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Learning Responsive Web Design: A Beginner's Guide
Learning Responsive Web Design: A Beginner's Guide
by Clarissa Peterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $24.12
44 used & new from $20.13

4.0 out of 5 stars effective web design for many device screens, August 24, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Let's face it, the web has become a huge force in the world. It is a form of communication which has created whole new social methodologies, fads, fashions, fortunes, and fame.

Having started working with HTML back in the 1990s, I am no stranger to the design and coding of web pages. While I am not a professional web monkey, and certainly no expert in it, I know clear exposition of the topics involved when I read it.

I liked this book very much. Having struggled with Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) in my own small way, I very much appreciate clear explanations and examples of the concepts needed in this field.

Terms are clearly explained, coding and concepts are lined out nicely, and the text is quite lucid and succinct.

While fields such as this change rapidly, and paper publishing moves slowly, this book is a great learning tool and reference for anyone wishing to understand or create websites and pages.

The primary theme behind the book is the need for flexibility in how web pages are displayed on the many different devices now in use, and how one must code for optimum performance on many different screens.

This is not easy - aspect ratios are different on different devices, and devices have a wide range of processors creating a wide range of capability. This book can give you the tools you need to create web pages effective on many different screens.

I found the book intelligent, easy to read, and very informative. I would recommend it.

The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life
The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life
by Chris Guillebeau
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.56

4.0 out of 5 stars Great book from a remarkable person, August 24, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Guillebeau has made quite a name for himself as a travel hacker, business maven, and strong voice for personal growth and independence. He recently finished his own quest of visiting every country on Earth.

This book focuses on the "questing" aspect of life, and how following a quest can enrich and empower a person.

Based on his own experience, as well as that of many others, he explores the various aspects of what it means to take on a quest, how questing varies from person to person, and how it can enhance growth and an independent spirit.

Each chapter explores some aspect of questing, and includes stories of real people's real lives, successes and failures. the book explores the power of goals and process in the quest, and the examples given are clear and useful.

I've read his other books and purchased several of the information products from his website, and I have the utmost respect for the author. The clarity and insight he shows at his young age is remarkable. I would like to attend one of his live events one day and see in person how he inspires thousands of people to grow and succeed.

I recommend this and all the author's works.

Turtle Beach Ear Force XL1 Officially Licensed Xbox 360 Amplified Stereo Gaming Headset
Turtle Beach Ear Force XL1 Officially Licensed Xbox 360 Amplified Stereo Gaming Headset
Price: $38.93
34 used & new from $38.56

4.0 out of 5 stars Very comfortable and sound great, August 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I got these to see how well they would work as regular headphones (I’m not a gamer, so I’ll let people in that crowd tell you how well they work for that - I’m guessing pretty well). I have not as yet figured out how to use the mic with my setup, but that is not critical to me. I do like the mic boom, however. It adjusts easily to any position you might want, being pretty much a gooseneck.

While they a designed to be used with the Xbox game console, I found that they also worked quite well with my setup. I put my computer audio through my stereo system, and the RCA stacking plugs worked quite well to connect the headphones. They did not alter the regular feed to my amp at all.

They are powered by a USB cable which forks off from the audio plugs, which was not a problem for me since I use my computer for virtually all my TV viewing except DVDs.

The headphones are comfortable and I could easily wear them for hours. I am using them as I write this to listen to Robert Culbertson’s YouTube recordings (he is fantastic, by the way - definitely check him out - incredible Chapman Stick player). I anticipate using them to listen to music without bothering my neighbors while I write.

They seem well made for being mostly plastic. They feel solid and the cables are nice and long.

The sound quality is very good. Bass is strong and highs are clear and clean. The sound compares favorably with my old Koss Pro-4AAs, but these weight a LOT less.

While I would not encourage anyone to get these just for stereo headphones, they do actually work well for that if you have the right way to feed them a signal (NOT a regular headphone jack).

All in all, I like them very much. An easy 4, and probably a 4.5 or 5 for gamers.

Electrolux EL2010A Ergorapido Plus Cordless 2-in-1 Stick and Handheld Vacuum
Electrolux EL2010A Ergorapido Plus Cordless 2-in-1 Stick and Handheld Vacuum
Price: $121.29
3 used & new from $77.22

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars pretty good for many uses, August 16, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Deciding between 3 and 4 stars was difficult. While there are many things I like about this vacuum, there are a few shortcomings which may or may not be important depending on your use.

The pros:

Worked right out of the box as soon as I assembled the parts necessary (attach top part of handle, make sure handheld unit is free of shipping material). The battery had enough charge for me to test the vacuum on several different floor areas and shelves.

While it is designed for solid floors, it did seem to work just fine on low-nape carpet.

Internal battery - no power cord.

Unit is light and very maneuverable, and the head was low enough to get in under the edge of my stove. The head swivels very easily, yet does not feel flimsy. It can get into some pretty tight areas. I found it quite pleasant to use, for a vacuum, and no strain at all.

Suction I have to place in between the pros and cons, as it was adequate but not great.


The swivel head’s maneuverability can work against it when you are trying to vacuum along a hard edge. It moves so easily that it can be hard to keep it going straight. It will require some experience to develop tactics for overcoming that tendency.

The handhled unit is the actual mechanism (motor, filters, etc.) of the vacuum, and snaps off easily. However, I found that the size and shape did not lend it to being as useful for vacuuming bookshelves as I had hoped. It was too bulky to get into tight areas of the shelves, and the brush attachment seemed more like an afterthought - it did not fit well and would not lock into place.

Like all bagless plastic vacuums, it is messy to clean up. Static charge on the plastic means everything inside gets coated with dust, and I advise keeping lots of canned air around to help clean the filters. While there are some clever aspects to the filter design (springy pull clip to snap the dust out of the inner filter), you have to handle a lot of dust coated inner surfaces when emptying the dust catching area. You might want to wear exam gloves and a dust mask if such things cause you problems.

This is not peculiar to just this vacuum, as ALL plastic vacuums have dust issues related to static charge - warm, dusty air flowing rapidly across plastic can generate quite a bit of static (ala our old pal Van de Graaf).

On balance, it is a reasonably (for a plastic appliance) well made device, and functions adequately. As with most plastic devices, it is not meant for long service (which our society no longer cares about) but will probably last many years of average use, if taken care of properly.

This is the kind of item we will be 3D printing for ourselves in a few years - getting the motor and electrical parts and then just printing all the plastic housings and such. (And who knows, maybe even the motor and related parts will be printable by then, too.)

This would not be my first choice for a vaccum, but there are many uses (small dorm room, etc.,) where it would be quite handy. It is small and has no power cord to trip over or tangle up.

Certainly worth a look depending on your needs.

OXO Good Grips Lift and Lock Pole Caddy
OXO Good Grips Lift and Lock Pole Caddy
Price: $110.49
5 used & new from $85.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but over-priced, July 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Not a bad shelf system at all. OXO stuff is usually pretty good, and I have been looking for a shelf like this (that wasn't cheap junk) for some time. I was really looking forward to seeing if this was up to their usual standards.

For the most part, it is up to their usual standards, I am happy to say. It comes very well packaged, with good protection from shipping damage.

There is only one major flaw, and that is that it is a bit on the shaky side, even after installed. It is not intended for very heavy items, and it is not as solid as I would prefer.

That said, it is still a great shelf for many uses. In my case, it fit very well into the back corner of a very small bathroom, getting many items up off the toilet tank and available for easier access. Most items were small and light weight, and could be fit onto the triangular shelves without much trouble.

One heavier item (hair clipper set in a box about the size of a facial tissue box) was a bit more difficult to fit securely onto a shelf. I eventually stored it on end, braced against one wall. That made for a more solid arrangement. Granted, this shelf is designed more for personal care products than clippers, so that is not really a fault of the shelf.

It fits together so simply and easily that instructions are almost not needed. There are 4 pole sections, with one holding the spring and lock mechanism - the bottom pole section. There are three top sections, one with the cap to fit against the ceiling (or other solid overhead area). Two of the three top pieces are spacer poles of different lengths to allow one to adjust the size of the total system more closely with the space in use, independent of the internal spring adjustment.

The only difficult part is that the spring and locking mechanism is at the very bottom of the bottom section, and can be difficult to reach to adjust and lock in place - depending on what might be next to the space you are using for the shelf.

They system is designed to be back in a corner and use the backing walls for some solidity. If the shelves touch the walls, you might want some cushioning to prevent marks on the walls.

Even pressed as far back into the corner as possible, the shelf is still quite "springy" and loose feeling. If you have used any other kind of "spring pole," for curtains, etc., you will understand what I mean. Again, it is not for heavy items, and I would encourage users to keep that in mind when using these shelves.

While the construction is quite good (the plastic parts are solid and thick and the metal is as well) and the whole system seems well thought out and executed, I think that one is paying a lot for the name. I have had items in the same league at almost half the price, and I think this shelf should probably come in closer to $60-$70 than $130. I would not have considered buying one myself at the $130 price. Then again, some people consider me a little on the skinflint side, so your experience may be different.
(I'm old enough to remember gasoline prices in the 10 to 25 cent a gallon range, to give some perspective.)

That said, I have seen little else out there (and I have been looking for a couple years) which works for my use as well as this at any price. Granted it is a bit spendy, but you do get a viable and nice looking shelf for the money, so your mileage may vary in that regard.

So, if the price doesn't bother you, then I can easily recommend this as a good shelf for its intended purpose.

Universal Smartphone Holder and Flexible Mini Tripod for iPhone 5 iPhone 5C 5S Samsung Galaxy S5 S4 S3 Galaxy Note 3 Nexus 5
Universal Smartphone Holder and Flexible Mini Tripod for iPhone 5 iPhone 5C 5S Samsung Galaxy S5 S4 S3 Galaxy Note 3 Nexus 5
Price: $18.18
8 used & new from $16.29

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good but top heavy, July 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Not a bad little tripod and adapter.

The tripod is very flexible and versatile, and the clamp holds a camera or phone pretty well.

The only flaw I found was that the over-sized ball joint arrangement turned out very top-heavy with a phone installed. One has to be very careful how one places the tripod legs and arranges the phone to keep it from falling over. If not for that, it would be a 4 star item. It could be a 5 star item if the vendor figured out a better ball joint to avoid this problem, and did it well.

For very light weight items, it would work better. I used a medium sized (under 4 inch screen) smart phone, and the weight of event that average phone caused issues.

With that caveat in mind, the construction is good, the mechanisms work reasonably well (although there was one point of attachment I couldn't quite get to lock down), and the clamp does hold your gear solidly.

Animal Wisdom: Learning from the Spiritual Lives of Animals (Sacred Activism)
Animal Wisdom: Learning from the Spiritual Lives of Animals (Sacred Activism)
by Linda Bender
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.47
56 used & new from $10.47

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars powerful, emotionally intense, and well worth reading, July 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Outstanding book. I have not even finished it yet, and I am bowled over. I found the book so moving (often to the point of tears), that is has been difficult to finish reading it. The emotions it provokes in me are very strong. It is a powerful book for those who understand the topic.

The topic of spiritual/metaphysical energies and animals is as old as life itself, and the author impresses me very much with her approach and knowledge.

Having been privileged to have known some "animal bodhisattvas," in my life, I immediately identified with the author's message. The situations of great joy and great sorrow one experiences in dealing with animals come through with great insight and understanding in this book. The stories of animal bravery, compassion, teaching, travel, and ability will impress and amaze you (unless you already know about such things).

Anyone who has loved and been around animals will recognize what the author is saying, even if they are not familiar with the spiritual or academic references. There are sections near the end on various practices to enhance your connection to the animal world, and a short chapter on the usual environmental topics. There are also many great quotes from various spiritual people and traditions.

It is not a large or encyclopedic work. There is much that could be added, as stories of animal intelligence and emotional connection everywhere abound. One could easily fill a book about such things concerning every single species. This book is not meant to be such a magnum opus, but rather a call to action - to look more closely at the animal world and draw wisdom, growth, and inspiration from it.

The book is a powerful compilation of wisdom from the animal realm. If you are sensitive to animals, believe in a more shamanic approach to Life, or just love animals, I think you will like this book. The stories will certainly tug at your heartstrings at the very least.

Highly recommended.

Logitech Illuminated Living-Room Wireless Keyboard K830 and Touchpad for Internet-Connected TVs (920-006081)
Logitech Illuminated Living-Room Wireless Keyboard K830 and Touchpad for Internet-Connected TVs (920-006081)
Price: $79.99
8 used & new from $79.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spendy but good, July 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Very slick design. Would fit nicely into a modern, high tech living room, family room, media room, etc. Feels solid, and build quality seems quite good.

Granted, I am a fan of Logitech in general (except for them discontinuing the wired version of their M570 trackball . . . my favorite pointing device ), but this is one of the nicer items of theirs I have used.

The keys are "chicklet" style, but with a decent travel and crispness. While I wouldn't want to try a lot of touch typing on it, it is quite satisfactory for the duties of a media center keyboard. As someone who uses a big screen TV for a computer monitor, I appreciate a good wireless keyboard, but most do not work well for lots of typing (critical for a writer).

The keyboard only sits flat - there is no adjustment to raise the back for a better typing angle. This is not a production typing keyboard. It is for the limited typing one would have to do on a multimedia system - emails, web addresses, passwords, etc. It works very well for that.

The lighting feature is not useful for me, as I always work in a well lighted area (valuing my eyesight), but for those who like a dimmer environment, it could be quite useful. I haven't been able to make much sense of the auto-variable function so far, but then I don't have much opportunity to test it.

The touchpad is quite nice and very sensitive. I found it very easy to adapt from my trackball while I waited on a replacement for my usual keyboard/trackball (Iogear wireless - my current favorite).

The very flat design does not provide many angles to pick it up, and it might be more difficult to move around if one has hands small enough not to reach across the whole keyboard with one hand.

The built-in rechargeable battery may be convenient for some, but I prefer standard replaceable ones myself. A good pair of AA lithium batteries lasts a very long time in wireless keyboards. Having to remember to shut it off to conserve battery life is a nuisance, and having to plug it in to a USB cable seems to kind of defeat the whole wireless thing.

That said, it is still a very nice wireless keyboard, and I recently had to depend on it while I waited for a replacement for another keyboard which died.

It also works just fine with Linux Mint 17, which is always a big plus in my book. I only use Windows when forced, and I appreciate vendors whose products work well with Linux. Good job, Logitech.

A little spendy, but nice looks and good function make this a winner, nonetheless.

littleBits Electronics Synth Kit
littleBits Electronics Synth Kit
Price: $159.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fun and educational, June 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a great adult and educational toy for teaching the principles of analog synthesis. I do have a couple of quibbles, but more on those later.

This Little Bits set will allow one to create the functional parts of an analog synthesizer, and play with waveform shaping in the analog world. Analog waveform synthesis is very interesting, and should be an area of study for those studying sound and languages: phonemes, morphemes, etc. It can be exceptionally enlightening for those who buy into the whole "reverse speech" nonsense which was spawned by the advent of easy digital manipulation of sound (too detailed to go into here, but an understanding of analog synthesis will give one a clear understanding of why "reverse speech" really isn't).

The functional electronic modules; oscillator, filter, sequencer, etc., are on small blocks with electrical and mechanical connections set up so as to be easy to put together in the proper manner. They will only fit together one way, so you cannot connect them in the wrong way. While this does limit one a bit, it also ensures that each project functions when put together.

The Little Bits electronic kits apparently all work this way, and there is a certain genius in their design. The fit together easily and quickly, and one can create operational circuits right out of the box with little instruction.

The nitpicks I have are: price, missing functions, and detail.

The kits seems a bit on the high side, price-wise. I find $150 for this set to be about twice what it should be. Since I have been involved in electronics for over 40 years, I do have some idea of what components cost. That said, it is well made, well packaged and comes with really informative instructions. I could be wrong, but I think we are paying a premium for the brand here as well as the actual product.

The one missing functional block I really would like to have seen was an LFO, or Low Frequency Oscillator. This is a key circuit for controlling filters, oscillators, and other functions which can vary over time. I really missed having one in this set.

The thing which puts this kit more in the toy than educational category is the lack of details on the controls. There is no way of knowing what frequency one is generating on the oscillators, no scale on the controls to repeat settings, and so on. This makes an organized approach to the subject very difficult, and means one cannot use this set for serious education on analog synthesis with any ease, and relegates it more to the toy side of things.

Granted, the size of the modules would make it difficult to implement scales on the controls, etc., but just be aware of this limitation before you buy.

These three nitpicks kept me from giving it a 5, which it would otherwise deserve.

It is still a great toy for those inclined to this sort of thing, and I had a great time making all sorts of strange and funny electronic sounds and noises It took me back to the 70s and 80s and my own experimentation in the heyday of analog synthesis. There is a bit of history here, as well, and the manual gives a glimpse into some of that also.

Well worth a look.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 10, 2014 10:42 PM PDT

Garden of Life Kind Organics Organic B-12 Spray, 2 Ounce
Garden of Life Kind Organics Organic B-12 Spray, 2 Ounce

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good tasting and easy to use, June 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Most B-12 supplements have raspberry flavor, for some reason, and this is one of the better tasting of those (I don't like raspberry as a flavor in general).

It is easy to use - just spray into your mouth. B-12 supplements are considered to absorb best in the mouth, and a liquid form should make that work even better.

I haven't done any lab tests to compare blood levels before and after, but so far I am pleased with this supplement.

B-12 is important and many people are deficient (get your levels checked to be sure).

Garden Of Life products tend to be good, and I have no complaints at this point with this one.

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