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Customer Reviews: 457
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Man in the Middle "strasma" RSS Feed (Irvine, CA)

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Foster Grant Wes Men's Multifocus Glasses, Gunmetal, 2.75
Foster Grant Wes Men's Multifocus Glasses, Gunmetal, 2.75
Price: $34.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A great improvement, with 2 ideas for further improvement, April 20, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
These are a really great step forward in reading glasses. I love that I can just leave them on all the time and see well enough at any distance.
However, two things would make them much better, in my opinion:
1 either having no correction at all in the top of the lens, or being able to peer over the lens to see at distance. For that reason, I prefer Clearview Single Vision Half Frame Reading Glasses, Antique Gold, +2.75 another pair of readers that arrived today even more, as I can peer over them to see at distance, even though they are not multifocus as these are
2 these fit a bit too tightly to my head, unlike the Alumineyes series 2.75 Strength Foster Grant Tech Aluminum Rimless Lightweight Reading Glasses with Spring Hinges also offered by Foster Grant. It would be great to have this lens in the Alumineyes frame (and better yet if I could peer over them to see at distance, as I can with the Clearviews.)
One other great option is a pair of Tifosi Tyrant 2 sunglasses with Night Light photochromic lenses, Tifosi Tyrant 2.0 1120306430 Dual Lens Sunglasses with Hydrotac Stick-on Bifocal Lenses (OPTX 20/20)- +2.50 Diopter added to make them into bifocals. If you don't want to go the do-it-yourself route, Tifosi also sells replacement clear and smoke lenses for the Tyrant 2 with corrections up to +2.5.
I have, and use daily, all of the above.

Lexar JumpDrive S35 32GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive - LJDS35-32GABNL (Green)
Lexar JumpDrive S35 32GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive - LJDS35-32GABNL (Green)
Price: $14.99
24 used & new from $14.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Accidentally sent the S25 rather than the S35, but I'm glad of it, April 20, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Although the item sent to me was packed in an envelope labeled as the S35 model, the actual contents of the envelope were the S25 model. The only difference I see from their descriptions is that the S35 model swivels, whereas the S25 model retracts. For me, having the drive retract is preferable, as it takes a bit less space that way - allowing it to fit into a USB port that is right next to another already-occupied USB port on my desk PC. Even so, small as it is, this S25 drive still takes four times the space of my previous flash drive, a 16GB Sandisk only slightly longer than its USB 2.0 port. Trying to keep track of that one convinced me there IS such a thing as TOO small, so it now has a tether tied to it. The S25 comes with the same tether, useful for hooking onto a keyring.

The other key difference between this new S25 and the earlier Sandisk is the 4x faster USB 3.0 speed, which happily remains compatible with USB 2.0 devices (at slower USB 2.0 speeds, of course.) The S25 feels a bit flimsy and flexible, which is only reasonable, as it is mostly made of plastic on all visible exterior surfaces. It is holding up well, however, and won't conduct any unwanted electricity, so I'm not faulting it for that.

Finally, the S25 is very well priced - about half what I'd expected. In sum, unless you prefer your USB 3.0 drive to swivel, I'd go with this S25 rather than the S35.

Carson Twin Pack 2.5x Power Credit Card Size Magnifiers with 6x Spot Lens (WM-01)
Carson Twin Pack 2.5x Power Credit Card Size Magnifiers with 6x Spot Lens (WM-01)
Price: $7.26
6 used & new from $7.26

4.0 out of 5 stars Inexpensive but very functional +2.5x reading magnifier, with a 6x dot for close up work, April 16, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The good news is that this magnifier is made of plastic sturdy enough to work well as a Fresnel lens, unlike others I've tried that are softer and more flexible. The 6x dot is also a plus for closeup tasks like digging out a splinter. As others have noted, this plastic is brittle enough to break when bent, so don't plan on keeping them loose in a pocket.

The included plastic covers are welcome for keeping the lenses clean, but too thin to pad it much and may not last long in active use. So for me, these are kept in my bike bag and in my car, for emergency use in reading after cataract surgery, and (if need be) to start a fire on a sunny day if there's ever a need to do so and no better way handy. Good value.

Black & Decker PS1000B 3-Cup Ergo Chopper with 2 Nestable Bowls, Black
Black & Decker PS1000B 3-Cup Ergo Chopper with 2 Nestable Bowls, Black
Price: $24.92
6 used & new from $16.55

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tiny and works, but messy, April 6, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I ordered this for use in our small Airstream travel trailer, and for that use, it's fine. It replaces a Ninja Master Prep Professional (QB1004) that is at least twice its size, and every inch counts in a trailer. For those counting pennies, it is also much less expensive than the Ninja, and does work for similar tasks - in our case mostly mixing up breakfast smoothies. It's also fine for chopping up veggies, fruits and nuts within its 1.5 cup capacity for liquids. I'm glad it includes a second jar, as it can only make one smoothie per jar.

In every other respect, I prefer the Ninja Master, which is currently Amazon's #1 Seller in Household Blenders, and was also rated better than a Vitamix or Blendtec in a famous publication's impartial review last year.

The main flaw of the Black & Decker PS1000B is that its motor unit gets food all over its underside, and can't easily be cleaned except by wiping it off with a paper towel. The Ninja avoids that by having a separate lid between the motor and the food, and has never needed its motor cleaned in a year of heavy use.

This chopper is recommended only for those unable to pay more or severely limited in space.

Centon Electronics Flash Memory Card (S1-SDXU1-64G)
Centon Electronics Flash Memory Card (S1-SDXU1-64G)
Price: $21.72
7 used & new from $18.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Very good value for devices new enough for SDXC cards., March 30, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First thing to know about this or any other SDXC flash card is that it cannot work on devices built before its industry standard was approved in 2009. If you have an older electronic device that takes SD cards, the upper limit for your device is 2GB. If you have a somewhat newer device that takes SDHC cards, its upper limit is 32GB. ONLY devices new enough and rated to use SDXC cards can use this or any other SDXC flash card.

In a suitable device, such as my Acer AR3700 compact desk PC, this card is a simple plug and play, already properly formatted for use. Of the claimed 64GB capacity, 59GB is actually available for use. Again, this is typical of all SD family cards. The remaining space is used by pre-installed anti-piracy software.

As for speed, don't expect to see the claimed "up to 50MB/s write speed" or the "up to 105MB/s read speed" in normal use. Such numbers are good for comparing different cards from the same manufacturer, and sometimes helpful when comparing across manufacturers, but they are ideals rarely seen in the real world.

For my test, I copied my entire music library of 48.4GB of read-only MP3 files from a 4 drive RAID10 ReadyNAS over cabled Gigabit Ethernet to this SDXC-UHS-I flash card on my 64 bit Windows 7 Home Premium PC powered by an Atom 525 dual-core CPU. Total time required was 151 minutes with no other programs active. That works out to 5.5KB/s overall, and very acceptable to me.

Anyone needing higher speed might look into one of the even-newer SDXC-UHS-II flash cards, which raise the 104MB/s read theoretical speed limit of SDXC cards to 300MB/s. But make sure your device has the extra memory pin needed to use them, only found in devices made in 2011 or later.

One other benefit of SDXC cards is that even 64B is not the limit. Centon already offers a similar 128GB SDXC-UHS-I card also at a good price. Expect these cards to continue growing in capacity, up to 2 TB.

This is a well-made card, with a good 5 year warranty and free 800# support. It is made in China, and assembled in the U.S. Centon Electronics has been in Southern California since 1978. I'd not heard of them before, but will happily buy their products again. At the current price, this is quite a bargain.

Definitely recommended for use in all compatible devices unless you need and the device can handle an even larger capacity and/or an even-higher UHS-II data rate, such as a new 4K video camera.

Philips 455931 60 Watt Equivalent A19 LED Light Bulb Dimmable Warm Glow, Frustration Free, 2-Pack
Philips 455931 60 Watt Equivalent A19 LED Light Bulb Dimmable Warm Glow, Frustration Free, 2-Pack
Price: $19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Another great Phillips LED bulb - this time normal in appearance., March 29, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Recently, I finally found an LED bulb that really works as a replacement for ordinary 60 watt incandescent bulbs, the Philips 433227 60 Watt Equivalent SlimStyle A19 LED Light Bulb Soft White, Dimmable. The ONLY thing about that bulb which might bother some is its flattened bulb shape. If you are among such folks, here's a very similar LED bulb from Phillips with a more traditional bulb shape. In all other ways, the two seem equivalent, with the same warm white color, high 800 lumen output, easy dim ability, and staying cool enough in use to unscrew by hand even after they've been on for a long time. Personally, I kind of like the flattened shape over this bulb's normal one, as it makes for easier screwing in or out. But this one achieves the same brightness with 9.5 watts instead of 10.5 watts, definitely looks more like a traditional light bulb, and still doesn't have the usual weird cooling fins of most LED bulbs. Both bulbs dim way down before shutting off (down to about 10% of usual, with this one also getting noticeably warmer in color temperature at lowest dim setting, more so than the flattened version. In sum, both are awesome bulbs, the best I've found anywhere. I have a house full of them now, with no complaints or failures at all, and no regrets as I gave my last incandescent bulbs to my son this week. LED bulbs may continue to become better and cheaper in years to come, but these are good enough and cheap enough for most any need in our home. (Note: the flattened version is over $1 less expensive today, but prices vary. For those needing even more brightness, I see there is also now a 13 watt 1100 lumen Option Philips 452805 75 Watt Equivalent SlimStyle A21 LED Light Bulb Soft White, Dimmable, 2-Pack for the flattened bulb, at higher price. I just ordered a few of those too.)

The Fold: A Novel
The Fold: A Novel
by Peter Clines
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.63

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting and different, March 29, 2015
This review is from: The Fold: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I love science fiction, but am getting tired of space war books, and never did much like time travel books. Fortunately, this book is neither. Rather, it's a near future US-based mystery about a secret DARPA near-instantaneous transport by folding space project. The hero is a genius with eidetic imagery, and the book does a great job of bringing him to life. I've known two such people in my life, and he describes them both well. Multiverse theory is also a big part of this book, and handled very well, showing the implications of bridging alternate realities. There's some swearing and some sex and some desperate fighting, but not enough to trouble most readers. Mostly, it's about science and a gifted team figuring out and dealing with a huge mystery in a high tech secret government project. For those wanting to read more, this appears to be a side-quel to other work by the author, but also works very well stand-alone. Definitely recommended!

La Paloma - Las Flores
La Paloma - Las Flores

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Glad we stayed here to see Avalon., March 29, 2015
This review is from: La Paloma - Las Flores
Very nice clean place. We could definitely hear neighbors during the day, but it was quiet by bedtime. Since we were there to relax, a better chair for reading would have been nice. Also, the town brochure listed breakfast as provided, but all we found was a coffee pot. Having a kitchen allowed us to save a lot on meals anyway. It was an easy walk from everything, which is good as parking all over town is tight. If you can't do stairs, as our photo shows, this well-landscaped hotel might not be for you, but in that case, most of what's in Avalon might not either, as most of the town is hilly.
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NYNE Multimedia Inc TT Portable Bluetooth Speaker (Black/RED/Silver)
NYNE Multimedia Inc TT Portable Bluetooth Speaker (Black/RED/Silver)
Offered by unique kitchen
Price: $123.45
13 used & new from $59.42

4.0 out of 5 stars Very flexible and convenient Bluetooth speaker, March 26, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As a former backpacker, on first opening this, I wondered "THIS is portable?" But after checking out the other models in NYNE's line, this is indeed their portable model. As for sound quality, it is definitely LOUD, without noticeable distortion. That's important when using it in a car at highway speeds. The sound is also pleasant, and way better than the tiny iPad speakers provide, though don't expect the kind of low bass you'd get from a sub-woofer. (For that, you might prefer NYNE's twice-as-heavy non-portable model.)

Pairing the NYNE speaker's Bluetooth with my iPad mini retina was very easy. The only glitch is that Bluetooth is supposed to work up to 30 feet, and I can't separate the speaker more than about 10 feet before the music starts to skip. The included USB plug can usefully be used to keep the iPad charged, but when that is done, the maximum volume possible from the speaker drops about in half, even if the speaker is also plugged into the wall to recharge. (It's still loud enough though, so long as the iPad's volume is at max.) Battery play time is about 3 hours when also using the speaker's USB port to recharge my iPad while it plays music.

At first, I wondered why the speaker had two off/on switches, with one of them hidden under a cover. But that turns out to be very helpful - pretty much guaranteeing you won't accidentally run down the battery when you think the unit is off. Those traveling to other countries will appreciate the array of plugs included to plug the speaker in almost anywhere. The neoprene carrying case is also a nice touch, if you'll be actually carrying the speaker much.

Overall, this is a keeper, particularly useful when out and about in places without another sound system. Despite its size, I much prefer it to the much smaller corded speaker I reviewed a couple of years ago that eventually proved not to be up to the task of providing music at highway speeds in our car.

Midnight's Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India's Partition
Midnight's Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India's Partition
by Nisid Hajari
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.52

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How and why the hopes of a free India went horribly wrong despite good intentions by all concerned., March 21, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What a slow-motion train wreck! With the best of intentions, a nation that prided itself on being able to successfully absorb any invading army or idea for thousands of years finally found one it couldn't peacefully stomach - its own coming freedom from being a British colony. Starting from everyone involved having worked together well for decades toward that goal, it all fell apart over a few months in 1947, leaving life-long friends barely speaking and thinking the worst of each other, as thousands of others from all of India's many cultures became casualties of a war none wanted. Even Mahatma Gandhi was unable in the end to head off massive violence and inhuman atrocities, finally assassinated by a fellow Hindu for seeking peace among Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs.

Sadly, the cancer then unleashed has outlasted any of the partisans of those days, and still troubles not just South Asia but our whole world. The book is helpful in understanding the thinking of those still in the news today for this or that act of terrorism. Sadly, it is less helpful in lighting a path to a better way forward, even as the risks and consequences of continuing conflict have continued to grow, not alone in South Asia but around the world.

Even so, I am glad to have read this book, for its many insights into the life and thought of all involved, most of whom were just names to me before. May it help us avoid future mistakes of our own.

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