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First Alert P1010 10-Year Photoelectric Smoke and Fire Alarm
First Alert P1010 10-Year Photoelectric Smoke and Fire Alarm
Price: $36.75
58 used & new from $28.30

4.0 out of 5 stars Easy - peezy but be sure to read the instructions, May 3, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Very small, very discreet, couldn't be any easier to install. The are no extra bells or whistles - it detects smoke and that's it. There is no user replaceable battery so you can't retrofit it with a Roost or similar to get it to notify you in the event of an alarm. I am using it in my laundry room as a supplement to my existing alarm setup since many house fires start as a result of a dryer malfunction.

One thing that puzzles me is the "self destruct" switch. There is a tab you can pull and it will permanently and irreversibly disable the alarm. What's up with that? During installation I started pulling it out thinking it was one of those tabs that disconnects the battery while in the store. Fortunately, I saw the notification about what it was before pulling it all the way out. -1 star for a stupid design that can instantly break a new alarm. Otherwise, a great, no frills option for a smoke alarm.


NFC For Dummies
NFC For Dummies
by Robert P. Sabella
Edition: Paperback
Price: $21.68
35 used & new from $17.50

5.0 out of 5 stars From 0-90 in 274 pages, May 2, 2016
This review is from: NFC For Dummies (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book is written for someone who know virtually nothing about NFC but wants to get up on what all this new-fangled close-proximity data transfer stuff is all about. It covers things as basic as "How do I turn the NFC function on and off on my phone?" It also spends a fair amount of time discussing what NFC is, how it compares to other wireless technologies, and its strengths and weaknesses and it works its way up to things like different standards that are defined and provides examples of companies that don't always adhere to the standards (HID Global, for example, as they have been in the NFC arena since before the standards really became solidified).

Anyone (including the guy that hasn't really heard of NFC before and doesn't do a lot of tech) that reads this book from cover to cover will come away knowing more about NFC than the vast majority of people. To make an allusion to driving, you can think of the fact that most people are driving around at 35 MPH on surface streets (they know the basics about NFC), many people are even cruising at 65 - 75 MPH on highways (these are your tech savvy, everyday kind of people), but you'll be in the fast lane going 90 MPH. Of course, there will always be race car drivers, airline pilots, etc. that make your pithy 90 MPH look silly (now I'm talking about professionals who actually program NFC stuff, etc.) but for the average population, you're moving pretty fast. The nice thing is that in this analogy, you don't have to worry about the police giving you a speeding ticket. If you want to move even faster, the author also hosts "NFC boot-camps" to help you do just that. ... but that's beyond the scope of this book.

Recommended for anyone who thinks they don't know as much about NFC as a lot of other people, but wants to figure it all out.


DII Wrinkle Resistant Wide Tablecloth, 70 x 104", White, Seats 8 to 10 People
DII Wrinkle Resistant Wide Tablecloth, 70 x 104", White, Seats 8 to 10 People
Price: $24.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Adds class, April 28, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I must not be very educated in what makes a formal tablecloth because I keep seeing comments on here about this only being good for "casual" or "informal" use. Someday I hope to find what these people would call a "formal" or "fancy" or "high-end" tablecloth so I can see what I've been missing because in my opinion, this bright white, textured tablecloth looks more on the formal side than casual. I suppose the fact that it is polyester makes it less fancy, but you know what? I like that it is polyester. Why? Because they are less prone to stains and, let's face it, all tablecloths will get spilled on eventually.

I really love the texture on the cloth--it isn't just a flat white. Not that flat is a problem per se, but I like the look of the textured--almost faux lacy weave.

I'm perfectly happy with this tablecloth--no regrets.


DII 100% Cotton, Machine Washable, Everyday French Stripe Kitchen Tablecloth For Dinner Parties, Summer & Outdoor Picnics - 60x104" Seats 8 to 10 People, Red
DII 100% Cotton, Machine Washable, Everyday French Stripe Kitchen Tablecloth For Dinner Parties, Summer & Outdoor Picnics - 60x104" Seats 8 to 10 People, Red
Price: $32.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Organic cotton look, April 26, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The first thing I noticed when I opened this package was that this is not a white tablecloth. It's not even an almost-white tablecloth. It looks like an unbleached organic cotton T-shirt that I got a while back; lots of brown. At first I wasn't thrilled about that, but as I thought about it I came to the realization that it is 100% cotton and when (not if) someone spills on it, this will probably be a much better color as the spot will disappear into it better. As a bonus, our solid white plates don't blend into it, which can throw off presentation. I think if this was meant to be a more formal tablecloth, the color would be a problem, but as a more casual piece, it works well. It is very difficult to accurately capture and then display accurate colors on a computer monitor, but I have attempted to do so by attaching a picture of the tablecloth along with a white piece of paper and some of the kids' markers for reference.

The fabric itself is a rough weave--just a bit more coarse than denim. If I had a choice, I would have preferred something a bit more smooth to the touch, but I think this is pretty typical for a tablecloth so no effect on my rating.

Another reviewer mentioned that this shrinks after washing. Dang it! I didn't think about that. Pre-washing, I measured it at 103 x 61. The thing is that I like the way it hangs on my 40 x 87 table and so I'm not eager to wash it and have it shrink. Eventually I'm going to have to and I'll have to see what happens, but for now I'd prefer to just use it as-is. I do wish they had used a pre-shrunk fabric...

I do like the way my table looks with this cloth. It doesn't feel super-formal, especially given the "organic cotton" look, but it gives the kitchen table a nice, warm, home feel. If you want formal, I'd recommend you look elsewhere, but as an everyday item, it works great.
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DII 100% Cotton Turkish Fouta Towel, Fast Drying, Ultra Soft, Absorbent Multi Use Blanket - Blue Tri Stripe
DII 100% Cotton Turkish Fouta Towel, Fast Drying, Ultra Soft, Absorbent Multi Use Blanket - Blue Tri Stripe
Price: $16.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Different. Not bad, but doesn't excel, either, April 22, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If I didn't know this was supposed to be a towel, I never would have thought to use it as such. The fabric is very much like linen and one doesn't normally think of tassels on a towel (or at least, I don't). This looks more like a small (and not very heavy) blanket. As a bath towel, I had very low expectations. As it turns out, it works better than I had expected, but it's still very thin and it saturates too quickly to really get your hair dry without having to dry it with one spot on the towel and then dry it again on another spot (and then perhaps again if you have long hair).

It is very large for a bath towel. As in, I can wrap it around myself twice. I'm not a very large person, but I could see how the sheer size would make it appealing for larger users. It is more absorbent than I guessed and is softer than it looks, but you kind of need that extra size because, as mentioned above, it saturates quickly and you need to move it around to get really dry.

In the end, I got just as dry as I would with a normal, terry cloth style towel, but I think the experience is better suited for warm weather--if I had been doing this in the cold, I really don't think I would have appreciated the fact that I had to essentially dry off twice.

Now, as a beach towel, I think this would probably be pretty good -- I find the extra size desirable when I'm at a pool or the beach. I haven't used it as such yet, but I think that's where this would really shine.


Chill Bag - Bean Bags 7.5-Feet Bean Bag Lounger, Giant, Charcoal
Chill Bag - Bean Bags 7.5-Feet Bean Bag Lounger, Giant, Charcoal
Offered by GT Gifts
Price: $279.99
2 used & new from $279.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Big, squishy and comfortable, April 22, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
With 5 kids, one really doesn't get the luxury of just sitting in one place for an hour (or more), so I haven't had the same problems that a couple other reviewers have had regarding it getting too flat after a while. For me, for the short bursts of time that I am able to use this, it works out fine. The best thing about it is that the best way to get on is to jump and flop down backward. I'm an adult, but it's still just as fun as when I was a kid and I'm instantly comfortable. This is big enough to comfortably fit 2 adults, or you could squeeze a third on, if everyone on it are friends. (If you WANT to be cuddly, this is a good way to go.)

This took 2 days to reach about 95% of it's full size. Another few days and a bit of fluffing made it about as big as it's going to get. I do wish that there was about 5-10% more fill inside, but it works as is. I'm impressed by how small of a package it came in. It was heavy but not too unruly.

The primary disadvantage to this is how much space it takes up. You aren't going to be able to use it and then throw it in the corner. Even if you have a very large room, it's heavy enough that you wouldn't want to do that, anyway. BUT, if you are willing to use it AS a couch, then it will work well.


Denon HEOS 1 Wireless Speaker (Black) (New Version)
Denon HEOS 1 Wireless Speaker (Black) (New Version)
Price: $199.00
2 used & new from $199.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Better than a simple Bluetooth speaker, April 22, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Ease of setup: Excellent. I did a wireless setup. All I had to do is plug the phone into the speaker via the audio jack (cable provided) and then type my WiFi password and it connected. Alternately, I could have used Bluetooth, according to the instructions (but I didn't try that). After it was set up, it prompted me to update the software in the speaker itself (not my phone's app) and that took a good 5 min, but was otherwise painless.

Sound quality: Very good. It does come in a small package, so unsurprisingly, the lows bottomed out on some songs, but the overall sound was very full and rich for 90%+ of what I listened to.

First impressions: Excellent--I like that it is Internet connected and that there are several "channels" that are already set. I'm curious how multiple speakers would do all playing from the same Spotify account since Spotify won't let you listen on multiple devices at once. Since I only have 1 speaker, I can't say...

Odd note: This is advertised as being moisture resistant, but one of the first things it says in the safety notes is "DO NOT expose to moisture!" in bold. We're getting mixed messages here. Is it moisture resistant or not?

Esthetics: Excellent--nice look, not too flashy, elegant but modern.

Overall feelings: In order to really get full advantage out of this, I would need to get several more of them. As it is right now, I only have the one and so it's pretty similar to a Bluetooth speaker and I already have a few of those. I do like that I have the option to put several of them together, but at this price, that could add up quickly. Also, at this price, I wish that it came with a battery pack, rather than having to buy that separately (for another hundred bucks). I like it, but the whole line feels a bit more expensive than it should be.


Skip Hop Zoo Little Kid Backpack, Chameleon
Skip Hop Zoo Little Kid Backpack, Chameleon
Price: $20.00

5.0 out of 5 stars It's a win, April 18, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The older kids wear a backpack to school. I wear a backpack to work. The 3 year old got a hold of an old backpack from one of the older kids and so it makes sense that my 2 year old decided she wanted a backpack as well. When I saw this one, I got it for her and she has hardly taken it off since it showed up. She is a very petite 2 year old and while it is a little on the large side, it still fits her just fine. Unfortunately, the 3 year old has now decided that his hand-me-down backpack is nowhere cool enough anymore now that he has seen this one, so we had to get another backpack to keep the 2 of them from fighting all the time.

There are a few things that really make this a great backpack for little kids:
1) The size. It is very small, just like a backpack for a preschooler should be
2) The shiny, iridescent material on the front (I think that's the chameleon's tail) appears to be very appealing to the kids
3) The zippers are little flies and the kids get a kick out of that, too (as do I)

For the brief periods of time that I have been allowed to hold the backpack, I have been under the impression that it is sturdy and well-made. Time will tell...

Recommended


Classic All-Season Down Alternative Comforter with Baffle Box Contruction, Full/Queen, White
Classic All-Season Down Alternative Comforter with Baffle Box Contruction, Full/Queen, White
Price: $46.14

5.0 out of 5 stars Holy softness, April 15, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
You know, it's a pity that you are supposed to put a cover on duvets because this one is so soft. I mean, yes, it's soft like squishy, like you would expect, but I'm talking about the fabric itself--it feels soft to the touch and is a tactile delight. This isn't a really heavy comforter--if you live in a really cold climate, you'll want something warmer for the winter (or something in addition to this), but for most of the rest of the country, I think it's just about right. It had a slight odor to it when we first opened it, but that quickly dissipated. The boxed stitching on it keeps the filling all in one place and since it is "down alternative" I expect it will stay much flatter for much longer than the feather one on one of the other beds.

I am perfectly satisfied with this comforter and would happily recommend it to anyone wanting to stay nice and warm at night in soft, very comfortable bedding.


Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass Plus Weed Preventer
Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass Plus Weed Preventer
Price: $55.22

4.0 out of 5 stars Light scent, spreads easy..., April 15, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I had originally gotten a weed 'n' feed mix to get my lawn going this spring, but as it turns out, you really shouldn't put it down together with new grass seed as it can be detrimental to the new grass (or so I understand). That's when I found this stuff--it is specifically made for new grass, and so I pounced.

The active ingredient is mesotrione and there is some notice on the back about how you aren't supposed to put more than X number of pounds per Y area in a year. That sounded pretty heavy duty. According to Wikipedia, mesotrione "is a synthetic analog of leptospermone developed to mimic the effects of this natural herbicide" and "was brought to market by Syngenta in 2001." I have to admit I'm not a fan of nor do I really trust Syngenta (or Monsanto or many other biotech companies, for that matter) and so I'm a bit wary of it. -1 star because I don't trust them. This is entirely a subjective, not objective, but for me it's a big deal.

As for the product itself--I found the granules rather fine and none of them clumped which made the application easy. There is a MUCH lighter smell than the yellow bag of Scott's weed 'n' feed, so storing it in the garage doesn't make a funky odor out there. These are certainly good things. Now I just have to wait for 6 weeks and see how the new grass does coming in and how the weeds do NOT coming in (or at least, not sticking around)


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