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Customer Reviews: 174
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Desired FX "Call me Don. It's shorter than Ishmael." RSS Feed (North Hollywood, CA)

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Zumba Fitness Gold Live It Up DVD Set for the Baby Boomer Generation
Zumba Fitness Gold Live It Up DVD Set for the Baby Boomer Generation
Price: $39.95
14 used & new from $39.95

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good light workout, but lacking in instruction., February 22, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I picked this up precisely because it was geared toward my generation (which I'm admittedly at the tail end of). I was looking for something to break my largely sedentary lifestyle and get me moving again without too much stress. I suffer from gout, so the sort of low-impact work offered here was ideal.

I've been through all three discs one time, and I have to say the Gold Toning disc was the most frustrating: they have a disc dedicated to the steps you're going to see in the workouts, but the Cardio workout barely used any of what was taught, and the Gold Toning workout used a whole bunch of stuff that wasn't taught. I was very frustrated to find that I came to the Gold Toning workout feeling like I was prepared (after all, the steps for Cardio were in the Step by Step video) and frequently found myself completely lost and feeling uncoordinated.

Now, I expect that to happen at the beginning of a workout program, because I'm not the most graceful guy to begin with: even when I get moves down from workout videos, I rarely execute them with any style.

But this system included a "how to" disc that is virtually useless where the workouts are concerned: you don't really need to watch the disc to pick up the stuff in Cardio, and watching the disc doesn't help in Gold Toning when it uses a bunch of steps that weren't covered.

I've worked up a decent sweat doing each disc, and I'm sure I'll get better going forward (without style), but I was really disappointed at the lack of instruction in a program that was packaged with an instructional disc.

Avengers: The Korvac Saga
Avengers: The Korvac Saga
by Jim Shooter
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.01
54 used & new from $11.49

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great story: cheaply-made and overpriced edition., June 28, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is one of the iconic Avengers epics from the 70s. Not as sweeping as the Kree-Skrull War before it, and not as epic in scale as the Infinity Gauntlet, but a rather...calm epic. I remember reading this as a kid and being somewhat confused by it all, because Shooter & Co. explored a very different sort of villain...a villain who may not even have been a villain.

The story is great, and the excellent art is reproduced here in traditional four-color style.

But the paper is cheap, the covers curl easily, and the whole thing costs way too much for about 200 pages of content. If they were going to reproduce the material so cheaply, it should have been about half this price.

Family Tree Maker for Mac 2 [OLD VERSION]
Family Tree Maker for Mac 2 [OLD VERSION]
3 used & new from $55.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Baitware., March 14, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I find it hard to believe this is 2012 software. The interface is archaic and confusing, and heaven help anyone who wants to try to do something as basic as add a half-sister. It's further complicated by the interface to link the local copy of your tree to the Web copy, which I managed to break by adding an ancestor whose first name I didn't know. Seriously; something that simple has put me at the point where I need to call customer service about either deleting or re-setting my online family tree.

Furthermore, it seems like your local tree vs. the online tree is a one-to-one-and-only-ever-one relationship: if you unlink the trees, you can't re-link them, nor, apparently, can you establish a new tree without creating one from scratch.

Genealogy software seems ideal for something like a Visio interface, where you can drag and drop to build the tree, and draw lines to create relationships. This software provides nothing like that, forcing you through an interface that's primarily text-based but which represents the information graphically after you've entered it. It's a very clumsy system in which sometimes you need to click to get a response, while other times hovering your mouse has the desired effect (and clicking does nothing).

Why do I call it baitware? Because in order to use it with any efficacy, you're given a six-month membership that you have to provide a credit card to activate...which is exactly the same thing that would happen if you just went straight to the site. I'm not sure how the billing kicks in after the six months is up, but since they have my card on file, now, there's nothing to stop them from kicking into an auto-bill mode.

I'll admit, has access to some pretty deep records and you do have the ability to cherry-pick other trees (I found my niece's tree within a few clicks), but the number of headaches I generated in just a few hours of using the software both at home and online have convinced me that this approach isn't worth what they're asking for it. I don't have any exceptionally strange goings-on in my family history, yet the few quirks I have (my father's first wife passed away when my sister was still a toddler, my mother was adopted by the man who married her mother) seem to give the program fits, and none of the trees I explored online seemed to know how to present these, visually.

I'm certainly no expert on genealogy, and I don't think this software will help me become one. It's not even good for the curious and the dabblers. Two stars primarily for the depth of the online database.

Belkin F8N365tt Screen Overlay for Apple iPad
Belkin F8N365tt Screen Overlay for Apple iPad
Offered by Parts-Dell
Price: $7.93
4 used & new from $7.93

4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely nice screen protector, but meticulous application is a must, March 14, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The real trick to getting top performance out of this product is to do whatever you can to get the face of your iPod immaculate. The included microfiber cloth does a good job with fingerprints and visible dirt, but it you really need to go over it in good light with the display off, using a cotton swab to go after any tiny flecks that might stay behind, because they're the ones that will kill you when it comes time to get the bubbles out.

The screen is easy to apply, but a bit tricky to line up at the start, after you've peeled the backing off the adhesive, though the inclusion of a pre-cut hole for the home button is a great place to start, if you place your fingertip against it.

It goes on easily after that, and comes with a credit-card-sized piece of cardboard for smoothing out the bubbles.

Once it's in place, peel off the protective film on the front and you're good to go. It doesn't decrease the responsiveness at all, and it's completely invisible...provided you get the bubbles out.

I've tried removing and reapplying it a couple times since the original installation, and the adhesive proves to be durable in re-use and doesn't leave any residue on the iPad.

The only minus I can see--and it hasn't been a problem for me--is if you have a case or peripheral in which your iPad is a very, very tight fit.

I dock it a star because it's a good deal pricier than the competition and, frankly, the gain in protection for the iPad isn't worth the trouble unless your machine is frequently exposed to the elements.

HORI PlayStation 3 Final Fantasy XIII-2 Face Plate
HORI PlayStation 3 Final Fantasy XIII-2 Face Plate
2 used & new from $29.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you really want this, you should really like it., February 21, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
But honestly, for the price of this thing and given the modest popularity of the game, I'm not sure many people would really want this: as a face plate, it's solid, well-constructed, can be installed and removed in seconds, and fits perfectly (take a moment to press down on each corner if you're having trouble getting them all latched), and will do a nice job of protecting your PS3.

It's a hard-shell faceplate, not a skin, and it's about a shiny as the old PS3 Phatty was, so if you feel like that shine is what's been missing from your gaming, this faceplate can get it back for you. It comes wrapped in tissue and a layer of bubble wrap for shipping protection, and provides complete coverage for the top of your machine.

The graphic is oriented toward laying your system flat, which is probably fine, since most people standing their system on end are doing so for space considerations and probably aren't showing their machines off.

The additional pictures on the product description make no sense to me. They depict a couple of sequences from the game which, of course, don't appear on this product or even, apparently, on some other version of it. You get a nice graphic of Lightning, some text that summarizes the game ("In the world where I once existed, time's path is no longer certain...") and if that's what you want, as the title says, you should really like it.

If you just want hard-shell protection for your PS3, it seems like your options are Lightning and Nathan Drake, at least through Amazon. So if you're a fan that wants to spend the money, have at it, and you'll most likely consider it a five-star purchase.

3M 34050 Multi-Purpose LED Tape Light
3M 34050 Multi-Purpose LED Tape Light

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, bad design. And seriously, EIGHT batteries?, February 13, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When I selected this, I thought it would be a handy thing to have. I was expecting to use it more like a super-flexible flashlight than a permanent installation: think how nice to be able to lower a bright strip of lights into that space behind the washing machine, or behind the engine block of your car when you're having car trouble on a cold night.

And to be fair, it might actually work better for that than as a permanent installation, but it's pretty clear that it was intended to be affixed to your chosen area...kinda.

See, the brick that holds the eight AA cells (yes, seriously, eight) doesn't allow you to load all eight at once: the largest two sides of the unit are battery doors, each covering four slots. The doors are easy to remove and unlikely to fall off by themselves, but they contribute to one of the device's most frustrating problems: what to do with the brick once you've taped the lights in place. Something that should be trivial takes significant planning, because you not only need both sides of the brick to be accessible, you also need it to be well-supported, since its weight would tear down the lights if it were to fall, and finally, you need to be able to change the batteries without moving the brick more than about six inches, which is the approximate length of wire/tape between the brick and the first light.

The switch for the lights is on the brick, which is fine, except that it's a hideous switch. It's a tiny nub of a thing that is best flipped with a long fingernail or the tip of a flat-head screwdriver--while, of course, supporting the brick with the other hand--and which takes way too much force to move.

And now, for the lights themselves. They're the biggest plus in the package, being almost too bright to look at when you first install the batteries, but casting a strong, even light over the area.

That is, until the batteries start to wear down.

In testing the product, I was using eight rechargeable Sanyo Eneloop batteries, which probably hold up almost as long as alkalines, and probably nowhere near as long lithium cells (though who would buy eight lithium cells at a time for this thing?). So after the stated 12 hours of use--that's 90 minutes per battery--the light was noticeably dimmer, and by noticeably, I mean it became difficult to read in the remaining light.

Which brings us back to my original proposition: using it as a handy, fits-behind-anything flashlight. This seems to solve most of the problems caused by trying to mount the thing (still have to deal with that switch), though you're left with the attached pieces of foam tape to deal with. Probably best to peel off the backing and stick a piece of thin cardboard over the tape. Why they felt the need to attach it before packaging I don't understand. Just give us three pieces with backing on both sides and let us install it the way we want.

Ultimately, I can't see getting a whole lot of use out of this. I'm too frugal/environmentally conscious/cheap with my batteries to feed this monster the steady diet it craves.

Paper Mate InkJoy 700RT Retractable Ballpoint Pen, Medium Point, White Barrel/Business Color Ink, 4-Pack (1781586)
Paper Mate InkJoy 700RT Retractable Ballpoint Pen, Medium Point, White Barrel/Business Color Ink, 4-Pack (1781586)
Price: $3.99
17 used & new from $2.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice hand feel, but lines could be cleaner., January 20, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I like the balance and grip on the pens, and the push-button is definite and never leaves you half-clicked. The look is fairly distinctive--assuming your office doesn't hand these out as the company standard--and the solid body doesn't bend easily, even under "tantrum" conditions. I haven't had a petulance attack, lately, so I don't know what it takes to break one.

The colors are typically ballpoint, the standard black (x2), blue and red you'll see in any office, but the line it produces is about what you'd expect from any freebie ballpoint a car dealer palms off on you. For the price, I'd have expected a lot better.

I did have a problem with mine that I thought would result in another one-star deduction: within a few days of its first use, mine started bleeding ink significantly, but only from the tip. I had to wipe it clean several times and even got spotted on a couple of fingertips in the process of trying to stanch it. Fortunately, that symptom stopped almost as quickly as it started, and the pen has been behaving normally for the past few weeks.

Not a bad pen, being durable and distinctive, but I think you can do better than this at this price.

Antec One Hundred Mid-Tower ATX Gaming Computer Case
Antec One Hundred Mid-Tower ATX Gaming Computer Case

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Suitable mid-tower for the price, January 19, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm really wavering between three and four stars for this one, but I'm going to err on the side of favorable, because this is a quality offering despite its limitations.

It's nice in that it offers a lot of space to work in, but like any other case, it has levels of awkwardness that emerge depending on the order in which you install your components.

I used a fairly common approach when installing: hook up only what you need, make sure it runs, then hook up the rest. For this install, that meant the power supply, the motherboard and processor, 4 GB RAM, the video card, a 120 GB SSD for the OS, and the CPU cooler. (Parts list below.)

The install went flawlessly, software-wise, so I elected to install the rest of the hardware--which included the rest of the RAM, the two HDDs and the BD-RW--and hook up the case wires to the appropriate headers.

This is where the awkwardness started to show: there really weren't very good spaces for getting to the various headers on the MB, and for several of them, I found myself unplugging the video card or removing the cooler's radiator or even using tweezers to get the connector placed before squeezing in a fingertip to seat it. Quite a bit of this, of course, has to do with the layout of the motherboard, and some of it is just the nature of putting machines together, but there was nothing about the One Hundred that seemed geared to making the process easier.

The case claims to have a "cable routing compartment," and does, in fact, have a good deal of space under the motherboard and next to the drive bays (including some cable ties) but I couldn't find a way to take advantage of it...and that was using an Antec power supply; once you connected a power lead to something, you were either left with a tail end that couldn't be routed, or with a wire that didn't have enough slack to be shunted to the cable compartment. I suppose it's possible that I could back up, unhook everything, and see if I could find an optimal way to route the cables in the case, but the simple fact is that the largest bundle--the heavily-wrapped cluster of connectors for the motherboard and video card(s)--is neither long enough nor flexible enough to route in any friendly way.

The installation of two additional fans in front was trivial, with no mounting hardware required, and while installing the third intake fan over the video card was a bit trickier (since you end up wiring the side panel to the MB), it wasn't anything worth complaining about.

Once everything was connected, though, it all worked perfectly, from the power button to the display lights to the four USB 2.0 connectors on the front bezel.

The only problem I had was the noise. As it turns out, my liquid cooling system was defective and made a significant racket, so it had to be uninstalled and a replacement cooler put in place while I RMAed it to the manufacturer. This wasn't particularly difficult, and was actually made easier by Antec's "porthole" design that allows access to the bottom of the MB below the processor socket. The Corsair cooler has a bracket that fits under the MB which was easy to install and remove thanks to this feature.

Overall, it's a very good case, but I honestly found myself debating whether I should have gone higher-end for this project, just to make component access easier. But, y'know, now that it's all installed and I don't expect to be fooling around inside there anytime soon, it doesn't seem so bad. Guess we'll have to see if I feel the same way after re-installing the cooler.

A couple notes on the general design:

I understand and agree with the concern about a wide-open fan grille on top of the case, but as mine is being placed below the desk and well out of reach, I can't imagine any spill short of an intentional dousing having any impact.

The easily-removable sides are a mixed blessing: while they allow for quick access when you actually need to get into the case, they are also fairly easy to pull free when you're just trying to move the finished unit.

I don't care for the knockout they put in place for a 3.5 external facing: it's way too easy to accidentally push in, and it can't be re-seated without opening the case.

The "filter" front of the case gets very dusty with two intake fans behind it.

Parts list (most purchased through Amazon):
Antec 750W Power Supply (EA-750 Green)
Gigabyte Z68XP-UD5 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard GA-Z68XP-UD5
Intel Core i7-2600K Processor
Corsair Vengeance Blue 16 GB DDR3 SDRAM Dual Channel Memory Kit CMZ16GX3M4A1600C9B
GIGABYTE ATI Radeon HD6870 1GB DDR5 2DVI/HDMI/2x Mini DisplayPort PCI-Express Video Card GV-R687OC-1GD
OCZ 120 GB Vertex 3 SATA III 6.0 Gb-s 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive VTX3-25SAT3-120G
Corsair Cooling Hydro-Series All-in-One High-Performance Liquid CPU Cooler CWCH60
Western Digital Caviar Green 2 TB Desktop Hard Drive WD20EARX x 2
LG 12X Blu-Ray Reader & Writer + Super-MultiDrive (ordered through
Enermax Marathon 120mm PC Case Fan - Magnetic Enlobal Bearing x 3
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 13, 2012 10:25 AM PDT

Alpacas Orgling
Alpacas Orgling
21 used & new from $7.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Bleu Sky...or Out of the Bleu., December 9, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alpacas Orgling (Audio CD)
There are only two things that keep this from being the perfect ELO tribute:

1. For all the polished, authentic vocal arrangements, no singer--not even Andy Sturmer--equals Lynne's fluid baritone.

2. As perfectly-rendered as the arrangements are, the lyrics and song concepts are far more wry and cynical than ELO ever was.

This is a really enjoyable album. After only a few listens, any song from it can randomly pop into my head, the way songs from all those ELO albums did so many years ago.

But some of the lyrical twists suggest a demented cousin of Jeff Lynne rather than approaching Lynne's pop skills. Lynne could go from sentimental to romantic to heroic to bombastic...sometimes all in the space of one song.

As clever as many of the songs on Alpacas Orgling are, they often seem to cross over into a darkness that Lynne did a wonderful job of skirting the edges of: Evil Woman was about escaping something negative, not a self-pity spiral about bad relationships. L.E.O.'s lyrics never soar like ELO's did: they never give themselves over to being relentlessly happy and often suggest an emo sort of self-absorption.

And I can't imagine Jeff Lynne ever using the word "suckaz."

But the album is great to listen to as long as you're not trying too hard to think of it as a new ELO but, instead, as a group of talented musicians paying real tribute to a pop great. This imitation is, indeed, the sincerest form of flattery.

EDIT: I upped my rating from 4 stars to 5. I realized the 4-star rating was based on how closely the album resembles ELO, not how good it is.

Macally Rotatable Leather Case and Stand for iPad 2G (SHELLSTAND2)
Macally Rotatable Leather Case and Stand for iPad 2G (SHELLSTAND2)
Offered by Triplenet Pricing
Price: $51.71
2 used & new from $34.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A nice folio-style case, but there are better options for the price., November 26, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Prior to receiving this, I was using a Bear Motion Case for iPad 2, which I think is just about perfect.

I don't mind the rotatable plastic tray design of the Macally, but I prefer the leather frame of the Bear Motion case: apart from the Home button and the front camera, there's nothing on the border you need access to, so the "full frontal exposure" the Macally's plastic tray affords is unnecessary. I had a bit of trouble snapping the iPad into the tray initially, and even more trouble when I went to get it out. I presume the intent is that you won't want to take it out, but given how many iPad peripherals are incompatible with any case, ease of removal is pretty crucial for me.

The stand design is fine, but it depends on the weight of the iPad to create friction against the inside cover in order to stand up. Seems like a little nudge the wrong way would make it fall flat. EDIT: Since I first published this, I have noticed that two edges of the tray have small rubber pads on them that add more resistance when standing. Still it depends on friction, which makes it more susceptible to bumping than the Bear Motion case.

The clasp is solid, but it's oriented in a way that is intuitively backwards from what I would expect: the first few times I went to open the case, I was momentarily thrown, because the tray is attached to the side that I would instinctively think of as the cover. I was also a bit disappointed that Macally didn't take advantage of the magnetic shut-off the way the Bear Motion case does: that's a key feature of the iPad 2 and should be taken into consideration, particularly for a case that's iPad 2-specific. This really just a head-scratcher, not an actual problem: the tray allows easy access to all the buttons, so it's not hard to turn the display off when the cover's closed.

The Macally is a bit heavier than the Bear Motion, but most of the weight seems to be the plastic tray. The cover of the Bear Motion case feels heavier, though the plastic inside the leather on the Macally case is less flexible and feels more durable. The Bear Motion case does have a hole for the rear camera, but it's not that much easier to use than the Macally, which requires that its tray be rotated 90 degrees; for the Bear Motion, the cover must be left hanging open or folded into its stand configuration.

Ultimately, though, I like using the Bear Motion case better. It stands better, if somewhat awkwardly, and seems to offer as much protection as the Macally case. At the time this review was written, the Macally was priced about 20% higher than the Bear Motion, and that makes it a slam-dunk for me.

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