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Customer Reviews: 391
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Glenn R. Howes RSS Feed (Nashua, NH)
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The Odd Squad Zero Tolerance (An Odd Squad Book)
The Odd Squad Zero Tolerance (An Odd Squad Book)
by Michael Fry
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $11.07
56 used & new from $5.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant Book, Not Particularly Memorable, April 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is not a bad book; I've read some stinkers lately and this is not a stinker. It's actually kind of relaxing and the embedded cartoons are well drawn, reminiscent of Berkeley Breathed's Bloom County strips.

What it is not is compelling. There aren't a lot of ideas in this book. There is a general opposition to zero tolerance school policies, which is for the good; an opposition to mindless rules is a positive thing in my mind, but this opposition is not deeply explored. This is not exactly Kafka level thought.

Nor are the characters very deep. The main character through passivity and not fessing up to a bad decision brings down the chain of bad events which drive the story, but he is not particularly introspective or regretful, or for that matter properly punished by fate for his flaws. Nor is the book funny; there is nothing laugh out loud about this book.

I'd say the writing is of a third or fourth grade level. I can't say that I'd recommend this book, but it is OK for a voracious reader with an afternoon to kill.


Wallet TrackR - Bluetooth 4.0 Device - Retail Packaging - Black
Wallet TrackR - Bluetooth 4.0 Device - Retail Packaging - Black
Price: $29.99
5 used & new from $23.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unreliable and Primitive, April 8, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In general, I am happy to have a wallet that beeps on command. How many times have I run through the house trying to find my wallet, only to find it fallen behind a dresser. I remember one particular time I tossed it on my desk, it bounced off into the waste paper basket and buried itself under a load of loose paper; that took me a day to find. So, now I can can tap a button in an app and have my wallet beep. Yes. And it works.

However, this device is very much a first generation device. Fragile, bulky, and the batteries are ridiculously hard to install and cleanly remove. I would guess there will be massive improvements for this or similar devices.

I ended up turning off the feature whereby my phone starts to beep when too far away from the device. That was just too annoying for the purpose. And the feature where the phone beeps when you press the button on the device is too limited in the circumstances wherein it would work.

After a couple of weeks of use. Suddenly the app could not find the device, and I had to go to the Bluetooth settings pane to re-pair the device with my iPhone 5S. I hope this doesn't happen often. [Update: happened again, dropping review to 2 stars.]

Anyway, I'd suggest waiting for something more elegant.


Game Over, Pete Watson
Game Over, Pete Watson
by Joe Schreiber
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.18
52 used & new from $3.85

2.0 out of 5 stars Insubstantial, April 5, 2014
This review is from: Game Over, Pete Watson (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When somebody makes a bad movie with hokey special effects and most of the action set in somebody's basement they at least have the excuse of not having the budget for a galaxy spanning spectacular. When a writer slaps together a dreary series of shoddy chapters set mainly in under described basements and undifferentiated cars then it's all on the writer not taking the time his craft demands.

I have to wonder if there has been some race to the bottom where "chapter books" get shorter and shorter chapters to attract children with no joy of reading. This book has the shortest chapters I've ever seen often only a page or a page and a half.

My 8 year old son, who's been on reading tear lately, zipped through this in a couple of hours and enjoyed it a bit. I heard him laugh out loud twice, so there is something there that youngsters might enjoy.

However, I can't possibly recommend this awful book. For goodness sake, introduce your kid to E.B. White or C.S. Lewis.


Amazon Fire Game Controller
Amazon Fire Game Controller
Price: $39.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Effort, April 4, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The Fire TV set top box is a gratifyingly well crafted system, but as is often the case, it is the controllers which are the hard part to get right. Amazon has thrown the kitchen sink at this controller with 15 buttons, a D-pad and two analog sticks; this is not the game controller Jonathan Ive would design. It reminds me of all those generic products Amazon sells under the Basics label: competently executed without striving to be the best.

The best thing I can say about the controller is my fingers knew where everything was, I hit the correct buttons to navigate the Fire GUI without looking.

Construction is cheapish, and it's a bit on the slippery side.

Being a Bluetooth device, there is a delay after not using for a while. Perhaps two seconds, but annoying when used as a remote control to those of us who grew up with infrared remotes.

The important part is it improves game play greatly. The Fire TV includes an OK remote, but it shows its limits when playing all but the least twitchy games. This controller is just on the heavy side, but in general makes the Fire TV into an enjoyable gaming system. If you want to make the most of your purchase, I'd recommend getting this controller. Other controllers may work, but this button set is what game developers will target when porting their wares.


Thule Atmos X3 iPhone 5C Case - Retail Packaging - Blue/Dark Blue
Thule Atmos X3 iPhone 5C Case - Retail Packaging - Blue/Dark Blue
Price: $39.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent, Good Textured Case, April 2, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was sent two of this model of case, one for the 5s and one for the 5c. I'd say both are decent if not luxurious cases with good grip around the middle and protection against corner drops. One of the things I find strange about iPhone cases is how few allow anything but the narrowest Lightning charging cables to pass. This one allows all the Apple original cables, including a 30 pin to Lightning cable, to pass as we'll as a Belkin, barely, but not an Amazon Basics which I think is too wide for any case.

Volume and power buttons have reasonably easy motion. The opening for access to the mute/rotation switch is a bit cramped.

All in all, a decent case but not a premium case.


Seagate Backup Plus 4TB Desktop External Hard Drive with Mobile Device Backup USB 3.0 (STDT4000100)
Seagate Backup Plus 4TB Desktop External Hard Drive with Mobile Device Backup USB 3.0 (STDT4000100)
Price: Click here to see our price
31 used & new from $159.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quiet Backup Drive With Questionable Extras, March 30, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First of all, I'm a Mac user so this review is for this drive while used with a Mac. Please don't hold it against me.

I had no problems at all attaching this to my MacBook Air's Thunderbolt dock and using it as a Time Machine backup. I formatted it with Apple's included Disk Utility as HFS+ Journaled and it just worked. I even used instructions I found online to use a script to dismount the drive after the Time Machine backup was completed, and to start a backup when the drive was mounted. Thus my son can disconnect the dock without getting that scary warning about disconnecting a drive without ejecting it. It works well, and I'm finally backing up that laptop.

One property of external hard drives I worry about is how loud they are. This one is a barely noticeable whisper and I'm pretty happy with it. Speed was what you'd expect for my USB connection. It works fine as a backup.

As far as the extra software Seagate wants us to use. It wasn't much use to me as an iOS user to backup things to Seagate's system. I'm much more likely to use iCloud or DropBox which at least have massive 3rd party support. I was happy to see that I can turn off the drive's lights from Seagate's settings panel. Not that the light is obnoxious unlike some other devices I could mention.

Anyway, if you need a backup drive that's reasonably silent and has plenty of space, this one will do.


Yamaha Natural Sound  Stereo Receiver (R-S201BL)
Yamaha Natural Sound Stereo Receiver (R-S201BL)
Price: $149.95
8 used & new from $126.61

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well made Niche Product, March 29, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a well made, good value, mature stereo receiver. If this is what you need then, I think you'll be happy with it.

Even though I've released 2 iOS apps to locate radio stations, I don't listen to a lot of radio. I must say, however, this receiver does a credible job locking onto a signal and delivering it without a lot of hiss. The FM tuner pulls in the stations it should from my basement: the 5 kW station 3 miles away, the 0.95 kW station 7 miles away, the 11.5 kW station 14 miles away, etc. It doesn't perform miracles, so no to the 0.01 kW station 14 miles away.

But, of course, 'receivers' are not so much about receiving these days and more about being a sound hub. So I hooked up an old Blu-ray player to its analog RCA inputs and started listening to CDs. Very nice and clear. I think speakers have more to do with sound quality than the receiver, but this receiver certainly wasn't detracting from it. I was using some fairly hot 4 Ohm book shelf speakers and they sounded great.

Controls are basic and a bit small. The remote is utilitarian and boxy; sort of hard to find the volume up/down buttons.

Some competing products have a sub-woofer pre-out making 2.1 usage possible.

As for why I labeled this a niche product, I went looking online for a cheap Blu-ray player I could pair with this: maybe make a little movie watching cubby when paired with a spare monitor, and I found that most players these days don't come with analog outputs. Sound outputting devices these days put out HDMI and, if you're lucky, optical. Fewer and fewer of my devices have line-out analog. So I could hook up an Airport Express to this receiver, but not an AppleTV; a Wii U but not an Xbox One. This is a buggy whip of a product, but a nicely made one.


Fluke Networks LSPRNTR-200 LinkSprinter 200 Network Tester with WiFi
Fluke Networks LSPRNTR-200 LinkSprinter 200 Network Tester with WiFi
Price: $299.00

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classy Gadget, March 24, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have nothing bad to say about this device. It does exactly what it is supposed to do, does it quickly and actually sort of elegantly. I had no trouble setting it up, and while I have little need for their web service I think it well done.

Operation was exactly like you'd expect: attach Ethernet cable and wait for all the lights to light up. About 16 seconds between insertion and the cloud icon glowing to indicate it got all the way to the greater Internet. Followed by my eMail beeping to let me know my test results have been delivered to my computer.

Believe me, I've seen my share of badly done web services and greedy 'sell the blades' business models and I was gratified by how easy it was to use, how I only had to provide a minimum of personal data, and how well programmed their web application was. Bravo. I guess I could have done without the default setting being to e-mail me every test result I took, but that's OK.

As for integration with my phone, it's true there is no native app, so pairing will have to be done every time I want to use my phone with this tester, and the 'app' is only a mobile web server buried inside the device, but it is cleanly and simply done. I've seen much worse 'native' apps. Besides, I'm unlikely to want to use it that way anyway.

So, I'm going to give this network tester 5 stars for a job well done.


ERA by Jawbone Bluetooth Headset with Charge Case - Black Streak - Retail Packaging
ERA by Jawbone Bluetooth Headset with Charge Case - Black Streak - Retail Packaging
Price: $123.98
40 used & new from $97.63

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Refined Balance Between Weight and Battery, March 8, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Ideally, a little device like this would weigh nothing, last forever on a charge, and charge in a moment. We don't live in an ideal reality and compromises had to be made. In order to get the weight they wanted, Jawbone evidently had to skimp a bit on the battery. While the device itself claims 4 hours of charge--just tap the button when it isn't otherwise busy and it'll say it--in actual practice 2.5 hours is more likely. It does come with a little charging case which works nicely, but you can forget talking all day long.

The design is nicely evolved and instantly became a hit here in my household. My son loves the privacy of listening to videos with it in his ear. The various ear inserts span a fairly wide variety of human ear sizes and we had no trouble finding a comfortable compromise. Sound does not leak and you can have an expectation of privacy when using. The mike does a good job.

In general, if you can handle the battery limitations, this might be the headset for you.


Lithonia OFLR 9LN 120 MO BZ M2 LED Outdoor 3-Light Floodlight with Motion Sensor, Black
Lithonia OFLR 9LN 120 MO BZ M2 LED Outdoor 3-Light Floodlight with Motion Sensor, Black
Price: $149.00
2 used & new from $148.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Useful and Bright, March 7, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Since I've bought my house, I've put up with a dimly lit driveway. Yes, I could turn on the porch light and a not-so-bright CFL light on a post near the driveway, but that would rely on me going inside to flip a switch. So mainly, I just relied on the street lights. Well, this is all changed as these motion detecting lamps give me plenty of light to find my way to the front door. What a nice convenience!

I had been worried about car traffic in front of the house inadvertently turning on the lights, but no, if you aim the sensor correctly and set its sensitivity to a reasonable value, the motion will have to be deep into the driveway before the lights turn on. Also, the lights are quite good at not turning on during daylight, although you can see the red indicator light when the device detects motion. This is helpful when figuring out where to aim the sensor.

Installation was as complicated or uncomplicated as any fixture install. Turn off the light--the manufacturer strongly recommends turning off the fixture at the circuit breakers--unscrew and remove the old light, screw in a bracket, twist connect the hot and neutral wires, screw down the ground wire, put the lamp on its bracket, screw it firmly in place, and put a beed of silicon sealant around the edge. Obviously, if you don't have a pre-existing lamp to replace, this becomes a bit more complicated. I'm going to wait a few days to put the silicon beed on, as it's been cold and the sealant requires 40°F weather.

I pointed the floodlights away from bothering the neighbors while still getting 3 regions of coverage over my cars and in the direction of the front door. The lights are quite bright. Being bare LEDs, the light elements themselves are very small and the light is anything but diffuse; one might even say the light is harsh. There are many degrees of freedom in adjusting the direction of the lamps and where the hood of each lamp ends up. The adjustment knobs and rings are not exactly ergonomic, but they aren't bad and you'll typically only have to adjust them all once.

The whole package is surprisingly small.

In general, a fine technological improvement to my driveway and I'm happy to have it.


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