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Reviews Written by
Stuart Moses (Epsom, United Kingdom)
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Level Up!: The Guide to Great Video Game Design
Level Up!: The Guide to Great Video Game Design
by Scott Rogers
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent comprehensive guide to video game design..., 7 Aug. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a 500+ page, large format book. The design is excellent, with plenty of cartoons throughout. The paragraphs are broken into easily digested chunks. There's a helpful summary at the end of each chapter. There are extensive footnotes, which sometimes provide extra information, but more often add extra fun.

Be aware that this book discovers the design of computer games, which is an important step in the creation process, but won't teach you the code to implement your designs. The prose style is quirky enough to be engaging but never becomes irritating. Obviously, this book is ideal for people who want to design games, but I think it'll also appeal to people who just want to play.

Level Up covers every step of the game creation process, starting with the history of gaming - which was interesting but not essential - before moving onto ideas, story, paperwork, character, camera, controls, signs, level design, combat, enemies, multi-player games, monetization, music and cutscenes. That's before you get to 11 'bonus level' appendices. This book is comprehensive and offers a lot of material for your money.

This book is thorough, but easy to follow. After reading it, you will appreciate the majesty of video games all over again. If nothing else, you will be made aware of all the effort, time and skill that has gone into creating them.


Showing Up: How to Make a Greater Impact at Work
Showing Up: How to Make a Greater Impact at Work
by Tim Robson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Practical and interesting challenge to the way you think about office life..., 4 Aug. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The author's central thesis, that work is 'school with pay', is an interesting one. All too often people do work, without thinking about it - this book is a wake-up call. It starts by comparing people to apps as things that can be updated. The book explores five ways in which work is 'school without pay'. These include automatically deferring to a boss as we would a teacher, doing what we are told rather than thinking for ourselves, not answering back even when we've got a valid contribution to make, not sharing what we've learned, and being unnecessarily agreeable just for a quiet life.

I like the alternatives the author suggests for the above learned patterns of behaviour. He wants us to think, create, believe, connect and believe 'all is well'. The latter idea particularly struck a chord as I feel a lot of miscellaneous paranoia at work. Sure, if there's a problem to be dealt with that's fine, but sometimes I'm worried about spectres of my own devising. I disagree with the author's dismissal of the work/life balance, I don't think I'll ever think 'all is well' enough to want to dissolve the barriers between both sides of my life, but I was intrigued by the suggestion that I should.

There's enough of the author's personality to give the book character, but not so much that it becomes all about him. I got the idea we wouldn't get on in real life, but it's a testament to the quality of the book that I still wanted to hear what he had to say. While I loved the anecdote he shares of sending an automatic email every time he receives a cc'd message saying he doesn't read them, but that his PA would review all these messages once a week. However, I winced when the author shared the fact that he'd told her he'd 'kill' her if she passed any of these emails on to him.

Sometimes the suggestions fall into the genre of generic self help advice, but at least they are given a workplace twist. And I regularly need to be reminded 'no failure, only feedback' so I don't mind hearing those sage words again. The idea that we should state objectives in positive terms is hardly new, nor is the idea that we should be careful who we spend time with because they influence us. On the other hand, the idea of 'leading without authority' was a new one to me. I was also fond of The Outcome Wheel which seems more practical and powerful than SMART thinking.

Overall, I liked this book. It got me thinking more about my work life. The suggestions are practical and easy to understand. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to apply all of them, but the ones I can I'm sure will affect my attitude and the way I feel work. Hopefully, they will lead to greater success in the workplace, they'll certainly make me happier on the journey to the top.


Braun Oral-B PRO 5000 CrossAction 5-Mode Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush with Wireless Smart Guide
Braun Oral-B PRO 5000 CrossAction 5-Mode Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush with Wireless Smart Guide
Price: £74.98

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent function-packed toothbrush..., 25 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've been using the Braun Oral-B PRO 2000 CrossAction 2-Mode Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, which gets my teeth as clean as this more expensive option. For the extra money you get a wireless Smart Guide, which times how long you spend on each part of your mouth. To be honest, this isn't something that I've ever felt the need for, but if it is something you want then it works well. You also get three brushes and a plastic holder for these. There is a carrying case for the toothbrush included. You also get three options when it comes to brush speed. The plug it comes with is two-pronged, so you may need to buy an adapter. Overall, this is a great tooth brush, but I'm not sure how many times I'll use some of the functions.


AEG UODELUXE Bagged Vacuum Cleaner
AEG UODELUXE Bagged Vacuum Cleaner

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent vacuum cleaner to which you can dictate the rate of suction..., 25 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When you open the box you need to assemble the telescopic tubes, moulded hose, handle and nozzle. It looks intimidating, but is easy to connect without having to refer to instructions. It isn't a small vacuum cleaner, so you'll need plenty of space in your storage cupboard. On the plus side, this cleaner is not too heavy to lift and does have a long reach. It allowed me to vacuum under a dining room and chairs. This is more convenient than my previous upright Dyson, for which I'd need to move all the furniture to get at the floor.

This vacuum cleaner comes with two different nozzles, though both worked well on whatever surfaces I tried them upon. The handle lets you choose whether the cleaner should decide the intensity of the suck, or you can manually override this, increasing or decreasing suction at will. The suction was strong enough to lift the carpet off the floor, demonstrating that it is lifting more dirt than my previous cleaner. This cleaner is also pleasingly quiet. It's not a bag-less cleaner, though two bags are supplied to get you started.

Previously, I preferred the upright style of vacuum, but this model has convinced me there is another way. I particularly like the ability to change the intensity of the suction, which is not something I'd encountered before.


Braun Oral-B PRO 2000 CrossAction 2-Mode Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush
Braun Oral-B PRO 2000 CrossAction 2-Mode Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush
Price: £27.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A high-quality toothbrush that does its job well in a simple no-nonsense manner..., 14 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an excellent high-quality toothbrush that feels good in your hand and your mouth. The vibrations are strong enough to get your teeth clean, but they are never so strong you feel uncomfortable. There's a flashing red light, which is a little alarming, until you discover it is warning you that you are applying too much pressure. It is straightforward to change the brush and it holds its charge well. Be aware that it comes with a two-pin plug, which means you'll need a shaving point in your bathroom, a plug adaptor, or a charger from another Braun toothbrush. There's a low battery life warning light. When it comes to toothbrushes I don't tend to use lots of fussy features. This toothbrush gives me exactly what I need to keep my teeth clean in a pleasant hassle-free way.


TCP LED E14 Small Edison Screw 5 Watt LED Candle, White
TCP LED E14 Small Edison Screw 5 Watt LED Candle, White
Price: £7.62

5.0 out of 5 stars High-quality warm white light..., 13 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This screw-in light bulb was easy to install. It gives a lovely warm white light. It illuminates immediately, with no pause or flicker. The manufacturer says it will last for 25,000 hours. I haven't been able to test this claim but I can say it has lit up my room in a bright - but not too dazzling - manner. I would be happy to fit this sort of light in every light socket in my house.


Rapesco P1100 Heavy Duty 2-Hole Punch, 100 sheet Capacity - Black/Purple
Rapesco P1100 Heavy Duty 2-Hole Punch, 100 sheet Capacity - Black/Purple
Price: £43.15

5.0 out of 5 stars Sturdy, high-quality hole punch with excellent cutting power..., 28 Jun. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
With its mixture of plastic and metal design, this hole punch would look stylish at home or in the office. It is large though, so you're going to need a big workspace if you're going to keep it permanently on display. The handle is easy to grip and makes punching holes a very satisfactory experience. This hole punch cuts through 20 sheets of paper with ease. Recommended.


Philips Marvel Spider-Man Children's Night Light and Projector - 1 x 0.1 W Integrated LED
Philips Marvel Spider-Man Children's Night Light and Projector - 1 x 0.1 W Integrated LED
Price: £19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Well made nightlight for Spider-Man fans..., 18 Jun. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This nightlight has been a big hit with my nine-year-old son. It’s light enough to provide reassurance during the night, but not bright enough to keep a child awake. The pictures of Spider-Man are fun to project on the wall and ceiling, though sometimes they can prove to be a distraction from the actual going to sleep process! The batteries are easy to insert and switching between the different functions provides no difficulty. It turns out that Spider-Man is an ideal bedtime companion - who would have guessed?


Your Life Plan: How to Set Yourself on the Right Path and Take Charge of Your Life
Your Life Plan: How to Set Yourself on the Right Path and Take Charge of Your Life
by Erica Sosna
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Suitable for the beginner more interested in business than spirituality..., 12 Jun. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm a fan of self improvement literature and storytelling in general, so I was drawn to the idea of a book that applied The Hero's Journey to our everyday lives. Sadly, the contents of this book didn't quite match my hopes. As is often the case with this sort of book, there is a fair amount of waffle. The tone of writing is friendly and welcoming, though to the less tolerant reader it might come across as quirky and irritating. (On the Author's page on Amazon I read the sentence, 'Erica's background as a storyteller and stand up means that her work is low on the 'woo woo' and high on the 'woo hoo'!' That tells you everything you need to know about whether you'll enjoy the tone of the book.) Also, I was hoping for more adventure and less project planning and risk management. The advice in this book is more suited to business than spiritual development.

The book feels up-to-date and contemporary and draws inspirational quotes from a wider range of sources than one might usually expect. I was delighted to see the wise words of chap-hop artist Professor Elemental. Other illustrative examples are drawn from films such as Sliding Doors and The Truman Show. There does seem something lightweight about a book that gives examples or quotes from The Apprentice, the DVD extras of Dexter and Star Wars expanded universe novel Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, but you'll be able to decide for yourself whether this bothers you or not.

There are some small errors that decreased my enjoyment. The author talks about the superhero Batgirl being in Marvel comics and advising other 'the other Marvel Superheroes.' Let's just hope the overlords at D.C. don't hear about this. I'd also disagree that the acting in Star Wars could be described as 'marvellous'. The author also describes working for the Home Office and running in St James Park. While it is possible the author ran around the ground of Newcastle United, it seems more likely she means St James's Park. I understand I am being pedantic, but if the author can't be trusted to get the little details correct it undermines my faith in her ability to get the big ones right.

Overall, the message of this book is a good one. We are capable of making changes in our lives - and here are some tools to help you on your journey. It is most suitable for a beginner. It quotes people such as Stephen R Covey and Julia Cameron, so if you have read widely then there will be less revelatory material on offer for you. If you haven't read many self help books before I'd recommend Tom Butler-Bowdon's 50 Self-Help Classics: 50 Inspirational Books to Transform Your Life from Timeless Sages to Contemporary Gurus which gives an excellent overview of the self help field. It will help you choose what to read next. While Your Life Plan isn't a bad book, it isn't ever going to achieve 'classic' status.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 12, 2014 5:26 PM BST


Corsair Raptor HS40 USB 7.1 Comfortable Gaming Headset
Corsair Raptor HS40 USB 7.1 Comfortable Gaming Headset
Price: £37.90

5.0 out of 5 stars High-quality sound and a comfortable fit..., 30 April 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These headphones have cushioned ear phones that feel good and cut out practically all background noise. They are quite bulky, but I'm able to wear them for long periods of time without them becoming uncomfortable.

The quality of sound through these headphones is high. The noise-cancelling microphone doesn't automatically switch off when you raise it away from your mouth, you'll need to switch if off manually but that's hardly a problem. You can do this via the buttons on the cable, which allow you to raise or lower the volume too.

I found these headphones easy to use with my PC. I just plugged them in via the USB port and they worked straight away, without needing to download anything.


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