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Edimax EW-7811Un 150M 11n Wi-Fi USB Adapter, Nano Size Lets You Plug it and Forget it, Ideal for Raspberry Pi, Supports Windows, Mac OS, Linux
Edimax EW-7811Un 150M 11n Wi-Fi USB Adapter, Nano Size Lets You Plug it and Forget it, Ideal for Raspberry Pi, Supports Windows, Mac OS, Linux
Offered by HometownTV Plus
Price: $8.99
24 used & new from $5.44

3.0 out of 5 stars Very limited range, June 16, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I like these because they are very small and the price is right. I get good connection speeds when I use one in the same room as the wireless router. But when I installed another one on a computer two rooms away, the speed slowed to a crawl. I tossed that one and went back to an earlier unit that is less convenient but much more powerful. You might want to reconsider using this if there is much distance or more than a single wall between the router and you PC.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 17, 2014 1:45 PM PDT


And Then I Thought I Was a Fish
And Then I Thought I Was a Fish
Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gripping and Insightful Narrative into the Methods of Madness, June 13, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I had so many thoughts & feelings as I read this book that I'm not quite sure how to approach reviewing it. Then again, I guess that statement makes an excellent beginning: The most salient quality of this book is that it's deeply thought provoking and feeling evoking. It's not the sort of book you read lightly and then forget. In fact, I expect it will stay with me long after many other books are forgotten.

Welch is, as numerous other reviewers have pointed out, an excellent writer. He is a master of the language (as well as a grammatical libertarian, which I love), he has great pacing, and he brings a wonderfully sardonic sense of humor that helps to keep heavy material from feeling like a burden. He is also a highly educated and deeply insightful narrator of his harrowing journey into madness and back again. This is one of those rare books that holds your attention with every paragraph.

This book had an additional hook for me: being a psychologist (cognitive, not clinical), I found his portrayal of mental states, both rational and delusional, to be wonderfully detailed and closely aligned with my own views on how the mind works. His narrative also matches my own observations when I try to examine how my own mind works, including those times when it doesn't work as well as I would like it to. And I, too, went through a non-religious, "spiritual" search for meaning and higher states of consciousness and arrived at the same set of conclusions: We are physical creatures who live in a purposeless, mechanical universe, and the only meaning we find in our lives is the meaning we each give to them. And that this reality is not a cause for despair, nor is it lacking in wonder. Reality is far more fascinating and wonderful and the images we project onto it.

I also enjoyed some off-hand observations about religion: For example, that religious beliefs are essentially delusions that have been codified and culturally approved (a view that I've always regarded as one of Freud's best insights), and that it's easier for religious people to get by with being crazy because we expect less from them in terms of rationality and evidence-based thinking. A cautionary note to potential readers: If these notions disturb you, you might not find the book as fascinating as I did.

The book does have its ups and downs. About a third of the way through, Welch wanders off his narrative path and takes us on a rather lengthy side trip into the mechanisms of the brain and how its operations are hijacked by drugs. I enjoyed this trip, particularly since it was such familiar ground that I could simply be a tourist and listen to what my guide had to say about it. But it may be a little too much detail for those who are enjoying the narrative and don't particularly want to delve into the complexities of neurotransmitters and psychopharmacology. I also felt that some of the material at the back of the book was gratuitous: Including his verbatim medical records didn't add much to his already vivid descriptions of his diagnoses and treatments, and the essays by others who have ventured into acid land didn't add much either. But all these sections are easily skimmed or skipped.

At the end of the book, after the narrative is done, Welch offers his own essay on his experiences, as well as on life, the universe, and everything, and I enjoyed that one immensely. Again, much of that enjoyment doubtless came from how closely his own conclusions match my own. If he concluded that he had discovered profoundly deeper levels of consciousness, found universal truths, or touched God, I would have wondered if he was still in the grip of some of his delusions. These are all things he experienced in his altered states, and the fact that he can leave them behind and be happy with his newfound clarity is a wonderful example of reality-oriented, evidence-based living.

One technical point : For some reason, the footnotes in this book take a *long* time to come up. We're only talking 5-10 seconds (on a new Kindle Paperwhite), but these footnotes are an integral (and highly amusing) part of his story, and many of them serve as punchlines to the episodes he describes. Having to take a time out every time I reached a footnote got old real fast. Perhaps there is a way of reformatting the book that would address this problem.


iLive iKB333S Under Cabinet Radio with Bluetooth Speakers (Silver)
iLive iKB333S Under Cabinet Radio with Bluetooth Speakers (Silver)
Price: $32.24
70 used & new from $23.07

1.0 out of 5 stars Don't even *think* about buying this thing., June 6, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My bad. This is a nice looking radio, and I really liked the idea of Bluetooth connectivity. So I ignored some of the negative reviews and bought it. How bad could it be for thirty-two bucks, right?

I now know the answer: Seriously bad. Where to start? How about the display? It may well be the worst LCD display I have ever seen. It's very faint and hard to read, and it only seems to have two viewing angles: looking down on the unit from 45 degrees above it, or looking up at it from 45 degrees below. When mounted at eye level, which is what you would naturally do with a kitched under-counter radio, it's nearly impossible to read.

Next, the buttons. There are no knobs; just little bumps in the fascia which require a hard, deliberate press to activate. I know that knobs are disappearing from electronics, but we can at least aspire to buttons that work properly.

The radio has 20 presets, which is great; most cheap radios have too few. But you can't access them directly. To tune into one, you have to cycle through all 20 of them. So if you're on station 12 and want to go to 11, you have to stand there and press the button 19 times.

The sound is about what you would expect from a $30 radio, I guess. Actually, I can't really be sure how bad the sound is because the reception is so poor I can't get a clear signal to test the sound.

Unless Bluetooth is absolutely essential to you, my recommendation is that you not even consider this unit. And if Bluetooth *is* important to you, you probably enjoy your music too much to listen to it through this thing. But if after reading this review you still want to take the plunge, let me offer one more recommendation: Do as I didn't. Leave the unit sitting on the counter for a few days and give it a tryout before mounting it on the cabinet. It will be much easier to return that way.


Board Dudes 23 x 35 Inches Dual Effex Premium Pebbled Cork Board with 2-Tone Frame (12783)
Board Dudes 23 x 35 Inches Dual Effex Premium Pebbled Cork Board with 2-Tone Frame (12783)
Price: $42.99
2 used & new from $42.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Shipped wrong item & second one arrived damaged., June 6, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I ordered two of these boards because they looked a little more classy than the usual corkboards with imitation wood borders. When I opened the box, I found that one of the two boards was a white board rather than a cork board. I sent that one back to Amazon & got a replacement quickly enough, but the replacement board was damaged. One corner has multiple chips in the paint & small gouges that make it look like crap. This wasn't shipping damage, so it's not the fault of either Amazon or UPS: the item was well packaged in two nested cartons, neither of which was damaged. Which means they came from the factory looking like this. Whoever actually made these doors (in China, of course) has pretty poor quality control.

I'm going to keep this replacement board and touch it up myself because I'm don't want to waste any more time sending back boards and waiting for replacements. But this is a choice I shouldn't have to make. "Board Dudes," you can do better than this.

As to the quality of the boards themselves, they don't look nearly as nice in person as they do in the picture. Damage aside, the outer frames are cheaply made, with an uneven finish and poor miter joints that expose unfinished wood at the corners. The silver trim looks nice enough, and I like the muted color of the cork -- it looks much nicer to me in an office than the normal, yellowish cork color. The backing is cardboard, of course, but it's reasonably stiff so I don't think it will be a problem.

In use, it does what a cork board should do: You push pins into it and they stay there. But it takes about twice the normal effort to insert pins in this board compared to a normal cork board (I did a side by side comparison with another board to come up with that guestimate). I prefer the ease of a normal cork board, but I'll chalk the extra effort up to getting more exercize.

Lastly, the boards have stickers on them advertising that they came from "Board Dudes." This is not a really big deal, but I don't like branding on everything I own, and as long as I have black paint out to repair the corner, I'll paint them out. But there is also a principle at work here. The stickers are not shown in the photograph. That smacks of misrepresentation to me. C'mon, "Dudes." Show me what you're actually selling me so I can make an informed choice.

BTW, I keep putting "Dudes" in quotes because if these guys really were dudes they would care a lot more about their quality than they evidently do.

Anyway, I'm going to keep both of these boards and put them up just because they're here and I don't to waste any more time on corkboards. But they certainly aren't what I expected, and they are way overpriced for what they are. Definitely not recommended.


John Louis Home JLH-522 Standard 12-Inch Depth Closet Shelving System, Honey Maple
John Louis Home JLH-522 Standard 12-Inch Depth Closet Shelving System, Honey Maple
Price: $238.49
4 used & new from $238.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice unit but know what you are getting into., May 14, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this closet system as a gift for my wife, who, like most of us, always seems to have more clothes than closet space. Only after it arrived and I started unpacking it did I discover that the $265 purchase price was only a small part of the gift. The larger part by far was installing it for her. It's a nice system, with excellent wood and very nifty metal hangers. But installation can present a number of challenges.

First, it's designed for a closet 8 feet long. It can be installed in smaller closets, but it takes a bit of creativity. The instructions include plans for 8 different configurations, but 4 of these require 8 feet and the other 4 require 10 feet (I wish!). There are suggestions for eliminating some sections to make it fit in as little as 6 feet, but my wife's closet is only 5 1/2 feet wide, so I wound up designing a simplified system that used most of the components but didn't follow any of the supplied plans.

Second, be aware that this entire system hangs off the back wall of your closet. This means that it is entirely dependent on how well you are able to fasten the metal hangers to your wallboard. The instructions recommend screwing these hangers into studs, but that's not always an option. In my case, the studs were all in the wrong places in the closet so I had to rely on the provided wall anchors. The anchors are good quality, but I couldn't bring myself to trust them with all the weight that will end up on those bars and shelves. So I modified the design to use vertical legs that transfer most the load to the floor. There weren't enough poles to do this, so I used some 1"x1" vertical strips in the back corners of the closet, then painted these to blend into the wall.

The results came out fine, and every component of the unit is now rock solid. It was just a lot fussier job than I had expected. What with the planning, measuring and cutting (there is a lot of each), it took me the better part of a day to complete the job. The result is a beautiful closet organizer, and my wife is quite happy with it. It was just one of those things that if I'd know what I was getting into, I wouldn't have done it, but now that it's done, I'm glad I did it. I'm sure you know the feeling.

In short, this is a solid, high-quality product, and I recommend it if you have a closet that can take full advantage of it and you don't mind spending a day putting it together. Just know what you're getting into and don't expect it to take a couple of hours to install.


Monoprice MP1060-HA60 Graphic Drawing Tablet
Monoprice MP1060-HA60 Graphic Drawing Tablet
Price: $67.99
17 used & new from $56.11

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Watch out for malware!, December 15, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I purchased this tablet to work with DrawPlus X6. DrawPlus is my favorite graphics program & it works flawlessly on my machine. I installed the drivers for the tablet from the included CD exactly as instructed and the tablet appeared to work fine, but every time I tried to use it in DrawPlus it crashed the program.

Crashes like this are often due to outdated drivers, so I followed the usual procedure and located the latest drivers for the tablet online (the tablet is actually a rebranded UC-Logic tablet) and attempted to install them. Norton Antivirus immediately reported suspected malware in the zip file and removed one of the files from my machine. However, Norton must have been a step behind the malware because all the entries in my start menu have been wiped out. From my subsequent Web searches, this appears to be a common thing for malware to do, and there are lots of free programs out there that promise to repair the damage. But somehow I find myself reluctant to download software that promises to repair the damage done by other software I downloaded.

Needless to say, I returned the tablet to Amazon and want nothing more to do with it. As to the physical product itself, it looked and felt like what it is -- a remarkably inexpensive tablet with a lot of functionality. Yes, it felt a bit cheap, but it *was* cheap, so no complaints there. I certainly would have kept it and used it if it had worked.

My experience may have been an isolated incident and others may be fine with the downloaded drivers. But be aware that you may be risking the health of your machine by doing so.

Now, what to do about that start menu without placing my system at *further* risk...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 1, 2014 9:15 PM PST


Instant Pygame for Python Game Development How-to
Instant Pygame for Python Game Development How-to
by Ivan Idris
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.99
3 used & new from $17.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Largely useless and immensely frustrating, December 6, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I found this book immensely frustrating. I bought it last March along with a couple other books on PyGame (that's about all there are) so I could learn how to use the PyGame library. My first disappointment was how thin this volume is: it has a grand total of 52 pages of actual content. I also found the book to be nearly inscrutable for someone who doesn't know PyGame. I was appalled that I had spent $18 for a little booklet and disappointed that I couldn't learn from the book, but the description on Amazon promised so much from the book that I set it aside to look at later and turned to the other books.

Recently I came back to this book. I have now read several books on PyGame and am able to write simple games in it, so I thought it might be a good time to tackle the booklet. From my new perspective, I can now see that the problem wasn't me -- this book is awful. I don't say such things lightly: I read every page and did my best to learn from it. But it wasn't easy, and it wasn't very useful. Here is a quick summary of the problems I encountered.

[] The book is not written for the stated audience. The description says that a knowledge of Python is assumed but no prior experience with game development is assumed. I can't imagine anyone who doesn't already know PyGame getting much from the book.Also, the book is aimed specifically at Linux developers. The first chapter pays lip service to Windows and Mac environments, but all the examples use Linux command lines with arguments to install and run the various packages that the book mentions. Trying to follow these examples in a Windows environment was an exercise in frustration I soon abandoned.

[] The book doesn't cover the stated topic. The title claims it's a how-to book for Python game development. It does, in fact, briefly describe a few of PyGame's many capabilities, but these descriptions are limited to a handful of 3-4 page sections that give you a sense of what PyGame code looks like but not much more. In reality, the book is a motley collection of ways to use PyGame in conjunction with other software. Right off the bat, the author brings in NumPy -- a totally separate library that has its own learning curve -- and uses it throughout the examples. He also brings in Matplotlib, scikit-learn, cprofile, puDB, Twisted, and PGS4A. I won't bore you with what all these packages do; they are all high-quality, useful tools for Python developers. But they are covered in 4-7 page sections (there are no chapters as such), so we don't actually learn much about any of them. Mostly it's just a quick tour of tools that an experienced PyGame developer might want to consider using.

[] The examples are really lame. Most of them involve moving a single image around the screen. That image is the profile of a man with the top of his head chopped off. I do not kid you. There is a second image in one of the examples: a blob that looks vaguely like a hammer that you are supposed to use to pound on the already decorticate head. Very strange, and not at all useful.

[] The code is very hard to read. The main problem is that line wraps aren't treated as they would be in actual code, so long lines simply run onto the next line, out-dented to the left margin. Proper indentation is absolutely essential in Python, which has no end-of-line markers. This is just plain sloppy work.

[] Many of the explanations are either uninformative or confusing. The explanation of the get_rect() method is that it "gets a rectangle," get_surface() "gets a surface," and so on. No mention of how and why these methods are used, or even the arguments they require.

There's more, but you get the idea. If you are an experienced PyGame developer working on Linux who wants a quick idea of how you might bring in other packages to expand the scope of your games, this book could be useful to you. Anyone else is likely to find it as frustrating as I did.


12 Stories
12 Stories
Price: $10.00
35 used & new from $4.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Album, December 2, 2013
This review is from: 12 Stories (Audio CD)
There isn't a lot I can add to all the other glowing reviews, but I have to cast my vote: This is a five-star album. It's the quintessential singer/songwriter album, with each cut an original work of art that sounds great while tugging on all kinds of emotions. Clark's lyrics are amazing; all the ideas that other songwriters might express directly, she tucks into a level of indirection that gives them more impact (example: "It's been a long time since I've felt as pretty as he tells me I am,"). The music is on a par with the lyrics, with haunting tunes that have you singing along in your head after one or two passes through the album. And the balance between the vocals and the backup is perfect; you want to hear every word, and each one comes through clearly. Best of all, there isn't a single trite song on the album; each one tells an original and deeply meaningful story.

So my advice is to just click the button and get this album. If you're still not certain and the snippets on Amazon don't give you enough clues, go over to YouTube and listen to a couple of the cuts there. You won't be disappointed.


Cuisinart DCC-1200BW Brew Central 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker, Matte Black Metal
Cuisinart DCC-1200BW Brew Central 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker, Matte Black Metal
Price: $77.99
18 used & new from $62.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why I Keep Buying This Coffemaker, June 27, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This coffeemaker already has several thousand reviews and there's not much that I can add. It does have some problems, as many have already noted, but it makes an excellent cup of coffee. The only problem that really bothers me is that it breaks down long before it should. I have now bought three of these, the first two having failed after a couple of years. In both cases, it was the electronics that failed. I don't understand why that should happen. I haven't taken one of these apart, but I assume it has a little PC board behind the face with a microcontroller and places to mount the switches, buttons and displays. A well designed and fabricated board of this type should be able to give many years of service.

So why do I keep buying a product that fails prematurely? Because it has three features I really like: [1] It has a very effective water filter, [2] it allows me to set the temperature of the warmer plate, and [3] it lets me set the delay on the automatic shut-off. The first feature is important to me because I brew my coffee light, and to get a good cup of coffee I need to eliminate any taste from the water. The second feature is critical to my palette because I like my coffee *hot*, not the timid, almost-hot temperature that is hard-wired into most coffeemakers. And the third feature is important to me because I like to drink a single pot over the course of several hours (using my amazing Highwave MoJOEmo coffee cup (Highwave MoJOEmo) to keep that coffee piping hot for just as long as I care to sip it). I find other coffeemakers very irritating because when I come back for another cup, I often find that the coffee is cold because a ridiculously short cut-off time was hard-wired into the machine.

If any of these features are important to you, I highly recommend this machine. Yes, it's irritating to have to replace the thing every couple of years. But not many things are built to last anymore, and throwing appliances away rather than repairing them is just a fact of modern life. When I do the math, it costs me a bit less than 8 cents a day to have coffee the way I want it, when I want it. All things considered, I figure that's a pretty good deal.


Earth Therapeutics: Anti-Stress Microwavable Neck Pillow
Earth Therapeutics: Anti-Stress Microwavable Neck Pillow
Offered by Diya Mall
Price: $14.84
20 used & new from $14.71

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't Keep Heat Up on the Neck, April 10, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this to replace a microwave heating pad I've had for years that finally gave out & spilled its buckwheat. I have pain in the cervical area of my spine, so I thought a pad designed specifically for the neck would give me better relief. This one seemed to have the best reviews, but I wasn't impressed with what I received. In the picture, the pad looks nice & plump. In reality, it is only about half full of flax seed. When I heat it and place it around my neck, the seed all goes down into the ends and leaves nothing up top to heat the back of my neck. Maybe I just got a bad one, but I certainly wouldn't recommend it to anyone else. Back it goes.


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