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Michael Vanier RSS Feed (Pasadena, CA)

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Offered by Komputerbay
Price: $23.00
11 used & new from $15.99

3.0 out of 5 stars WARNING! Doesn't work properly with Mac Pro computers, June 25, 2015
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I originally gave this product one star because I thought it was defective, when it really isn't, so I'm rewriting my review accordingly. What happened was this. I purchased this memory as a replacement for the memory in a 2008 Mac Pro which had died. The memory worked, but the fans started going crazy, and I thought that there was a problem with the heat dissipation in the memory. Actually, what was going on was that the standard Mac Pro memory sticks (which you can buy from OWC at about 4x the price of these) contain a temperature monitor. These ones don't. The Mac Pro monitors the temperature from the memory monitor, and if it isn't there, it assumes the worst, i.e. that the temperature is too high and thus the fans start going at maximum speed. There is nothing you can do about this as far as I know other than to get better memory sticks. So beware: if you are planning to use these as replacement/upgrade memory for a Mac Pro you are going to be very unhappy with the results. If you are using them on a different kind of computer they may well work fine.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 6, 2015 10:00 PM PDT

Price: $2.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hockey, blood, violence, profanity, comedy and a whole lot of heart, July 4, 2014
This review is from: Goon (Amazon Video)
This movie kind of fell between the cracks when it was made, so I doubt that many people have heard of it. That's a shame, because this is really a gem on multiple levels. The obvious comparison is to Slap Shot from 1977, in that both movies are comedies about minor-league hockey teams and focus on the violence in the sport. The difference is that in Slap Shot, the "goons" were the bad guys, and here, the goon is the good guy. His job is to protect the players on his team from the goons on the other teams, who want to physically take out the best players on his team. The "goon", Doug "the Thug" Glatt (played perfectly by Seann William Scott), is a not-very-bright guy who nonetheless has a heart of gold and wants to do something worthwhile with his life. He stumbles on his career when he goes to a hockey game and punches out a player who is trying to beat up his best friend (the incredibly obnoxious and foul-mouthed Pat, played hilariously by Jay Baruchel). The team owner is impressed and gets him to try out for the team, and after beating up half of the players, he's in. We see him start off as just a goon and eventually become the heart and soul of his team after showing time and again that he's willing to do anything to help the team get ahead. The film has a lot of big laughs, and the trailer definitely makes it look like a dumb comedy, but the movie is so much more than that. It's about Doug's big heart and his efforts to find a place where he belongs despite having nothing going for him but his muscles. There is also a surprisingly touching love story with his love interest Eva, who has a boyfriend and sleeps around, but who eventually is won over by Doug's affection and utter sincerity. The movie is full of oddball characters, but you end up loving all of them, and you start to understand what hockey means to this bunch of unruly misfits. To enjoy this movie, though, you had better be able to handle an awful lot of bloody fights and constant, unremitting profanity. If you can, then you're in for a treat. Also: I grew up in Canada, and the movie is Canadian through and through, right down to the soundtrack which features Canadian songs I haven't heard in years. If you're from Canada, that will be an extra added pleasure. One last thing: the most amazing thing for me about watching this movie was that there was one line that simultaneously brought a tear to my eyes and made me laugh out loud. I think that's exactly what the filmmakers were going for.

Thermaltake Massive23 LX Laptop Notebook Cooler Oversized 230mm Blue LED Fan USB CLN0015
Thermaltake Massive23 LX Laptop Notebook Cooler Oversized 230mm Blue LED Fan USB CLN0015
Price: $23.99
74 used & new from $22.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Useless after two months, May 21, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This unit seemed to be very nice at first. Although it doesn't cool massively, it does help a bit. However, now when I plug it in I get a warning to the effect that the unit is drawing too much power and USB is disabled as a result. At this point, I'm just going to use it for passive cooling.

Category Theory (Oxford Logic Guides)
Category Theory (Oxford Logic Guides)
by Steve Awodey
Edition: Paperback
Price: $52.97
49 used & new from $41.63

17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not at all what it claims to be, May 6, 2014
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Steve Awodey is, by all accounts, an excellent researcher in the field of category theory. Sadly, his abilities as a textbook writer are not of the same order. I will admit that category theory by its very nature is a difficult subject to teach. Although the basic notions are fairly straightforward, the applications of these notions are so numerous, and the level of abstraction climbs so high so quickly, that writing a good CT textbook would be a challenge for the most gifted textbook writer. Awodey is not that writer, and this book is only going to be useful to you if you are an advanced undergraduate or graduate student in mathematics with a good background in abstract algebra. In other words, it's like most CT textbooks. What's most annoying is that the author claims that the book is intended to be accessible to readers without this background, such as computer scientists (like me), linguists, cognitive scientists, and philosophers. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is absolutely no way that this book is suitable for such an audience. I couldn't get through the first chapter. The writing style is wildly, wildly uneven; there are stretches that are extremely lucid and comprehensible, but then the author drops in a bunch of advanced material, seemingly unaware of the fact that by doing so he's just lost his intended audience. Also, much of the book reads like notes the author jotted down just before a lecture. You can see in many cases that just a little more focused explanation could have really helped the exposition, but it isn't there. There are numerous notes to the reader, like suggesting that some theorem should be proved by the reader (generally indicated with just the word "proof!" in parentheses).

I think that this book can be useful in two cases: first, as I mentioned before, if you are a math undergraduate or graduate student with a good background in abstract algebra, and second, if you learn the material elsewhere and need a quick refresher of things you already know. I wish that the author could team up with someone with greater didactic skill and expand this book out to the length it would need to be in order to fulfill its stated mission (which would probably double the length). In that case, it would really be a valuable book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 13, 2015 5:48 PM PDT

To Mock a Mocking Bird
To Mock a Mocking Bird
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, given the right audience, May 1, 2014
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Ray Smullyan is a logician who is most famous for his many books on puzzles, often of the Knight/Knave variety involving subtle logical reasoning. This is another puzzle book (previously very hard to find, so kudos to Amazon for putting out a Kindle edition), but it's quite different from his other books. Although the first two parts consist of logical puzzles like in his other books, the rest of the book is an exploration of a rather esoteric area of mathematics called combinatory logic (CL). What this book really is is a course in CL taught through puzzles. Some of the puzzles are easy, but many are quite hard, and most of the problems ask you to prove some property of CL, so if writing proofs is not your thing, you probably won't enjoy this book. Smullyan very cleverly disguises his subject by treating combinators (the fundamental object of study in CL) as birds in a forest singing songs to each other (that may sound weird, but trust me, it works). CL has a number of important connections to topics in logic and computer science, and in fact I got to this book because of my interest in functional programming, where ideas from CL crop up quite frequently. Some readers without this background might find the book rather dry and abstract, but I enjoy it greatly. If you are interested in the subject, and/or if you like writing mathematical proofs, you'll probably enjoy this book too. It's also a nice painless way to get into the process of writing mathematical proofs, or to see if this is something you might like. I'm very happy I have this book, because good material on combinatory logic is hard to find, and this book is a fun read. Oh, and being Smullyan, he can't help but lead you to an exploration of Godel's incompleteness theorems by the end of the book, and he touches on many important topics in logic and computation theory along the way. Certainly this must be one of the most unusual and profound puzzle books ever written, but it's not for the faint of heart. If you manage to get through the entire book and solve most of the problems correctly, you should definitely consider a career in mathematics and/or computer science.

Venture Bros: Season 5
Venture Bros: Season 5
DVD ~ Christopher McCulloch
Price: $17.96
26 used & new from $9.50

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good things come in small packages!, April 15, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Venture Bros: Season 5 (DVD)
OK, let's get this out of the way right away: The Venture Bros. is the best show on TV, and has been at least since season 2. If you are unfamiliar with the show, please do yourself a favor and start from season 1, because the backstory is so intricate that you would be totally lost starting here. Now, as to this season: it's fantastic! The only negative is that there are so few episodes (only 8 regular-season episodes plus two specials, of which one, the "Shallow Gravy" special, is fairly forgettable). But that said, the quality of the writing is top-notch, and many of the episodes rank up there with anything Doc and Jackson have ever done. I especially loved "What Color is Your Cleansuit?" (undoubtedly one of the most gloriously-whacked episodes of the entire series), "O.S.I. Love You" and "The Devil's Grip". Dean and Hank are definitely maturing in these episodes and are starting to become important characters instead of the window-dressing they often were in past seasons. Billy Quizboy and Pete White feature in multiple episodes, and the Blofeld-meets-Truman-Capote Augustus St. Cloud as Billy's nemesis is absolutely hilarious (he must be one of the silliest villains ever). I really wish that there were more episodes in this season, but if it's a choice between a smaller number of great episodes and a larger number of mediocre ones, I'll gladly take the former. We should be grateful that Doc and Jackson still care enough about this series to keep it going, and I hope they continue as long as possible. Also, I have to give a shout-out for the wonderful Hardy Boys/Tom Swift Jr.-inspired artwork on the DVD box, which is just brilliant!

Rock 'n' Roll With the Modern Lovers
Rock 'n' Roll With the Modern Lovers
Price: $11.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful album!, August 6, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It's a crying shame that so many of Jonathan Richman's early albums with the Modern Lovers are out of print. Kudos to Amazon for at least making this one available in mp3 format. Please do the same for Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers (the previous album) and Modern Lovers Live! (the subsequent one), and I'll be very happy. Jonathan is one of those artists who is hard to categorize (a riddle wrapped in an enigma, as they say). His early work with the Modern Lovers was stripped-down hard rock heavily influenced by the Velvet Underground and in turn heavily influential to the up-and-coming punk scene (though the Lovers sounded nothing like punk, they did have a DIY aesthetic and spare sound that resonated with punks). Then, in what has to be the most extreme stylistic shift in the history of rock music, Jonathan switched his style to quiet mostly-acoustic songs more reminiscent of children's music than to anything you could call rock. This album (Rock and Rock with the Modern Lovers) was the second he recorded in this style, and he's pretty much kept to this ever since. Why he didn't rename the band is a mystery (all the original members except for him were gone by this time), but probably is just Jonathan's way of having some fun by thwarting our expectations. In fact, even the name of this album is misleading; these songs don't sound anything like any rock and roll you are probably used to. There are several instrumentals or near-instrumentals, and most of the other songs are more like children's music than rock. I think this is intentional; the title is either ironic or subversive (who says that children's music _can't_ be rock and roll, huh?). Regardless of this, try to approach the music with an open mind and you'll be rewarded. I think of this style as "children's music for adults"; what children's music would be if it were 1000 times better than any children's music you've ever heard. Jonathan sings with childlike wonder and delight, evoking images of a simpler time. Sure, his singing is nasal and occasionally slightly out-of-tune, and the band was apparently recorded in a bathroom, but that just adds to the DIY charm. And the songs are amazing! They combine goofy, funny and painfully sincere lyrics with great tunes, and there is not one bad song in the bunch. I particularly like "Roller Coaster By The Sea", "Rockin' Rockin' Leprechauns" (who have apparently come back to rock and roll), and the classic "Ice Cream Man", which he would expand to about seven minutes on the "Modern Lovers Live!" album by way of a ridiculous number of encores. I only recently rediscovered Jonathan's music because I have a two-year-old son, and somehow these tunes are great for both of us to listen to. If you have a toddler, I would recommend this album; it sure is more fun than listening to Raffi over and over. And even if you don't, you should still get it, because Jonathan is singing to the child inside each of us, and nobody does it better than he does.

The Venture Bros.: Season 4, Vol. 2
The Venture Bros.: Season 4, Vol. 2
DVD ~ Various
Price: $14.39
30 used & new from $5.48

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Venture Bros is the reason God invented television, July 10, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
If you're a Venture Bros. fan, this review is superfluous. You already own this DVD box set already (or the Blu-Ray version) or your mouse cursor is hovering over the "Add to Cart" button. Don't read any further, just push the button! This review is for people who haven't been turned on to this marvelous show yet. There are many things you need to know.

The Venture Bros. is one of the most intelligently-written shows in the history of TV. It is screamingly funny, it has amazing action sequences, it has probably the most complicated backstory in the history of complicated backstories, and it is a true labor of love. The show is ostensibly an hommage/parody of the old Jonny Quest action super-scientist cartoon genre, taking the perspective of "what if Jonny (Doc Venture in this show) grew up, inherited his Dad's super-science gizmos, realized he didn't have what it takes to be a scientist himself, and was angry and bitter about how he was treated as a kid?" And what if he had two clueless kids (the eponymous Venture Brothers) who have no idea what it's like not to live in a super-science compound? And what if he was surrounded by a bunch of other people as schmucky as he was, including lame super-villains, over-the-top macho secret agents, assorted hangers-on, and the occasional competent person who wonders what he's doing in the midst of all the chaos. But I can't do justice to the story in less than 20 pages; it's _that_ complex. It's worth it, though, because it's so interesting and the characters, despite their failures, are so appealing you want to know everything about them.

The other thing you need to know is that this is the cult show to end all cult shows. It is utterly uncompromising. The creators (Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer) assume you have watched all the previous seasons, and they delight in basing stories on minor plot points of earlier episodes that you've probably forgotten about even if you have seen them (the episode "Any Which Way But Zeus" is a good example of this). They also pepper each episode with hundreds of pop culture references ranging from very obvious to unbelievably obscure (part of the fun is trying to figure them out). So be warned: you need to watch the previous seasons (all of them!) before watching this one. Also, DVD is really the best way to watch the show, preferably on a computer. That way, you can rewind if you miss a reference or ten, and you can pause if you want to go online to the many Venture Bros. fan sites to figure out where you last saw such-and-such a character who just popped up out of nowhere. You'll also probably need to listen to the episode commentaries to really understand every last detail, if you're obsessive about this sort of thing. This sounds like a lot of work, and it is. It's actually kind of ridiculous how much time I've spent chasing down Venture Bros. references, but it's worth it because it makes the show that much more enjoyable. Season 4, part 1 is excellent, but part 2 really hits a new level of awesome, with almost every show being a classic (the one-hour finale in particular is jaw-dropping). Along the way, the characters that you know and love are given greater depth and you start to feel compassion for them (even the villains), even though they're still pretty much losers. In particular, we start to realize that Doctor Venture isn't just a failed super-scientist, he's also the product of horrible parenting from his famous super-scientist dad who warped him so much he's unable to function normally. And every other character has some kind of similar backstory explaining why they are the way they are.

I haven't given you many details about the episodes, both because it would take way too long and because I don't want to spoil the fun. If you like intelligently-written, clever, and amazingly twisted comedy, you will love this show. And watch out for that finale! It'll feel like the Secret President did a Rusty Venture on your Id!

Trail of the Screaming Forehead [Region 2]
Trail of the Screaming Forehead [Region 2]
DVD ~ Daniel Roebuck
12 used & new from $4.69

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully funny sci-fi parody!, May 7, 2013
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Larry Blamire has made a career out of making extremely silly parodies of late '50s/early '60s low-budget science fiction movies. His first such movie, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, is a classic, and if anyone reading this hasn't seen that movie, please do yourself a favor and do so (and its sequel, The Lost Skeleton Returns Again). Trail of the Screaming Forehead was his follow-up effort, and even though this is an extremely funny movie, distribution problems have prevented a region 1 DVD from being released even to this date, so in a sense this is the "lost Larry Blamire movie". It's a darn shame, too, because all of the things that make his movies so funny are abundantly on display here. This movie is an homage to the "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" genre, where aliens come to earth and take over the bodies of unsuspecting humans. The catch is that the aliens are forehead creatures; they "used to be like us" but then there was a nuclear war and they were somehow reduced to just their foreheads. This isn't as bad as it sounds, because the movie makes a compelling case that the forehead, not the brain, is the seat of all human intelligence, and by injecting a forehead compound called Foreheadazine into the skull, one can become super-smart. This is every bit as ridiculous as it sounds, and the cast hams it up with great glee. All of Blamire's usual crew are here, plus some newcomers, and everyone does a great job. I have to particularly single out Andrew Parks as the clueless scientist, and Brian Howe as an "old salt" kind of sailor. Also, Larry Blamire's eccentric wordplay is all over this movie, and I have to fight to keep from typing in quotes because I don't want to spoil them for you. Unlike Cadavra, this movie is not in black-and-white but in gloriously ultra-ultra-saturated color, reminiscent of when low-budget movies first started being produced in color and had to emphasize the color as much as possible, even when there was no reason to do so (check out the ridiculously colored chemicals in the lab, for instance). The special effects are also completely over-the-top, particularly the forehead prosthetics. And the ending is... beyond ridiculous. Basically, if you like Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, you can't go wrong with this film.

No Title Available

46 of 64 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This bulb gives me a headache!, April 23, 2013
I really wanted to like this light bulb. I'm as gung-ho for energy efficiency as anyone (my house is solar powered, we drive a hybrid car, yadda yadda), so I thought I'd check out the Cree bulb to see if it could replace our incandescents. The good news: the color is actually quite good and close to the color of an incandescent. Comparing them side-by-side it's hard to tell the difference. The very bad news: after only a few minutes using these bulbs (as an indirect lighting source, no less) I started to get a pretty bad headache and eyestrain. Since the color is OK, I have to conclude that the bulb must be flickering at a high frequency, and some people (like me) are sensitive enough to pick this up. This is probably due to the dimming circuitry, but there's nothing I can do about it (I had installed it in a non-dimmable socket), so this bulb is not an option for me. Once I replaced it with an incandescent the headache/eyestrain started to go away. Also, even though these bulbs supposedly use very little power, there is a heat sink on each bulb which gets plenty hot (as in, you'll burn your hand if you touch it hot) while the bulb is on. This is probably to protect the electronics, which will fry if the temperature gets too high (this is also why you shouldn't use these with an enclosed fixture). For comparison, I don't have problems with CFL bulbs (though I don't like the quality of light they emit), and of course incandescents are fine. My conclusion is that LED bulb technology (at least as represented by this bulb) is not ready for prime time, but I'll check out some other brands to make sure. One thing is clear: I won't be buying Cree bulbs again for some time.

UPDATE: These bulbs definitely flicker. I verified this by turning the bulb on in a darkened room and waving my finger rapidly in front of the bulb (which was facing away from me). I could see a strobe-like effect when I did this. Then I turned it off and turned on an incandescent light bulb in an identical lamp. No matter how I waved my finger, it never showed a strobe pattern (which isn't surprising). So if you're sensitive to flicker, as I apparently am, stay away from these bulbs. I've read that sometimes the cause of the flicker in LED bulbs isn't the dimming circuitry but simply the way the wall power is converted into DC for the LEDs to use (they are DC devices). If it's done cheaply (no smoothing of the rectified waveform, for you geeks), you'll see 120 Hz flicker. Maybe that's what I saw. Anyway, Cree, try harder next time.
Comment Comments (31) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 2, 2014 10:35 AM PDT

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