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Star Wars X-Wing B-Wing Expansion Pack Game
Star Wars X-Wing B-Wing Expansion Pack Game
Offered by AMA INC
Price: $13.58
43 used & new from $8.35

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great mini, but somewhat fragile., March 3, 2014
Got this as a gift, and I love the B-Wing as a model. The only downside to it is that the guns are all quite thin and fragile, and therefore require special consideration when transporting it around. One of my guns broke off after being bent while transporting it in what I thought was plenty of space in the open plastic area of the starter box. Turns out one of the papers on the top was flopping into the hole and pushed it and bent it. Looks like I'll need to carry it around in the container I purchased it in.


Samsonite Leverage Exp Laptop Case (Black)
Samsonite Leverage Exp Laptop Case (Black)
Price: $159.44

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent travel laptop bag, but some issues, June 3, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I purchased this bag for carrying my laptop while traveling and to be the under-the-seat-in-front-of-me bag on planes. It does that well, but there are a few issues.

The Good:
- It's a solid bag, and the cloth I think will last quite a while.
- The front has numerous pockets that should fit pretty much everything you might take with you, which is nice to feel organized. There are also some small pouches that are perfect to throw in things like boarding pass and items from your pockets while going through security and then easily getting them back out.
- Shoulder strap is quite comfortable.

The not-so-good:
- It's somewhat large for putting under the seat in front of you. It's long enough that it sticks out a few inches from under the seat, and tall enough that it has to sit at an angle. If there's anything under the seat in front of you (like one of those equipment boxes) then it's going to be a tight squeeze.
- The handles are not sewn on that well. My first flight, I pulled the bag out from under the seat in front of me by the handle and heard a popping sound, which was the stitches ripping out where the handle attached to the bag. Turns out they only have a single stitch there, no extra stitching, so now I pull it out by the end.
- It's definitely built for 17" laptops and not smaller ones because there are no options in the laptop compartment to "shrink" it, either by adding extra pads or using some other tie-down.
- The laptop compartment has minimal padding. It has decent padding along the bottom, but nothing on the top or sides, which seems strange for a "travel" bag. Most cheaper laptop bags I purchased have padding all the way around.

For the above reasons, I had to use a sleeve from an older bag I had to carry my 15" laptop around safely. If I hadn't had that, though, I would have returned this bag. With that, it worked out okay.


Super Feeder Csf-3 Automatic Cat Feeder W/stand, Bowl, Chute Cover and Analog Timer (4 and 3/4 Cups Capacity)
Super Feeder Csf-3 Automatic Cat Feeder W/stand, Bowl, Chute Cover and Analog Timer (4 and 3/4 Cups Capacity)
Offered by superfeeder
Price: $166.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great product, but difficult to get working just right, November 4, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
We bought this product so that our overweight cat could still graze, but the food was both spread out during the day and also quantity-controlled. She also drove us nuts wanting to be fed, so we hoped that would resolve.

As it worked out, both of those were met, and we're very happy with that part of it. We feed her 6 times daily, and she doesn't bother us anymore. The harder challenge was keeping her away from the much higher calorie food our skinny older cat eats, but that's a different issue.

The biggest challenge with this product was in getting it working in a way that it distributed the right amount of food spread evenly throughout the feedings. I'm an engineer and computer programmer, and basically only rarely use instructions to put things together, but this one had me stumped so much so that I could hardly figure it out. The problem, fundamentally, is that they apparently sell a variety of setups, each with different attachments and options available. Unfortunately, they haven't provided individualized instructions for each of those combinations, but try to solve the problem by throwing in instructions written for each possible option, which means you have at least 3-4 different instruction sheets that have overlap in some areas and sometimes conflicting information (in one document something is an option, but the other one is how to install that one).

The instructions themselves really need to be re-written by a technical writer or something too, because they're extremely unclear and laid out poorly. My favorite was one that had 2 steps for really basic stuff, and then in the 3rd step said "attach feeder, bracket, and strap assembly to tower with 8 small head screws" without telling you how to actually do that, which was complicated both in terms of what you had to do and also because it was something that was hard to explain because it involved 3-D stuff, which the accompanying picture doesn't even try to show.

My recommendation is to watch the video. That explains it way better, and also helps with the 3-D parts of it because you can see it rather than get it explained.

The other challenge, and it's really only solvable with a much more complicated device, is that the adjustment of it to get the right amount of food is extremely picky and challenging. You basically have three things that determine this: 1) a timer that sets how many times/day the feeding happens, 2) a timer that sets how long it "feeds" for, and 3) a way to adjust the opening to the size of the food. Essentially it works by turning on according to how you set #1, it churns out food for the length of time set with #2, and the amount that comes out during the churn is affected by whether or not #3 is calibrated correctly (too loose and more comes out). Getting all of these right is seriously a pain, particularly if you're concerned about limiting the food. If you're just getting it for a grazer so that they don't bother you, you probably don't have to be as careful with it, although over time the cat's food will either pile up or be too empty if you don't adjust it right.

I'm still giving this a 4 out of 5 because I did eventually get it working, and it works great, but they have a lot of work to do (IMO) on the controls and also the instructions. If hooking up electronics to your TV is a challenge for you, you'd better have a friend that can do that easily help you with this one.


Pet Naturals Hip & Joint for Cats (45 count)
Pet Naturals Hip & Joint for Cats (45 count)
Price: $5.49
43 used & new from $4.48

4.0 out of 5 stars Cat likes them, but wasn't a cure-all, November 4, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Unlike some of the other reviews, my cat didn't magically get better once he started eating these, although he sure does love eating them! His condition did improve somewhat, although it took probably a month or more to get to where he is now. I wish I'd known about the arthritis problems earlier so that I could have prevented it.


The Lands of Ice and Fire (A Game of Thrones)
The Lands of Ice and Fire (A Game of Thrones)
by George R. R. Martin
Edition: Poster
Price: $30.15
55 used & new from $20.49

257 of 272 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great maps, but not-so-great packaging, October 30, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
NOTE: After some thought and use of the maps, I've downwardly revised my rating from 4 to 3. Left the review as-is, but explanation at the bottom.

ORIGINAL:
I'm a bit of a map nut, having ran a website for hand-drawn maps for a fantasy MMO, and had those maps printed in various guides as well as creating my own ebook. I also get into collecting and reading about maps and mapping techniques.

First, this is not a map book, but a collection of poster-sized maps that each focus on an interesting area of the world. They have individual cities like Braavos and King's Reach, but also a map of the entire known world and other large sections (like the whole of Dothraki). I was expecting a book, and was honestly a little disappointed since I was hoping for essentially a reference manual so I could keep track of things while reading.

That said, the maps themselves are great. They're printed on fairly heavy paper, and printed quite well, folding out to probably 3' x 2' (just a guess). The colors are well chosen to give you a good sense of the subtle changes in terrain, but simple and muted enough to keep the map focused on locations, kind of like a good National Geographic map. You can really see this in the "Beyond the Wall" map, because it's hard to make snowy terrain and large tracts of forest look interesting, but the maps manages exactly that (although it looks less cold than I expected it to). The inking is very well done as well, with lots of detail that is really obvious on the complicated city maps, but no less detailed on the broad geography maps even if it's more subtle. On the city maps it's pretty apparent that they were put together on a computer, with copy/pasting of hand-inked templates, but it doesn't look any worse for that (actually probably better than it would look otherwise if the poor guy had to hand draw hundreds/thousands of nearly identical roofs). Also acid-free paper.

My only real criticism is with the container that the maps come in. From the outside it's promising, with a very thick hard cover that holds them like a book that will sit comfortably on your bookshelf or in a stack. When you open it, though, it's not as good. The maps are split into two groups that are each placed within a cardboard sleeve inside each cover, with the maps near the spine held in place by some elastic cords. The first thing that happened after viewing the maps was that they got slightly thicker, and immediately didn't want to fit back into the sleeves without some tricky maneuvering to avoid bending the edges of the maps. Also, although it's hard to describe, the sleeve back is glued onto the inside of the cover, which leaves a cardboard edge there that will catch the back of any maps you try and slide in. They should have covered that with a piece of paper, which is what I'll probably have to do. Lastly, the elastic cords are mostly useless, and slip off on their own with minimal movement, and could easily bend the maps badly where they hold. Luckily the sleeves are tight enough that the maps aren't going to go anywhere and I just left them unattached.

While I probably would have been happier with a spiral-bound reference book of well-printed maps, this book is still very well worth having and great in its own right.

EDIT: After some use, the comments about paper in the other reviews became really apparent. I've unfolded a couple of them a few times now, and because the paper is so thick (normally a good thing), the numerous folds make it difficult to open without causing bends in the paper. The other, more significant, issue is that all of the maps have a fold that puts the map itself on the outside when folded (hope that makes sense, folded "backwards"). This not only means that the map itself will get scuffed with regular usage because it's on the outside of the folded map, but worse that the map along that crease rapidly breaks down causing a white line to appear, most apparent where there are dark colors (like water or trees). This is especially true at the 4-way intersections, and those will probably become holes in time. If they'd folded them all with the back on the outside this wouldn't be a huge problem except with heavy use. I debated trying to reverse the fold, however the paper is so thick that I think that will make it worse because the paper will not want to fold that way.

So, if you plan to post them on your wall more-or-less permanently, or otherwise store them open (like in a big map drawer - who has that?), or simply never open them, then these maps will remain in good shape. Otherwise expect that they'll have unsightly lines appear along the creases if you open them frequently. I wish that they'd included a CD of them digitally, or otherwise made that purchasable, because then I could actually reference them on my iPad while reading the books.
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 9, 2014 2:25 PM PDT


Throne of the Crescent Moon (Crescent Moon Kingdoms)
Throne of the Crescent Moon (Crescent Moon Kingdoms)
by Saladin Ahmed
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.76
95 used & new from $0.01

9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to read, disappointing, August 8, 2012
I'm usually not one to never finish a book, but I finally put this one down about halfway through. The way he describes what the characters are thinking as frequently as he does, and in third person, was something I just couldn't get past, and it totally distracted me from the interesting plot and characters. There was relatively little dialog, and the thoughts far outweighed the dialog by a mile.

Here's an example, pulled from a random spot on a page near where I stopped:
"He reminded himself that, if he didn't do his duty, more little faces like these could soon be . In his practical way, he kept panic from rising at the thought of the threats out there, unseen."

Now, maybe I've been reading too much George R. R. Martin and Tolkien lately, but you don't see anything like this in those. Instead, you find out about characters through their actions and actions of those around them, plus dialog, and there's a lot of action going on. And although you may not have read this book, by this point in it you've had to read dozens of little statements like the above, and already know the guy to be practical and concerned about the innocents, particularly children, around him. The style reminds me a lot of the later books in the old Gor series, where the guy would go off describing stuff over and over, and it just drove you nuts (this isn't nearly that bad, but it gave me a similar feeling).

At any rate, I really wanted to like it and just couldn't. Given all the positive reviews, and the extremely interesting setting, I thought it would be a great book, but the above just killed it for me.


Diablo III: Collector's Edition
Diablo III: Collector's Edition
Offered by EZ Mart
Price: $279.99
77 used & new from $90.00

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly mediocre, May 22, 2012
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I won't get into the whole "always on internet" as being ridiculous for a single person game. Although that's definitely true, and has caused me some lag and rubber banding, I don't honestly play anywhere that I don't have an internet connection so it hasn't been a huge hassle. Unbelievably dumb, though, and likely only in there so that they can ensure people aren't hacking and taking advantage of the currency-based AH, which Blizzard gets a cut of. So their always on internet is pure money-making for them - stupid for your average joe gamer.

The game itself, though, is a pretty big disappointment. I won't say that it isn't somewhat entertaining, but I honestly don't know what Blizzard spent the last 12 yrs doing, other than graphics. Here's a list of all that is wrong with the game that should have been right with any game being released in 2012.
- Game only saves your progress at checkpoints, and those are very unevenly spread out so you could play for an hour without hitting one if you're an explorer. Need to quit to do something else? Sorry, you get to play the whole area over again, and it's been re-randomized.
- Story is just plain boring, and filled with generic genre drivel. There isn't a drop of humor to be found anywhere, other than the obnoxious comments the Scoundrel makes, which aren't even funny. Feels like something I could have written in a weekend. Banter with your followers is just painful to listen to.
- Randomization is too random. I tried to craft a pair of boots for my Witch Doctor, and gave up after 12 attempts resulted in not a single useful pair (+str is good for a witch doctor, right?). Vendor randomization is useless too, they sell nothing that's even equivalent to the items you find killing monsters. The game should at least attempt at leaning towards giving you items you might find useful.
- Levels are pretty bland. I realize this is Diablo, and puzzles and other creative things aren't really meant to be its strength, but seriously through the first 20 lvls, not a single puzzle did I find. The trickiest part is trying to explore the whole dungeon and picking the right route to go to do that. Mostly I spend a lot of time backtracking. Just point-click-repeat.
- Combat balance is poor. Most of the game is way too easy, and I have to finish the entire game to unlock more difficult levels, which is extremely annoying in itself. Plus, on occasion you'll run into a monster, usually one of the blue super-creatures, that will just wipe the floor with you nearly instantly. Then you wind up fighting a guerrilla war with the monsters to take them out because you can't actually go toe-to-toe with them.
- Randomization does not equal replayability. Literally everything in the game is identical, although the terrain you're in is randomized. The only thing meaningful that is different is that the voice your character uses in the quests is different. Given that you need to play the game through to the end 3 times in order to unlock the highest difficulty level, this is pretty crappy. [Yes I realize that the random dungeons change too, however the dungeons are totally forgettable so that doesn't really matter.]

Honestly, the game feels like a slightly improved and expanded version of the very end game in Warcraft 3 (the one where you play the panda) set in the Diablo universe. The only problem is that that came out in 2002. Torchlight is, in most ways, better than this, and that's a couple of years old now. Blizzard really dropped the ball, and delivered us a game that attempted to be retro cool, and instead just wound up being retro old.

The items in the CE are, as always, pretty neat, but with the game being such a letdown I feel like I was duped into buying the CE.


Lasko 4924 High Velocity Blower Fan With Handle
Lasko 4924 High Velocity Blower Fan With Handle
Offered by The Nerds
Price: $66.83
45 used & new from $62.27

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great fan, well priced, nicely quiet, May 21, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Bought this fan to keep my small home office well ventilated now that summer is coming up, and it works very well, almost too well. It has a very strong air flow, and is surprisingly quiet, although it does make some noise (it's not completely quiet). On high it would probably be too loud for me to sleep comfortably, but that's very subjective.

The rotation is unusual, in that the entire fan rotates around the small light grey base shown in the picture, so you should be aware of that if you're thinking of putting it in a tight space. Also, the air intakes are the dark grey circle on the sides near the bottom back shown in the picture, so those need to be clear and the air intake is not in the back. There is a bar that changes the vertical direction of the air, but at most it seems you can shoot it upwards at about a 30-degree angle.

All in all, a great fan for the price.


No Title Available

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid LEGO set, somewhat boring build, February 3, 2012
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This Tie Fighter LEGO set results in a very solid-feeling, relatively large (around 1 foot tall) model that seems like it will be very durable and fun to play with. The wings are definitely not going anywhere (unless you really pulled it apart) and it just feels sturdy. The only minor exception to this is the cockpit cover, which falls off relatively easily when opening and closing it, but otherwise stays solidly in place.

The only downside to this set is that it's pretty boring to build. The center module is moderately challenging and fun, and doing one half of one of the wings is also challenging and fun. The boring part is that each wing is identical, and each half of each wing is also identical, so you build the half wings four times and then attach them near the end. The instructions are oddly confusing here too, because they put "x2" in several places, which made sense after reading through it all, but it actually meant you had to do big sections x4 (x2x2). Total build time about 1.5 hrs. Comes in three bags; first bag is center unit with two smaller bags inside, and other two bags are one wing each. If you can figure out how to share the instruction book, you could easily do these out of order.

If you're like me, and you prefer enjoying the end result that you built rather than the build process itself, the boring build isn't that big of a deal, so I still give it 5 stars. I noted it here, though, in case it's something that's important to you.


10" Green Earth Frying Pan, with Textured Ceramic Non-Stick Coating from Germany (100% PTFE and PFOA Free)
10" Green Earth Frying Pan, with Textured Ceramic Non-Stick Coating from Germany (100% PTFE and PFOA Free)
Price: $29.66
13 used & new from $26.43

5.0 out of 5 stars Great, durable pan, January 29, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this pan a while ago, and it worked so well that I subsequently purchased the two other sizes of pans (which weren't on Amazon yet). I read a lot of information about various types of non-stick coatings, which is a depressing exercise about toxins in our environment if you go there, and this one turned up as a potentially pretty safe type of coating.

The performance of the pan seems great. Heat is pretty evenly distributed, and they heat up fast too. Getting used to cooking on them is a bit hard because they are very non-stick, so things slide around on them that wouldn't on a cast iron or other type of pan. The other thing is that things won't generally brown unless you add butter, which you don't need to do for sticking purposes but only for the browning. My first experience cooking an egg demonstrates both of the above. Put the egg in the pan, the white then spread over half the pan, the yolk slid into a corner (the stove isn't quite level), and the egg came out a disturbing texture and color, kind of like white flan or something. Adding butter, and using a more appropriately sized plan, fixed both of these.

They also seem very durable. My gf doesn't really pay attention to the no stacking rules, or not using metal, and the pans have withstood the benign neglect well. I honestly think that if you're experiencing the coating coming off a lot that you have a defective version and should return it.


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