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Shaun W. Taylor's Profile

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Shaun W. Taylor RSS Feed (Raleigh, NC United States)

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Kinivo 501BN Premium 5 port High speed HDMI switch with IR wireless remote and AC Power adapter - supports 3D, 1080p
Kinivo 501BN Premium 5 port High speed HDMI switch with IR wireless remote and AC Power adapter - supports 3D, 1080p
Offered by BlueRigger
Price: $59.99
15 used & new from $37.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad HDMI Ports; Connection Inconsisent, February 26, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My main issues:

1) Two of the five HDMI ports were non-functional. No picture at all passed through one; on another one, the picture cut in and out every one to two seconds.
2) On the functional ports, the picture and sound would periodically cut out for a second every few minutes.
3) Any time there was a change in input, e.g. when using a PS3 and switching from Netflix to Hulu, the video would cut out entirely. To resolved, the unit had to be powered down and back up, or the cable had to be disconnected and reconnected.

I rated this one star because not only did it not work as advertised, but also it was not even minimally functional for its intended purpose.

Due to the large amount of positive reviews, I'm going to assume I got a lemon. I'm ordering another unit, and will update this review with the results.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 5, 2014 1:49 AM PST

Martin Ashley Art-Hobby Table with Stool, White Top, 23-1/2-Inch by 35-1/2-Inch Size Surface
Martin Ashley Art-Hobby Table with Stool, White Top, 23-1/2-Inch by 35-1/2-Inch Size Surface
Price: $113.10
17 used & new from $95.88

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very poor construction and quality control, February 26, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've never seen anything so poorly constructed. A few issues I had:

* The braces were dented and dimpled in several places -- presumably prior to packaging, as the box arrived in great shape.
* One of the the "downtubes" that inserts into the leg was misshapen. I had to crimp and reshape it just to get the pieces to fit together. While the table is now together, it's height cannot be adjusted.
* One cross-brace weld was not perpendicular, resulting in legs that bowed out, contributing to the inability to adjust table height mentioned above.
* Some pieces were a full bubble off level.
* Drawers arrived shattered.

That said, the table is together, and it is functional. If you're looking for an inexpensive work surface for a child, this might fit the bill, but adjust your expectations accordingly. You get what you pay for.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 10, 2014 12:35 PM PDT

GRK R4 HandyPak Multipurpose Screws, 9 by 2-Inch, 100-Count
GRK R4 HandyPak Multipurpose Screws, 9 by 2-Inch, 100-Count
Price: $12.94
7 used & new from $8.40

5.0 out of 5 stars I don't ever want to use anything else, February 26, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
These sunk into joists/studs with minimal effort and no pilot holes, easy to back out when needed, and there was not even a hint of slipping after 100 screws. I'm ordering more in varying sizes to have handy for when I need them. For household projects, I don't ever want to use anything else.

No Title Available

4.0 out of 5 stars It Really Comes Down to Just One Thing:, December 23, 2008
And that's whether or not you like the convenience of in store returns. BB has made it very easy for in store renters to try out the occasional online rental. Netflix edges them out in most online rental areas (except the throttling of new releases), but can't compete with the physical locations of BB. I've used both and am a current Netflix user, but finding myself at Redbox a couple times per month when I really want to see a movie.

Found another good overview here:


I'd love to see an alliance between Netflix and Redbox. I've used both BB and Netflix and am a current Netflix user. But BB has recognized their strength and their newest plans cater to folks who are primarily instore renters, and might dabble online. I love Netflix, but often find myself at Redbox for rentals. Netflix with any kind of physical presence could be the nail in the coffin.

Google Maps Hacks
Google Maps Hacks
by Rich Gibson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $22.19
102 used & new from $0.01

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable content from all perspectives, September 8, 2006
This review is from: Google Maps Hacks (Paperback)
I've read both this and the ExtremeTech "Hacking Google Maps," and both have their place, but I found this one to be much more valuable.

It doesn't contain any introductory information to the API, which some may be looking for, but it's not something that I would expect to see in a Hacks book anyway. With the v2 release of the API in April 2006, Google's own documentation has gotten a lot better, and it's the best place to go for a tutorial.

The book contains a great collection of hacks from all perspectives: users looking to get the most out of Google Maps, power users looking to push the functionality in new ways, and developers using the API. There's also a good overview of some popular mashups from the mashups' developers perspectives, and extensions to the API (e.g. TLabel, TPhoto).

Because there are so many contributors, you'll notice a change in tone and writing style throughout the book; and different coding practices are easy to spot, e.g. one code sample might use a standard, documented JS call, while another uses a homegrown function to accomplish the same thing. Another drawback is that the book is written to v1 of the API, which was replaced months ago, although is backwards compatible. This doesn't affect readability or value, but several of the undocumented features in the book are in fact documented in v2!

Great book, filled with useful information.

Hacking Google Maps and Google Earth
Hacking Google Maps and Google Earth
by Martin C. Brown
Edition: Paperback
44 used & new from $0.01

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Organized, clearly written, but misleading title, August 31, 2006
While I enjoyed the author's clear writing style, and I was pleased to see that the level of detail and explanation given in each chapter is consistent, I did not find the book's content to be particularly valuable.

The book is organized very well, and it reads like a Google Maps tutorial, rather than a hacks book. The flow from chapter to chapter is similar to the Maps API online documentation, which makes following along with Google's documentation a breeze while reading the book.

The first 100 pages were introductory, describing Google Local, the Maps API, ways to store and share information, and so on in very general terms. This puts all users on equal footing, but it seemed odd to see so much basic information in a book about hacking Google Maps.

One thing that shocked me, especially given the approach taken in the first 100 pages, was to see all of the examples written in Perl. If the introductory lessons are needed by anyone, chances are that programming / scripting is new to him/her, and I don't see Perl as the appropriate language to learn at that point.

Version 1 of the API is used throughout the book, but version 2 was released in April 2006. Version 2 is largely backwards compatible, but Google has asked everyone to move to version 2, saying that v1 support can be turned off at any point. This doesn't take away from the value of the lessons, but it does add some overhead. I consulted Google's documentation and adjusted all of the books examples for the api changes as I read.

Another thing that particularly surprised me was the mention of using scraping techniques to extract geocoding data, without mentioning the drawbacks to doing so. Personally, I avoid scraping like the plague. There's no better way to break an app than to scrape its data. Geocoding is part of the v2 api, btw.

To summarize, the book is a clearly laid out introduction to using the Google Maps API, and it is written well, but I wouldn't recommend it to a friend. For an introduction to maps, I would consult Google's much-improved online documentation, and O'Reilly's "Google Maps Hacks" is a better read for what I would consider hacks (also written to api v1).

Java Messaging (Programming Series)
Java Messaging (Programming Series)
by Eric J. Bruno
Edition: Paperback
Price: $25.85
48 used & new from $0.40

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Concise, no-nonsense, but framework hinders learning, August 21, 2006
Excellent introduction to messaging, including healthy portions on JMS and web services.

The writing style is clear, consistent, and to the point. Probably what I liked most was this no-nonsense writing style. If it's on a page, it's important to understand. The author doesn't waste your time with irrelevant discussions or out of scope topics.

Editing and code presentation are top notch, making it easy to follow, and build upon from one example to the next. The author also shares some gotchas and considerations that I wouldn't have expected to see in an introductory discussion which were particularly valuable.

Another great feature is one of the drawbacks of the book. The framework presented in the book is elegant, but in many of the examples, there is too much cognitive overhead involved in grokking the level of abstraction in the framework, and this takes away from actually learning the concepts. I would have liked to see more non-framework code for the introduction, which is then tied together with the framework.

10,000 Days
10,000 Days
Price: $11.99
109 used & new from $4.31

4 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Awesome music and packaging, but it's a Sony disc, August 21, 2006
This review is from: 10,000 Days (Audio CD)
It's all been said in these reviews, so I'll keep this brief.

Whereas in previous releases, Tool always seeemed to explore new territory and experiment a bit more, 10,000 Days sounds much like their past work. This is not a bad thing, and I'm not disappointed about it, as I love all of their work, but I was a bit surprised. Some of it sounded so familiar that I found myself anticipating lyrics or riffs from their other songs.

The album as a whole is fantastic, and like most of their later work, it's meant to be listened to in its entirety. This is not a quick-drive-across-town-listening CD.

Also like most of their previous albums, the packaging and artwork alone are worth the price of the album.

It's a Sony disc, so of course, typical fair use types of things like ripping the songs to listen to while at your PC are out. Tsk tsk. Can someone deliver a clue to Sony and the recording industry?

Professional Ajax (Programmer to Programmer)
Professional Ajax (Programmer to Programmer)
by Jeremy McPeak
Edition: Paperback
80 used & new from $0.01

21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Concise and Simple Introduction to Ajax, March 17, 2006
Professional Ajax will enable you to get up to speed with Ajax, the problems that Ajax solves, and common patters for Ajax use. The authors also introduce you to a cross-platform library to ease your own script development. The writing style is clear and no-nonsense.

I was happy to see their approach in explaining scripting techniques. Once to address IE, once to address Mozilla, and once to address the combined approach. I found this to be very helpful, as most sources jumble it all together. I was not happy to see that Opera and Safari were entirely ignored. The world doesn't need another Ajax app that fails in these browsers!

I was also surprised to see that the book is most definitely not platform-agnostic. At least not to the extent that I was led to believe by the description and comments. Examples are C# and PHP.

Too much time was spent focused on the server side. For example, the web servcies section spent more time showing you how to setup a web service in .Net than it did showing you how to consume it with Ajax. The server side could have been abstracted -- in a book about Ajax, the server side is a black box -- all that matters is what is sent out, and what is returned. I couldn't care less about the algorithms used to create the return.

All-in-all, it was a good read. Fast, to the point, concise. I'd also recommend Ajax in Action for a more thorough review of patterns, a look at elegantly creating reusable Ajax components, and coverage of other Ajax-related topics like usage of frameworks.

Maxtor One Touch II 200 GB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive (E01E200)
Maxtor One Touch II 200 GB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive (E01E200)
Offered by LWOutlet
Price: $129.97
4 used & new from $29.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Forget the software, it's just an external drive, January 30, 2006
All-in-all: laughable. Installation was a nightmare, and there is poor support available via Maxtor's site.

Once installed, the Maxtor software will recognize the drive maybe one out of every five attempts, making drive management and the handy One Touch feature impossible / useless via Maxtor software.

Dantz software has a good reputation, but it works poorly with this drive. After performing a number of backups, I decided to test the restore capability. The softwware tells me how many restore points I have, but when I try to select a restore point, they all disappear. So I can backup, but I can't restore.

Which means that this drive is useless for what it is intended, BUT it functions great as just a plain ol' external storgae device. Forget One Touch, forget Dantz, and do it the old fashioned way. I give it two stars because it's snappy and (so far) reliable.

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