Review: Enjoy Learning Japanese Kanji: Discover Their Hidden Meanings

  • July 30, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Enjoy Learning Japanese Kanji: Discover Their Hidden Meanings, written by Kun Ho Park and Kyung Yong Kong, and received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Not a Book for Beginners Right off I’m going to state that I failed when it came to this book. I have a number of books to help learn how to read Kanji, but as with all of them, despite my best efforts I’ve failed to gain much from them.

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Review: FELINE GREENIES Dental Treats Oven Roasted Chicken Flavor 11 Ounces

  • July 30, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of FELINE GREENIES Dental Treats Oven Roasted Chicken Flavor 11 Ounces, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Mostly Cat Approved Years ago, we started giving Greenies to our cat after the vet had recommended them to help clean our cat’s teeth. Since then I’ve picked up Greenies on an occasional base for my last cat, but never for the three cats I’m living with now.

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Review: CRAVE Grain Free High Protein Salmon Paté Wet Cat Food Trays

  • July 30, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of CRAVE Grain Free High Protein Salmon Paté Wet Cat Food Trays, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Messy to Open, Despite Little Juice We have three cats of varying ages, who mostly free-graze on dry food throughout the day. As a treat we’ll give them varying types of wet food, with one of them just lapping up the juices, and the other two eating what they can.

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Review: AmazonBasics Xbox One Wired Controller

  • July 4, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the AmazonBasics Xbox One Wired Controller, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. In My Eyes (and Hands) A Much Better Xbox One Controller Note: This item does not yet seem to be available for purchase from Amazon. For these reasons the links point to my review on Amazon. I never owned an original Xbox with the ‘Duke’ controller, but as a longtime PlayStation owner I recall noting how fat the Xbox 360 controller felt in my hands.

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Review: One Night Ultimate Alien

  • June 29, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of One Night Ultimate Alien, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Another Game in the One Night Series The One Night Series of games consists of Werewolf, Werewolf Daybreak, Vampire, and now Alien. Each of these games can be played by themselves, or can be combined to allow for more players and different experiences. For gameplay, they’re very lite versions of Ultimate Werewolf, as instead of playing over the course of many nights, you effectively play one night and then figure out who, if anyone, should be killed.

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Review: Pfister Weller LG49-WR0K 2-Handle 8-inch Widespread Bathroom Faucet in Brushed Nickel

  • May 29, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Pfister Weller LG49-WR0K 2-Handle 8” Widespread Bathroom Faucet in Brushed Nickel, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Looks Nice, But Expect a More Advanced Installation First, I’ve never installed a faucet before I tried installing this Pfister faucet. But now that I’ve tried to install one I’ve done so, but not this model. A month or two ago we replaced the shower curtain rod, toilet paper, and hand towel holder, in the first floor bathroom, with ones that have a brushed nickel finish like this Pfister Weller.

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Review: Sony HT-CT80 Soundbar Home Speaker

  • May 29, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Sony HT-CT80 Soundbar Home Speaker, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Working Great in Our Kitchen For a couple of a months we’ve been looking at Soundbars at Costco, and at what Best Buy has on sale each week, to use within our living room. We previously had a 5.1 system in there, but once we switched to a smaller table for our TV stand, we didn’t have the room.

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Review: Petstages Channel Scratcher Catnip Blasted Scratching Post Station for Cats, Large

  • May 28, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Petstages Channel Scratcher Catnip Blasted Scratching Post Station for Cats, Large, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Did Nothing For Our Three Cats We have three male cats at our home who love their cat tree, and scratching up the carpet. With our stairs having recently been relieved of their carpet, they’re no longer able to attack a corner of one of the stairs up from the landing between the first and second floors.

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Review: Anpro Stainless Steel Heavy-duty Fruit and Vegetables Masher, Potato Ricer

  • April 22, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Anpro Stainless Steel Heavy-duty Fruit and Vegetables Masher, Potato Ricer, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Results in Amazing Mashed Potatoes I’m not much of a cook, so when the Anpro Potato Ricer was available for review I asked my girlfriend, an amazing cook, if she’d be interested in helping me out. She said she had never used one, but would be interested in doing so.

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Review: Bloody B720 Light Strike Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

  • March 26, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Bloody B720 Light Strike Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Questionable Spacebar, But Otherwise Quite Nice When I was building my gaming rig a few years ago I picked up a Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. That was my first mechanical keyboard, and still works great, but I don’t do too much PC gaming these days. So when I had the opportunity to review Bloody’s B720 Light Strike Mechanical Gaming Keyboard I opted to take it to work, especially since the keyboard I had there was showing its age.

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Review: Contigo AUTOSEAL Chill Stainless Steel Water Bottle, 24 oz

  • March 26, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Contigo’s 24 oz AUTOSEAL Chill Stainless Steel Water Bottle, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Another High Quality Contigo Product About 3 years ago I invested pretty heavily in Aladdin brand water bottles, after a co-worker turned me on to them. Unfortunately, after time I found that the tops were pretty easy to break, and the bottle easily dented from relatively minor falls.

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Review: Mystic Vale Card Game

  • March 22, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Mystic Vale, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Fantastic Game First, I absolutely love Mystic Vale. It’s probably my favorite game of the last six months, at least. In Mystic Vale two to four players play as druids trying to build out their starting cards to earn the most points. The cards are the most interesting and fun part, so I’ll start there.

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Review: Grammar For People Who Hate Rules

  • March 3, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Grammar For People Who Hate Rules, written by Kathleen Watson. A Great Little Book to Help Improve Your Grammar and Spelling Well over a decade ago, at my first job after college, I had the opportunity to work quite closely with writers and editors in a communications department, before my subgroup of web developers was moved over to IT. This experience, combined with the pursuit of a philosophy degree in college, and working with editors in the years since, has lead to me having a real interest in making sure that my spelling and grammar are correct.

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Review: SteelSeries Spectrum 4xB Gaming Headset for Xbox 360 (White)

  • February 24, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of SteelSeries Spectrum 4xB Gaming Headset for Xbox 360 (White), received as part of the Amazon Vine program. So Many Wires, But Great With Computers A number of years ago I received the SteelSeries Spectrum 4xB Gaming Headset for Xbox 360 for review. At the time I kept putting off reviewing them since the wires kept driving me crazy when I tried to use it with my Xbox 360.

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Review: DII Natural Coir Fiber, 18x30 Entry Way Outdoor Door Mat with Non Slip Backing - Home Cat

  • February 24, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the DII Natural Coir Fiber, 18x30” Entry Way Outdoor Door Mat with Non Slip Backing - Home Cat, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. So Far Works Great Outdoors First, based upon Amazon reviews it appears that there’s some number of individuals who are selling rip-off and/or copy-cat versions of DII’s doormats. Given the quality of doormat I received, I would highly recommend making sure you purchase this product from an Amazon Prime eligible seller.

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Review: Order of the Gilded Compass

  • February 11, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Order of the Gilded Compass board game, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Dice Rolling With a Bit of Setup, But Enjoyable First, if you’re not very lucky with dice, you should probably move on as Order of the Gilded Compass relies very heavily upon the luck of the roll. Two to five players take turns rolling dice, assigning some number of them before play continues to the next player.

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Review: London Dread

  • February 9, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of London Dread, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Cooperative and Atmospheric, But Probably Best With A Single Group of Four London Dread is a cooperative board game for two to four players, where they attempt to travel around London over the course of a day or two, investigating areas, tackling location events, before taking on an antagonist, and then eventually moving on to another story.

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Review: Conan Board Game

  • February 3, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Conan board game, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Amazing Components, Unique Gameplay, for Dedicated Players/Fans Recently I started really getting into the second edition of Descent, where a single player plays as the overload, and up to four other players take on the roles of adventures in either one-off missions or as part of a larger campaign. So when I had the opportunity to try out the new Conan Board Game, I leapt on the chance.

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Review: Deception: Murder in Hong Kong

  • January 17, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. A Nice Bump From Mysterium, But Don’t Expect Short Games I picked up a copy of Mysterium back in July 2016, and recently picked up a copy of the Hidden Signs expansion, since my girlfriend wanted to play the game every time we had a game night, and when she’s interested in a game I try to keep her interested in it.

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Review: Microsoft Surface Mouse

  • January 16, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Microsoft Surface Mouse, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Nice Mouse, But I’ll Stick With My Logitechs The Surface Pro 4, by itself or combined with a Type Cover, is already pretty sufficiently covered when it comes to a pointer device. However, since I already had some with my old laptop, I ended up using a Logitech M310, putting the wireless dongle in the USB port.

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Review: Microsoft Surface Keyboard

  • January 16, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Microsoft Surface Keyboard, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. For Desktop Use, Works Great When I purchased my Surface Pro 4 a while ago I ended up purchasing a Type Cover to go along with it. In addition to protecting the Surface’s screen it works great as a keyboard. When given the chance to try out the Surface Keyboard I took the opportunity, to see if it would provide a better experience when at home.

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Review: Magicka Mayhem

  • January 16, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Magicka Mayhem, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Messy Rule ‘Book’ Requires Future Updates or House Rules First, while a friend and I started playing the Magicka PC game, we didn’t get far before quitting. So I have only a minor understanding of the video game that Magicka Mayhem is based upon. However, this game requires no knowledge of the source material.

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Review: Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice

  • January 10, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Thematic Dice Rolling Game, For Better or Worse I know very little about Luchadors, other than that they wear pretty distinctive masks and attire. And I know something about wrestling having been a young boy in the 80s and 90s. Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice doesn’t require that you know much more than that, as it does a fairly good job of being quite thematic out of the box.

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Review: Citadels (2016 edition)

  • January 10, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the 2016 edition of Citadels, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. A Very Nice Upgrade to the Original Game I originally purchased Citadels, with The Dark City expansion back in October 2014. I played the game a handful of times and generally enjoyed it, although games pretty consistently took closer to 60 minutes than 20 minutes (the box suggests games take between 20 to 60 minutes).

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Review: Bissell 2001 Hard Floor Expert Cordless Canister

  • January 3, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Bissell 2001 Hard Floor Expert Cordless Canister, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Struggles with Carpets, and Limited Battery Runtime Having recently torn up the carpet in the first floor hallway and living room (the two rooms having already been done), and finding some really nice hardwood floors, we were excited to see the Bissell 2001 Hard Floor Expert Cordless Canister available for review.

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Review: Grifters

  • January 3, 2017
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Grifters, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Interesting Dynamic Makes for a Fun, Quick, Game I’m familiar with the Dystopian Universe having played The Resistance and Coup. However, no knowledge of the universe is required, and outside of the currency and general aesthetic, this game isn’t tightly tied to the rest. Additionally, while both The Resistance and Coup involve secret identities, Grifters instead involves recruiting characters and then using them either individually for their special abilities, or in a team to complete jobs.

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Review: Onitama

  • December 19, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Onitama, a board game for two players, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Simple to learn, but very strategic and enjoyable In Onitama each player has a master and four pupil pawns. Then five move cards are pulled out, with the rest placed back in the box. Each player receives two, while the fifth is temporarily set aside, but helps determine the first player.

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Review: Kanagawa

  • December 17, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Kanagawa, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Beautiful game, best learned from someone else Kanagawa, as the box suggests, has some extremely beautiful artwork and components. That’s what appealed to me about the game when I was looking at the product page, and what people I played with commented on. But when I was reviewing the rulebook before the first game I played I was a little intimidated, and was immediately glad that someone else in the group had played before.

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Review: Unusual Suspects Board Game

  • December 2, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Unusual Suspects Board Game, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. The Game of Stereotypes The first and only game of this I played lasted one round. One round because we eliminated the guilty party. One round because no one wanted to play a second game. Initially I thought this was going to be similar to Guess Who. And it is, but how you determine the guilty party is by looking at the individual’s photo and coming up with what stereotype(s) they match.

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Review: LucidSound LS20 Amplified Universal Gaming Headset

  • December 2, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the LucidSound LS20 Amplified Universal Gaming Headset, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Amazing Build Quality, But Heavy and Tight Having recently moved in with my girlfriend, I’m no longer able to crank up the sound and openly chat with friends during our weekly (or at least when we can now) gaming sessions. While we’ve bounced around a few services, we’ve stuck pretty closely with Google Hangouts.

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Review: Radiance LED String Lights

  • November 21, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Radiance LED String Lights, 5 ft, Silver Wire, Warm White, Battery Powered (2 Pack), received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Bright and Flexible The first thing to note about these lights is that they consist of a wire between the lights, meaning they’re easy to bend into place. The lights themselves are additionally pretty bright, with 15 lights on each ‘string.’ The lights are a part of the light, which means they don’t stick out too far.

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Review: Isotoner Men's Microsuede Devin Hoodback Slippers

  • November 19, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Isotoner Men’s Microsuede Devin Hoodback Slippers, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Best slippers I’ve ever owned In my adult life I’ve only owned two pairs of slippers, both within the last half decade. For whatever reason I never had much of a use for slippers in the past, but as time has gone by I’ve wanted a pair, more for leaving the apartment than anything else.

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Review: Galiva Men's Cotton ExtraSoft No Show Cushion Socks

  • November 10, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Galiva Men’s Cotton ExtraSoft No Show Cushion Socks, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. I’ll stick with my Hanes I’m pretty brand loyal, but when I had the opportunity to try out a pair of Galiva socks, I decided to give it a try. After all, it has been a couple of years since I’ve tried anything else. Initially I was a little impressed, since the socks came in a hard box.

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Review: DII 100% Cotton, Machine Washable, Heat Resistant, Everyday Kitchen Basic Oven Mitt, 9 x 8", Set of 2, French Stripe- Chambray Blue

  • October 24, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the DII 100% Cotton, Machine Washable, Heat Resistant, Everyday Kitchen Basic Oven Mitt, 9 x 8”, Set of 2, French Stripe- Chambray Blue, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. What’s an oven mitt if it can’t keep your hand cool at oven temps? (Since Amazon combines the reviews of a number of other items, if reading this review on Amazon, these are for the 9 x 8” oven mitts, specifically the French Stripe, Chambray Blue, style.

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Review: Raspberry Pi User Guide, Fourth Edition

  • October 22, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Raspberry Pi User Guide, Fourth Edition, written by Eben Upton and Gareth Halfacree, and received as part of the Amazon Vine program. A good basic overview of the Raspberry Pi My experience with the Raspberry Pi is limited to a year of owning three Pi 2s (one that I turned into a backup server, one into a RetroPie machine, and one that never left the box) and one Pi 3 (that I just started to get setup as an updated RetroPie machine).

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Review: Treasure Hunter

  • October 7, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Treasure Hunter board game, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Not as complicated as it first seems The last Richard Garfield board game I purchased was King of Tokyo (and the CCGs Magic and Netrunner a long time before that), so I’m a little familiar with his games. When I saw that Treasure Hunter one plays two to six players in 40 minutes, I figured this would be a perfect game to play during our weekly game lunches at work.

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Review: OtterBox SYMMETRY SERIES Case for Samsung Galaxy S7

  • September 18, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the OtterBox SYMMETRY SERIES Case for Samsung Galaxy S7, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. A cross between an OtterBox and a slim case I’ve always preferred slimmer cases for my phones, so when I picked up a Samsung Galaxy S7 a handful of months ago I ultimately decided upon the tech21 EVO ELITE Protectective Case for my device. However, my girlfriend uses an OtterBox, specifically one of the DEFENDER SERIES cases for her Galaxy S6, and I recently picked up a bike, and we were going to be out biking, with our mobile devices in tow.

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Review: OtterBox DEFENDER SERIES Case for Samsung Galaxy S7

  • September 18, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the OtterBox DEFENDER SERIES Case for Samsung Galaxy S7, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Bulky, but definitely secure I’ve always preferred slimmer cases for my phones, so when I picked up a Samsung Galaxy S7 a handful of months ago I ultimately decided upon the tech21 EVO ELITE Protectective Case for my device. However, my girlfriend uses an OtterBox, specifically one of the DEFENDER SERIES cases for her Galaxy S6, and I recently picked up a bike, and we were going to be out biking, with our mobile devices in tow.

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Review: tech21 EVO ELITE Protectective Case for the Samsung Galaxy S7

  • September 18, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the tech21 EVO ELITE Protectective Case for the Samsung Galaxy S7. Slim, with access to all ports, and feels secure When I first picked up my Samsung Galaxy S7 a handful of months ago I naturally needed a case for it. My carrier, US Cellular, had a sale going on, so while I normally wouldn’t, I decided to pick up a case for my device in-store.

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Review: K'NEX Beasts Alive Robo-Jaws Building Set (34406)

  • September 9, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of K’NEX Beasts Alive Robo-Jaws Building Set, number 34406, provided to me as part of the Amazon Vine program. Complicated instructions The last K’NEX set I helped build was for a large rollercoaster, a handful of years ago, and when I was growing up I was more of a LEGO and Technic kid. So given that I was looking forward to building this set, since the rollercoaster was a lot of fun, and the pieces are generally fun to put together.

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Review: Tally Ho!

  • September 6, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Tally Ho!, provided to me as part of the Amazon Vine program. Surprisingly enjoyable and fair When I was initially reading the rules of Tally Ho! I was admittedly wondering how fair and fun the game was going to be. However, having now played the game I can honestly say it was both enjoyable and fair. Tally Ho! plays out on a large board, with all but one space filled by a double-sided tile.

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Review: Smugglers Family Board Game

  • August 23, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Smugglers, Family Board Game, provided to me as part of the Amazon Vine program. Interesting, but slightly complex with components that may not last First, I own and play quite a lot of games. But I played Smugglers with someone that I would consider fairly versed with games, and someone who is more into ‘classic’ games. I was also going to play this with a child aged near the bottom of the recommended age range, but haven’t had the chance yet, and might skip it based upon my experiences.

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Review: Case Logic Kickback for Surface Pro 4 (CKSE2197)

  • July 19, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Case Logic Kickback for Surface Pro 4 (CKSE2197), provided to me as part of the Amazon Vine program. I’m pleasantly surprised I’ve had my Surface Pro 4 since November 2015, and have been pretty good about keeping it relatively safe. However, the backing was starting to show a little wear the last few months, so when I had the opportunity to try out Case Logic’s Kickback (CKSE2197), I decided to do so.

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Review: Lance Gluten Free Cookie Sandwich, Peanut Butter, 5 oz

  • July 19, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Lance Gluten Free Cookie Sandwich, Peanut Butter, 5 oz, provided to me as part of the Amazon Vine program. The cookie just seems off Over the last year I’ve been having some stomach issues, and while tests seem to have suggested I should be fine, I’ve been trying to introduce more gluten free items into my diet. So when I had the opportunity to try Peanut Butter Lance Gluten Free Cookie Sandwiches I decided to do so.

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Review: DII Home Essential Chevron Luxury Throw for Indoor/Outdoor Use, 48x67

  • May 23, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the DII Home Essential Chevron Luxury Throw for Indoor/Outdoor Use, 48x67, provided to me as part of the Amazon Vine program. Warm and great length, but scratchy and loosing threads First I have yet to use this blanket outside, and based upon what I’ve experienced thus far I probably will not. Not because I don’t think it can handle it, but rather because I’ve found it to be perfect for use on my couch when I want to lay down with a book.

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Review: Panasonic WINGS Wireless Bluetooth Sport Clips with Mic + Controller RP-BTS30-Y

  • May 17, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Panasonic WINGS Wireless Bluetooth Sport Clips with Mic + Controller RP-BTS30-Y, provided to me as part of the Amazon Vine program. I just can’t get used to the WINGS A number of years ago I had some fantastic earbuds by SONY. They were very simple, but they fit right in my ear, and featured volume controls on the wired connection. Since then I’ve hesitant to try other earbuds as less and less feature adjustable volume controls, and I’ve never really been interested in Bluetooth ones.

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Review: TP-LINK N300 Wi-Fi Range Extender (TL-WA855RE)

  • May 16, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the TP-LINK N300 Wi-Fi Range Extender (TL-WA855RE), provided to me as part of the Amazon Vine program. Works, but only at 2.4 GHz Even in my apartment I have a slight dead zone at the farthest end of my apartment. I’ve tried using a router to extend my connection in the past, but they’ve all required a wired connection to the device itself.

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Review: Alienware Alpha and Steam Machine Carrying Case (A7888952)

  • April 30, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Alienware Alpha and Steam Machine Carrying Case (A7888952), provided to me as part of the Amazon Vine program. Nice tight fit for the Alienware Steam Machine ASM100-4980BLK In February of this year I was lucky enough to receive an Alienware Steam Machine ASM100-4980BLK for review. Since I’ve been trying to be better about putting away my consoles when I’m not actively using them, which I was treating the Alienware Steam Machine as, I was starting to look at picking up or using one of my usual containers for the purpose.

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Review: Stray Dog of Anime: The Films of Mamoru Oshii (2014)

  • March 27, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Kindle version of Brian Ruh’s Stray Dog of Anime: The Films of Mamoru Oshii (Second Edition). An interesting look at Mamoru Oshii’s works Like many others, my first introduction to Mamoru Oshii was via the first Ghost in the Shell movie. At the time I was looking for something like the Matrix, and the Internet of the time highly recommended looking at Ghost in the Shell.

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Review: Amazon Fire 7 (2015 release) Case

  • March 20, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Amazon Fire 7” (2015 release) Case - Slim Lightweight Standing Custom Fit Cover for Amazon Fire 7 Inch Tablet, received as part of the Amazon Vine Program. Not as good a fit, but still nigh perfect Right around Christmas I was out shopping around for a replacement to my second generation Nexus 7, due to speed and battery issues. Within a couple days I had picked up one of the 2015 models of the Amazon Fire 7.

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Review: Alienware Steam Machine ASM100-4980BLK Desktop Console (Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, 1 TB HDD) NVIDIA GeForce GTX GPU

  • March 1, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Alienware Steam Machine ASM100-4980BLK Desktop Console, featuring an Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, 1 TB HDD, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX GPU, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. A weird hybrid First I’ve got to say I’m not sure how to review the Alienware Steam Machine ASM100-4980BLK. Do I compare it to the consoles, as that’s what they’re trying to make (especially with SteamOS being the OS on this machine)?

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Review: ZAGG Slim Cover, Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Tablet Keyboard for Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and 4 (MC3WKK-BB0)

  • February 20, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the ZAGG Slim Cover, Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Tablet Keyboard for Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and 4 (MC3WKK-BB0), received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Actually on par with the official type cover When I purchased my Surface Pro 4 a number of months ago I opted to spend the extra money to get the official type cover with it. Having used a couple other two-in-one machines, getting used to the keys wasn’t too hard.

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Review: Sennheiser HD 471G Headset with Inline Mic and 3 Button Control

  • February 12, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Sennheiser HD 471G Headset with Inline Mic and 3 Button Control, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. High build quality, and terrific sound Probably a decade ago I had a coworker who lent me a pair of her Sennheiser headphones for a couple hours one day. I was looking at picking up some nicer headphones, and she thought that listening to her’s might sway me, I think.

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Review: Amazon Fire HD 8 (2015 release) Case

  • January 25, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2015 release) Case - Slim Lightweight Standing Custom Fit Cover with Auto Wake/Sleep for Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet, received as part of the Amazon Vine Program. Nigh Perfect A few weeks ago I was looking at tablets since my second generation Nexus 7 is starting to get rather slow, and doesn't seem to want to hold a charge as well as it once did.

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Review: Verso Fire 7 2015 Case - Sea Blue Classic Slim Fit Premium PU Leather Book Folio Style Protective Case (7 inch Display - 5th Generation, 2015 Release Only)

  • January 25, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Verso Fire 7 2015 Case - Sea Blue Classic Slim Fit Premium PU Leather Book Folio Style Protective Case (7 inch Display - 5th Generation, 2015 Release Only), received as part of the Amazon Vine Program. If only the hinge were better A few weeks ago I was looking at tablets since my second generation Nexus 7 is starting to get rather slow, and doesn't seem to want to hold a charge as well as it once did.

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Review: Fury of Dracula Third Edition Board Game

  • January 10, 2016
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Fury of Dracula Third Edition Board Game, which I received as part of the Amazon Vine program. So many pieces, but easy after a week I haven't played any of the previous editions of Fury of Dracula, so I can't speak to the changes made in this third edition. However, as I understand it, the game has changed for the better. This supports 2 to 5 players, with one player controlling Dracula and the others controlling one or more of the hunters.

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Review: Adonit Jot Dash - Fine Point Precision Stylus

  • November 14, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Adonit Jot Dash - Fine Point Precision Stylus, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Not what I was expecting For the most part I'm not yet at the point in my life where I need to use a stylus pen for my electronic devices. My fingers are the right size, and with devices getting larger, I don't need the precision. I'm also not much of an artist, so it's not necessary to draw.

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Review: Panasonic ER-GB60-K Precision Beard and Hair Trimmer for Face/Hair

  • November 9, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Panasonic ER-GB60-K Precision Beard and Hair Trimmer for Face/Hair, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Spoiler: I really like them. Finally, something that works with my beard Right away I'll say that I haven't used these to clip the hair on the top of my head. I have some barbershop-quality clippers from Wahl that I use for that, and I've had no reason to try anything else.

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Review: Homeland: The Game

  • October 20, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Homeland: The Game, provided to me as part of the Amazon Vine program. A sort of board game Resistance Reading through the rules for the first time I kept thinking about the game The Resistance (although there are many games like this). In The Resistance every character is either part of the resistance, or part of a group trying to sabotage them. As the game progresses you start to figure out who's who, in an attempt to score a win for your team.

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Review: Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart (2012)

  • September 20, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart (2012), available on Steam and for physical purchase. A good way to get into the genre (I played the Steam version of this game, and this review is based upon that.) This was the first real hidden object game I played, thanks to a kind Reddit user who gifted me a key. It was actually quite good, with great artwork.

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Review: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Wrath of the Righteous Base Set

  • September 15, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Wrath of the Righteous Base Set, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Too soon to tell When I saw the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game available from Amazon Vine I jumped on the chance to give it a try. Unfortunately the complexities of the game currently result in this partial review. This review will be updated in the coming days and weeks as we further play the game.

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Review: Dimension: The Spherical Stackable Fast Paced Puzzle Game

  • September 14, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Dimension: The Spherical Stackable Fast Paced Puzzle Game, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Fun, but I don't think it'll turn into a staple (Normally I'd work this into my review, but it's a little harder this time. As noted above this is a review of a product I received for free, through Amazon. I try very hard to not let that impact my rating.

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Review: Batman Fluxx

  • September 6, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Batman Fluxx, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Not just a minor tweak of Fluxx Ever since I was introduced to Fluxx well over a year ago (I think it was Oz Fluxx) I've been interested in the game. Thus far I've played Oz Fluxx, Zombie Fluxx, Pirate Fluxx, and Cthulhu Fluxx, having purchased the latter in July 2014. When I saw that a copy of Batman Fluxx was up for review I wondered how the game would play compared to the others, and requested a copy.

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July 2015 tablet recommendations

  • August 29, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is an email I sent on July 23, 2015, to someone who was looking to purchase her first tablet. It's now a month out of date, but I hope it helps someone, or is historically interesting. Fair warning this is a long email, but you don't have to read it all. If you want to skip ahead I've put bold text to help you skip around. You can either keep reading now, or skip ahead to the bold text in parens below.

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Review: Lumo Lift - Posture Coach and Activity Tracker

  • August 25, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Lumo Lift - Posture Coach and Activity Tracker, provided as part of the Amazon Vine program. Works, but Android app leaves much to be desired I'm a web developer. I sit at my desk for much of the workday and rarely get outside of the building I'm in until the day is done. I've always wondered how bad my posture is, so when I saw the Lumo Lift up for review I decided to give it a try.

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Review: George Foreman GFO240S Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill

  • August 9, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the George Foreman GFO240S Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Can't replace the clam shell models A couple years after college I started hearing about George Foreman's lean, mean, cooking machines. Since I was living alone at the time, and wasn't much of a cook, I decided to try one of the early models, with the plates that could not be removed.

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Review: Sony SRSX55/BLK Powerful Portable Bluetooth Speaker

  • July 26, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Sony SRSX55/BLK Powerful Portable Bluetooth Speaker, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Sounds great to me First, I feel as though any review about audio equipment requires a disclaimer if you're not an audiophile. So, "I'm not an audiophile." That said, after almost a month of using the Sony SRSX55 I can honestly say that it sounds great to me.

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Review: BLU Studio C 5.0-Inch Android Smartphone

  • June 27, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the BLU Studio C 5.0-Inch Android Smartphone, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Very decent entry-level phone First off, as I appear to be unable to use my existing SIM card from my provider with this phone I was unable to use it to make standard calls. However, I did use it for playing music, browsing the web, and Google Hangouts.

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Review: Bang Gang's The Wolves Are Whispering (2015)

  • June 26, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Bang Gang's 2015 album The Wolves Are Whispering. Another beautiful album Warning: I find music to be very subjective and find it hard to explain why it is that I might like a song in words and without being able to sit someone down and let them listen with me. So the number of music reviews I do is very low. However, this album has been out for three days and has no reviews on Amazon.

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Review: MANGROOMER Professional Body Groomer and Trimmer Wet or Dry

  • June 19, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the MANGROOMER Professional Body Groomer and Trimmer Wet or Dry, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Budget product, that isn't as good as my Philips Norelco For better or worse, this review of the MANGROOMER Professional Body Groomer and Trimmer will be based upon my experience with the Philips Norelco BG2040 BodyGroom Pro, which I've had for almost a year and a half.

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Review: Cyberlink PowerDVD 15 Ultra

  • June 9, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Cyberlink PowerDVD 15 Ultra, provided to me for free as part of the Amazon Vine program. Error 0110 When I was building my gaming PC I picked up a Blu-ray drive after a few weeks, to compliment the DVD player, and so I wouldn't need to power on my PlayStation 3 to watch certain movies. However, despite hearing good things about the free options I found the setup to be too large of a pain.

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Review: Chill Bag - Bean Bags Bean Bag Chair, 5-Feet, Charcoal

  • June 2, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Chill Bag - Bean Bags Bean Bag Chair, 5-Feet, Charcoal, provided as part of the Amazon Vine program. Massive If there's only one thing I could say about the Chill Bag I would simply say that it's massive. While the product name makes note of bean bags, the Chill Bag is instead filled with over 35 pounds of multi-colored pieces of foam, spread out over around 5 square feet, once fully expanded.

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Review: Linksys WRT 8-Port Gigabit Switch (SE4008-FFP)

  • May 28, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Linksys WRT 8-Port Gigabit Switch (SE4008-FFP), received as part of the Amazon Vine program. A great basic switch It has been many years since I've used a network switch, as wireless has become fast and prevalent enough that most devices are just wireless now. However, since I'm running into an issue where wired computers weren't on the same subnet due to the usage of a router.

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Review: Just Desserts

  • May 15, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Looney Labs' Just Desserts, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Just Delicious Having played the game with three different groups, consisting of 2, 4, and 5 people, I can honestly say that every group I've played it with has had a great time. I won't go into the actual rules, other than to say that they're relatively simple to learn and pick up.

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Review: TP-LINK Archer T9E AC1900 Dual Band Wireless PCI Express Adapter, 5Ghz 1300Mbps + 2.4Ghz 600Mbps, Beamforming, 3T3R

  • May 4, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the TP-LINK Archer T9E AC1900 Dual Band Wireless PCI Express Adapter, 5Ghz 1300Mbps + 2.4Ghz 600Mbps, Beamforming, 3T3R, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. On par with a wired connection, but mind the size I've used one other TP-LINK product, an AC1200 USB adapter, which I generally found to be acceptable. So when I saw this I thought about another machine I could switched from a networked connection to a wireless one.

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Review: Mars Attacks The Dice Game

  • April 14, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Mars Attacks: The Dice Game, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Fun, but the theme may be an acquired taste Being a fan of the Mars Attacks movie, I was interested in just how well a dice game based upon it would be. The game actually puts you into the role of the Martians, and does not really tie into the movie.

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Review: Karma Card Game

  • April 10, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Karma Card Game, provided to me by the Amazon Vine program. Simple enough for kids, but fun for all A number of years ago I was introduced to the SET Card Game by a former co-worker. SET is fairly basic game that requires a deal of thinking, and is something I really enjoyed playing. So when I saw the SET name on the box for the Karma Card Game I knew I had to request a copy.

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Review: SET Dice Game

  • April 5, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the SET Dice Game, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. A pleasant twist on the SET card game I was introduced to the SET card game a little over four years ago by a former co-worker. Having more experience than I, she kicked my butt every time we played together, but it was enjoyable, and I still did sufficiently good at the single player variant.

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Review: LG Electronics Gaming 24GM77 24-Inch Screen LED-Lit Monitor

  • March 8, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the LG Electronics Gaming 24GM77 24-Inch Screen LED-Lit Monitor, released in late 2014, and currently available for purchase for a little over $270. The product I received was free as part of the Amazon Vine program. Very nice, but may not be required For context, I have two rather old HP monitors, from 2007, which up until early last year I was using for my PC monitors.

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Review: LibGDX Game Development Essentials (2014)

  • March 7, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of LibGDX Game Development Essentials, written by Juwal Bose, and released in December 2014 by Packt Publishing. Difficult to follow, but not a complete waste of time LibGDX Game Development Essentials is hard to follow along with, and since I'm one of those learners who likes to follow along when I'm learning a technology, that made this book troublesome. On the one hand, I certainly got something out of the book, and successfully got a glimpse of just how powerful LibGDX is.

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Review: Munchkin Panic

  • January 28, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Munchkin Panic, provided for free as part of Amazon Vine. Enjoyable even for solo play Thus far I've only been able to play solo games of Munchkin Panic, so this review will be based upon that fact. I've never played Castle Panic, which this game is a variant of, but I'm familiar with Munchkin. So I wasn't quite sure what to expect of this game when I got it.

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Review: RADical ROACH Deluxe Edition (2014)

  • January 11, 2015
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of RADical ROACH Deluxe Edition, available on Steam and Amazon. Not Rad 'RADical' ROACH is just not very enjoyable. I somehow made it through the first two levels, and recently opted to run it for a little over an hour today to just get the trading cards (which are worth next to nothing in money and gems). I'm thankful I only paid 17 cents for this, thanks to a bundle.

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Review: TP-LINK Archer T4U AC1200 Wireless Dual Band USB Adapter

  • December 31, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the TP-LINK Archer T4U AC1200 Wireless Dual Band USB Adapter, which I received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Quite the big boy On a Windows 8.1 machine, the TP-LINK Archer T4U AC1200 Wireless Dual Band USB Adapter does what it says. Speed tests and usage suggest that it's on par with a wired connection, and I had no issues playing online with it.

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Review: Perfect Fitness Pushup Stands

  • November 22, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Perfect Fitness Pushup Stands, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Makes pushups easy I don't find pushups all that difficult, outside of the fact that I just don't know what to do with my hands. Since my apartment is carpeted, putting my hands into fists results in carpet marks on my ends, and some irritation. As a developer, who works on a computer most of the day, stretching my fingers out causes me some concern as I'm wary of wrist issues.

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Review: Cash N Guns Second Edition

  • November 6, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Cash N Guns Second Edition, received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Fun with a good group When initially reading over the instructions for Cash N Guns I wasn't sure how it would actually play. The idea of robbers trying to split the loot from a heist is pretty easy to understand, but would it play out fairly? Having now played the game in a group of five I think it went fairly well.

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Review: Gray Matter (2010)

  • October 26, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Gray Matter (2010), available for the PC on Steam and on Amazon.com. An enjoyable story, with minor puzzles I find point and click adventures to be generally enjoyable, but the older I get the more interest I have in the story they tell than the puzzles. So when I finally started playing Gray Matter, which I received for very cheap as part of a bundle, my main focus was on the story.

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Review: Mega Bloks Call of Duty ODIN Space Station Strike

  • October 16, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Mega Bloks Call of Duty ODIN Space Station Strike set, provided by Amazon as part of the Amazon Vine program. Call me an impressed Mega Bloks first-timer I'll be honest; I'm a LEGO guy. My sister and I grew up with LEGO, and I have fond memory of them. We did have some Tyco blocks, but we were primarily LEGO. I'm not a fan of Call of Duty, but the set looked pretty interesting, and had a 'less than LEGO' price, I figured it would be worth a try.

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Review: The Complete Guide to Blender Graphics, Second Edition: Computer Modeling and Animation (2014)

  • September 27, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of The Complete Guide to Blender Graphics, Second Edition: Computer Modeling and Animation, published in 2014, and written by John M. Blain. So much information Many many years ago I did quite a bit with POV-Ray and Rhino3D, but as I got older focused more and more on the web. While I'd heard of Blender many times in the past, I had also heard that the GUI wasn't exactly friendly for new users.

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Review: Devil Kings (2005)

  • September 6, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Devil Kings, released in 2005 for the PlayStation 2. Perfectly acceptable example of the genre There's something satisfying about games of this particular genre. You play a kind of super-powered individual, able to wade your way through groups of the enemies armies, fighting your way to their lord(s), and taking them down. It can certainly be repetitive, yet despite that ... the simple controls, basic story lines, multiple characters, and excited announcer, drives you play each character, and at increasing levels of difficulty.

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Review: Linksys AC1200 Wi-Fi Wireless Dual-Band+ Router with Gigabit & USB Ports (EA6350)

  • September 1, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of a Linksys AC1200 Wi-Fi Wireless Dual-Band+ Router with Gigabit & USB Ports (EA6350), which I received as part of the Amazone Vine program. Runs hot, but nice interface and speeds I have a couple routers around the house, but I've always been a fan of Linksys, so when I saw the opportunity to review the Linksys AC1200+ I snapped it up. Unfortunately, while it has a number of good points, I'll ultimately be unplugging it and using an existing device instead.

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Review: Shadowrun Returns (2013)

  • August 2, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Shadowrun Returns (2013), available for PC on Steam. Enjoyable story and gameplay After having the game for a little over 9 months, I've finally beaten the main campaign, Dead Man's Switch, of Shadowrun Returns (2013). It didn't take this long to beat it because the game wasn't enjoyable, but rather because the machine I had until a few months ago wasn't ideal for gaming, so it wasn't until the last three months that I really got into this.

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Review: Still Life (2005)

  • July 29, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Still Life (2005), available for PC on Steam. Great story, interesting puzzles Having liked Syberia (you have to like a game if you've bought multiple copies over the years), when I saw the Still Life trilogy in a bundle (Post Mortem, Still Life, Still Life 2) a few months ago I decided to pick it up. While it's taken me a while to get to this game (not thinking, I played the second in the series first), I'm glad I finally did.

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Review: Belkin Universal Case and Cover for 7-Inch and 8-Inch Tablet, Ink

  • July 19, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Belkin Universal Case and Cover for 7-Inch and 8-Inch Tablet, Ink, which I received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Actually like it more than my Supcase case The Belkin Universal Case and Cover for 7-Inch and 8-Inch Tablet has a fairly low rating on Amazon as I write this, and has had a low rating since I ordered this a few weeks ago.

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Review: Fearless Fantasy (2014)

  • July 13, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Fearless Fantasy (2014), available for PC on Steam. Enjoyable, but controls are a bit iffy While Fearless Fantasy isn't long (there's only 13 sections), it's nonetheless an interesting game. The combat mechanic is probably more suited for touch-based devices (I found windowed mode makes the game a little easier, than playing full screen in 1920x1080), it still keeps combat interesting. Because of the mechanic, I did find myself having to grind earlier levels for experience, and ended the game with level 17 characters.

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Review: To the Moon (2011)

  • June 28, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of To the Moon (2011), available for PC on Steam. Good story, but iffy controls From the reviews of this game I was expecting a short game with a good story. And having now beat the game in a little over 3 and a half hours (having only looked up if I needed to get off the horse to exit the stage; we'll get to that in a bit), that's exactly what I got.

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Review: Hexcells Plus (2014)

  • June 20, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Hexcells Plus (2014), played on the PC. More of the same, with a bit more complexity Having gone through the first Hexcells rather quickly, I just as quickly started playing the standalone Hexcells Plus. While this game contains the same number of puzzles as the original, it adds additional gameplay dynamics. While I finished the first in less than 2 hours, Steam reports that I put in 8 hours on this version.

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Review: NETGEAR Trek N300 Range Extender and Travel Router (PR2000)

  • June 17, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the NETGEAR Trek N300 Range Extender and Travel Router (PR2000), which I received as part of the Amazone Vine program. Works perfectly to convert a wired connection, with no loss of speed The NETGEAR Trek N300 Range Extender and Travel Router (PR2000) can assist as either a simple wifi router for a normally wired home network, as a wireless range extender, as a protected wireless hotspot on the go, or to convert a wired device to a wireless one.

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Review: Hexcells (2014)

  • June 14, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Hexcells (2014), played on the PC. A short, but enjoyable, puzzle game Ultimately, I recommend Hexcells, especially for the price I paid ($1.25 with the standalone expansion), as I got a around 110 minutes of play. It's a pretty basic puzzle game, with some extra dynamics added in as you progress. I do wish that the puzzles were a little more complex, but I also tend to enjoy this type of game, so the general idea wasn't new to me.

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Review: Radiant Historia (2011)

  • May 30, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Radiant Historia (2011), released for the Nintendo DS. Fantastic music and interesting branching story When I ordered Radiant Historia back in February 2013 I'll readily admit that I played for only a few hours before I let it, and my 3DS, sit and gather dust. At the time the cheapest new copy of the game I could get was $70, so I was expecting much more from the game.

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Review: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing (2013)

  • May 15, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing (2013), played on the PC. An enjoyable hack and slash dungeon crawler Having recently built a gaming PC I had to think hard about what game(s) I would initially pick up. Since Diablo II was such an enjoyable game, and one of my most memorable experiences when I was PC gaming, I initially looked at Diablo III. However, the current state of the game, and knowing that eventually the DLC and base game would be selling for half the price, led me to look elsewhere.

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Review: Getting Start with Paint.NET (2013)

  • April 13, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Getting Start with Paint.NET (2013), written by Andros T. Sturgeon and Shoban Kumar, and published by Packt Publishing. Excellent primer for your average user In the past I've used Adobe Photoshop for my own personal use, as well as at work for relatively simple work. However, after losing my discount a number of years ago, I've kept my eye open for good alternatives, especially for those that were asking for my recommendation on software.

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Review: Ghost Trick (2011)

  • April 3, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Ghost Trick, released in 2011, for the Nintendo DS. What a very good game A very short while ago I watched a video that featured Ghost Trick briefly, and I fell in love with the graphic style of the game. After ordering it with some other DS games, for use on my 3DS XL, I decided that it would be the first of the batch that I would play, and therefore also one of the first games I had played on the system in months.

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Review: Panavise PortaGrip Phone Holder with Windshield Mount

  • February 18, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Panavise PortaGrip Phone Holder with Windshield Mount, which I received as part of the Amazon Vine program. No suction due to cold, but great grip Right away let me say that I wanted to like this product. Unfortunately, a lack of suction made it impossible for me to fully test this in my car. However, given the weather in Wisconsin, I fully attribute that to the extremely cold weather.

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Review: PlayStation 3 EX-02 Next Gen Bluetooth Headset with Faceplates

  • February 2, 2014
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the PlayStation 3 EX-02 Next Gen Bluetooth Headset with Faceplates, which I received as part of the Amazon Vine program. External speaker is key I've tried two different microphones before this headset: the one that came with Warhawk and the PlayStation 3 camera, and since I rarely play multiplayer games, and PlayStation players are less likely to have microphones that Xbox 360 players, both were just fine.

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Review: Rolodex Mesh Mobile Device Tablet Stand

  • December 4, 2013
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Rolodex Mesh Mobile Device Tablet Stand, which I received as part of the Amazon Vine program. Perfect with my Nexus 7 I currently have a Nexus 7 with a case that allows a certain level of tilting. However, since the case is relatively soft, it doesn't work as well as I'd like. I was also looking at purchasing a larger tablet over the holiday season, so when I saw this up for review I jumped at the opportunity.

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Review: Contrast (2013)

  • November 16, 2013
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Contrast, released in 2013, for the PlayStation 4. Charming Since Watch Dogs was delayed, I've been thinking about what game would be my first PlayStation 4 experience. Between Contrast, Flower, and Resogun, I ultimately decided upon Contrast, since while I had played flOw first on my PlayStation 3, I had already played (and enjoyed) Flower on the PS3, and wanted something slightly different.

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Review: Alice: Madness Returns (2011)

  • September 8, 2013
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Alice: Madness Returns, released in 2011 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A dark masterpiece I picked up a new copy of Alice: Madness Returns for the Xbox 360 back in April of 2012. Since it came with a copy of the original American Mcgee’s Alice, I decided to start with that in May. However, it took me until November of that year to beat that game (it was good, just long), and then I didn’t start the main game until the middle of August.

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Review: D-Link Wireless N 900 Mbps Home Cloud App-Enabled Dual-Band Gigabit Router (DIR-855L)

  • July 21, 2013
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the D-Link Wireless N 900 Mbps Home Cloud App-Enabled Dual-Band Gigabit Router (DIR-855L). Very nice, save the short power cord While I just replaced my router with a MediaLink router (since I wanted wireless N), when Amazon Vine offered this D-Link router I figured I would give it a try, since I had noticed issues with my laptop losing wireless and my tablet experiencing extreme drops.

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Review: Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5 Quickstart Cookbook (2013)

  • June 30, 2013
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5 Quickstart Cookbook (2013), written by Jose Luis Latorre Millas, and published by Packt Publishing. The .NET Framework is just too big .NET 4.5 came out a short while ago, but the amount I’ve been able to do with it has been fairly limited. So when I was asked if I wanted a review copy of Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5 Quickstart Cookbook I went ahead and took the opportunity to do so, to see what I could look forward to.

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Review: Instant .NET 4.5 Extension Methods How-to (2013)

  • May 3, 2013
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Instant .NET 4.5 Extension Methods How-to (2013), written by Shawn R. McLean, and published by Packt Publishing. A quick introduction to .NET extension methods In the 5+ years that I’ve been doing .NET I’ve been created my own extension methods twice. I was already aware that LINQ was built on extension methods, but I very rarely found myself needing to extend something that I didn’t already have the code for.

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Review: Tomb Raider (2013)

  • April 12, 2013
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Tomb Raider (2013). Reboot: Successful I’ve never bought a Tomb Raider game before this one. Actually, I did buy the Lara Croft PSN/Xbox Live game, but that’s not really a Tomb Raider game in the classic sense. I also received a free copy of Tomb Raider: Underworld via PlayStation Plus, but I’ve yet to finish it, and don’t have much drive to. However, Tomb Raider is not only the first Lara Croft game I’ve paid full price for, but one of a very few games I’ve picked up almost immediately after it was released.

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Review: Spec Ops: The Line (2012)

  • March 9, 2013
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Spec Ops: The Line (2012). A squad-based shooter with an excellent story I really bought the SOCOM 4 Full Deployment Edition because at the time it was the cheapest way to quick up everything to get started with PlayStation Move. And in fact I only played it for a short time before I moved on to other games. I’ve since tried to get back into it, but since I had issues getting the game running again (odd patch issues), I haven’t done so.

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Review: 72 Pin Connector for NES 8 BIT Nintendo System

  • December 30, 2012
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of a 72 Pin Connector for NES 8 BIT Nintendo System (Bulk Packaging), by Classic Game Source. Our Nintendo was purchased new (as far as I know), way back when they were still being sold in stores. However, we haven’t played it all that much, since, like many others, the console would blink instead of playing the game. Last weekend I visited my sister, who has it now, and I couldn’t get it come on at all.

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Review: Milwaukee Mafia (2012)

  • November 1, 2012
  • James Skemp
The following if a review of Milwaukee Mafia (2012), written by Gavin Schmitt. Is a picture worth a thousand words? First, I should note that I’ve known the author for around a decade, so my review have some level of bias. Second, having followed the project, and been part of the Kickstarter effort, my experience with the book has been fairly long and diverse. While I was initially expecting a typical, written, book, Milwaukee Mafia, as the fact that it’s part of the ‘Images of America’ series, consists mostly of photos, all with captions, and short introductions beginning each of the six chapters.

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Review: AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable (6.5 Feet/2.0 Meters)

  • November 1, 2012
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable (6.5 Feet/2.0 Meters). AmazonBasics: When price and quality matters While a number of retailers will try to sell you expensive cables, I’ve personally found Amazon’s AmazonBasics line to be exactly what’s needed, at an even better than expected price. This isn’t the first HDMI cable I’ve received in the AmazonBasics line, but I don’t believe my previous cable supported ‘ethernet, 3D, and audio return’ like this one promises.

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Review: SimpleSleeve, Premium Neoprene Sleeve for Apple iPad

  • September 16, 2012
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the SimpleSleeve, Premium Neoprene Sleeve for Apple iPad. A well made cover; one happy purchaser Seeing as how my Nexus 7 has officially converted me to Android tablets (although we’ll see what Microsoft’s Surface devices are priced at), I figured it was time to finally write a review for the item that’s been keeping my iPad safe for almost a year and a half.

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Review: Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad (2009)

  • September 16, 2012
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad (2009), for the Xbox 360. Ignore the cover, Onechanbara actually isn’t that bad Honestly, I hesitated bringing this up to the counter to pay for it. However, with the 3-point-something rating, new copies selling for over $60, and the store having it used for $6.30, I had to pick up Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad. I’ll admit it, as I guy who likes girls sex can get me to purchase something, and Onechanbara certainly promises that.

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Review: Mafia II (2010)

  • May 8, 2012
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Mafia II (2010), for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. If you enjoyed The Saboteur, you’ll enjoy this While I was playing Mafia II I was constantly reminded of The Saboteur (2009), and since I enjoyed that game, I would consider that a good thing. The game features much of the same, with gun and hand fights (the latter of which plays an important part in the story) and driving.

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Review: Ninja Blade (2009)

  • April 24, 2012
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Ninja Blade (2009), for the Xbox 360. A lot of quick time events, but an overlooked gem God of War was a pretty good game, but the game made popular quick time events, which I absolutely despised. When I saw Ninja Blade at a used media store I was taken back by how little it cost, for what seemed like a fairly enjoyable game, similar to Ninja Gaiden (note: Ninja Gaiden 2 for the Xbox 360 is kicking my butt, but I fully plan on finishing it, have picked up Sigma for the PlayStation 3, and am semi-interested in picking up others in the series).

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Review: Yakuza Dead Souls (2012)

  • March 27, 2012
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Yakuza Dead Souls (2012), released for the PlayStation 3. Inconsistent targeting is easily overlooked in this gem When I first heard about Yakuza Dead Souls I was a little worried. The best part about the Yakuza series is the story, and I feared that they were jumping on the zombie bandwagon (albeit late). However, I should have reminded myself about the multitude of games I have that has the Sega logo on the box, as there was nothing to fear with this iteration in the Yakuza series.

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Review: MindJack (2011)

  • February 29, 2012
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of MindJack (2011), released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. MindJack got a lot of grief when it came out, and it hasn’t gotten much better. However, seeing it for under $5 one day, I decided to pick up a copy and see just how bad it really is. MindJack tells the story of a man who’s name I can’t remember (and that I don’t care enough to look up) as he tries to discover what he can, as within the first few minutes of the game he’s treated as something of a traitor.

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Review: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (2010)

  • January 22, 2012
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Enslaved, Odyssey to the West (2010), released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A wonderful short story When Enslaved: Odyssey to the West was first being discussed I was keeping my eye on it, as I had picked up Heavenly Sword when I picked up my PlayStation 3 and thorougly enjoyed it. However, after lackluster reviews I opted to wait until I picked it up.

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Review: Programming Entity Framework: Code First (2011)

  • January 5, 2012
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Programming Entity Framework: Code First, written by Julia Lerman and Rowan Miller. While I had heard of Julie Lerman and her book Programming Entity Framework, after the release of code first I was on the fence on just how much I would get out of the existing book. With the release of Programming Entity Framework: Code First I knew I’d learn something, so I picked up an electronic copy (PDF) and started digging in.

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Review: Saints Row: The Third (2011)

  • December 17, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Saints Row: The Third (2011) for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Over the top antics delivers just what I needed After the bombardment of commercials online for this game, I had it on my list to pick up after the price dropped into the $20 range. However, since PlayStation 3 users can get a free copy of Saints Row 2 by picking it up before January or February of next year, and the price at retailers had dropped to $40, I decided to pick up a copy early.

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Review: Dragon Age Origins: Ultimate Edition (2010)

  • December 17, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Dragon Age Origins: Ultimate Edition (2010) for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Amazing value, for a great RPG A while ago a friend lent me his copy of Dragon Age Origins for the Xbox 360. While I enjoyed the game, I had a number of other games that I was playing, and I returned it without finishing it. With the price drops of the Ultimate Edition, I decided to finally pick up a copy, for the PS3, but it sat unused until a short time ago.

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Review: The 3rd Birthday (2011) (PSP)

  • October 29, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of The 3rd Birthday for the PlayStation Portable. Fairly incomprehensible story, but wonderful game play Way back in 2005 I found a copy of Parasite Eve. While I tried playing through the game shortly after, it wasn’t until many years later that I actually started and finished the game (twice). I also happened to come upon a copy of Parasite Eve 2, but outside of a very little bit of play (less than an hour), I never really got into the game.

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Review: Yakuza 4 (2011) (PlayStation 3)

  • October 1, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Yakuza 4 for the PlayStation 3. A masterpiece I picked up Yakuza 4 without having played any of the previous iterations of the game. After looking at reviews online I thought it might have a pretty good story, and provide a good amount of entertainment. After playing a little under an hour of the game I was quite impressed what I had seen. Used copies of Yakuza 3 were available locally, at a pretty decent price, so I decided to pick up a copy of Yakuza 3 and play that first (since Yakuza 1 and 2 were a little harder to find, and more importantly on the PlayStation 2).

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Netflix shipping, for Madison WI - Year 6 (Part 1)

  • September 30, 2011
  • James Skemp
This will cover September 26, 2011 to approximately March 25, 2012. See also year 5, part 2. Plan changes After many years, on October 7, 2011, I dropped DVDs from my plan. I'm running low on time to get to DVDs with all the great games being released, and the price jump is a bit more than I'd like at this point. The times 09/27/2011 (T) - MRNOS. 09/28/2011 (W) - Received and watched Castle: Season 3 (2010): Disc 3: Episodes 11 and 12.

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Review: Last Rebellion (2010) (PlayStation 3)

  • August 28, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Last Rebellion for the PlayStation 3. It’s interesting how badly this game is generally rated, yet I didn’t find the approximately 12 hours I put into the game all that horrible. Sure the graphics don’t push the limits of the PlayStation 3, and the game could certainly have been released for the PlayStation 2, but given the current pricing of the game I’d argue it’s worth a purchase.

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Review: Yakuza 3 (2010) (PlayStation 3)

  • August 21, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Yakuza 3, for the PlayStation 3. Around the time Yakuza 4 was being released I began hearing about the game, although after further research I do remember hearing about those who had asked actual Yakuza to play a Yakuza game (the 3rd specifically). Either way, everything I had heard about 4 suggested I would like it, especially when I heard it had a great story.

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Review: Professional ASP.NET MVC 3

  • August 20, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Professional ASP.NET MVC 3, written by Jon Galloway, Phil Haack, Brad Wilson, and K. Scott Allen. Having used ASP.NET MVC since around the time 1.0 was released I was a little interested in what Professional ASP.NET MVC 3 would bring to someone like myself. Would this book provide enough new content to someone like me who’s tried to keep up on the framework? So when I was contacted by someone at Wiley to receive a copy for review I was of course interested.

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Review: Eat Them! (2010) (PlayStation 3)

  • August 6, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Eat Them!, for the PlayStation 3, and released on the PlayStation Network. I just recently picked up a copy of Eat Them!, for the PlayStation 3, as it was on sale for PlayStation Plus members. According to some Eat Them! is a Rampage-like game, where you control a monster that lays waste to an area of a city. Indeed, this an extremely apt description, as playing this game brought to my mind fond memories of putting quarters/tokens into the Rampage machine, and later playing it, and later releases (such as for the Nintendo 64) to mind.

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Review: Bullet Witch (2006) (Xbox 360)

  • July 20, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Bullet Witch, released in 2006 for the Xbox 360. It is what it is, and that’s just fine Years ago I was hooked by the uniqueness of the first few levels of Drakengard, released for the PlayStation 2. When I finally found and picked up a copy I found it had hooked its claws into me even more. So when Drakengard 2 came out I of course picked up a copy.

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Review: jQuery Mobile by Jon Reid

  • July 17, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of jQuery Mobile, written by Jon Reid. A great introduction to jQuery Mobile development While jQuery Mobile has not yet had a final release, a number of alphas, and most recently a beta, have been released. When a new technology or framework is released it’s sometimes difficult to determine when the best time is to start learning about it. Generally I try to stay away until a final version is released, but since this project is tied to jQuery, I can only assume that good things will come from this framework.

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Review: Dante's Inferno (2010) (Xbox 360/PlayStation 3)

  • June 9, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Dante’s Inferno (2010), available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Enjoyable, but quick, with some annoying platforming As I continue playing games that received less than critical acclaim, I found myself playing Dante’s Inferno for the Xbox 360. Dante’s Inferno tells the story of Dante who journeys through Hell to save his beloved Beatrice. As we progress through the story we learn more about Dante himself, and why it is that he doesn’t seem so out of place in this land.

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Review: Darksiders (2009) (Xbox 360/PlayStation 3)

  • May 30, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Darksiders (2009), available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Darksiders, like Nier, the last game I played through and beat, didn’t get all that much respect when it first came out. But Darksiders features more than just God of War meets Zelda gameplay, it tells a story worth seeing through until the end. The following review is based upon a playthrough on the Xbox 360, on the hardest - Apocalyptic - difficulty.

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Review: JavaScript: The Definitive Guide, Sixth Edition, by David Flanagan

  • May 23, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of JavaScript: The Definitive Guide, Sixth Edition, written by David Flanagan. Also available on O’Reilly Media. Provides a deep dive into JavaScript development JavaScript: The Definitive Guide is not just a complete reference of the language, like O’Reilly’s other ‘thick books,’ but also provides a deep dive into JavaScript development. However, if you’re just starting out and will be using one of the various libraries (like jQuery), this book may not (yet) be for you.

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Review: Nier (2010) (Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3)

  • May 21, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Nier (2010), available on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Yes, the main character is ugly, but the story is anything but Nier, released in 2010, and developed by Cavia, gained mediocre reviews when it was released. The one thing I remember most about those reviews is the common statement that the main character in Nier was rather ugly. Of course, he (named whatever you name him) is rather ugly.

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Review: JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford

  • April 29, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of JavaScript: The Good Parts, written by Douglas Crockford. Focused discussion on the parts of JavaScript to learn more about At the beginning of last month Scott Hanselman had a Hanselminutes episode titled “JavaScript and jQuery: Moving beyond Alert().” During this episode he spoke with two JavaScript … (experts? gurus?) users, and this book was mentioned as one to read if you wanted to get a better understanding of JavaScript.

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Review: 30-Minute Mandalas Coloring Book

  • April 29, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of 30-Minute Mandalas Coloring Book: Active Meditation for the Mind and Body OR Easy Meditation through Coloring. I’ll be honest, I might be missing the point of these If, after reading my review’s title, you haven’t already decided to hit the ‘No’ button next to ‘Was this review helpful to you’ and otherwise ignore my review, thank you. I’ll be the first to admit that I might not understand the point of these.

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Review: Ys Seven (PSP)

  • April 22, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Ys Seven, for the Sony PlayStation Portable. Ys Seven, the first Ys game I’ve played, was recommended to me a number of times before I finally picked up a copy. Since XSEED had some hand in the game, I was expecting a fairly good game, and found an excellent one. Ys Seven is a sort of action RPG, with combat taking place on the field, and consisting of standard attacks, dodges, skills, and special attacks.

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Review: C# in Depth, Second Edition

  • April 18, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of C# in Depth, Second Edition, written by Jon Skeet. I’ve been working in C# (heavily towards Web usage via ASP.NET) for almost a handful of years now, with the various Wrox books, and online materials, serving me rather well. However, I never really dug ‘deep’ into C#, and knew that there was a great deal of functionality I just wasn’t using. This book, C# in Depth, comes up a lot during discussions of really understanding C#, or the man (legend?

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Review: The Master Switch

  • April 4, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of The Master Switch, by Tim Wu. A long while back I had first read mention of this book on a blog I subscribed to, the author of whom writes about technology. He briefly mentioned the book before going on to some related discussion. And that’s about all I remember. He praised the book, but I can’t recall why. Having now finished the book, I can honestly give it some praise as well, but I fear a repeat of what’s happened in the past.

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Netflix shipping, for Madison WI - Year 5 (Part 2)

  • March 26, 2011
  • James Skemp
This will cover March 26 2011 to approximately September 25 2011. See also year 5, part 1. The times 03/26/2011 (Sa) - Received and watched Castle: Season 2: Episodes 6 and 7 (2009). 03/27/2011 (Su) - Finished off the second disc of Castle: Season 2, by watching Episodes 8 through 10 (2009). I'll let it get picked up tomorrow. 03/29/2011 (T) - MRNOS. Actually, the second one, which is disc 4, since disc 3 is still unavailable.

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Review: Smashing CSS

  • March 25, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Smashing CSS, written by Eric A. Meyer. Mixed signals lead to a mixed review I think this may technically be the first Eric Meyer book I’ve ever read. I’ve read a number of his articles online, in various forums, but just haven’t gone out of my way to read one of his books. So I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but I do know it was more then I believe I got.

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Video review: Philips DLP2277 Attachable Battery Pack and Charging Base for iPhone and iPod (White)

  • February 26, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the Philips DLP2277 Attachable Battery Pack and Charging Base for iPhone and iPod. When I ordered this item I was expecting only what the box suggested; a battery pack that could be connected to the iPod, which would charge the phone, and in turn be charged by the base station. Instead what I got was a box full of goodies. First you have the battery itself, which while of a fairly large size, seems to fit perfectly with the odd case I have for my iPod Touch.

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Video review: PSP Super Travel Case With Pockets

  • January 23, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of the PSP Super Travel Case With Pockects, produced by CTA. When I was looking at purchasing my Sony PSP (3000), I knew I had to get some kind of case to keep it safe. After looking around, I decided upon this travel case, released by CTA. I’ve create a video review of the product, which I’ll let handle the specifics. Overall, 5 stars.

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Review: Parasite Eve

  • January 16, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Parasite Eve, for the Sony PlayStation (1). Almost six years ago, back in 2005, I found and picked up a copy of Parasite Eve. I don’t recall the exact circumstances on why I picked it up, but I’m willing to bet that seeing ‘Squaresoft’ on the jewel case had more than a little to do with it. With The 3rd Birthday’s U.S. launch fast approaching, I put the first Parasite Eve back on my list, having not played it since a short time after I bought it, and even then not having finished the game.

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Review: Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep

  • January 11, 2011
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, for the Sony PlayStation Portable. Having played Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 years ago, I skipped most of the other iterations of the Kingdom Hearts series either because I didn’t have the console (DS) or because the games just didn’t seem to have the same appeal (Chain of Memories). Shortly before picking up my PSP I heard a lot of really great things about this game, with most reviews saying it had a good story, graphics, and an improved combat system, but a quirky camera.

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Favorite new (to me) music of 2010

  • January 1, 2011
  • James Skemp
Continuing with the tradition started last year, I present my favorite albums purchased in 2010. To be on this list I must have purchased the album in 2010. This also doesn't include all albums I purchased. Easy winners What Is Free To a Good Home? and Knives Don't Have Your Back - Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton : Emily Haines was on my 'too hard to tell' list last year, and this year I ended up picking up her four CD digital collection on iTunes.

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Review: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

  • November 28, 2010
  • James Skemp
This is a review of the Sony PlayStation Portable game Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. Final Fantasy VII was the game that made me want a PlayStation 1. I played Final Fantasy VII briefly after it was initially released at a friend’s house, then my own copies later in college on both the PC and PlayStation 1. So when I ordered a PlayStation Portable (PSP) recently it seemed like a no-brainer to pick up a copy of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII as one of my first games.

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23+ hours with the PlayStation Portable: Initial thoughts

  • November 15, 2010
  • James Skemp
On the first of the month I purchased a Sony PlayStation Portable, which was delivered to me on the 4th. Since then I've used it, mostly for play, for approximately 24 hours. Approximately 23 hours and 12 minutes of that was with my first game, Crisis Core; Final Fantasy VII, and the rest (which was probably over an hour) was initial setups, as well as the playing of a handful of demos, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which I had purchased for play on my PS3 a long while ago.

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Game Informer's The 30 Characters Who Defined A Decade is an excellent read

  • November 12, 2010
  • James Skemp
Having just received this month's issue of Game Informer I was pleasantly suprised by the article 'The 30 Characters Who Defined A Decade,' contained on pages 46 to 69. I was particularly surprised to see Elena Fisher on the list, since Nathan Drake was already present, but feel that was an excellent choice. Lost Odyssey doesn't show up as much as I feel it should, so it was great to see Kaim Argonar showing up on the list.

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Netflix shipping, for Madison WI - Year 5 (Part 1)

  • September 28, 2010
  • James Skemp
Amazingly, although only in how fast time has gone by, my fifth year of Netflix has begun. This covers shipping with Netflix from September 26 2010 to approximately March 25 2011. See also the second half of year 4. MRNOS = Movie received and next one shipped The times 09/27/2010 (M) - MRNOS. 09/28/2010 (T) - Received and watched Iron Man 2 (2010), which I actually really liked, and am surprised I received so soon after release.

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Review: Splat SPLAT-AC-3J Orange Auto Clean Cleaning Putty

  • September 25, 2010
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Splat SPLAT-AC-3J Orange Auto Clean Cleaning Putty. The one thing I definitely don’t want in my car is gunk stuck in vents and other tiny holes. The basics of the product is that is catches all the junk on the outer layer of the ‘putty.’ By rolling the product around you can move the outer layer in, giving yourself more surface to work with.

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Review: The Grand Design

  • September 16, 2010
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of The Grand Design, written by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow. Who’s the audience? While interesting, the lack of a defined audience makes this book an extremely difficult read. Having read A Brief History of Time I was looking for something with a similar feel to it. Instead the book starts out geared towards anyone with the desire to really read and understand it, then seems to leave most of that audience towards the wayside - seemingly right around when the science gets a little iffy - and then finishes geared back towards the larger audience.

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Review: Odin Sphere

  • September 12, 2010
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Odin Sphere, for the Playstation 2. I really enjoyed the ads for Muramasa: The Demon Blade, since the game looked so very beautiful, and the game looked rather enjoyable. I bought it a few days after it came out and enjoyed it immensely. After some research I found that they had previously done this game, Odin Sphere, and thought it would be worth a play.

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Review: Nady Audio Stereo Headphones (HP-03)

  • September 12, 2010
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Nady Audio Stereo Headphones, model HP-03. I received a pair of these headphones in a bundle, and wasn’t really expecting much. After sitting around for a couple of months (okay, more like a handful) I finally opened them up one day and plugged them in. Surprisingly, they work pretty dang good. I’m in no way a sound expert, but I dare say for the average (music) listener these will work perfectly fine.

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Review: AmazonBasics USB 2.0 A-Male to Mini-B Cable (6 Feet / 1.8 Meters)

  • August 23, 2010
  • James Skemp
This is a review of AmazonBasics USB 2.0 A-Male to Mini-B Cable (6 Feet / 1.8 Meters). I purchased this for an additional (and longer) cable for a Playstation 3 controller. It works perfectly (although I realize now I would have preferred a few feet longer - oh well). The fact that it comes in Amazon’s hassle free packaging is another definite plus, although since the box was rather large, when I received my package in the mail, I thought perhaps it was the Blu-ray movies I’d purchased shaking about.

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Review: La Ballade Of Lady & Bird : A Project By Keren Ann Zeidel & Bardi Johannsson

  • August 17, 2010
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of La Ballade Of Lady & Bird : A Project By Keren Ann Zeidel & Bardi Johannsson. I believe this is my first review of an album … I have a difficult time seeing how one can review the actual music on an album, since tastes are so personal, so I’ll focus on myself. I’m a pretty huge fan of Keren Ann’s work. I started with the absolutely beautiful Nolita, then the okay La Biographie De Luka Philipse, La Disparition, and then a big shopping spree of Not Going Anywhere, Keren Ann, and Lady & Bird.

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Review: The 12 Chinese Animals

  • July 25, 2010
  • James Skemp
This is a review of The 12 Chinese Animals, written by Master Zhongxian Wu. Like everyone who’s been to a Chinese restaurant, I’m well aware of the 12 animals. Thanks to Philip K. Dick I’ve got a couple copies of the I Ching around the house, and enjoyed learning about the Asian philosophies during college. This last aspect of me was pleasantly surprised reading through this short work, as the author does a good job of explaining that there are not only animals for the years one is born, but also for the month, day, and hour.

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Review: HP Compaq Presario CQ60-615DX

  • June 29, 2010
  • James Skemp
On February 16 of this year I purchased a HP Compaq Presario CQ60-615DX laptop. Almost 4 and a half months later I regret nothing. At some point during my college career - either my Sophmore or Junior year, which means 2000 or 2001 - I purchased my first laptop, a Dell. I used it for a number of years, but one day it just wouldn't start back up. Ever since then I've purchased HP desktop computers, and while I've helped others purchase laptops, and have thought about buying one, the price for the machine I wanted to build just wasn't in line with what I wanted to pay.

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Review: Manufacturing Depression: The Secret History of a Modern Disease

  • May 28, 2010
  • James Skemp
This is a review of Manufacturing Depression: The Secret History of a Modern Disease, written by Gary Greenberg. I selected this book based on the following lines of a highlighted review: “He offers a measured dose of philosophy in contemplating whether unhappiness should be regarded as a disease or instead as an essential part of being human. Ultimately, his book is a sobering critique of the marketing wizards who have overhyped the dubious benefits of antidepressants and of an American public all too eager for quick fixes to life’s inevitable challenges and disappointments.

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First Web site ported over to ASP.NET MVC 2

  • May 23, 2010
  • James Skemp
On Saturday (when I'm actually writing this, but I can't have 3 posts on one day, after my posting history the last handful of months) I finally ported a Web site over to ASP.NET MVC. The existing Web site was for a client who just needs a simple, static, Web site, with a half dozen areas for content. However, if they were given the ability to directly post content to the site - news, specials, etcetera - I believe they might.

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Review: IMAK Wrist Cushion with massaging ergoBeads

  • May 2, 2010
  • James Skemp
This is a review of the IMAK Wrist Cushion with massaging ergoBeads (also available on Amazon.com in packs of two). A while back, after visiting the doctor and finding that the pain I was experiencing every once in a while in my hands was probably caused by my cutting off the circulation to the underside of my arm, I started looking at options to keep myself from cutting off circulation, as I noticed I was doing.

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Review: Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey

  • April 25, 2010
  • James Skemp
This is a book review of Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey, written by Chuck Palahniuk. Rant, like the rest of Chuck Palahniuk’s works of fiction, features sex, facts which may or may not be true, and distinctive characters. However, while told in an interesting way, through the voices of over a dozen characters, Rant seems more of the same-old Chuck Palahniuk, and I fear I may have read the last of his work.

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Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

  • April 17, 2010
  • James Skemp
This is a book review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, written by Steve Hockensmith. First, I haven’t read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and didn’t realize that this was a prequel to that tale. However, as one who has been known to enjoy a zombie movie, now and again, this short tale was rather delightful. The language only flirts with being period, so there’s no worry of slogging through any of that.

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Review: Beginning ASP.NET 4 In C# and VB

  • March 28, 2010
  • James Skemp
The following book review is for Imar Spaanjaars’ Beginning ASP.NET 4 in C# and VB. While I’ve already read Beginning ASP.NET 3.5 by Imar Spaanjaars and moved rather far beyond it, when I had the opportunity to recieve his new book on ASP.NET 4 for review, I took it. Would I still feel strongly about recommending his work as the #1 choice for those new (or relatively new) to ASP.

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Netflix shipping, for Madison WI - Year 4 (Part 2)

  • March 27, 2010
  • James Skemp
The second half of year 4 with Netflix is contained below. This covers shipping from March 26, 2010 to approximately September 25, 2010. See also the first half of year 4. MRNOS = Movie Received and Next One Shipped The times 03/26/2010 (F) - MRNOS. 03/27/2010 (Sa) - Watched 1408 (2007) at my mom's (via Charter On Demand), which was pretty dang good. Received next movie, but since it's noticeably cracked, and I don't want to risk it, putting it right back in the Milwaukee (3079) mailer I received it in.

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Review: Borderlands

  • January 24, 2010
  • James Skemp
The following is a review for Borderlands, available for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. I specifically played the Playstation 3 version, but my review should be applicable to the Xbox 360 version as well. What I was expecting After all the hype and reviews I was expecting a ripe-off, albeit a fairly good one, of Fallout 3. Of course, Diablo II with it’s randomly generated baddies and weapons (and drops in general) was also mentioned.

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Favorite new (to me) music of 2009

  • January 1, 2010
  • James Skemp
Keeping with the tradition started here, a list for 2010 is also available. Having only listened to the radio a few times over the last year, I have a good idea of just what music I’ve listened to, since my iPod keeps track of everything. With the help of iTunes Playlists to Xml and LINQPad, here’s my favorite new (to me) album purchases of 2009. To be on this list I must have purchased the album in 2009.

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Video games I'm looking forward to in 2010

  • December 9, 2009
  • James Skemp
In no particular order, here are the video games I'm currently looking forward to playing in 2010. Note that some games may have been released earlier. Consoles that games can be released for are the PS2/PS3, Xbox 360, or Wii (which therefore includes GameCube games). Since I will probably not be getting an Xbox Live Gold subscription this coming January, and am going to go back to playing RPGs on PS systems only, when possible, PS3 versions of multi-console releases will be higher on my list.

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Review: No Doors, No Windows

  • November 15, 2009
  • James Skemp
Edgeworks Abbey and E-Reads have recently (2009) begun reprinting Harlan Ellison's works (32 titles in total). No Doors, No Windows sounded like a good choice, from the few titles I was missing, so I picked up a copy. This collects 16 stories, and has the introduction from the original release. Most of these stories were new to me, but they're short (the book is just under 200 pages, with the intro) and for the most part just aren't as good as his other works.

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Initial thoughts on Playstation 3 instant streaming

  • November 6, 2009
  • James Skemp
Today I received my instant streaming disc for the Playstation 3 from Netflix. Having now moved around and watched a video, here are my thoughts. Note that I've watched Netflix streaming videos on my PC as well as on my Xbox 360. Thoughts As noted, currently the streaming capabilities require a disc. While this could perhaps be a download (and will be in the future), I don't believe it's too terrible that it requires a disc.

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Review: Professional ASP.NET MVC 1.0

  • October 18, 2009
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Professional ASP.NET MVC 1.0, written by Rob Conery, Scott Hanselman, Phil Haack, and Scott Guthrie. I received a free copy of this book for review purposes from Amazon Vine, but was planning on purchasing the book nonetheless (I just had the good fortune to get a copy before they were all taken). A great introduction to ASP.NET MVC Professional ASP.NET MVC 1.0 was my first real look at ASP.

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Review: Muramasa: The Demon Blade

  • October 17, 2009
  • James Skemp
The following is a review of Muramasa: The Demon Blade, for the Nintendo Wii. Let’s get it out of the way; Muramasa: The Demon Blade is the game that finally made my purchase of the Wii worthwhile. Muramasa is in some ways similar to Super Metroid in that you progress around the game by moving from screen to screen, with enemy battles occuring randomly, as you move towards the act’s boss.

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Netflix shipping, for Madison WI - Year 4 (Part 1)

  • September 27, 2009
  • James Skemp
Year four with Netflix begins. This covers shipping and receiving from September 26, 2009 to approximately March 25, 2010. See also year 3, part 2, with Netflix. MRNOS = Movie received by Netflix and next one shipped. The times 09/26/2009 (S) - Received next movie. 09/27/2009 (Su) - Watched Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead (1991), which I didn't want to watch when she got her job, but I remembered how it ended.

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Review: Girl in the Arena

  • August 7, 2009
  • James Skemp
The following is a book review of Girl in the Arena, written by Lise Haines. The book read was an uncorrected advance proof, and was selected by myself as part of my Amazon Vine ‘membership.’ This book is scheduled to be released in October 2009. The short version is that I give this book four of five stars. It’s a good book, that I may read again, but it’s not exactly what I was expecting, based upon the suggestion that fans of Fight Club (the novel) would enjoy this.

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Thoughts on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead: Part 4

  • May 27, 2009
  • James Skemp
The following article will contain spoilers of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. If you wish to read the book without my bias, do so before reading this article. As with the previous parts, it seems that Ayn Rand has written the final part of The Fountainhead with two people as the focus of the part. Howard Roark is associated with this part, but Gail Wynand is obviously the secondary character. Yet, Ellsworth’s speech to Keating, which gives us a glimpse into what Ayn Rand fears, clarifies his character for us.

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Thoughts on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead: Part 3

  • May 25, 2009
  • James Skemp
The following article will contain spoilers of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. If you wish to read the book without my bias, do so before reading this article. Having finished Part 3 of The Fountainhead in less than a day, the whole should be fairly fresh in my memory. Yet, I have a hard time putting a second name to this part, to go along with Gail Wynand’s, and as I did for my thoughts on part 2.

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Thoughts on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead: Part 2

  • May 24, 2009
  • James Skemp
In part 1 of this series I wrote about the first part of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. Having now finished part 2, I can write on it. The following will contain spoilers. I highly recommend you do not continue if you wish to read The Fountainhead with fresh eyes. The second part of The Fountainhead is devoted to Ellsworth M. Toohey, as the subtitle suggests. This further introduces a character we had met in part one, but gives us the chance to get to know him further.

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Thoughts on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead: Part 1

  • May 19, 2009
  • James Skemp
I've known of Ayn Rand for quite a number of years. The first time I can remember her being talked about was by a fellow philosophy student, approximately one year ahead of me, who was a rather big fan of her work. At least one professor got into arguments with this student, as she'd bring up Rand's approach. In 2002 and 2003 I read We the Living and Anthem, and enjoyed them well enough.

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Review: America: The Last Best Hope: Volume II

  • April 2, 2009
  • James Skemp
The following is a book review of America: The Last Best Hope: Volume II, written by William J. Bennett. Taking a very short break to read some fiction, I moved from the first volume of William J. Bennett's America: The Last Best Hope, to the second volume. After reading the first I was looking forward to the second volume. I was hoping that the minor issues that I began noticing near the end of the first, would not be issues in the second.

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Netflix shipping, for Madison WI - Year 3 (Part 2)

  • March 28, 2009
  • James Skemp
Part 1 of year 3 with Netflix is covered elsewhere. Here lies part 2 of year 3 with Netflix, from March 26 2009, to September 26, 2009. Plan changes There have been no changes at this time. The times 03/27/2009 (F) - Movie received by Netflix and next one shipped. (Henceforth, MRNOS.) 03/28/2009 (Sa) - Received and watched Quantum of Solace (2008), which actually means I probably was the second person to have this disc.

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Watchmen (the comic) is ...

  • March 27, 2009
  • James Skemp
... approximately six and a half hours of non-stop reading ... hard to put down ... dense (in a good way)

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On J. Sheridan LeFanu's Green Tea

  • March 7, 2009
  • James Skemp
This article contains spoilers regarding Green Tea. If you do not wish to know how this story progresses and ends, please stop reading. In J. Sheridan LeFanu's Green Tea (1871) we learn the story of the Rev. Mr. Jennings, through the letters of Dr. Hesselius. As Jennings accounts to him, he became afflicted by a peculiar malady. It happened one day, having began a work "upon the religious metaphysics of the ancients," which was "not good for" "the Christian mind.

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Review: America: The Last Best Hope: Volume I

  • March 1, 2009
  • James Skemp
The following is a book review of America: The Last Best Hope: Volume I, written by William J. Bennett. Having read a number of articles, inspired by the historical nature of the last election, I went searching for a good general U.S. history book. I am indeed lucky that I found William J. Bennett's America: The Last Best Hope. The work consists of two separate volumes; the first covers 1492 (the 'age of discovery') to 1914 ('a world at war'), while the second from 1914 (a world at war) to 1989 ('the triumph of freedom').

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Dear ... whomever (Halo 3)

  • February 9, 2009
  • James Skemp
Dear whomever, Halo 3 sucks. First, I can only play two missions (missions implying goals) at a time because there's far too much confusion after those two missions. What did I do, and why? Is there any point? Should I just go as fast through the map as I can? (Having done this the last two missions, it seems to work great, assuming I can find my way around, which leads me to .

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Playstation Home Beta: First impressions

  • December 26, 2008
  • James Skemp
Eh. I think it looks really good, but I'm not sure a 3d world is what really drives me. That's about all I've got to say at the moment. Definitely looks good, but ... if you don't want to meet people, what's the point? Side-note: Couldn't find the themed environments.

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Persona 4 pre-order goody = wow

  • December 10, 2008
  • James Skemp
Mustn't ... look ... too ... closely ... (already ruined one surprise) Atlus certainly out-did themselves this time, with the Persona 4 pre-order goody. While I was expecting the "Visual Data" bonus to be large enough to fit behind the game's case, like the Persona 3 bonus, this one is actually graphic novel sized. Very nice Atlus, very nice. And, with reviews like this, looks like we can expect a Persona 5 in the near future.

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Review of LittleBigPlanet: BradyGames Signature Series Guide

  • October 25, 2008
  • James Skemp
Rated 5 stars. Rate this review on Amazon. Purchase this guide or game through Amazon. First of all, this is a beautiful guide. Every time I pick up one of the Brady Games guides I'm impressed with the quality of the actual item. Nice smooth pages, great colors, etcetera. About 66% of this guide deals with the story mode. This involves a checklist of items for each level, as well as hints and tips on completing them successfully.

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LittleBigPlanet - First day, first thoughts

  • October 25, 2008
  • James Skemp
Right or wrong, GameStop was in stock and selling pre-orders of LittleBigPlanet today, so I was able to pick up my copy, along with the official guide. Thus far I've gone through four complete areas, and picked up the trophies accordingly. On only the first level did I actually get a 100% (but not the Ace award), and with the later levels, I had to retry a number of times.

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See you later LG UX6000 - you've been swell

  • October 14, 2008
  • James Skemp
Good-bye LG UX6000. I've had you since August 2004, and you've been a great little phone. Sturdy and dependable, I didn't go wrong. Hello LG UX565, you're awfully cute. Sleek and simple, and oh so light. You take pictures and video, and have nice big buttons.   (If I would have got my phone today, instead of yesterday, it would have been 4 years and 2 months .

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Netflix shipping, for Madison WI - Year 3 (Part 1)

  • September 26, 2008
  • James Skemp
And so begins year three with Netflix. I covered year one and year two, of what was shipped to me, when, and when I shipped them back, previously. Since last year got a bit long, I'm going to break it up a bit. So, this post covers shipping from September 26, 2008, to about halfway through (I'm not there yet, so ...). Plan changes On 12/10/2008 I moved from the two-unlimited to the one-unlimited plan.

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LittleBigPlanet - New site and available for pre-order

  • August 7, 2008
  • James Skemp
Got a notice of http://littlebigplanet.us.playstation.com/ in my Gmail account a few moments ago. I was unaware that LittleBigPlanet was already available for pre-order. I looked at Amazon, but, quite frankly, I want it rather quickly. BestBuy.com doesn’t have it listed, but Gamestop.com does, so … my first online purchase through that site. Store pick-up selected, of course. What I don’t care for is that there will supposedly be different items available for pre-ordering, depending upon where you do so.

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Thoughts on PixelJunk Eden

  • August 1, 2008
  • James Skemp
This morning Charter fixed whatever issues they were having, so I was able to purchase and download the full version of PixelJunk Eden. I played 30 minutes this morning, and many hours this afternoon/evening. (When I shut down for the last time, my rank was 1013 - I'm sure it's already changed though.)  As the demo suggested, this game is the closest thing to a masterpiece I've seen in a very long time.

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Review: Apache JMeter

  • July 24, 2008
  • James Skemp
The following is a book review of Apache JMeter, written by Emily H. Halili. First off, my experience with automated software/application testing is extremely limited. For the most part any testing I've done has been manual testing. Recently, however, I was introduced to, and began using, Microsoft's Web Application Stress Tool. Because of this level of experience, Emily Halili's Apache JMeter was the perfect book for me, as it contains an analysis of automated testing (including when best to do it, versus manual testing), in addition to the introduction to Apache JMeter.

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Errata: Apache JMeter

  • July 24, 2008
  • James Skemp
The following is errata for Apache JMeter, by Emily H. Halili, and has been submitted to Packt Publishing. Read my review.  Page 4, 2nd to last sentence: 'downlad' should be 'download' Page 13, last sentence: "You too can contribute." Page 39, 1st paragraph, last sentence: "as a failed request." Page 42, 1st paragraph, last sentence: "retrieve a particular value" Page 48, last list item: display shows "KB/sec" but the list item is "Kb/sec" Page 48: Is the mean time in ms?

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Review: HP GL313AA#ABA 2-piece USB Speakers

  • July 12, 2008
  • James Skemp
The following is a review for HP Multimedia Speakers, specifically HP GL313AA#ABA 2-piece USB Speakers. I don't play PC games any more, and I watch (most) movies on my nice television. So, what I really wanted from these little speakers was to be able to listen to iTunes every once in a while, and watch assorted videos online (YouTube, Video.Google, and even Netflix every once in a while). These speakers are perfect for exactly that.

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Review: Tamrac 3582 Express Case 2

  • July 12, 2008
  • James Skemp
I purchased one of these cases (Tamrac 3582 Express Case 2) for a Casio Exilim (EX-Z1200) that I purchased at the same time. That camera fits this case *perfectly*, so my review may be a bit biased because of that :) In my opinion, this is a great little case. The padding provided is just the right amount that, the one time I dropped my camera, my heart didn't sink.

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Review: Professional ASP.NET 3.5 In C# and VB

  • July 11, 2008
  • James Skemp
The following is a book review of Professional ASP.NET 3.5 In C# and VB, written by Bill Evjen, Scott Hanselman, and Devin Rader. Having read Imar Spaanjaar's Beginning ASP.NET 3.5 In C# and VB (review), I was expecting a number of good things from this book. Imar's book is really great in that he shows you how to build a Web application with ASP.NET 3.5. However, with Professional ASP.

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Wrox feedback - July 11 2008

  • July 11, 2008
  • James Skemp
I never heard from them on my last batch of feedback for the Professional version, and they still aren't posted, but Imar confirmed the one errata I pointed out on his book. Additional errata for Professional ASP.NET 3.5 In C# and VB: Page 579, last sentence: Welcome.html should be Welcome.htm Page 581, first paragraph: Welcome.html should be Welcome.htm (x2) and Start.html should be Start.htm Page 628: Figure 13-1 is the incorrect image.

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BlogEngine.NET 1.4 - Memory usage spike?

  • July 6, 2008
  • James Skemp
Update, July 9, 2008: This update is a little late, but … Mads was able to determine what the issue was and has provided a fix. I'll be trying another update this week. I recently upgraded to BlogEngine.NET 1.4, from 1.3. While it was, overall, a smooth enough process, while trying to dig into the large memory usage spike, I ran into a number of issues. I've written about BlogEngine.

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Review: Griffin's PowerJolt SE (9767)

  • July 4, 2008
  • James Skemp
Does exactly what you'd expect  I purchased Griffin's PowerJolt SE for use in my 2007 VW Rabbit, with my iPod Classic (80GB). The Rabbit has a power outlet that is somewhat recessed, so I didn't think some of the other car chargers would work as well. The design Griffin uses, however, is absolutely perfect, in that only the small top of the plug hangs above. This means all the power in less space then you'd expect.

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Review: APC Back-UPS ES 750 (BE750G)

  • July 4, 2008
  • James Skemp
Every home should have one  I purchased an APC Back-UPS ES 750 (BE750G) on May 10, 2008. Since I had a blackout on 6⁄27, I figured I could finally write a review. First, this is my first APC, as well as my first battery backup, product. I've owned a number of surge protectors in the past, but since I had purchased a new computer, I wanted to try a backup device.

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Wrox feedback - June 29 2008

  • June 29, 2008
  • James Skemp
Read my review of Beginning ASP.NET 3.5: In C# and VB. Some errata for 978-0-470-18757-9, Professional ASP.NET 3.5 In C# and VB: pg 247, second to last sentence on the page: <h3> should be <h1>. pg 253: Figure 5-13 is incorrect. pg 487: Figure 9-12 is incorrect. pg 527, second to last sentence on the page: Listing 10-13 contains no highlighted text. I was expecting more errata to be listed.

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Review: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots: The Complete Official Guide (Piggyback softcover)

  • June 22, 2008
  • James Skemp
The following review is for The Complete Official Guide of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The short story: If you're new to MG, BUY THIS BOOK. If you want to completely* understand this game, BUY THIS BOOK. If you want to have a book that you can be glad you spent every penny for, BUY THIS BOOK. :D MGS4 is my first experience with the entire Metal Gear 'saga.

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Metal Gear Solid 4 - 2.5 hours in

  • June 12, 2008
  • James Skemp
Wow. Imagine Black, but with stealth, better graphics, and less damagable property, but definitely better sound and effects. That's Metal Gear Solid 4. Despite the fact that I don't play these types of games very often, I only died three times. (Granted, I'm playing one level above wuss.) However, I'm not very fair in, since I've actually been something of a collector in my travels. I've also yet to get used to the sneaking about (oh, you have to hold the button down to grab them, then slash), so I've basically been stealth walking about, bailing out militia.

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Review: Beginning ASP.NET 3.5 In C# and VB

  • June 8, 2008
  • James Skemp
The following book review is for Imar Spaanjaars’ Beginning ASP.NET 3.5 In C# and VB. Update July 11 2008: Review of Professional ASP.NET 3.5 In C# and VB. Update March 28 2010: Review of Beginning ASP.NET 4 in C# and VB.  I’ve picked up copies of Beginning ASP.NET 2.0; Build Your Own ASP.NET 2.0 Web Site Using C# & VB; Beginning ASP.NET 2.0 E-Commerce in C# 2005 From Novice to Professional; and Microsoft ASP.

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Review: Microsoft ASP.NET 3.5 Step by Step

  • June 8, 2008
  • James Skemp
The following book review is for George Shepherd's Microsoft ASP.NET 3.5 Step by Step. Based upon the title, 'Step by Step,' you might think that Shepherd's book will actually cover ASP.NET 3.5 in detail, piece by piece. While it's true that he does this, he does it to very little detail. He also makes numerous assumptions throughout the text, which may have you scratching your head more than you usually would, picking up a new language.

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Testing out the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

  • June 4, 2008
  • James Skemp
Just some dummy content while using the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. I tried it with both 'extenders' up when typing the below. Hello I would like to welcome you to the second Annual Convention on the ergonomics of keyboards. If you would please turn your attention to the right, you'll notice that we've done away with all the formalities and gone with simple dishes. I hope this is to your liking.

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Movie review: Appleseed: Ex Machina (2007)

  • May 25, 2008
  • James Skemp
The release of Appleseed: Ex Machina (2007) came as a bit of surprise to me, since I hadn't heard it was coming out (not that I generally look very hard into these things). Initial reviews seemed mixed - pretty and featuring direct John Woo influence, but no story. When I saw it was available for Netflix instant viewing, I couldn't resist. While it's true that the story is pretty simple, i.

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Review: The World as Will and Presentation, Volume One

  • May 4, 2008
  • James Skemp
The following book review is for the Richard E. Aquila translation of Arthur Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Presentation, Volume One. A brief history of my previous experiences with Schopenhauer: I first read Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation (the Payne, definitive, translation) many years ago. I've also read a number of Schopenhauer's other works (mostly done by Payne) and have tried to pick up as many other works of his as I can.

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M.C. Escher comes to the Playstation (demo)

  • April 25, 2008
  • James Skemp
After all the hype, I finally had the chance to actually play a demo of echochrome, the M.C. Escher-ish game that's coming out for the Playstation 3 and PSP. The first Google result, for a YouTube video, gives an excellent presentation of what the game is like. However, at least in the demo, the camera controls seem sluggish. Perhaps the Sixaxis motion control would make this easier - I haven't tried it yet.

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Review: Kong Cat ZoomGroom

  • April 20, 2008
  • James Skemp
This is a review for the Kong Cat ZoomGroom, which is a very nice brush. A similar product is available for dogs. I picked up one of these for my cat, who doesn't much care to be held, have her nails cut, etcetera. However, she loves this 'brush.' Not only goes this magically work loose the hair, but it seems to give a good massage, and does a fairly good job of keeping the loose hair on the brush.

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HP Pavilion a6360t clean-up

  • March 4, 2008
  • James Skemp
With a new HP Pavilion a6360t, a number of things needed to be done to clean the machine up, from it's default factory setup. Uninstall Norton Internet Security (there's an uninstall option through the program's Start menu). After a restart, I still needed to go back and delete the empty directory from the Start menu. Uninstall My HP Games through the Control Panel.

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Movie review: Jeff Dunham: Arguing With Myself (2005)

  • February 17, 2008
  • James Skemp
The first one is great (the cranky old man). The others have their good spots, but I wouldn't feel too bad having to shut it off after he left the stage. If it would have continued at this level through the end, it would truly have been great! See what else I've been watching through Netflix.

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Movie review: The NeverEnding Story (1984)

  • February 17, 2008
  • James Skemp
So maybe you remember watching this when you were little, or think you must have. And maybe you watched the Robot Chicken episode covering this movie. And maybe you're really tired when you decide to watch this movie. You're in for comedy gold. Overall, a pretty good movie, with a good message that won't be lost. But, older and wiser, there's just too many loop-holes, and that Robot Chicken spoof will overpower everything else.

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Review: Dynex - 6' 3.5mm Stereo Extension Cable - White

  • February 10, 2008
  • James Skemp
I have a 2007 VW Rabbit, which, in the glove compartment, has an auxillary input jack. Since I also have an iPod Classic, I really wanted to be able to listen to my music in my car, using my car's speakers. On January 5, I picked up this cable. It's a cable, so there's not a whole lot that they can mess up. From what I can tell, the quality coming out of my speakers is the same as when I use by earbuds or another set of good headphones.

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Review: DLO Jam Jacket with Cord Management for the 80 GB iPod classic (Black)

  • February 10, 2008
  • James Skemp
On January 5th, I purchased a DLO Jam Jacket with Cord Management for the 80 GB iPod classic. As the title suggests, this product is designed specifically for the 80 GB iPod Classic, and therefore may not work as expected for other iPods. The quick review: Overall, this case offers a good deal of protection, and the cord management feature, if you use the standard iPod buds, is rather helpful.

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The 'Four P.T. Anderson Films' weekend review

  • December 21, 2007
  • James Skemp
Thanks to Rob Lumley, I'll be watching four different P.T. Anderson films over the extended holiday weekend. Brief comments on the first film watched, below. Hard Eight (1996) Interesting. In more than a couple of places, I was reminded of Jackie Brown. Lots of dialogue, but even more quiet, giving an emphasis to not only what is said, but what is not. It's slow, which may turn some away, but the story of Sydney is interesting all the same .

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Movie review: Stranger than Fiction (2006)

  • December 18, 2007
  • James Skemp
I watched the Blu-ray version of this movie. Other editions may play differently, although since I don't discuss the audio or video components of this film, my review will stand as-is. This is, by far, one of the most wonderful films I've seen in a very long time. While I haven't been much of a Will Ferrell fan in the past, this movie has truly opened my eyes to just how great of an actor he really is.

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Playstation 3 and the Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Boardband Router

  • November 24, 2007
  • James Skemp
While I initially hooked up my Playstation 3 a week ago, when I was posting to the official PS forums today, my second post, I was doing so to recommend a version of the router I'm using. Since both items are pretty popular now, it makes sense to write up a quick guide on them, I suppose. My equipment First off, there's my setup. I've had pretty experiences with Linksys, but poor experiences with Netgear, so Linksys I am.

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Sony Bravia KDL-32M3000 comments: 2 weeks later

  • November 17, 2007
  • James Skemp
In the beginning of this month, I purchased a 32" Sony Bravia. In the two weeks that I've had the television, I've run into a couple of things that I would like the television to offer. In no particular order, they are listed below. Better volume detection Maybe it's because the speakers are better on this tv than my old one, but there's definitely an issue with commercial versus programming volumes.

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My new television, the Sony Bravia

  • November 3, 2007
  • James Skemp
Today I purchased a new television, to replace my tried-and-true Philips 20". After a couple of months of research, and etcetera, I decided to go with a Sony Bravia. Since my previous television was a 20", purchased back during my sophmore or junior year of college, and still using 'tube' technology, I figured it was time to upgrade, especially since I've been watching more movies via Netflix, and am planning on purchasing one of the current next-gen video game systems (P3 or 360).

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Review of The Gospel According to Philip K. Dick

  • October 28, 2007
  • James Skemp
I'm a fan of PKD, but this documentary fails in a number of major areas, making it almost useless in its scope. First of all, the animations that are used in place of slides are annoying beyond _, but I suppose if they trimmed those up they'd only have an hour of play time. The music reminded me of Assault on Precinct 13, and while it wasn't too bad, it was utterly diabolical when it was close to drowning out the interviewed individuals while they spoke.

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Netflix shipping, for Madison WI - Year 2

  • September 29, 2007
  • James Skemp
I had previously written on how Netflix shipped and received DVDs, for Madison WI. This article continues that one, by discussing Year 2 with Netflix (first year began September 26, 2006). Plan changes On December 2, 2007, I decided to upgrade to the two at-a-time (unlimited) plan. Since my plan begins on the 10th of each month, that means I had to pay an extra $1.26 to upgrade now, instead of for the next month (I figure this way they'll send a movie out tomorrow morning).

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Review of Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think: 2nd Edition (with notes)

  • September 28, 2007
  • James Skemp
As it promises, Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think: 2nd Edition, is a quick, but extremely usable, guide to Web usability and design. The book took me less than a day to read (less than 3 hours total over the days of September 26 and 27, of 2007), but has become, in my mind, a requirement for even beginners (like myself) of Web design. Since everyone who develops for the Web should have some idea of design and usability, this book should really be a mandatory requirement for said work.

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Review of David Woodruff Smith's Husserl

  • August 23, 2007
  • James Skemp
In January of 2002, I bought a copy of the two volume set of Logical Investigations for a college course regarding major figures in philosophy, or some such. Later that year I picked up a copy of the Ideas, for another course, the next semester. Unfortunately, Husserl remained something of a mystery to me, despite having attempted to make my way through his primary works. With Husserl, part of Routledge's new series of introductory works on Western philosophers, David Woodruff Smith attempts to give an overview and analysis of what makes Husserl such an 'influential philosopher.

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Initial thoughts on The Hospice

  • July 28, 2007
  • James Skemp
I had occasion today to read The Hospice, by Robert Aickman (1914-1980). This story was in the collection Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural (selected by Marvin Kaye). Unfortunately, I had to go to Google to try to make sense of the story, since Kaye himself suggests that the meaning is rather obscure. A simple G search turned up a result at some site, which itself is rather odd .

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Mini-review of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society

  • July 21, 2007
  • James Skemp
My GitS: 2nd Gig knowledge is a bit rusty, so Solid State Society is definitely going to be one of those 'need to watch it at least twice' movies. It seems the movie takes place after 2nd Gig, and therefore, outside of the realm of the other two movies. For two years the Major has been working outside of Section 9, which seems a bit off, since I was under the understanding (perhaps just from the movies) that if they quit, they forfeit pretty much everything .

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Quick review: Parasite Dolls (2004)

  • July 6, 2007
  • James Skemp
With over 6 hours left of instant watching time left, all that needs to be used before the 10th of the month, it was time for another movie ... This time it was the 2004 film Parasite Dolls. I knew nothing of the film before I watched it. In this anime adventure, androids with knock-out bodies and personalities have begun to take over every area of society.

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Quick review: Dominion Tank Police (1989)

  • July 5, 2007
  • James Skemp
I watched Dominion Tank Police this evening, from Netflix. It's four acts, each consisting of about 35 to 40 minutes of movie (which includes approximately 1 1/2 minutes of opening and ending credits. What really attracted me to the movie was Masamune Shirow, who created not only this series, but also Appleseed (the newer one is more interesting than the original), Black Magic M-66 (which I haven't yet seen) and Ghost in the Shell (great movies and interesting shows).

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Review for Sin: The Movie (1999)

  • June 9, 2007
  • James Skemp
Review for Sin: The Movie (1999); given 2 of 5 stars. These characters were completely new to me (at least, from what I can recall). Needing to burn some ‘Watch Now’ time, I decided to give this a look, and was quite disappointed (even though I wasn’t expecting much). After 15 minutes, I was ready to quit, but I figured it couldn’t get any more confusing and decided to stick with it; I should have stopped.

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Perfect Blue; 4 of 5 stars ... unfortunately

  • June 2, 2007
  • James Skemp

I just finished watching Perfect Blue online (via Netflix). Believing that they do influence what movies are recommended, in a good way, I had to give it four stars, out of five. In Netflix terms, that's the difference between a "Really Liked It" and a "Loved It." However, I really wanted to give it a five stars ...

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Review of Andrew Fiala's Practical Pacifism

  • May 26, 2007
  • James Skemp

This is the review that I wrote for Amazon.com for the book Practical Pacifism by Andrew Fiala.

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Review of Brian J. Robb's Counterfeit Worlds

  • May 26, 2007
  • James Skemp

This is the review that I wrote for Amazon.com for the book Counterfeit Worlds by Brian J. Robb.

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Review of 'Ajax for Web Application Developers' by Kris Hadlock (2006)

  • December 13, 2006
  • James Skemp
The short stick: New to Ajax? You may want to look elsewhere ... I've been working on the Web for a handful+ of years, but save for a brief stunt back in the late 90s, I haven't had much use for JavaScript (with the exception of a few one/two-liners). As such, I came to this book as a new-comer to Ajax. I also like to learn by way of example, instead of explanation, so code examples are a big plus, if not a requirement.

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Movie review: Princess Mononoke (1997)

  • November 15, 2006
  • James Skemp

By far, one of the best films I've seen this year.

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Review: Outlaw Star: Vol. 1: Disc 1

  • November 4, 2006
  • James Skemp

Quick review. I liked Cowboy Bebop, and I believe this was recommended from Amazon (for those who like Cowboy Bebop). Instead of purchasing the complete collection of Outlaw Star, I decided to try out one of the discs, containing the first five episodes, from Netflix.

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Movie review: Gangs of New York (2002)

  • November 1, 2006
  • James Skemp

There's a lot (as in, more than you can count on two hands) of reasons not to visit New York ...

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Movie review: Yojimbo (1961)

  • October 27, 2006
  • James Skemp

The short review: another five star, classic, movie.

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Movie review: Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)

  • October 24, 2006
  • James Skemp

I've been trying to get a pretty good range of movies through Netflix. While it wasn't high on my list of movies that I wanted to see, it was a documentary, and therefore a good genre to put into the mix every once in a while. While I'm giving the movie three stars, I thought it was worthwhile to watch, but don't think I'd sit through another viewing.

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Movie review: The Departed (2006)

  • October 22, 2006
  • James Skemp

Since I'm not going to be able to write the article(s) that I wanted to tonight (since one is going to require research, and the other is going to involve thought) I figure I'll write up a quick review on The Departed, which I had the pleasure of seeing today.

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Movie review: Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

  • October 13, 2006
  • James Skemp

Grave of the Fireflies is a fairly (read: very) depressing story. Supposedly, this film was named Best Animated Feature at a children's festival, yet I don't know that the intended audience is children. Nonetheless, even though it's depressing, I think it's a good film, showing the hardships some people (have) face(d).

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Movie review: Ran (1985)

  • October 12, 2006
  • James Skemp

There are a number of movies out there that seem like they go on far longer than one would have thought. Two hours long, but it feels like it's over four. Ran is one of these movies, but in the best possible light.

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Movie review: Bowling for Columbine (2002)

  • October 10, 2006
  • James Skemp

The first thing to always keep in mind, while watching any documentary, is that the producers always have an agenda in mind. That said, this is the second Michael Moore film I've seen (Fahrenheit 9/11 being the other), and the time I've reminded myself to take everything with a grain of salt.

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Movie review: Being John Malkovich (1999)

  • October 6, 2006
  • James Skemp

It's unfortunate that I didn't watch Being John Malkovich, my third movie through Netflix, sooner. Unfortunate because it's one of the most interesting films I've seen in a very long time ..

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Movie review: Seven Samurai: Criterion Collection (1954)

  • October 3, 2006
  • James Skemp

My first Netflix movie was Urusei Yatsura Movie 2: Beautiful Dreamer, and my second was another Japanese movie, albeit one a little more well known, Seven Samurai.

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Movie review: Urusei Yatsura Movie 2: Beautiful Dreamer (1984)

  • September 28, 2006
  • James Skemp

At their best, the Japanese are one of the few groups that can create, again and again, movies that touch upon great philosophical questions and ideas. Urusei Yatsura Movie 2: Beautiful Dreamer, is one of those great philosophical movies that you could watch again, just for the dialogue.

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Netflix shipping, for Madison WI

  • September 26, 2006
  • James Skemp

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Wacom and Digital Innovator

  • June 2, 2006
  • James Skemp

Some time ago, I purchased a Wacom Graphire (the larger 6 x 8 model) direct from Wacom (since the local shops either didn't carry or were sold out). Since then, I've completed two surveys and received two DVDs from the Digital Innovator series.

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House of the Dead (1978/1980) really isn't that bad

  • May 3, 2006
  • James Skemp

One of the most commonly used hooks in scary stories is the idea that the main character is deceased, but doesn't know it. As soon as I read the description for the movie The House of the Dead, I pictured the three young boys from Tales from the Hood (1995) and Clarence Williams III (all-around great actor for this genre - see also his role in Miami Vice (in season one or two)).

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Review: Kathy Tyers - Star Wars: The Truce at Bakura

  • October 13, 2000
  • James Skemp
July 17, 2008: I don’t recall writing this, but I guess I did, and I posted it to Epinions.com. Huh. This was a review of The Truce at Bakura (hardcover). The Empire working with the Rebellion? Written: Oct 13 ‘00 Product Rating: 4 of 5 stars Pros: Easy to read and keeps you immersed. Cons: You can get so caught up in the story, that time goes by so quickly!

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