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Joel Kolstad "Zimbo" RSS Feed (Portland, OR USA)

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Multi-Angle View Tablet Stand Holder For Amazon Kindle Fire Full Color 7" Multi-touch Display, Wi-Fi
Multi-Angle View Tablet Stand Holder For Amazon Kindle Fire Full Color 7" Multi-touch Display, Wi-Fi
Offered by TPA STORE
Price: $9.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice for the price, April 6, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a well-made tablet stand that I purchased to use with my Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7. You press in on the grey "button" on the hinge on the back to adjust the "foot" from being flush with the rest of the thing (for storage) to "snap" positions at roughly 15 degree intervals. In other words, this allows your tablet to be in any position from "almost vertical" (maybe 75 degrees?) to "flat" (albeit this isn't a very useful position). Releasing the grey button locks the foot into position, at which point it's quite sturdy -- you won't have to worry about the foot slipping, although it does have a small amount of "play" in it.

The "pocket" or "lip" at the bottom that keeps the tablet from sliding out has a cylindrical profile (i.e., when viewed from the sides). The height of the lip is about 1cm, and the depth is about 1.5cm. Due to the curvature, this means that practically speaking the stand will work with tablets up to about 1cm+ thickness ... which is almost all 7" and smaller tablets from the past year or so. It should be fine for some 10" tablets as well if they're thin enough, although I'd also start to worry about the overall stability of this case if the tablet were heavy. (The part of the stand that supports the tablet is ~4" wide by ~3" tall.)

The only thing I wish were different with this holder is the color -- the bright white looks somehow out of place in today's world of tablets and smartphones that, if not covered with a metallic finish, generally opt for black, grey, or some other darker, more conservative choice. Still, in this case function triumphs over form, and particularly for the price this is a very good product.

The Circuit Designer's Companion, Third Edition
The Circuit Designer's Companion, Third Edition
by Dr. Peter R. Wilson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $59.42
64 used & new from $31.62

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good update on a standard, although kinda pricey for what it is, April 6, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I happen to have access to a copy of the second edition of this book courtesy of my employer. It's a great reference when you're starting a new product or shifting to a new phase of product design (e.g., PCB layout, power distribution, EMC, etc.) since it clearly and thoroughly covers a lot of the basics. Ironically, many of the topics in it are *not* what a newly-minted electrical engineer coming out of school knows -- the information in the book is a lot of very *practical* advice about what really works (or not) and how things are really done (or not) in industry, which is a topic many schools don't address... or only address at a superficial level. Even for experienced engineers, it's a good resource to quickly clarify foggy memories of things like, "let's see... is it the X or Y capacitor types that are line to line?"

There's not as many additions to the third edition as you might expect. The new material is primary regarding programmable logic devices, ADCs, and a tiny bit on power management -- largely reflecting how ubiquitous programmable logic has has become, how many more devices now need at least some real-world (analog) input, and how many more devices today are battery-powered, I guess. The "Introduction to the 3rd Edition" does mention this -- that it "has really been an exercise of revision rather than revolution." As far as I can tell, that largely just means that they re-drew some of the illustrations, re-formatted some tables, re-flowed the text to fit the now-slightly-larger page size... and hopefully went over the material with a fine-toothed comb to check for errors?

It is true that today most of what's in this book can readily be found on-line with just a little Googling. However, I still think it has significant value in that the book is so comprehensive, rather than having to bookmark/search for a dozen different web sites each covering the equivalent of a few chapters of the book, you just have to crack open this one tome and it's all covered.

Overall, while this is a good book, it's kinda hard to recommend at anything approaching the full-retail price of sixty bucks. Forty would be more like it, IMO (and happens to be about the eBook price)... and I'd be recommending it to everyone as a "must have" if it were thirty or less. As-is, I suggest trying to find a bargain on the second edition, which should be available as the 3rd edition "takes over" ... although ironically as of today (4/6/12), the second edition has a higher price tag!

HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites
HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites
by Jon Duckett
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.19
196 used & new from $9.22

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good, although not really standalone, January 18, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is an interesting book in that it's halfway between an introductory (tutorial-style) tome on web page creation and a reference manual. I believe the people who'll benefit from it the most are those who maintain their own personal web site on an irregular basis, or perhaps a small number of (modest) web sites (i.e., I doubt you'll find this book on the desk of anyone who's maintaining Amazon.Com...). For getting up to speed quickly on a new topic (e.g., "How do I add a flash video to my web page?") it's concise and easy to follow while still being detailed enough to let you quickly get the job done and fill in gaps that references alone would assume you already knew. It's also pretty easy to find topics in that the chapters do progress from the most basic to more complex web page techniques; this is helpful in that the index in the back is good but not really exhaustive. (On the other hand, they also have additional indices by HTML/CSS element names and attributes, which is great.)

They try very hard to get each new "thought" (e.g., a new tag) into one or two (facing) pages, using ~1/3 of the page for text and the remaining ~2/3 for the example. I think this works quite well.

I wouldn't recommend this book for someone who has absolutely no prior (handcrafted HTML) web page design experience whatsoever -- it could work in a for a savvy and motivated student (or one with access to someone more knowledgeable to bounce questions off of), but it moves a bit too quickly to pass the "grandmother" test. A good combination would be this book along with the "Heads First HTML" book (e.g., -- they're both targeting people building web sites with low to intermediate levels of complexity, and while the Heads First book will go over a lot of the same elements, once you're done reading it this book serves as a better reference. It also has a goodly number of pages at the back on such practical topics as search engine optimization, analytics, overall site design, and other "high level" information that "HTML only" books tend to omit.

I do suggest clicking on the "Look inside" button on the product page -- you'll quickly get a better feel for the "style" of the book than I can readily describe here. As others have mention, check out just how much effort has gone into the page design and coloring of the book's page -- it's quite impressive. For a good-sized full-color book like this, the price tag is also amazing!

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel
by Aimee Bender
Edition: Hardcover
208 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Great writing about unlikable people, December 11, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
You can taste the language of this book. Tee words themselves and the way they are put together are wonderful. It is well-written and moving but it is about a family that I can't bring myself to like enough to want to read about. I had a hard time buying that four people could be so distant from one another's realities and still consider themselves family.

DVD ~ Noah Taylor
Price: $6.18
34 used & new from $2.75

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't do a lot for me, December 4, 2011
This review is from: Submarine (DVD)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Perhaps I just wasn't in the right mood when I saw this, but it really didn't do a lot for me: It seems like the story is filled with characters who are emotionally immature and somewhat-if-not-entirely unkind (Oliver, Jordana) and/or those who are so overwhelmed by their situations that they've chosen to become numb to the world (Oliver's parents, Jordana). As we leave the characters at the end of the film, it didn't seem to me that the characters had really grown all that much. Perhaps this is trying to be a very realistic portrayl of how the world works, but I guess I look for good stories to be a bit more interesting than what we experience in everyday life. Heck, I was hoping that everyone would just go their separate ways rather than ending up still together but maybe just a skosh better-adjusted; I couldn't help but to think the characters would have been better off in that situation.

The story is somewhat-if-not-spectacularly interesting, as we get to experience the school year of Oliver with Jordan as well as the mundane working life of his parents (and a bit of Jordana's parent) and the possible re-kindling of an old flame between Oliver's mother and the next door neighbor... while Oliver tries valiantly (if horribly awkwardly) to keep his parents together.

The acting is fine as are the production values -- that's why I'm still giving this 3 out of 5 stars.

I'm thinking this might be better in its book form, where you do have the opportunity to really know what's going on inside the characters' heads? As-is, I couldn't really recommend the purchase of this movie.

The n00b Warriors (Book One)
The n00b Warriors (Book One)
Price: $0.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but not enough payoff, August 23, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Overall, I did enjoy this book -- the premise is interesting (if slightly shrouded in mystery as to the exact circumstances that started the war), and it keep me turning the pages to see how the characters would fare. It's definitely worth the free/nearly-free price of purchase. It also appears that the author did find an editor to go through the book and correct the various misspellings and other problems that other reviewers mention -- my copy had a note at the front thanking someone for doing as much, and while I saw one or two minor grammatical errors remaining, in general it was fine.

On the downside, I would have liked there to have been more resolution by the end of the story... rather than just a teaser providing an e-mail address to request notification when part two is going to be ready. Certainly not all loose ends need to be tied up, but by the end I was really wanting to know a bit more about how the war started? How did the president become the way he is? Who really is in charge? I mean, given how the president is portrayed, clearly some detailed conspiratorial system is needed to keep the government going, you know? My suspicion is that this lack of detail is a combination of both the author wanting to preserve some mystique combined with not necessarily having thought out all the answers himself yet, but I don't really know. As-is, the story does end on a bit of a cliffhanger, but it's after only having one real complete story arc (that involving the Golden Wii) that's followed by a few chapters that felt mostly like an excuse to shuffle characters around so as to set up for the next book ... and it seems like that could have all been left until that second book.

I also found that while the main characters were well-developed with solid backgrounds and memorable attributes, some of the lead supporting characters (e.g., Tommy and Lyle) seemed to be rather stereotypical with sometimes unexpected/surprising exceptions that seemed to be constructed primarily to move the plot along. I.e., they come off as just a bit schizophrenic, I guess. :-) But then again, the book is all about kids in war, so perhaps this is also somewhat intentional, demonstrating war's mind-numbing/scrambling effects..

While it's true that this author isn't yet writing at the level that might be needed to, e.g., support himself full-time writing fiction, I think the reviewer who says it seems to be written at a high-school level is being a bit unfair; I see rather more plot and character development along with a reasonably fluid writing style that few high-schoolers could muster. I hope he continues to write, and I look forward to the next volume in this series. I would concur with the reviewer who mentions the story brings to mind Ender from Orson Scott Card's books, and I'd encourage the author to read some of those himself to perhaps get a better idea of what a "fully rounded" story reads like, even though Card seems to have little problem cranking out sequels!

No Title Available

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A little quirky and low-end, but I like it, July 14, 2011
Having had this AV receiver for about a year now, I've been entirely satisfied. Here's some information you might like to know about this unit:

-- First and foremost, you're paying for the HD (iBiquity digital) radio receiver. At least when I purchased the unit, it was -- by far -- the least expensive AV receiver with a built-in HD radio receiver. If you live in a good-sized city, HD radio is rather nice in that most stations broadcast 2 or 3 streams and even when the regular analog signal has become pretty scratchy, the HD (digital) stream can still be decoded without any drop-outs or glitches. Given the limited size of the display, the user interface for the HD radios is pretty good, letting you quickly switch between artist, title, etc., and scrolling text that's too long to fit the screen at a reasonable speed. (I've seen some HD radios that perform this scrolling at a truly glacial, nerve-wracking pace...)

-- This really is more of an "audio" receiver with a few "video" bits thrown in mainly as an afterthought than a "true" AV receiver: It does some HDMI and composite video switching, yes, but it really is just switching and nothing more: It can't extract digital audio from the HDMI connections, it certainly doesn't do up-scaling/conversion of composite to HDMI, etc. The audio side, on the other hand, is rather more flexible -- you get one optical and two coax digital inputs (with Dolby Digital decoding -- no DTS, though, which in practice isn't a real limitation IMO) and a slew of analog inputs, including two front-panel 1/8" stereo aux input jacks. Additionally, you can give up 2 output channels ("back surround"), dropping to 5.1 for the main output (plenty for most people) and using those 2 output channels for a second room... although unfortunately only the analog audio inputs can be routed to "room two," not decoded/downmized-to-two-channels digital inputs. As with most contemporary receivers, all the AV inputs can be renamed so as to display, e.g., "Laptop," "Blu-Ray," etc. rather than "Video 1," "Video 2," etc.

-- The user interface is a bit quirky; there's an odd disparity in that sometimes things that you think should be simple such as adjusting bass and treble require going through a menu item, whereas things that are typically a bit more "set and forget" such as assigning a particular digital input to a given channel have their own dedicated buttons. Overall it works fine once you get used to it, though -- there are only a couple of functions you might have to refer to the manual for if you haven't used them in a year.

For me, this unit replaced a low-end Sony AV receiver that -- like this one -- was really an "audio" receiver with a bit of "video" switching thrown in. The Sony's price was about the same, although Sony did throw in some cheap speakers... and their subwoofer output was amplified (to drive the included cheap passive subwoofer :-) ), whereas the Sherwood's here is just line-level.

The top things I'd change with this receiver are...

-- Making the subwoofer output amplified; it's just a really nice option, even if you do have a powered sub around.
-- Even if there's only 3 digital audio inputs (which is plenty for me), it's be nice if all of them -- or at least 2 of 3 -- could use optical OR coax inputs; it seems like you always need another optical input when all you have if coax or vice versa. Yeah, I have the little adapters that fix this problem, but that's just one more piece of kit, another wall-wart power supply, etc. -- I wish that AV receivers in general had these converters built-in.

Overall, I'm entirely satisfied with this receiver -- if you figure that the "HD radio" premium adds a good fifty bucks or so to the price, it's otherwise competitive with similar receivers in its price range.

TrickleStar 170UN-US-W TV TrickleSaver
TrickleStar 170UN-US-W TV TrickleSaver
3 used & new from $15.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Works fine, but master outlet has surprisingly low current rating, March 12, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This devices work fine for me, but I wanted to post the current ratings: On the "master" outlet that detects your TV, computer, or whatever as being turned on... you're limited to 3A (~360W). On the "slave" outlet that's enabled when the "main" outlet's connected device is turned on, the rating it 10A (~1200W).

The slave output rating seems reasonable enough, but be careful with the master outlet: If you have a high-end computer, a big TV, or even a decently powerful stereo, you can readily exceed the 360W spec.

Penabled Tablet Pc Eraser Pen
Penabled Tablet Pc Eraser Pen

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Works with Asus EP121, February 9, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Just an FYI... this works fine with the Asus EP121 tablet. It's the same length and diameter as the pen that comes with the EP121, although due to the presence of the switch it can *not* be stored inside the tablet: The switch makes it a skosh too big, and it tends to get stuck. Oops! Still, this is not a knock against the pen itself: I keep mine in the case that comes with/wraps around the tablet, and figure I then have a spare if I accidentally lose or break this one.

The price strikes me as somewhat high, but I guess that's how it works when Wacom's performance is a noticeable steep above all the other guys!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 21, 2011 12:14 PM PDT

HP Wireless Mini Keyboard
HP Wireless Mini Keyboard

4.0 out of 5 stars Unique item that works pretty well, January 10, 2011
[Typed on the keyboard in question here]

I've never seen a keyboard like this before: The "optical finger navigation" is essentially what you would get if you were to turn a regular (ball-less) mouse upside down and moved your finger around: Rather than the mouse moving over a table that creates the movement on your PC's screen, it's your finger sliding over the sensor that does so. HP has optimized this idea, apparently, and packaged the result into a nice little keyboard that works pretty well.

I agree with the other reviewer that, as a "regular" PC's replacement keyboard, this leaves a little to be desired: It simply isn't as fast or as easy to use as a regular mouse or a laptop's touchpad, and the small size of the keys makes it a bit slower to type on as well. However, in the class of home theater PC, it would work quite well, striking a good balance between being big enough to be easy to use and small enough to meet, e.g., the wife acceptance factor. :-) (For something of a comparable size, about the only other control method for a mouse pointer would be a small trackball... I've never used a keyboard like that, though never having been a big fan of trackballs. Lenovo has a very tiny handheld keyboard that takes this approach, but the keys are so tiny you wouldn't want to, e.g., write an Amazon review with it!)

I suspect they left the left-click button as a separate button (rather than via the OFN sensor itself -- which functions as the right button) so that drag functionality would still be usable: It's pretty much impossible to drag with the right-click button, although happily very few programs actually make use of such functionality. (Note that many operating systems can swap the right- and left- mouse buttons if you really do want to use this keyboard one-handed... I suppose that with a "click-lock" type feature as well, you might still be able to achieve drag functionality.)

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