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Profile for Allison > Reviews


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Customer Reviews: 16
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Allison RSS Feed (Saline, MI, United States)

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Famous Dave's Seasoning Steak & Burger, 8.25-Ounce (Pack of 6)
Famous Dave's Seasoning Steak & Burger, 8.25-Ounce (Pack of 6)
Price: $24.40
5 used & new from $24.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Fast forward several years and we never eat steak out any more because it's so much better at home, July 18, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
In trying to reproduce Longhorn Steakhouse flavor at some point, we bought this seasoning and pan-seared some steaks. Fast forward several years and we never eat steak out any more because it's so much better at home! Works great with sous-vide, too, though I recommend sprinking some additional seasoning on after you take it out and pan searing it quickly. Fantastic. :)

The Witness
The Witness
by Sandra Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.25
158 used & new from $0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars and and if you enjoy Brown's newer books this one might be a tough ..., July 18, 2016
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This review is from: The Witness (Paperback)
First things first: This book is not new, it's twenty years old, and and if you enjoy Brown's newer books this one might be a tough pill to swallow as it was for me. She has gotten much better with time, at least in providing a suspense story you don't roll your eyes for every five minutes.

I just could not suspend disbelief long enough to enjoy this book. Kendall gets rescued and taken directly to the hospital -- but somewhere in there she managed to hide a large amount of money and a weapon along the way that shows up later? She moved to a town where every male is completely chauvinistic, quietly runs over any decision she makes, and decides to marry one of the very people who questioned her ability to do her job because she was a woman -- but is then surprised when he insults her best friend and starts putting down her abilities because she's a woman again? She's with our hero all of five days and decides she loves him? And the villain's whole thread was just completely over the top. Honestly the portrayal of nearly all of the men in this book was a bit insulting to men.. >.>

I was really confused at the quality of this considering how much I've enjoyed Brown's most recent books, until I ran into a passage where the hero declares he was born in '56 and went to look up the original publishing date (1996). This was probably comparably really good then, and I can see why people would have some nostalgia for it, but reading it for the first time in 2016 did not go over well.

Case Logic DLBP-116 16-Inch Laptop Backpack (Dark Gray)
Case Logic DLBP-116 16-Inch Laptop Backpack (Dark Gray)
Offered by Bo's Boutique
Price: $42.96
22 used & new from $27.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Daily work use for two years, plus yosemite hiking, still in great condition, December 7, 2015
My work lent me one of these backpacks a couple of years ago when I was issued a laptop for travel, and I've hauled it back and forth every day since then. The wide shoulder straps really spread the weight well, and it seems to rest on my back perfectly when walking. There's lots of different nooks and pockets, so there's a space for everything, and after two years I've never come up with something additional I wish it had.

I loved it so much, I've used it for a lot of non-work purposes as well -- any time I travel on a plane or go on a car trip, I pack this thing up with all my electronics and they fit perfectly. My usual travel items are a chrome book (or the full laptop), a kindle, a vita and game case, and a couple of books -- plus various flight papers, pens, passport, etc. It's a great bag for a zoo trip, a fair trip, visiting family, etc. There's enough room to carry entertainment for very long waits.. When we took a trip to Yosemite I packed this up with tons of water and snacks and went all over with it. Very comfortable, very durable.

Having inside pockets is also extremely nice when I'm walking around a large crowd and I'm concerned about carrying a purse around. I tuck my cash and credit cards into the inside pocket and zip the rest up tight. There's also a nice snug little pocket inside that is just the perfect size for a passport, easily reachable when you're dealing with airport security (though you do still have to take the bag off your shoulder first).

I now have to hand this bag back in soon, and I was sorely regretting it, wondering where I could possibly find a replacement -- but I was very happy to find they're still being sold.

Patterns, Principles, and Practices of Domain-Driven Design
Patterns, Principles, and Practices of Domain-Driven Design
by Scott Millett
Edition: Paperback
Price: $43.49
66 used & new from $25.15

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars however I found this book extremely well written and easy to follow, August 13, 2015
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I have not read the other big books on domain driven design, so I cannot compare them, however I found this book extremely well written and easy to follow. After first watching the PluralSight training, I came away with a bit of theoretical knowledge and a ton of questions -- and this book answered a ton of them. I would start off a bit puzzled at how all the pieces fit together, and then a sentence or example or diagram would bring it all into place and suddenly so many more things would make sense. Really, really a great read.

While there are some topics I wish were covered a bit more, or a bit differently, these are almost all topics that are much more specific to the domain space that I am working on and probably would have no place in the book.

If you're just starting out like I was, read through this book, try out a practical example on your own, and do a lot of blog reading to fill in the specific gaps. I do recommend starting off by creating a completely independent project and not trying to fit it into any existing system that you have -- it's so easy early for existing technical problems to really overshadow the "domain" learning you're trying to do at that point.

Fresh Step Natural Scoop - 30607 - Bci
Fresh Step Natural Scoop - 30607 - Bci

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't believe I'm reviewing cat litter..., April 12, 2013
I don't review groceries, and I feel sort of silly doing this, but that's how much I like this litter.

If you are happy with normal clay litter, you probably won't be able to stand this stuff--as other reviewers have mentioned, it's very light weight and you'll see an awful lot of it in the five-ten foot radius around your litter box. But unlike clay litter, that's as far as it makes it. My long haired cat would regularly get bits of damp clay litter stuck on her paws, trot off to her favorite place to sleep, and remove it all while she bathed. Well, her favorite place to sleep is my bed, and I was going insane trying to keep it free of cat litter. GROSS. But this stuff she shakes right off and I never find it in my carpets, my bedrooms, my bathrooms, anywhere I want/need to keep clean. The other issue I had with clay is that the box is in an area near the door, so if you come in tramping wet snow the clay that got out of the litter box turns into a nice gray sludge all over your floor and you've got to mop it up. This stuff can get wet, then dry out and be swept right up.

Being right next to the door, it was also the first thing you smelled when you walked in. I tried using some other pine, newspaper, and corncob litters, but I just wasn't happy with the odor control. In most of the litters I tried the clumps would totally fall apart and most of the urine-soaked litter stayed in the box and the smell got terrible. Even after I cleaned other litters, I could smell them sitting in the next room. I had to dump them out every three-four days. I was having nightmares about my house permanently reeking of cat. With the Fresh Step pine litter, though, the clumps are very solidly formed, don't fall apart when I shake the scoop to sift out the clean litter, and when I'm done cleaning the box it looks (and almost smells) like I just poured fresh litter in it. With two cats, 3/4 of a bag lasts me about a week before I need to add more.

I thought I was going to have to choose between a reeking litter box or litter in my bedrooms. With this, I don't have to. And I'm blissfully excited about that fact. :)

Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider
Offered by We The Little People
Price: $23.90
235 used & new from $4.10

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly Where The Series Needed To Go, March 7, 2013
This review is from: Tomb Raider (Video Game)
There seems to be a trend of games I skeptically watch while under development that utterly amaze me once released, and Tomb Raider happily fits into that trend. I expected this game to be yet another disappointing bomb in the series, only to find I loved it just as much as I did Uncharted. Now, with that said, let's get something out of the way: Tomb Raider is not Uncharted.

People who enjoyed Uncharted will most likely enjoy Tomb Raider, but there is one exceptionally large difference and that is atmosphere. Uncharted excels at the almost fantastical adventure. Bright colors, mystical locations, witty companions, and a humorous lead. Indiana Jones at its finest. Tomb Raider, on the other hand, is very gritty. There is a surprising amount of blood and gore, and some incredibly brutal deaths that can come out of no where. This isn't a Disney movie where someone gets shot and they dramatically fall downs -- this is a Tarantino film where they go down and lie there bleeding, gasping their last breath, and all the while the camera is giving you a clear shot of the bullet wound. Now, I'm not going to jump into the camp the game is super realistic, because it isn't and I wouldn't want it to be. But understand that this game isn't a lighthearted romp.

The environment is also a lot more open than most games in the genre. It feels very linear at first, but the environments quickly opened up enough to have me happily wandering all over the map for hours looking for nooks and crannies I didn't find when I was passing through as part of the main story arc. It's incredibly fun to explore, but many times during the story I found I couldn't hold still long enough to do so. The story is engaging, even if the side characters aren't, and the pacing keeps you constantly moving. This is a game that simply flows from one part to the next, and three hours can pass before I even I even think about pausing. It just feels completely natural to keep progressing and not stop.

One thing I have to applaud the developers for is the mechanics. The intelligent cover system is fantastic, and lets me focus on how to handle the wave of locals trying to turn me into a pincushion instead of managing my button pressing to duck. It took me a while to get used to aiming with the thumb sticks quickly enough to fire, as it doesn't hold your hand as much as Uncharted, but once you get the knack for it it just flows. I'm sure players who have played other shooters on the platform will have no problems with it. All of Lara's actions and abilities have a purpose. There is nothing in my arsenal that I write off as a waste of time, though some of the skill points unlocks are decidedly uninteresting. It all felt incredibly well polished.

I mentioned that the side characters are sort of uninteresting, but that doesn't tell the full story. Lara is played excellently. Her voice actress is perfect, her reactions are believable, her stress is clearly felt, and she just feels like a solid character. Next to her, her companions feel as unwanted as dishwater in a wine glass. They just don't fit the game. Their character models are fine, even their back stories and dialog is fine (if a bit over the top occasionally), but where it falls flat is their voice acting. It's all over the board. Some are actually pretty good, some will make you roll your eyes, and some will make you cringe at how flat and unemotional the performance is.

There have been some critics that have pointed out the fact that it felt incredibly disjoint to have Lara kill a man (or deer) and feel terrible about it, only to get up and shoot five more without a peep of complaint. While I understand where they're coming from, I never felt the disconnect. I honestly would have wanted to shake if she sat crying over the corpse of every man that tried to put a bullet in her. In some senses, video game stories need to be taken like a book, and your imagination is expected to help you maintain the image after they've planted the seed. They show you her anguish, they show you her nervousness, they show you her lack of confidence, and then they let you take over. The only other way to do this would be a constant stream of consciousness that WOULD be completely out of place and take me out of the game.

Overall, I am incredibly impressed with this game, and it while it changed the soul of Tomb Raid I think it was for the better. We needed a new face, we needed a new personality, and we needed a better story, and we were given it.

Assassin's Creed: Director's Cut Edition - PC
Assassin's Creed: Director's Cut Edition - PC
Offered by game-ware
Price: $9.99
94 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Conflicted, September 19, 2012
It's a good thing Amazon has different ratings for "overall" and "fun" -- this is the first time I've needed them to be distinctly different. Assassin's Creed is a brilliantly realized game that brings the time period to life in ways I would have never imagined possible prior to playing the game. That being said, it felt like more time was spent on the engine and the detail than the gameplay itself. From an artistic perspective it's a wonderful game, but as entertainment value... I struggled with liking it.

As many other reviewers have mentioned, the miscellaneous tasks get quite repetitive and towards the end of the game I began skipping saving citizens and other things I didn't need to do. I don't think it would have been as bad if they didn't have some tedious controls associated with them. After you save a citizen and lock onto them to talk to them (and receive credit) your camera locks in and you're unable to walk away and get off to the next task. You're stuck waiting the 3-5 seconds for them to spout the same line the last saved citizen did. The same thing happens with any task you turn in, and it begins to wear thin.

In the first few hours of the game I was mesmerized by the size, the scope, the beauty. The first time I sat atop a tower and the camera panned out to show the lay of the land I was hooked -- but it soon faded as you're asked to do it again, and again, and again. It is a neat mechanic, but not when everything about the game begins to get repetitive, including the assassinations themselves. Yes, there is some amount of pride in finding the 'right' and 'fun' way to do an assassination, but towards the end of the game I really just wanted to get on with it. The story itself is interesting, as is the growth of the disturbingly flat-voiced main character, but it feels like ultimately there is only two and a half hours of plot and the rest is playing errand boy.

Despite all of this, I would applaud the team for what they've accomplished here. There was certainly the underpinnings of a great series here, and the good news is that, having started the second game at this point (I bought the entire set on sale one point), it does feel like some of the tedium has been removed in the next installment. I can't bring myself to say 'don't play it', but you may want to do what I did and forget saving citizens and flags and other time-eaters thrown in there and breeze through it to get to the next game.

As one last note: I certainly hope they've done away with the beggar women and crazy men roaming the streets in future games. I understand the point of them being in the first place, but there were times where it was all I could do to stop myself from assassinating them just to get them out of my way. -.-

Borderlands 2 [Download]
Borderlands 2 [Download]
Price: $19.99

68 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,000 Degrees Hotter Indeed, September 18, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
At the risk of being ignored right off the bat, I must admit the first game never hooked me. The style and heart was all there, but some mechanics just felt a bit out of place and I felt like the game dragged on in the early portions and the interesting moments were few and far between. I'm happy to say that this game no longer suffers from that.

From the intro that once again wonderfully sets the tone, the to sense of humor that is much more prevalent throughout the game, to the finer handling of some of the controls I am finding that this game exceeds its predecessor in all that ways that tell you the developers were truly trying to make a great game and not just jump aboard the money train with a quick sequel. They've even gone out of their way to provide additional settings that most other developers seem to leave out. The field of view slider was a great addition to me because a bad FOV will set my head spinning within thirty minutes, but I've been able to play this game for hours at a time without any issue.

The environments are beautiful and often a lot more detailed than you would expect to be, and I never find myself looking around trying to distinguish one portion of the game from another. While there seems to be some recycling from the original game (unless the bandits have been redone and they're just dead too quick for me to tell!) there is also a lot of new things to be seen, and some of the characters they introduce had me grinning on a fairly regular basis. But then I'm a sucker for well-placed sarcasm.

The game itself is pure fun. A lot of the earlier mechanics are the same, but the special abilities and some of the talents feel a little more well thought out this time around instead of gimmicky. One addition that I've yet to make up my mind on yet is the bonuses you can unlock using the tokens you receive for completing in game achievements such as killing 50/100/etc of a monster, using 1000 bullets, etc. It certainly makes getting those achievements more exciting because now there is a tangible reward to it that you can use to boost your damage, shields, recharge timer, and a few other things -- but I wonder if after you pile the stats on for a while it starts to make the game far too easy. These bonuses apply to all of your characters, not just the character you unlocked in on, but the good news is that there is a way to disable it if you find it's making the game too easy for your taste.

Also, for those of you like me who lived through the complete frustration of getting co-op to work in the first game, opening ports, fighting with Gamespy, and then getting dropped at random, I was extremely excited to see the ability to use steam for this purpose. It makes getting your party together so much easier and I am so glad that they went this route. They seem to have learned from all of their mistakes and the result is a truly fantastic game. If you liked the first game, consider this a great expansion. If you just couldn't get into the first game like me, you might still want to poke around. You might be surprised.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 25, 2014 2:24 PM PST

The Walking Dead [Online Game Code]
The Walking Dead [Online Game Code]
Price: $24.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty, September 17, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is less of a game and more of an interactive drama, but what a drama it is. Perhaps I'm still basking in the glow, so to speak, but so far I've played up through Episode 3 and this is one of the best games I have ever played in terms of character development. Though the game is telling the story of Lee as he struggles to survive in a world filled with zombies, the true story is told between the interactions of the characters. You are asked to make decisions, sometimes where there is no good answer, in a split second and then live with the consequences -- and this really does capture the feeling of bitterness and regret when you later feel that you chose wrong. I don't think there is as much replay here as one would think, as some of your choices ultimately lead to the same result once you play past the next ten minutes, but it's the fact that you have to make them in the first place that sticks with you.

I'm not familiar with the comic books and I've only seen one episode of the TV series, so I can't speak to how true it stays to The Walking Dead title. But what I do know is that they show you a gritty world where people turn on each other in believable ways (though Episode 2 stretched it a bit) and make you understand how truly fragile the peace between all of us is when it comes down to the wire. Though the art of the game comic-book style they can be graphic and bloody, so even though this is an 'adventure' game it's not for everyone. In fact, the adventure puzzles are a bit few and far between and in the beginning of the game I was miffed by this fact until I got into the story and now the puzzles are just in the way of me getting to the next bit of story to see what happens. ;)

I also love the touch at the end where they track what players have chosen and show you what percentage of players made the same choice that you did.

Metro 2033 - PC
Metro 2033 - PC
Offered by Enteme
Price: $13.98
14 used & new from $4.91

4.0 out of 5 stars Overall Feel More Than Makes Up For The Quirks, September 16, 2012
This review is from: Metro 2033 - PC (Video Game)
Metro seems to be one of those games that slipped under the radar for quite a few people, including myself. The first time I had even heard of it was when it came up for a Steam sale, and it was more than worth the ten bucks I spent.

The developers have done a fantastic job with environment and immersion in this game. You're a young man who has grown up in the underground Metro and have never seen the sky, and all around you in the crowded subway tunnels are children playing, spouses having a discussion in the tiny shack that passes for a home, guards on the perimeter to keep out the monsters that have sprung up due to the irradiation of the nuclear bombs some twenty years ago. You feel the stifling confinement of having to not only survive in such a place, but thrive and keep your sanity in tact in the crowded spaces. The characters you meet are believable in the niches they cover, though the characters themselves never particularly stand out as individuals -- three characters you meet along the way, Hunter, Khan, and Miller, all sort of blurred together for me as individuals, but their purpose in the game made you feel a true sense of unity in your attempt to save your home. While it doesn't quite meet Bioshock's level of atmosphere, it does an excellent job of it. I also applaud the designers for being able to make a game almost entirely in subway tunnels that didn't feel disastrously repetitive. If you were one of the rare few that played Hellgate: London you'll understand how refreshing it is to not face the same tunnel over and over again.

One of the most interesting aspects of the game was one I didn't stop to consider until I absolutely had to -- and that is the fact that your main form of currency is high grade military ammo. Unless you're an excellent shot you spend a good portion of the game ammo starved but never quite running on empty, and there are several portions of the game that make it extremely tempting to load up your harder-hitting military grade ammunition to mow down whatever is in your way. The conundrum in this is that you are literally shooting money, so you are faced with the tough decision of more upgrades and ammunition later or ease of killing now. I would often sit and think about it a moment before loading up the military ammo to see if I could come up with any other alternative. But being a mediocre FPS player, sometimes it was better to just pack more punch.

It isn't all good, however. The game was clearly built for consoles and this causes several pain points if you're a PC gamer. The first is the checkpoint system which had me ready to chuck my keyboard a couple of times when I realized it autosaved in a terrible place and my only options were to perform a shooting miracle or replay the entire level from the beginning. Some of the controls also feel a bit clunky and not as responsive as you would like, but the biggest detraction for me was that the default field of vision is set quite low. If you're like me and you get terrible headaches from some FPS style games, I encourage you to look up some of the youtube videos talking about field of vision's impact. What they are using works for a console because you are expected to be further away from the TV, but for a PC it had my head swimming if I played for more than an hour. Luckily there is a setting buried in one of the config files where you can tweak this and I was finally able to finish the game.

All in all, it's a great game with a great premise, but needed a bit of work to really make it shine. Even so it's well worth the five bucks it costs to pick up today. I'm hoping they've taken all of these things into consideration while developing Metro: Last Light, because if so it will be a fantastic experience.

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