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Customer Reviews: 362
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Patrick Oden RSS Feed (San Dimas, CA United States)

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The Naked Archaeologist - Season 1
The Naked Archaeologist - Season 1
Price: $12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars quirky alternative approach, April 15, 2014
Found this show, gave it a chance and may have found a new quirky favorite.

First of all, the host has a sense of humor and wry approach to things. He's looking at mostly Biblical history and trying to come to terms with how it might have happened in light of contemporary archaeology.

I wouldn't publish with the content of the show, but at the same time he is great at illustrating how much interpretation there is in even the most rigorous archaeology. Biases abound on every side, and most of the time the biases move towards assuming, beginning with, the idea that the Bible is false. Here we come from another perspective, not in the cheesy over-dramatic Christian television sort of way, but through a genial, inquisitive host interviewing scholars and asking questions and drawing them into their own interpretations.

It's a bit like Huell Howser in feel, though the host here is much more engaged with the material. But it has the same friendly, rather than artificially objective, feel of other programs.

It's a great find, especially if you are interested in a wider perspective of interpretations (in light of the broader field of Archaeology shows)

McCulloch MC1230 Handheld Steam Cleaner
McCulloch MC1230 Handheld Steam Cleaner
Price: $69.99

5.0 out of 5 stars convenient hand held steam power, April 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A while back, I got a Black & Decker BDH1800SM Handheld Steamer to replace a Wagner 905 canister steam machine that I had loaned out. I was mostly using the Wagner for cleaning my barbecue grill and other jobs, so didn't need another big unit. From the beginning I was disappointed with the Black & Decker. It didn't have enough power, and despite being labeled "hand-held" required the use of both hands, making it no more convenient. It drippled, it leaked, letting go of the trigger didn't stop the steam.

I've been looking for a replacement (my Wagner has apparently found a nice new home), but was really wary about another handheld.

This McCulloch addresses all my wariness. First, it's a handheld, which means it's small and the steam goes fast. Second, it's really a handheld, hold it with one hand and use it freely. It comes with good sized (if not highest quality) carry bag and has enough attachments to meet almost any need.

After using it, I'm now wishing I had something a bit bigger as I find myself running out of steam. That being said, that's not a criticism of the product as it's very clearly very good at what it claims to be and do.

Advanced Photoshop CC for Design Professionals Digital Classroom
Advanced Photoshop CC for Design Professionals Digital Classroom
by writer on digital design. Jennifer Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: $34.80
54 used & new from $24.60

4.0 out of 5 stars Second Semester Photoshop, April 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The most important way to learn how to use Photoshop is to use Photoshop. Click things, see what settings do. Experiment. Play.

With a program like Photoshop, however, this isn't sufficient at first, simply because there's so much to try out and so many nuances and tools that are confusing at first but easily explained.

So, how do you get your foot in the door if you've invested in Photoshop CC?

I've been a casual user of Photoshop for a while, since CS2. My work and priorities have had me on the web side of things, with Dreamweaver and Fireworks, so I never really got even to the intermediate level of Photoshop. Now, I'm back in with CC and there are a lot of familiar elements, a lot of changes, and a lot of things I just plain forgot. I'm not an absolute beginner, but even still I started with the Wily Creative Cloud Design Tools book, which is an introduction for the 6 most popular programs in the suite. Wanting to go beyond even my previous skills I took the next step with this book.

Which is not really for advanced users, more of the next stage up from beginners. It assumes the basic skills and shows steps of more advanced techniques. This is especially helpful in coming to terms with the new(er) additions to Photoshop, making it good for not-quite-beginners and good for more experienced users who have only had access to older versions.

Dreamweaver CC: The Missing Manual
Dreamweaver CC: The Missing Manual
by David Sawyer McFarland
Edition: Paperback
Price: $34.46
56 used & new from $22.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough and well written, April 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My first version of Dreamweaver was MX2004, which I used very regularly, and updated the next year. I've been using that same version, the last of Macromedia, since then. Partly cost, mostly because my profession went different directions and I wasn't doing web design.

I recently have cause to get back into web design for education purposes and got the Creative Cloud for the year. On the surface, there's a lot familiar with the old and the new versions. But I suspected there was a huge amount I was missing. This book absolutely confirms that.

After spending some time with this, I can say it is very helpful in getting me up to speed. It's very thorough and well-written, approachable in scope without talking down to the reader. I wish the chapters were more uniform in length--my chapter a day goal brings some wildly different time demands. But, overall, the content presented is consistent with the themes, and is good about introducing and reinforcing lessons throughout.

There's no DVD, with the lessons downloadable, which allows for a somewhat cheaper cost.

Jarrow Formulas Red Yeast Rice Plus Nattokinase Capsules, 60 Count
Jarrow Formulas Red Yeast Rice Plus Nattokinase Capsules, 60 Count
Price: $15.29
11 used & new from $14.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great supplement, April 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Like with most supplements, the hope is not for sudden change but for gradual re-adjustment of the body's system. So too here. Red Yeast Rice had come to my attention last year when I was confronted with high blood pressure and I wanted to find ways to ease it using exercise and diet. I'm about to turn 40 this year and want to make sure that I take care of issues early before they do lasting damage.

This Jarrow supplement is quite a good choice. Jarrow is a dependable brand and one I trust. I did not notice any side effects or any other issues at all in taking it.

The only minor caveat that might lead me to try a different version is the fact that Red Yeast Rice is said to deplete CoQ10, so it's recommended to take that as well if you're taking this. Some Red Yeast Rice supplements have these packaged together in the same pill, making for a little less to swallow. I had some CoQ10 pills already so have been taking them together, but when both run out I might look for those combined versions.

Miracle-Gro Shake 'N Feed Rose and Bloom Continuous Release Plant Food, 4.5-Pound
Miracle-Gro Shake 'N Feed Rose and Bloom Continuous Release Plant Food, 4.5-Pound
Price: $12.49
4 used & new from $12.49

5.0 out of 5 stars great for the occasional gardener, April 10, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My problem with gardening is that I care sporadically. The great thing about this Shake N' Feed is that it works continuously, so that when I care I use this and it keeps working even when I forget. And it works quite well, keeping my rose bushes much happier. Blooming where I put this, not blooming where I didn't (I had to test its effectiveness somehow). Now, I'm off to feed the roses I left alone, lest they get too jealous at how pretty the others are getting...

Philips Norelco HC3422/40 5100 Hair Clipper
Philips Norelco HC3422/40 5100 Hair Clipper
Price: $26.95
4 used & new from $26.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Great cordless for the price, April 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been cutting my own hair since college, about 15 years ago. I've never invested in expensive clippers and I've never taken good care of them, so I've gone through probably about 7 clippers over the years. Some lasting me a while, some not so long, and one pair getting tossed out after a half use. It just didn't cut my hair. Those last were in the same price range as these, and were also cordless, so I honestly was suspicious.

Cut my hair this past week, was pleasantly surprised. Cut clean, no tugs or catches. And it cut on the first pass. Cheaper models often don't cut well, requiring several passes making it hard to get a precise haircut. If they don't cut where you want, it's very frustrating. These cut quite well. About 10 minutes in or so, I noticed a drop in power. Not so much it stopped, but it definitely wasn't as strong as before, though not so weak to cause problems. Just something I noticed, plug it in and it revved up. Again, only a slight drop but it does make me a bit concerned about battery life for longer haircuts or multiples if that's your concern.

The comb on this allows for a lot of settings, 23 stops easily adjusted by the thumb, but not so easily it will slip on accident. Of course, I have no idea the equivalent length, just numbers 1-23, but it's not that hard to guess.

These aren't as precise or as consistent with cutting as higher cost, plug in models, but for the cost this is a very good set. Budget cordless clippers with more than adequate results that should work for most clipping needs.

Mr. Beams MB312 Wireless LED Mini Spotlight with Motion Sensor and Photocell, 80-Lumens, Brown, 2-Pack
Mr. Beams MB312 Wireless LED Mini Spotlight with Motion Sensor and Photocell, 80-Lumens, Brown, 2-Pack
Price: $29.99
2 used & new from $22.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Good no-frills motion lights, April 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I while back I got the Mr. Beams MB333 Wireless LED Spotlight with Motion Sensor and Photocell, White, 3-Pack. We were living in a fairly isolated place and I wanted to have good light for when we walked from our car to the door, and to light up the place whenever anyone, or anything, was walking around.

I like them. They were easy. But they were so, so sensitive. And when the batteries got low, the more sensitive they became (counter-intuitive).

We moved, and those are overkill for the present place as we have mostly built in outside lighting. But I hate leaving those on all night. Then we got home late one time, I couldn't see my keys to get in the door. Second time I thought I need to get out my Mr. Beams. But, again, that was too much for the simpler lighting I needed.

These fit exactly what I was looking for. These aren't spotlight, they don't light up the area, but they do brighten a small spot and if it's dark enough they do it well. Easily mounted, weather proof (for the most part, but I live in SoCal so they don't get much weather testing other than sun). They take 3 C batteries easy. Rather small and unobtrusive, could put it under eaves.

The motion sensor seems less sensitive, so I'm happy with that. There's no adjustments. They go on and stay on for about 30 seconds.

Great for situations where you don't want to wire something in and great to use even for travel or camping.

Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire TV
Price: $99.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Amazon Fire? Perfect for our use, April 5, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Amazon Fire TV (Electronics)
The Fire is not the first in the market, that's for sure. Roku has defined the category and others have come along. Smart TVs and Blu-Ray players join in with similar offerings as do the XBox and Playstation models.

I have a Blu-Ray and XBox that has such features, but I've been looking at other options for a while. When the Fire TV was announced I jumped at it. I'm not an early adopter for most products. I like to let other people test items and I only buy when I need something, not to get the newest shiny thing. So, I took a risk here. I'm glad I did.

Fairly small, low profile, with a single light blue light showing it's on. Blends right into my television (46" Samsung) stand. The new Roku HDMI stick obviously is even smaller and less obtrusive. Still, I'm glad I got the Fire.

A big reason is the remote. It really works. Simple in overall design and somewhat sparse in buttons, the latter might otherwise be a frustration except for the fact the voice command really works. I have the Kinect and it was always frustrating, ending up being easier to just navigate with the controller. The Fire TV software picks up every word without a mistake so far. Really impressive.

I'm an Amazon Prime member going back to the earliest days of the program, and we buy almost all of our non-grocery items through Amazon. So, I'm already in the Amazon orbit and love how nicely this integrates with that. Just as important, it has the Plex app which very nicely integrates with my desktop and media server, so I have very easy access to all my music, movies, pictures, etc. Works absolutely perfect for me, which leads towards my future cutting off of cable in our house.

Another nice feature is the instant-on. I don't remember reading about this feature, but when I touch a button on my remote, the Fire TV is instantly ready to go and switches the TV to the right input. That's a huge step from the other tools I've had which always take time to load each step.

Games? I've not a lot of experience here (my controller is coming Monday) with the Fire. It plays Android based games, though only a small number are compatible with the Fire so far. I expect that will change. Obviously a HDTV has different demands for graphics than a small phone or tablet. Some games I have one my Tab 2 are compatible and I am able to play them on both the Fire and my tablet.

In a way, this is a bit like the mirror image of the XBox or Playstation. It's a media player primarily with game features secondarily. With that in mind, this isn't just competing with the Roku or others, but is after something more: the casual gamers who might want gaming access but aren't so serious about it to shell out the cost of a new system or expensive games.

For me, this is perfect. I'm a casual gamer with a deep connection to the Amazon system already. The remote makes for a simplified user experience. I couldn't be more pleased and I look forward to the expanding library of apps and games that will help this be a valuable media tool for a long while.

In Search of the True Universe: The Tools, Shaping, and Cost of Cosmological Thought
In Search of the True Universe: The Tools, Shaping, and Cost of Cosmological Thought
by Martin Harwit
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $45.00
43 used & new from $43.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insider's perspective on discovery, personalities, politics, philosophy, method, March 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Science does not exist in a vacuum. An idealist perspective may see it that way, objectifying everything, seeing Science as an independent reality, discoveries coming wholesale, beaming their truth through logical deduction by superhuman analysis.

The reality of research and discovery, however, is something different, as Harwit puts it, "...knowledge is a web that draws literally millions of independently conducted observations into a coherent picture based on physical principle that observers, experimenters, and theorists have worked out over the centuries." He's speaking specifically about astronomical knowledge, but this extends across the board.

With such a web, there are also innumerable personalities, pitfalls, bottlenecks. How do we come to terms with it all? Can we? Maybe not entirely, but if you want to know the story in a succinct and focused form, written from the perspective of someone whose own personal career has been based on coming to terms with the web in its expansive and its focused forms, then this is the place to start.

Harwit is both a productive scholar and a historian of his field, working as both a professor/researcher in his career and, for about a decade, as the director of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

Both aspects are brought to bear in this text, as he masterfully tells the story of 20th century astophysics. He brings his knowledge to bear as he goes well beyond a museum exhibit, providing a high level discussion that would satisfy scientists, while not being so esoteric as to alienate readers educated in other fields.

This is a story how science is discovered, but written with a post-modern sensibility, aware how a myriad of contextual influences participate together. It's also not just a strict history. In a way, it's an apologetic, a defense of science by telling the story of its progress and personalities, how people find their way to learning something no one has ever known before. In being an apologetic, Harwit has a mission. In our era, where funding is stretched thin, and seemingly less immediately practical research is conducted far away from the lives of most folk, it is important to offer a reminder that such less immediately practical research is part of the process, a process that literally does change lives and this world. His last chapters explicitly point out the need for continued funding and priority. But it is not preaching, even if it is passionate. It is a defense of the process, an exploration of the philosophy, a winsome telling of the story, a succinct description of major finds.

A wonderful book not only for its content but how Harwit manages to pull such a vast web together in a readable 367 pages, along with, for me, a useful glossary of terms and symbols so as to help navigate the more dense descriptions along the way.

This book is a treasure.

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