Profile for Richard J. Wagner > Reviews


Richard J. Wagner's Profile

Customer Reviews: 13
Top Reviewer Ranking: 16,735,418
Helpful Votes: 263

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Richard J. Wagner RSS Feed (Washington, DC USA)

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Conair 213XP Infiniti Professional Tourmaline Ceramic Technology Ionic Styler, Black
Conair 213XP Infiniti Professional Tourmaline Ceramic Technology Ionic Styler, Black

4.0 out of 5 stars Good flow without much noise, September 12, 2009
I bought this dryer to replace a Revlon Quiet Ceramic model. I am a male with short, straight hair and a new ostomy which requires me to wear a large bandage-like appliance on my abdomen. I can shower with it on, but it takes some effort to get dry.

The Revlon dryer was nice and quiet but didn't have much air flow. This Conair has much more forceful flow without much more noise. It has three temperature settings - the hot and cool are okay, but I wish warm were a little warmer. I can dry my hair and appliance in about three minutes instead of five before. The weight is a little more than some dryers but nothing extreme; it feels sturdy. I haven't noticed any effect of the ionizer button and haven't tried the attachments.

Hunter 34257 2.5-Gallon Care Free Wickless Humidifier Ultra with Niteglo
Hunter 34257 2.5-Gallon Care Free Wickless Humidifier Ultra with Niteglo

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Different but not better, November 16, 2008
I chose this humidifier because it was different than most others and promised to be "ultra-quiet". I already had a Holmes console humidifier but the fan noise provoked complaints from my neighbor (thin-walled apartment) and forced me to turn my TV louder than I like. The other alternative was an ultrasonic model but I heard that those have trouble with white dust from mineral-rich water like mine.

This humidifier is different than either wick or ultrasonic ones. It siphons water from a pan and spins it off a disperser to get a mist into the air. The fan draws air down through the center of the water tank and out around the perimeter.

Well unfortunately it's not very quiet. The noise from the fan is slightly quieter than the Holmes model. But there is also a whine from the motor that seems to be amplified by the shape of the water tank. It seems to be a matter of resonance so I stuffed a glove between the tank and the control column to slightly reduce the whine, but it's still annoying and continues to make it hard to hear the TV.

The water tank is very strange, with a hollow center and a very long cap that would be easy to break off while carrying. The tank holds surprisingly little water for the size of the humidifier. But at least it doesn't run out in under 24 hours because the output is so meager.

If a future model reduces the motor whine and improves the tank design then it might be okay, but for now I'd pass on this design.

Beautiful Evidence
Beautiful Evidence
by Edward R. Tufte
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $41.98
105 used & new from $20.40

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Flawed, June 14, 2008
This review is from: Beautiful Evidence (Hardcover)
I am a big fan of Edward Tufte and his previous books. So I was excited when I was given this new book last year. Unfortunately it took a full year to work through it since it's full of bad writing, redundant graphics, boring topics, and pet jargon.

The text is just very dense, filled with lists of terms when the author wants to be sure he covers the bases: "The analysis of cause and effect, initially bivariate, quickly becomes multivariate through such necessary elaborations as the conditions under which the causal relation holds, interaction effects, multiple causes, multiple effects, causal sequences, source of bias, spurious correlation, sources of measurement error, competing variables, and whether the alleged cause is merely a proxy or a marker variable."

He also falls in love with his own jargon: depedestalization, PP, Phluff, pitch culture, economisting. The book has a few typos, which suggests that he couldn't get an editor to stomach proofreading the whole thing.

Much of the material in this book was already presented in sections of his other books and pamphlets: Minards map of the French invasion of Russia, chartjunk, loss of shuttles due to Powerpoint bullets, sparklines, cognitive styles of Powerpoint.

One really annoying habit is that when a graphic is discussed on more than one page, it is reprinted on each of those pages. The Minard map appears six times, at different scales and positions! At other times the graphics are plopped across the crease between pages.

If you've never read Tufte's other books you might learn something from this one, but most of it is presented better elsewhere.

Philips High Performance Amplified Indoor Uhf/Vhf/Fm/HDTV Antenna (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Philips High Performance Amplified Indoor Uhf/Vhf/Fm/HDTV Antenna (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
9 used & new from $26.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No better than a basic antenna, April 6, 2008
I bought this antenna to try improving my HDTV reception in a crowded city. Unfortunately it was worse than the simple ear-and-hoop antenna I was using before. I compared digital signal strengths on my TV and no matter what I tried - position, angle, power - this antenna was inferior.

Kensington Si670m Bluetooth Wireless Optical Notebook Mouse 72271 for PC or Mac
Kensington Si670m Bluetooth Wireless Optical Notebook Mouse 72271 for PC or Mac

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good performance, odd ergonomics, December 21, 2007
I bought this Kensington Bluetooth mouse for my MacBook Pro to replace an ailing Logitech V270. The setup was simple and the response seems better -- the Logitech lagged sometimes as I moved the cursor across the screen. And I have had zero problems maintaining the connection.

Unfortunately the ergonomics of this mouse are a bit odd. There is a solid ridge around the edge of the mouse, so if your fingertips run past the top then you can't click the buttons. That forces me to move my hand back, but then I'm gripping the sides where Kensington conveniently placed the EJECT button for the batteries. The high back and low grip also tends to lift the front of the mouse up off the mouse pad.

The batteries fit loosely inside the body, so they rattle if you lift or shake the mouse. This is in contrast to the Logitech which felt heavy but solid. The scroll wheel has tilt and half-click positions but they are nonfunctional on a Mac, so they just make middle-clicking feel sloppy.

I'll keep the mouse because it's more responsive than my old one, but I'm still in search of the perfect Bluetooth mouse.

No Title Available

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy setup on Mac. Great quality., August 14, 2007
I bought this for recording music from an antique phonograph onto my MacBook Pro running OS X 10.4. I had previously tried using an unpowered microphone plugged into the audio input jack, but that setup produced buzzing and poor sensitivity.

This new USB microphone worked great. I didn't have to install any software, just plugged it in and selected it in the sound preferences. The sound quality is very clear and sensitive.

Sharp Aquos LC32D62U 32-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV
Sharp Aquos LC32D62U 32-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV
3 used & new from $199.99

149 of 152 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nicely designed TV, May 21, 2007
I've had this TV for three weeks now and I'm very happy with it. I went with the small end of the HDTV line because I have a moderately sized apartment and didn't want the set to dominate my living room. The 32" screen is a nice, modest size and the picture quality is great. Going for 1080p rather than 720p might be overkill at this size, but it's nice to know I have the sharpest image money can buy and it'll make a stunning second monitor for my computer.

I'm glad that they put a matte finish on the glass so that there's much less glare than on my old standard TV. The border is shiny piano black but I haven't been troubled by reflections or fingerprints. I also haven't noticed any problems with uneven backlighting or bad pixels. When watching non-widescreen programs the set will let you choose from black sidebars, stretch, or zoom. I wish it were smart enough to automatically zoom in on letterboxed low-definition shows but it's easy enough to switch manually.

I was surpised at the diversity of input ports: multiple stereo audio jacks, component, composite, S-video, cable, and HDMI. The set will let you rename the inputs on-screen and disable inputs that you don't use.

I'm very pleased with the speakers. The sound quality is quite good and, unlike many sets, the volume covers the entire range from very quiet to blasting with fine control. My old set went from "not quite loud enough" to "annoying loud" with a single press of the volume button. I know that many people hook up external sound systems these days but for my purpose I'm glad to have good built-in speakers.

The remote control is perplexingly big. The buttons are small and widely spaced. There's also a flip-open compartment with four small buttons inside. Why they didn't just put those buttons on the surface is beyond me.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 4, 2008 10:23 PM PST

Panasonic KX-TG5632M 5.8 GHz FHSS GigaRange  Digital Cordless Answering System with Dual Handsets
Panasonic KX-TG5632M 5.8 GHz FHSS GigaRange Digital Cordless Answering System with Dual Handsets
4 used & new from $49.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good cordless phone, April 17, 2007
I bought this Panasonic phone set to replace an old set with dying batteries. Actually, I bought a cheaper Uniden set first but it was awful: lots of interference and very quiet speakers.

I've had the Panasonic for six months and I'm very pleased with it. The handsets are comfortably small and hold a charge away from the dock for days. The sound quality is good and the answering machine messages are clear. It also features remote message retrieval which is great for when I'm traveling.

This set costs more than others, but it's worth it to have a good troublefree phone.

Civilization IV - Mac
Civilization IV - Mac
34 used & new from $2.71

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complicated but fun and beautiful, March 23, 2007
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Civilization IV - Mac (Video Game)
Civilization IV is a substantial change from Civilization III and earlier. There are far more city improvements and wonders available, especially with the introduction of religion. There are also more units available including great leaders. The combat system has totally changed; units now have just one measure of strength rather than separate attack and defense strengths. However there are many modifiers that change how each unit interacts with other specific units and conditions.

If you are coming from a previous Civilization then all these changes and features can be a shock. I was overwhelmed at first and thought about just sticking with Civ III, but eventually I got the hang of it and now enjoy Civ IV. I'm still playing at intermediate levels, so I don't know yet whether the computer players are as sophisticated at diplomacy as in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri.

The game is absolutely beautiful and I really like the music. The interface presents a lot of information at once, but as I've adjusted I've come to appreciate the ability to study so much at a glance.

The game runs very smoothly on my MacBook Pro with 2.33 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and 2 GB of RAM. The game seems to be written in the interpreted language Python. That may explain why it seems slow and bloated on lower end systems. The advantage is that the game is easily mod-able (not that I care much for mods). Unfortunately there still seem to be a few programming glitches: the interface can be a little quirky and I've had numerous crashes to desktop. That's annoying, but the autosave feature guarantess that I don't lose my progress.

Hopefully a patch will fix these quirks in the future, but nevertheless I'm sure to spend many hours playing this game.

Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Router
Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Router
Offered by Blizzard LLC
Price: $45.99
177 used & new from $7.95

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Does not work with Macs, November 23, 2006
I bought one of these for my brother and was pleased with it at first. Setup was surprisingly easy and we had wireless access throughout the house for his Windows machines.

So when I wanted wireless access in my apartment I bought one for myself. I tried skipping the installation CD since I have a MacBook and figured the default setup should be fine. Unfortunately I could not get an Internet connection working. When I tried accessing the router's configuration through my Web browser, it was in Italian! Apparently the router autodetects your language and if you have a Mac it thinks that you speak Italian. With no way to fix the configuration, I returned the Linksys and got a Netgear WGR614 which worked fine and is better looking.

When I visited my brother again with my new MacBook I couldn't get on his network. After much tinkering and research I found that a bug in the Linksys router software prevents Macs (and presumably Linux or Wii) from getting IP addresses. I was able to fix it by installing an outdated version of the software, but that kind of problem is unacceptable. Do not buy this router if you'll be using anything other than Windows.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 3, 2006 2:01 PM PST

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