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The Game Of Life Electronic Banking Game
The Game Of Life Electronic Banking Game
Price: $24.99
3 used & new from $19.58

3.0 out of 5 stars Don't get nostalgic - this is a completely different game than the original., July 31, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Each iteration of Life is different. We have the 40th Anniversary Edition, which keeps a lot of the Nostalgia of the original, but was updated with more modern events. The electronic banking version loses pretty much all ties with the original, and for this reason, I don't like it nearly as much.

Differences from classic Life:
- Only 4 players. Gone are the multitude of cars and ability for a family of 5 like ours to all play together
- No building of the board. There's no buildings or bridges to place - just the spinner.
- No insurance, loans, stocks or Life tiles.
- No decision at the end of the game for whether to try for Millionaire Acres or Shady Estates

Differences in gameplay:
- Jobs have no strategy. The difference in salaries has absolutely no effect on how much money you can amass. More on that later...
- The Action cards replace the events that occur on each space. Action cards are basically pretty dumb. They tell you to do certain things which determine how much bonus money you receive. At the end of the game, each one is worth $100,000. This makes your salary pretty much irrelevant.
- You never have to buy a house. If you land on a house space, you can choose to buy or sell. At the end of the game, you sell all houses back for money, and you either make a small or large amount depending on a random spin.
- Babies have no negative cash impact, and each is worth a bonus at the end of the game.
- Very few action cards have negative cash impact.

Basically the game is really just a matter of collecting action cards, babies and houses. Since every action card you collect is worth nearly as much as the highest salary, you are making far more money from them vs. paydays. Gone are any Life events, as you can pretty much skip buying a house, having babies, etc. There's very few bad Action cards or spots on the board. Also, many action cards have you spin against one other player to see which one wins money. So, two people can always choose eachother and they will get a disproportionate amount of money compared to the third person.

The electronic banking unit is ok, but since you're really not exchanging money or paying money out very often, it's a glorified calculator. It actually slows down gameplay in many cases. The game also has spots where you can increase or decrease your salary. You program the salary into the unit, but there's no way to actually check your salary unless you're adding it to your account. When you land on a space that increases or decreases a salary, it assumes you remember what it is (which might be different than the amount on your Career card). Careers have very little deviation in salary, but going to college costs $200,000. While there are a few extra spaces where you can get an extra Action card or two, it really doesn't make a big difference if you go to college or not.

In all, this is a completely revamped game, that has virtually nothing in common with the original.


Simpli Home Kitchener Collection 53 inches wide x 35 inches high Tall TV Stand
Simpli Home Kitchener Collection 53 inches wide x 35 inches high Tall TV Stand
Price: $388.55
2 used & new from $378.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It was ALMOST the easiest assembly ever. Even so, it went together and looks great., July 27, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was ready to give this furniture a much higher rating, until I hit the last few steps of assembly. I am impressed that this piece truly is 100% real, solid wood. All sides and interior pieces are real wood with grain, endgrain, etc. There's no pressboard or particle board covered by stickers anywhere on the unit at all. The box says that it's made of pine. Even the back of it, which on similar put-together furniture would be a pressboard or cardboard variant, is actually luan board. The back is actually 4 pieces, one for each section and is held on by screws rather than 400 mini tacks.

The finish is nice, but it seems sprayed on. Had I finished it myself, I'd have put one more coat of clearcoat on. The finished, exterior pieces are all pretty evenly finished and fairly free of knots. There is a higher incidence of knots and other small imperfections on the interior of the unit, bottom, drawers, etc. Knots and imperfections were filled, though the sap did seep through in some areas. The clear finish is of some type that is not very forgiving of fingerprints. Overall, the stain is very even, but I have some misgivings considering the fingerprint issue and how there's dull areas around the knots. It's better on the visible areas vs. interior areas, though.

The interior behind the doors is not meant for electronic devices. There's no cord cutouts. The shelves have 3 positions, but that span is only a few inches. The middle position perfectly aligns to hide the shelf behind the crosspiece behind the glass. All the handles are nice and heavy. The luan of the back is pretty rough - I wish they'd at least sanded it once before putting the finish on it. It'll snag any sort of dust rag, etc. Also, the back of the unit is flush, meaning the top doesn't overhang the back. Therefore, having any cords behind the unit means it'll have to be pulled away from the wall slightly. There's no cord-cutout in the top of the unit. This isn't a bad thing, just pointing it out.

As for size, the instructions say it's meant for a 50" or smaller LCD/Plasma TV with a max weight of 200lbs. I have a 55" with a small bezel (about 1") and it's almost identical in width to this unit. Having a 55" with a wide bezel, or any bigger size, it will overhang this unit. I'd suspect the TV in the product picture is about 50" in size.

Assembly:
-------------
Assembly went great at first. Drawers and the central pieces of the unit all went together with ease. I appreciated that the drawer glides were pre-installed. Additionally, the instructions were very clear and written in easy to understand english - a nice contrast to many other brands that leave you with bad translation or just all pictures and no text. Every single piece of hardware was separated into its own ziplock baggies and marked with a small numbered piece of paper inside. No searching a jumbled mess of hardware, and no blister seal packages where you have to extract every single bolt.

The construction is generally a combo of cam-locks and large self-threading wood screws. The big screws use an allen wrench, which was provided and had a ball-end on the long end, which is useful in the hard-to-reach sections. The biggest trick I found for success with these is to pre-install them about four full turns into the piece of wood BEFORE putting it through the other piece. This establishes the threading, which is harder to do when also trying to hold two pieces of wood together at the same time. As for the cam locks, the posts have a nice spinning collar, which makes them easy to hold and install. Unfortunately, the cams are kind of flimsy. Since this is real wood, some pieces were just slightly warped. When trying to get the cams to pull these tight, they bent and twisted within their hole but didn't tighten the gap between the pieces. This was a problem for me when attaching the bottom of the unit to the sides. I broke/bent about 8 cams trying to close a 1/16-1/8" gap, and it never did go away.

The other install problem I had was the center divider of the open section. The bottom of it fits into that shelf only with wooden dowels. Since there's no vertical support directly below it (the drawers are there), there's nothing to push it firmly together. I tried gluing and clamping, but that didn't work, either. It made the gap smaller, but didn't eliminate it. It's not an eyesore, but it's one of those things that you know is there even if others don't. Additionally, the back piece with the wire cutouts for that section was damaged on mine during shipping. Honestly, I'm surprised that was the only piece broken - the box was pretty banged up when it arrived.

The last install problem was the handles. They went together great on the doors, but the holes in the drawers must be countersunk more deeply or something. The bolts were too long and bottomed out before the handles were tight on the face of the drawer. I snapped two of them off and the others I had to use lubricant to be able to get them tight enough.

I sent an email to the company (the only way to contact them, despite big warnings not to return to the store), so we'll see how that pans out. In the end, it all went together, but the back piece for the component shelf is missing, and I need a new handle and some additional/better cam locks.


littleBits Electronics Space Kit
littleBits Electronics Space Kit
Price: $189.00
2 used & new from $144.07

3.0 out of 5 stars a littleBit cool and a lottaBit expensive, July 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
littleBits are a really cool idea, which aim to create "makers" out of the younger generation. Making is all about combining great ideas with cool hardware and software to better our lives, even in the simplest of ways. littleBits enable this through their motto of "make something that does something" and their mission is "TO PUT THE POWER OF ELECTRONICS IN THE HANDS OF EVERYONE".

To that end, this set should entice kids interested in space technology to make things that do things. To me, this is where it falls a bit short. The end-resulting projects are very simplistic and while they might *demonstrate* concepts used in space exploration, they are little more than a motor or speaker attached to cardboard and other household supplies formed in the shape of a Mars rover, sattellite dish, etc. In the end, the projects just don't "do" a whole lot.

Using these will not teach your child much of anything about how electricity works. As they snap together, circuits are automatically created. You don't need to cover concepts of continuity, ground, etc as the littleBits do that without needing you. That's good in a way and fits in with the objective. The only problem I saw was that it's sometimes a bit tricky to get them to actually do what you want.

Some of the modules, like the light sensor, require you to set the sensitivity using a small screwdriver (included). Adjustments are very sensitive and even when I adjusted it, they didn't always work all that great. When performing the experiement where a glass of water is filled, the LED shines through it and the sensor is placed under the glass, we had very inconsistent results. As we moved the light or added milk to disperse the light, the sensor was just as likely to read the same or the opposite direction as it should have.

The IR LED and sensor were kind of flaky. The sensor worked great when using a regular TV remote, but was erratic when using the LED included in the kit. The motor is pretty cool in that it has an adapter to use with Lego's.

My kids had the most fun with the microphone and speaker, just connecting them together and talking into it. Since the botched water experiment and then using the microphone/speaker, they really haven't asked to get it back out. I received my kit for free, but had I spent nearly $200 I wouldn't be too thrilled. For the price it's underwhelming, though the quality and theory behind this set is solid.

If your child really wants to learn about electricity, snap circuits is the cheaper and more true way to go. If they always want to build and "make" things, snap circuits are worth a look. Nothing else is faster or easier to connect. No soldering, wiring, or even making sure positive and negative match up. That said, prepare to spend a pretty penny to get enough modules to do more than a few simple projects.


Panasonic BK-3MCCA4BA eneloop AA New 2100 Cycle Ni-MH Pre-Charged Rechargeable Batteries, 4 Pack
Panasonic BK-3MCCA4BA eneloop AA New 2100 Cycle Ni-MH Pre-Charged Rechargeable Batteries, 4 Pack
Price: $14.40
29 used & new from $9.15

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The standard to which all others are measured., July 23, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've used a number of different brands of rechargeable batteries. Eneloops are essentially the standard by which others are measured. I used these in a number of different devices - a camera flash, xbox controller, etc. They perform really well and without doing advanced testing and analysis, which I'm sure will be covered by many people much more qualified than me, all I can say is that these batteries give you the confidence that if they are dead or your device runs out of power its probably normal. 2100 cycles is a ridiculous amount of re-charges, and the long shelf life means they're even well suited in devices that aren't constantly used - things like battery powered emergency radios and the like.


Francois et Mimi Brushed Finish Stainless Steel Double Wall French Coffee Press,34oz
Francois et Mimi Brushed Finish Stainless Steel Double Wall French Coffee Press,34oz
Offered by Luzy's Storage Place
Price: $49.95
4 used & new from $42.43

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A press that started a coffee club that no longer uses this french press, July 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My co-worker had one of the glass french presses that he'd brought into work and I brought this one into compare. He's an amateur coffee snob, though others just say he complains about everything. He's British, though, so his accent makes him sound like he knows what he's talking about either way. He was still willing to try this one out a few times. This one was big enough that we started sharing the coffee from this press with others in our row. Now, a couple people arrive later than others, so we figured out that it'll stay hot and drinkable for about 90 minutes in this one. We had to make sure the coffee was made by 7:30 so that it was ready for miss grumpy - we all have one we work with, right? Actually she's not that bad, but she kind of expected it to be ready when she got there.

Anyways, back to the press. The complainer coffee snob, I'll call him Mr. Coffee, did say this thing looked cheap. I'm not inclined to disagree. The box is very plain and cheap looking - not something I'd feel proud giving as a gift. The stainless finish is ok, but not really high quality - welds are a bit discolored and not polished well. The brushed finish is ok, but not superbly uniform. That said, it does function well:
-The handle is large and sturdy.
-The double walled construction is interesting. Since it's thicker at the bottom, the outside at the bottom stays quite cool, but gets hot near the top.
-The lid is insulated, but doesn't completely close off the spout, so steam can still get out.
-The plunger's hole has no bushing so it rattles around.
-The lid has a tapered bottom so that you can mostly close off the spout to keep it warm, then a thinner side to allow easy pouring. Unfortunately, there's no mark to signify where this is, so Mr. Coffee remedied this with a sharpie and a squiggly line - I guess he felt that fix fit in with it's quality.

Cleaning it isn't too bad, though ground will get stuck in the bits and pieces of the screen, spring and reinforcement plates. I didn't see a way to take these apart, so I live with the little grounds that get stuck.

The coffee was good - even Mr. Coffee said so (as long as we used grounds approved by him). We used regular ground coffee, so while there was a bit of sludge at the bottom of your cup, this is the nature of a fine grind and a french press.

In the end, this press convinced four of us (yeah, there was a silent partner in there, too) to start our own coffee club, but this was too small to satisfy 4 people on Monday mornings. We graduated to a drip coffee maker and now I've got this to make the occasional cup on my own.

My overall assessment is that this works well and keeps coffee hot for a while. It's insulated well enough you won't get burnt and it pours cleanly as well. I agree the finish could be nicer, and the packaging could use an upgrade, as a black print on off-yellow box, with no internal packing material just yells "generic" to some of use.


Remington Products S8530 Anti Frizz Therapy Straightener, 2 Inch
Remington Products S8530 Anti Frizz Therapy Straightener, 2 Inch
Offered by ToysOnline
Price: $78.46
3 used & new from $67.50

4.0 out of 5 stars ... mainly because you can set the temperature and how easy it is to see, July 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My daughter (12) likes this straightener mainly because you can set the temperature and how easy it is to see. It only changes in 20 degree increments, though. By default it's set at 380, and she has been using it at 400. This temperature works well for her fine hair, but she does complain that sometimes her hair falls out because it doesn't clamp it tightly enough. The plates are wider than on her mother's Chi, but that doesn't seem to bother her (other than if this contributes to the hair falling out). She hasn't really come to a solid conclusion on whether or not the anti-fizz of the straightener actually makes a significant difference. Ironically, the straightener came with some anti-frizz wipes that she really does like because they're able to be used anywhere and whenever she needs them.


Dynamite 4113 2A NiMH AC Charger
Dynamite 4113 2A NiMH AC Charger
Offered by Hobby-Sports
Price: $29.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Charges well, but can destroy your pack in certain situations, July 18, 2014
This charger came with my son's Vaterra Kemora. It's much better than the trickle charger that came with the ECX mini-Ruckus. It is generally easy to use, though it doesn't really tell you if it switches to a trickle charge after the main charge is done. That said, even after leaving a pack on it all night, the pack isn't hot. So while I don't *think* it keeps over-charging, I am not 100% sure.

Always plug the charger into the wall first - I'll explain why below. Once you've done that, connect the battery pack to it. Then press the Start button. The LED on the right should turn Red and you should hear a beep. The LED on the right will turn green once charging is finished.

HUGE WATCHOUT:
This charger will power on when backfed from a battery pack. In other words, if you plug in a battery pack, but don't plug the charger into the wall, the battery will backfeed enough current into the charger to make the LEDs turn on. Therefore it appears the charger is on and working, but it's not. Pressing the charge button won't do much - the second LED won't turn red and it won't beep. If you've read the instructions, you'll know this isn't normal operation. If you haven't (or you're a 10 year old), and you leave the battery on the charger like this, it'll slowly drain the pack down so low that it'll destroy the pack. Our stock pack died this way and now it won't take a charge at all.

While this may not seem likely, if the plug falls out, you have a power outage, or you just plain forget to plug it in, it only takes once to destroy that $25 battery pack.

For that reason, while this is an upgrade from the most basic chargers, I'd really recommend something that won't allow the pack to backfeed it and potentially ruin the battery.


Speedpack 1800mAh Ni-MH 6-Cell Flat with EC3 Conn
Speedpack 1800mAh Ni-MH 6-Cell Flat with EC3 Conn
Offered by Aidleyco Baby
Price: $15.44
8 used & new from $11.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Good pack, but doesn't fit the stock battery compartment of the Vaterra Kemora/Kalahari, July 18, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a pretty good battery. The wire leads are flexible and the EC3 connector is pretty easy to deal with. The cells appear to be full size sub-C cells.

I bought this for my son's Vaterra Kemora. It does not fit the stock battery compartment. In fact, it can't even sit in the body tray without hanging over the edge. I used a couple of velcro ties and wrapped them around the battery and attached them to the top support that the ESC sits on. With the caps on the end of the battery pack it provided enough grip to keep it in place. It does weigh that side of the car down a bit more than normal, so watch your steering.

So, if you're willing to do that, be aware this pack won't fit "stock". Plus, you cant use the dust cover with the "driver", so you're more likely to get debris in your spur/pinion setup with that car.

We also have an ECX 1/18 mini-Ruckus and this pack is too big to fit in it. The smaller Speedpacks (like the 1750mah, 1200mah, and 800mah) use smaller size cells, but are generally more expensive.


Denon HEOS 3 Wireless Speaker
Denon HEOS 3 Wireless Speaker
Price: $299.00

11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars HEOS - a great system now that I've got it working., July 11, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
*Setup*
The setup procedure is everything Denon promises - simple and the app walks you through every step. You don't need to know anything about wireless networks except for your password.

This simplicity can come at a cost under some situations. After setup, I had some VERY weird behavior from the app and speaker, which highlighted the fact that if there IS a problem, the app is terrible at helping you figure out what is wrong. I'll put all that at the end as most people won't need that info, but I also point out some really great features of the app which you probably don't know exist, so if you're really considering this system, it might be worth your time to read.

*Build Quality*
Fit and finish is excellent. Rubber bumpers will protect furniture in either the horizontal or vertical position and it has a metal threadmount if you wanted to utilize it. Denon does recommend 1 foot clearance in all directions for dissipation of heat since it is a self-amplified speaker. You wouldn't want to flush-mount the speaker or you'd block the port in the rear.

*Sound*
Ok, so let's talk sound. For me, every speaker has a tradeoff between its sound components and all the extra fluff. Would this speaker hold up to a $300 self-powered speaker that doesn't build in Wireless? Probably not. But compared to similar Bluetooth speakers (I'm thinking mainly of my Bose SoundLink portable, which was roughly the same price and which I've owned for a few years), it does hold up pretty well. It doesn't have the greatest stereo separation, especially when positioned vertically, but for casual listening, it's fine. Clarity falls off pretty sharply when off-axis. Bass at low volumes is very nice - it doesn't fall off just because you turn the overall volume down. Voices are clear and instruments are fairly well defined, but overall sometimes I feel like some of the depth of the music is missing. I hear bass, I hear vocals, but the rest kind of feels like it's trapped behind a curtain and just can't get through to really shine. Again, you're not getting much more than other speakers in this price range that offer some competing feature set (portability, battery power, Bluetooth, etc).

The EQ settings and orientation settings are in the app, but are buried pretty deep. Unfortunately, you can only control Bass and Treble and changing your iPhone's EQ settings won't have any effect within the HEOS app. Read the troubleshooting section for instructions on how to find HEOS app's EQ menu. As for stereo imaging, there are two drivers in the speaker, but they are very close together. When standing upright, you don't really hear stereo sound because the drivers are stacked on top of each other. Laying on its side might help, but since they're so close to each other, it's kind of like any other small speaker in that it's hard to get nice separation from the channels. I'm still undecided if the speaker drivers are working in stereo or if it's some sort of DSP that tries to give it a stereo effect - kind of like simulated surround sound from a pair of speakers in the front of a room. I think it really is playing the music in stereo, it's just really hard to tell.

Update: As I've listened more, the weaknesses in the HEOS3's sound stem primarily from its strong directionality in how mids and highs are dispersed. Especially in the vertical position, the drivers don't disperse the sound throughout the room, but focus straight ahead. Standing 8-10 feet from the speaker, you can hear the mids and highs drop out at about 45 degrees from its center.

*HEOS app*
Operation is simple but still a bit clunky. All control is through the app, so even if you connect a usb stick or a device via the aux cable, you MUST have an iPhone or Android with the app installed. The app is basic on the surface and there's a few features that aren't well advertised. For instance, there IS a mute button in the app in addition to the Pause. It's the little speaker icon next to the Volume bar, which sits just below the skip and pause/play buttons. When Muted, the song continues to stream, unlike pause which stops both the audio and playback of the song.

By default it doesn't show elapsed time or time remaining for a track. These aren't available at all in the iPhone's playlist view, which to me is disappointing. If you want to see time elapsed/remaining, you have to be in the song view, then tap on the album cover. Oddly, this is also the only place where you can choose to repeat or shuffle tracks in the current playlist. That's right, you have to do it from the currently playing song view, you can't do it in the playlist view!

When changing volume, there's a bit of a lag between the app and the speaker. Sometimes this lag is also present when pausing/starting songs. I guess that's a function of having to traverse the wireless network rather than being directly connected via Bluetooth. Thereing also lies the musical shortcomings of this system. You can only play audio from Denon's app and whichever partners it chooses to integrate. For instance, if you have iHeartRadio installed, you can't play from it to the HEOS wirelessly. You might be able to do it by connecting your phone via the aux cable and then selecting that as the input, then starting the iHeartRadio app. I'm sure this would apply to the multitude of other apps like Rdio, Amazon Cloud Player, etc. That could be a real shortcoming.

While we're on the subject of audio choices, while the HEOS app sees all music on your phone, it doesn't seem to connect to Windows PCs or other media servers. If it does, I certainly haven't figured it out, but sure would like to. So if you have, then clue me in!

You DO NOT need a HEOS account to play music from an iPhone. If you want to store playlists in the HEOS app, use the online streaming services built into the app, or maintain a play history, you will need an account. When using your iPhone, it will access your iPhone playlists just fine, and you can even select combinations of playlists and single songs to build a HEOS queue of music to play. HEOS then lets you manually rearrange the song playback order if you want.

*Wifi operation*
The strength and weakness is operation over wifi. See the troubleshooting section for more info, especially if it's behaving weirdly. Overall, the app seems to buffer around 5-15 seconds of audio, so you'll know quickly if you're out of range. You can see wifi signal strength stats if you go deep enough into the menus, but I wish the app showed the simple "bars" each speaker has. Also, it can be laggy for some operations and doesn't give as many listening options as a simple bluetooth connection. That said, it's got greater range and bandwidth so there's some really nice advantages and features that Bluetooth simply can't do. One really weird thing is that when your phone/speaker loses the wifi connection then reconnects, it'll try skipping to the next song in the queue as if the problem was the song instead of the connection. It seems that since it runs out of buffer, the speaker tells the app to go to the next song because it doesn't know if the song was done or not. I have no idea why the app just can't tell the speaker to pick up where it left off.

Update: I've been able to run the speaker even when my phone is on the 2.4GHz band but the speaker is on the 5. Sometimes it works great, and other times it won't. Not sure yet why that is.

*Conclusion*
OK, so all that said, would I recommend this speaker? Yes, I would. Bluetooth speakers have a whole host of issues. Pairing becomes an issue, especially in a multi-device household. With the HEOS app, it's much easier to select a speaker and play music. Sound is on-par with other speakers in this price range. This one might not be my favorite, but it's still sufficient. Compared to other wifi systems like Bose, Samsung and Sonos, it's simply too much to try and say how HEOS compares to each. Samsung and Sonos both use a proprietary "bridge" which creates a dedicated network for the speakers. While this might add to reliability and avoid some of the issues I've had, the tradeoff is that you're limited by the range of the wifi network created by that dedicated bridge. Every system has its advantages and disadvantages.

The HEOS system is expandable and most of the shortcomings are more on the app and software end, which I'm sure Denon can fix and improve over time. WiFi has a much larger range within your house, so you don't lose the music when walking away from the speaker, nor do you have to leave your phone close to it or attached to it like other "dock" systems.

Is it perfect? No, but I think it's a solid 4-star device.

*Troubleshooting and Advanced HEOS App tips*
Here's the problem I ran into: It would play part of a song, stop, think for about 30 seconds, move to the next song in the playlist and play about .5 seconds of it, then repeat that process until it ran out of songs to try by hitting the end of the playback queue. The app would look like the very first song was playing. If it did throw an error, it would say something like "The speaker cannot playback audio right now, please try again later." Really?! This isn't a doctor's office that'll open again in the morning, this thing should work! And if it doesn't, then it needs to say why.

I checked for updates in the app and it said I was on the latest version. About 15 minutes later, the app popped up a screen saying the speaker needed updated. I assume it meant the firmware within the speaker rather than the iOS app itself. OK, no big deal except that the screen had two options - Update Now or Update Later, but the Update Later wasn't able to be selected. Upgrade took about 10 minutes but I still had issues with playback as described above. I was doing all this in my living room, where I've got a good wireless signal and it was nighttime, so no other devices were really using our wireless as everyone else was in bed - no xbox, tvs, phones, kindles, etc being actively used.

I think I figured out the problem and it's due to the way I have my wireless network setup. I have a dual band router that works on both the 2.4 and 5GHz bands. I have them running on separate SSIDs so that I can tell what I'm connected to. Well, the speaker was on one SSID and my phone was connected to the opposite. When the signal gets low on the 5GHz band on my phone, it'll switch to the 2.4GHz one automatically. So even though both networks are going through the same wireless router, it throws the app off kilter (maybe because they're two different SSIDs), but setting the networks the same, it seems to be working fine now. The only issue is that since my phone will connect to either network, I have to check it when the speaker cuts out. If you have your network setup this way or you experience this issue, this might be the cause.

OK, so I figured out the problem, but this also highlighted something else for me - the app is really clunky to navigate. I had to figure out which SSID the speaker was connected to - seems simple, but remember during the setup, it won't even ask which network to connect to. It seems to choose whichever one your phone is connected to at the time of setup. To check or change which network the speaker is on, do the following: Click the "Music" button at the bottom of the app. If it's not on the main screen where you select from Pandora, Spotify, your phone, etc, then use the back arrow in the upper left of the app to back all the way out to this main screen. Once there, there is a cog icon in the upper left. This is your Settings menu. Why it's buried in "Music" is beyond me. It would make more sense to be a main selection or in Rooms. Anyway, click it, then select "My Devices". You'll then see the list of your speakers, so select one. Then you get the speaker's setting menu. The "Network" option shows your current network that speaker is on. Clicking this will then scan for all available networks so you can change it. Note that it doesn't appear to allow hopping between networks like a phone/tablet, etc does. I presume this is to prevent the exact problem I'm having. So while it might prevent issues from the speaker hopping networks, your phone or tablet can still cause the problem by doing so.

But guess what, this is a real gem of a settings menu! In it, you find not only the Network info, but also the ability to rename the speaker, settings for EQ, Orientation (for the HEOS 3 it has a separate setting for vertical vs. horizontal), as well as setting the Audio for Left, Right, or Both (Since the HEOS3 can work either as a single speaker or can work as a pair like traditional speakers. Under the Advanced option, you find Network interface (Wireless vs. wired), your network password (in case you change it), IP Address Settings (DHCP, IP Address, Subnet, gateway, and DNS). At the bottom of this menu, there's an additional button for Firmware Upgrade (which shows if you need to update) and an About button which shows Hardware info (Speaker model, revision and module), Software (Player version and Release), Device (Locale, LAN, WLAN mac addresses). Seriously, Denon, you buried all these goodies way down here!

Denon could really make the app a lot easier to use.


Common Core Standards For Parents For Dummies
Common Core Standards For Parents For Dummies
by Jared Myracle
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.80
49 used & new from $5.49

5.0 out of 5 stars For any parent who wants to help their child succeed - whether you like or agree with Common Core or not., June 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Regardless if you agree with Common Core or not, if your child's school uses it, this will be a good overview of what to expect. The book spends a couple chapters reviewing the why and how Common Core was implemented. After that, it explains the general concepts of what subjects Common Core covers as well as how it's structured and the philosophy behind it.

Once you get past that, you get to the real meat - a grade-by-grade overview of what will be taught. This overview doesn't necessarily dive into the detailed nuts and bolts of the lesson plans, but stays at a mid-level presentation of the concepts, why they are taught in that particular grade and how they tie into the previous and next grade. Personally, I could really see how my kids' homework this past year was aligned with it. It helped me to understand why my kids who are two grades apart were seeing some of the same concepts, but my realization was the distinction in complexity.

In addition to just going over what is taught, the author provides some common sense tips for parents as well as suggestions of how to reinforce these concepts in everyday life or while helping your child with her homework. Some of these I thought were cheesy but some were really good as well.

The book is much smaller than a standard "dummies" book. It's concise and sticks to its goal. If you want to read the actual Common Core standards, those references and others are provided as well. You can easily skip over the grades that aren't of direct impact to your kids, and this is a good reference prior to the school year to understand what your child will be learning. While it won't give you a day-by-day analysis, you'll be able to see the progression throughout the school year unfold.


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