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Customer Reviews: 88
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James Skemp "" RSS Feed (Madison, WI United States)

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NETGEAR Trek N300 Range Extender and Travel Router (PR2000)
NETGEAR Trek N300 Range Extender and Travel Router (PR2000)
Price: $38.99
52 used & new from $38.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Works perfectly to convert a wired connection, with no loss of speed, June 17, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The NETGEAR Trek N300 Range Extender and Travel Router (PR2000) can assist as either a simple wifi router for a normally wired home network, as a wireless range extender, as a protected wireless hotspot on the go, or to convert a wired device to a wireless one. In my particular case I decided to focus on enabling one of my wired devices (Windows PC) to connect to my existing wireless.

In order to do this I connected the small device to my PC via the included USB cable, which supplies the necessary power. While it's also possible to plug the device into the wall, I opted to do it this way to really test the device, and so that I could use a very short ethernet cable, which I plugged into my computer, and the side of this device.

After switching the device on my computer started to connect to the device, and automatically pulled up the configuration page. After selecting my existing wireless network, and entering the necessary credentials, there was a 2 minute reboot (it counts down from 120 seconds) before my device connected to the wireless network. It should be noted that there's a small instruction booklet included that tells you how to setup all of the various configurations you might want this device to be in. Clear, clean, and concise.

I ran a couple tests of Speedtest on both my wired and wireless connections and experienced no real change in download or upload speeds.

The only issue I've run into thus far is that at one point after starting up my computer I had no network connection. After powering the device off and back on, I entered the configuration interface, but while bouncing around within it my wireless connection was restored. At this point I believe it was a minor issue, that may have resolved itself had I not been so quick to start troubleshooting it.

This device also doesn't connect on 'n,' but again, I experienced no issues with the speed.

I like the compact look of the device, and at this point might strongly recommend this as a simple wireless router, unless more than one ethernet port is required (since the device only has two, and you would need to plug one into your modem).

I'll update as time goes by, since hardware can sometimes develop oddities, but at this point I give the NETGEAR Trek N300 Range Extender and Travel Router (PR2000) a full 5 of 5 stars. Thus far it does exactly what it says it will do.

Radiant Historia - Nintendo DS
Radiant Historia - Nintendo DS
Offered by King Beardo
Price: $28.99
49 used & new from $22.91

4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic music and interesting branching story, May 30, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
When I ordered Radiant Historia back in February 2013 I'll readily admit that I played for only a few hours before I let it, and my 3DS, sit and gather dust. At the time the cheapest new copy of the game I could get was $70, so I was expecting much more from the game.

However, a few months ago, after finishing Ghost Trick, I decided to give Radiant Historia another chance. And now here I am, a little over a year and a quarter from when I first picked the game up, writing a review, having just finished it a few hours ago.

I don't exactly recall what caused me to put the game down, but having now gone through the game I think it may just been the wrong time for me, as both the story and music - two of the major reasons I typically enjoy RPGs over all other genres - are pretty dang good.

The musical score at times reminds me of Final Fantasy VI, Nier, and Lost Odyssey. The branching storyline reminds me of Chrono Trigger (albeit it's definitely not as complex). The character art reminds me of Blue Dragon (or maybe just Raynie reminds me strongly of Zola).

The gameplay is perhaps the one slightly insignificant aspect, as while it does feature some complexity when it comes to moving the location of enemies on the 3x3 grid they inhabit, I found myself using 4 characters (including the main one who can't be swapped out) for most of the endgame, depending upon who I had access to in the storyline.

In short, I found the game to be really quite good, once I was able to really get into it. However, I'm not sure how much of the 40+ hours I put into the game will stick with me down the road, especially given the fairly safe ending.

I give Radiant Historia 4 of 5 stars, primarily because of the great music and story/mission structure.

Getting Started with Paint.NET
Getting Started with Paint.NET
by Shoban Kumar
Edition: Paperback
Price: $26.99
18 used & new from $26.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent primer for your average user, April 13, 2014
In the past I've used Adobe Photoshop for my own personal use, as well as at work for relatively simple work. However, after losing my discount a number of years ago, I've kept my eye open for good alternatives, especially for those that were asking for my recommendation on software.

I've always found Gimp to be a usability nightmare, so when Paint.NET started gaing traction a few years ago I was interested, but it was still fairly rough. But when I was asked by Packt Publishing if I'd be interested in reviewing their first book covering Paint.NET, I saw an opportunity to look at the software once again.

While reading the first couple chapters (there are eight total, spread over 115 pages) I was reading it as someone who had previously read books on using Photoshop and had a number of years experiencing actually using the software, so I was disappointed how much I already knew. However, once I put my mindset into someone who had never used software like this before, I found myself enjoying the book much more.

It's for the average individual, who just wants to do some basic editing of their photos (like my mother), that this book really shines. This relatively small book does a fairly good job of covering the functions a user needs to get started with Paint.NET. While I haven't tried yet, I feel fairly confident that giving this book to someone who has very little experience would have enough information at the end of the book to resize their photos and perform some basic editing (given Paint.NET's currently limited tools) on their own.

I also found a healthy amount of humor in this book, and despite being published near the end of last year, the version of Paint.NET covered by this book is still the current version, so there were no issues following along.

I think I would have liked to see a few more screenshots, as well as a few more examples (I strongly believe in iteration), but there's already a fair amount of both.

As long as you approach this book as a new user of Paint.NET/Photoshop/etcetera, I think you'll find this gets you going quickly, and therefore give Getting Start with Paint.NET a full 5 of 5 stars.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective - Nintendo DS
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective - Nintendo DS
Offered by MOST WANTED
Price: $16.13
57 used & new from $10.96

5.0 out of 5 stars What a very good game, April 3, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
A very short while ago I watched a video that featured Ghost Trick briefly, and I fell in love with the graphic style of the game. After ordering it with some other DS games, for use on my 3DS XL, I decided that it would be the first of the batch that I would play, and therefore also one of the first games I had played on the system in months.

Throughout this game I found myself saying 'what a great game' aloud, after finding one thing or another that was amazing. While this is the first game of it's type that I think I've played, I don't believe it'll be the last.

A few of the puzzles I had difficulty with, and ended up consulting a guide for the solution, but I'm sure I would have figured them out, had I not been more interested in the story than my pride of completing it alone.

The story is definitely the strongest aspect of the game, although the art style and gameplay are not too far behind. With a few twists and turns, and a fantastic (and slightly tear-invoking) conclusion, Ghost Trick will stay with me for quite some time.

I can easily give Ghost Trick a full five of five stars.

Panavise PortaGrip Phone Holder with Windshield Mount
Panavise PortaGrip Phone Holder with Windshield Mount
Price: $26.99
36 used & new from $23.69

3.0 out of 5 stars No suction due to cold, but great grip, February 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Right away let me say that I wanted to like this product. Unfortunately, a lack of suction made it impossible for me to fully test this in my car. However, given the weather in Wisconsin, I fully attribute that to the extremely cold weather.

Because of that, I'll review what I can, and will update once warmer weather returns.

So, that said, the grip on this mount is fantastic. I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 with a very thin backing and had absolutely no issue with a strong grip.

By far, the nicest addition is the 'quick release' that allows you to quickly release your device from the holder.

If it weren't for the suction issue which prevented me from using this, I would have rated this fairly high. However, since I had no suction, and can't be completely sure whether it's due to the cold, I have to give this a neutral rating of 3 of 5 stars, but will update once I'm able to test the suction in warmer weather.

PlayStation 3 EX-02 Next Gen Bluetooth Headset with Faceplates
PlayStation 3 EX-02 Next Gen Bluetooth Headset with Faceplates
Price: $20.02
15 used & new from $15.10

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars External speaker is key, February 2, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've tried two different microphones before this headset: the one that came with Warhawk and the PlayStation 3 camera, and since I rarely play multiplayer games, and PlayStation players are less likely to have microphones that Xbox 360 players, both were just fine.

But when I saw this available on Amazon Vine, and had just started a Borderlands 2 campaign with 3 other people (I was planning on, and had used for one session already, my PS camera), it seemed like fate.

I've now used this in three 3 to 4 hour sessions and I'm completely sold. Unlike Warhawk's headset this one features a very nice external speaker. This means that instead of resting inside my ear a bit, it sits completely outside of it, resting against the ear. This is by far the best feature of this headset. Maybe others include this, but since it's new to me, it's an eye-opener.

The piece that wraps around the ear is also fixed, which I initially thought was going to be an issue, but actually works rather well.

The mute button is easy to trigger, and emits a pleasant tone when it's activated. I'm not sure what I think about the volume buttons yet, since touching them seems a little off, but it's not a big issue.

I also had to turn up the volume of the microphone on my PlayStation 3 itself as it was mentioned I was a little quiet. However, I'm generally that way in real-life, so that's probably me, and not a big deal since it only had to be set once.

The inclusion of different headsets is rather nice, but I haven't felt the need to change the one it already had on. Overall, I'm completely sold with my almost 4 weeks of use, and would definitely recommend the PlayStation 3 EX-02 Next Gen Bluetooth Headset to anyone that needs one for the PlayStation 3. 5 of 5 stars.

Rolodex Mesh Collection Mobile Device and Tablet Stand, Black (1866297)
Rolodex Mesh Collection Mobile Device and Tablet Stand, Black (1866297)
Offered by Junipers'
Price: $9.99
24 used & new from $9.07

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect with my Nexus 7, December 4, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I currently have a Nexus 7 with a case that allows a certain level of tilting. However, since the case is relatively soft, it doesn't work as well as I'd like. I was also looking at purchasing a larger tablet over the holiday season, so when I saw this up for review I jumped at the opportunity.

First, the packaging for the stand itself is horrid. Absolutely horrid. Getting the top open was a pain, and then trying to get the stand out of the box resulted in the far end getting caught on the front plastic (which ends a bit below the front opening on the container that lets you see the product).

The product itself rocks. Closed it's relatively tiny, and inclines to a number of nice angles. Given the size of the base I've found it easy to place on soft surfaces almost as well as hard ones.

The size of the stand also allows my cased Nexus 7 to fit rather comfortably. It does cover the volume button a bit, but that's ultimately not an issue with the stand itself.

It's constructed fairly well, and with normal use I don't expect it to be damaged. However, I could see it being damaged if it were opened to an incline and then forced close (something fell on it). But that's a usage issue.

Ultimately, I give it the full 5 stars as it performs what it was built for perfectly.

Alice: Madness Returns - Xbox 360
Alice: Madness Returns - Xbox 360
Offered by Shark Distributors
Price: $22.19
51 used & new from $14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark masterpiece, September 8, 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
I picked up a new copy of Alice: Madness Returns for the Xbox 360 back in April of 2012. Since it came with a copy of the original American Mcgee's Alice, I decided to start with that in May. However, it took me until November of that year to beat that game (it was good, just long), and then I didn't start the main game until the middle of August.

All I'll say about the first game is that it's definitely worth either watching or playing. It's not necessary for the enjoyment of Alice: Madness Returns, but it'll definitely help with the story. And since EA dropped the online pass requirements for their games, the first game is free even if you pick up a used copy.

As for the main game, it's rather enjoyable. It consists of 6 chapters which are actually quite long, where you'll be slashing and jumping around various areas. Each chapter has its own vibe, and even within the chapters the vibe can change a couple times.

The controls are fairly tight, although I probably had at least a dozen or more deaths that I felt were because of the controls. But, to some extent I'm sure a number of those were simply because I tried to rush things, or didn't fully think out my path. The battle system, having played on hard, is at times unforgiving, but ultimately satisfying when you squeak by or really get into the groove and plow through the enemies.

The story is top-notch. Playing as Alice, who is slightly insane, the story keeps you guessing on whether she's really insane or is in fact the only sane one in the game. I found that I guessed where the ending was going, but nonetheless thought it to be great when I got there.

Honestly, I can't think of any reason to take any points away from this game. It's long, but at no point does the game contain filler to pad the length; rather the length only allows the story to go to more places and tell much more.

For these reasons, I give Alice: Madness Returns 5 of 5 stars.

D-Link Wireless N 900 Mbps Home Cloud App-Enabled Dual-Band Gigabit Router (DIR-855L)
D-Link Wireless N 900 Mbps Home Cloud App-Enabled Dual-Band Gigabit Router (DIR-855L)
Offered by Classic Linx
Price: Click here to see our price
43 used & new from $62.33

4.0 out of 5 stars Very nice, save the short power cord, July 21, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
While I just replaced my router with a MediaLink router (since I wanted wireless N), when Amazon Vine offered this D-Link router I figured I would give it a try, since I had noticed issues with my laptop losing wireless and my tablet experiencing extreme drops.

I've now used this product for about 3 weeks and can honestly say I'm on the fence about whether I like this or my previous router more.

First off, after ordering this product I was expecting that the router would be warm when running, and that it would have annoying lights. I have experienced neither of these. The router doesn't feel warm at all, despite it being 70s-80s in my apartment, depending upon the day. There are also two lights, which let off my less light than any of my other networking equipment.

In fact, the only issues I have with the hardware is that the power cord is a little too short. It would have been nice if it had one or two more feet, since right now it's pretty tight sitting on top of a nice CD case, with the surge protector on the floor, right next to the case.

I also found the Web interface to be a little frustrating, as I'm more of an advanced user, and the settings I wanted to tweak were buried within options on pages, instead of having their own page. I did like the feel of the interface when I had to apply settings/restart the router; it's probably the nicest I've used.

This supports both the 2.4 and 5GHz bands, and I'm actually using my Samsung Galaxy S4 to connect to the 5GHz band, and have experienced no issues.

My laptop, Nexus 7, and Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 all use the 2.4GHz band. Compared to the MediaLink router I was using before the pings (according to is just a bit slower. Download seems a tiny bit faster, and upload seems to be the same.

The range actually seems better in my apartment than my MediaLink, but I have had issues with my Xbox 360 being unable to connect at times (doesn't get an IP address). When it happens it does so right after I start it, and powering the console off and back on has always resolved the issue. Since it's getting older, I think it might be that.

I used a wired connection with my desktop machine, and while I didn't jot down the speeds, they too were pretty consistent with what I was getting with my previous router.

I have not yet used the functionality to plug in a USB drive to share files, but may in the future, and will update this review if I do so.

Overall, after the first couple days I was expecting that I'd hook my MediaLink back up, but now I'm not so sure. If anything, the D-Link Wireless N 900 Mbps Home Cloud App-Enabled Dual-Band Gigabit Router (DIR-855L) may become my primary, with my MediaLink as a backup or extender.

4 stars merely because I would have been perfectly happy with my MediaLink, which costs much less than this does, and the power cord needs a couple more feet.

Microsoft .Net Framework 4.5 Quickstart Cookbook
Microsoft .Net Framework 4.5 Quickstart Cookbook
by Jose Luis Latorre Millas
Edition: Paperback
Price: $35.99
24 used & new from $31.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The .NET Framework is just too big, June 30, 2013
.NET 4.5 came out a short while ago, but the amount I've been able to do with it has been fairly limited. So when I was asked if I wanted a review copy of Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5 Quickstart Cookbook I went ahead and took the opportunity to do so, to see what I could look forward to.

Ultimately, I had a hard time with this. It's my first Packt quickstart cookbook, but I was expecting a little bit of code going over new .NET 4.5 features. This book certainly has that, but with how large the .NET Framework is, I felt like what I learned was only the tip of the iceberg.

In fact the author mentions that in a couple chapters, but while links to additional resources would have been help to have included, there are none, until the appendices.

I think I would have much rather preferred having something that focused on a small subset of the new features, then try to bounce around between Windows 8 (using XAML, not HTML), WF, ASP.NET Web API, and Entity Framework. How about a single application that is for Windows 8 that features new 4.5 functionality, since the author is clearly interested in XAML.

The very informal writing styling, which I kept tripping over, would also have worked much better there, than here were I was hoping for something a bit more ... formal, especially since this a book, and not a blog. I also was very interested in learning more about WF, but despite reading a quickstart book that talks about it, I know how to create a workflow, but I don't know why I'd want to. What problem does this solve?

(The first chapter on Windows 8 is actually pretty good, which made it fairly easy to tell that he was much more interested in some topics than others.)

So sadly I have to give Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5 Quickstart Cookbook 3 of 5 stars. The book isn't bad, but could have done better with a sharper focus. If the specific topics this book goes over is of interest to you, and you have some previous understanding of them, then this might be worth your benefit. Otherwise, since it's a quickstart, you may be more interested in looking at something that digs in deeper.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 8, 2013 1:15 PM PDT

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