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William Sommerwerck "grizzled geezer" RSS Feed (Renton, WA USA)
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Corel VideoStudio Ultimate X9
Corel VideoStudio Ultimate X9
Price: $79.99
12 used & new from $79.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A review for newbies, from a newbie, April 28, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This review is for newbies, not experienced users. If you haven’t previously used video-editing software (as I hadn’t), you’ll probably it useful.

If you read nothing else in this review… Ignore the Quick Start chapter of Corel’s documentation. Instead, sign up for the Studio Backlot Class on Demand (the first 30 days are free) and use its VSX9 Quick Start training, which is far superior.

----------------------------------------------------
My DSLR includes full-HD video recording, but the video features remained unused until recently, when I reviewed the Honesteast 150-LED multicolor light string. The manufacturer urged reviewers to include a video.

Not wanting it to be sloppy, and not having video-editing software, I decided to review VideoStudio X9 Ultimate.

To get the “sour and sweet” out of the way... Auto installation didn’t work, and I had to do it manually, installing 32-bit in error -- then repeating it for 64-bit. None of the apps would run, and had to be updated at the Corel Website. (This is typical Corel.)

That wasn’t the worst. While assembling a movie, the program repeatedly crashed. (Here comes the sweet part.) I contacted Corel by e-mail, and a sharp support person with a great sense of humor responded. He asked for Windows configuration data, and quickly told me the problem was outdated drivers for the 4000-series graphics in my i7 CPU. Updating them ended the crashes.

Other reviewers have complained about poor Corel service. In my case, I got prompt, perfect service.

----------------------------------------------------
VSX9’s basic interface is good. There are three tab-selected screens, each handling a clearly defined step in the creation process.

“Capture” loads existing files in many popular formats (moving or still), or captures video in real time. Your presentation is built from these “clips”.

“Edit” assembles clips into a presentation. Clips can be edited (eg, changing their length or video format), and sound and visual effects can be added at the same time. A clip or the entire presentation can be previewed as desired.

“Share” creates an output or distribution file in a variety of formats (AVC/H.264, AVI, MOV, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV). (Whether Corel will provide new formats at no charge, or you’ll have to purchase new software, isn’t clear.)

Virtually every operation is drag-and-drop or grab-and-glide. For example, there are 127 scene transitions, shown as live thumbnails. To insert one, you drag and drop it where desired on the Timeline or Storyboard view.

Why some reviewers claim VSX9 is not particularly intuitive is hard to understand. Almost everything is done visually, and you always see how the presentation will appear. How would you get simpler or more “intuitive” than that?

If there’s a problem, it’s that that VSX9 offers such an insane variety of features and options that mastering VSX9 takes time. I was uncomfortable at first, but the discomfort ended after creating my first presentation.

Never having used professional software, I can’t comment on relative quality. But VSX9 has some “cool” (I hate that word) features -- such as automatic pan-and-zoom, and separating scenes into multiple layers -- that, when used appropriately and tastefully, would let amateurs produce fairly slick-looking videos.


InterDesign Soda Can Holder for Refrigerator, Kitchen Cabinet, Pantry - Clear
InterDesign Soda Can Holder for Refrigerator, Kitchen Cabinet, Pantry - Clear
Price: $16.99

5.0 out of 5 stars a lot better than a cardboard box, April 23, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The product photos show the IDSCH better than I could ever describe it. It's made of thick, sturdy plastic (though I wouldn't recommend standing on it).

As for its inability to hold 12 cans... Many (if not most) refrigerators aren't deep enough to hold two extra cans on the bottom. (The second-from-the-top photo shows this fairly well.) The design is a good compromise for most refrigerators.

My only criticism is that you have to lift the lid to refill the holder. The supermarket system Campbell's uses for soup cans -- where you drop in a can at the top, and it slithers down -- is better, but would cost more and take up more space.


Lawmen of the Old West - [Blu-ray]
Lawmen of the Old West - [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Daniel Boone
Offered by Sunday River
Price: $5.60
33 used & new from $0.50

4.0 out of 5 stars a somewhat different view of Western violence, April 15, 2016
This documentary takes a different tack than similar series. Instead of beginning "in media res", it attempts to show that Western violence was not due only to white/red conflict, but was also provoked and exacerbated by the Civil War. It's not until the third episode that the "lawmen" take a significant role.

Most of the "re-enactments" are taken from old movies (some silent). The modern re-enactments suffer from using actors who rarely even remotely resemble the characters they're supposed to be. ("Doc Holliday", in particular, is way off.)

On the other hand, the narration makes direct, heavy use of contemporary material, rather than the writer's interpretation of it. Likewise, there's a tendency to let the material speak for itself, rather than trying to unravel fact from fiction. The generally overwrought 19th-century prose makes things hard to follow at times, but serious viewers are likely to prefer this unvarnished presentation.

On the Blu-ray, the newly produced scenes have beautiful color and lots of detail. If you have a Blu-ray player, that's the version to get.


Panasonic drops360° Premium In-Ear Headphones with Mic + Controller RP-HJX6M-A (Metallic Blue) with Travel Pouch, Powerful Bass
Panasonic drops360° Premium In-Ear Headphones with Mic + Controller RP-HJX6M-A (Metallic Blue) with Travel Pouch, Powerful Bass
Price: $44.71

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not for critical listeners, April 12, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My search for a good-sounding pair of //inexpensive// earphones continues.

Like most earphones, these are decidedly bass-heavy, to please rock listeners. And, as with most, the boost starts at such a high frequency that it unpleasantly thickens the sound of vocals. The midrange is okay (I guess -- the heavy bass makes it hard to judge), but highs are steely.

They were reviewed with a Sony SRF-80W FM Walkman and the iRiver H120 tuner. The sound wasn't great with either, but was noticeably blander and more-distant with the Sony. I think I know why.

When the original Walkman introduced "personal" stereo devices, designers put large resistors in series with the headphone outputs, apparently to reduce the chance of damage if the outputs were shorted. As drive circuitry improved, these resistors were reduced in size, or eliminated.

I'm guessing that the drops360 presents a "bad" reactive load that varies a lot with frequency. Stick a big resistor in series, and the impedance variation is converted into a change in frequency response. This would explain the differences in opinion about what they "really" sound like.

They aren't particularly comfortable (at least in my ears). After a few minutes I became very much "aware" of them.

The drops360 is almost impossible to recommend, especially as their sound seems overly dependent on what you drive them with..
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 13, 2016 7:00 AM PDT


KINFUTON 3W LED Bulb G14 Bright White LED Bulbs[ led light bulb 5000k][ replacement led bulbs][led light bulb daylight] E26 Based Energy Saving 25W Equivalent LED Bulbs Home-6 Pack
KINFUTON 3W LED Bulb G14 Bright White LED Bulbs[ led light bulb 5000k][ replacement led bulbs][led light bulb daylight] E26 Based Energy Saving 25W Equivalent LED Bulbs Home-6 Pack
Offered by KINFUTON
Price: $39.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Not bright enough to be general-purpose, but good for many uses., April 12, 2016
These were a gift in exchange for an honest review.

I've already replaced the tungsten lamps in my ceiling fixtures and lamp stands with high-power (40W) CFLs. Now that LEDs have gotten small and cheap enough (in this case, free), I've been replacing the tungsten lamps in decorative fixtures and the bathroom. These went into the master bath.

Their color temperature is 5000K, cooler than most people are used to. Some may find it a bit "clinical", but if you apply makeup in the bawth (I don't apply it //anywhere//), you'll have a better idea of how it looks outdoors.

The energy savings are attractive. If you're charged 10 cents/kWh, and these 3W bulbs replace 25W lamps, the payback (at one hour a day) is four years. The claimed lifespan (30,000 hours) is 20 times the payback time, * so with any luck, they'll still be working even after your home has been resold several times..

My only gripe (and the reason for a four-star rating) is that even six of them don't deliver quite enough light to be as bright as most people (myself included) expect bathroom lighting to be. Other than that, I can't think of any reason not to recommend them.

* I suspect this is lifespan of the LED itself. Whether the drive components hold out that long is anyone's guess.


Fossil Men's RFID Blocking Ingram Bifold Wallet with Flip Id, Black, One Size
Fossil Men's RFID Blocking Ingram Bifold Wallet with Flip Id, Black, One Size
Price: $50.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love at first touch..., April 6, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Every few years my wallet starts falling apart, and I have to find a new one I can afford. Considering how many millions of cattle have their hides torn off each year, I remain amazed at how expensive leather products are.

This one is, as Festus would say, a "pearl-button bangle billy". The leather has a supple, "buttery" feel (as it should, for a $50 wallet). And it comes in a metal presentation tin.

There's //more// storage space than shown in the photos. The front is a large pocket to hold items you need easy access to. A fold-out flap holds two photos or photo IDs. There are eight slots for anything credit-card sized. * There's only one bill pouch, though. (I prefer two, to keep singles separate from larger denominations.)

The stitching is straight, and seems tight. There was only one bit of "sloppiness", when the seamstress jumped from one stitch line to an adjacent one, without properly terminating and trimming the first.

Does the RF shielding work? It apparently does. As when testing the Mead RFID Protective Sleeves (qv), I laid the wallet over my wireless keyboard's antenna. It severely degraded the keyboard's performance (though a few keystrokes did get through). It's probably more than good enough, and you don't have to fiddle with sleeves.

It's a nice product, an easy recommendation.

* In my experience, it's the gradual deterioration of the slots' linings that eventually renders a wallet unusable. The cards jam, either refusing to go in or come out. Usually both.


Led Strip Light, HonestEast 16.4ft 5M Flexible 150 Leds Color Changing RGB SMD 5050, Waterproof, with 24 Keys Remote and 12V Power Supply
Led Strip Light, HonestEast 16.4ft 5M Flexible 150 Leds Color Changing RGB SMD 5050, Waterproof, with 24 Keys Remote and 12V Power Supply
Offered by HonestEast
Price: $19.99
4 used & new from $14.51

5.0 out of 5 stars a fun way to decorate, April 3, 2016
This item was supplied free of charge in exchange for an honest review. (The manufacturer wanted a video, which I'm in the process of putting together.)

I'd looked at similar items in Fry's, but the price was more than I could justify. What tempted me to review the SLOT strip light was not just that it was free, but a decision to decorate my audio equipment. (You'll see this when the video is posted.)

Unlike other blister-packed strip-light systems, the Honesteast comes in a reusable box. The light strip is stored on a reel that goes in an anti-static bag. There's a switching power supply, an interface box (with remote sensor), a remote control, and a so-so instruction sheet.

The quality of materials and finish suggests SLOT wants to make high-quality products. The strip is covered in soft plastic, backed by 3M adhesive. One wonders why SLOT doesn't rate it as waterproof. (It's probably because the 4-pin connector isn't sealed.)

Setup is simple. Plug the strip into the interface box (watch the polarity), then into the power supply. You can then select color, brightness, and operating mode from the remote control. * The interface remembers the mode, so timer operation doesn't require a daily reset.

The strip can be cut at three-LED increments, across the copper strips connecting the sections. The strip can be reassembled using an "extension cable", but they have to be purchased separately. The instructions say the power draw is 7.2W/m. They don't say how far you can extend the strip before running out of juice (though the answered questions above say one additional strip).

The remote offers a choice of 15 colors, plus white. Some of the button colors bear only a vague resemblance to the LED colors. These fixed (Static) colors' brightness can be changed with the UP / DOWN buttons at the upper left.

The four gray buttons to the right select the color-change (Dynamic) modes. Their names are not only hard to read, but confusing. It's probably best to just memorize what they do. From top to bottom...

FLASH jumps among three colors (red, green, blue)
STROBE varies smoothly among three colors (red, green, blue)
FADE varies smoothly among seven colors (red, yellow, green, cyan, blue, magenta, white)
SMOOTH jumps among seven colors (red, yellow, green, cyan, blue, magenta, white)

Obviously, STROBE should be SMOOTH, and SMOOTH should be STROBE.

When a Dynamic mode is selected, the UP / DOWN buttons control the speed at which the colors change. The brightness remains where it was when last set in a Static mode.

I'll have more to say in a few days when I post the video.

* The sensor is on a limp stalk -- so limp you might need to wrap stiff wire around it to point it in the desired direction. Regardless, this is better than having the sensor in a fixed spot on the interface box.


Meguiar's MB0148 Mirror Bright Automobile Shampoo, 48 oz.
Meguiar's MB0148 Mirror Bright Automobile Shampoo, 48 oz.
Price: $5.21
6 used & new from $5.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If it can remove moss, it can probably remove anything short of road tar., April 3, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
One reason Washington is the Evergreen State is that anything sitting in a shaded area acquires moss. One side of my car is shaded and "grows" moss, especially on rubber gaskets and within panel cracks. In the Spring, the nearby decorative trees waft a mist of green particulate matter that attaches itself to the car.

On the assumption that what can be removed with water doesn't need detergent, I began by hosing down the car, then going over it with a microfiber dishcloth soaked in plain water. It removed maybe 60% of the schmutz. Recalcitrant areas remained.

I made up 4 liters of MB0148, adding three capfuls of the "shampoo". (This was the smallest amount that made the water feel "soapy".) The instructions say "one glug to a gallon", * but that's hardly precise. (Why doesn't the cap hold the amount Meguiar thinks optimum?)

This time (using the same cloth), almost everything remaining came off fairly easily, particularly the stuff stuck to the gaskets. The stuff within cracks and surrounding "tight" areas needed a toothbrush. (This was to be expected.)

My skin isn't particularly sensitive, so I wasn't expecting any irritation. To my surprise, Meguiar's made my fingers and palms quite soft. (This is probably from the wax in the product.) Meguiar could reasonably claim "Mirror-Bright Automobile Shampoo makes car washing almost nice."

A "good" product, no doubt about it. How it compares with others, I can't say.

* A "glug" is presumably the amount that comes out when abruptly tipping the container, accompanied by the sound effect. Given the thickness of the detergent (it's gel-like), I doubt it would flow fast enough to produce any sound.


South Main Hardware 810110 TSA-Accepted Resettable Luggage Lock (2 Pack), Purple
South Main Hardware 810110 TSA-Accepted Resettable Luggage Lock (2 Pack), Purple
Price: $14.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars tinnif, April 3, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
About ten years ago I bought two 1600-series Pelican cases, a small one for my view camera, and a large one for my AIBO system. At that time, Pelican offered their PeliLOCK, a solid brass four-digit lock made in the US -- for all of $10. (I bought two.) I've attached a photo showing a PeliLOCK next to the South Main Hardware three-digit offering. The South Main Hardware lock not only looks cheap, it feels cheap.

Like a cipher, a lock doesn't have to be unbreakable. It need only look tough enough to discourage a thief.

One might question whether an external (as opposed to built-in) lock is a deterrent. A thief will likely grab the bag or luggage and take it where it can be opened at leisure. A lock does nothing to protect a fabric bag, which can be ripped apart with a large serrated knife. The bright color of this one only draws attention -- "This yokel is carrying something valuable."

Perhaps the worst thing is that this (and most other locks) are TSA-approved. They can be opened with a special key by the friendly TSA agents to speed you on your way. Do you think professional thieves don't have these keys?

The rules haven't changed. Carry valuable items with you and hold on tight. If you can't, put them in a checked suitcase and sprint to the baggage carousel on arrival. The best a lock can do is make a thief think twice about grabbing your property. This lock is so wimpy it will only //attract// thieves. (I could use a non-PC word to describe it, but I won't.)

It goes without saying that lockless plastic cases (such as Pelicans) need locks when you can't keep an eye on them. The South Main Hardware lock isn't appropriate (even if the hasp were long enough, which it isn't). Unfortunately, Pelican no longer sells the PeliLOCK. I don't know what to recommend.
Comment Comment | Permalink


Triangle Bulbs T95051-6-VA, LED 40 Watt Equivalent Dimmable G16.5 Light Bulb, Candelabra Base, Warm White, 6 Pack
Triangle Bulbs T95051-6-VA, LED 40 Watt Equivalent Dimmable G16.5 Light Bulb, Candelabra Base, Warm White, 6 Pack
Price: $37.49
3 used & new from $32.81

5.0 out of 5 stars perfect -- and brigther -- replacement, April 1, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The dining room fixture (that came with the condo) uses four "decorative" candelabra-based lamps. These LED lamps are brighter (subjectively, at least twice as bright -- the improvement is significant), with a higher (cooler) color temperature.

The only qualification is that they're wider than an incandescent lamp. Check first to make sure there's enough space.

The price is about six times that of a comparable incandescent lamp. But if you have multiple decorative fixtures that are often on, these lamps could be a good investment -- especially as you might need only half as many for the same light level.

Recommended.


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