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Guanjo: A Science Fiction Novel
Guanjo: A Science Fiction Novel
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A fresh new voice in science fiction!, April 14, 2016
John E. Boyd is a graduate student of a future Earth who is fascinated with tales of exploration from Earth's distant past. Unfortunately, with every square inch of Earth charted (and inhabited and under perfect control) there's absolutely no adventure to be had on Earth... nothing but a perfectly safe and humdrum life from birth to death.

Little wonder, then, that he comes to be fascinated with a group of explorers/colonizers who set out to settle the planet of Guanjo, at the distant end of the explored Universe, and were never seen or heard from again. He sets off on a months to years long voyage to find out what happened to them and along the way finds himself truly living and enjoying life for the first time.

And then he gets to Guanjo... and meets the frogs... You might think that "nightmarish frogs" is a contradiction in terms (or perhaps a great name for a band) but the author pulls off the concept with aplomb and gives us a first contact story the likes of which we've never seen before! Enjoy!


H&R Block 2015 Premium + State Tax Software +  Refund Bonus Offer - Windows Download
H&R Block 2015 Premium + State Tax Software + Refund Bonus Offer - Windows Download
Price: $64.95

43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This product hates you and wants you to suffer!, February 19, 2016
(I posted this originally for the CD-ROM version of the program but am also posting it here as it applies to the downloaded version as well)

My experience with the software started out well enough - the program installed and started up easily and began with the usual questions of name, SSN, contents of the various boxes of the W2, etc. As time went on, however, it became apparent that the product was slapped together hastily and rushed out the door so as to start making money for the manufacturer as quickly as possible. How else to explain this screen I came across?

"Special Case Applies for 1040, Line 10. Your tax situation is a special case. To figure the amount for Form 1040, line 10 see the recoveries section of IRS Publication 525: Taxable and Nontaxable Income. Tell us the amount you figured for line 10."

The whole purpose of buying the software is to keep me from having to read IRS publications and figure out what to put in the various lines and boxes... the software is supposed to tell me that! Even worse, my "special case" was not all that special - I had a state income tax refund last year and also paid AMT last year. At any rate, I dutifully read Publication 525 and, after about an hour, figured out what was supposed to go into line 10; something that turned out to be easily programmable if the manufacturers could be troubled to do so.

I continued onward and later was flummoxed by the question, "Is Rent Amount for this Rentals and Royalties Worksheet? [Yes/No]" I still, to this day, don't know what was actually meant by this question - I ended up having to figure out the answer by putting "Yes" and seeing what the program did with the tax forms and then by putting "No" and seeing what that did. To the best of my knowledge (after another hour or two of study), "No" proved to be the correct answer but I am sure the IRS will set me straight if I've gotten it wrong... many years ago I had gone to an H&R Block brick and mortar establishment and had them fill out my taxes. A couple of months later, I got a very politely written letter from the IRS explaining that I had figured my taxes incorrectly and sent them too much money. To save me some time, they were just going to assume that I redid my taxes according to what they figured for me and they just went ahead and sent me a check for the amount that I overpaid.

Anyway, I pressed onward through the program, answering questions such as "Tell us on which copy of your worksheet you want to report your rents" via trial and error (0 resulted in an error but the program seemed happy with 1) until I got to the end and filed the taxes electronically.

Incidentally, electronically filing with the IRS is free but electronically filing with a state costs $19.95 extra...

After I filed, I reviewed the forms that were printed out for my records only to discover (even with my rudimentary tax knowledge) that the program had entered double the proper number for the rents that I had collected. Turns out that the program had asked me for the rents I'd collected twice but the second time it was asking me for ADDITIONAL rents collected that I had not told it about on the first screen. Naively, I entered the same figure on both screens when I was supposed to enter the proper figure on the first screen and zero on the second screen. The mistake ended up resulting in me being charged about $7000 additional tax so naturally a refile was in order.

Unfortunately, the IRS does not accept electronic refiles and H&R has apparently never tested the refile portion of their program on live humans beings so the refiling ended up being even more arduous than the original filing. I think I've got the proper forms printed out now but, again, I'm sure the nice folks at the IRS will let me know if I haven't got it all straight.

At any rate, I won't be using this product for the next tax season; instead I'll go with something less painful such as sawing at my wrists with a rusted razor blade in hopes that I bleed to death prior to April 15th.


H&R Block Tax Software Premium 2015 Federal & State
H&R Block Tax Software Premium 2015 Federal & State
Offered by Wolfreeze
Price: $10.99
14 used & new from $4.99

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Accomplished the seemingly impossible - made filing taxes EVEN MORE painful!, February 19, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My experience with the software started out well enough - the program installed and started up easily and began with the usual questions of name, SSN, contents of the various boxes of the W2, etc. As time went on, however, it became apparent that the product was slapped together hastily and rushed out the door so as to start making money for the manufacturer as quickly as possible. How else to explain this screen I came across?

"Special Case Applies for 1040, Line 10. Your tax situation is a special case. To figure the amount for Form 1040, line 10 see the recoveries section of IRS Publication 525: Taxable and Nontaxable Income. Tell us the amount you figured for line 10."

The whole purpose of buying the software is to keep me from having to read IRS publications and figure out what to put in the various lines and boxes... the software is supposed to tell me that! Even worse, my "special case" was not all that special - I had a state income tax refund last year and also paid AMT last year. At any rate, I dutifully read Publication 525 and, after about an hour, figured out what was supposed to go into line 10; something that turned out to be easily programmable if the manufacturers could be troubled to do so.

I continued onward and later was flummoxed by the question, "Is Rent Amount for this Rentals and Royalties Worksheet? [Yes/No]" I still, to this day, don't know what was actually meant by this question - I ended up having to figure out the answer by putting "Yes" and seeing what the program did with the tax forms and then by putting "No" and seeing what that did. To the best of my knowledge (after another hour or two of study), "No" proved to be the correct answer but I am sure the IRS will set me straight if I've gotten it wrong... many years ago I had gone to an H&R Block brick and mortar establishment and had them fill out my taxes. A couple of months later, I got a very politely written letter from the IRS explaining that I had figured my taxes incorrectly and sent them too much money. To save me some time, they were just going to assume that I redid my taxes according to what they figured for me and they just went ahead and sent me a check for the amount that I overpaid.

Anyway, I pressed onward through the program, answering questions such as "Tell us on which copy of your worksheet you want to report your rents" via trial and error (0 resulted in an error but the program seemed happy with 1) until I got to the end and filed the taxes electronically.

Incidentally, electronically filing with the IRS is free but electronically filing with a state costs $19.95 extra...

After I filed, I reviewed the forms that were printed out for my records only to discover (even with my rudimentary tax knowledge) that the program had entered double the proper number for the rents that I had collected. Turns out that the program had asked me for the rents I'd collected twice but the second time it was asking me for ADDITIONAL rents collected that I had not told it about on the first screen. Naively, I entered the same figure on both screens when I was supposed to enter the proper figure on the first screen and zero on the second screen. The mistake ended up resulting in me being charged about $7000 additional tax so naturally a refile was in order.

Unfortunately, the IRS does not accept electronic refiles and H&R has apparently never tested the refile portion of their program on live humans beings so the refiling ended up being even more arduous than the original filing. I think I've got the proper forms printed out now but, again, I'm sure the nice folks at the IRS will let me know if I haven't got it all straight.

At any rate, I won't be using this product for the next tax season; instead I'll go with something less painful such as sawing at my wrists with a rusted razor blade in hopes that I bleed to death prior to April 15th.


AsapSCIENCE: Answers to the World's Weirdest Questions, Most Persistent Rumors, and Unexplained Phenomena
AsapSCIENCE: Answers to the World's Weirdest Questions, Most Persistent Rumors, and Unexplained Phenomena
by Mitchell Moffit
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.31
71 used & new from $2.44

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Brief and over simplified answers to a number of questions, January 14, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
A large number of questions are answered in a fairly brief and superficial way in this book... In fact, much of the book is given over to illustrations that are humorous but don't contribute anything to reaching about the subject at hand; by comparision, the text itself is fairly short. In addition, many answers are presented as "the final word" on a subject which is not appropriate for many of the questions in the book which relate to phenomena where our best theory is nothing more than a well-informed guess (particularly when it comes to the questions touching on neuroscience). This book might be appropriate for hooking the interest of someone who is brand new to science but serious devotees should look elsewhere.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 6, 2016 7:59 AM PDT


Datrex Emergency Survival 2400 Calorie Food Ration Bars (Pack of 10), 120 Bars
Datrex Emergency Survival 2400 Calorie Food Ration Bars (Pack of 10), 120 Bars
Price: $55.96
4 used & new from $53.76

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still good after almost 12 years!, January 14, 2016
I have a set of these bars that were manufactured in November 2005 and my family and I each tried a single 200 kcal bar now (January 2016). We found it quite tolerable (if "a little stale tasting" in the words of one family member) and the coconut flavoring was still intact. 24 hours later, none of us have felt any aftereffects. The bars have been stored in a room temperature closet ranging from 60-80 F throughout these years.


Datrex Emergency Water Packets - 12 pack
Datrex Emergency Water Packets - 12 pack

5.0 out of 5 stars Still working well almost 12 years after manufacture!, January 14, 2016
I have a set of these drinking water pouches that were manufactured in November 2005 and just now (January 2016), I opened up a single 4 ounce pouch and drank it to make sure it was still good (yes, I know, I've fallen behind on my chores!). The water tasted quite good and twenty four hours later I have not suffered any ill effects.

During these past almost 12 years, the pouches were stored first in my closet (kept between 60-80 F) for a few years and then in my car's trunk for about five years. The car spends most of the time in the garage but is occasionally outside all day/night in a climate where the temperature ranges from 30 F at the lowest to about 110 F at the hottest.

(if any Datrex engineers are reading and are curious about the lot number, it was B1 526).


Working with Open Office Calc
Working with Open Office Calc
Price: $3.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Not Particularly Helpful, January 13, 2016
The authors provide information about using Open Office Calc (which, of course, is different from Libre Office Calc!) version 4.0.1. Unfortunately, the information that they provide is not particularly helpful. Essentially, the authors run through the menu items that are at the very top of the program and explain quite briefly what each menu item does.

For instance, under the "File" menu item, there are the options of "New", "Open", "Recent Documents" and so on. The authors then explain that "New" is what you choose if you want to create a new document, "Open" is what you choose if you want to open an already existing document and so on.

The entire book continues in this vein until all of the menu options are briefly explained and then it comes to a close. Items that you might hope were explained in more detail - such as formulas, charts, pivot tables, conditional formatting, etc are not covered at all beyond describing which menu option to choose to access that function. The brevity is such that one gets the sense that the book took only two days to write in its entirety. I skimmed through it in 15 minutes and then returned the title and moved on to looking at other books.


Quantum Theory: A Very Short Introduction
Quantum Theory: A Very Short Introduction
by John C. Polkinghorne
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.20
115 used & new from $0.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A very short review of quantum theory - appropriate only for those who have already studied the subject in some detail!, March 31, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This book is billed as "A Very Short Introduction" to quantum theory but, in fact, it's no introduction at all! The author tosses out a number of ideas from quantum theory but fails to explain them in any meaningful way. This makes the book really more appropriate as a review for people who've already studied this in the past and makes the book entirely unsuited to those who would like to learn something about this for the very first time. As an example, we have,

"The principal difference between a particle and a field is that the former has only a finite number of degrees of freedom (independent ways in which its state can change), while a field has an infinite number of degrees of freedom."

which is simply stated without any explanation whatsoever of why it might happen to be true or what those degrees of freedom might happen to be. The subsequent discussion then proceeds from this statement and is entirely inpenetratable without having first understood this statement.

Numerous examples of this make this book entirely unsuited for those new to this subject. The book is only appropriate for those who have already understood the subject and, for some reason, need a brief refresher that happens to skip all of the math (a rather small audience, I would suspect).


Melanie's Marvelous Measles
Melanie's Marvelous Measles
by Stephanie Messenger
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.56
28 used & new from $9.75

22 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gonna pay off that BMW in NO time now!, February 9, 2015
Awesome! The less the kids get vaccinated, the more money we greedy doctors will make! Spread the word, Ms. Messenger, spread it far and wide! Daddy needs a new Mercedes next!


littleBits Electronics Deluxe Kit
littleBits Electronics Deluxe Kit
12 used & new from $223.60

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Excellent customer service but not much value/replayability for the price, January 8, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Based on the description of the kit, we had high hopes that it would turn out to be a fascinating and endlessly replayable toy. Unfortunately, it turned out not to be the case. The kit arrived in good order except for a single broken component (a button) which was kindly and quickly replaced by the manufacturer. Unfortunately, the kit fascinated us (an adult and his 10 year old daughter) for about two hours and since then it has sat in a corner untouched.

I think the reason for this is that the kit is limited in the sorts of circuits that it can create - the packaging promises millions of different combinations and although this is mathematically true, the number of combinations that create an interesting circuit is much more limited. Basically you can create a single series circuit OR you can take up to three single series circuits and put them into a single parallel circuit.

The cost of the components is also an issue. The kit comes with just one of most things (one button, one LED, one slider, etc) and if you have an idea that requires two of something, you'll need to order an extra component but the cost of a single component is quite high - high enough to make it not worthwhile to order it (check out the current price list on littlebits.cc).

I would direct your attention to the Snapcircuits series of toys/kits. They are less flashy than Littlebits but are much more replayable. They kept my daughter's attention for days at a time and were much less expensive than the Littlebits. They also offer much more in the way of flexibility in terms of designing your own circuits.


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