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Epson Expression Premium XP-620 Wireless Color Photo Printer with Scanner and Copier
Epson Expression Premium XP-620 Wireless Color Photo Printer with Scanner and Copier
Offered by Beach Audio
Price: Click here to see our price
13 used & new from $129.13

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent performance!, September 22, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Epson XP-620 is a very nice compact printer/copier/scanner. Print quality is excellent and fast. Front panel controls are reasonably intuitive. It's advertised as a wi-fi printer, and it is, but it is much more. It's also advertised as a photo printer, although there are no instructions in the package on how those features, or any others for that matter, work. You must go on line to view the detailed User Guide. That manual seems to be very thorough, but having just started using this printer, I haven't really exercised every capability yet.

The box contains a large format pictorial quick start guide that covers only the very basics of setup and operation such as unpacking, connecting the power, ink cartridge installation, paper loading, and very rudimentary instructions on software installation. There is also a small Quick Guide booklet with even less information. There is also a slick four page 8.5" x 11" booklet containing capability and specification information. Nowhere, however is there any description of the various front panel controls or, even worse, the mechanics of operation of the various paper trays and CD/DVD tray operation. As I said, you must go on line to see the detailed User's Guide. It seems as though there should be something in print that comes with the printer so you don't have to immediately go to the web for information.

Print quality is very good. I don't have a good feel at this point how long the ink will last. Typically, the cartridges that come with the printers aren't even full, so they will run out sooner than those purchased later. The various paper trays are somewhat difficult to understand without studying the on line manual. There is one for standard printing, typically 8.5" x 11." another for photo paper, and even one for loading a CD/DVD on which you can print a label.

Scanning and copying are simple to perform from the front panel. You can even scan a CD/DVD and print its label on a blank CD/DVD you have loaded via a special cassette into the printer. Again, you must read the detailed on line manual to understand this process. There is also an SD card slot on the front that allows you to print directly from it without using the computer. Also, if your camera has "PictBridge" capability, you can print directly from your camera.

The various methods of sending documents or photos to the printer consist of a wired option where you connect a USB cable (not supplied) from your computer to the printer; a mode where you can print through wi-fi; a mode where you can send a print job via email to the printer after you have set it up with an email address; a mode where you can print from an ipad after downloading an app from the Apple store; and a mode where you can print directly from an Android or other wi-fi enabled device within wi-fi range of the printer through a mode called Direct Connect. As an experienced computer person, I just don't feel the documentation was clear enough as to what all these modes do and how to use them. While very versatile, I think it is a little daunting to the average consumer. Other parts of the user guide dealing with detailed operation, printing and scanning operations, and troubleshooting seem adequate, however.

In summary, I give this printer high marks for capability, versatility, quality of print, and style, but lower marks for documentation clarity relative to understanding the overall capabilities and how to use them.

____ Roger Meyer


Corel PaintShop Pro X7 Ultimate
Corel PaintShop Pro X7 Ultimate
Price: Click here to see our price
21 used & new from $89.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robust and fun!, September 22, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have cut my computer design teeth on various editions of Paint Shop and still use the old Paint Shop Pro 9 as my workhorse. Pro X 7 has a number of unique and specialty features that will greatly augment your experience, expand your artistic horizon, turn you into a graphic artist if you aren't one already. However, X7 Ultimate is a huge sandbox for you to play in but the canvas may seem intimidating. It probably is a wise idea to click on the help menu from the Edit category at the top of your screen and select user guide-PDF. This manual is over 800 pages long, but before you feel snowed in, it would be a good idea to take a look at the various chapters.

The software offers three editions- 32 and 64 bit, 64 bit and 32 bit. The first is recommended because downloads later offered may be 32 or 64 and if both bases aren't covered the file won't download. For instance when you install and register the software, a free download then offered is KPT, a powerhouse of dazzling special effects tagged as 32 bit.

When you first install the program you will be kept quite busy downloading primary and complementary software. Included are two CDs. Disc One is Paintshop Pro X7 Ultimate proper. Disc two offers three additional programs and are the innards containing a huge assortment of tools and techniques for implementing them.

Perfectly Clear
Face Filter Studio 3
Ultimate Creative Collection

You can elect all three to install or one or two. With Perfectly Clear you can quickly and automatically adjust the image. The Face Filter Studio gives you the tools to transform a portrait and the Ultimate Creative Collection includes a creative stable of brushes, backgrounds and textures. Magic Fill enables you to remove unwanted areas of the image with one click and the tool does this seamlessly. There are text and shape cutters. It's all here and it's complicated but do it in baby steps, if necessary, by taking a look at the PDF offered in help.


Art of the Steal
Art of the Steal
DVD
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Review of a review, September 18, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is the first time I have reviewed a review on Amazon. I refer you to K. Swanson's knowledgeable and well-written discussion of "Art of the Steal." There is nothing I can say to improve or even add to this essay, for essay it is. "Steal" is a mind-boggling expose of the attemped political heist of the Barnes post-impressionist art collection, a loose cannon worth 25-30 billion.


Corel Painter 2015
Corel Painter 2015
Price: $398.99
13 used & new from $394.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it!, September 17, 2014
This review is from: Corel Painter 2015 (CD-ROM)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
We kind of like the slogan for Painter 2015: "More power. More speed. More Painter".This software is a fine sandbox for you to play in and you may never want to leave.

My PC in the some fifteen years I have been on the Internet has always sported at least one version of Corel, the old Paint Shop Pro 9 being my workhorse. Each edition has its own specialties and I usually have four or five pieces of Corel software on my hard drive at once, such as Painter 12, Painter 3 and Corel Draw X7, and I flit from one to another. However, Corel Painter 2015 is so lush, so full of designing goodies I may never go back to the older editions.

As a designer of tshirts and other products via my company Zazzle, any designing software I use gets a big workout and it has to deliver what I want in the way of design when I want it. Painter 2015 has incredible brushes, Particle Brushes that allow you to go gaga and create something uncontrolled and chaotic or something precise. It should be noted that Painter 2015 is fully compatible with Wacom tablets and a tablet and stylus are needed for many of Painter's sophisticated graphics.

The help section of the software can be converted to PDF where it can be stored as a booklet which is convenient especially if you want to print any of the chapters. Painter has a simply formidable array of brushes, textures and techniques and to make certain you are looking at the default displays you need to choose the Window menu at the top then select Arrange Palettes>Default. You can choose to have the brush selections shown as icons or as text. I find the text easier, like "acrylic" rather than a small icon of that brush. There are unusual tools for you to try such as "Pattern Pens" with the sub menu "Pattern Chalk Jitter" which forms a rich swirl while "Flow Fur Tail" puts a tail on your galloping horse and other variants include a perfect beard for that garden gnome.

Painter 2015 is digital painting at its best, with brushes that closely imitate natural media such as Real Watercolor and Real Oil and you can even watch your oil painting dry. The cloning tool offers hundreds of possibilities. You can be deadly serious about your digital artwork or light-hearted or both.It's all here for you to enjoy, another world, really!


Rit Dye Liquid Dye, 8 fl oz, Dark Brown, 3-Pack
Rit Dye Liquid Dye, 8 fl oz, Dark Brown, 3-Pack
Offered by 10dollarwholesale
Price: $17.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Not practical for dyeing small carpets, September 17, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I thought I could use the three bottles to dye a small scatter rug dark brown but the three were not enough to dye the complete rug. It is my own fault, I could have researched to find out how many 8 ounce bottles would be enough. The color was very dense on the part of the carpet that did stain but the cost of this particular liquid dye prevented me from buying more.


Norton Security
Norton Security
Price: $79.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I feel safe with Norton, September 14, 2014
This review is from: Norton Security (CD-ROM)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I don't think that during some 15 years on the Internet my PCs (have gone through several) have ever been without some form of Norton Anti-Virus. Being an artist and non-geeky I expect my anti-virus software to do its thing unobtrusively in the background but like to be notified if Norton has caught any fish. no longer identified with the year.The software requires a download from Norton with the activating number on a card they send you. They do not send a CD and my downloaded version was Norton 360. A Norton downloader downloads the software to your set. If you've bought online Norton stuff before it may ask for your ID and password.This whole system of downloading is somewhat annoying as the download takes about 26 minutes but I still give Norton 360 5 stars as it seems to be performing well in keeping my PC safe.


Masterpiece Theatre: Wuthering Heights (2009)
Masterpiece Theatre: Wuthering Heights (2009)
DVD
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Visually splendid, September 14, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Masterpiece Theater's production of "Wuthering Heights" is a magnificent film with absolutely gorgeous photography. The film is worth watching for the photography alone. Cathy in a white dress galloping over the moors on a white horse, Heathcliff in black on a black horse, the mists that rise like miasmas of doom, the closeups of faces writhing in pain, for the souls of "Wuthering" agonize- Heathcliff and Cathy and Edgar Linton and Isabella Linton. All of the characters seem to be creatures of a fate they can't dispel or avoid. Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley as Cathy and Heathcliff smolder on the screen and they are in a real life relationship. Unlike Emily Bronte's lovers who seem almost pristinely pure sexually, there is explicit and implicit sex in the film and it is needed to round out the characters of these passionate men and women. Cathy and Heathcliff lie together on the moors, Edgar Linton (Andrew Lincoln) is almost frenzied in his love making with Catherine in their bed, Heathcliff demands Isabella (Rosalind Halstead) not look at him as he takes her with revulsion. Isabella has much more spunk and importance in this adaptation but with her love for Heathcliff her fate is sealed. However you get mad at her for being so foolish. Did somebody say love is blind? Sarah Lancashire as Nelly provides a stabilizing force throughout the film and more or less keeps Cathy from going off the deep end.

In spite of the many critical reviews of "Wuthering" as noted above, the movie is worth renting for the photography alone. The directors grab you by the scruff of the neck and deposit you in Yorkshire where you cannot escape. You may not like Tom Hardy's face (he looks like Oscar Wilde)and I have to admit that my thoughts on Heathcliff nostalgically return to the superb face of Lawrence Olivier. Nevertheless Hardy plays Heathcliff as rather uncouth and even when he returns in his clothes of a gentleman he still appears somewhat uncouth, somewhat uncomfortable in his new role. I think that rendition quite faithfully restores Emily Bronte's tortured character. BUT Heathcliff's suicide is way off the mark. Heathcliff should have died as he did in the book, hurling himself across the moors in pursuit of the ghost of Cathy who has touched him with her icy fingers. Charlotte Riley's portrayal of Cathy is of a much too sweet girl, far from Bronte's picture of her as vain, wild and opportunistic. She cannot be sweet and say as she does "I am Heathcliff!"


The Pierced Heart: A Novel
The Pierced Heart: A Novel
by Lynn Shepherd
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.26

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written thriller, September 10, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Author Shepherd writes with panache and grace, her torrent of words carrying you swiftly across the page, always down stream. She is a master at creating an atmosphere, but right in the middle of a vivid description she might pop a little barb of humor. You have to keep your eye on her so you don't miss anything. Reading her is a delight as she takes you from bustling, noisy London to the chilliness of the Vienna countryside where the dark woods are full voices and glowing eyes and where it is raining icy drops that run down your collar and get you shivering. And she takes you back to London in time for the Prince Consort's Great Exhibition which will fill the city with tourists. Under the glass of the enormous Crystal Palace, nations will display their latest achievements in science and culture, a World's Fair attended by virtually everybody from royalty to far down the ladder. Everybody, including a Vampire.

In a Dracula-inspired story like this one, we have to have a Baron who is up to no good. Our aristocrat must be highly cerebral, a scholar, with a huge library. He must be tall and lean with smoldering eyes and he must live in a remote castle with many doors, many sounds, candles guttering when there is no wind, and replete with things that go bump in the night.

It's all here in “The Pierced Heart.” Speaking in the present tense although she takes us back to the middle nineteenth century, the narrator-author is a veritable fly on the wall who sees all, knows all. Our hero is Charles Maddox, an acclaimed English criminal investigator, who travels to Vienna to investigate the circumstances of a large donation to Oxford University from a mysterious Viennese nobleman, Baron von Reisenberg. The locals cross themselves when the Baron is mentioned and Christianity, as in any Gothic tale, becomes a kind of superstitious repelling force, a defense mechanism summoned to dispel evil.

The Baron quickly realizes Charles is there to snoop and after his vicious mastiff attacks Charles and severely wounds his leg, Charles is obliged to return to London in defeat, precisely at the time a series of gruesome murders occurs in London's Piccalily.. The city is on the verge of wholesale panic. Charles is pretty sure who is behind the killing and although he is a private detective rather than a member of the police force, he sets his goal in finding the killer.

Interwoven within the narrative are the journals of a girl named Lucy. Her life, although she does not know it yet will be entangled in the adventures of both Baron and Charles, a very complicated web of heroics and deceit. You are pulled inexorably along by the author-narrator who has you, the reader, by the scruff of the neck as this is a page-turner. You may feel you are falling into a strange but convincingly real world like Alice in the rabbit hole. “The Pierced Heart” is a fine fantasy, loaded with thrills but with tender moments, too.


Death at Chinatown (Emily Cabot Mysteries) (Volume 5)
Death at Chinatown (Emily Cabot Mysteries) (Volume 5)
by Frances McNamara
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.87
10 used & new from $8.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not suspenseful, September 7, 2014
“Death at Chinatown” is much less a mystery story than a social commentary of 1896 Chicago and Chicago's large and bustling Chinatown. We have as narrator, Emily Chapman, erstwhile professor, amateur sleuth and the harried mother of two small children and a sometimes insensitive husband. Somehow, having a husband and two very young kids gets in the way of the flow of this novel. One cannot imagine Sherlock Holmes with a wife although Watson made up for that with perhaps three. When Lord Peter Wimsey got all soppy about Harriet and Naiao Marsh's Roderick Alleyn went gaga over Troy, the cutting edge of the mystery stories was somehow eroded. The husband or wife of a sleuth gets in the way. The domestic scenes of Emily and her children (such as the baby throwing up on Emily's dress as she welcomes visitors) I imagine will bore most men readers, who being men, will not understand the struggles of a professional woman during the Victorian era. They don't understand modern struggles of the same ilk, either.

There are three pivotal characters in “Death” who actually lived: Gertrude Howe, a Methodist missionary and her two proteges Ida Kahn and Mary Stone. Ida and Mary were lucky to escape the scourge of bound feet but having normal “big” feet ruined their marriage prospects, and Ida was also the sixth daughter and as such her parents were happy to get rid of her. Both young women under the aegis of Gertrude Howe attended the University of Michigan, attained their medical degrees and emerged as full-blown doctors both in history and the pages of this book.

The Chinatown of Chicago in the late nineteenth century is almost like another country to Emily. When Mary Stone is accused of the murder of an herbalist (she had been observed pouring something into his ear) Emily's husband Stephen urges Emily to pursue the matter as an investigator, but Emily would much rather be at home with her children. An interesting situation: how many husbands in 1896 and now would prefer their wives to WORK rather than mind the kids and be a full-time wife? Somehow the fact that Emily is more or less being pushed into a criminal investigation dilutes the situation as you feel she doesn't much care so why should you, the reader? She does protest too much, throughout the entire novel,being torn between her obligations as a mother and her interest in helping the police.

The local backgrounds of Chicago's China Town offered in the novel are as important or more so than the plot, and with Emily you will plunge ahead cold turkey. The immigration laws, the language, the superstitions, the attire, the food are spread before you. Do you know exactly what chop suey is? You enter many places in Chinatown, all atmospheric, smelling of exotic spices, dark little alleys and doorways, burnished wood. You observe men with pigtails down their back, women with bound feet. The characters, themselves, however, seem to be less distinct than the atmosphere. The two Chinese doctors, Ida and Mary, aside from the fact they are determined, and remarkably good with small children, never gel as personalities. Emily's friend Inspector Whitbread fares little better. The characters on this stage verge on being cardboard.

Given the importance of Chinese herbal medicine both in this book and in the real world it is surprising the author doesn't go into detail specifically about the herbal concoction that Dr. Mary had poured into the murdered man's ear and why that potion was presumed to have killed him. Authorities must have examined the elixir- what herbs were involved?

A Chinese dignitary, Viceroy Li (a real historical figure) visits Chicago and the novel reaches its climax. There is a kidnapping, and a near murder. Emily and Detective Whitbread learn the motive for the herbalist's assassination and simultaneously discover a sinister plot. Although this is a good novel and I enjoyed it, the book lacks dynamism, it lacks punch because Emily as the reluctant sleuth comes over as rather bland. We like our sleuths barreling along, their noses (figuratively) to the ground while yelling “The game's afoot!” We like our sleuths unfettered by a husband or wife or small children.


Murder Ahoy
Murder Ahoy
DVD
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely hilarious!, September 1, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Murder Ahoy (Amazon Instant Video)
"Murder Ahoy" comes very close to being slapstick and if there is anything Agatha Christie's novels were not, it's slapstick. Nor was Christie's prim Miss Marple anything like the jolly, effervescent creation of Margaret Rutherford. But it doesn't matter, Rutherford can easily hold her own as a superb comedienne, and if her Miss Marple is not Christie's Miss Marple, you still can never lose the genius of Christie hovering in the background. "Murder Ahoy," however, is not based on any of the Agatha Christie novels. Integrating into the movie is a mousetrap- a salute to Christie's play "The Mousetrap" that has been playing steadily in the West End since 1952.

While trying to solve the murder (later murders) of a ship board of trustees member, Rutherford is in fine fettle. The action takes place both on and off the ship "Battledore." From setting up a chemistry set (a Rube Goldberg contraption bubbling away) to discover what sort of poison was introduced into the murdered man's snuff to taking on a ship officer in a sword fight Rutherford never stops sleuthing and never stops moving. Joining Rutherford are Charles Tingwell (Inspector Craddock) and Stringer Davis (Jim Stringer), Craddock representing the Yard, Jim representing -well- not exactly a boyfriend but a sort of faithful companion who is there when needed like old dog Tray. It should be noted that Jim is Rutherford's real life husband Stringer Davis. Lionel Jeffries as the ship's Captain is very funny as he tries to protect his fractured dignity after Miss Marple more or less embarks on his ship and more or less takes over.

A lot of hanky-panky is going on aboard the ship as Miss Marple discovers and she indulges in quite a bit of hanky-panky herself. A nefarious officer on the ship is apparently conducting a school for thieves and housebreakers, squiring a group of young crewmen to the shore at night to practice their trade. The plot is lively, the cast perfect and the overall tone very British. The four films of Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple are vintage, they afford a special charm, tea and crumpets.


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