Introducing Elixir

I read through Introducing Elixir on Safari Books Online because I had read through a beta edition of Programming Elixir: Functional |> Concurrent |> Pragmatic |> Fun through The Pragmatic Bookshelf and wanted to see about getting a slightly different take on Elixir at the same time I was getting caught up with the current state of Elixir.

The Introducing Elixir book read to me like a quick tour of Elixir, despite being about 80% of the length of Programming Elixir. That's probably because I took some time to work through the examples in Programming Elixir, back when Elixir was on its 0.12 release. Programming Elixir is set up to be much more of a textbook in its presentation, with programming problems posed, etc. Introducing Elixir hits upon functional programming, the underlying Erlang and OTP libraries, and throws a few ideas of what you can do with it. It's a decent refresher to shake the cobwebs out, but it doesn't as much in depth probing into the language as the Programming Elixir book does. I'd recommend the Programming Elixir book from pragprog.com first.

(Amazon affiliate link)

Toy Helicopter Review and Durability Test: Flutterbye Deluxe Fairy

We've bought several cheap toy helicopters that have usually met their demise via the breakage of one of the components that rotates at high speed breaking. Air Hogs has been a favorite brand because they are usually cheap and your face on retail shelves. [The charging port on this doll bears the Air Hogs brand, as well.]

[Somewhat related: our big dog doesn't like any of these flying things and thinks it's his mission to "kill" them, giving us an extra obstacle to their longevity.]

This fairy doll is the first one we've had that doesn't look like a standard helicopter for us.

When taking off from its base, the doll floats fairly gracefully to the floor. The doll mostly hovers within a foot or two of the surface underneath her. However, you can cup your hands directly below it and it'll float above your hands briefly instead. I noticed when I did this, the fairy would float steadily to the ceiling and hover and gradually come back down.

The doll will also take off from your hand, but it's very easy to not be vertical at take-off and/or to present an uneven surface below it, causing to lift off erratically. I recommend letting it take off from the base stand each time.

We've had 5-10 crashes with the doll. One thing I noticed with this doll (unlike manually controlled helicopters) is that power is immediately cut to the rotors when a collision happens. This minimizes the high speed damage that the blades and balances endure when you don't react quickly enough to cut the power on a remote control.

Between the ease of flight, the safety cut-off, and the relatively more durable structure overall, this doll seems like the best value in the under $50 helicopter department for those of us who really don't know how to successfully fly a toy helicopter, anyway.

Note:
The doll in the video is the Deluxe Light Up Flutterbye Fairy - Rainbow (Amazon affiliate link)

Toy Helicopter Review and Durability Test: Sky Rover Aero Spin

The Sky Rover Aero Spin was a pretty impressive little toy helicopter.

It has a hover mode that stabilizes flight a certain distance off of the ground and a "controller" mode which allows you to try controlling the spin rate of the propellers to fly the helicopter.  A good video demonstration is on the rcgroups forums.

This helicopter has been by far the easiest budget (<$50) helicopter to fly, at $10 at Wal-Mart ($7.51 online now).

Unfortunately, a collision within the first minute of flight broke the ring holding the blades together onto the spin shaft. [See Flutterbye Deluxe Fairy for a "helicopter" from this Christmas that's still going.]

We played around with Gorilla Glue to try and repair the ring (should have used crazy glue. After the glue was allowed to set, the helicopter was mostly back in flying shape, with the exception of a bit of constant roll due to the imbalance.

We were able to fly the helicopter for another few minutes prior to a collision that snapped the same fragile ring yet again, both in the glued spot and in the spot opposite to it.

Ease of flight is definitely an A+. There's virtually no thought to it.

Durability is a bit worse that most Air Hogs brands that we've had.

To be determined: If there will be any support from the company who manufactured the helicopter.

Gorilla glued one side, it worked until until side broke along with it
Gorilla glued one side, it worked until until side broke along with it

Dollar Shave Club (Executive) Review as a Gillette Mach 3 User

I decided to try the Dollar Shave Club Executive (6 blade) model for a month. The subscription for 4 blades per month is $9.

The initial shipment came with their own shave butter, which I tried for my first shave. The shave butter broke down too quickly for my skin and facial hair thickness, and didn't seem to do much for the shaving experience, but then again, I generally use a shave cream or hair conditioner while shaving.

The blade angles felt a bit too sparse--or maybe the space between them clogged too quickly, though I didn't notice that this was the case. My first shave attempt was on about 3 days growth, and felt spotty irritation in my skin and notices several patches that had clearly been shaved, but had not been shaved particularly closely.

On my second shave attempt on about 2 days growth, I used my Gillette Sensitive Skin to try and alleviate the irritation and possibly get a bit closer with the shave. After shaving, I had a lot of spots in my facial hair that were about a half day's worth of growth in length. Whether using the shave butter or my Gillette Sensitive Skin shaving cream, I experienced a small amount of irritation--not as much as a cheap disposable, but a little more than the Schick Quattro.

The closeness of the shave is ultimately as close as the Quattro, but with noticeably more irritation.

For comparison:

  • I use the base Gillette Mach 3 razor normally, usually with the Gillette Sensitive Skin shaving cream.
  • I generally shave twice a week, partly because my skin is too sensitive if I shave more frequently than that.
  • I have sparse and uneven facial hair.
  • Dollar store and disposable Bic razors break the skin for me.
  • The Schick Quattro razor didn't irritate the skin any more than my Mach 3, but the shave isn't that close for me.
  • Electric razors turn my skin red with irritation.

Hope this helps you decide if Dollar Shave is an option for you. Interestingly enough, the Executive blades are $2.25 per cartridge vs. the Gillette Mach3 Base Cartridges 15 Count(Amazon associates link) per-cartridge price of about $2.06 per cartridge.

Avoid - Champion C9 Shorts

I bought a couple pairs of these shorts at Target because they looked decent (although, definitely not high-end). Immediately after running 7-10 miles in them, I had a raw spot from the waistband stitching. Eventually, I learned to make the best of that (wear them only on shorter runs). However, the lining quickly started tearing away from the waistband, so they're not really reasonable to wear anymore. I love my Reebok running shorts (all styles) and would recommend them despite being more than twice the price of the Champion shorts. The durability alone is worth it.

Buy this:

Not this: