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Iliving Ilg927 Deep Tissue Vibration Foot Massager, Grey
Iliving Ilg927 Deep Tissue Vibration Foot Massager, Grey
Price: $79.99
2 used & new from $79.99

3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5* Bad, bad, bad... Bad Vibrations., December 16, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Deep Tissue Vibration Foot Massager is designed to apply deep (i.e., infrared) heat and adjustable strength massage, especially to aching feet because of the tilted angle. Infrared heat theoretically should penetrate more than just a heating pad or (if anyone owns these anymore) a hot water bottle, and I found that this was effective. Although somewhat awkward, you could also place this against your back or hold it against your shoulder, etc.

The problem I have with this, echoed by the people who tried it at my Deep Tissue Vibrator Party (using this device only, of course) , is the strength of the vibrations. Adjustable (high, medium, low) it may be, but the lowest setting can be uncomfortable strong. One would think that with a double-pronged attack on aches and pains (heat, vibration), one could turn the vibration way down, or even off, especially if the affected area is too painful for massage. But nooooooooooo. Interestingly, it seems like the lowest vibration occurs during the random setting, a mode that alternates between low, medium, and high. However, this is pre-set, and you cannot adjust when it switches to each setting.

Some people may like the range of vibration strength, but I wish they had decreased the "low" setting, or added more levels. It's OK, but I was not entirely pleased.

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Booster Serum, 1 fl oz.
Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Booster Serum, 1 fl oz.
Price: $75.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Costly Moisturizer, Other Benefits May Be Questionable, December 5, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a pleasant moisturizing cream that may or may not reduce the appearance of wrinkles on your skin. I've looked up the major active ingredients (the hyaluronic acid, reservatrol, and fruit stem cells) and it appears there are few, if any, double-blinded random clinical trials with humans that test these ingredients for the (non-hydration) benefits implied by this product. Of course, there are lots of companies and health magazines, etc., who have great enthusiasm for their efficacy. Many of these sources stand to make some money off your belief in this.

I'm not going to state that the active ingredients don't provide the advertised benefits, but I do feel skeptical. I will attest to the moisturizing properties and to it's pleasant scent, easy application (a tiny bit goes a long way), a slight tingling sensation that is probably an astringent agent (if it bothers you, perhaps either don't use as much or don't use in sensitive areas), and a very high price. That last one is probably not desirable.

McAfee Total Protection  2015 3 PCs
McAfee Total Protection 2015 3 PCs
Price: $19.23
41 used & new from $16.95

5.0 out of 5 stars What they used to call "User-Friendly", November 22, 2014
This review is from: McAfee Total Protection 2015 3 PCs
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I got so sick of AVG Free reminding me every few hours that I needed to restart my computer (even, it seemed, when I chose "remind me in 24 hours" that I decided to give McAfee a try. AVG free worked fairly well (in conjunction with WIndows pre-installed firewall, etc.) and in my last tune-up found no viruses. However, the free version doesn't do that much, and then there were those pesky reminder pop-ups.

One downloads McAfee (you must set up an account to do this; I suppose I had donet his in the past but didn't remember), and set-up is easy. There's a privacy warning with which you must agree (it will collect and store personally identifiable information for purposes of back-up and security), but at least it's up front. One thing I didn't like during set up: They present two "subscriptions," one longer than the other, but don't explain the differences. I just picked the longer one and hoped for the best. Downloading the installation files took about 15 minutes on a not super-fast WI-FI connection. It takes another 5 minutes or so to run those files.

After it's finished, you'll find a McAfee Icon on either a toolbar ("task manager" in Windows) or on your desktop. Double-click on this and you'll open up the system. The interface is clean and easy to understand. Large windows inform you that you have operating virus and spyware ("real-time scanning"), and "web and email protection," current updates, and an active subscription. In addition, the system allows one to "lock-up" files on your PC for extra security (whatever that means), and to use an electronic "shredder" to permanently delete your most senstive files (it's my understanding that this is almost impossible to do). You can also set-up "online back-up" of selected files.

McAfee goes a little nuts with their labelling of features, but at least you get a very clear idea of what it's doing for you. Along with the above-mentioned "online Backup, "File Lock," and "Shredder," there's the fairly self-explanatory "home Network Defense" (fix issues while running computer, track "intruders"),"Quick Clean" (improve performance by erasing unnecessary files) and one of my favorite names, "Vulnerability Scanner" (wow, what if it really were!) which simply provides the latest software updates to Windows "and your programs"). Finally, it lets parents or other adults control kids' activities on the net.

"Total protections" adds a spam-blocker ("keep risky email out of your inbox"-most email services already provide something like this) to the McAfee "Internet Security" version, but does not have the protection for mobile devices, password manager, and biometric voice-and face-identity secure cloud storage of the next highest version, "Livesafe."

I think what I like most about McAfee is the ease of use, the ability to customize the settings (for example, what type of information it will scan and remove as "unnecessary," and the ability to act now or schedule protection activities for the future. That, and no unwanted pop-ups (and hopefully none in the future when my subscription is almost over).

BlackBerry Passport - Factory Unlocked Smartphone - Black
BlackBerry Passport - Factory Unlocked Smartphone - Black
Price: $549.99
78 used & new from $460.41

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you're not into extra small, this is the way to go!, November 19, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
THis may be the device that rescues Blackberry fro irrelevancy (and bankruptcy or a buyout; RIMM [the sybol for the company] stock has taken a beating the last few years. BUt, you're not reading this to make money, onto the palmtop! (Oops let's NOT use the word "PALM" here, speaking of pain....

I've been very reluctant to use "smart phones," my cell phone is a dumb phone from Samsung that I got for probably under $25. I just didn't need it except when I was traveling, and I don't do that very often. No, no reason to get a smart phone, when I have a Kindle for books, an HP laptop (OK, so it's not as light or as small as a MacBook), an Ipod for music, a Kindle Fire for apps and movies, a digital camera, a Tom-Tom navigator GPS while driving, and a junky but manageable cell phone for emergencies.

I think I just answered my own question. This new Blackberry is a combination of all of the above in one device, and for once, you don't sacrifice ease of use to have the "convenience" of a multi-function device that leaves one confused and disappointed. I would rather have this slightly larger phone with a real keyboard, a wide, high quality responsive screen for video or reading text(no squinting!), real integration with email, two-way communication between, for example, your home computer and your phone (and a port for flash drives when you don't want to or have no need to send "data" over the phone, an internet browser that is fast and dependable, and all sort of automatic shut-down and resume features. The practical size of the real keyboard (with one virtual row) and the auto-suggestion of words makes composing easy and much more fun. fans will especially enjoy using this as a reader (although nothing beats the Kindle Paperwhite for outdoor reading), and the availability of Apps should satisfy most users. Audio quality is exceptional as well (sort of like, "it even has a built-in phone"), ostensibly one reason for buying this.

IF you want a multi-function device that was engineered for everyday use (and with power that lasts a surprisingly long time), and don't require that it be extra-slim, this is the model for you. You can wean yourself from at least some of those other electronic devices you've collected over the years, or at least save them for special purpose use (e.g., take your digital camera when you're planning a day of photography; your KIndle Paperwhite if you're vacationing and want to read outdoors). It's not inexpensive, but when you consider what you get (but, please, think about whether you really need everything, and not about your gadget envy/competition with friends), you may feel it's well worth it.

Critical Cycles Classic Commuter Bike and Skate Helmet, Medium/Large, Matte Paloma Gray
Critical Cycles Classic Commuter Bike and Skate Helmet, Medium/Large, Matte Paloma Gray
Price: $24.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Didn't think I'd like it...Until I tried it out!, November 10, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is the first time I've worn this shape in a helmet; I've had those sleek, racing-style ones with a little color and design (though I don't even come close to racing). When I first saw it, I thought, 'this is gonna weigh a ton,' and I really had my doubts about comfort and style.

I'm happy to report that everything about the Commuter BIke and Skate Helmet was a pleasant surprise. If I had weighed it and my usual helmet, perhaps I would have discovered that it's heavier. However, it just feels solid and secure and just safer, without added weight; at least, not enough to bother me. It's superbly balanced, perhaps that why it felt so good. As I said, it feels safer, and makes me feel much more secure. Whether it actually *is* safer than those lower profile, pointier helmets...well, consult your local bicycle (or skate) services professional.

Other things I like about the helmet: The strap is, of course, adjustable, and there's a good loose-to-tight range. It take a tiny bit of effort to adjust the strap (something I'm sure I"ll get better at), but it stays in place and is well-designed. I like the simple design, the ventilation, and the comfortable velcro-held interior padding, as I've seen on other helmets. The color is a light matte grey, very nice, not boring white, and not cliche black. That, of course, is very subjective, but the somewhat retro style has its own flavor of rebellion against the trendy, trying-too-hard style of some. It comes with some nice safety tips for those not up on the limitations of the helmets (i.e., they can't protect against everything). Great design, and a must for those who want some head protection while they bicycle or skate-and that should include everyone.

Analyzing Baseball Data with R (Chapman & Hall/CRC The R Series)
Analyzing Baseball Data with R (Chapman & Hall/CRC The R Series)
by Jim Albert
Edition: Paperback
Price: $32.61
30 used & new from $29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Data Management and Analysis in a Context of Baseball Sabermetrics; Creative and Well-Written Book!, October 31, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A relatively fun way to learn the database manager/statistical software "R." the authors take the novel approach of teaching the language within the context of baseball statistics. Become a sabermetrician and become the envy of your neighborhood!

Those who favor the "learning R" aspect will be reawarded more than baseball aficionados. The latter will be satisfied with some of the fairly arcane learning examples (how well did Warren Spahn pitch in the post-war era; what are the relatively trajectories by age of the home run totals of Bonds, Ruth, and Aaron; predicting post-season performace with Markov chain probabilities-we'll have to try that with the 2014 Giants sometime), but the focus is on learning R, not learning baseball lore. For example, the baseball problems don't containa lot of context: Bonds' probably steroid use is not mentioned; it's irrelevant to the main topic.

"R" is not an intuitive language. though moreso than SQL. In my experience it is increasingly used as either a first-line or adjunctive statistical programming language alongside the most popular (social science) packages: SAS, SPSS, Mplus, and, for database construction, SQL (which is also part of SAS using Proc SQL). It uses elements of SAS /SPSS with a few of the more manageable conocepts from SQL (NO, I'm not a fan of SQL, but then, I came rather late to it.).

While certainly not a "Book for Dummies" (and really, must beginners put up with that...), some experience with databases will bevery helpful. You'll also get more out of the book with some statistical knowledge, but that's not necesary. It seems like most languages have their own nomenclature for the same methods and concepts, and the authors excel at presenting R's vernacular in a slow, patient style that will help you grasp the fundamentals, and they use screen shots and drawings to help guide you through the R graphic interface. Here's an example of their pedagogy from page 32:

Type directly into the console window (they xshow where this is, Spahn's games won for his 7 seasons with the Boston Braves. L < -(5,10,12,14,17,14,10) to create what R calls a "vector." (No, not all examples concern the great Spahn!).

The R "vector" is simply the SAS/SPSS "variable" and the SQL "column!" Five pages later, we're introduced to the concept of matrices so that we can save our data rather than repeatedly entering it (like a SAS datastep or an SQL table or view), and on page 41, they introduce the concept of "scripts" (a tool which seems similar to a SAS macro.)

Not only is this well organized, logical, and generally clear, but the book explains where to download a free "R" program and how to import some web-basedbaseball-oriented datasets (with actual data; this *will* fascinate baseball people!) on which to practice. There are practice exercises (although I didn;t see any ranswers), a dual index (one for commands and one for topics), and over 53 refences for further exploraion of R and related material. Statistical heavyweights can practice logistic and linear regression (R uses a General Linear Model), exploring moving averages and moving average plots (the book has a large amount of material on R graphics), quadratic model fit, how to calculate a wqeighted on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.

Although some of this may sound rather daunting, it's still an excellent book for the relative beginner, and you don't need to understand every concept to benefit. If you're completely new to statistical and database concepts, you should probably go with something simpler, but others will learn a lot from this refreshingly interesting and well-written book. When you get bogged down in it, go out and play some ball; it'll help clear your head.

The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma
The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma
by Christyan Fox
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $12.75
69 used & new from $4.89

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 1/2* Funny Post-Modern Re-telling of the Wolf and the Riding Hood, October 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Post-modern in that it not only comments on itself (our protagonist points to a large textbox on the first page and asks what it is...) but it also neatly deconstructs the old story to its essentials:

So let's see if I have this right. THe Red Hood is o n her way to help an old lady when she meets the Wolfman. He has an evil plan. He likes to dress up in girls' clothes and eat people/ He and Red have a big battle, and Red's father puts an end to Wolfie.

That's not exactly how Cat, a parental/guardian figure to the 4-or 5ish year-old Dog, told the story, but this question-machine has asked so many interrupting questions, and neatly ignored a lot of the answers, that it's no surprise he can't repeat the plot verbatim. And that's the fun of the story, the questioning dog and the increasingly exasperated Cat turn story-time into a verbal wrestle, and if the ending has a satiric bite (Cat, fed up with one more question, throws book at the dog. "Ouch" he exclaims as it lands on his head); well, the book should not be read by the literal minded.

The story stays fairly close to the traditional telling (although the handsome woodsman is changed to Hood's father, thus neatly dodging any sexual angle), but dog has an extraordinary logic that strips away some of the fantastic claims of the original. When the wolf first encounters the girl in the forest, dog asks, "Hang on...why doesn't the wolfman try to ear Hood Girl then and there?" later, the dog observes with a scowl, " She's not very bright, is she? I mean, if there were a wollf dressed up as MY grandma, I might have noticed right away." (Somehow, dog knows to use the subjunctive "were" instead of "was"!). There's also some clever interior humor, as he notes that the book's endpaper does come at the end of the book, contrary to cat's explanation that it comes at the beginning (they;re at both places.)

The book shines with a modern sensibility as dog expects superpowers and exploding eggs, a wry comment on a lot of children's entertainment these days. The jokes trade on these clashes: Traditional vs. contemporary, questioning child/dog and initially patient adult/cat, naive, age-appropriate dog vs. a wise beyond years "Peanuts" mentality. (Soon after hearing the rather gruesome detail that the father "arrived and CHOPPED OFF THE WOLF's HEAD WITH AN AXE!", the dog asks whether Cat is absolutely sure this is a children's book. Actually, I found this a little too explicit myself, but that's for the potential buyer to decide. The book is just a little flat towards the end, but dog not only gives that great summary of the plot, but has one more sensible question about whether grandma is still hiding in the closet. And that begets the thrown book!

WIth small, simple pencil and water-color drawings, the informal pictures and loads of white space lightens the mood. A book that will appeal to perceptive kids and to their book-reading parents, it could become a little favorite. offers the book at a nice (and fair) discount as well.

DII 100% Polyester, Damask, Machine Washable, Holiday Tablecloth, 60 x 104", Wine, Seats 8 to 10 People
DII 100% Polyester, Damask, Machine Washable, Holiday Tablecloth, 60 x 104", Wine, Seats 8 to 10 People
Price: $22.00

5.0 out of 5 stars It's Polyester, not Silk, and It's Excellent for the Price, October 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Yes, this really is damask, and yes, it is polyester, If the polyester seems a bit declasse for your social circles, consider this from the unassailable authority on these matters, Wikipedia:

"Damask weaves are commonly produced in monochromatic (single-colour) weaves in silk, linen or synthetic fibres such as rayon and feature patterns of flowers, fruit, and other designs."

The key words here are "synthetic" (polyester!), "monochromatic" (the wine-red), and "other designs" (sort of a scroll pattern that might remind you of a light, open paisley). Therefore, this is authentic damask, even if it's not meant for the heirloom collection.

Function follows price, and the DII (a company with over 1,200 products on tablecloth performs admirably. It's festive rather than gaudy, and could be used for almost any celebratory occasion, kids or adults. It sheds stains and wrinkles, and, at worst, you can even wash and dry this 60 by 104 inch fabric in a washing machine and dryer. SInce it fits tables seating 8-10 people ( or holding 5 feet by almost 8 feet, 8 inches worth of punch bowls, cups, saucers, casseroles, silverware, decorative animals, veggie burgers, etc., it's probably going into a large room where it won't overpower other decorative touches.

For anyone who hosts a semi-big event once in a while, and who doesn't want to risk the emotional turmoil that accompanies a ruined expensive tablecloth (say, when wine or punch is spilled on it), this is a solid, attractive, practical alternative. Available in several colors and patterns, as shown here on

Samsung LEVEL-On Premium Stereo Headphones for Smartphones - Retail Packaging - Black
Samsung LEVEL-On Premium Stereo Headphones for Smartphones - Retail Packaging - Black
Offered by 6ave
Price: $165.79
15 used & new from $59.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 1/2* Bass Smooth and Rich as an Ice-Creamy Milkshake, October 8, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The best feature here is the silky smooth, rich and natural bass; it's neither timid nor gimmicky - it's just a fine performance for bass lovers. (If you're not a bass lover, and you're used to cheaper earbud style phones, it may feel like too much: Earbuds often don't transmit bass very well. I really love the bass, but if you can't get used to it then hopefully you have an equalizer on your audio device.) The sound is satisfying throughout the spectrum (although those who really like a lot of treble may find it lacking), not surprising given the 3Hz - 27kHz frequency response and the more-than-adequate 40mm dual diaghragm speakers. The lack of buzz and other iatrogenic noise is superior to many other speakers. Bravo, as they say.

The unit is designed fairly well except for one flaw. The weight is moderate (way more than your buds, but not as much as the big cans from Sony, for example), the cushioning at the ears and on the surface that touches your head, the size is adjustable (look closely and you can see where the earpiece can slide down). They're comfortable, although comparable to other headphones in the $100 and up range (in my admittedly limited experience). However, for the performance, the overall weight and comfort level is fine. (At first, the tension of the phones is not as "lightly sprung" as claimed, but I expect this will loosen with time (or my hands slightly stretching it).

There is a slight problem with the in-line volume, pause play, skip tracks, etc. controller: It's too high to comfortably see or use when the controller is connected close to the headphones. However, the line is detachable! Just plug the controller end into your audio device and the other side into the phones, and now the in-line controller is more like bent-arm's lengh away. I really appreciate having the in-line controls (I don't see them very often on cheaper phones), but at this price, one might expect left/right balance or maybe treble/bass control. Perhaps I'm expecting too much.

Being able to fold these up, and then pack them in an astonishingly lux case makes up for some of the deficits. (I wonder how much this would cost with a cheapo pouch, or none at all.) It's surprisingly light, well-padded, and has a half-case mesh compartment for storing the cord or whatever. Very nice.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the sound and overall quality. Unfortunately, I haven't had the time to go out and compare other phones to this one, but it compares very favorably to the various Sony closed-end phones I've in the past. You don't need huge headphones or "boost" features to get a great-sounding bass and full sound at the high end and middle.

Doodle Quest Game
Doodle Quest Game
Offered by Wigglish
Price: $22.99
36 used & new from $11.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Versatile!, September 24, 2014
This review is from: Doodle Quest Game (Toy)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I used to make up little drawing games when I was a YOUT, so the appeal of this was immediate. Fortunately, a six-year old shared my enthusiasm. Blue Orange designers created an entertaining way for kids to practice motor skills, coordination, math, and many other cognitive abilities, all through playing a game with an adventure motif. While story-telling is tangential to the object of the game, the different scenarios add to the fun and may encourage interactive play. However, I also like that the game may be played alone as well as with others, in competitive or non-competitive play, and that kids of different ages seem to adapt it to their own level. Doodle on, and have fun!

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