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D. R. Jeanclerc "Reader, Listener & Obsessive Observer" RSS Feed (Brunswick, OH USA)
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Decision Making For Dummies
Decision Making For Dummies
by Dawna Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: $26.99
58 used & new from $2.48

4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Information for Everyone, Particularly New Managers/Leaders, May 27, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The "Dummies" series of books are a double-edged sword. On one hand, they typically have very useful and usable content packaged in an easy-to-digest writing style. On the other, they're a bright yellow book that labels the reader as a dummy. So, business-themed entries in particular are tough to envision taking up visible space on your work desk. However, “Decision Making for Dummies” should be fearlessly displayed and kept close at-hand because of the quality of insight that it provides. I particularly appreciated how the concept of decision-making is examined from a sufficiently abstract level that it can be applied to many situations both personal and organizational. The book follows a methodical approach step by step from understanding the decision to be made and framing the desired outcomes through change management surrounding your eventual decision. It also covers the crucial concept of how to recover if it becomes apparent that you’ve made a bad decision. All very useful information, particularly for those starting out as managers/leaders within an organization.


Pinnacle Studio 18 Plus (Old Version)
Pinnacle Studio 18 Plus (Old Version)
Offered by DulyDeals
Price: $49.98
11 used & new from $49.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Another Good Studio Release but Consider the Ultimate Edition Upgrade, May 27, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I’ve been a fan of Pinnacle Studio products for several versions now. I find the user interface to be intuitive and the potential results to be pretty cool stuff from semi-skilled or even amateur hands. I had had tremendous problems installing prior versions of Studio, but 18 worked easily on the first try for me (on a machine that had had prior versions of Studio installed on it, for what it’s worth – your mileage may vary).
My only problem with this Plus edition is that it doesn’t pack much more in the features department than the basic yet also lacks the “cool” editing effects that come packaged in the ultimate edition. You also can’t author to blu-ray yet can work with 3D video with the Plus edition, which seems backwards. I would expect that many more people would rather just create basic blu-rays than mess around with anything 3D.
One nice feature with the Plus is the ability to capture video and audio right from the screen and then edit it. This is invaluable when creating computer training/demo videos or capturing a live presentation complete with its slides.


Canon P-215II Document Scanner
Canon P-215II Document Scanner
Price: $249.00
89 used & new from $182.07

4.0 out of 5 stars Small, Reliable and High-Quality - but Missing Full Functionality, May 27, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Canon P-215II document scanner is a compact and very capable piece of office equipment with one key feature missing that prevents it from being a total solution. Performance-wise, it feeds and scans documents and photos very well. It utilizes default settings that work for most people’s common uses but also allows you to easily customize when necessary. I especially liked the fact that you can store multiple setups as presets, e.g. one for black-and-white documents and another for high-resolution color photographs, etc. The included Capture OnTouch software also gives you flexibility as to how to handle the results. For example, you can direct files into specific folders, print them out in hard copy form, or open them in other reader/imaging software applications. When scanning basic black-and-white documents, it’s quite fast (20+ pages/minute) and the feeder very rarely skips any pages (usually only in cases where the original is less than perfect).

What I found lacking is built-in WiFi capability. With so much content migrating to cloud-based apps, it would truly be a great time saver if I could set a preset to automatically send results to Dropbox, Flickr, etc. Canon sells a pricey WiFi adapter, but without it, the P-215II seems like an “almost there” solution selling for full price. As others have noted, since the scanner gets its power from USB, you’d need to also purchase the (again) optional AC power cord in order to run the scanner on its own (like a Neat scanner). For the price, these seem like hardware/features that should be bundled with the P-215II, but they are not.

The P-215II is a very reliable and high-quality portable scanner. However, you may feel nickel-and-dimed in order to get the most out of it.


Bright Starts Baby Toy, 3 in 1 Roaring Fun Lion
Bright Starts Baby Toy, 3 in 1 Roaring Fun Lion
Price: $39.97
24 used & new from $39.97

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun for Babies and Toddlers Alike, December 1, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Bright Starts 3-in-1 Roaring Fun Lion is a great toy for babies through toddler-age kids. Its strength is its versatility, permitting play by sitting in front of it, pushing it from behind, or sitting/riding on it. It also adjusts very simply between the three modes due to the solid fit and construction of the whole unit.

Babies can press the lion's nose to trigger music and sound effects while the included ping-pong balls spin around its face. They can also "feed" it the balls and then watch them come out below for some cause-and-effect play. Older kids can push or ride on it and watch the balls spin around as they do so.

Overall, the 3-in-1 Roaring Fun Lion provides a variety of play modes in one package while also ensuring that it will get use as your baby grows into his/her toddler years. It's a lot of fun that's also a good value.


Uncle Milton - Star Wars Science - Force Lightning Energy Ball
Uncle Milton - Star Wars Science - Force Lightning Energy Ball
Price: $18.72
20 used & new from $12.60

3.0 out of 5 stars Own a Tiny Plasma Lamp You Will, December 1, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Uncle Milton "Force Lightning Energy Ball Star Wars Science Kit" packs a lot of promise in its lengthy name. It's Star Wars! It's educational! It's got lightning! However, it unfortunately barely lives up to any of these expectations.

First, it's deceptively small. In fact, the actual globe is just over 3" in diameter, so the 6" measurement actually applies to the collar around its base. Second, the Star Wars tie-in is weakly applied via some logo and graphics in the base. Third, there's very little included to extend your understanding of the science that makes the ball work - just a two-sided pamphlet with some suggested experiments and observations. Finally, it's worth noting that the ball requires 4 AA batteries to work and none are included. I can't speak to the battery life because my son hasn't shown that much interest in it thus far (which should also tell you something).

If this was just marketed as something cool for Star Wars fans to have sitting on their desks, then it would be fine. It does work well as a plasma lamp, following your touch with brightly-colored arcs of static charge. However, given the steep price and the lofty aspirations, it's hard not to be disappointed in it.


AmazonBasics Sport In-Ear Headphones
AmazonBasics Sport In-Ear Headphones

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Sound and Fit/Comfort, Particularly for the Price, November 17, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've tried several AmazonBasics headphones and been pleased with the sound quality and usability of each. The Sport In-Ear headphones are no exception, offering terrific sound quality given the price. However, they lose a star because of this same comparison, i.e. I found myself missing certain features that other AmazonBasics headphones offer, most notably the flat, no-tangle wires of the Premium model.

They are very comfortable for lengthy periods and stay put, which is far from a given for in-ear headphones. The ability to wear them for long periods of time without constantly adjusting them or having one fall out is a huge positive.

The only other downside is in the initial setup and included directions. You need to assemble the hard earpieces by threading the wires through them, which can be tricky for a few moments. Also, the directions aren't particularly helpful, especially with the actual usage. I avoided a lot of this confusion because I only use them to listen, never to talk, but if you want to get full use of your headphones, expect some time fiddling around with discovering its usage.

Overall, this is a great set of headphones, particularly in light of the low price. They sound great and allow you to do a range of hands-free motions with no comfort issues or risk of having them fall out.


Nature's Bounty Fish Oil 1290 mg, 90 Mini Odorless Softgels
Nature's Bounty Fish Oil 1290 mg, 90 Mini Odorless Softgels
Price: $13.99
20 used & new from $11.64

5.0 out of 5 stars A Fish Oil Supplement that's Easy to Swallow and to Tolerate, November 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Nature's Bounty Mini Fish Oil capsules provide the Omega-3 beneficial fatty acids that I wanted while also distilling out the mercury and other impurities that I didn't. They are comparably potent versus similar products in their price range. The biggest distinguishing characteristic is the relatively small size of each softgel (slightly smaller than a typical jelly bean) and the lack of fishy taste or burps afterward. These capsules definitely stand out on both of these claims. First, I found them much easier to get down than any other fish oil supplement I've ever used. Once I'd taken them, I experienced no odor or burping at all after taking them.


U.S. Divers Youth Flare Jr Silicone Snorkeling Set Fun Blue Large 3-6
U.S. Divers Youth Flare Jr Silicone Snorkeling Set Fun Blue Large 3-6
Offered by Bay 15
Price: $49.95
2 used & new from $49.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Serious Grade Performance for any Young Marine Enthusiast, November 8, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Youth Flare snorkeling set by U.S. Divers is above all else well-constructed. A quick examination shows that you're getting much more quality than sets that should be reserved for use at the pool. The fins and mask fit our 11-year-old perfectly and he said that they were not only very comfortable but also performed well. The fins in particular really allowed him to propel himself easily. The carrying bag fit everything well and allowed the contents to drain but didn't seem like it would be sturdy enough for anything more than occasional use.


Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Atlas Pro Edition - Xbox One
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Atlas Pro Edition - Xbox One
Offered by ricksgreatdeals
Price: $52.99
38 used & new from $28.90

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slimmed Down Compared to Most Special Editions, but Worth the Investment if You Definitely Want the Season Pass, November 3, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Note: I won't discuss the game itself as many other reviews will already have that covered - this review just explains the Atlas Pro's distinguishing features so that you can decide if the price is worth it for you. That said, Sledgehammer has done a very good job of picking the best multiplayer features of COD and other franchises and building on that. Fear not - this is much more BLOPSII than it is Ghosts. The campaign is familiar COD - story-driven shooting-gallery-on-rails stuff with some bombastic cutaways and semi-interactive climaxes.

The Atlas Pro edition of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare marks a change from recent overgrown premium releases in that it avoids the physical add-ins that had been veering toward pricey toy gimmicks in favor of content that really adds to the in-game experience.

You can immediately tell that this is the case because the box is relatively small - about the size of two game cases side-by-side. The package is contained in a cardboard slipcase that's not particularly distinguishing to look at, sporting a copy of the steelbook's cover art on the front and standard selling points and legalese on the back. There is a subtle reflective glossiness to the slipcase that looks nice, but no embossing. Inside are a steelbook case for the game and digital codes and a book of concept art and game lore. That's all - no toy helicopters or night-vision goggles or RC jeeps.

The steelbook is very nicely rendered in a white powder coat with a front-and-back view of an Atlas Armored Security Trooper. It's a very detailed illustration, although not a compelling action scene. Inside the steelbook, all of the digital content is compiled into just two codes: one for in-game add-ons and a second one for the DLC season pass. This is great if you had planned to keep all of it because it makes it quick and easy to redeem (you can also you the Q-code feature if you have the Kinect); however, it also makes it impossible to pick apart DLC to sell aftermarket, so be aware if you were planning on subsidizing the cost of the game that way. The in-game content includes additional weapons, exoskeleton and helmet, and supply drops. Similar to the same concept in Battlefield 4 or a Madden Ultimate Team pack, these drops contain a random assortment of customizations and bonuses to use throughout the game. There is also a digital version of the game's soundtrack and a bonus map based on the "Pipeline" multiplayer map from COD 4. The second code is the DLC season pass, which allows you to redeem a year's worth of bonus maps and other content through four releases starting in January, 2015.

The artbook is organized as a employee manual for Atlas Corporation, the private military security outfit at the heart of COD:AW's storyline. It contains interesting backstory, timelines, and explanation of weapon and exoskeleton capabilities, including Q-codes throughout that you can use to access more in-depth content on the web. It's a surprisingly nice touch for a franchise that doesn't often rely on such story detail. The pages are substantial and the print quality high; however, due to the size of the package, the book is small and the tight binding makes it somewhat challenging to flip through and read.

The Atlas Pro retails at $120, which breaks down to $60 for the game itself, $50 for the season pass, and $10 for the artbook and digital content. If you are committed to the franchise and willing to overlook last year's disappointing installment, it's a no-brainer investment. There is a standard Atlas edition that removes the season pass if you want to take a wait-and-see approach to how you feel about the game.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 3, 2014 2:55 PM PST


Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence
Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence
by Laurence Steinberg
Edition: Hardcover
21 used & new from $13.29

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Unflinching Perspectives Backed Up with Research, October 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Parents are always engaged in an effort/struggle to continually do their best for their kids, and the adolescent years traditionally present the most challenging period for both. One of the core tenets of the book was a familiar one to me based on other books that I've read - that adolescents are almost predestined toward mistakes by their own brain physiology at that age. There is a lot of interesting science throughout the book, all aimed at helping parents better understand why their adolescent kids make the choices and judgments that they do, and hopefully provide enough insight to even predict some of their missteps before they make them.

Steinberg's handling of the subject matter is straightforward and holds nothing back. His viewpoints on modern parenting includes a lot of frank criticism and then backs it up with research. There is a lot of food for thought and debate here on some of the most important topics that parents will face.


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