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Customer Reviews: 37
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Helpful Votes: 290

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Michael O'Brien RSS Feed (Dumfries, VA USA)

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Warmen Men's Wool Gloves with Fold Back Pocket Strech Fingerless Mittens Winter Warm (One size, Olive Green)
Warmen Men's Wool Gloves with Fold Back Pocket Strech Fingerless Mittens Winter Warm (One size, Olive Green)
Offered by Warmen Gloves
Price: $13.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great gloves with one GIANT flaw, January 17, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
So I love these gloves and like that they are fingerless - it makes it easy to use a smartphone while wearing them. Even when it is below 0 degrees (F), my hands are warm in these.

However, there is one big flaw. While it is okay for the index, middle, ring, and pinky fingers to be fingerless (because the mitten cover keeps them toasty in cold weather, it is NOT okay for them not to have a thumb finger. If I take these out on a 0 degree day, eight hands will be roasty toasty, and I will have two frostbit thumbs that have turned to solid ice.

So why three instead of one star? Because I have found that putting these over cheap cotton gloves (I use these: works like a charm. I just keep the cotton gloves inside of these gloves at all times (i.e. putting on and removing the gloves is a 1-step process). This gives my thumb enough warmth to be okay in the extreme cold.

But I am still left wondering, why in the world would you create incredibly warm wool gloves while living two digits exposed? Makes no sense to me. Yes, you can use your thumb on your smartphone for the first ten minutes you are outside, but once they have frozen into two solid frostbitten ice blocks, you can't even use them for this. So my advice is to buy them, but just make sure you buy another pair to put inside.

Virtual Assistant Assistant: The Ultimate Guide to Finding, Hiring, and Working with Virtual Assistants
Virtual Assistant Assistant: The Ultimate Guide to Finding, Hiring, and Working with Virtual Assistants
Price: $2.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Packed with information in just a few short pages - a quick read that could change your life, January 17, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I started a consulting company a year ago and am far too busy. I bought this book to see if I could glean any insights into getting a virtual assistant. Now only did I get insights, it is nearly a complete how-to manual in just a few short pages. It covers things like:

The kinds of things for which a VA can help you
Web sites and services to find virtual assistants
Pros/cons of domestic vs. international VAs
Price ranges for different kinds of VAs, domestic and international
Software that can help them give access to your systems without them knowing all your passwords

So often I read a 200-page book and think, "This as good, but they could have done this in 50 pages." In the traditional book market, your book has to have a certain thickness for it to be considered serious. I think that this often leads to stretched out content that just wastes your time. This book is short, to-the-point, and doesn't leave any questions as to why/how/how much/where/etc.

Even if you don't need a VA, after reading this book, it is clear that this is a HUGE future trend - and is something worth reading just to be aware of. Nick Loper is clearly ahead of the curve and there is a lot that we can learn from him.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 30, 2014 11:33 PM PDT

Giro Flume Helmet (Red/Black Icons)
Giro Flume Helmet (Red/Black Icons)

5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect helmet, August 25, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My son had a Lightning McQueen helmet for about a year but recently has been wanting to take it off because it was hot and itchy. As a parent, it is distressing when your kid starts to hate is helmet (especially for a kid who is always pushing his limits).

At first I was going to get the Giro Rodeo but saw that it ran incredibly small and several people in their reviews recommended this helmet. My son just turned 4 and is a little smaller than average and this helmet fits absolutely perfectly. The adjuster in the back allows you to dial in the perfect fit.

One significant benefit of this is that the design is very similar to adult helmets. My son really looks up to me and was so excited to have a helmet just like daddy's. To him it is a sign of being a "big boy" Now that his things are starting to look like mine.

Second, unrelated, I was mowing the yard yesterday while he played with his bicycle and scooter in front of the house. When I needed to mow the side in back of the house I asked him to come with me (I don't like him playing out front when I cannot see him). Anyway, he came and played for a good 30 minutes while I was mowing the yard and never took the helmet off. I don't know if he just didn't notice it was on, or that it didn't bother him, but either way it didn't bother him in the least. This is a very welcome change from his always talking his other helmet off.

I am so thrilled with this helmet and would recommend it to anyone!

Maverick Et-732 Remote Bbq Smoker Thermometer
Maverick Et-732 Remote Bbq Smoker Thermometer
Price: $52.95
45 used & new from $45.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Product with stellar customer service, July 18, 2013
I have had my ET732 Maverick Wireless BBQ Thermometer for about two years and LOVE it. It is especially good for long cooks (pulled pork, brisket) when you don't have hours to sit around and watch a tethered thermometer. The wireless unit works flawlessly and you can set thresholds for it to alarm you. This way you can do chores around the house and not worry about the BBQ. As I am sure other reviews will note, you need to turn on the remote unit first, and then the central unit second for the radio connection to work.

Today I am doing a pork shoulder and the temperature probe was not giving correct readings. I e-mailed the company at 7:48 this morning, and at 7:53 (five minutes later!) I got a reply with some tips on how to repair the probe with an offer to replace my probes for free.

I just went from loving a product to loving a company.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 18, 2013 10:55 PM PDT

No Title Available

4.0 out of 5 stars Great pack, small problem with seal, June 23, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Am overall happy with pack, but the seal can leak. To fix, I only fill it to about 1.8 L instead of the full 2 L.

The manufacturer really thought through the details in the design, and it is solidly built. B

Paid to Think: A Leader's Toolkit for Redefining Your Future
Paid to Think: A Leader's Toolkit for Redefining Your Future
by David Goldsmith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.26
66 used & new from $6.98

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am a C-level exec, and find this ENORMOUSLY helpful, April 25, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My wife gave me Paid to Think as a birthday gift and have found it the most valuable business book I have ever read. I keep thinking, "I wish someone had told me that earlier in my career!"

This is the kind of book that when your skills wane and you want to read something new, just keep re-reading this book. In my nearly 25 years of professional experience, I can say that this covers everything a leader/manager needs to know. Everything.

You can think of this book as an MBA-in-a-box. It is a very practical how-to manual for leadership and management. It is a big book (599 pages) and dense - it is not a book you breeze through. However, it is well-written, and simple to understand.

Goldsmith believes that effective leadership and management is based on four things:

* Strategizing: Developing plans, creating new products and services, establishing alliances, learning technology
* Learning: Acquiring new knowledge, enhancing global awareness, watching competition
* Performing: Leading the charge, empowering others, innovating everywhere, selling continuously
* Forecasting: forecasting the future

All four weave together - where you cannot strategize without the ability to forecast, you cannot perform without learning, you cannot learn without strategizing, etc. The book is broken out into these four areas - but Goldsmith does a good job pulling them all together.

Not everything in this book is original - which I believe is a tremendous strength. Goldsmith is wise to understand that there are existing strategies that already work well. The purpose of this book is not to give you 100% original thought - but to teach you everything you need to know (whether his idea or someone else's) to be an effective leader. For example, in managing projects, he talked about the Critical Path Method that was invented in the 1950s - there is nothing he could invent that is better. This said, he does have some incredibly creative approach to problems that I have never seen before - so it is a good mix.

Goldsmith is also good at challenging conventional wisdom. For example, he takes exception to the phrase, "Our employees are our most valuable asset" suggesting that good employees are the end product of good processes, good tools, and the right environment.

I am an avid Harvard Business Review (HBR) reader and read a lot of business books. Most business books have a gem or two that I take forward but this one book has reset my expectations for what a business book should deliver. It is pure meat - with practical advice on every page. I wish Amazon allowed for more than five starts - because I would give this 100 if I could.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 4, 2013 7:21 AM PDT

How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques, A Barbecue Bible! Cookbook
How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques, A Barbecue Bible! Cookbook
by Steven Raichlen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.93
367 used & new from $0.01

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I would give this book 1,000 stars if Amazon allowed it, July 4, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I am not an easy Amazon grader, but given the option, I would give this 1,000 stars. What an incredible book.

My dad was an avid griller. My parents lived 20 minutes away and we would go over for dinner often. Everything he cooked was delicious - roasts, pork chops, ribs, whatever. I LOVED going there to eat. I don't know if I always assumed that he would be there, but I was too stupid to ask him how he did it. I just took it for granted. Well, 2 1/2 years ago he died unexpectedly. He and my mom were on a cruise, he got a gum infection, and was dead within 24 hours. My mom died of cancer 18 months later and whatever they knew, went with them to their graves. If I could do it all over again, I would spend hours with him and soak up all he knew about grilling, but I missed that opportunity.

Enter How to Grill. This book walks you through picture-by-picture what to do. There are no assumptions and no ambiguities, this really is a great book for people who have never done it before. Today I cooked spareribs and this may be one of the top ten meals I have ever eaten. I used his recipe for the rub and for the BBQ sauce and wow! They were positively amazing. This may sound silly, but when I grill, I feel closer to him, as this was something he absolutely loved to do.

While I think it would have been fun learning how to grill from my dad, I feel so thankful for this book. This is brilliantly written and will get anyone to a good comfort level. I find that many beginner books (whatever the topic) often try to cover too much, sacrificing basic information. This book is all you need to start grilling.

Nine months after my dad died, our adopted son was born. I have so many hopes and dreams for him and our life together. He is 22 months old now and I dream of the day I can teach him how to throw a baseball, how to camp, and how to grill. This book has given me a chance to learn something I should have learned years ago.

Thank you Steven Raichlen -- this really is much more than just a book to me.

Citizen Men's BL5250-02L Titanium Eco-Drive Watch with Leather Band
Citizen Men's BL5250-02L Titanium Eco-Drive Watch with Leather Band
Price: $280.00
14 used & new from $280.00

4 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I am sooooooo frustrated, July 2, 2011
I have had this watch for a few months and actually really like it. But here's the problem, it is a new month and it has the wrong day in the window (it is July 2 and my watch says July 1).

So I pull out the manual and I just can't read it. To cut costs, the brainiacs over at Citizen thought it would be cost-effective to print the manual for this watch on something slightly larger than a thimble. So they give you a CD right? Well, it only works in certain types of CD players. If you have the type of CD player that you have to push the CD through a slot, it it doesn't work (it is smaller than the regular CD).

So I though I would go to their web site. I first tried with my iPad only to find that the entire site is in Flash (which doesn't work on iPads, iPhones, or anything Apple). So I get on my office computer and after 15 minutes of searching their horrible site, I cannot find the manual. They have a link for Technical Support, but under that is NOT a link for manuals.

Setting the watch is anything but intuitive - which is fine -- but GIVE ME AT LEAST A SEMI-OKAY MANUAL!!!!!

I am surprised that a company like Citizen can thrive with such horrible documentation. I feel stuck and really don't know what to do now. Citizen - if you are reading this, I would like to suggest that paying an extra $1.00 on a larger manual is not going to make you broke, but it will drive away customers like me!
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 22, 2012 11:16 AM PDT

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery
Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery
by Garr Reynolds
Edition: Paperback
105 used & new from $5.15

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Without exaggeration, this book has helped propel my career to new levels., April 27, 2011
I read Presentation Zen about a year ago and it hit me like a bolt of lightning. Most books nudge me in one direction or another, but this made me question some of my most fundamental beliefs.

About five months ago, I got a job as the CIO for a nonprofit association that represents over 60,000 Earth and space scientists. About two months ago, I gave a presentation at an all-staff meeting about where I wanted to take IT. While people were prepared for a snoozer, they were highly engaged. I got dozens of compliments spanning over several weeks. At least once a week I hear people make reference to this presentation.

As we set out to launch a new Association Management System (essentially a CRM for associations), we had our all-staff kick-off meeting recently. While this sounds deathly boring, some people told me that they were actually looking forward to my presentation. While I don't know if I could have topped the expectations of the first presentation, it went over very well. I was stopped over and over by people telling me how much they liked the presentation.

When people ask me what my secret is, I essentially quote this book and say that PowerPoint is an outlining tool - and outlines make boring presentation. Instead, I put on a Bluetooth headset and walk my dog. Then I talk to myself (the Bluetooth is to keep my neighbors from thinking I am crazy). I have learned that it is ALL about narrative and once you have a story down, the slides supplement the story.

When one is new in an organization, it is critical to set the right tone and establish the right image. This book really liberated me, and showed me how to inject my personality into my presentations. They are fun, goofy, and sometimes a like risqué. But they are genuine and I think this speaks to people (how can you be genuine with bullet points?). So far this job has been going VERY well, and I owe much of it to Garr. There are a lot of smart people out there who never get noticed. This book gave me the tools to really put myself on the map.

Ultimate Guide: Wiring, 7th edition (Home Improvement)
Ultimate Guide: Wiring, 7th edition (Home Improvement)
by Home Improvement
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.45
56 used & new from $8.46

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On a scale of 1-5, I give this a 13 -- Outstanding book!, August 20, 2010
I was taking on an enormous project in my garage. Quickly - I sold all my woodworking tools to buy more powerful ones, I was going to add an A/C unit, a high-power electrical heater, and needed a lot more lighting. A friend helped me install a sub-panel in the garage but the rest was up to me.

I installed 9 electrical boxes for lights, 15 boxes for receptacles (a mix of 110 and 220, both 20 amp), a junction box to connect all the new lights together, a light switch tied to two new lights in the attic, etc. You get the idea.

I had the Home Depot Wiring 1-2-3 which was like almost all books in this genre, it was a mile wide and an inch deep. Lots of nice photos but doesn't get you beyond the basics. I looked at several books and was as unimpressed as I was with the HD book.

But then I found Ultimate Guide Wiring. Wow. This book is brilliantly written -- it is short, to the point, but gives enough depth for you to do about anything. I had a basic homeowner's knowledge of wiring but this book helped bring me to the next level. Everything I needed to do, this book had a step-by-step guide to help guide me through. This is a complete book that should help anyone with just about any kind of wiring project including adding new lights and light switches, new electrical receptacles, etc.

Whenever I get into a new field, I end up buying a dozen books because they all add something new. Right now I think this will be the one book I use for wiring -- it really has no gaps. From now on, I am going to start with Creative Homeowner books before I try anything else.

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