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ACTIONTEC 500 Mbps Powerline Ethernet Adapter and 4-Port Hub Kit (PWR514K01)
ACTIONTEC 500 Mbps Powerline Ethernet Adapter and 4-Port Hub Kit (PWR514K01)
Price: Click here to see our price
46 used & new from $45.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Works just as intended, August 3, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you read Amazon reviews you will find phrases like, "Worked right out of the box," "No problems," "Totally reliable since I've had it," and so on.

The trouble is, you don't find many remarks like that in a review of home networking devices.

Well, this has changed. This is my second set of Powerline adapters and they work even better than the first.

They were installed and ready to go in a few minutes. And they've been doing their job reliably ever since then.

No configuration hassles, just, as Microsoft said many years ago, "Plug and Play."

These take the place of your wireless network by running the Ethernet signal through your wall sockets. Like my previous pair of Powerline adapters, they are more than just the basic interfaces. The last one had a wireless access point, and this one has an Ethernet 4-port hub. I wasn't thinking when I installed these, and I was about to put the hub next to my router when it occurred to me that the router already had a bunch of Ethernet sockets, so the simple adapter went near the router and the 4-port hub was in my computer room.

I installed the ActionTec adapters in place of my previous Powerline adapters, because the ActionTecs ran at 500Mbps compared to 200Mbps of the previous pair. As I suspected, this didn't lead to a massive increase in transfers - maybe fifty percent faster.

Although my computer was connected directly by Ethernet to the adapter, I had lost the ability of the old adapter to be a wireless access point to drive my Kindle. That was solved in seconds by plugging in the original wireless access point into another wall socket in my room. So, a different speed adapter from a different manufacturer worked fine. I hope that the people who designed the Powerline spec were careful enough to allow setups like this to work. When you consider the ubiquity of USB 3, it's largely because devices used the same plugs that worked with previous versions of USB - now I see that USB 3.1 is on its way, offering 10Gbs and, of course, the ability to work at reduced speeds with previous versions.

So, it's great. From what I can see is that there are few, if any, situations where Powerline adapters will have a problem.


Cyberlink PowerDVD 13 Ultra
Cyberlink PowerDVD 13 Ultra
Offered by Dealshop(No Tax)
Price: $69.99
4 used & new from $50.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blu-Ray, for you youngsters, August 2, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Welcome to my house, which technology has passed by, and so shall we.

To be serious, we don't have Blu-Ray here, and our TV is still (gasp!) a CRT.

But I enjoy watching movies on my computer, and PowerDVD makes them better. It installed easily and runs easily.

I don't understand those people who complain that their old versions don't have workarounds for the newest copy-protection methods - these methods weren't around when their version was released. Just like Microsoft releasing Windows 8.1 - it includes the ability to run 3-D printers for the first time, but I don't see many people complaining that previous versions of Windows can't cope with these devices.

So if you're serious about watching Blu-Ray movies through a home-entertainment computer, PowerDVD is for you. I could add a Blu-Ray player to my PC - Amazon has several for under $50. Maybe I'll be dragged (cough, wheeze) into the 21st century and eventually get the ability to watch DVD.


Power Through Presentations: Tips and Tricks to Build a Better Slide Deck
Power Through Presentations: Tips and Tricks to Build a Better Slide Deck
by Andy Balser
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.96
54 used & new from $2.84

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best presentation book on the market, July 30, 2013
Hallelujah!

Finally, a book on presentations that's aimed at the average presenter. Not the whiz, not the "cool" person, but the average Joe or Jo wondering how to deal with business presentations.

Andy Balser debunks the current trend in artsy, Japanese-influenced presentation books that are worth copying because they're created by graphic artists for major figures. That doesn't help the rest of us, who want to know how to create a report on the third-quarter results for the North-East region.

In a very humorous way Andy shows how to get a grip on your presentations. He doesn't act like we are all almost geniuses, just a hop and a skip away from the perfect presentation. Instead, this book is aimed at the people who do average to bad presentations, and gives them a very clear way to make a structure for their slides.

In fact, this is one (maybe the only one) of those books that is filled with information to help people do better. It passes my test as a book you could give the average person and their presentations will improve.

I've been using and teaching PowerPoint for around 20 years now. For most people, there's usually very little else you need to know about the software (or any similar product), but much about how to approach the presentation. That's why I'm so excited about this book.

For less than ten dollars, you get a book that will almost certainly improve your presentations. That's the sort of improvement that doesn't result in people coming up after the presentation saying, "Really great artwork there," or "I never knew that animations could do that," but rather, "I really get your point." And without that, there's no reason to bother.

So get this book now. You won't be disappointed, and your presentations will improve. Even if Andy's book was ten times the price, it would still be a no-brainer to buy.

(I'd like to thank Andy Balser for sending me this book. His supplying me the book has nothing to do with my review - it really is that good.)


The Happy Atheist
The Happy Atheist
by PZ Myers
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.67
72 used & new from $3.35

22 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PZ gets it right, July 24, 2013
This review is from: The Happy Atheist (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I think everybody reviewing this book should make it clear what their views are on religion. I'm a card-carrying atheist except I seem to have lost my card. I was raised as a Catholic (without any sexual scandals) but in my late teens religion meant less and less to me, and in my 20s I was hostile. Gradually, my hostility dropped, and although I didn't begin to believe, religion didn't make me angry. And then I got old, and decided that I should take a firm position (from "I don't go along with religion" to "I don't agree with any God.")

It's only recently that people have launched an all-out attack on science, and also on logic. When you read some of the thoughts of anti-atheists you begin to wonder which planet are they on. The belief that everything in the Bible is true usually ignores those parts that go against middle-class beliefs. I can't imagine anyone hanging on every word of a book from 400 years ago.

Yet I know one and another one who believes in the Gospels. The Bible reader is a Jehovah's Witness, and the Gospel reader is a Catholic. They are two of my medical aides and I enjoy it when they come, although we rarely discuss religion. They know of my beliefs, which isn't surprising since there are several books by Richard Dawkins in my bookshelf.

I made the mistake of going to Amazon's atheist forum to let people know that PZ Myers' book was coming out. What a waste of time! After 40 posts some people were still unsure as to who Myers was, yet he has a well-known blog on which this book is based. There seemed to be two groups of people on this forum; a large group of atheists against a few believers.

These people seem largely to hold the view that, "I'm right and you're wrong." Obviously, in a case of beliefs, without any proof, you don't expect a deep discussion. But some people believe their trust in religion proves the fact that they are correct. One post was on the theme of "What if you were wrong?" But that's what belief is all about, and belief is something that cannot be proved. And Atheism is believing in no God - in other words, not believing in any kind of religion.

Myers pretty much skews the activities of anti-science activists. Such ideas as "Jesus rode on dinosaurs," go against easily provable facts. The problem is not a few religious nutters holding strange beliefs; it's the fact that they want to see these strange beliefs taught in schools as fact. But that's like saying "There are definitely UFOs, and I can prove it." So - let's see your proof.

One good part of Myers' book is the section where he tells of all the arguments people present to him, and their refutation. When you hear the demonstrably false arguments against Atheism, it's hard not to laugh at their proponents. That's why Meyers is a happy Atheist - not worried by the possibility that he might be suddenly facing a God after he dies, and amused by his opponents' arguments.

However, his opponents think that Myers is angry because he disagrees with their efforts to take over evolution teaching with creation. It seems to me that people reject evolution because it's too hard to understand. Similarly, people cling to religion as a sort of insurance policy for when they die. At 69, I will probably die before most of you, but I'm not willing to spend the rest of my life believing in something I don't believe in - just in case.

There's one thing that does annoy me about Myer's detractors. They fell that because large amounts of this book are based on his blog, you shouldn't buy it. I suppose they're telling us that Charles Dickens' novels are not worth it, since some were serialized at the time. I'm afraid a book, to me, is a highly portable way of getting at the facts you want, rather than getting to a computer and search for them.

At one point on the Amazon Atheist board I was pretty convinced that everyone there was an Atheist. The arguments against Atheism were so dumb I figured that one person in turn would take the place of a religious supporter and advance specious claims.

So I hope this book is an introduction to Myers to some of you - it was to me, and I like what I see.


Amprobe AM-570 Industrial Digital Multimeter with True-RMS
Amprobe AM-570 Industrial Digital Multimeter with True-RMS
Price: $101.01
7 used & new from $92.92

5.0 out of 5 stars HVAC people will love this meter, July 22, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have a multi-meter of my own. I think it cost me eight dollars. It's close to the ones that Harbor Freight gives away from time to time. I got it mainly for the continuity tester so I could tell which speaker wire was which. When you connect a pair of speakers to the amplifier you must make sure that they are in phase. That means that one speaker is not sucking in air at the same time the other one is pushing it out. This leads to poor bass performance.

I had an old stereo system that had no indications to let you know which wire was which. I used the continuity tester on my meter; you connect the leads one at each end and hope the meter will beep. If it doesn't that means that the other wire is linked to the one you're testing at the other end. So you put a bit of tape around the wire at each end and now you know how to connect it.

There's a world of difference between my old meter and the new one. The new one is clearly professional, and if you are working on a HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) project, you'll want to have something you can rely on. This multi-meter has numerous features for the HVAC Pro. To be honest, I wouldn't like to have to rely on something like my first multi-meter.

Even though this meter is designed for a specific trade, it has pretty much everything my low-price multi-meter has. However, if you're in the construction business, you can never be sure whether everything is wired up correctly. In that case, your life literally depends on being able to take readings and be sure that they are correct.

Amprobe have gone the opposite way to the cheap Chinese approach. The case is huge, just small enough to hold in one hand, and the whole thing looks very strong. You feel you can trust it to serve you right. It has a bunch of functions for HVAC, like correct values for AC current, and a temperature sensor. It can even read a voltage without you needing to touch the wires - in fact, you can do this when you can't even see them, such as behind sheetrock.

Arguably, the best multi-meters in the world are made by a company named Fluke. Fluke is owned by the same company that owns Amprobe, so it's nice to see a company that isn't in competition with Fluke - one that deals with the needs and budgets of those who don't need on top of the line meter. In fact if you think this meter has more than you need, you can spend around $50 and get a general purpose Amprobe meter that will suit you.

I'm as impressed with this meter as most of the other reviewers are. If you're an HVAC Pro I should look at this and if not, then one of the lower-priced Amprobes will suit.


4" x 3" DigiPro WP4030 USB Graphics Tablet w/Cordless Pen (Black)
4" x 3" DigiPro WP4030 USB Graphics Tablet w/Cordless Pen (Black)
5 used & new from $35.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Here's how to use this, July 16, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Just about all the one-star reviews here are wrong.

My tablet arrived in July 2013 with pretty much full instructions. I was able to set it up without any of the hassles others had.

What you do first is install the software from the CD-ROM. There is a choice of two drivers - I chose "XP 64-bit."

Then I plugged the USB lead into my computer.

Then I added the battery to the pen.

And it works!

The main problem people seem to have is with the pen battery. You pull the pen apart by pulling the black section away from the silver section. Place the battery in the metal part of the silver section. Now we come to the troublesome area. Align the pen top (silver) so that the clip is in line with the mouse buttons on the lower end of the pen (black). You will see if you look closely that there is a ridge along the pen, starting at the clip and going along it to the lower end of the buttons. This ridge should be in line to close the pen. Because the battery does not fit well in its holder you may need to push a little, but then the top slides down into place.

The person who couldn't write his signature may have had a problem with the program he was trying to write to, or the size of the tablet surface. Because the surface is so small, when I write my signature it comes out four times larger on the screen.

And the person who said that the indicator light doesn't come on, I'm not sure it's even an indicator light at all. Without dismantling the tablet, I can't tell.

So when you've got it going, what's it like? With only a short time to use it, I can't say very much, other than it works. I tried Paint in Windows, and I don't know if Paint lacks touch sensitivity, but the lines I drew were either on or off. But I have a few problems with it, and nothing that's a fault purely with the tablet, when it costs so little.

The instructions explain pretty much all of the above, but are still confusing because the one sheet describes several different models.

I used to have a Wacom, and this tablet definitely shows it's the bargain basement. The pen should be redesigned to screw apart, and the battery holder should be able to fit the battery better. The battery in the pen works whenever there is pressure on the tip, so I have to store it upside down. It would be nice to know if the pen holder doesn't press on the tip.

But my major problem with this tablet is my own fault - it's just too small. It's only slightly smaller than the Wacom Bamboo, though. I would suggest a tablet that's around twice the size. Amazon has them for around ten dollars extra. I think I would choose the Tursion Graphic Drawing Tablet 8 X 6 Inches, although I've had no experience of it.

But for the price I'll forgive all it's faults. Well worth a try.

And I almost forgot - I have Windows 8 64-bit, and the software and drivers worked fine.


Bill Lawrence L-500XLB Hot Humbucker Blade Style in Black
Bill Lawrence L-500XLB Hot Humbucker Blade Style in Black
Offered by HDCustom Guitar Supply
Price: $54.95
2 used & new from $54.95

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not the real thing, July 11, 2013
Bill Lawrence USA pickups have nothing to do with Bill Lawrence the man.

He sold the company and his name to his partner 28 years ago. Since then he's continued to sell pickups direct under the "wildepickups" name and URL.

I bought a humbucker from "Bill Lawrence USA" in the late 1990s. I hope that they've improved the design since then, because my pickup sounded like something from a no-name clone.

Of course Bill Lawrence would have had nothing to do with it. The Strat set I bought direct from Bill a couple of years later was (and still is) excellent.

And guess what? You pay less (AFICT) ordering direct from Bill.


Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works
Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works
by A. G. Lafley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.50
103 used & new from $8.51

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books on the subject, if not THE best, July 7, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I recently reviewed a book called I Have a Strategy (No You Don't): The Illustrated Guide to Strategy. I didn't think it was that great and I believe in one of the other reviews somebody recommended this book. As I normally do I put it on my wish list and then was pleased to see that it was also available from Vine, so I requested it.

I have to admit that this is a cut above probably just about any book you can buy on Business Strategy. One author was the CEO of Procter & Gamble (P&G) and managed to double sales and quadruple profits during his term. The other author was his most senior outside advisor. You might think that P&G was a slow mover in a boring market - but you'd be wrong.

At first glance, the manufacture of products for the home seems to be somewhere without the advantages of other companies. It's easy to see how high-tech industries can invent something that shakes up the market and brings in millions. But you'd think the area of babies diapers, laundry detergent, and women's beauty products would be fairly fixed and offer few opportunities.

But P&G managed to produce the first successful disposable diapers, liquid detergents, and turned a bargain-basement wrinkle cream into a beauty product appealing to women over 35 and was sold around four times its original price. P&G's secret is the constant monitoring of its customer base and a willingness to try something new.

You may have heard of Febreze and how at one point it was a solution looking for a problem. Just about everything was tried but there appeared to be no way it would reach mass sales. Then market researchers, at a point where everybody else would've given up, notice that one customer like to clean up the bedrooms of her children and sprayed Febreze a time or two in each room.

The book is full of examples like this - unseen opportunities which only relentless market research uncovered. There was the tale of the Anglo-American group who were charged with producing a razor for the Indian market. Some people pointed out that there were Indian men in Britain and the U.S.A., and wouldn't it be better to study them?

P&G insisted that all the team went to India. They discovered that most Indian men didn't have running hot water to shave in and after a while had a totally different idea of what was needed. Even the skeptics were convinced, and designed a razor to fit the real needs of the market. Within a year the razor was the bestseller in India.

Even this research alone would be worth the price of the book. But the authors go further. They explain the process that P&G goes through when evaluating each product. This covers questions like "How will we win?" and "Where will we sell?" The second question was interesting to me because it was not just a geographical decision but also a question of where in the market the product should be positioned.

This book is fascinating not just because it talks about the products we use every day, but shows in detail how P&G markets them. And not only does it have those secrets, it also has a procedure that works for just about any size of company. Not only this, it shows how to get a cooperative atmosphere rather than a couple of individuals taking different sides about what should happen.

This is one of the major books that has been produced recently on the subject of Business Strategy. I can see it remaining a popular book for many years because it clearly states what to do, and it has the example of P&G to show that it works.

If you are the least bit interested in Business Strategy, get this book. It is clearly written, it is well written, and will give you insights that you won't get anywhere else.


Swiss+Tech ST20023 Gift Box Set of Key Ring Multi-Function Tools, Set of 3
Swiss+Tech ST20023 Gift Box Set of Key Ring Multi-Function Tools, Set of 3

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Little and lovely, June 29, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I couldn't believe the size of these tools when I first saw them. They look like charms for an engineer's charm bracelet. But in fact they deliver pretty much all that you would expect from looking at the description and given that I wanted the Micro-Max 19 in 1 tool, this looked like a good deal for less than twice the price. And you get two more tools and a tin box for keeping them in.

What I like about these tools is is that they are a single place resource for handy tools. I have a bunch of other tools around the house, all of them single use, and what happens is that people take them to somewhere in the house where they need it and forget to bring it back. This for some reason doesn't seem to borrowers to be any great inconvenience, but inevitably after six months, we are wondering where on earth they are.

With three tools, this makes them look a major resource rather than just another single-use Phillips head screwdriver. So people realize there are three tools and that they all have to stay together in the box. Two of these tools attached to a key ring, which is also a good way of keeping them, but the search tool - the 12 in 1 pocket multitool doesn't seem to have an easy way to attach it.

When I received this set, I had to use the usual techniques to unpack them. I don't know whether I've become totally useless over the last couple years, but I find most kinds of packaging annoying. I thought I was can I have trouble opening the tin box, but I managed to get my fingers to just the right angle to open it. Then I was in a position I was a couple of years ago, actually needing a tool to remove it from its container. Two years ago I got a package of six full-size tools from Sears, in one of those clamshell packages. Not only was it difficult to open, but there was a Phillips head screw holding the package together, and the Phillips head screwdriver I needed was still inside the packaging. As well as this, this screw was painted black to match the black packaging in case you might've seen it and realized how to open the package.

In the end I had to remove the tools using the flat blade of my Swiss Army knife. However, after this, things got better. The tools did not look like they were anything great but in fact they opened fairly easily and with a bit of searching I got to find all the different tools. I've used them for a number of tasks and they are more than adequate. Be warned that these three tools boast a total of 37 tools, but there is an overlap with tools having the same kind of screwdrivers, for instance.

But even so there's planty of useful things here. They may not be as good as a single dedicated tool, but should always be near you. In fact, because of their small size, they may help you get to places normal tools are too big for. I can think of few people who wouldn't want this as a gift, and clearly it would never replace a diamond ring, but most women would be happy to have this around the house, and guys would significantly increase their manliness quotient.

For under $20 this is a great deal. It looks like it's good for very little, but in fact the tools are strong and well-thought-out. I can't see any reason not to get it.

Of course people will ask "How do these tools compare to the multi-tools from Leatherman and Gerber," and at great expense I bought myself a Leatherman 831429 Sidekick Multi-Tool just for this reason. A review will follow soon, but I'm sure this Swiss+Tech toolset could even save your life.


D-Link Wireless AC 1200 Mbps Home Cloud App-Enabled Dual-Band Gigabit Router (DIR-850L)
D-Link Wireless AC 1200 Mbps Home Cloud App-Enabled Dual-Band Gigabit Router (DIR-850L)
Price: Click here to see our price
73 used & new from $47.12

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good router, and a good rant, June 27, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
And here's yet another AC Router. D-Link has been a well-known name over the last few years and this router shows you why. There's a need for more capacity in Internet downloads. There is so much going on - people downloading video as a matter of course, using Wi-Fi to send files to a hard drive connected to the router, and generally using the Internet far more.

Even if you're not pushing the limits of the Internet, it's likely you will be soon. Also, using the AC band means that you will avoid interference from your neighbor's Wi-Fi - at least, until they get their own AC. This router - the AC 1200 - is typical of its kind. It's noticeably faster than 802.11n and the range is good. I also like the price. It looks like by the end of the year AC routers will cost less than $100.

Can I put in a rant here? I believe that the Internet and wireless connections are too difficult to manage for the average person. This router is no better and no worse than its competitors. But I've spent a lot of time fixing other people's networks to know that, even with the best equipment, there's a lot of problems connecting and maintaining.

It's getting to the stage where I plug-in a USB drive and am amazed at how easy it seems. But it isn't easy, it's just par for the course for computer equipment. I know that computer equipment came out of the dweeb era and only recently has become truly plug and play. I suggest that Wi-Fi companies band together and create a usable system.

The only sign of this I've seen lately is Netgear's Genie. Whatever make of router you have, I suggest you download it. You'll find it at Netgear/Genie. Most of the functions are available to any router and it is so nice to be able to connect to and reconnect to the Internet rather than physically switching off and powering up your router and modem.

This "usable system" should go well beyond just user-friendly software. To start with, why is there such an odd naming scheme for the different kinds of Wi-Fi? We started with the suffix "a," moved on to "b," shot up to "g," and further to "n." Now the highest standard of home Wi-Fi is "ac." This isn't some explanation for engineers, it's important that all home users understand this as well.

It doesn't help that for most people "ac" means either air-conditioning or alternating current. Is it possible that every stage on getting the Internet to your computer could actually be examined to see how user-friendly it is. On a few fixes for friends' computers, I almost gave up because the supplied instructions did not work and getting help from the manufacturer's tech-support was difficult.

Perhaps we can leave the suffixes for wireless standards to the IEEE and instead call these things "1Gen," "2Gen," and so on. Is "ac" better than "n"? Not many people know. I think the router manufacturers would be interested in something that would make the new equipment clearly superior to the old equipment.

Anyway, maybe somebody will take this up. In the meantime, you have a good router here and I'm sure it will do well in your network.


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