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Desired FX "Call me Don. It's shorter than Ishmael." RSS Feed (North Hollywood, CA)
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Scotch Multi-Purpose Fasteners, 5/8 x 5/8 Inch, Black, 16 Sets per Pack (RF7061)
Scotch Multi-Purpose Fasteners, 5/8 x 5/8 Inch, Black, 16 Sets per Pack (RF7061)
Price: $4.59
6 used & new from $4.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Handy and compact, but your mileage may vary., August 15, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Basically, little hook & loop fasteners with adhesive on them. Not much to go wrong here, so the real question becomes...did any of it go wrong?

First, I didn't care for the way the adhesive sticks to the backing: it's much more difficult to peel a little dot than it should be. I attributed it to the possibility that it was just some really good Scotch adhesive that I'd be able to take advantage of when I applied it.

Second, yes, it turns out the adhesive is actually pretty darned good, though the small size of the dots severely limits the weight they can support.

Third, it's nice that they're a fairly universal product, hook and loop, because I have portable rack-mount case with a shelf that's got a padded, loop-side surface. It's great to be able to apply the a couple of hook-side dots to an unplugged cable and have it remain secured in transit near the unit it's meant to connect to.

Overall, pretty useful, works well, and competitively priced through Amazon. The difficulty peeling them from the backing appears simply to be the consequence of providing a good quality adhesive.


Toast 11 Titanium Pro Mac
Toast 11 Titanium Pro Mac
Offered by BUY4LESSS
Price: $54.00
2 used & new from $31.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A box of sound and fury, signifying very little., August 15, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I actually held off on installing this on my Mac because of the number of negative reviews I saw talking about the bloatware that Toast has evolved into, but, when faced with some audio I couldn't find a quick and easy converter for, I finally gave in and installed it.

I've really only used Toast itself--don't have much need for any of the additional items--and for the files it works for, it does a pretty decent job at a respectable speed.

But it has some fairly significant issues: first, it doesn't appear to be universal, since many of the video files I drag and drop are rejected outright by the converter even though they will play on the Mac in Quicktime. I wanted to use its PS3 setting to convert some video the PS3 was choking on, and the Toast conversion had no more success than the original, despite having a specific setting for the PS3 as a built-in converter.

Second, when I was converting FLAC files for my iPod, Toast simply tossed away all the meta data that described artist/title/album/track number and gave me generic files with only the title and artist intact. I had to go back and edit the album title and then resequence all the tracks. The former is no big deal, but the latter is a real pain, especially if you're doing it through iTunes, which isn't the friendliest editor of meta data in the first place.

Ultimately, I suppose this has its place, but I'm not sure why you'd pay for it when you can get similar, equally-effective utilities for much cheaper or even free.


KB Covers Dvorak Keyboard Cover for Apple Ultra-Thin Keyboard with Numpad
KB Covers Dvorak Keyboard Cover for Apple Ultra-Thin Keyboard with Numpad

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Nice Skin in an Extremely Poorly-Designed Clamshell Package, July 26, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Once I got this out of the package, it was a breeze to work with. It feels very thin and delicate, but it slipped quickly over the keyboard and settled so nicely that it doesn't even feel like a skin.

The package, however, was another story. It's a clamshell plastic thing, which is bad enough, but it seemed like it was designed for the halves to easily separate, so I began pulling the halves gently apart.

This worked fine until I got to the edge against which the skin is folded. Sure enough, as the plastic came away, it tore a bite out of the corner of the skin, in the spot which turned out to be where the directional arrows are on the keypad.

Yes, getting it out of the package in a normal, gentle fashion actually damaged the item. Incredibly poor packaging decision.

Fortunately, the little bite that pulled out does slide nicely--and mostly invisibly--onto the board, right where it belongs.

As for the functionality of the pad, the Dvorak layout shares space with a small representation of the QWERTY layout, so you can leave the skin in place even for QWERTY typists.

UPDATE: I wrote an email to KB Covers explaining the situation and letting them know I didn't expect anything, and they were kind enough to offer to exchange it for me because of the "mishap."


Sennheiser CX 680 Earfin Sports Earbuds (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Sennheiser CX 680 Earfin Sports Earbuds (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Offered by Fat Owls
Price: $46.95
13 used & new from $45.67

3.0 out of 5 stars Unpleasantly (and Surprisingly) Tinny, July 26, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I really had high hopes for these: Sennheiser generally knows what they're doing, and in most ways, that's still true for this product.

But what shocked me was just how thin the sound is. I know these are small, unpowered drivers, and maybe I've gotten spoiled by my larger noise-cancelling headset, which has very rich bass when the noise-cancelling circuit is engaged. Still, I expected more in terms of sound.

The design is quite nice, though I'm never a fan of these ludicrous neon colors they insist on putting on sports electronics. I had no trouble finding the right size ear adapter, and it makes a nice, comfortable seal. I like the concept of the ear fins--they're very soft and flexible and will easily settle in your ear--but I think I'm using a size too large, because they do poke once I've worn them for 30 minutes or so. Overall, though, they're very comfortable for night listening, when you need to keep the volume down but don't want a clunky pair of cans on your head.

I haven't had the sort of problems with the wires that others have found, though I do notice it seems quite long when the extension's on, but might be too short to hook up the iPod on my belt if I don't use it. The plug fits nicely in the extension jack, though, and while the volume control seems a bit oversized, it does work well and is reasonably easy to find and adjust.

This is pretty minor, but since the buds are a balanced design, they could be better labeled. I had to look very closely to determine left from right because of the location of the marking, which is on the inside of the bud, all the way down on the tip of the textured strain relief. Fortunately, the Sennheiser and Adidas logos make it easy to tell the buds apart once you've identified them, and the earfin design will ultimately serve as a reminder once you're accustomed to it: with the fins on, the buds are easily matched to the correct ear.

I'd like to comment on the packaging: they tried to give it a "style" with shiny, metallic-finish cardboard, and a bubble-shell cover, so you could see the product itself, but in order to hold the product in place for maximum viewing appeal, they sacrificed ease of opening the package. It's not as bad as many kids' toys, but when you look at how much cardboard and plastic was created just to hold an item that probably weighs less than two ounces, it seems pretty silly.


One Piece Straw Hat Pirates Skull Logo Key Chain
One Piece Straw Hat Pirates Skull Logo Key Chain
Offered by Genki Anime
Price: $7.98
50 used & new from $2.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much nicer than it appears in the picture., July 22, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Like the other reviewer, I would have preferred painted metal to rubber, but since I read his review, I knew what it was going in.

What I didn't know, since it doesn't show up well in the picture, is that it's actually a nicely countoured piece. It looks entirely flat in the picture, but it's rounded and tapered in appropriate places allowing it to catch light and cast shadow in a very appealing way. In particular, the tapering of the straw hat brim lends a subtle hint of extra depth.

All in all, much nicer than I expected for the price. Frequently, this sort of product, ordered sight unseen, turns out to be a junky trinket that barely scratches a fan's itch.


Kana Pict-o-Graphix: Mnemonics for Japanese Hiragana and Katakana
Kana Pict-o-Graphix: Mnemonics for Japanese Hiragana and Katakana
by Michael Rowley
Edition: Paperback
31 used & new from $5.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I like the idea, but not so much the execution., July 14, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
When you're learning something new, it never hurts to have a device to fall back on when your memory fails. That's the principle behind this little book.

The primary problem I have with it is that the while the mnemonic pictures generally represent the kana fairly well, the choice of text to tie in the pronunciation of the syllable is often too much of a stretch.

For example, the katakana for "ne" is represented as a fiery preacher in a pulpit, which is actually a very good visualization of the character. But the associated phrase is "I never go to church" with emphasis on the "ne" at the beginning of "never."

So I'm expected to connect the visualization to a fire-and-brimstone preacher and then negate him in order to remember the syllable. (To be fair, though, this is probably the weakest link in the book.)

Now this is not to say that some of them aren't quite good, but you can even see with the representation of "chi" on the cover that a rather heavy head is added to the character, which can actually confuse the device somewhat, since the mnemonic drawing appears to add something that's the same weight as the character itself. In other words, I would have preferred that Rowley's images preserve the character accurately and simply add greyscale graphics to flesh out his mnemonic.

So far, the most valuable part of this tiny book has been the quick reference charts: hiragana on the inside front cover, katakana on the inside back cover. The only minus to those charts is that they're grouped horizontally, left to right--a very Western representation--rather than in the more traditional vertical, right to left style.


Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Coffee, Decaf Italian Roast, Extra Bold, 3-Count Packets (Pack of 6)
Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Coffee, Decaf Italian Roast, Extra Bold, 3-Count Packets (Pack of 6)

5.0 out of 5 stars Tastes great, but I somehow missed that it was decaf..., July 7, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
...and I've been paying for it at work for the last few days.

Guess I just got a little click-happy at Amazon and didn't read the description carefully enough (and I'd like to note that the packets I got are much browner than the ones in the picture).

Turns out it tastes every bit as good as the hi-test, though, which I've rarely found to be the case with decaf.

If your mouse finger is as twitchy as mine (probably from all that caffeine), and you don't want to make the same mistake I did, here's the product you want: Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Coffee, Italian, 3-Count Packets (Pack of 6).


Marvel Captain America Disc Launching Shield
Marvel Captain America Disc Launching Shield
Offered by Grendel's Cave
Price: $47.92
6 used & new from $27.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A really fun toy, but not for superhero purists., July 1, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you're a hardcore comics fan who feels like every "replica" like this should be 100% accurate, you're going to be missing out on something that's a blast to play with. Who really cares that Cap throws his shield rather than using it to fire discs? I mean, would you rather have kids getting hit with foam discs, or clobbered by a 12" hard plastic projectile?

It's very simple to set up and use, though an adult will most likely need to load the batteries, which are in a compartment secured with a crosspoint screw. Five foam discs load into a chamber under the star by pressing a double-latch--prevents accidental opening--and swinging the blue field out and away.

Then, throw the power switch (which is probably better-hidden than intended), pull the trigger attached to the handle and take the Red Skull down!

It fires quickly and easily--not much pressure required on the handle trigger--but sometimes you'll get a few misfires before the next disc goes. It's a little noisy, but no worse than a dust-buster. The primary minus I see is that there are only five discs, which are the sort of semi-firm foam that's easily damaged. In other words, playing fetch with the dog is probably not going to work out well in the long run.

Since the chamber holds five discs, the minute you lose or destroy one, you no longer have a full load. It should have come with a double ration or at least made it obvious where you can get new ones.

If you don't care about accuracy, it's actually a very nice-looking, solid toy that will go much better with your kid's Halloween costume than the cheap replica that's likely to be bundled with it.


Sandisk M2 (Memory Stick Micro) to PRO DUO Mobile Memory Adapter (Bulk Pack-Memory Card not included)
Sandisk M2 (Memory Stick Micro) to PRO DUO Mobile Memory Adapter (Bulk Pack-Memory Card not included)
Offered by CalvinNHobbs
Price: $3.90
10 used & new from $2.79

4.0 out of 5 stars A very cost-effective solution to the price of Memory Sticks, June 27, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Sony's insistence on exclusively using their Memory Stick Duo technology is a real pain: I've never seen a non-Sony product actually using it, and even Sony has softened to the point where they're including "universal" SD/Memory Stick slots on some products.

But in the meantime, if you've got to use a Memory Stick--with a PSP, say--you're dealing with the least cost-effective storage solution on the market, and that's where this product can help.

For about the price of a SanDisk 8GB Memory Stick Pro Duo, you can get this adapter and a Sandisk 16GB M2 Memory Stick Micro.

There are other adapters out there that can combine with two MicroSDHC cards that might end up more cost-effective, ultimately, plus provide the greater flexibility that MicroSDHC allows, but in terms of out-of-pocket dollars, this unit with a 16 GB card is currently the way to go, clocking it at about a buck and a half per GB.

And I suppose I should point out that it works perfectly...people might want to know that...


Happythankyoumoreplease
Happythankyoumoreplease
DVD ~ Josh Radnor
Price: $7.69
49 used & new from $0.23

3.0 out of 5 stars Is Josh Radnor more than Ted Mosby?, June 27, 2011
This review is from: Happythankyoumoreplease (DVD)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
From my experience talking with other fans about How I Met Your Mother, it seems like Josh/Ted takes the biggest and most frequent criticisms. That's what actually prompted me to see happythankyoumoreplease: the question of whether Josh's acting chops (let alone his writing and directing chops) extended beyond HIMYM in a meaningful way.

The good news: they do.

The bad news: I'm not sure happythankyoumoreplease enough to convince anyone.

As others have said, it's hard not to think of Garden State: lead actor from a modestly successful sitcom makes a foray into writing and directing an indie film for the big screen. As different as the movies are, that's enough to invite comparison.

So is Sam Wexler nothing more than a foul-mouthed Ted Mosby? No, though you can see why people might wonder that. Wexler is a writer who has sort of given up on his life being anything special, or even being anything like he hoped it would be. When a book publisher--Richard Jenkins in a very brief cameo--tells Sam that his lead character isn't compelling, we know he's talking about Sam.

And that's ultimately the problem at the heart of the movie: Sam is--quite intentionally--the least compelling character in the film, and his story is about watching him become someone we're interested in.

As a result, the characters around him--Kate Mara as Mississippi (...really?), Malin Akerman as Annie, Zoe Kazan as Mary Catherine and Michael Algieri as Rasheen--are a lot more interesting to follow than Sam is. Sam seems like a guy who wants to be able to rage at the universe...if only he could find it.

So in the meantime, compelling, fascinating stories go on all around Sam, but he seems so self-possessed that he's unable or at least unwilling to tap into them and participate.

To me, that's not your lead character: that's the quirky side-plot. The time spent with Annie and Sam #2 (Tony Hale) is much more productive, story-wise, as is the tormented relationship between Mary Catherine and Charlie (Pablo Schreiber).

So ultimately, Radnor does give us something more than Ted in Sam Wexler--there are a number of things Sam does that you could never see Ted doing--but he does it in such a roundabout way that I don't think will convince anyone he's leading man material.

I do think he has a future as a writer/director, and I'm sure he'll want to write himself into his films, but he'd be better served by making himself a supporting character in future projects.


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