Product Reviews

Products, Places and Stores In Alphabetical Order:


24 Hour Fitness for me and my family seems to be a pretty decent operation in general.  They are almost too successful in that when you arrive to work out, you may not get on a machine because they are so busy.  My singular problem was with their billing.  I had a credit card time out because of the expiration date and I forgot to update the auto payment information when the new card arrived with this company.  24 Hour Fitness charged me twice for $15 service fee for a missed payments.  They charged me June and July but did not notify me by e-mail that there was any problem until July 20th.  My records show that I updated my billing information July 12, well in advance of July 16  which was when one of the charges was made!  I tried to resolve this by going to my local 24 Hour Fitness facility but they told me that all account dealings had to be done on line.  I finally talked to an account person and was told that they do not know if there is any problem with a credit card until the payment fails and they thus collect an added fee.   Until I get the charges back, I feel that I must give this business a rating of not recommended.

Tip: If you use your credit card for any subscriptions or monthly dues, make sure you write down all the accounts that use this method.   (I currently use mSecure for this).  Make sure that when your credit card is renewed, that you update all billing information with all those companies that rely on this payment method.  You will really appreciate those companies that notify you effectively, politely and do not add penalty fees in case you forget to do the update in time.


A

Adobe Creative Cloud offer some pretty terrific professional grade products.  I loved Photoshop and Lightroom.  I used both to help insert photographs into this blog.  I had an enterprise subscription.  I quite using Adobe products, (June 2018), because their account management systems is unprofessional, simply AWFUL.  Every time I logged in to view my account I would see this that I did not own them any money but I kept getting charged.  Enterprise Subscription Is Not Recommended.

Then I discovered that Adobe IT Department is allegedly incompetent because when I checked to see if the e-mail address I had been using for the Adobe enterprise subscription had been PWNED, it was:

“Adobe: In October 2013, 153 million Adobe accounts were breached with each containing an internal ID, username, email, encrypted password and a password hint in plain text. The password cryptography was poorly done and many were quickly resolved back to plain text. The unencrypted hints also disclosed much about the passwords adding further to the risk that hundreds of millions of Adobe customers already faced.”

“Compromised data: Email addresses, Password hints, Passwords, Usernames”

Apple Macintosh computer system is a far better operating system than Windows. Recommended as a personal computer system. Next is a review for the hardware side of Mac products.

Apple Macintosh PowerBook G4 (15-inch 1.67/1.5GHz) Memory Slot problem. Some Apple Power PC G4, 1.67 GHz laptops come with a bad memory slot. Apple has allegedly screwed “its” customers by not offering a complete recall. The laptop used to write this post is one of those computers (Serial Number: W852212NRG4). We recommend that you research first any Mac device before you buy. We recommend that you populate all memory slots when you purchase the device to ensure they all work. We recommend that you run the free utility “System Profiler”. Especially look at “Hardware > Diagnostics” and view the “Power On Self-Test” results. We recommend that you buy Apple Protection Plan for any device you purchase and factor that cost into the total price when comparing Apple products to any other manufacturer. Apple computers recommended with qualification.

Apple Laptop Powerbook 2.5 GHz, Intel Core 2 Duo with 4 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM memory.  This laptop is simply a dream.  I really recommend the new power book laptops from Apple.  Recommend

Apple Laptop Macbook Air (13 inch Mid 2013, 1.7 GHz Intel Core i7 with 8GB memory)  is my primary laptop and I have three devices.  I use this laptop way more than my Macbook Pro.  Not recommended for intense system applications.  It over heats playing World of Warcraft.  But, I found that I can edit short movies without it overheating.  I took this computer with me to Europe and it was perfect.

Asics Gel-Kayano 19 tennis shoe for men is close to being perfect for me.  I definitely recommend this product.

AT&T U-verse.  Totally unacceptable.  Not recommended.  We personally despise this company for wasting huge amounts of our time spent on the phone with this alleged incompetent organization.  A market company, New Image Marketing, quoted a price that was vastly higher than the AT&T store.  Once we found this out there was no way to cancel the marketing company contract.  The contract stated we had a stipulation that we had three business days to cancel the contract.  We waited 5 days before we went to a AT&T store to have them explain the contract.  That is when we discovered we were “over charged”.  The sales person had changed the quoted price numerous times during our negotiations and  we had a very uneasy feeling about how much we were going to be charged.  The AT&T store sales people were spot on perfect and worked hard to solve this problem.  They had the corporate technical phone force hand up the phone on them.  I was amazed that the AT&T does not have dedicated call in service lines but have to share call in lines with the general public.  Corporate is really screwing their store staff in this way.  At the local store end the company appears professional.  At the corporate end, the company, in our opinion falls apart at many points.  They seem allegedly incompetent in trying to make the customer happy.  All they want, it seems, is to add you to their account – they want your money and do not care about you.

Automobiles:

  • Ford (Not recommended):  Exhibits incompetent engineering on the part of Ford because the air ducts are crap on the Ford Escape XLT V6, 2010.  The air adjustments break like cheap toys.  The rear cargo rug is a joke.  The cruise control went out about one year from buying this used car.  (See Ford review below).
  • Toyota (Highly Recommended):  Sets the standard for excellence.  Toyota Tercel would not quit; just kept running.  Cambry is flawless.  4Runner is a joy.
  • Volkswagen (Not recommended):  Another example of incompetent engineering.   I had a VW bus with a Porsche engine and sodium filled valves.  Like clock work the valves heads would separate from the stems and damage the engine every 50,000 miles.  The manufacturer realized it had a problem with this engine but did nothing to resolve the issue.

B

Belkin Laptop Cooling Pad has an interesting design, it is curved so the middle of the laptop will run cool even with the fan off. We like the design but the design is not complete, somewhat flawed, in our opinion for a number of reasons. The cooling pad comes with a fan that plugs into the laptop USB connector for power. We added plastic spacers for the laptop to rest on to cool the whole laptop and not the middle of it.  We found that the laptop rested on too much of the pad and in those places the laptop got hot.   We can not recommend this unit unless you are willing to make our modifications. Our modification will add some thickness to the unit.  Update: this pad did NOT last a year.  The fan started to make a clipping noise and then a blade began hitting the plastic supports and would stop the fan rotation.  Not recommended.

Bento database and File Maker Pro.  Bento not recommended.  About 2013, File Maker Pro dropped Bento.  You can no longer buy this product. File Maker Pro is recommended.

File Maker Pro:  I must state right off that I have a liking for FileMaker Pro.  Bento is a spin off from FileMaker.  I have used FileMaker Pro for an extremely long time and it feels comfortable to me.  I needed to state that because that just might color my view of Bento.  Bento, is a new product when compared to FileMaker Pro and  seems to me to be the every day person’s database solution.  It comes pre configured for the user who does not want to do much work building their own database.  The second and this might be its principal attribute is it ties into the iTouch and iPhone.   You can sync the laptop to the cell phone version.  I am not going to waste much time to tell you that I do not like Bento for the following reasons.  First they came out with version 3 just after three months from when I purchased version 2.  My first cost was $54.32 including tax for version 2.  The new upgrade cost will be an added $29 without tax.  This is a personal anger item.  I do not like to get hosed for over $80 just to gain connectivity between my laptop and my iTouch.  There is also the factor of alleged corporate greed in not offering a less expensive upgrade.  Second reason is the application itself.  It attempts to do too much for me and fails to allow me to do what I want to the database.  It tries to be cute in its data input method and templates but I find the process too slow and cluttered.  I do recommend FileMaker Pro, but you must be willing to learn how to create and adjust a database, which might not be for you. FileMaker Pro does not have a cell phone solution.  As for Bento I give it two thumbs down.

If you are new to database software, try Bento out for a free trial period.  If you have the time, give FileMaker Pro a trial too.  Tip: If both products come out being similar, go with FileMaker Pro because you will learn a lot more about database software, how to get under the hood of the beast and do what YOU want.  You will become more of a geek in the process – not a bad thing.

Batteries America Terrific selection of batteries. The web site is old looking and ugly; they use Microsoft Front Page which tells me their level of sophistication. I can NOT recommend this vendor for the following reasons. I had to call for a tracking number for my order. I specified three days shipping on their web site but sent the item ground. The items came after I needed them. I wrote an e-mail to ask what was going on but it was ignored. The operation appears to be at hayseed level. Not recommended.


C

Department Cinema and Television Arts at California State University, Fullerton.  I recommend this department as a major and for general course work.  It has allegedly been squashed by other university administration tribal leaders but has maintained itself and slowly improved through some pretty tough times.   It is not perfect but tell me a department that is any better and your nose may grow.  (This department was formally called the Department of Radio, TV and Film)


D

Disneyland Annual Passport Internet sale process, for us, was mildly flawed.  Take great care with their Internet sales process.  Make sure you print out any computer screen confirmations before you close down your computer.   Write down confirmation numbers and keep in a safe place.

Dreamweaver web site software is simply the best but the learning curve is not easy. Recommended with qualification.  My son is an computer science major and in charge of a city web site.  He does not like Dreamweaver because it generates code that he thinks is not necessary.

E

E-Trade. We do not recommend this company for anyone.  If your a day trader, you might look at this company.  For the small investor and anyone who wishes to buy and hold stocks for the long run, do NOT consider this company.  They charge extremely high fees that will diminish your investments over time.  Our experience was the fees to be $40 each quarter for a yearly total of $160 if one fails to make a trade within an allocated time period.  Any company that charges fees seems to be able to set any amount.  It would seem that the free market system that is so highly regarded by many has in some cases a dark side component called greed.  Our experience with another stock trading company, CUNA Brokerage Services, also charges inactivity fees but they are only $35 a year.


F

Ford Cars:  My daughter picked out a used 2006 Ford Escape with a V6 engine.  It worked for a couple of years and then the transmission began to slip and finally died.  The web site Carcomplaints.com for this model states “… we can’t recommend the 2006 Ford Escape to anyone except your worst enemy.”  The company failed to do a recall for this significant and obvious problem, allegedly showing they fail to respect their customers.

A few years later, a friend of mine had a broken car battery cable right at the battery post.  Typically you only need to replace the connector at the battery post, but not on this Ford.  It cost just over $300 to replace the whole cable assembly.  Ford is not recommended.   Toyota, ranked 8th at Ranker.com, is a way better product than Ford which ranks 17.  (Web site rankings taken September 14, 2018).

Free Ruler is a single simple purpose utility for the Macintosh computer. It is free. It displays rulers that can be moved anywhere on your computer screen. I use the rulers to measure web site pages that I am designing to figure out how may pixels to make the images before they are put into the web site. Recommended.  In 2014 I found out that the developer sort of dropped this application.  I can not find it in the Apple Store.

Fullerton, California:  I try to avoid driving in this city.  The radar police are doing a stupendous job of catching speeders.  They may be efficient by design.  They, allegedly, never give warnings nor do they ask why you might be going over the speed limit.   It appears that they only want to write tickets.  I once got a speeding ticket because I needed to get into the number one lane to make a left turn into day care.  The car in front of me was in a position that would have made my turn difficult if I had not sped up to pass.  My second speeding ticket occurred because I failed to see the speed limit sign, which I found out later, was obscured by a tree that needed to be trimmed back.  The national financial debacle facing the nation in 2008 has necessitated cities to cut back on street maintenance.  In most cities, any tree between the sidewalk and the street is the property of the city and the tree is trimmed by city workers or contracted companies.  It appears that giving tickets might be about raising money for the city of Fullerton.  The second problem is the city requirement that you not back your car into many of its city parking spaces, another justification for tickets being handed out to the unwary public.  Both my children took AAA driver education classes and it is taught in those classes that it is advantageous to pull through any parking space that are back to back to an empty space in front and thus allow you to move forward to the second space.  This allows you to drive forward to exit the parking space when you leave.  More accidents occur when you back up which is the reason for this nice tip.  You don’t have to back up, just drive forward.  Don’t follow this trick in Fullerton because your car will be ticketed, because you will be parked facing the wrong way.  Fullerton, California is not recommended for travel into or through by car.


G

Glyph Hard Drives Customer support we found to be very good. The sales person was wonderful. Ask them what manufacturer they use in their units if that is important to you. When we purchased, they were using Seagate, not one of my recommendations but Glyph said they would guarantee the drive. Recommended.

Grab is a free utility included with the Macintosh operating system. Just go into the Applications folder and then into the Utilities folder and find this utility. I use it all the time to take pictures of anything I see on my computer screen. It is simple and easy to use. Recommended.


H

Ham Radio is not so much a product but rather a fantastic hobby that transcends just being a hobby if you so wish. You must pass a technical exam, they dropped the code requirement. Some community groups offer free classes and there is a lot of books, tapes, DVD’s and the Internet to help a person become a ham radio operator. The equipment cost is a few hundred dollars to get started. Recommended.

Ham Radio Outlet (HRO) Anaheim I am fortunate enough to live close to this store. The sales people have saved me more than once. I walk in with a problem and they usually come up with a solution which naturally costs me money. Their attitude allegedly is commission sales, like walking on to a car dealer lot, they seem to hear the cash register ring as you enter. They do offer a lot of product, expertise and problem solving when you need it. Some of their jokes are quite predictable. It is a candy store for ham radio operators. Recommended.

Humble Bundle is an Internet sales store that seems to promote “Indie” or independent game developers products.  You choose the price you are willing to pay for a bundle of games.  You need to register before you make a purchase.  You should download their application into your cell phone and computer to better purchase and have the store recognize your purchases.  Pay particular attention to what the average price is when you visit the “store”.  If you pay over a certain amount, you may get extra games.  TIP: you will end up getting a lot of games.  You do not need to download all of them, only when you want.  The “store” recognizes what you purchased.  My son is a gamer and he almost always tells me when there is a good offer at Humble Bundle or Steam.  Recommended.


I

Icom HS-51 ham radio headset.  This review can be found here <HS-51>.  This is costly unit,  has some really nice features, and a few minor draw backs.  Recommended.

Intermatic P1353ME pool pump digital timer.  This timer is a bit tricky to program but is simply marvelous when used with dual speed pumps and a sweeper.  It has 3 circuits plus a heater fireman switch.  I used one circuit for high-speed pump, second circuit for low-speed pump and third circuit for pool sweep.  Try to mount this timer in a good place for you to program it.  I previously had a mechanical timer and all I had to do was rotate a clock dial disk to program the time.  With this timer, you should be looking straight into the front of the digital display.  This timer is simply the best!

Internet sales. We only recommend Internet sales for items that are not time critical. We only recommend Internet sales for businesses open during shipping hours where the driver can walk into your establishment to make deliveries and pick up items for shipping. Deliveries to homes is acceptable for items that are NOT time sensitive. We do NOT recommend Internet sales to the home for time critical items requiring a signature for the following reasons:

  • Some vendors do a slow job of building, to order product, thus moving back delivery dates from when you, the customer, think it should be ready.
  • Some vendors do not do a good job of performing expedited shipping. You pay for it but you will not get it in the time you think you should get it.
  • Shippers are usually good at quickly moving product quickly vast distances but delivery to the home is the problem. The recipient is inconvenienced in time and often has to spend added money to get the item resulting in other costs.
    • Waiting at home for a shipment to arrive might take you away from work costing you money. In any case, waiting for a shipment will cost you time, typically LOTS of time waiting and waiting and waiting for the delivery.
    • Missed shipments may need you drive to a local shipping depot to pick your item up at a specified time. This will waste your time and gas.

Investment Business Daily is a wonderful investment advice newspaper.  For that purpose we recommend it.  The opinion section of the newspaper is another story.  We recommend you use those pages for bird-cage liner.


J

Update December 2016:  Some time ago J.C. Penney got their act together and began to stock more product and offer item sales.  The store is on an improved course and I wish them success.

J.C. Penney Department Store was a well run professional operation years ago.  Their store now looks like it was stripped of product.  As a result, there is less product to choose from.  I do not want to go to the store now and waste my time.  It is a horrific mistake to force customers to other stores or the Internet to find what you are looking for.  My earlier review gave a recommended score.  I still recommend shopping at JC Penney but I am less sure why.


K


L

LaCie All-Terraine Hard Disk (250 GB) Post 265 This hard drive was found to work perfectly with my laptop which limits USB power output to 500ma. Recommended.

LinkSky web hosting. Recommend.

Logitech G9 Laser Mouse is a wired mouse that I use for gaming on the Mac and Windows.  I found that wireless mice occasionally offered lag which is unacceptable for serious gaming.  For the Mac computer, I had to use Steer Mouse driver because the G9 was not compatible with the Mac.   Steer Mouse costs another $20 over the price of the G9.  This mouse and driver combination simply is wonderful.


M

mSecure has taken over SplashID for top honors for hiding your most precious data like band account information, pin numbers, serial numbers, codes, etc.   This product is wonderful at porting your facts to all the electronic devices you use such as computer, iPad, cell phone.  Recommended!  The interface, however, is not as slick as SplashID.

Macy’s Department Store. My son is impossible to get into a store to buy clothes.  December 18, 2009 he and I entered the Macy’s at the Brea Mall, California to look for a light jacket.  The coat and jacket selection appeared to be quite impressive but they failed to stock complete sizes.  This store is typical of just about every store we visited; the sizes are for fat Americans.  He finally found a jacket after about one hour of looking and trying on a number of jackets.  The jacket he selected was marked as being 50% off with an additional discount of 20% if you used your Macy’s card.  We got to check out and at least one person cut in front of us because there are no lanes to organize people in front of the registers.  The price we were to pay had no discount and no Macy’s card discount.  My son turned the purchase down.  I am beginning to think Macy’s might go the way of Mervin’s.  The number of problems are about the same as Mervins but slightly different.  Our shopping experience was not enjoyable, a waste of our time.   Our recommendation is now neutral, not positive, due to the problems we met. This review will change as we get more data.  My son will not shop at Macy’s any time soon.

In 2014, I went looking for shoes and this store sales person was very good and I had no problem.

Macy’s update as to why I did not provide a link to their store, November 27, 2017:

I have a website blog and I do product evaluations as part of that web site. I have to repair broken links from time to time. I find it IMPOSSIBLE to insert a link to your business that works. When I do a copy from your main business web site I get this crap address: https://www.macys.com/?cm_mmc=YSM_Gemini_Trademark_New-_-Trademark_Exact_Gemini_Macy%27s_Department_Stores-_-30308433782-_-macy%27s%20department%20store_e_c_kclickid_b0354def-aa1d-48df-a6b1-c23ffce7db00&trackingid=486×7914

I have NEVER seen such an AWFUL home page address!!!
I have never seen such a BAD Internet business practice.

I removed your link from my web page and only placed the Macy’s name into my web page thus the reader will have to do their own search to find your web site.

Macintosh computer operating system – see Apple above. Macintosh laptop computers – see Apple above.

Meridian Club is a sports club at the east end of Fullerton, California.  The place is weird, next to the 57 freeway, south-west of Target and has residential condos to the east and south.  The physical building is three stories and side parking structure is impressive.  The inside is cavernous, expansive and secluded.  Tennis court, hand ball courts, roof track, swimming pools, jacuzzi, sauna, and cafe as well as large dressing rooms. As opposed to a 24 Hour Fitness, this place is lay back and not crowded.  The lack of crowding might be more the result of allegedly bad management though.  We recommend this sports club only because the members make it a positive experience not the management of the club.

MetLife eService. This website is the most aggravating and thus results in being allegedly unprofessional for withdrawing out your money from their investments.  You see an electronic transfer option on their website and clicking on it gets you a message that there is a website page problem and please report it to the “Contact us” link.  You use that link and they REQUIRE that you enter one or more relevant product numbers.  I don’t have a clue about product numbers so you can not report their web site failure.  I found that one of their phone numbers listed on their web site also failed.  Their withdrawal request form fails to allow for a direct bank transfer even though their customer support says this is a form option.  That same form is as clear as mud and must have been drawn up by some knuckle dragging attorney with the customer sensitivity of Attila the Hun.  Their offices are open for eastern USA time zone so if you call after 3pm on the west coast, your out of luck.  It was so easy to get my money into this piggy bank but now the piggy is very much dirty.

Miele Power Plus vacuum cleaner, Model: S7580 is recommended with qualifications.

Morningstar.com This web site is just full of information on stocks and mutual funds.  We were given a list of about 10 mutual funds and told to select the top three funds as a test.  We tried for hours using the Morningstar web site and found the web site to be the most frustrating experience.  We tried to enter names of mutual funds and view the performance but could not – easily.  We were redirected over and over to pay for premium service fees.  The time spend attempting to get results was unreasonable.  The Morningstar web site is not recommended because the web site is simply awful for attaining quick results .  We recommend Yahoo Financial being much easier to navigate.  Yahoo Finance has a mutual fund section called Mutual Funds Center.  We found the trick to doing searches in the Funds Center is to not put in too much search text.  Just enter the company name.  For example, were looking for Janus Mid Cap Value Fund – Investor Class but could only find it when we did a search for “Janus”.

Mylife.com. This web site connects people who once knew one another.  They offer a free subscription but then you are sent e-mail notification that someone searched for you.  The only way you can find out if you know that person is sign up for a paid subscription.  The payment screen shows the cost to be $5 a month.  If you sign up, you are billed for one year!  We do not recommend this site because you pay for one year and not from month to month as the web site implies.  My AVAST security software also does not recommend this web site.


N

Newegg.com appears, to us, to be very professional in its Internet purchasing process, delivery, and notifications.   Their prices seem to be quite competitive.  We recommend this vendor.

Netgear 5-port Gigabit Ethernet Switch, model GS605NA for Apple wireless systems.
I purchased this unit to connect after the Apple Airport Extreme.  We have Time Warner Cable modem feeding the Airport Extreme.  Problem is the Airport Extreme has only 4 Ethernet outputs and I run a lot of devices.  I did some research and was a bit shocked that some people were having problems with Ethernet switches being connected to Apple wireless systems.  I found the Netgear GS605NA is plug in and it just does its thing perfectly.  Recommend.

Nikon D40X digital still camera we have found to be a wonderful camera. The “Auto” setting is all most people need. If you shoot RAW format, we recommend a 4 gig memory stick if you shoot events. The camera might come with a 2 gig and that probably is all you need for family use. Recommended.

  • Nikon AF-Snikkor 18-55mm zoom lens. Recommended.
  • Nikon AF-Snikkor 55-200mm zoom lens with vibration resistance. I do sports shooting and I like to do rapid fire. Just remember that when VR is turned “On” the camera will stall taking your shot until the picture comes into focus. Recommended.

Nikon D3000 is recommended.

Nikon D7000.  Take a close look at the D7000 as it offers a lot more than the D3000 but ask yourself will you use those features.  Recommended but expensive.


O

Orbit WaterMaster Titan Shrub Gear Drive Sprinkler = recommended for shrubs and flower beds. The down side is this sprinkler is expensive. We paid about $8 each. We had a bed of flowers and shrubs. Our existing spray heads shot water over the plants. I looked for a spray head that could spray in a vertical fan shape and where I could control how far the fan extended. This sprinkler was not perfect but seemed to work. Recommended.

Orange Box is a computer game collection that is mighty impressive for the Play Station 3. Recommended.

Otter Box Samsung Galaxy S3 Defender Series Phone Case With Belt Clip is recommended for men only with qualifications.


P

PayPal.  For me using PayPal has been a pain and comes close to a scam operation.  I made past purchases using PayPal but for some reason some charge(s) gets shifted over to their credit unit.  I always pay off all my purchases immediately using my credit card.  I never carry a balance.  I see no reason why PayPal credit unit should get involved.  When that department does get involved they charge huge late fees for any small amount.  I got so pissed off at this practice that I asked to have my complete PayPal accounts closed Feb 1, 2017.  The person I talked to was instructed to pay any balance and close the account.    May 21, 2017 I found that I had a $3.39 balance outstanding which now had risen to $19.39 because of late fees.  I talked to a very nice woman and authorized payment, got the late fees taken away.  I asked to have my account closed out, for a second time, with the admonition that I never want to do business with this company again.

When I contact any company and want to close out my account, I do NOT want to hear from them again!  If I get any more notices of still owing money, I will contact state and federal regulatory agencies as well as Internet product review web sites to report this alleged criminal activity.  Not recommended!

See also Consumer Affairs rating for Pay Pal (1 out of 5): https://www.consumeraffairs.com/online/paypal_02.html


Pentair Whisperflow 3/4 two-speed motor, model WFDS-3 012530.  (I think this motor is no longer in production.) This pump is a bit larger than our original brass pump but it is so much more efficient and super quiet.  I also love being able to view into the clear plastic lid to the filter and see if I need to stop the motor and clean out the pool pump filter.  We recommend this pool pump.

Pizza Hut, 901 E. Yorba Linda Blvd., Placentia, Calif.  Their pizza’s are ok but at times their service falls apart.   I arrive to pick up my order and they have not even started, after arriving 15 minutes from phoning in the order.   I order a pizza of one size but am not told that I could have received a larger size for the same price.  It really poisons the digestive system and enjoyment of the meal when you sit eating a pizza with raging anger.  Neutral recommendation.

Plantronics Discovery 655 Bluetooth Headset we found to be way to fragile. It came apart repeatedly. The ear bud and ear wire would fall off easily. The electronics and software seemed to be correct but the mechanical construction was deficient. Not recommended.


Q


R

Readers Digest.  I truly love to read this magazine but it seems that the management is allegedly making some major business mistakes.  My principal complaint is if you subscribe, you get a blizzard of promotions sent to you.  The magazine seems to show more ads than content.  There are even reports of the magazine billing for product customers did not order.  Just go to this web site and read the horror stores: http://www.customerservicescoreboard.com/Reader%27s+Digest I really do wish a new management team took over and cleaned up the swamp  and alligators surrounding this wonderful magazine.  Currently, not recommended as a subscription.  It is recommended if you read in a library, buy at news stand, book store or eBook subscription.

Ross Dress For Less, 2565 Imperial Hwy, Brea, CA 92821.  About one month before I was to run out of Mambo by Liz Clairborne for Men, I did an Internet search for the product and could not find it locally.  Amazon.com offered the best price but my purchase fell apart when I was shipped 1.7oz instead of the 3.4oz specified in the purchase.  I returned the product and lost weeks of remaining cologne going through this process.   The very day I ran out of Mambo I downloaded a list of local stores that sell cologne off an Internet site that lists local stores.  Ross never showed up on that list.  I made quite a few calls   Then a beauty supply two doors down from Ross told me to check Ross.  I did and they had ONE in stock.  I asked the price and for a 3.4oz bottle, it was $14.99.  I about fell out of my chair.  I just could not believe my luck.  I had just paid over $20 for a 1.7oz bottle, which I returned.  The local mall was selling the 3.4oz for over $40.  I rushed over to the store.  I expected something to be wrong with the product but it was perfect!  And get this,  the price was even cheaper than all the Internet sites!  (This review also posted on Yelp, June 3, 2011).


S

Samsung Galaxy S III, in my opinion is simply the best.  I am so impressed with the features and operation.  The GPS is spectacular in its performance and so is the camera.  Extremely strong recommendation at the time of the original review but being so old, I am thinking of taking down this review.

Seagate Hard Drives:  We do not recommend the FreeAgent Pro series hard drives.  Actually, we are no longer buying Seagate hard drives because the FreeAgent Pro was such a bad experience.  We paid a lot for this hard drive only to see it fail in less than a year.  We lost years of photo images on that hard drive.  It failed so quickly that we had no ability to copy off our files.  We now recommend Western Digital hard drives.

Sears:  For quite some time Sears has lost its way and I do not shop there as much any more.  My one major complaint is the floor sales people almost seem to avoid helping the customers.  There are exceptions of course but they seem to have less staff and I think they have been instructed to point and not show where certain stock items can be found.   I still love to shop their tool section.  (December 2016).

Securities and Exchange Commission = Allegedly either fully incompetent or very close to it.  This is the government regulatory body responsible for oversight of our investment firms. This body should be flushed of the alleged incompetent elements or taken down.

SharkBite cooper pipe fittings are simply an awesome product. Recommend.

Charter Spectrum (Time Warner Cable) has our cable TV service for our city. I have no issues with any of the people who came to our house to troubleshoot issues. I do despise this utility for their corporate business plan for the following reasons:

  • They refuse to finish fiber optic cables to the homes. They do have fiber optics runs within a quarter of a mile. To finish fiber optic runs to the homes would cost them a lot of money.
  • Their TV packages are way too expensive. You are forced to pay for channels never used.
  • They move their channels out of the channel range that most modern TV sets can automatically find. In this way, the utility can charge a rental on their tuners. The few TV channels that a television set can pick up are quite awful.  One might expect that all the local TV channels should be picked up without a cable box so that low income people could better afford the service.
  • I find their Internet speeds to fluctuate during the day. When the schools are out and the children get home it seems that our Internet speeds drop. I watch television on my laptop using Spectrum TV application which is pretty wonderful when it works. Problem is that the visual and audio pause stops for significant periods of time.
  • From time to time, this utility has major service interruptions. I expect this. What is not normal is to loose computer servers so you can not log into their Internet TV service. This happened during the World Cup Soccer game June 26, 2018.
  • When the company was Time Warner and I went to their local branch offices to talk over an issue, I frequently came away with a special deal or package that I did not know about. The people in the office seemed to have the attitude of wanting to help. When they changed to Spectrum, the store location changed and the whole operation became cold and impersonal.
    I strongly recommend that our city try to get rid of Spectrum, if they can, and provide TV and Internet service as a city utility.  (posted June 26, 2018)

SplashID for the Macintosh is a software database that will hold all of the critical data that you need to pull up quickly but needs to be hidden from prying eyes when not in use. It uses 256-bit Blowfish encryption. I started using this company years ago but they just can not keep their product up with synchronization like mSecure does.  No Longer Recommend.  mSecure is now recommended.

Sonicare toothbrush is, in our opinion, the very best toothbrush for adolescent and adults. It is wonderfully aggressive. It attacks the teeth with powerful stokes. Most importantly, it is timed to NOT shut off for two minutes (unless you force it off). It is recommended by dentists – honestly. The second unintended use to this tooth-brush is for waking up of children who refuse to roll out of bed in the morning. In the right hands (typically fathers) it is the cattle prod equivalent, the exquisite end of the child wakening tool continuum just short of using a fire hose, submarine diving alarm, or flash bang grenades tossed under the bed. Just rub the bristles along the back or stomach and an abrupt awaking process will take place immediately. The loud whirling sound of the device really adds a lot to this process.

Skyrim The Elder Scrolls V is both a PlayStation 3 and PC game.  I can only offer my opinion for the PlayStation 3.  This is a role-playing game.  You are sort of a paladin person out to complete tasks, make profit, and acquire reputation.  I really enjoy the game but it is buggy at times.  It is also quite slow on the Play Station for some aspects.  At times you may think the program crashed because the load times are so long.  I recommend that you have with you your favorite drink or snack and when the program is taking its time loading, eat and drink and pet the cat.  I strongly recommend that you save the game often.   I just told you to save the game often.  You will be sorry if you do not follow this advice.

  • I just love my women body guard.  If you know how to task her correctly, she is a real asset.
  • Computer games are considered by some to be an art form.  There are parts of this game that I do consider true art.  The images that appear during changes are wonderful to look at.
  • I did buy, the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Revised & Expanded: Prima Official Game Guide for $27, much cheaper on the Internet.  It offers tons of information.  I really recommend this book because it can really lend a hand if you get stuck doing a quest.

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Team Fortress is a Play Station 3 on-line game (Orange Box) and there is a PC version which is even better. This game is a hoot to play. I just can NOT get over how funny the whole experience is while you are killing one another. Caution: 1. Some PC servers allegedly are rigged to give spacial advantage to paid members.  If you view a screen that asks for a donation or pay to get a reserved slot, be aware.  2. PC cheaters can change “their” TF2 Achievements by modifying a text file instead of legitimately doing so.  Recommend product but experience can be flawed by playing with some people and on some servers.

Temperature Gauge for the Mac  (also called TG Pro).  I find this  important because I do not want to run my computers hot and damage its components.  The one down side is it runs all the time in the background.  You can have it notify you, if it senses your computer getting too hot.  You have the option of seeing the overall temperature and fans speeds show in the top page menu task bar.  I recommend this product.

Time Warner Cable is a lame cable utility.  Their IT department is close to incompetent.   I have to go to their walk in office to pay my bill because their Internet “solution” is seriously flawed.  I hope they go out of business.  Revised review (March 2013):  their Internet payment solution has improved but why so many steps to take my money?

T-Mobile may be one of the best out of a lowly lot of cell phone providers for my area in North Orange County, California.  One major flaw is their handset insurance.  If your battery dies you can ONLY get a mail replacement (really stupid).  If the store has a direct replacement in stock they will charge you full price (can range roughly between 30 and 50 dollars).  This shows their apparent lack of customer service and respect.  My daughter was told that a battery replacement would cost just over $7 and take 5 days to arrive.  The next day she gets a text message saying that the battery would take 7 days.  That is totally unacceptable!  I will not let my daughter leave the house without her cell phone.  I expect the local stores to stock every battery for every phone they sell.  I further expect that if the store has a direct replacement that it be furnished for free when the customer has handset insurance.  We found that we could buy a new battery on the Internet for about $7 and it would take 2 days to arrive.  T-Mobile, in my mind, is approaching the despicable, under performing status that AT&T has exhibited.  (Posted June 13, 2012)

The launch of the Samsung Galaxy IIIs phone, June 2012, by T-Mobile turned out to be immensely flawed.   These cell phones trickled into the T-Mobile stores creating long waiting lists.  Only the 16GB versions were supplied to the retail stores. The 32GB phone version, was only available through T-Mobile Internet sales and that was more deeply flawed because they ran out of stock and could not give a restock date (as of June 28).  (Posted June 28, 2012).

Torchlight is a PC Windows game.  I love this game because the graphics are quite good, the play is not that hard and at the most easy level, I never die.  Recommended.  Tip: Take a look at becoming a Steam member.  This web site is a bit hard to describe.  I think it might be a miniature iTunes for gamers.  Here is the tip.  If you buy any game using the Steam web site, they keep track of your games for future easy re installations.  They also run discount deals all the time.  You can also see when your friends are playing.

Toyota currently is our top choice of vehicle.  Ranker web site lists this manufacturer as number 8 right below the luxury and expensive car manufacturers.  We have made the mistake of buying Volkswagen (#36) and Ford (#17) in the past and have regretted buying from those manufacturers.  (Web site rankings taken September 14, 2018).


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The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) (Newspaper, Web)  The story selections and writing is extremely good at times and informs/educates the reader to a very high level in non US domestic politics. This newspaper has in the past been a national asset but currently has become an US oligarch promotion organ.  It fails to value the US common man and common women’s political interests.  The paper’s main interest is business news but other broad news stories are included to a sufficient degree to compete very well with most city news papers except for local news.  The major down side to this publication is the opinion section.  It seems to be chocked full of GOP viewpoints coming from important individuals and organizations that embrace the conservative agenda. It is amusing to plow through some of the opinion pieces because they are generally so well written that you really need to delve into what they are saying to detect the flaws in the logic.  I think the opinion section is worthy of lining your bird cage poop tray.

August 27, 2018 I tried to read the Wall Street Journal from my laptop but I got an error message that there was a problem with my credit card payment using Firefox.  The web site was awful for resoling this issue.  All my credit card information was correct.  I had to call their 800 number, customer service, to get this resolved.  The call center was in the Philippines and the audio quality was not good (typical of foreign call centers).  The lady was terrific but there was no problem with the credit card the lady told me but I had to use the Chrome web browser.  I think they only wanted to confirm the card because, when I went back to Firefox, my login to WJ worked as perfectly as Chrome.  This company wasted over a half hour of my time.  From this experience I learned:

  • They fail to properly respect their customers by impeding getting to their product without interference.
  • Having a call center in another country, when we have serious employment issues in the heartland of this country further illustrates their alleged profit over people business model (so typical of the Republican mind set).

Western Digital Hard Drives is acceptable but NOT Seagate NOR Iomega.  We currently are using 500GB Western Digital My Passport hard drives for Macintosh MacBook Pro and a Windows laptop as backup for the laptop hard drives.  We chose this model because it is small and goes nicely with the smallness of the laptop.  We also like the password protection, which for some people will be annoying.  We figure that when the laptop and My Passport are carried around theft of our data will be better protected by the password protection.

WX is a weather software program for the Macintosh computer. The maps are rather small and you need to figure out how to import weather maps from other sources so they can be added to this client.  I really wish there was a better, larger map program.  Mildly recommended.

World Of Warcraft is simply a stupendous, jaw dropping, eye-popping, hugely expansive role-playing game. Words can not properly describe this game. You must try it out and take a week or more to experience it. A monthly fee is required. To get started takes a lot of software loading and it is intimidating for most people to get started. We recommend that you find a friend who goes on-line to help you begin to level up. We have two complaints. Our principal complaint is the fee structure and logon does NOT encourage family members to play together which, in our opinion, flaws an otherwise perfect product. The second complaint is this game eats up a LOT of time. I can think of better things to do with your time, like read a good book, coach a girl’s soccer team, take the family out to a good restaurant. Strong recommend. If you are into podcasts, here are our recommendations for this game:

World of Warcast: A World of Warcraft Podcast Web site: http://www.worldofwarcast.com/

These podcasts can also be found in iTunes (Podcast > Video Games)


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Zero Punctuation is not so much a product as a web site reviewer, Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, who reviews computer games in the form of viewable video clips using voice over animations. His work is offered on The Escapist Magazine web site. It is called Zero Punctuation because that is the way he speaks. Just view one of his reviews and you will see what this guy is capable of. He is outrageous, biting, clever, profane, ruthless, and much, much, more. Not recommended for the moral majority, ultra conservatives, clergy, blonds, bleach blonds, anyone under the age of 18. For the rest of us, quite fun. Ben’s own web site is here: http://www.fullyramblomatic.com/


This web page was last updated: September 14, 2018

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