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Customer Reviews: 530
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Danco 10723 Traditional Smart Spray Pull Down Faucet Spray Head, Chrome
Danco 10723 Traditional Smart Spray Pull Down Faucet Spray Head, Chrome
Price: $24.98
3 used & new from $19.92

4.0 out of 5 stars Water Saving and Good Looking, April 17, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a great-looking, chrome spray head that looks like metal. And, given the drought that we are experiencing, it would probably be a great help with that. Unfortunately, we have an older kitchen and an older faucet and this piece doesn’t fit our faucet. Had it fit, I have no doubt it would have made our kitchen look great and have saved us a little bit on our water bills. It’s a great lesson to check twice before ordering.


The Full Catastrophe: Travels Among the New Greek Ruins
The Full Catastrophe: Travels Among the New Greek Ruins
by James Angelos
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Greek Challenge, April 16, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a book that tells a complicated socio-economic story through the individual and colorful stories of the protagonists (or is it antagonists?) he meets. And by telling their stories, a picture of Greece begins to emerge. It is not necessarily a pretty picture. It’s a picture of a country where corruption is a way of life, where civil servants can’t be fired even for murder and are paid extra for the hardship of sitting in front of a computer; where tax collectors (when they collect tax at all) follow the 40-40-20 rule (40% to the tax collector, 40% to the tax payer and 20% to the state); where the non-blind collect blind benefits and on and on. And yet, when told they have no money, the Greeks do not blame themselves; they refuse to acknowledge that not collecting taxes, enriching themselves on what few taxes are collected is to blame for their woes; instead they blame the EU and Germany in particular for all their problems.

And sure, the initial bail out terms were harsh as Angelos points out but reading this book I increasingly wondered what business Greece has being in the EU in the first place. As he says, they are probably in Europe because it was unthinkable to keep the country of Athens out. But structurally and culturally they are not ready for membership. And I think Greeks who are increasingly withdrawing into themselves; withdrawing into an imaginary utopia of Greece for the Greeks may be the ones who come closese to acknowledging this truth.

I think Angelos was hoping the reader would walk away with at least a shred of sympathy for the Greeks and more understanding of them and their plight. And, I admit, I gained in understanding. And I was at least somewhat sympathetic. But mostly I was upset that these people were admitted into the EU to begin with.

And I live nowhere near the EU!


Deer Stags Men's Mean Boot, Black, 11 M US
Deer Stags Men's Mean Boot, Black, 11 M US
Price: $80.00
2 used & new from $79.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Work Boots, April 16, 2015
This review is from: Deer Stags Men's Mean Boot (Shoes)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These are boots have a simple conservative design that goes with most of my husband’s wardrobe; be it jeans, slacks or even shorts. When we first got them we were a little disappointed. The leather felt thin and stiff. There is very little comfort padding till you get quite low and the sole of the boots have quite a flat profile. The memory foam is quite thin and covers the rear half of the foot.

When he first tried them on they were a good fit for US 10 – 10.5, EU 44 size feet but as mentioned before the leather was a little stiff though most of the chafing was at the top rim.

The following couple of days he wore them for a good 4-6 hours while being on his feet quite a lot of time doing gardening and crouching while playing with dogs. As a result, the boots started to conform to his feet, settled a bit better and became less stiff. He tells me that now they are fairly comfortable but still rub a little at the rear top but not enough to create serious discomfort. They grip well on a variety of surfaces didn’t leak when walking through puddles and getting sprayed and dripped on when washing the car in shorts.

The memory foam is adequate and cushions his feet enough to add noticeable comfort. Looking at the boot up close one concern was that they are single stitched throughout. Most of his footwear tends to be double stitched, but despite that they do seem to be strong.

In the end, other than the mild chafing at the top they proved fairly comfortable and practical. He is mostly using them as a light duty work boot that lets him look smart and not worry about the elements while wearing them. The only other thing to note is that on hot days his feet get quite hot. I think the waterproof nature of the boot means that they are quite well sealed and allow heat to build up if you exert yourself on a hot day which may not be what you want when it’s hot outside.

That said, they are boots so some of that is probably to be expected.


DEWALT DWS709 Slide Compound Miter Saw, 12-Inch
DEWALT DWS709 Slide Compound Miter Saw, 12-Inch

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Tool, April 15, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have converted the rear section of my garage into a studio and installed laminate flooring. Two years later and I still haven’t done the baseboard and other trim because I’m not confident with precise cutting with a hand miter saw. When this 12” slide compound miter saw turned up I was excited. Finally I could finish up the studio and some of the other projects around our home.

This saw arrived preassembled in a large box. Inside the box the saw was sandwiched between two large form fitting polystyrene slabs to hold it secure and keep the box structurally sound. I mention the box because if you do not have a lot of bench space, the box can be used for storing the saw since it can be stacked with other things where the saw is too awkward a shape to do anything with. You could even use the box as a makeshift bench.

The saw is quite large but doesn’t weigh as much as you might expect. It’s approximately 50 pounds of mostly cast aluminium with steel rails and hardware, plastic casing for the motor, hand grip, switch and blade guard. It is solid and well made with hand grips on either side of the base that are recessed for easy lifting and placing without getting your fingers caught.

Safety is an obvious consideration. The blade guard almost entirely shields both sides of the blade and the circumference. Even in use, it very rarely leaves more than a couple of inches of the blade exposed. The slide has a simple knob to tighten and lock the saw on the slide rail. There is a ¼ inch thick steel pin integrated into the saw pivot mechanism that holds the saw down securely during storage and hauling.

The fence along the back of the blade is solid aluminium with sliding extensions that are locked in place by another plastic capped thumbscrew similar to the slide rail. The caps are knobbly enough to give good grip even if you have slippery hands. The sliding fence extensions expand several inches past the sides of the saw base giving you a nice support for holding lumber against.

For material that is to lay flat on the deck there is a simple clamp that can be mounted from behind the fence on either side of the blade. It has a quick release knob so you can pull it up and swing it around the fence out the way. The clamp drops into a notched hole in the base so a quick 180 degree rotation to the back of the saw will allow you to remove the clamp with no effort; drop it in the other mounting hole and turn it back 180 degrees to the saw side of the fence for clamping and the notch locks it in place. It’s very quick, efficient and convenient and takes only a moment to swap sides.

A miter saw has to be able to do angles. The whole saw swings 50 degrees off center in both directions with a nice long arm that has both a tightening knob and button trigger to release the saw. The saw rotates very smoothly and precisely with no play and locks in 10 steps with a very authoritative click that makes things quick, easy and inspires confidence.

The handle grip is large ABS type plastic spade grip that encompasses any size hand guarding it and providing little chance of slipping. Since it’s a spade grip with a chunky trigger at the center, the saw requires you to hold the handle correctly to activate it. So it’s very safe.

The saw also rotates on a second axis rolling from left to right.

At the back end of the saw is a funnel that extends out the back collecting and ejecting sawdust back away from your work. A simple mesh bag comes with the to collect dust. But the tube is of a diameter that a shopvac can easily be fastened for even easier cleanup.

In use

My first test of this saw was to frame a couple of garage windows that run along the side of the back yard to make the exterior match the rest of the house so as to give it a more Italian villa appearance. For this I lay the ½ inch x 4 inch moulding flat on the deck and used the clamp to hold down the material and make 45 degree cuts much like you would for a picture frame. This worked very well and I had perfect 90 degree window frames when finished.

Using the saw was simple; each length required the moulding to be cut 45 degrees in the opposite direction at each end thanks to the quick release clamp and the smooth precision of the saw when selecting angle presets. The whole process was very easy with the saw being very smooth to pivot and slide when cutting.

The same with the base board and interior door framing. It was all so easy. Having the right tools for a job makes all the difference.

Tips.

These are pretty common sense really. But if you’re going to do cuts that require you to alternate the angle many times like I did for the framing, try and position the saw in the center of the room so you can switch sides quickly with a length of wood without having to physically move the saw. Prop up the non-clamped side of lumber to support it so that it stays level during and after the cut. That way the weight won’t pull the wood off level or risk tearing or getting caught in the blade ruining your clean cut and potentially expensive material.

Have good lighting. The only negative thing I could find with this saw was that because it rotates on two axes the blade channel is quite wide. You need to sight down the blade and see where it touches on the material before you cut. This is easy on the left side, but the saw handle is on the right side of the blade casts a lot of shadow from ceiling lights which can make it quite hard to sight down the right side of the blade.

I noticed that Dewalt have an LED lights accessory for illuminating the blade area that is compatible with many of their saws though this DWS709 isn’t listed. Having some extra lighting for the right handle side is useful.

Overall:

I really like this saw and highly recommend it.


Ortho Weed B Gon Weed Killer, RTU Trigger 1 gal
Ortho Weed B Gon Weed Killer, RTU Trigger 1 gal
Price: $9.99
2 used & new from $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to Use, April 9, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I’m more accustomed to the smaller windex size squeezy bottles of weed killer like roundup and haven’t previously tried these large one-gallon spray cans.

At first glance it looks more complicated than expected especially when the spray handle is very firmly mounted to the clip on the side. In fact it seems to be one piece, hard-mounted for shipping. Initially, I was afraid of breaking something trying to remove it. Once removed the mounting clip is reusable and holds the handle firmly but gently.

Once the spray handle is detached you pull out a 1/8 inch hose all the way, plug the end into the flip spout on the one-gallon can. Flip the spout and start spraying. It’s very simple and effective. The spray nozzle is very nice and produces a very clean even and precise jet of the weed killer. It offers a lot of control, no need to bend over and spray up close. You can just casually walk around and spray precisely. It has a precise jet and a medium spray setting to choose from.

I used the spray on the grass area and the jet on the cracks in the driveway that collect dirt that small weeds start to grow in. It takes 24 hours and some sunlight to notice it starting to work. I will update this review as more results become evident.


Epson Expression Home XP-320 Wireless Color Photo Printer with Scanner & Copier
Epson Expression Home XP-320 Wireless Color Photo Printer with Scanner & Copier
Offered by XpW
Price: $79.52

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Little Printer, April 6, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a small, compact wireless, inkjet printer, scanner and copier that is ideal for light duty work. Its compact size means it’s easy to find space for it on your desk, shelf or cupboard so long as you leave some empty space above for the scanner lid and paper loading. The paper is fed standing upright in the paper feeder at the rear. This can be a bit inconvenient but it does save space.

One thing I noticed when setting it up is that the power cable sits in a recessed section of the printer so the printer can still be pushed up flush against a wall or panel at the back of a shelf which helps keep the space required small. This makes it perfect for an office (or dorm room) where space is at a premium.

It uses four ink cartridges: cyan, magenta, yellow and black and ships with standard sized cartridges though extra-large sizes are available for purchase separately. We also have a workforce high capacity printer in the main office whose cartridges are MUCH larger. So this printer is really ideal for light use rather than printing hundreds of sheets a week.

Setup is very simple. If you’re used to using computers you don’t really need instructions. There is a small 1.5” color screen on the front face of the printer that tells you everything you need to know to set up the printer for first use. Once out of the box all that needs to be done is removing the blue tape located around the printer. It’s basically there to hold everything together in the packaging during transit. And then you get rid of the polystyrene insert in the paper feeder. Then plug it in and follow on-screen instructions.

I noticed there is a wired network socket by I chose to use wireless. Wireless install is easy so long as you have your network password. Most modem/routers have a factory default password on a label at the rear or underneath. Just enter it when prompted on screen and the printer takes care of the rest.

The printer comes with a CD with drivers and scanning tools. It does work without but the CD driver tools add a few more advanced options that are useful when printing web pages.

Once this initial setup is done the printer will show up on your network. In Windows Explorer clicking on its network icon brings up a simple webpage type menu where you can set up any advanced settings.

Some of the features include:

Firmware updates: There was a new firmware update for mine. Check the printer screen and it will notify you when it’s done updating; the browser control menu will not do so.

Cloud printing: Requires a google account to get access to their cloud storage service.

Epson connect: E-mail printing where your printer has its own email

Air printing: Seems to be an Apple protocol for printing wirelessly from their devices.

Printer Information: Tells you ink levels and basic printer status information.

The Driver and Utilities package includes:

Driver
Scanner driver and scan utility
Easy photo Scan
Event Manager
Software updater
Network Installer.

These can be downloaded and installed individually which is nice. Not everyone will want the event manager and updater running in the background; advanced users will probably prefer to not have to install them.

In use.

With the PC: The printer is easy to use for printing from within Windows. Just select print from whichever application you’re using and choose the settings you want. Scanning is run separately from a utility called Epson Scan and provides several presets depending on your comfort level. The pre-tests are: home, office and professional. The only problem I had was that the scan software couldn’t find the scanner on the printer till I ran a separate Epson utility called Epson Scan settings and changed from local to network and pressed the test button. Then the scanner was found and worked correctly.

With the Android: The instructions tell you to search for Epson Connect in the Android App store. Doing so provides you with several apps to choose from. There is no actual Epson Connect App. The Epson iPrint is the app you need. Once installed you get a variety of options including printing from photos on your device, web pages, cloud, camera, documents or scanning.

I actually have more than one Epson Printer so I had to click on settings and choose which of the two printers I wished to print or scan from and all went well first time.

Print and Scanning work well. I use slightly heavier weight quality 24lb inkjet paper and the print quality was good though darks can be a little muddy.

Conclusion

The Epson XP-320 is a nice compact printer that is simple to use and is great for low-volume work and scanning. Once installed it’s very easy to use.
If I could change one thing it would be to have a paper drawer instead of loading upright sheets from the back. Just to save some vertical space and not have dust collect in the paper feeder if you leave paper in the feeder and don’t use the printer for a while. Though I that this would make the printer larger.

It’s a very nice printer with intuitive controls that work well with Windows, including Windows 8.1 and Android devices. The only thing to consider is how much printing you plan to do. The ink cartridges are very small. I have a high capacity Epson Workforce WP-4530 printer which has much larger paper drawers and cartridges at least 6x the size that will last much longer. I would recommend a Epson Workforce printer if you have a home office and do a lot of printing or this XP-320 if your more casual and just want to print the occasional document or photo and scanning.


Being Berlusconi: The Rise and Fall from Cosa Nostra to Bunga Bunga
Being Berlusconi: The Rise and Fall from Cosa Nostra to Bunga Bunga
by Michael Day
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.52

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Enumeration of Scandals, April 5, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you are a political junkie (like me) you may well enjoy this book. Not so much because you don’t know the story; at the end of the day, Michael Day doesn’t really tell you anything you didn’t already know—but he does put all the scandals surrounding Berlusconi (financial, mafia-related, and sexual) into one package. And, I have to admit, seeing all of it together does make for quite a shocking read.

The trouble is that throughout this story, Berlusconi the man, is largely absent. Likewise absent is a character that looms large in this tale: Italian culture. As a result, we get what is essentially a laundry list of Berlusconi’s misdeeds—all of which had been reported in the media but no real sense of why this man (whom Michael Day repeatedly calls brilliant) would do such a thing. In another man’s hands, this story could have been a tragedy; in Michael Day’s it feels more like an opportunity missed.

For example, over and over again Michael Day bemoans that in “any other country” Berlusconi would not have been able to get away with (this, that or the other thing). But isn’t that sort of the point? Berlusconi was not a business tycoon and politician in “any other country”; he was a business tycoon and politician in Italy. So what was it about Italy’s character, mores—and just how things are done that either enabled or perhaps forced him to become the man he did become?

And how did that evolution come about? How and why did a boy who while not enthusiastic about religion dutifully attend church become the patron saint of Bonga, Bonga? Being Berlusconi does not answer that question. And, as a result, it (IMO) largely fails as a biography.

Final verdict: if you are political junkie who is interested in the Berlusconi scandals, get this book from the library.


Tacwise 1221 A54 Hammer Tacker Plus 5000 140-Series Stainless Steel Staples, 3/8-Inch
Tacwise 1221 A54 Hammer Tacker Plus 5000 140-Series Stainless Steel Staples, 3/8-Inch
Price: $33.14
2 used & new from $33.14

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Handy Tool, April 5, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This Tacwise hammer tacker is solid and ruggedly built with a chunky rubber grip that is tapered at the top with a lightly textured tread pattern to prevent it slipping in sweaty hands. It is weighty enough that it requires little effort to use. I used mine with 3/8 inch staples and had no problems tacking at all. It’s a lot easier and faster than a manual grip staple gun and requires a lot less effort which is good when using it for prolonged periods of time.

I did have moment of initial confusion when trying to load it for the first time. The instructions could be clearer. A trigger latch is partly obscured by the rubber guard portion of the grip (so you won’t trigger it by accident). When released, the rail pulls out the back of the handle. To load the staples (150 at a time), don’t try and put them in the pull out portion of the rail. With the hammer upside down, just lay the staples pointy side up in the main body and slide the rail back in. It’s dead easy when you know how to do it.

My only concern is that if you have small hands the chunky rubber rectangular grip might be a bit large. But for me this tool was very comfortable and very easy to grip lightly and use. Other than that a tab for mounting/hanging on a pegboard when not in use or some kind of belt fastening clip would have been a nice addition.

The weight and rectangular cross section with rubber grip means that it stays put when you lay it on a ¼ inch pitch roof.

I recommend it.


Kaplan SAT Premier 2015-2016 with 8 Practice Tests: Book + Online + DVD + Mobile (Kaplan Test Prep)
Kaplan SAT Premier 2015-2016 with 8 Practice Tests: Book + Online + DVD + Mobile (Kaplan Test Prep)
by Kaplan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $26.51
51 used & new from $19.92

4.0 out of 5 stars The bottom line is that this is a good review for a standardized test, April 4, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The bottom line is that this is a good review for a standardized test. All standardized tests have certain things in common and one of them is that you need to be self-aware enough to know where you are on the test so that you can knock out the easier problems and devote more time to the harder ones (if the harder ones are worth more points.) The other thing they all have in common is that you need a certain amount of discipline to sit and concentrate intensely during a very long test. This book is excellent in providing some really great, common sense tips on how to quickly work out problems and gives you some strategies on dealing with the test itself. An example may illustrate what I mean. One of the practice math problems asks: “A certain pump can drain a full 375-gallon tank in 15 minutes. At this rate, how many more minutes would it take to drain a full 600-gallon tank? “

Now, you can do this problem the hard way. You can say that Rate*Time = Volume; Rate=Volume/Time. Substitute the numbers you are given and find that the rate is 25. Then put the 25 in the new equation 25 * Time = (600-375) and come up with 9. Which is answer A. And it’s very tempting to do it this way. However, as the book points out, you don’t have to. All you have to do is notice that “Because we are dealing with additional minutes, we’re really just looking for the amount of time it would take to drain 600-375=275 gallons. 225 is less than 375 so it should take less than 15 minutes. The only choice less than 15 is A.” So you get the same answer but in a lot less time and speed is really important on these tests.

So this is a really good review book for students who can take the 2015 version of the SAT because it does a really good job of showing you the tricks to use. The DVD and the cell phone options should also be welcome for kids preparing for the SAT today.

Having said all that, a book preparatory guide is, at the end of the day, only as good as the effort you put into it. Buying a book is not enough. You actually have to go through it (sometimes several times) before test day if you expect your results to improve. With that caveat, I think this is a really good study guide.


KitchenAid KEK1222SX 1.25-Liter Electric Kettle - Brushed Stainless Steel
KitchenAid KEK1222SX 1.25-Liter Electric Kettle - Brushed Stainless Steel
Offered by always quality
Price: $79.00
15 used & new from $42.79

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quality Kettle, April 1, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am married to a Brit and so know that most countries have been using electric kettles since at least the 70’s while they have only recently become popular in the USA. I remember trying to buy my first electric kettle here in the USA and the lady at Macy’s looking quite appalled and showing me all their coffee machines.

I’ve had about three electric kettles in the 16 years since that episode and now they are as common and easy to find as stove top kettles.

This KitchenAid kettle has a traditional retro design influence that suits our modernized 50’s style kitchen well. It holds 1.25 liters of water which comes to approximately 10 coffee cups. It sits on a round plastic base that has basic cord management so you can adjust the length so it reaches between 1.5 and 3.5 feet.

It’s made of a mix of brushed steel with polished steel lid and accents. The heating element is concealed so the inside of the pot is bare clean and smooth and easy to clean. There is minimal plastic inside; just the sliding removable gauze filter and mounting frame are made of plastic.

This kettle is surprisingly light when empty compared to the Krups I have been using. It weighs almost nothing.

Controls are simple, just the single button at the bottom rear of the kettle. You push it down and a LED lights up to tell you it’s on. The thermostat inside turns the kettle off automatically when the water is boiled. There is no water meter, you lift the lid and fill. A small metal prong poked out from the inside rear of the pot about 2/3 of the way up and is the max water limit marker.

I timed the kettle to boil cold tap water filled to the max marker. It took exactly 5 minutes and 45 seconds to boil the 42oz of water. My Krups kettle is slight larger and holds 60oz and takes 7 minutes 15 seconds to boil. So this seems pretty reasonable.

One thing I did notice is that this KitchenAid kettle is quiet. The initial 3 minutes were silent and I was concerned that it wasn’t working properly and might take a long time. The usual metallic kettle hiss began after 3 minutes as the water began to boil. So this is definitely the quietest kettle I have used.

Overall it’s a simple to use kettle with an attractive design that boils water in good time. Inside there is minimal plastic while a gauze filter prevents any solid matter in your water getting poured into your cup. I recommend it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 4, 2015 12:29 PM PDT


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