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Customer Reviews: 82
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Helpful Votes: 1695

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Reviews Written by
Fred "Technology is your friend." RSS Feed (CHAPEL HILL, NC, United States)

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249 of 276 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the hype, November 21, 2013
When you click a single star it says, "I hate it" - my daughter didn't love it, and I'm really tired of the hype and over exposure. Today, Nov. 21, I got an email from Goldie Blox asking me to write a review (this is my second).

- I did the Kickstarter.
- I saw the toy in stores before I got it from them.
- Had to hassle them to get my order.
- My daughter (4) played with it for half an hour, it took a lot of encouragement, as the game itself isn't really that well made. Maybe it is targeted towards an older demographic, but my 7 year old son who also loves all things mechanical, wasn't that enthralled.
- The kids' favorite part were the figurines.
- I get email after email from them - even after having hit 'unsubscribe' many, many times.
- It is a lot of hype without a lot of play value. Their roadmap for other things they are coming out with looks similarly unimpressive.

TIMEX Men's T498519J Rugged Digital CAT (Chrono/Alarm/Timer) Vibration Alarm Watch
TIMEX Men's T498519J Rugged Digital CAT (Chrono/Alarm/Timer) Vibration Alarm Watch
Price: $31.84
17 used & new from $29.64

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice Watch, Not Very Durable, October 5, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I purchased this watch in September of 2012 and after a year of semi-rough treatment, the buttons stopped working and its reliability dropped considerably. I bought the watch to have a silent way to wake up in the morning early without waking up my wife.

- Regular gym sessions
- International travel
- Outdoor work
- Not used as a primary watch

Failure modes:
- Button on right would stay locked in, preventing other buttons form being pushed
- 'Light' button would get stuck on, not letting other buttons get pushed and also making a soft hissing noise
- Vibrating function would occasionally 'skip' (tested to confirm this was happening)
- This was not a battery issue, as I replaced them to confirm there was not an issue

I have since purchased a Timex Expedition Shock, which after a month of use is holding up much better. Timex Men's T499509J Expedition Shock XL Vibrating Alarm Black Resin Strap Watch If you are going to treat the product roughly, consider using a different watch.

Timex Men's T499509J "Expedition Shock XL" Resin Watch
Timex Men's T499509J "Expedition Shock XL" Resin Watch
Price: $46.79
10 used & new from $43.51

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Vibrating Watch, October 5, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this watch to replace a Timex T49851, which I had purchased for the vibrating alarm. That original watch was not as robust as hoped, and after a year of travel, outdoor activities and rough treatment at the gym, it was no longer working the right way all the time.

After a month with this new watch, the T499059J EXPEDITION SHOCK, it is much, *much* more durable than the other Timex alternative.

There are three alarm options, which is nice. The vibrating function is about the same effect as the older T49851, but with the bigger watch face it is more effective in waking me up.

As to the other reviewer who noted that it is not a G-Shock, this is, in fact, correct. It is not a G-Shock, nor does it have the property of magically becoming one after it is ordered.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 1, 2014 1:19 AM PDT

Abaddon's Gate (The Expanse Book 3)
Abaddon's Gate (The Expanse Book 3)
Offered by Hachette Book Group
Price: $9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars great series, weak close, August 22, 2013
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The series has been great - real word space physics and constraints set shortly in the future. However, the resolution is labored - both too long and at the same time lacking detail in many areas.

No Title Available

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Does not work!, January 19, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Bought two - did not work with any combination of iPhone and plugs that we had (2 of each). Not worth saving $10 to have to return it anyways.

Eye-Fi 8 GB Mobile X2 SDHC Class 6 Wireless Memory Card EYE-FI-8MD
Eye-Fi 8 GB Mobile X2 SDHC Class 6 Wireless Memory Card EYE-FI-8MD
Offered by Gold Star Deals
Price: $153.17
12 used & new from $49.99

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great Product for Two Years; Now Junk, May 27, 2012
We bought one of these two years (2010) ago and loved it; we gave several as gifts to friends. It is now worthless - functioning only as a standard memory card. The geo-tagging and automatic sync to our home computer has stopped and Eye-Fi support has not been able to get us up and running.

Earlier this year our camera broke (a trusty Canon), and we upgraded to a newer Olympus. This card has not worked since that time, nor has Eye-Fi customer service been able to help us resolve the problem. We've spent quite a bit of time going on chat boards and looking on how to resolve the problem. We've also spent a lot of time (~8 hours) trying to follow directions from Eye-Fi customer support.

I realize that Eye-Fi has to keep their software up to date with many camera makers who have different firm ware on the camera. It appears that the problem we are encountering does not happen to all users with an Olympus E-PL3, but it happens enough to be a known problem. This appears to be happening with greater frequency to a number of new camera models where Eye-Fi lists them as, "Compatible" with their memory cards and desktop software.

Again, we loved this product for years, but the support we've received from Eye-Fi has not been acceptable. Maybe if you have all new camera and computer components it still works great; that simply has not been the case for us and it has been extremely frustrating.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 29, 2012 10:29 AM PDT

Kinesis Freestyle Solo Ergonomic USB Keyboard - Black
Kinesis Freestyle Solo Ergonomic USB Keyboard - Black
Offered by Jestik
Price: $89.00
7 used & new from $80.00

53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Ergonomic Keyboard, February 4, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I just purchased my second Kinesis freestyle. I purchased the first three years ago and this will be an additional unit for another computer setup. Below is a list of items I looked for in purchasing the initial Kinesis and reasons for purchasing this second unit.

1. SEPARATE KEYPADS. The ergonomic aspect of the Kinesis is simple. The left and right sides of the keyboards are attached, held together only with a wire. I like this because you can move the keyboard over the course of the day, and it is a surprisingly comfortable way to type.

2. OPTIONS. There are a lot of ways to address ergonomic use of a keyboard. My 2006 purchase replaced a Microsoft ergonomic keyboard purchased in 1997 which was rounded. With the Kinesis option set you can assemble the keyboard at whatever angle, palm support, or other option that you desire. There are lots of other ergonomic boards, but they lock you into an option set. In my reading, I found that the scientific literature on 'what is ergonomic' had no clear synthesis, but they did all agree that flexibility was important.

3. TRAVEL. I've actually found that the Kinesis keyboard travels very well. It is easily folded and quite compact to take along as a travel keyboard.

4. KEY TRAVEL. The act of individual keystrokes on the Kinesis is... just right? I know this is not a very scientific description, but the depth of the travel and resistance is very good. Many laptop keyboards have too short of a travel and/or too high of a resistance and it feels this has increasingly spread to other keyboards used for desktops or docking stations.

5. SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE. Lots of ergonomic typing methods look VERY dorky. 9 out of 10 on the geek scale. You'll get plenty of questions with a Kinesis sitting on your desk, but nothing ridiculous. Most of the time people say, "Oh, that's cool." From a visual standpoint, people are used to seeing a separate 10-key for some colleagues, so the split keyboard isn't that much of a leap.

6. IT WORKS REALLY WELL. I got the second keyboard as I'd begun to realize how much I prefer typing on my other setup. The split keyboard is a very simple idea that is VERY comfortable. I'm no longer in a business role where I type a lot on a regular basis, but when I do I want to be able to move quickly and thoroughly to get my thoughts well organized. I really do prefer typing with the Kinesis and am excited about getting a second set up.

7. IT NEEDS A 10 KEY. My one complaint / suggestion is that you'll want to get a separate 10 key entrant method to speed up the entry process, as it is a bit laborious to do so using the Fn keys on the Kinesis.

All in all, I really like this keyboard and highly recommend it.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 5, 2012 1:29 PM PST

Tulipomania : The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused
Tulipomania : The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused
by Mike Dash
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.14
170 used & new from $0.01

10 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Topic, Disappointing Execution, August 18, 2001
Tulipomania is a disappointing telling of the story about Holland's tulip craze in the 1630's. The Tulipomania, as the craze is called, is an oft-cited example of a financial mania, one that has recently been brought up many times to be compared with the internet stock rage. In fact, that is one of the book's main obstacles to overcome, with the Tulipomania such a frequent topic of discussion, the book needed to provide more than a greater re-telling of the event. The book needed to describe in greater depth the true cause of the mania. It fails on both accounts. The book reads as if it was quickly (and poorly) written to capitalize on the resurgence of Tulipomania references in popular media.
From the get go the story is loosely ordered, a rambling tale that seems light on research and still heavy on facts. The story never hits its stride, and for the one or two chapters that there is a true story to read, the story that is told fails to do anything more than talk about facts that are already common knowledge. The author chooses not to identify any key characters in the mania, nor does Mr. Dash ever create a feeling that he has systematically thought of how to craft his tale. The words are thrust together, the facts ramble along and at no point does it feel as if a real book has ever been written. As an example, if this review were to be written as the book is, there would be no mention of the author, no talk about the book, no introduction of how the reviewer got to their opinion, etc. etc. The review would read, "Books have been written for many years. Recently there was one about the Tulipomania. It didn't seem very good." And then off I'd go. The style of prose is so difficult and taxing that it is problematic to describe in sufficient detail the way that it hinders the few facts that Mr. Dash bothered to dig up.
The facts, as I just mentioned, seem few and far between. "Tulipomania" falls into a genre I think of as `Topical Histories' (good examples are "Cod" by M. Kurlansky, "The Professor and the Madman" by S. Winchester, "The Code Book" and "Fermat's Enigma" both by Singh). All of these take topics and present a quick-paced well-researched all-encompassing view of a particular area of history and/or science. "Tulipomania" never really does this. The facts that are presented are not pursued very deeply, and instead seem to be repeated often and frequently. The repetition begins to appear as an attempt to make up for the number of facts that are introduced, or possibly an attempt to get the reader just to accept them and move on. Mr. Dash repeatedly introduces historical figures with their proper name, giving no further detail of who they are, or even elaborating on their relevance to the text. The lengthy index records numerous proper names with a single reference, inserted and discarded without benefiting the story either factually or by bettering the human interest angle.
If you want to learn more about the Tulipomania go read the financial histories, "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" and "Confusión de Confusiones" which both treat the episode very well. The only three tidbits that Mr. Dash adds are (I include them here to save you time): (i) the tulip originated in Asia, in Turkish provinces; (ii) the Ottoman Turks were important in the spreading of the flower, and (iii) there were other tulip manias, including one in France preceding the Dutch and others in Turkish areas afterwards. Don't waste your time with this book.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 22, 2010 7:56 PM PST

The Mystery Of Capital Why Capitalism Succeeds In The West And Fails Everywhere Else
The Mystery Of Capital Why Capitalism Succeeds In The West And Fails Everywhere Else
by Hernando de Soto
Edition: Hardcover
103 used & new from $0.17

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important Message Clearly and Excitingly Told, August 18, 2001
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a truly outstanding book. Very rarely does one encounter a socio-economic book that has outstanding narration, solid historical perspectives, and clear, relevant data. Mr. de Soto's thesis is beautifully simple, "Extra legal activities, those activities that exist outside of (not necessarily against, such as illegal) the law, are a fundamental aspect of society. Those societies that have flourished (Europe, the US and developed Asia) are those that have broadened their legal sectors to incorporate and legalize those extra-legal activities." The author then goes on to demonstrate his point by focusing on property laws throughout the third world, documenting in fascinating detail the steps required to own a house in Egypt or the Philippines.
Despite these difficulties, ownership still occurs. It does so, however, through extra-legal activities. Local cooperatives that enforce and provide dispute resolution are key aspects of this society. Mr. de Soto argues that these local cooperatives and organizations must be made part of the law; otherwise these countries will eternally lag the developed West. To stop here would have been quite a book, and one which would illicit much debate, but here the author shows himself to be a researcher of particular talent, by providing us with several extremely relevant historical examples. These examples, from the early US, show how extra-legal organizations, such as early mining organizations and land cooperatives in the frontier, came together to dictate how deeds were to be approved, provide safety to those who had settled and resolve disputes. The many acts of the US government that would dictate how these items were to be "officially" handled were more often than not several years lagging in their development, and were merely the `officialization' of pre-existing extra-legal institutions.
The author takes us through his argument using wonderful prose, a clear argument and poignant tables. Even those who might disagree with his point would appreciate this book. He does a magnificent job of referencing relevant modern economic works, particularly those of Ronald Coase. This book not only educates the reader about the argument the author puts forward, but also provides the reader with the education necessary to critically evaluate the method and supporting data of that argument. Such books as this are rare, and this is why I highly recommend this book.
Points of Interest:
Metcalfe's Law (also commonly known as the network effect) described in detail according to its official definition. "The value of a network - defined as its utility to a population - is roughly proportional to the number of users squared. An example is the telephone network. One telephone is useless: whom do you call? Two telephones are better, but not much. It is only when most of the population has a telephone that the power of the network reaches its full potential to change society." (Page 72)
The book contains the story of a slump in the Peruvian economy, with one of the indicators being a decrease in construction. Further inspection revealed that sales of bags of cement were actually increasing. The extra-legal economy was booming, but uncounted. (Page 76)
"Mandatory law is not enough. As Andrzeg Rapaczynski has pointed out:... `This is the old Hobbesian problem: when most people obey the law, the government can enforce it effectively and [relatively] cheaply against the few individuals who break it. But when obedience breaks down on a large enough scale, no authority is strong enough to police everyone....'" (Page 170)
"In the absence of legal protection from the state in most developing nations, it is extralegal law that regulates the assets of most citizens." (Page 175)
"One large [extra-legal] squatter settlement I visited recently was initiated by the city council itself to provide homes for some 7,000 families of government employees." (Page 177)
"Using economic data from fifty-two countries from 1960 to 1980, Samar K. Datta and Jefferey B. Nugent have shown that for every percentage point increase in the number of lawyers in the labor force (from say 0.5 to 1.5%), economic growth is reduced by 4.76 to 3.68 percent - thus showing that economic growth is inversely related to the prudence of lawyers." (Page 198)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 27, 2013 1:41 PM PDT

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (Hornblower Saga)
Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (Hornblower Saga)
by C. S. Forester
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.18
342 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun, Quick-Paced, Full of Action, August 18, 2001
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a fun book to read. I had never heard of Mr. Forester or these novels, and when they came recommended to me over a short period of time from several different sources, I picked up this, the first in the series chronologically (we meet a young Hornblower as he first joins His Majesty's Navy) and had a very good time reading it. The book is a collection of short stories which occasionally build on each other. The writing is blunt and to the point, the action fast paced, the life-lessons brutally self-apparent, but they are put together in a very entertaining manner which creates quite an enjoyable book.
I would compare the book to a historically placed Clive Cussler novel, or perhaps even a more modern and quickly told version of James Fenimore Cooper's Leather-Stocking Tales.
I recommend this to anyone who is looking for a light-hearted, fast-paced adventure novel that doesn't weigh too heavily on the soul. I think this would be a great novel to read to/with kids. I'm looking forward to reading some of the other books in the series.

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