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Customer Reviews: 38
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E. Goldberg RSS Feed (Seattle, WA)

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E-Commerce User Experience
E-Commerce User Experience
by Jakob Nielsen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $60.61
58 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars As a user researcher, I'd be embarrassed to have produced this -- lazy workmanship, October 21, 2014
I'm a user researcher. My team just bought a copy of the latest version of this $1000 report.

I guess it's useful if you truly have no e-commerce experience, need the content and can't get it anywhere else. Personally, I think if I were the author, I'd be ashamed of myself for authoring this. Some of the biggest issues:

* HORRIBLE INFORMATION PRESENTATION/LAYOUT. There is literally almost no visual information structure in a 1000+ document. Headers could summarize points, but often don't. Overall, is not designed to be scannable in a way you'd expect from a modern research report.

I would at least expect key insights to be bulleted or boldfaced. Often we put participant quotes to the side because they stand out and provide support to illustrate a point and make a report scannable -- instead, they're just put inline.

This is not a document I can share with a team and expect them to get any value from. They're not going to invest a full day digging for a few nuggets of wisdom buried among the wordy blather - they expect things that get to the point. It's something I would have to waste several weekends reading in detail and then writing up something for the team to extract value from.

* LOTS OF VERBIAGE, LITTLE ORIGINAL INSIGHT. It's as if they felt customers thought they were paying by the word and would value the outcome more if it were fluffier and wordier. I think I read 50 pages before finding even a single thing that was not pure common sense.

* POOR PRESENTATION OF RESEARCH RESULTS. Results are frequently presented in a quasi-scientific fashion without any clear explanation of what the results actually mean. This may look impressive to an audience that does not do user research, but for those of us who do, it's just sloppy information design. It is not your reader's job to figure out the relevance of your study results -- it is your job to foreground it.

* UNCLEAR EXTERNAL VALIDITY. When they present results, it's often unclear what types of e-commerce systems (or product types) they've actually studied to reach the recommendations or conclusions that they make. Instead, it feels like you're supposed to take it on faith that what they're saying is relevant to you, as if the author's brand reputation negates the need for external validity in research presentation.

* PRESENTS BEHAVIORAL OUTCOMES WITHOUT GOING INTO THE "WHY". Too many times where they present research results without giving insight into WHY participants had the problems that they did. Did they do any qualitative follow-up? Or did they just run some benchmark studies and speculate on the answers?

* ANECDOTAL DATA STATED AS FACT. It's disappointing to see the number of assertions to the effect of "don't do <X> because one user had a problem with it." More broadly, it's hard to judge how rigorous the knowledge is behind the different assertions made. Really? Conclusion validity?

I could go on, but overall, this is the kind of report writing we would expect from the most junior researcher at my company -- and he or she would be getting some serious mentoring before it went out. The times I've anticipated using it, I earnestly could have just conducted a rapid user study on faster than try to find what I needed from this doc (and it would be more contextually valid!).

If anyone knows of other consultancies who've done higher quality work in this space, I'd really love the pointer. This is just a big pile of what my colleagues describe as "Masters of the Obvious" work.

A/B Testing: The Most Powerful Way to Turn Clicks Into Customers
A/B Testing: The Most Powerful Way to Turn Clicks Into Customers
by Dan Siroker
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.58
46 used & new from $10.96

2.0 out of 5 stars Sales pitch for authors; limited content depth, October 18, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Between the lines, this book is basically a 200 page long ghostwritten marketing pitch for using Optimizely for A/B testing.

It's a very readable introduction to the basics of A/B testing if you have absolutely no experience in user research whatsoever, but the book could be largely summarized in a few bullets - there's maybe 40 pages of actual content here. It's a shame - there's so much more depth that could have made this into a valuable reference book.

This book is a one-time, 2-hour read. It is definitely not worth $20 to buy.

Prime-Line Products U 9980 Window Sash Lock, Economy, Mill Finish
Prime-Line Products U 9980 Window Sash Lock, Economy, Mill Finish
Price: $1.89
12 used & new from $1.11

1.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely horrible. I bought these at my hardware store, October 18, 2014
I bought these at my hardware store because I couldn't find any reviews.

Absolutely horrible. I bought these at my hardware store. The sharp screw end drives right into your window, unprotected. In other words, these will cause permanent window damage if used.

I am throwing them all out now.

Confessions of a Public Speaker
Confessions of a Public Speaker
by Scott Berkun
Edition: Hardcover
54 used & new from $1.34

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 10 page booklet padded out into 200 pages, February 16, 2013
I picked up this book as a "highly practical book" for presenting ideas effectively.

70 pages and an hour later, I've maybe found one or two useful pieces of advice buried among the long narratives about Greek theatre (about which I had little-to-no interest in) and irrelevant exhortations about glad I should be to earn my current salary (I already am, and I really don't need a public speaking book to tell me that).

Perhaps the remaining 130 pages become more useful, but I think I'm going to find an alternate "highly practical" book to recommend to my coworkers on public speaking that actually gets to the point and offers useful advice without requires hours of digging through rambling narratives to find anything useful.

Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer
Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer
Price: $3.23
38 used & new from $0.18

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Spamming my Facebook wall, January 19, 2013
Please don't link to this on Facebook.

If you do, the company making the product will spam your friends with a link to this product on the top of your Facebook page every time you log in.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 20, 2013 5:31 PM PST

LifeSpan TR1200-DT5 Treadmill Desk
LifeSpan TR1200-DT5 Treadmill Desk
Price: $1,480.98
22 used & new from $1,296.00

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nitpicks on an otherwise fantastic product, December 28, 2012
It's been barely 3 months since I started using this, and in short:

* Yes, this is a high-quality, well-built, well-engineered product. Yes, it's worth the money. I'll leave the other reviews to sing the (genuine) virtues of this product.

* Yes, you will almost certainly be able to work while walking. You may find certain kinds of work to be best for walking (e.g. e-mails, phone meetings, etc). I've found this fantastic to use as a second workstation in my office, typically for a few "walking" work periods totaling 90-120 minutes a day. Your back will also feel better during your sitting time because you're giving it these active breaks.

* Don't worry about the beeping complaints mentioned in other reviews. The 2013 model lets you disable the beeper (the procedure is explained in the user manual).

The best part about this treadmill is that, once you have it, the things you most feared and dreaded are transformed into exercise opportunities. ("You need me to work this weekend? Sure, no problem...I'll get way more exercise than if I stayed at home." ;-)

Here are some of the (minor) downsides I've noticed that haven't been called out:

* The plastic rails on each side of the walking surface become permanently and prominently marked upon contact with your shoe sole. This is surprising and disappointing. The visible wear is considerable after barely 3 months.

* The user manual for the treadmill goes downhill towards the end, and needs professional help. The closing pages are full of misspellings and sentences that aren't even logically coherent, let alone understandable.

* After you've completed your walking, you can't just push a button to scroll through the list of stats you may want (e.g. distance, calories, etc). Instead, you have to sit there and wait until it scrolls to the item you want. Slow and tedious.

* Bluetooth functionality is a great idea, but their Java-based desktop application is tedious and convoluted to install and get working. I have worked in software engineering teams for nearly 20 years (at companies like Apple, Netscape/Mozilla, Microsoft, etc), and I was unable to figure out how to get it to work on a Mac or a PC after several hours. A modern iOS, Android or Windows Store app would be great here.

Those gripes aside, this really is a fantastic product. For the first time in years, my weight is decreasing, and I've tripled my daily exercise just from using this treadmill for 2 hours a day of e-mails and conference calls. I'm possibly even getting close to the level of physical activity I used to get when I lived in Europe and could walk and bike places. For my life and health, that's transformative.

Sunlite Slimline 20 Cycle Bicycle Computer
Sunlite Slimline 20 Cycle Bicycle Computer
Offered by 2nd Hand, Inc.
Price: $18.40
4 used & new from $18.40

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst bike computer I've ever owned, April 3, 2011
Worst bike computer I've *ever* owned.

* It constantly resets itself, seemingly losing the wheel diameter and all other information. It's therefore unreliable and useless as an odometer.
* I am a human factors engineer by profession (and have a graduate degree in engineering) and I cannot even figure out how to operate it. Seriously.
* The user manual is not available as a PDF. If you lose the paper copy, the bike computer is essentially useless.

I couldn't possibly -- ever -- recommend this. I wouldn't even use it if you gave it to me for free.

Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M Instant PDF Sheet-Fed Scanner for the Macintosh
Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M Instant PDF Sheet-Fed Scanner for the Macintosh
5 used & new from $400.00

378 of 389 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Super-fast but overpriced, with glitchy software & awful documentation, December 31, 2010
I got my ScanSnap 2 weeks ago and have now scanned about 7,000 pages of docs. Although I feel it's a flawed product, I think it's still the best available that I've found.

* The hardware is really good at what it does: wicked fast, solid quality scanning. I can easily tear through 300-500 pages an evening.

* The hardware workflow deals efficiently with common problems, most notably, reliably detecting & helping you correct when a page misfeeds.

* It folds up into a small footprint on your desk.

* Hardware build quality feels really cheap for a $450 device. Most notably, the paper feed gears are all plastic. Mine already broke in just the first 10 days requiring complete replacement of the scanner.

* It's marketed as allowing up to 50 pages in the sheet feeder, my experience is that it typically can't feed paper unless you go down to 15-20. When I try with more, it makes a horrible noise and jams up. (I'm pretty sure this is what broke the plastic gear.)

Finally, the mediocre software. Speaking as a usability engineer who has also worked in the Mac OS team at Apple, the software interface is remarkably disappointing, especially for a Mac OS app. Saddeningly, most of the kinds of problems I see are ones that could have been cumulatively fixed in just a few man-weeks of a good designer & engineer's time. Here's just a smattering:

* After the first two pages that you scan, the window focus returns to the scan progress dialog. In other words, if you start a scan and go do something else (like surfing the web), the first time you press the space bar or return key, your scan job is aborted without undo, since you've pushed the "Stop" button unwittingly.

* File names can't be saved if you use characters prohibited on Windows (but not Mac). Worse, when you enter the name and it gives you an error (which gives factually incorrect criteria for what characters you can and can't type -- it keeps telling me I can't enter characters that I know I didn't), you lose the entire file name you chose and have to re-create it from scratch.

* The user interface text was clearly written by a non-native English speaker lacking usability or user assistance experience. Buttons and labels frequently even fail to conform to Apple's own naming guidelines. Even though the concepts behind the software are simple, it's often necessary to read the user manual to understand what different functions actually do, because the text labels are so poorly crafted, and rarely relate to the user task at hand. The error messages sometimes are just unbelievable -- I've worked on the design and creation of consumer software for 16 years and I've *never* seen anything this sloppy.

* There's so much low-hanging fruit that could make the software great: why can't it automatically propose a file name based on the first few words of a scan? Why can't the OCR take place in the background, so that you can get your scanning done and do the conversion overnight? (etc)

The documentation is also unbelievably bad: it's not task-oriented, there's factual mistakes where they copied and pasted out-of-date content from the prior model that doesn't apply to the S1500M, it buries the most critical things you need to know in tangents, and is written for an era in which users read a multi-hundred page document from back to back. If I were still teaching undergraduate technical communication, I would use it with my students for comic relief.

All that said, this scanner has enabled me to reclaim my closet and I'm very grateful for it. But it's far from a perfect product, and the flaws are ones that companies have no excuse for perpetuating at this price point, or in this era. Hopefully in 5 years there will be competitors that build fast scanners with reliable quality and well-crafted software -- but this ain't it.
Comment Comments (14) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 5, 2013 7:00 AM PDT

Your Shape Fitness Evolved - Xbox 360
Your Shape Fitness Evolved - Xbox 360
Offered by Budget Video Games Inc.
Price: $18.98
114 used & new from $3.18

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Better off sticking to Kinect Sports if you want to burn calories, December 20, 2010
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've spent a few hours with Your Shape, Fitness Evolved. I love my Kinect (and even bought an HDTV & Xbox to have one!), but this title is a colossal disappointment. Really surprised it has a 4 star rating overall.

The block-busting gym game shuts down after 1 minute of play...seriously?! To continue, you have to stop and navigate menus to play it again...again and again. If you average 8 calories per play and squeeze in 30 plays in an hour, that gives you 240 calories/hour. You'd burn more calories walking.

The "Light Race" gym game also baffles me. Unlike the Microsoft-designed games in which the avatar's motion directly maps to your own (e.g. step forward to step forward, right to go right, etc), this one requires that I spatially invert the Z-axis of location to a mirror image on the screen - so rather than stepping naturally forward/backwards to control your avatar, you have to do the opposite of what you want the avatar to do. But only for the Z-axis, not for the X-axis. I have a graduate-level engineering education and still can't figure out which direction it wants me to move in without working it through consciously each time.

I'm also disappointed with the personal training. It keeps telling me I'm doing the exercises wrong, but unlike Dance Central, it doesn't visually illustrate what I'm doing wrong by highlighting the areas where I'm tracking differently from its expectations. Instead, it gives really ambiguous verbal cues (or nothing). On the lunges, I'm at 100% failure even though it sure looks like I'm doing the same thing as the on-screen character.

Finally, I'd assumed from the fact that they call the fitness modules "classes" that there would be some sort of "teaching" mode, like Dance Central has. Instead, it throws lots of stuff at you at high speed without giving you a chance to learn how to do the individual steps. I could see *loving* the Cardio Kickboxing classes, but it's so hard to do the steps rapidly in sequence without being given the chance to learn the individual steps as a beginner.

Save your money for when companies get this genre right. I regret having blown $43 on it.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 17, 2012 3:28 PM PST

Handbook for Learning to Read Braille by Sight (7-51450)
Handbook for Learning to Read Braille by Sight (7-51450)
by Leland Schubert
Edition: Spiral-bound
7 used & new from $99.99

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but sellers are overcharging on Amazon, October 30, 2010
If you search for American Printing House for Blind, you'll find this book for about $30, far lower than the $150 that sellers are currently charging for it! Don't be ripped off.

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