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NeuroSplicer (Freeside, in geosynchronous orbit)
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Mad Men: Season 6
Mad Men: Season 6
DVD ~ Jon Hamm
Price: CDN$ 11.00
17 used & new from CDN$ 6.88

5.0 out of 5 stars LIKE DANCING BEANS, HELD UP WITH NOTHING, April 27 2013
This review is from: Mad Men: Season 6 (DVD)
When things get bad, we tend to look to the past. And the bleaker the future looks, the further back we search for comfort. As the new millennium keeps disappointing us, TV shows set on the 50's and the 60's (once a rarity) keep growing in numbers. Many have tried and failed. MAD MEN tried and closed the deal. And have been doing so for 5 seasons now.

Meet Don Draper (Jon Ham), a Madison Avenue water-walker (and based on real life ad-man, George Lois). He is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. He is brilliant and secretive. He wants to keep walking the tight rope with no safety net. And definitely no contract. He is a chain-smoking, hard liqueur guzzling, womanizing alpha male. He is a loving father of three, married to a picture-perfect ex model. He has it all. And yet he cannot find peace. Because he learned early on that the world is always yawning at your heels, eager to yank everything you love away.

From bursting with joie-de-vivre Roger Sterling (hilarious John Slattery) and ever scheming Pete Cambell (baby-faced Vincent Kartheiser) to the gorgeous women (such as barbie January Jones and refined Jessica Paré as his first and second wife, respectively), the cast is one perfect pick after another. And the writing is brilliant, reproducing the tastes and smells and nuisances of the era around Camelot, while drawing you in to the personal stories of characters polished yet inevitably flawed.

The 50's and the 60's were before my time so it is not nostalgia that makes me love the show. Yes, I find the era mesmerizing and (probably undeservingly) less complicated. If nothing else, though, back then they knew how to dress. Women looked feminine and men looked manly. You see January Jones on the red carpet, for example, all dressed up and groomed for a Hollywood function - and that modern image cannot hold a candle to herself dressed for everyday(!) life in the 50's. When did we loose it? When did we decide men should stop wearing suits and hats and women should start wearing sweat-suits outside the house? I, for one, blame the hippies!

This is one of the best TV shows ever and this box-set includes season 6. Season 7, which is going to be the last one, will be released in two parts. As I have said again before, good TV is best watched on DVD. Make weekends out of it. It is much more enjoyable to watch an entire season in a couple of days than having to wait week(s) between episodes. And (quite ironically, in this case), you will not have to suffer the...commercials.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Simcity Limited Edition
Simcity Limited Edition
Offered by Hitgaming Video Games
Price: CDN$ 21.94
17 used & new from CDN$ 21.94

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars THE LATEST ALWAYS-ONLINE DRM FIASCO, March 12 2013
Einstein defined idiocy as doing the same thing over and over and yet expecting a different outcome. A definition I was reminded of after the latest Must-be-OnLine-to-play disaster. If there ever were an attempt to prove that there is, indeed, bad publicity, the release of SimCity 2013 sure was it.

Mega-publishers are repeatedly trying to turn the beautiful artform of gaming into a utility, where "gaming content" will be streaming to your TV or PC or phone - and you will be charged by the second for it. Monopolistic issues aside for the moment, are they even remotely ready for such a model? It matter because their every attempt is (involuntarily!) financed by the customers they manage to scam in paying for games that do not deliver the gaming experience advertised. Paying for a product or a service that you do not receive because the seller planed it this way is the definition of a scam. So calling it an idiocy is in fact generous.

Let's count the number of times the same idiocy was repeated, shall we? Bioshock, Spore, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, Splinter Cell (or any UbiSoft game at this point), Command & Conquer 4 (was that a stinker!), Diablo III, SimCity 2013 (and every single EA game requiring ORIGIN). The list is long and it could go on.

The problem with gaming today is not the hard-working and creative people working in game studios but the executives at the top of game publishing houses, the likes of EA, ActiVision/Blizzard and 2K.

They do not love, comprehend or even care about the product they are marketing. They might as well be peddling sacks of potatoes. And they clearly do not care about the game developers who provide them with games to market. They only care about one thing: their annual bonuses. And their bonuses depend solely on last trimester's profits.

That is why they operate on a very short-sighted basis.
Sell the most popular games for over $150 by portioning them in thin DLC slices? Sure!
Release games before they are completed to catch the Summer or Christmas market? Why not?
Exploit and truncate a beloved franchise in order to promote the new Digital Distribution DRM? Go ahead!
Ruin the experience of most paying customers by forcing them to log on to servers that do not exist? Who is to stop us?

They do not care about the company they are running (and the bigger it is, the easier to dissociate) because this time next year they may be running a company selling hardware or health care insurance or weed control. So, they do not care whether they insult, make angry and chase away customers the company they are now running enjoyed for years. It takes almost a decade for a game studio to acquire a loyal fan base. Yet it only takes a couple of months to chase them away never to come back.

But the bozos at the top do not care. They will have grabbed their fat bonuses and run.Who is there to stop them?

Well, we all are. I, for one, have stopped buying EA and UbiSoft games for some time now.

We are the Gandalfs standing on the bridge they want to cross.
And THEY. SHALL NOT. PASS.

Brabantia Fall Front Bread Box - Matt Steel Fingerprint Proof with Black Sides, 299186
Brabantia Fall Front Bread Box - Matt Steel Fingerprint Proof with Black Sides, 299186
Offered by langton_distribution
Price: CDN$ 105.47
14 used & new from CDN$ 73.83

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BREAD KEEPER OF STEEL, March 5 2013
This is a beautiful and yet practical brushed-steel (fingerprint-proof) bread bin. The top is flat, which makes it handy in placing items on top and the front door drops, so you only need one hand to get the bread.
There is plenty of room for at least two loafs of bread, even if they are round. Baguettes have to be broken in half though.

Apparently the quality of both the materials and the workmanship varies, a warning light for a company enjoying such good reputation as BRABANTIA. We were lucky with ours (picked it up retail at a WMF store) and it has developed no problems for over two years now (hence the 5-stars).
However, I would recommend returning any substandard piece. BRABANTIA items are supposed to be sturdy and last a long time, besides being well designed and beautiful.

It takes years to built up a good brand name but it only takes a week to tarnish it.

Brabantia Round Canisters Fingerprint Proof, 1.4-Liter, Set of 3, Matt Steel
Brabantia Round Canisters Fingerprint Proof, 1.4-Liter, Set of 3, Matt Steel

5.0 out of 5 stars WRAPPED IN STEEL, March 5 2013
I bought these to compliment my Brabantia Bread Bin. The cnisters, too, are made out of fingertip-proof matt stainless steel. They look great and that is very important for buildings, cars as well as everyday objects: we tend to use beautiful artifacts more often than ugly ones, no matter how practical.

The canisters are air-resistant (not air-proof) so, if in a humid climate, your sugar will get a bit clumpy and your ground coffee may absorb some air-moisture. This was not a problem for me because the tea bags are individually wrapped, the sugar I do not mind, it is going to dissolve anyway and I only keep flash-frozen (instant) coffee on my counter (my Jamaican Blue Mountain beans stay in the freezer until ground).
I chose those over the Brabantia Window Canister Set because of the numerous complaints regarding leaking windows. I did not regret it.

The items arrived packaged adequately, set in their official set box, and did not have a single scratch or abrasion on them. The stainless steel is indeed fingertip-proof and I expect to enjoy them for years.

Recommended.

Blomus Nexio Rail Soap Dish
Blomus Nexio Rail Soap Dish

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A SOAP DISH OF STEEL, March 5 2013
This review is from: Blomus Nexio Rail Soap Dish
A soap dish requires a small number of things to work properly. It has to be the right size, large enough to accommodate most bars of soap but not too large to clutter your sink. It has to allow the soap to air dry, by keeping it over and away of the dripping suds and excess water. It has to manage to hold the slippery soap when allowing it to slide on it. And it has to look good.

I was searching for the perfect soap dish for some time now. This was as close as I could manage. The BLOMUS Nexio Soap dispenser is very well designed, with a grill to dry the soap and the elevated sides to hold it properly. It even has an anti-slip foam at the bottom to keep the entire dish in place. But it is not perfect.

It looses its full marks because of manufacturing imperfections. Not major enough for me to outright return it, but I am thinking about it. For a soap dish that is clearly not on the cheap side, it is not acceptable to sport noticeable nicks and tool marks on the grill nor for the anti-slip foam to have been placed slightly skewed. I guess that is what you get for a product that proudly proclaims "Germany" all over but was actually manufactured in China.

Sid Meier's Civilization: V Gold Edition
Sid Meier's Civilization: V Gold Edition

23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars BRUTALLY UNCIVILIZED, Feb. 25 2013
The working relationship between a game designer and his publisher is never a simple one. So I would not know where exactly to place the blame, Sid Meyer or 2K GAMES. But in the end, it does not matter. Because it is simply sad to see a great gaming franchise came to this.

THIS IS NOT A CIVILIZATION GAME
A great number of major features of this beloved series have been simply removed. A fellow gamer called this Civilization V, "Civilization For Dummies" and he is absolutely right.
There is no trading maps or technologies. There is no claiming resources outside your borders by building a colony. There is no need for transport ships as, apparently, units are now all..amphibious (and they need 15-20 turns to cross an ocean!). There are no city-growth milestone requirements (granary, aqueduct, refrigeration). There is no culturally conquering an enemy city (detonating a "culture bomb" by consuming a Great Artist will only get you extra territory tiles but no cities). There are no spies nor health/pollution balance. And there are no armies (please read on).

ARMY CASTRATION
Someone please tell me what was so wrong with armies that had to be yanked out? Napoleon almost conquered Europe with one army. Germany almost conquered the eastern hemisphere with three and the US still holds a two-and-a-half armies doctrine. How can a turn-based game be called Civilization unless one can emulate, well, a real civilization? Building an army, seasoning it on minor conflicts and then going for the enemy's capital was one of the most fun parts of any Civilization game. Why, Sid? Just tell me that.

YOU MAY BE ABLE TO LAUNCH INTO SPACE - YET CANNOT CLIMB MOUNTAINS?!
Movement should be hindered by rough terrain. Units that have 3 or 4 moves on the plains should not be expected to do more than 1 or 2 on a mountain, right? Well, no. Mountains seem to be those magical places no unit can climb or pass through (not even ...helicopters of jet fighters!). And I cannot see how this makes for more complicated strategic decisions than timing your movements, claiming the high ground and having a bonus for elevated artillery?

UNIT STAMPEDE
A major issue for me, this was what really ruined the game. For some unfathomable reason units cannot be stacked. A worker can coexist with a military unit but that's it. Artillery and shock-cavalry are very vulnerable to attacks and (with the new hexagon layout) one would need ...six defensive units to protect a single artillery battery.
As a result, units keep getting on each other's way (especially when ordered to move for distances that require more than a turn), they refuse to even pass through friendly units (!) and the "tactical" considerations that result from this are trivial. And whenever besieging an enemy city, one has to endlessly maneuver his units around it (while exposed to its bombardment) whereas wounded units are never easy to withdraw.
You cannot even garrison more than a single unit within a city. Not that it would make a difference, since the garrisoned unit is not automatically awaken to fight back when the city is under attack(!), the city is left to defend itself.

CAN YOU REALLY COMMAND WITHOUT A...CENTRAL COMMAND?
The economy is nose-diving into the red and you want to reduce the percentage going into research for a while to avoid having units of yours deleted one by one? The fickle people of your civilization are unhappy and you want to placate them by increasing their entertainment allocation? You have discovered conscription and you want to upgrade all your musketeers into recruits? Well, tough luck! There is not central command screen to do so. Only advisers that you have to thank for annoying you.
You have very little control of your cities resource distribution and zero control of your national economy. And units have to be hunted down and upgraded one by one.
Speaking of the economy, when are we going to see a Civilization game where one can run and manage a national debt?

NO FREE EYE-CANDY IN THIS UNIVERSE. NOT EVEN A STALE ONE.
The game does look new and polished and the units are well designed but not cutting edge and not without a steep hardware price. If you expect anything comparable to STARCRAFT II crispiness you will be disappointed - at my 1280x1024 resolution it is not easy to discern roads from railroads.
The system I am running my copy consists of a P7 920 on a MSI Eclipse with 3GB of RAM and an ASUS nVIDIA GTX-480. Even with a couple years old PC in a WinXP environment (I refuse to forgo my game collection for the latest Windows OS), apparently I cannot even try the highest DX9 settings (the game crashes at launch) but I managed to optimize them with a mix of high and medium. Even then, whenever I scroll to a different location of the map, I can see the image fleshing out, just like zooming in a Google-Earth map.
So one can only wonder: why should one need a Cray to run a Civilization game at full?

A CIVILIZATION SOLD LIKE A SALAMI
In slices. DLC slices, that is. So far there have been over a dozen DLCs. All are sold separately and each one contains a small portion of what was supposed to be an essential part of the game. Were there any Civilization games in the past that did not include the Babylonians or the Persians? No. And when was the last time a Civilization game cost over $150 to be complete? Well, never. This (GOLD) edition contains them all, so for the price of a new game you get a 2 years old game with all its DLCs.

STEAM OF WAR
The game requires OnLine Activation (and perpetual reactivation every few days) and has to be tied to a STEAM account. Effectively this means that the game is a piece of rentware the buyer never really owns and yet it is sold at full price. I realize that to some people this may not be a serious issue so, in case you are wondering, I deducted a single star from my overall rating of the game because of its DRM scheme. To every other gamer however, you can now make an informed decision.

This was a major disappointment. I never though I'd say this but I while playing the latest Civilization game I caught myself wondering if they would ever make...Call To Power III.

New gamers, steer clear of this mess, this is not what a Civilization game plays like.
Seasoned gamers, we know better than to call this a Civilization game.

Sorry Sid, EPIC FAIL.

No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars GUARANTEED TO UNLOCK THE "FAVORITE UNCLE" ACHIEVEMENT, Feb. 18 2013
I ordered this set as a Christmas present for my 2-years old nephew: he simply loved it from the very first moment!

He liked it so much, he learned to say "thank you" (or something very close) to show his appreciation. He liked it so much he wants to keep it by his bed to be able to find it when he wakes up - and this continues for two months now (for toddlers to be interested in the same toy, this is a very long time). He likes it so much my sister-in-law called to thank me again because withdrawing playing privileges suddenly got very effective with her unruly son. She still blames our gene-pool for the later thought (yeah, she is probably right).

The material is durable, the design safe, the toddlers love the sound and function of the power-drill and they are taught to discern cross-sectional shapes and sizes. More importantly, it will keep them interested for a long time. As far as preschool toys go, this is a real winner.

Fisher-Price Drillin' Action Tool Set
Fisher-Price Drillin' Action Tool Set

5.0 out of 5 stars GUARANTEED TO UNLOCK THE "FAVORITE UNCLE" ACHIEVEMENT, Feb. 18 2013
I ordered this set as a Christmas present for my 2-years old nephew: he simply loved it from the very first moment!

He liked it so much, he learned to say "thank you" (or something very close) to show his appreciation. He liked it so much he wants to keep it by his bed to be able to find it when he wakes up - and this continues for two months now (for toddlers to be interested in the same toy, this is a very long time). He likes it so much my sister-in-law called to thank me again because withdrawing playing privileges suddenly got very effective with her unruly son. She still blames our gene-pool for the later thought (yeah, she is probably right).

The material is durable, the design safe, the toddlers love the sound and function of the power-drill and they are taught to discern cross-sectional shapes and sizes. More importantly, it will keep them interested for a long time. As far as preschool toys go, this is a real winner.

Fisher-Price Drillin' Action Tool Set
Fisher-Price Drillin' Action Tool Set
Offered by MacDealz
Price: CDN$ 44.95
11 used & new from CDN$ 34.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GUARANTEED TO UNLOCK THE "FAVORITE UNCLE" ACHIEVEMENT, Feb. 18 2013
I ordered this set as a Christmas present for my 2-years old nephew: he simply loved it from the very first moment!

He liked it so much, he learned to say "thank you" (or something very close) to show his appreciation. He liked it so much he wants to keep it by his bed to be able to find it when he wakes up - and this continues for two months now (for toddlers to be interested in the same toy, this is a very long time). He likes it so much my sister-in-law called to thank me again because withdrawing playing privileges suddenly got very effective with her unruly son. She still blames our gene-pool for the later thought (yeah, she is probably right).

The material is durable, the design safe, the toddlers love the sound and function of the power-drill and they are taught to discern cross-sectional shapes and sizes. More importantly, it will keep them interested for a long time. As far as preschool toys go, this is a real winner.

Sid Meier's Civilization V: Game of the Year Edition
Sid Meier's Civilization V: Game of the Year Edition
Offered by Digitalville CA
Price: CDN$ 11.99
3 used & new from CDN$ 11.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars BRUTALLY UNCIVILIZED, Jan. 8 2013
The working relationship between a game designer and his publisher is never a simple one. So I would not know where exactly to place the blame, Sid Meyer or 2K GAMES. But in the end, it does not matter. Because it is simply sad to see a great gaming franchise came to this.

THIS IS NOT A CIVILIZATION GAME
A great number of major features of this beloved series have been simply removed. A fellow gamer called this Civilization V, "Civilization For Dummies" and he is absolutely right.
There is no trading maps or technologies. There is no claiming resources outside your borders by building a colony. There is no need for transport ships as, apparently, units are now all..amphibious (and they need 15-20 turns to cross an ocean!). There are no city-growth milestone requirements (granary, aqueduct, refrigeration). There is no culturally conquering an enemy city (detonating a "culture bomb" by consuming a Great Artist will only get you extra territory tiles but no cities). There are no spies nor health/pollution balance. And there are no armies (please read on).

ARMY CASTRATION
Someone please tell me what was so wrong with armies that had to be yanked out? Napoleon almost conquered Europe with one army. Germany almost conquered the eastern hemisphere with three and the US still holds a two-and-a-half armies doctrine. How can a turn-based game be called Civilization unless one can emulate, well, a real civilization? Building an army, seasoning it on minor conflicts and then going for the enemy's capital was one of the most fun parts of any Civilization game. Why, Sid? Just tell me that.

YOU MAY BE ABLE TO LAUNCH INTO SPACE - YET CANNOT CLIMB MOUNTAINS?!
Movement should be hindered by rough terrain. Units that have 3 or 4 moves on the plains should not be expected to do more than 1 or 2 on a mountain, right? Well, no. Mountains seem to be those magical places no unit can climb or pass through (not even ...helicopters of jet fighters!). And I cannot see how this makes for more complicated strategic decisions than timing your movements, claiming the high ground and having a bonus for elevated artillery?

UNIT STAMPEDE
A major issue for me, this was what really ruined the game. For some unfathomable reason units cannot be stacked. A worker can coexist with a military unit but that's it. Artillery and shock-cavalry are very vulnerable to attacks and (with the new hexagon layout) one would need ...six defensive units to protect a single artillery battery.
As a result, units keep getting on each other's way (especially when ordered to move for distances that require more than a turn), they refuse to even pass through friendly units (!) and the "tactical" considerations that result from this are trivial. And whenever besieging an enemy city, one has to endlessly maneuver his units around it (while exposed to its bombardment) whereas wounded units are never easy to withdraw.
You cannot even garrison more than a single unit within a city. Not that it would make a difference, since the garrisoned unit is not automatically awaken to fight back when the city is under attack(!), the city is left to defend itself.

CAN YOU REALLY COMMAND WITHOUT A...CENTRAL COMMAND?
The economy is nose-diving into the red and you want to reduce the percentage going into research for a while to avoid having units of yours deleted one by one? The fickle people of your civilization are unhappy and you want to placate them by increasing their entertainment allocation? You have discovered conscription and you want to upgrade all your musketeers into recruits? Well, tough luck! There is not central command screen to do so. Only advisers that you have to thank for annoying you.
You have very little control of your cities resource distribution and zero control of your national economy. And units have to be hunted down and upgraded one by one.
Speaking of the economy, when are we going to see a Civilization game where one can run and manage a national debt?

NO FREE EYE-CANDY IN THIS UNIVERSE. NOT EVEN A STALE ONE.
The game does look new and polished and the units are well designed but not cutting edge and not without a steep hardware price. If you expect anything comparable to STARCRAFT II crispiness you will be disappointed - at my 1280x1024 resolution it is not easy to discern roads from railroads.
The system I am running my copy consists of a P7 920 on a MSI Eclipse with 3GB of RAM and an ASUS nVIDIA GTX-480. Even with a couple years old PC in a WinXP environment (I refuse to forgo my game collection for the latest Windows OS), apparently I cannot even try the highest DX9 settings (the game crashes at launch) but I managed to optimize them with a mix of high and medium. Even then, whenever I scroll to a different location of the map, I can see the image fleshing out, just like zooming in a Google-Earth map.
So one can only wonder: why should one need a Cray to run a Civilization game at full?

A CIVILIZATION SOLD LIKE A SALAMI
In slices. DLC slices, that is. So far there have been over a dozen DLCs. All are sold separately and each one contains a small portion of what was supposed to be an essential part of the game. Were there any Civilization games in the past that did not include the Babylonians or the Persians? No. And when was the last time a Civilization game cost over $150 to be complete? Well, never.

STEAM OF WAR
The game requires OnLine Activation (and perpetual reactivation every few days) and has to be tied to a STEAM account. Effectively this means that the game is a piece of rentware the buyer never really owns and yet it is sold at full price. I realize that to some people this may not be a serious issue so, in case you are wondering, I deducted a single star from my overall rating of the game because of its DRM scheme. To every other gamer however, you can now make an informed decision.

This was a major disappointment. I never though I'd say this but I while playing the latest Civilization game I caught myself wondering if they would ever make...Call To Power III.

New gamers, steer clear of this mess, this is not what a Civilization game plays like.
Seasoned gamers, we know better than to call this a Civilization game.

Sorry Sid, EPIC FAIL.

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