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Customer Reviews: 11
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James Sabo RSS Feed (Shadow Hills, CA United States)

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Pleatco PWK30 Replacement Cartridge for Watkins Hot Spring Spas, 1 Cartridge
Pleatco PWK30 Replacement Cartridge for Watkins Hot Spring Spas, 1 Cartridge
Price: $15.55
11 used & new from $7.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Didn't even last 4 weeks before falling apart., November 19, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I didn't even get a month of light use out of these before they started to disintegrate, making my water completely cloudy & forcing me to drain the spa twice. This may have been a manufacturing defect in just a couple, as the degree of breakdown varied pretty widely, but the time lost doesn't make it worth trying these again.

Apocalypse (Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi)
Apocalypse (Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi)
by Troy Denning
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.19
80 used & new from $2.05

1.0 out of 5 stars A poor ending to a weak series, February 11, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
There's really little point in reviewing the last book in the series-- if you read this far, you might as well suck it up and finish it out.

Just know that you're going to deal with another poorly-edited major character having a last-minute change of heart with little explanation, not one but two other product lines get dragged in in the middle of the book, and more Time-Turner-like abuse of Force powers.

The series needs a reboot to get rid of all the crap introduced by the New Jedi Order series, and the editors either need to stop releasing 7+ book opuses, or they need to talk to JK Rowling about how to put out a book that both advances the story and makes you feel like you had a satisfying conclusion. I'm tired of feeling like I have to muscle through the first 4 books in a new series before I get some payoff.

The Human Division #2: Walk the Plank
The Human Division #2: Walk the Plank
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $0.99

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Buyer beware- 1/4 the size of B-Team, January 23, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
When I read that Scalzi was doing these installment books, I was really excited-- new material each week!

However, it wasn't until I'd blown through this in 10 minutes that I realized that ALL the subsequent material was about the same length.

Sorry, but I'll wait for the collection. This isn't a case of wanting to save a couple bucks, it's about sparing myself the frustration-- I'd rather wait, and have a satisfying experience, than to have the story end before I'd even really settled back into the universe again.

Darth Plagueis (Star Wars)
Darth Plagueis (Star Wars)
by James Luceno
Edition: Hardcover
40 used & new from $11.59

7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wow, did I read the same book as everyone else?, March 19, 2012
I was really looking forward to this, as the background of how Palpatine came to power was one of the great mysteries of the prequels-- how is it that someone so prominent could escape the notice of the Jedi for so long? Who was the Sith who taught him, and what role did the two of them have in Anakin's virgin birth?

Maybe I was looking at this book to confirm that all the speculation about those events was true, but frankly, it felt like the author went out of his way to find ways to contradict all the commonly held theories, and the ending felt completely tacked on at the last minute. I'm sorry, you can't spend 350 pages telling the story from the point of view of two characters, only to have one character reveal a bunch of stuff in the last chapter.

If you prefer to think about Palpatine as being an nearly-omniscient Sith who spend decades setting up dominoes, do yourself a favor and skip this book.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 14, 2013 2:10 PM PST

Nikon D7000 Digital SLR (Body Only) (OLD MODEL)
Nikon D7000 Digital SLR (Body Only) (OLD MODEL)
Offered by PackageBundles
Price: $779.00
109 used & new from $520.00

469 of 495 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cool things you might not know the D7000 can do, October 26, 2010
Just take it for granted that this takes amazing pictures under all conditions, including low light, and that it contains all the manual controls that you'd ever want.

Instead, here's some things that the camera does that you might not have heard about:

* Built-in EyeFi support

If you've used EyeFi SD cards before, you probably assumed that it would work with the D7000, since the D7000 now uses SD cards instead of CF. But not only do you not have to mess around with SD-to-CF adapters, the camera is actually EyeFi aware-- you can choose to have it upload or not upload on a slot-by-slot basis (so you might have it automatically upload the RAW files you saved to an EyeFi Pro card in slot 1, but not bother to upload the JPEGs you saved to the EyeFi Explorer card in slot 2), and there is also an icon that appears on the Info display to indicate that there are files waiting to upload, that the upload is in progress or disabled, etc.

The Nikon Wifi adapter is going for $400. A 4GB, class 6 EyeFi card goes for $40. If you really want to move RAW files, snag the Pro version for $80. Yes, the Nikon adapter does things that EyeFi can't, but if you just want to get your files onto a PC without pulling the card, why spend 10X the money?

You're stuck with the usual limitations of the EyeFi card, but I fully expect to use this feature a LOT with studio portraits-- yeah, it only takes 10 seconds to pull the card and have Windows recognize that you added it, then another 5 seconds to eject the card and stick it back in the camera. But if you just want a quick check that your exposure or focus is where you want it, wouldn't you rather just hit a single key and see your last shot, then get right back into the flow? You may want to drop your JPEG file sizes to speed up the transfer.

* In-camera RAW file processing

The camera contains a ton of built-in settings-- in addition to the basics like Standard, Normal, Landscape, etc, you also get all the various Scene modes, which are basically variations on those main settings.

RAW processing allows you to see how the shot would have looked had you used one of those other modes. In other words, you shoot in Normal, which basically applies no processing to the image, then select the RAW file, and choose how you'd like to adjust it. You can change the white balance settings, exposure, basic picture setting (landscape, portrait, etc), noise reduction, color space, and dynamic lighting. With the exception of the advanced details on the basic picture settings, you see a preview of how your change will affect the picture.

If you like it, just hit EXEcute and it writes out a JPEG to your card. Don't like it, just back out and nothing's saved.

This means that you don't have to worry that shooting in Vivid is going to result in an oversaturated image, or you can punch something up even more after the fact. The only real drawback here to me is that it is going to kick out a JPEG, so if you're planning on doing further editing in Photoshop, this may not be the best route. But if you're just looking to go right from the camera to the web, or want to get an idea of how playing with custom settings will affect your shots, this is a massive shortcut to taking and then deleting a ton of shots. (And keep in mind that Photoshop will allow you to mess with most of these settings when importing RAW files anyway, and the plugin D7000-compatible RAW plugin had a release candidate posted yesterday, so you can finally open your RAW shots.)

And a related feature that's in most other Nikons, but that you might not know about-- you can define your own basic picture settings. Want something that's super-saturated and super-contrasty? Just hit a few buttons, choose a name, and you're done. On the older Nikons, you had to edit the basic profile itself, now, you can use one as a starting point and adjust from there. Much cleaner.

* User-defined settings on the control knob

Not as hidden as the first two, but I can't emphasize how cool this feature is. Here's the situation I was in last night-- I was shooting a singing contest in a dimly-lit venue. I was allowed to use a flash, but I didn't want to constantly be blasting the singers while they were performing.

I defined one setting as shutter priority, 1/60th, ISO Hi 2, center-weighted metering & focus, no flash. The second setting was automatic, ISO auto, full metering and autofocus, flash enabled. I'd take a couple shots in U2 with the flash, close the flash down and switch to U1 and shoot a half a dozen shots, then switch back to U2 and use the flash for a couple more shots. There was no fumbling for controls, no worrying that I changed the shutter speed without realizing it when changing between Auto and S-- every time I went from U2 to U1, all my settings were reset to where I put them before the event started.

I don't think I ever felt as confident about my camera settings in a rapidly changing situation as I did last night-- with just a simple twist of a knob, I was able to change to a completely different shooting configuration with absolute confidence that it was what I wanted.

To me, the utility of this is almost endless-- I'll probably set up one setting for studio portraits, and the other for landscape stuff. If I was still shooting news, I'd probably be swapping between flash and no-flash configurations. For sports, I'd change between action modes and post-game portraits.

The only thing that would make this even better would be if I could import and export settings for later use-- even if you use the "Save/Load" settings option to back up your current configuration to a memory card, it doesn't appear that this information is stored. However, it may be a bug in the Load settings feature, as a number of my settings were incorrectly reset when I tried to load in settings. Either way, it would work better if I could treat these like custom basic picture settings, saving them by name and loading them at will.

* Built-in interval timer shooting

Want to take time-lapse pictures? Just set up your camera on the tripod, specify when you want it to start, how many pictures to take overall, and how many pictures to take each interval and walk away. When it's time to start taking pictures, the camera will automatically focus and shoot, then go back to waiting for the next shot. No messing around with tethering, 3rd party software, whatever-- it's all in the camera, and it's all super-easy to set up. You'll find yourself taking pictures of your living room just to see what your cat actually does all day while you're at work.

* Zoom in live view

This might just be "new to me," but I found it to be very cool for manually adjusting focus when on a tripod-- frame your basic shot, then change to live view. From there, zoom in with the magnifying glass key, and move around the image with the navigation pad until you find the point you want to focus on, then manually focus. Since you can zoom into a tiny portion of the overall image, you can see that you're getting exactly the focus point you want before you take the shot. One gotcha that I always forget, though-- don't forget to pick your aperture BEFORE going into live view, as you can't change it once live view has started.

* Adjustable shooting rate

Again, might be "new to me," but in addition to blasting away at 6fps, you can manually adjust that from 1 to 5 FPS in order to get a different effect. You obviously need to be using a fast enough shutter speed to support your choice-- if you're at 1/2 a second, you're not going to shoot faster than 2FPS.

As I mentioned in one of my other reviews, I used to be a semi-pro photographer-- I was the photo editor for both a weekly and a daily paper, I've shot tons of sports and news photos, and landscape photography is my hobby. I've recently gotten back into portrait photography as well. While I never owned as many cameras as a true pro would have (that semi- means that I never made enough money at it to be able to really spring for equipment), I have shot with a lot of other people's equipment, and I can honestly say that this is the best camera I've ever used.
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 24, 2012 10:29 PM PDT

Three Prism 10x20' 100% Cotton Muslin Backdrops and The Ravelli Full Size 10x12' Background Stand Set
Three Prism 10x20' 100% Cotton Muslin Backdrops and The Ravelli Full Size 10x12' Background Stand Set
Offered by SPN Performance
Price: $194.98
2 used & new from $180.00

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the money, September 3, 2010
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
For what you get here, you simply can't beat the price. No, the stands aren't as sturdy as my Photoflex stands. No, the bags for the muslins aren't super-durable. Yes, the muslins are a little thin, and will let light through if you're back lit and only using one.

But in a studio environment, none of that should matter.

Unless you're intentionally kicking the bags along the ground, they should last just fine.

The stands are in the same boat-- you won't constantly be adjusting them like you would be adjusting your lighting rig stands. You'll assemble it, then leave it until the end of the shoot, when you will put it away. Don't over-tighten the clamps and take minimal precautions to not break the knobs, and the stands should last a very long time.

As for light leakage, I'm posting a shot of the worst-case scenario: a single muslin intentionally back lit by two open windows. As you can see, the leakage is almost zero on the wall between the windows, so if you put any effort at all into cutting down back lighting (use multiple muslins, don't put the rig in front of an open window, close the drapes, etc), you should be fine.

I had no issues with my shipment-- a single box contained everything, and nothing was missing. Shipping was also very fast-- I ordered around 2AM Pacific, the order was fulfilled that morning, and the box shipped from Arizona that day.

If you're looking to build a studio rig quickly and for little money, this is your kit.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 7, 2012 12:46 PM PDT

Eye-Fi Connect X2 4 GB Class 6 SDHC Wireless Flash Memory Card EYE-FI-4CN
Eye-Fi Connect X2 4 GB Class 6 SDHC Wireless Flash Memory Card EYE-FI-4CN
Offered by Compeve
Price: $35.00
10 used & new from $29.95

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good card, bad support, August 17, 2010
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Purchased the card back in July, with the intention of using it with this adapter SD / SDHC / Eye-Fi card to CF type II Adapter for Professional DLSR Digital SLR Camera in my old Nikon D70.

From day one, the card didn't appear to work correctly-- it wouldn't correctly see all my networks, and when it did see a network, it wouldn't stay connected to upload. It didn't matter if the card was in my Nikon or my Panasonic P&S or even hooked up to a PC a couple feet from the Wifi router.

Thinking it would be quicker, I contacted Eye-Fi tech support for assistance. Long story short, after 5 weeks of no response, I gave up and exchanged it with Amazon.

Despite the lazy UPS guy literally throwing it up onto my front porch and bouncing it off the railing once, the new card appears to work correctly-- it saw the network and connected immediately, and pictures are uploading as expected, in both the Nikon and the Panasonic.

My minor list of grips:

1- It seems to be inconsistent on how long it is before uploads start. Sometimes it's 5 seconds, sometimes it's 15. Once the uploads start, anything queued up starts going, but there's that long "is it working" period when you start shooting fresh. Since I'm trying to use this to review shots in my studio as I go, the 15 second delay is annoying. Not clear what drives this delay.

2- The stock software shows you that images are uploading, and you can double-click to review them in the program, but the display is tiny-- I've got a 1080P screen on my laptop for a reason, don't shrink the image to 25% of the original. What I would like is for the last image received to be displayed full-screen, so that I can just look at the laptop and see what I've taken, rather than have to click on anything. I'll probably write a script to do this, but it would have been a real bonus to have this as a feature of the software.

3- It seems like there should be a better way to get pictures off the card while in the field. My cell phone allows me to set up a mobile hotspot and I've got computers at home that are always on. Why can't I just set an IP address on the card, and relay all my photos back to my home machine? I guess if I'm willing to pay $30 a year, I can run the pictures through Eye-Fi's server, but that seems really inefficient all around.

4- I had issues setting up the online photo sharing-- Picassa took so long to upload that I assumed it wasn't working at first, and Facebook just won't register at all. Will reboot and see if things improve, but I shouldn't have to try multiple times to get this to work.

If you just don't want to pull your card out of your camera to upload them to your PC, then this will probably work fine for you-- the support for 802.11 N networks means a relatively speedy upload, even with 10+ megapixel pictures, and there's enough basic organization built in to make it relatively simple to get your pictures onto the PC in an organized fashion.

Go beyond that, and you're getting into dangerous waters. The software just isn't that sophisticated, and often left me hanging wondering why things weren't working. And tech support was singularly worthless-- if you think that the problem is a broken card, don't waste time with Eye-Fi, just return it to Amazon and get a new one. If your problem is with the software, you probably are going to have to suck it up and look for online sources.

For a product that's targeted at the average consumer, I found this to be very difficult to get to work beyond the most basic features, and that's once I finally had a working card.

It seems like the product has a lot of potential to be awesome, but as it stands right now, if you're not patient and used to working with gadgets, it's somewhat vanilla. Fortunately, almost all the issues seem to be with the software, so hopefully they'll put out fixes in the future.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 25, 2011 2:51 PM PST

No Title Available

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Got it to work with a Nikon D70 and EyeFi card, August 17, 2010
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Specifically, with this Eye-Fi card: Eye-Fi Connect X2 4 GB Class 6 SDHC Wireless Flash Memory Card EYE-FI-4CN

I did not have to reformat the card to get it to work with my Nikon D70, however, I did have a couple issues with using the card the first time out-- pictures weren't being properly written to the card, and thus didn't upload. However, my camera has a history of card-writing issues, so it's as likely to be the camera as the adapter.

After running a scandisk on the Eye-Fi card and correcting the errors, the next time I shot, there were no issues-- I see no real difference in speed between this adapter and a SanDisk Ultra II CF card, which is more likely a limitation of my old Nikon than the cards themselves.

The Eye-Fi uploads do work from the camera, with delays of between 5 to 15 seconds before I start seeing the uploads. The range does appear to be reduced by the camera body, but I haven't tried to definitively determine how far away I can get and still have it see the router.

I have also used the adapter with some "normal" SD cards, and those worked just fine as well.

I purchased this primarily so I could shoot in my studio and be able to review what I was shooting without pulling the card out of the camera-- as far as the adapter goes, it seems to be correctly working with the Eye-Fi card, so I think that I'm getting what I need out of this. I don't think there even is a Wifi solution for a camera this old, and the cost of the adapter and Eye-Fi card is much cheaper than getting a manufacturer's wifi solution.

Cirago Bluetooth BTA6210 v.2.1 EDR Class 1 Micro Bluetooth Adaper
Cirago Bluetooth BTA6210 v.2.1 EDR Class 1 Micro Bluetooth Adaper
Price: $21.31
24 used & new from $19.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Takes some effort to get it to work., July 12, 2010
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Purchased this primarily so I could stream audio to a set of wireless outdoor speakers-- the built-in Bluetooth cards in two laptops didn't have the range needed so that I could use the speakers outdoors.

First off, I wasn't able to get anywhere near 330 feet. Maybe if you have unimpeded line of site, you'll get that far, but when the adapter was in my PC, I can get about 25 feet going through a single wall, and about 30 feet with line of site through a door. However, when a person broke the line of site, I lost the signal.

Some of this is probably affected by the receiver in addition to the adapter, but I only have the one receiver to test with (the Devotec Solar Sound 2), and frankly, that's what I specifically why I bought the adapter, so for my purposes, that's how I'm measuring performance.

I suspect that if I get a USB extension cable, and move the adapter so that it's higher off the ground, I might get a better signal, but I haven't had a chance to pick one up yet. Moving the adapter to various other USB ports or hubs did wind up with diminished performance, so I have to believe that placement will wind up getting better results.

Next, I had a lot of issues with the included Toshiba Bluetooth stack. Specifically, the Toshiba software saw that the Solar Sound 2 would act as both audio headphones and as a hands-free speakerphone-- they assume that you're going to use a smartphone for the audio source, so the speakerphone stuff is seen as an added benefit.

Unfortunately, this wound up being a negative-- the Toshiba stack always tried to default to sending the music to the speakerphone, rather than the audio headphones, which resulted in the music getting crushed down with additional compression, then converted down to mono.

When I tried to specify the audio headphone connection, 90% of the time, it would connect, then immediately disconnect. I spent a couple hours and tried multiple versions of the Toshiba Bluetooth stacks to fix this, and could never come up with a set of settings that would reliably work.

I tried the BlueSolei stack, and that appeared to correctly work, although it was less intuitive than the Toshiba stack. The BlueSolie software had a very nice feature of showing the signal strength between the adapter and the speaker, which was useful for determining the best position to place the adapter and receiver. However, the product was only a trial, and spending $28 to get a set of drivers for a $25 device irks me.

In the end, I dropped all the way back to the stock Bluetooth stack that came with Windows 7-- there are no frills with this (can't adjust the audio quality like I could with the Toshiba stack, can't see the signal strength like I could with BlueSolei), but it does have the advantage of just working. When I turn the speakers on, they automatically connect to the adapter, it automatically changes the default output device from my desktop speakers to the wireless speakers, and music starts playing. The Microsoft stack does correctly interpret the pause/play/next/back controls on the speakers, so I can control Winamp or Windows Media Player right from the speakers (Didn't work with iTunes, didn't put a lot of effort into making it work).

The biggest issue I have with the Microsoft stack is that if the music gets interrupted by a slow signal, it does buffer up what gets missed, and sends it out when it catches up. In other words, if you move the speakers and lose signal for 5 seconds, when it reconnects, what you hear is actually five seconds behind what is playing. So if you hit "next" on the speakers (or change the music directly on the PC), it takes 5 seconds for the change to catch up. This was rather confusing the first time it happened, and resulted in me hitting a lot of buttons and skipping around at random until I figured out what was happening. Bottom line, be patient when making changes. Or turn your Bluetooth device off and on again to catch up.

Overall, the thing does what it's supposed to do-- I get music from the computer to the back yard with no wires. I'd like to have more range, but I accept that Bluetooth wasn't designed to replace a small broadcast tower.

If you're looking at this for headphones in a small space, I think it would probably work great, as long as you don't get more than a room or so away from the adapter. If you are able to work out line of site, you can get more distance with no appreciable loss of audio quality, but realize that the further you get from it, the more likely you are to have the connection broken when someone walks between you and the adapter. Finally, note that depending on the stack that you use, you could wind up "on delay" if your connection gets interrupted.

If you're already using Windows 7, I'd suggest trying the stock Windows drivers *before* installing the drivers on the disk. Actually, when it comes to that, Toshiba already has newer drivers on their web site, so if the stock Microsoft stack doesn't work, just head to Toshiba directly and skip the included mini-CD.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP1 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 4x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.7-Inch LCD (Blue)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP1 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 4x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.7-Inch LCD (Blue)
3 used & new from $92.00

79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So far, pretty good, March 13, 2010
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I should preface this by saying that I used to be a semi-professional news photographer, so I tend to expect more from a camera than the average consumer might. I have a DSLR that I use for anything serious, but I need to have a pocket camera for those occasions where the DSLR is overkill, but the cell phone won't cut it.

Bought this to replace my Pentax Optio S6. I had purchased an Optio S3 for my folks, and was impressed by the quality of the pics that such a tiny little camera could kick out. But the S6 never seemed to work quite as well as that S3-- the autofocus always seemed to fail just enough that the pic looked ok on the camera screen, but was bad when I downloaded it to the PC. I was also never that impressed with the flash for indoor pictures.

So when making this purchase, I basically wanted to correct those three issues-- better autofocus, better overall image quality, and better indoor/flash images.

So far, this camera is winning on all three counts. The autofocus kicks in in about half the time as the S6, and it has a focus assist light that I don't remember noticing on the Optio. In low-light situations, I'm getting reliable focus when zooming in on objects that are 10 feet away. The image stabilization seems to work very well, and it's much more obvious if a picture is out of focus or blurry than it was with the S6.

The flash definitely appears to be a lot more powerful, but until I use it to take pictures in a bar at night, I can't give the final word on that.

Likewise, the pictures I've taken so far appear to be pretty good-- the camera compensated for twilight conditions well on full-auto mode, although things were a bit oversaturated. The auto ISO adjustment kicked out relatively noise-free pictures even at 800, and 400 looked as good as anything I've gotten out of a point and shoot before. The real test here will be taking some outdoor pics in full daylight.

One feature worth pointing out, if you're more accustomed to SLRs-- you have a dedicated exposure compensation button on the back of the camera, allowing you to make some manual adjustments to the image. The results are shown on the display in real time, so I was able to have the camera correctly focus on the ground, but expose for the sky. From what I've seen, however, you don't have the ability to adjust shutter, f-stop, or focus manually, although you can lock the camera to a specifc ISO.

The video apppears to be acceptable-- I was pleasantly surprised to see that the image stabilization worked with the video, although the final result was nowhere near as sharp as I would normally expect out of HDTV resolutions. This may have been due to lighting conditions.

Overall, this is a solid unit that's only a little wider than the diminutive Optio S series, while being slightly less deep. I'm impressed by what I've seen so far-- this definitely seems like the pocket camera that I needed. Small enough to not have an excuse to leave behind, powerful enough to take good shots, and at a price that doesn't break the budget.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 17, 2010 3:08 PM PST

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