to lend its expertise in product design by introducing a line of styli. Wacom took its time in doing so:

By late 2012, we had the Pogo Connect, Adonit Jot Touch, and Hex3 Jaja. Wacom, the undisputed king of pressure-sensitive devices, could not be left out of the mix, but they took their time and came out with the Intuos Creative Stylus for iPad about a year after these competitors.

Source: iPad Smart Stylus Roundup – About.com (http://graphicssoft.about.com/od/mobilegraphics/ss/Smart-Stylus-Roundup.htm)

Wacom’s first iteration of the Creative Stylus (~$99 MSRP, discontinued but may be available at clearance prices on Amazon.com) was well-received. It featured 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, the standard that Wacom users have come to expect since the Intuos 4 made its debut in Q1 2009. Wireless communication with the iPad was established through Bluetooth 4.0, and the stylus was powered by a single AAAA battery.

Unfortunately, users knocked it for having too large a nib at the end.

The activation pressure was too high, resulting in greater wear on the nib, and making it awkward to use.

And the AAAA battery was not something that most people kept around at home.

To make matters worse, Apple’s new iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display moved to a thinner display stack, which brought up a crop of new problems. Some styli, like the Pogo Connect, no longer worked as designed (Statement from TenOneDesign, ). The Intuos Creative Stylus suffered as well (Wacom EU Forum), and designers were forced to go back to the drawing board.

Enter the new Wacom Creative Stylus 2 ($79.99 MSRP, Wacom, Amazon.com)


The new Wacom Creative Stylus 2

Wacom iterated on the design of the original Creative Stylus, responding to customer needs.

The new Creative Stylus 2 features a fine tip


The fine tip on the Wacom Creative Stylus 2

The tip of the Wacom Creative Stylus 2 vs. the Original Creative Sylus
The tip of the Wacom Creative Stylus 2 vs. the Original Creative Sylus

It does away with the AAAA battery and moves to a Lithium Ion cell that recharges through the Micro-USB standard.


The battery is recharged through a standard Micro-USB port

I’m confident that this is going to be the tool of choice for creatives who have integrated iPad into their workflow. The Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus 2 drops in mid-October, but is available to pre-order now.

If anyone at Wacom is reading this, feel free to send me a review unit.

What’s the best torch fuel for searing meat?

Today, I want to take a look at three popular choices of torch fuels: butane, propane, and MAPP. All three are used by chefs in the searing process. This question arose after I began learning more about fuel gases being recommended for cooking use.

I first introduce each fuel before providing a summary of its pros and cons. Then, I include a comparison table of flame temperatures. Finally, I close with some thoughts on what I am doing with this gained knowledge.

Butane

Fuel commonly used in disposable cigarette lighters and camping stoves. An alkane, each butane C4H10 molecule is composed of four carbon atoms, saturated with hydrogen.


a butane molecule

Pros: It is widely available and affordable.
Cons: When bottled for sale, it is often mixed with small amounts of hydrogen sulfide and mercaptans, which give the unburned gas an offensive smell. Owing to its longer carbon chain relative to propane, butane is more prone to incomplete combustion.

Propane

Fuel commonly used in gas grills. Also an alkane, each propane C3H8 molecule is composed of three carbon atoms, saturated with hydrogen.


a propane molecule

Pros: It is widely available and affordable. Bernzomatic 16.4 oz cylinder available for $3.50 at your local hardware store. If you already have a gas grill, you don’t need to buy another fuel specially for torching.
Cons: Its flame temperature can’t reach that of a MAPP flame.

Aside: Propane is widely regarded as a terrific fuel gas for cooking use, though it would be wise to devise a method to fill a small bottle from a larger canister.

MAPP (methylacetylene-propadiene propane)

Wikipedia main article on MAPP gas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MAPP_gas
Fuel gas composed of methylacetylene (propyne) and propadiene. MAPP gas is a trademarked name belonging to Linde Group, previously to Dow. True MAPP gas production ended in North America in the spring of 2008, when production was discontinued at the sole plant that continued to make it. Current products labeled MAPP are made using stabilized liquefied petroleum gas with high levels of propylene. MAPP is notable for having higher flame temperatures and energy densities than any flame other than acetylene.

Propylene C3H6 is an alkene composed of three carbon atoms and six hydrogen atoms. The double-bonded carbon results in propylene having a lower molecular weight than propane, in spite of their both having three carbon atoms. This allows for more complete combustion relative to propane.


a propylene (propene) molecule

Pros: Propylene-based fuels burn cleanly and avoid tainting food with combustion products
Cons: MAPP is more expensive to produce (I’ve seen it cited as 1.5x the cost of propane), and the increased cost of production is passed along to the consumer. Going off of the list price of a Bernzomatic 14 oz cylinder for $9.95, MAPP is almost seven times the price of propane.

Aside: MAPP fuel came to my attention as I was reading The Cooking Lab’s Modernist Cuisine at Home (List $140, Amazon.com), prompting me to explore the author’s claims

Flame Temperatures of Butane, Propane, and MAPP

Fuel Gas Combustion with Air (deg C)
Butane 1970
Propane 1995
MAPP 2010

Reference: Flame Temperatures for some Common Gases – Engineering Toolbox (http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/flame-temperatures-gases-d_422.html). Note that the flame temperature of propane as reported in this table is different from that found on the source website. This change was made in consideration of the reported maximum adiabatic flame temperature for that fuel gas.

I will personally be investigating solutions for using propane gas in the searing process. It does away with the incomplete combustion issues associated with its heavier alkane cousin, butane, while keeping the cost multiple times lower than MAPP gas.

I wonder what type of propane torches are on the market, specifically targeted for cooking use. Torches like the Iwatani professional cooking torch (~$27, Amazon.com), mentioned in my search for a butane torch for sous vide cooking, have flow control. I’d rather not ape this guy:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjGcOqi8wi4

… though I do have a Weed Dragon Red Dragon (~$50, Amazon.com) lying unused in the garage…

Ultimately, I decided to purchase a Bernzomatic TS8000 (~$50, Amazon.com). I’ve been running it from a cylinder of propane gas.

What Readers Bought in August

Let’s try something fun. I’ve pulled together a list of interesting things that readers of my blog bought in August. Perhaps you will find something that you like here..

Apparel & Accessories

Official Licensed Portal 2 Aperture Test Subject Premium Men’s Track Jacket (Amazon.com)
– I played the first Portal (Valve) and loved it. At the time, I was fully immersed in the FPS genre, and Portal offered a unique gameplay experience. That ending…! I hope to see more Aperture Labs swag in the real world.

Zelda Triforce Items Women’s Hoodie Black (Amazon.com)
– Pretty legendary franchise which I haven’t gotten very deep into. I’ve played The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Looking forward to trying out the more recent titles in this series on my new-to-me Nintendo Wii.

Automotive

BG44K (~$23, Amazon.com)
– Apparently this stuff works wonders. One reviewer on Amazon said that he ran it after Seafoam stopped being effective. I’ve personally stuck by Chevron Techron Fuel System Cleaner (Amazon.com), but I will definitely have to give BG44K a run for its money.

Computers

Intel Pentium Processor G3258 4 BX80646G3258 (Amazon.com)
– Hey, the processor that I tried running in my first DIY NAS build, only to find that it didn’t play nicely with my Supermicro X10SLL-F.. The 20th Anniversary Edition Pentium processor pushes insane clockspeeds on the stock cooler.

Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 with Built-In Multi-Touch Touchpad (Amazon.com)
– I strongly support Logitech and its computer peripherals, having used exclusively Logitech mice since 2003. This keyboard looks terrific for use in a HTPC environment.

MSI Computer Corp. Motherboard ATX DDR3 1333 LGA 1150 Motherboards B85-G41 PC MATE (Amazon.com)
– Looks like a decent entry-level LGA1150 motherboard… Hope it paired well with that Intel G3258

Connectors

AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable 2-Pack – 6.5 Feet (2 Meters) (~$8, Amazon.com)
– I bought a 2-pack in October 2012, and they’re working great. AmazonBasics should be on your shortlist of cable suppliers if they’re not already.

Belkin SongStream Bluetooth HD Music Receiver (Amazon.com)
– I’ve been promoting this product in my writeup on how to add Bluetooth to home A/V receivers. I also wrote a review of the Belkin SongStream HD receiver. It looks like Belkin has made a newer, smaller version of the same product since then. Check out the 2014 version (Amazon.com) if you’re in the market.

Belkin Y Audio Cable (12 foot) (~$2.50, Amazon.com)
– Back when I was working with Jonathan Fischl, we’d regularly leave these Y audio cables with customers. You never know when one of these will come in handy. I normally don’t promote acquiring cables (seems we get enough already), but this is one that you should keep around. That is, if you like sound.

HomeSpot NFC-Enabled Bluetooth Audio Receiver for Sound System (~$28, Amazon.com)
– This one was also mentioned in my guide on how to add Bluetooth to home A/V receivers. At press time, it’s selling for $28. If you want an NFC-enabled Bluetooth receiver for your setup, this is a no-brainer. Doesn’t have an optical out, which might be a deal-killer. Your call.

Logitech Bluetooth Audio Adapter (~$40, Amazon.com)
– Detecting a trend here? šŸ™‚ I like that Logitech makes it. Good customer service is always important, and Logitech delivers.

Mediabridge USB 2.0 – Micro-USB to USB Cable (6 Feet) – High-Speed A Male to Micro B with Gold-Plated Connectors (~$6, Amazon.com)
– My gut reaction was, “Who needs these? I’ve got a drawer full of them..” — and then I realized that this was a micro-USB cable. Apparently micro-USB has been a thing since 2007, but I didn’t have any use for this connector until I got my first Amazon Kindle. These days, it’s become the de-facto choice for mobile devices (outside of the Apple ecosystem)

Ortek Windows 7 Vista XP Media Center MCE PC Remote Control and Infrared Receiver for Home, Premium and Ultimate Edition (~$15, Amazon.com)
– Good complement to a HTPC setup. Looks like it’ll do anything you want, and it costs a lot less than fully-featured models made for traditional A/V systems

Sony STRDH130 2 Channel Stereo Receiver (~$150, Amazon.com)
– Reviewers make it out to be one of the best 2 channel stereo receivers available at this price point. Sometimes more channels isn’t everything..

Yamaha NS-AW150BL 2-Way Outdoor Speakers (Pair, Black) (~$70, Amazon.com)
– Rave reviews for this relatively inexpensive pair of speakers. I haven’t heard them, but I trust Yamaha. They do not kid around with sound

Yamaha YBA-11 Bluetooth Wireless Audio Receiver for Yamaha AV Products (~$51, Amazon.com)
– I’m going to have to add this one to my article on how to add Bluetooth to home A/V receivers.. Looks to be a robust unit with a very small footprint. aptX and a single digital coaxial output for pairing up to your A/V receiver

Health & Personal Care

BSN SYNTHA-6 Protein Powder – Chocolate Milkshake, 5.0 lb (48 Servings) (~$50, Amazon.com)
– I’ve used BSN’s N.O.-XPLODE pre workout in the past. Good flavor, and it mixes well. I imagine their protein powder is similarly good.
– Fun observation: BSN’s product placement is good. See this frame from Don Jon, which I recently watched on recommendation of Alice.
BSN's SYNTHA-6 in Don Jon

Optimum Nutrition Creatine Powder, Unflavored, 300g (~$8, Amazon.com)
– Funny, I just put in an order for some creatine monohydrate, too. Optimum Nutrition has a good reputation in the supplement market. Alice has used them.

Home & Garden

Flag: The Kingdom of Prussia

Kitchen & Housewares

BlenderBottleĀ® Classic 28-ounce Black (~$7, Amazon.com)
– I own one of these. That BlenderBall really works.

Other

(12×18) If a Future You Tries To Warn You Video Game Indoor/Outdoor Plastic Sign

Avatar: The Legend of Korra Cartoon Old Friends Fabric Wall Scroll Poster (32″ x 20″) Inches

RAVPower Bolt 30W/6A 4-Port Rapid Charging Station / USB Travel Wall Charger / USB Desktop Charger (~$14, Amazon.com)
– With the ubiquity of USB, you can’t go wrong with one of these devices.

Sleep Innovations 10-Inch SureTemp Memory Foam Mattress With 20-Year Warranty, with 2-Bonus Memory Foam Pillows, Queen Size (~$390, Amazon.com)
– I’m a little baffled by the MSRP, but I’m sure that someone is going to be sleeping very well, very soon.

Sleep Master Platform Metal Bed Frame/Mattress Foundation, Queen (~$95, Amazon.com)
– #1 best seller in beds, fantastic reviews. Someone is sleeping very, very well right now.