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Moral Development: Theory and Applications
Moral Development: Theory and Applications
by Elizabeth C. Vozzola
Edition: Paperback
Price: $37.56
45 used & new from $27.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Very readable, December 11, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Tortuous obfuscation via superfluous excess is a common foible among textbooks in the social sciences. I was pleased to find that this text was quite readable, even chatty.

No book this slim could be comprehensive, and even the author doesn't claim that this book is. But it will be a good resource in a survey or discussion class when supplemented by individual readings.

Water Bobble Sport Filtered Water Bottle, 22-Ounce, Blue
Water Bobble Sport Filtered Water Bottle, 22-Ounce, Blue
Price: $11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice bottle, iffy cover., December 2, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Inasmuch as our municipal water supply adds chloramine, I was happy to find this much greener alternative to buying bottled water when I'm on the go. The setup is a good idea, but still has some bugs to work out.

FORM FACTOR - The bottle is polypro (number 5 plastic), and about as thick as a milk jug, with a slightly narrowed waist to make it more gripable. The sport cap is pretty typical - pull up to open, push down to close. I think it's HDPE, but there's no marking on it. The filter itself consists of a hollow charcoal cylinder with a plastic cage to hold it. This snaps onto the bottom of the sport cap. There is also a silicone cover that goes over the sport cap, and this is a mixed blessing - on the one hand, it's soft and squeezable enough to use to open and close the sport cap without having to use your teeth (nice if your hands aren't particularly clean, and you don't want to touch the drinking nozzle). On the other hand, it's a very smooth silicone, which is not very grippy. I would be happier if there were some ridges or nubbies to help when pulling it off.

CLEANING - I usually clean sport bottles by putting some soapy water in them, and then squeezing it out through the drinking cap to clean it. I was worried I wouldn't be able to do that here, but the plastic holder for the filter does snap off and on, so all good. I recommend rinsing the charcoal cylinder by itself under the tap before using it, not just pushing a bottle full of water through the filter and cap assembly like they say in the instructions (this won't clear the bigger bits of grit). The bottle claims to be dishwasher safe, but given the small mouth size of the bottle, your dishwasher will need to have very good aim.

USE - Tap water really does seem to taste better coming through this thing, and it is nicely portable, so all good. My only objection is that sucking on the sport cap brings in a lot of air with the water, so it's better to squeeze the bottle into an open mouth, in small squeezes, which is frustrating if you wanted to drink a lot at once. The bottle is also somewhat stiff to squeeze - not very arthritis friendly. I also note that the filter will trap a little bit of water when the bottle is empty, so you will have to be diligent about taking apart and rinsing all the various parts before storage - I wouldn't want to just leave a used bottle to sit for a few days, lest you get a moldy filter.

Overall, this is a useful device. I do hope the next iteration fixes the cover (and maybe has a wider mouth on the bottle).

Dell Venue 8 Pro 3000 Series 32GB Windows Tablet (Newest Version)
Dell Venue 8 Pro 3000 Series 32GB Windows Tablet (Newest Version)
Price: $123.99
8 used & new from $123.99

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Do you want fries with that?, November 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
(NOTE: This review is for the Dell Venue Pro, 1 GB RAM, 1.33 GHz, 32 bit OS. Supposedly 16 Gb disk, though the system analysis claims 19.7).

I got my first convertible tablet (a Fujitzu Lifebook) back in Windows XP days. But the "tablet" part was always an afterthought - really just a tweak of a notebook. So I was thrilled to get this Dell non-notebook with Windows 8.1 (with Bing!) to evaluate.

FORM FACTOR: The tablet has an eight-inch diagonal screen, but that small size is belied by the relatively large margins on the short sides, making the actual dimensions more like 5" x 8-1/2". This looks oddly oblong at first, but feels quite comfortable in the hands in landscape mode. Many onscreen features of Windows 8.x that are bizarre on a laptop work well here - the popup split keyboard is thumb-friendly, the tiles on the Start page aren't a humongous waste of screen real estate, the side-swipe to switch between applications really is easier than clicking on a window, and many other gestures and layouts are now less absurd. And, if all else fails, you can always switch into desktop mode (I'll be abbreviating that to SIDM).

The micro USB charging port can also be used as a USB 2.0 connection (with the purchase of the optional adapter). That port is on one of the long sides near the corner, and right next to the volume rocker and Windows button, which makes it pretty much impossible to use this device in a charging stand.

GETTING STARTED: Upon first startup, the tablet presents you with an EULA the size of a small novel (actually two EULAs side-by-side, one for Dell and one for Microsoft). I'm pleased to report that those are also available online, for those of us who prefer a larger font, but I wish those URLs had been presented at the *top* of the text. You are also prompted to connect to a wireless network, and I strongly suggest you do that immediately. Many application links on the Start page are really just stubs, with additional software to be downloaded. I note here that apps downloaded from the Store can only be installed to the internal hard drive, which is a paltry 16Gb, not onto an add-on SD card. You can put other kinds of files such as photos and MP3s on the SD card, or Microsoft offers cloud storage via OneDrive (free for a small amount of storage to get you started, with an easy subscription plan when you need more space).

PRODUCTIVITY: The ribbon menus that are now ubiquitous in Microsoft Office again make sense in this context - the icons are thumb-friendly, and things like Read mode in Word put the onscreen arrow keys in just the right place. For extended work sessions the onscreen keyboard would get tedious, both because it blocks almost half the screen, and because for some applications you have to explicitly open and dismiss it, which kinda interrupts the flow. For on-the-go tweaking of docs and presentations, however, this device is just the thing. The tablet comes with a year's subscription to MS Office Personal (after which there is an easy subscription plan when you need to add more time).

If you want to use non-MicroSoft applications, you can always SIDM. I note that the 1.33 GHz processor and 1 gig of RAM is just barely enough to run Acrobat, and won't be enough to run most graphics programs. For other software you might need a stylus for the menus, or really skinny thumbs. My cheapie no-name passive stylus works fine here as a pointing device, but doesn't give me full mouse-button functionality. I'm getting conflicting information about whether or not the fancy Dell Active Stylus will actually work. (The stylus can be purchased as an optional accessory).

GAMES: Clicking on the game controller icon in Start brings you to Xbox Games (Would you like to create an Xbox Live account now?). The slow processor and small screen preclude most high-graphics games, but the tablet had no problem with smaller stuff like solitaire and Bejeweled. Upon SIDM and downloading a few games from Big Fish, however, I was dismayed to discover I couldn't start some of them - games that start in full screen mode have no way to pull up the keyboard, and therefore no way to enter a username.

READING: Acrobat Reader is quite palatable in full-screen mode (three taps to get back out, since the swipe-down gesture that Windows uses to close an app will be re-purposed to scroll). The Zinio app is too frustrating to use, inasmuch as it doesn't really support portrait mode, thus making the full-screen text size for magazines too tiny to read without constant zooming in and out. The Kindle app works really well - when in landscape mode you can set it to show two columns side-by-side, book-like, the font size is adjustable, and again the arrow keys to turn the page land conveniently under your thumb. There is a bit of screen glare, and I'm looking forward to getting a screen protector to address that. (The link to the Kindle store isn't too obtrusive).

MUSIC: The speaker on this tablet is mono, on one side only, and underwhelming. For real music listening most people use headphones, however, and both Bluetooth and jack-in are supported. The volume rocker, as noted, is on the upper left corner in landscape mode, right next to the Windows button, which I have now pushed accidentally several times. The headphone icon in the Start screen brings you right to Xbox Music, which had no trouble dealing with my SD card full of MP3s, once I told it where to look. Xbox Music also gives you the opportunity to "explore" music in the Store (Buy album for only $9.99.). Or you can SIDM and use another music service.

WEB SURFING: Internet Explorer is nicely showcased on the Start page. Or, you can SIDM and download another browser. I note that IE doesn't overlap the task bar, but Firefox does, which can be a pain with the browser in full-screen mode. You will want to turn the tablet to portrait orientation to navigate login screens, inasmuch as the keyboard tends to cover key fields, like "password."

VIDEO: Clicking on the Video icon on the Start page brings you to Xbox Video, which consists of the Movie Store and the TV Store. The Start page also includes a nice link to Hulu Plus (Only $7.99/month. Cancellable at any time!) but not to Hulu, which is free. There is also a tile for YouTube (Get the full version for only $2.99 a month, start your free trial now.). Or, you can SIDM and go to the actual web pages for those services. I was dismayed to find out that Amazon's own video player doesn't work on this device, because of a hardware incompatibility. So much for my Prime streaming video. (Kumar at customer support was very apologetic). I found occasional freezing for the other services, but nothing I would call a dealbreaker. I also got caught a few times in a "Press ESC to exit full screen mode" situation, with no ESC key. Swipe doesn't always play well with others. (If you want to *take* video you need to tap the still camera icon, and then select the video icon within that app. After a panicked search you will find your videos, not in the "Videos" directory, but instead in the "Pictures" directory, because Microsoft).

PHOTOS: The tablet has the now-typical two lenses, forward and backward facing. I found no obvious complaints with the quality of either, however the lens on the back is in the center of one of the short sides - appropriate when in portrait mode, but unworkable in landscape mode, inasmuch as your fingers are a little too likely to cover the lens. There is a small picture-fixing app for things like color correct and skew. For fancier stuff like adding text or graphics you'll have to SIDM and use Paint, which works really awfully on an eight-inch screen, inasmuch as the menus are tiny, and there aren't obvious things like "Zoom to fit". Once you do have some photos you can upload them to Dropbox, which has a nice link on the Start page (do I really need to say it?).

INTEGRATION: Upon registering the tablet, and providing my Microsoft ID, I was delighted to see it had automatically pulled my desktop wallpaper (a personal photo) in from my "real" computer, a Lenovo Yoga running Windows 8. Foibles and frustrations aside, the ability to share data via the cloud really is impressive. Some apps now show up on both machines, license permitting.

Overall, I think this tablet will be useful for road warriors who don't want to shlep a laptop or notebook, but who need more than a phone. I wouldn't get it as a primary computing device. Also, as noted, Microsoft has taken more than one page from Apple's business plan. Kudos for the thumb-friendly UI and network integration. Not so much for the constant upsell.

Post-it 4 x 3 Feet Dry Erase Surface (DEF4x3)
Post-it 4 x 3 Feet Dry Erase Surface (DEF4x3)
Price: $41.99
13 used & new from $31.35

4.0 out of 5 stars Geek bait, November 19, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
You can never have too many creative outlets, so I was happy to get this boardless Whiteboard to review. It does what it claims - namely, lets you turn any flat surface into a dry erase board.

Since the surface is cuttable, I tested a piece of it on a painted steel door, and another piece on a sheet of interior-grade plywood, lightly sanded. I wiped both surfaces down with some rubbing alcohol to make sure they were clean and dry, and burnished the dry erase surface well once it was in position. The dry erase surface had no problem sticking to either base surface, and was immediately repositionable on both (not sure if it will still be repositionable a month from now, or how many times you can do that).

Some further observations:

- Small flaws in the underlying wall (or whatever) will be evident, but this doesn't effect the function of the board.

- Be careful not to sharply bend the surface when installing it, or you will get a lasting divot.

- The instructions say to use a straightedge to cut the surface, but the backing has a light diamond pattern, and if you have a good light and a good eye you can just follow that to get a straight line (printed lines would be welcome here).

- The surface is actually a bit too smooth (though this may fade with age). I tried both Marks-a-Lot dry erase markers and some fine-point Japanese ones from Daiso, and both slipped around a tad too easily.

- The instructions end with "recycle the box and the backing", but the backing has no recycle marks (probably HDPE). It's actually a nice sturdy sheet of plastic - I think I'll put it under some plants.

- If you (or one of your coworkers) is the kind of person who writes past the edges of the whiteboard, a duct tape frame will act as a speedbump, and insure a clean-looking edge.

Overall, I'm impressed by this product. 4.5 stars.

Koss Pro4S Full Size Studio Headphones, Black with Silver Trim
Koss Pro4S Full Size Studio Headphones, Black with Silver Trim
Price: $149.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good sound response, some comfort issues, November 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Cans are the new earbuds, so I was happy to get this around-the-ear set to review. I found them to be decent mid-level headphones, with a few foibles.

- SOUND - The headphones have excellent range over both the frequency and volume spectrum. If you're used to earbuds, both the bass response and the rendering of soft sounds will be noticeably improved. The imaging and soundstage are definitely clearer in voice range, however, and are a tiny bit muddy at both the bass and high ends, so if you are a classical music aficionado you might want to get something more expensive. "Studio" in this case means a flat response across the pitch spectrum, so there's no amplified thumpa-thumpa bass, unless you create that with an equalizer on your own device. All good. After about five hours of listening, I can confirm that there is a break-in period.

I also found that the headphones did well with movies, both for sound effects and voices - one of my favorite clips to test audio equipment is the opening scene from the Star Trek 2009 movie, and, while the Koss headphones didn't quite render the sound effects as well as my Bose surround system, the dialog was easy to understand, and there was good foreground/background separation (but more on that below).

- FORM FACTOR - The cans are designed to go around your ear, with a D-shaped cushion that is kinda ear-shaped. I found that the lower point on the D rested on the edge of my jaw muscle, which was noticeable though not excruciating (the set feels tight at first, but does loosen up a bit). More of an issue is that the cushion cover is a very good imitation leather, but not *actually* leather, which meant that my ears started to get uncomfortably sweaty after about an hour of listening. I had high hopes that these would be good movie-watching 'phones, but the sweatiness may be a dealbreaker for me (YMMV - if you have cooler ears this may not be an issue). On a brighter note, the inside of the headband is fabric, not the silicone or foam I've seen in other cans, so it won't tug on your hair. The earpieces do both tilt and swivel, the headband extends, and the earpieces fold inward into the headband for travel. The cushions are removable and (presumably) replaceable, which I expect from higher-end headphones.

- CORD - The cord is conveniently coiled (typical for "studio" sets), and not quite symmetrical - there is the same 3.5mm connector on both ends (with a 1/4" connector adapter included), but the straight part is longer on one end than the other. Again typical - you don't want the coil next to your face. Fully stretched the cord can get to like ten feet, but at that length you have a slingshot not headphones. Five feet is about the longest practical length.

- CASE - I love the case. Not only is is bookshelf friendly (square, zippered, with a velcroed-in pouch for the adapter and cord, and a mesh pocket inside the lid), it also acts as shipping protection for the headphones. So the only other packaging used is a very-recyclable cardboard box. Bravo.

Overall, I found these to be a very reasonable set of full sized headphones for the price. I would happily pay for real leather cushions if they were available.

Dixie Disposable Cutting Boards, 30 Count
Dixie Disposable Cutting Boards, 30 Count
Price: $5.99

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Blech., November 6, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Given that raw chicken is treated as toxic waste these days, we now trim, clean, and part out chicken carcasses on the paper they came wrapped in. Inasmuch as that's not really a good slicing surface, however, I had high hopes for this cutting board. I am truly underwhelmed.

The "board" is no thicker than a paper plate, with a raised rim that only comes up about an eighth of an inch. The useful surface inside the rim is about nine inches wide (measured on the widest part), and 12 long. Yes, you can put a chicken in that space. The edges wont be high enough to contain any runny juices, however, or to keep legs and wings from flopping over the side.

With regard to cutting vegetables, my Kyocera knife actually went all the way through the "board" when slicing, so I wouldn't recommend using anything with a ceramic blade. My Pinzon santoku only went through the top layer when slicing, which is tolerable, but doing a chiffonade with it chewed up the surface enough to allow juices to soak into the paper, at which point the inside of the paper started to swell up and break down. How about no.

With regard to using this as a serving plate, you could certainly use it as a liner on a nice wooden or silver platter, if you didn't want to soil those with food. Or you could put the "board" on your table or buffet first, and then put the food on top. What you can't do is pick up one of these with any kind of weight on it, heavier than maybe some nicely arranged crackers. As with regular paper plates you can double up for strength, which might get you to crackers and cheese. (One of the promo pictures shows a cut up watermelon - this is comedy).

I'm happy to report these are made in the USA, and, in my neighborhood at least they would be compostable (yay). With regard to actual usability, however, as I said, I am underwhelmed.

Dorothy Parker Drank Here
Dorothy Parker Drank Here
by Ellen Meister
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.86

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Razors pain you, rivers are damp, November 5, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Dorothy Parker walk into the light? Of course not; she's at the Algonquin. In the hotel bar.

This book is the second of a series starring the hard-drinking wisecracking ghost of the famous author. If you can suspend disbelief long enough to embrace that premise, and several more along the way, it presents a charming story. No heavy philosophy or stomach-knotting tension, just a somewhat convoluted plot involving a TV producer, a disgraced novelist, several other players of varying degrees of weird, and the discorporate Mrs. Parker. Who can appear at will, sort of.

The book has lots of conversation, a small bit of action, and a soupcon of glurge. Alas, there really isn't a lot of the rapier wit and caustic repartee that are associated with the title character. Nevertheless, it would be a good read on the beach. Or subway.

TP-LINK Archer C8 AC1750 Dual Band Wireless AC Gigabit Router, 2.4GHz 450Mbps+5Ghz 1300Mbps, 1 USB 2.0 Port & 1 USB 3.0 Port, IPv6, Guest Network
TP-LINK Archer C8 AC1750 Dual Band Wireless AC Gigabit Router, 2.4GHz 450Mbps+5Ghz 1300Mbps, 1 USB 2.0 Port & 1 USB 3.0 Port, IPv6, Guest Network
Price: $119.16
49 used & new from $107.24

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very easy to set up. Only one tool required., October 31, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Inasmuch as my old router is the electronic version of the Beverly Hillbillies' jalopy, I was glad to get this one to review. I found it to be very easy to install and launch (no cranking or stick shift required. Not a backfire to be heard).

The instructions are clear and easy to follow, with the hardware hookup diagrams on one side of the not-quite-poster-sized instruction sheet, and software and network connections on the other. After about 20 minutes of minor fussing I had a Sony Vaio, a Lenovo Yoga, and an iPhone up and on the network, with the laptops tested and working in both wired and wireless mode. (Though the Vaio insisted that I reboot it between connections - it's always been something of a prima donna).

The box stands up on edge, and with the antennas attached straight up it is about 12 inches high, about 8.5 wide, and not quite 4 inches thick. The antennas can be bent over and aimed, though I didn't need to do this to get a good connection.

Running a speedtest using Ookla gave me a 56.97 Mbps download speed in 2.4 Ghz mode, and an upload speed of 5.51 Mbps. Inasmuch as the upward limiter on that was clearly my network, not the router, I didn't bother with the 5 Ghz test.

The ports on the back and side of the router are nicely labeled, and there are also various useful passwords and addresses printed on the back. Unfortunately, the text size for these is microscopic. So, no tools required to launch this box, except a magnifying glass. (Granny isn't happy).

David-Link BioSec-H1 Biometric Electronic Home Safe, 8" Height x 15" Length x 16.5" Width, Carbon
David-Link BioSec-H1 Biometric Electronic Home Safe, 8" Height x 15" Length x 16.5" Width, Carbon
Price: $233.00
2 used & new from $233.00

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nicely designed, except for the beep., October 31, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've had a fireproof document safe for a few years now. Inasmuch as that safe doesn't really work for jewelery and other heavy metal objects, however, I was glad to get this one to review. Some questions immediately came up:

* Will the safe fit under the bed? Yes (depending on your bed). The exterior is 8 inches high, and roughly 16.5 wide and 15 deep. (The interior is about 6x16x11). Even better, the door is hinged on the right hand side, not the top, so you won't need to reach down and around the door.

* Can the safe be attached to the floor or wall? Yes. There are two holes in the back and four in the bottom, and the safe comes with two solid bolts and anchors. (No point in locking something in a safe if a thief can just walk away with the safe). There is a felt pad that goes inside the safe to cover the bottom and the holes.

* Can the safe be opened if the batteries are dead? Yes. The fingerprint reading technology is a nice toy, but electronics have their drawbacks. The design here is done well however - there's an external battery pack that can be attached to provide juice to the fingerprint reader if the internal batteries are empty. This will let you open the safe to change the batteries (the battery compartment is on the inside). The safe also comes with two mechanical override keys, which are again nicely designed.

* Can a person's fingerprint be removed from the access database without the person being present? Yes (but not easily). The safe can store multiple fingerprints, but you can't delete just one - you have to delete all the stored prints, and then re-add the ones you want to keep.

* Can the safe be opened silently? No. When your fingerprint is recognized it plays a little tune, and if the print is rejected it plays a different one. This feature can't be turned off. So, if you wanted to keep a security weapon in the safe, you should be aware of this feature.

Overall, the safe is working well for my purposes so far. It doesn't always recognize my print on the first try (there's not much variability in where you can place your finger), but it will read eventually. I do wish the beep could be turned off, and that there were more of a handle to open the door (you just grip the reader between two fingers, which isn't optimal). However, overall this is a well thought out device, for a variety of uses.

(Note - some other reviewers seem to think this safe is fireproof. Comparing its construction to my fireproof document safe, I do not think this is the case.)

Designing With Light: The Art, Science and Practice of Architectural Lighting Design
Designing With Light: The Art, Science and Practice of Architectural Lighting Design
by Jason Livingston
Edition: Paperback
Price: $70.71
29 used & new from $51.55

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent breadth, and an overall useful textbook, October 24, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Lighting is often the poor relation of building design and construction. Not only because the client often underestimates the value and effect of lighting, but also because the field itself is a moving target. This year's state-of-the-art lamping is next year's Title 24 embarrassment. ("Where are we hiding the ballasts?" I said to the electrician at our first on-site. "How long since you've done this?" he answered with a grin.)

This book provides a very nice introduction to the field, covering both what I would consider the basics of lighting design (determining client needs, ergonomics and esthetics, daylighting, terms of art, RCPs, code issues, and hardware including manufacturer cut sheets), and some more interesting esoterica (credentialing issues, physics/optics, the human visual system, a bit of history). The text is very readable, though some concepts will require thinking over. Readers won't need a background in EE or Cognitive Science, but it will be easier to understand the lighting diagrams if you already understand floor plans.

There is a useful glossary, and new terminology is also called out in margin notes, which is lovely in a textbook. There are case studies and sidebars as well, though unfortunately the font for these is even smaller than the (relatively small) font of the book text. There are also links to online resources at the end of each chapter, and I am concerned with the potential longevity of these. I would have preferred a curated list as part of the online offerings. Like I said, it's a moving target. (4.5 stars).
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 25, 2014 8:53 AM PDT

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