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Customer Reviews: 59
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Mr. Bill RSS Feed (Los Altos, CA USA)

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Sena 826101 Magnet Flipper Leather Case for iPhone 5 & 5s - 1 Pack - Retail Packaging - Black
Sena 826101 Magnet Flipper Leather Case for iPhone 5 & 5s - 1 Pack - Retail Packaging - Black
Offered by outfitYOURS
2 used & new from $109.56

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Many design flaws, October 27, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I am quite disappointed in this iPhone case, especially after the many glowing reviews. I simply don't understand how the other reviewers have not been affected by these design errors. Let's list the glaring flaws first:

1. the case obstructs the home button to a degree that makes using the thumbprint reader difficult (but still possible if your are very careful). Thus, waking the phone up becomes more of a chore. I list this flaw first because although the thumbprint feature is not totally obliterated, using it becomes significantly harder with this case, and this is something a user does many times per day.

2. the case obstructs the top part of the display such that you cannot use the "Notification Center" at all. Because the cutout on the bottom part of the screen is larger (to allow access to the "Home Button"), the "Control Center" can be used. However, the "Notification Center" is simply unusable when the iPhone is in this case. The "Notification Center" feature is totally obliterated by this case.

3. the magnets in the case DISABLE THE COMPASS. Thus, various navigation apps are impaired. The GPS still works, but you lose any info about which way you are pointing. The compass feature is totally obliterated by this case.

Onward to the subjective assessment. I got this case (as I presume most others do...) in order to protect the screen, while still being able to touch the glass directly during use. It does a good job of this. I also wanted a fair degree of "drop protection" and it appears to do this, also. These 2 plusses are why I gave 2 stars.

The leather was not what I was expecting. It is leather, all right, but it is more like shoe leather, whereas I would have preferred something softer. Obviously, this is totally subjective, plus this leather probably wears better in the long run. This is not really a complaint, just an FYI.

Flaw #1 and flaw#2 could have been easily fixed by cutting the leather in a different pattern. Thus, these errors are simply unforgivable, IMO. Flaw #3 is going to happen with any case that has built-in magnets. The other fastener possibilities (snap or velcro) have their own issues, so perhaps this flaw is somewhat more forgivable. Just be aware that when you buy this case, you are kissing your compass goodbye.

Longacre Liquid Filled Deluxe Tire Gauge 0-60 psi
Longacre Liquid Filled Deluxe Tire Gauge 0-60 psi
Offered by Hoerr Racing Products
Price: $52.50
10 used & new from $45.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, accurate tire gauge, September 24, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Basically, I second the other positive reviews. To expand on a few points:

This is a model 50403 gauge. The accuracy spec is +-1%, or +-1psi, which ever is greater.
Longacre makes an incredible number of different tire gauges. This is the top of their 5040x line, with a check valve (holds the reading), and mineral oil damping of the meter movement. The 50402 has no oil damping for about $5 less. The 50401 has no check valve and no meter damping for about $25 less.

So far so good for me. The gauge works and reads low by maybe 0.25-0.50psi. As for longevity, time will tell.

The only other point I would make is that (obviously) this gauge is pretty large, so it is not the kind of thing to toss in the glove box. More likely it will hang on the wall of your shop.

Samsung ML-D1630A Toner 2K Yield for ML-1630, ML-1630W, SCX-4500, SCX-4500W
Samsung ML-D1630A Toner 2K Yield for ML-1630, ML-1630W, SCX-4500, SCX-4500W
Price: $56.59
44 used & new from $40.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Defective!, August 27, 2013
I purchased an ML-D1630A Toner cartridge directly from Upon receipt, I immediately plugged the cartridge into my printer and found it defective. I then spent 30 minutes on the phone with Samsung, first with sales, then with engineering (who verified that I plugged the cartridge in correctly, duh..), then customer support, in an unsuccessful attempt to get a return authorization. Instead, they told me to write an email to a 3rd party and grovel.

I must say this is the most outrageous treatment I have ever received. I sit here with my defective cartridge while Samsung sits with my $82.64, and some 3rd party decides whether I deserve a refund, in theory within the next 72 hours.

I purchased this directly from because I had read online reviews complaining about defective units and irritating return policies. I hoped that by dealing with Samsung directly and paying a higher price I would be dealt with fairly in the case of a problem. WRONG.

I ended up spending 8 hours (I am not making this up) over the course of 5 days dealing with various Samsung people in marketing, sales and support. They would ask me a series of questions, and then forward me to another department, where they would ask me the same questions all over again. Then on to another department. Rinse and repeat. I was requested to submit the exact same documentation 3 different times (I complied, of course.) The only way I ever fixed this is that there is a "voice of the customer" section in the Samsung corporate website, where I complained and eventually got this issue kicked upstairs to someone who isn't just sleepwalking. While all this going on, I still had to print stuff, so I bought a cheap $20 cartridge. It works fine, while the $80 Samsung cartridge was a dud.

The fact that my Samsung cartridge was defective was more or less just the luck of the draw, but I have to say that buying a Samsung product is playing Russian Roulette in that if there is anything wrong with it, you are in for a lot of misery.

Vantec NexStar TX 2.5-Inch SATA to USB 2.0 External Hard Drive Enclosure
Vantec NexStar TX 2.5-Inch SATA to USB 2.0 External Hard Drive Enclosure
Price: $7.99
57 used & new from $5.20

1.0 out of 5 stars Amazon = good. Vantec = junk, May 17, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My first enclosure arrived DOA. Computer would not recognize it. 5 days later, I have a second enclosure. This time, computer will recognize it, but cannot read the partition table or repartition the drive.

I have to admit, I am an idiot. Who would expect that this thing could possibly work for $9? Lesson learned. Who would possibly tie up an perfectly good hard drive by putting it in this enclosure? You can't repartition it, and, if I ever really *need* the data (like in the event of a system crash), the odds of this thing working are slim to none.

The Soundtrack of My Life
The Soundtrack of My Life
by Clive Davis
Edition: Hardcover
128 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A legend in his own mind, April 23, 2013
One thing that is for sure about Clive Davis is that he is a legend in his own mind.

Beyond that, this is a mildly interesting history of the labels and artists Clive has worked with.

A Little History of Science
A Little History of Science
by William Bynum
Edition: Hardcover
34 used & new from $3.93

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A noble, but ultimately failed, attempt, March 14, 2013
The author attempts to condense the history of science into 256 fairly small pages. The net result is that the coverage of each specific topic is spread so thin as to be rendered meaningless.

The approach works best on ancient science, because the essence of the result is extremely basic, and is well known and understood by most readers. For such topics, then, historical connections and anecdotes can be added to produce interesting reading *and* some interesting factoids which the reader has some chance of actually absorbing. For modern science, the basic approach is essentially worthless. At the end of the day, the explanation of such things as atomic physics, quantum mechanics, computing, DNA, and the human genome simply do not convey any information.

I can tell from the writing that the author knows a lot about a lot of things. I would love to have a conversation with him about any of these individual topics, and I suspect that he could write a very interesting book about many of the individual topics, (for example) the discovery of DNA. However, attempting to summarize the discovery of DNA in approximately 1000 words is just a fool's errand. The entire description of the invention of the transistor is the names of the 3 inventors and the fact that transistors are smaller and use less power than vacuum tubes.

I had hoped that this book would be a fun light read. For me, at least, the coverage was spread so thin as to render the words meaningless. A good try, but didn't make it.

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail - But Some Don't
The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail - But Some Don't
by Nate Silver
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.99
333 used & new from $1.38

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars what is this book about, anyway?, February 9, 2013
My review title is a bit facetious, but, really, this book is an extremely rambling discourse on probability, statistics, and its application to forecasting. One could just as easily start on any topic in the book and proceed randomly, from topic to topic. There is essentially no building of previous information.

I first thought that the outline of the book would follow the trajectory of Silver the man, i.e. from baseball, to online poker to FiveThirtyEight. But no, we find a series of digressions on Wall Street, investing, and a regurgitation of "A Random Walk Down Wall Street", and then segue into global warming, with considerable rumination on terrorism for good measure. But no FiveThirty Eight. My largest disappointment is that there is no detailed discussion of the FiveThirtyEight methodology, which is, after all, what boosted this book to the top of the charts.

Silver is a very bright guy with an entertaining turn of phrase, but, in the end, we are left with a bunch of scatter plots, with both linear and log axes, and little or no explanation about why terrorism statistics (for example) should be log-normal.

There is a whole lot more to probability theory than Bayes' Theorem. How do you separate the signal from the noise? With a matched filter, obviously.

AirPort Extreme 802.11n (5th Generation)
AirPort Extreme 802.11n (5th Generation)
24 used & new from $49.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent product, October 20, 2012
I bought this AirPort Extreme to replace a Netgear WNL3500 which had ongoing problems with dropping wireless connections. The install was quick and painless, and the thing WORKS. No more dropped connections. In my book, the AirPort Extreme follows the standard pattern of most (not all) Apple products - a very good product at an extremely high price.

I highly recommend this product.

A few FYIs (seriously, just fyi, I would definitely buy this again.) First, the Extreme has a USB port where you can hang a network hard drive or network printer. Although I personally haven't tried it, on the Apple website it states that you can't use such a networked drive for your Time Machine disc. Second, the unit runs surprisingly hot. It is intended to lie flat on a desktop, but after I felt the temperature of the case, and the temperature of the desk under the case, I propped the unit up to have good airflow under the case. Finally, there are 3 wired LAN ports, not the usual 4. If I ran the circus, the unit would have a better heat sink, would support Time Machine, and would have more wired ports, but in my book this is still a five star product.

NETGEAR WNR3500L N300 Open-Source Gigabit WiFi Router (WNR3500Lv2), 128MB NAND and 128MB RAM, 480 MHz MIPS 74K Processor
NETGEAR WNR3500L N300 Open-Source Gigabit WiFi Router (WNR3500Lv2), 128MB NAND and 128MB RAM, 480 MHz MIPS 74K Processor
Price: $45.99
127 used & new from $20.51

2.0 out of 5 stars drops wireless connections, even with high signal strength, October 20, 2012
I have struggled with this router for quite a while, and finally dumped it. Symptoms are that the wired connections work fine, but the wireless connections drop off from time to time for no apparent reason. Indicated signal strength is high. It even drops an iPad sitting 6 feet away. I have tried multiple times to: update the firmware (duh); reset to factory settings; change channel selection from 'auto' to various manual channels and then back again; change encryption settings; and a host of other things suggested in various support threads. No joy. Finally, in total frustration, I bought an Apple AirPort Extreme base station. Viola, no problems.

No more Netgear for me.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 22, 2012 2:39 PM PDT

KWC Faucets Z.536.062.700 SUPRIMO Soap Dispenser, Steel
KWC Faucets Z.536.062.700 SUPRIMO Soap Dispenser, Steel
Offered by plumbingwholesaler
Price: $285.14
5 used & new from $285.14

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars unfortunately, it just doesn't work, September 6, 2012
A very nice looking (and extremely expensive) soap dispenser. Unfortunately, after some period of use, it seizes up. The first unit was replaced, free of charge, by KWC. The second (replacement) unit failed identically after 18 months. I have moved on.

A friend with a KWC faucet has had a similar experience. Very nice look, a look of quality on the stainless steel or brushed chrome or what have you, but the guts fail very quickly (2 years) because they are poorly designed. This would be irritating in a Delta product from Home Depot; at the astronomical prices KWC charges, it is beyond infuriating.

All this is a shame, really. Somewhere inside KWC are 1 or 2 mechanical engineers who are killing the company.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 24, 2012 8:44 AM PDT

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