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Ashton Mason (London, UK)
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Intolerable Cruelty
Intolerable Cruelty
Dvd
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, 27 Dec. 2014
This is a pretty good film from the Coens that seemed to fall mostly under the radar. It's watchable and entertaining, with a relatively orthodox storyline, but not quite of the same quality or intensity of some of their other output. Not quite four stars but close enough.


Burn After Reading
Burn After Reading
Dvd
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good film but will please only some, 27 Dec. 2014
People expecting a comedy could well be disappointed by this film since it's not a Comedy in the sense that, say, Bad Neighbors is. It's not laugh-out-loud funny. Like most of the Coen films, it's an acutely observed American story, with its humour in pathos, character, and detail. It's not a perfect film - not on the same level of their The Big Lebowski for example - but, like that film, it will delight some and alienate others, depending on their humour preferences and, maybe, their expectations.


Anker 4.8A / 24W 2-Port Rapid USB Car Charger with PowerIQ Technology for iPhone, iPad Air 2, Samsung Galaxy S6 / S6 Edge, Nexus, HTC M9, Motorola, Nokia and More (Black)
Anker 4.8A / 24W 2-Port Rapid USB Car Charger with PowerIQ Technology for iPhone, iPad Air 2, Samsung Galaxy S6 / S6 Edge, Nexus, HTC M9, Motorola, Nokia and More (Black)
Offered by AnkerDirect
Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Works well with the right cable, 24 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
When I first tried this charger I found it actually charged my Galaxy S4 slower than my existing car charger. Since the whole point of buying this Anker charger was to improve charging speed (and in particular allow me to keep the phone charged while running power-hungry satnav apps), I was a bit was disappointed! It took me a while to work out that Anker really are serious when they recommend using the right micro-USB cable (ie. the one that comes with the phone). When I use the cable that came with the Galaxy S4 - instead of some random cable - the charger is fast enough to keep the phone charged. So I can say the charger is very good and works well, but they aren't exaggerating when they say the charger works out what device is connected, and that it seems to work this out at least partly from the attached cable (maybe USB 2.0 vs USB 3.0, for example?). Finally I've been very impressed with the approach and mindset of Anker who seem intent on providing a good product and following it up with great service.


Microsoft Compact Optical Mouse 500 (Business Packaging)
Microsoft Compact Optical Mouse 500 (Business Packaging)
Price: £6.42

4.0 out of 5 stars Small mouse, useful for travel, 25 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a reasonable quality mouse as you'd expect from Microsoft. That said it's definitely at the cheap-and-cheerful end of the product line, which suited me fine. As other reviewers have noted it's a small, lightweight mouse, clearly designed for travel use with laptops, and as such is probably unsuitable for extensive use or with desktops where you'd be better off with something more substantial. But for occasional travel use it's pretty ideal.


Philips X-treme Vision H4 Headlight Bulbs (Twin Pack)
Philips X-treme Vision H4 Headlight Bulbs (Twin Pack)
Price: £18.64

4.0 out of 5 stars Good light, reasonable lifetime, 25 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I can't claim to have tested these back-to-back with the standard bulbs in blind tests, but in my humble opinion they are bright with a good 'cut-off', meaning they're usefully bright without blinding other drivers. One thing I've noticed is their lifetime is not that great - to be fair it does more or less point that out on the packaging, where the 'lifetime' bar chart is only half-full. I drive with my lights on all the time, and I do about 20,000 miles a year, and with that kind of usage the bulb lifetime is something like about 6 months, at a guess. I presume the point of these bulbs is that they burn more fiercely and so don't last as long - it's a tradeoff - and by fitting these you are basically investing a bit more money in safety at the expense of having to change them a bit more often. I like to fit the best where I can, and overall I would, and do, keep buying them again.

I should note that fitting H4 bulbs on my car is a practiced art. Once you get the hang of it it's not too hard and only takes a few minutes, but the first time will have you swearing it's impossible. Take a deep breath and stay calm or get someone to do it for you.


Don Julio Anejo Tequila 70 cl
Don Julio Anejo Tequila 70 cl
Offered by DrinkSupermarket
Price: £49.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best, 25 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is my favourite tequila. I've noticed it doesn't always get as much respect as some of the more fashionable brands (on the one hand), or the less commercial ones (on the other), but for my money it's the best-tasting anejo (aged) tequila I've tried. Smooth, subtle, refined, tasty. It's a fine spirit similar in quality to a good single malt whiskey, suitable for drinking neat or on the rocks. It also makes a great Old Fashioned cocktail, if that's your thing.


Salus ST620WBC Radio Frequency Worcester Boiler Control
Salus ST620WBC Radio Frequency Worcester Boiler Control
Offered by Energy Efficient Systems
Price: £49.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-designed product, 25 Feb. 2014
I bought this controller for my Greenstar Junion 24i boiler instead of the standard controller made by Worcester-Bosch because it looked like it was better designed and easier to use. Watching the videos showing how to program the Worcester-Bosch radio controller didn't fill with me joy; I'm a technical guy and can work that stuff out easily enough, but who needs the hassle? I'd rather have something easy to use.

While the Salus controller is quite easy to program, I'd be lying if I made it out to be child's play. You need to pay attention, plus the touch dial isn't quite as responsive as it could be and it takes a bit of practice at first to work out where best to touch it and how hard.

That said, it's pretty easy to use and understand. Basically you can program 6 'steps', each of which is a preset time at which the target room temperature changes to a specific value. So for example on weekdays I use the first 4 steps to set the target room temperature to 16 deg at 6am, down to 8 deg at 7am (when we leave the house), then up to 20 deg at 5:30pm, and finally back to 8 deg overnight at 11:30pm. You can set a single set of steps for all 7 days of the week, different sets of steps for weekdays and weekends (as I do), or even for every day of the week individually if you like.

Programming the steps is simple enough, each step is shown in sequence as a time and a temperature, and you have the option to alter the settings using the dial before hitting OK to move to the next step. There are a couple of gotchas. Mainly, you have to set all six steps, even if (like me) you only use some of them - any used steps at the end must be safely set to 'harmless' values, typically repeats of the last 'real' step. Also the programming times out after a few seconds if you don't keep making changes, so it's easy to get caught out the first few times and have to start again.

But once you get the hang of it it's easy, plus it's not something you have to do often. Once you've got a program set up you can just leave it to do its thing, going in to tweak the temperatures or times only as needed.

The control is super-accurate in my experience and is able to keep the temperature within half a degree of the target temperature with only occasional blasts of the boiler. The reason a controller like this beats a simple timer, of course, is because no energy is wasted on heating when it's not needed. If the outside temperature is 10 degrees on a mild winter's day, the interior temperature will naturally be more than my set base level of 8 degrees, so the boiler will never fire. The boiler only fires as needed to reach the target temperature.

I find, of course, that every extra degree costs a lot more gas, and the controller is helping make that clear. Set it to 18 degrees, and even when it's 5 degrees outside, the controller reaches the target temperature easily and the radiators are barely warm to the touch. But set it to 20 degrees, and you can see the boiler is doing a lot more work and the radiators are always hot. The beauty of a timer and thermostat-based controller like this is that you have fine control over the temperature at all times of the day so can make the right tradeoff for your tastes. I haven't seen my bills yet but I'm confident we must be saving money over the old (mechanical timer) controller we had before.

Lastly a word about design. The product design on this unit is awesome and something other companies should strive for. The control unit is stylish and in fact rather than mount it on the wall we opted to stand it on the sideboard (using the provided stand), where it functions as a useful thermometer and clock with a clear, easy to read display. The onboard software is responsive and well-designed. The manual is well written in good English and explains things clearly in layman's rather than technical terms. Even the packaging is minimal with little waste.

The control unit is battery powered, I'm no fan of batteries but I can see why this was necessary to allow the unit to be mounted anywhere or left-freestanding.

One last note, the controller and boiler-mounted receiver are supposed to be automatically paired out of the box, like some other reviewers I found that they weren't and had to go through the pairing step. Easy enough and worked fine, but knowing this could save you a call to tech support.


Sanyo ECJ-FS50UK Petit Gourmet Multi Function Slow Cooker
Sanyo ECJ-FS50UK Petit Gourmet Multi Function Slow Cooker

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best buy for the kitchen, 28 Aug. 2012
When I bought this I was originally just after a rice cooker, but on noticing that this model could steam vegetables I became convinced that was a useful feature so I bought it, even though the snob in me really wanted to buy one of the more expensive Zojirushi rice cookers, which only cook rice but apparently do a marginally better job and seemed somehow a lot cooler than a mere Sanyo.

In retrospect I'm so glad I went the sensible route. In terms of rice quality the Sanyo is hard to fault: I'll never know whether the Zojirushi would have made better rice, but if it does I suspect I would be very hard-pressed to tell. We're talking effortless, perfectly cooked rice, time after time. Fire and forget. Start the rice any time you like, hours before you start cooking the rest of the meal, and this unit has it all under control. Just set the timer, and when the hour arrives, just lift the lid and serve. Rest of the meal took longer than planned? No problem, the cooker just keeps the rice warm, with no apparent ill effects, for hours at a time. Fantastic.

But there's more. The machine also steams vegetables to perfection, again with no fuss or bother. Just put the rinsed veggies on the stand in the pot, add a small measured cup of water, close the lid, change the mode to steam, and hit go. Then come back in fifteen minutes to literally the best (not to mention healthiest) vegetables you've ever tasted. Steam broccoli or corn on the cob, for example. After steaming, pour out the water, put the veggies back in the pot with a knob of butter and some salt and pepper, and stir. Fantastic.

The unit can also cook soft- or hard-boiled (okay, steamed) eggs, up to 8 at a time, with predictable results every time. On top of all this it's a slow cooker and can slow-cook stews, casseroles, joints of meat in wine and herbs, etc, for custom, extended cooking periods up to, like, 12 hours or something. I haven't used that setting yet myself but I am optimistic. Likewise I also haven't yet made yogurt, or porridge, sushi rice, or risotto (which is the only claim I'm a little doubtful of).

The unit is super-convenient to use, mainly because it's a clean, self-contained, oil-free method of cooking. The inner pot is a thick titanium coated affair and literally nothing sticks to it. Even after months of use it's as clean to the eye as the day I bought it. Cooking with steam is practically cleaning anyway.

Downsides? There are some minor quibbles but none have been deal-breakers so far. Rice takes longer to cook than I expected, and this took me a while to understand. Coming from the Western method of cooking rice in a pot on the stove, you expect this machine to be quicker. But actually it's slower, taking around 35 minutes to cook rice in standard mode (20 in quick mode, which skips a pre-soak stage). At first this seems like a step backwards, but then you realize that you're doing it wrong. The machine has a timer and a keep-warm mode for a reason. The idea is to start your rice well in advance, using the timer to make sure it's ready at roughly the right time, then the keep warm mode to make sure it stays that way. The operation of the unit makes most sense in the context of a Japanese home where every meal uses rice, with a predictable daily rhythm. In that context the quality of the rice, and the ability to make good use of it, is more important than being able to make it from scratch in minutes. It's perfectly doable to make rice on the spur of the moment, but if so then you'll want to set it off first thing, and even then you'll sometimes find yourself using Quick mode because you're cooking a stir-fry from a packet which'll be ready in minutes, and you're hungry. The good news is that Quick mode makes perfectly reasonable rice and I'm not sure I could even tell the difference offhand.

Another minor quibble is the lack of a timer for steaming mode. Perhaps because steaming mode is the same thing as Quick mode, there's no concept of cooking times for steaming, and likewise no indication of how long things have left to steam or even how long they've been steaming for. If you're cooking rice in Quick mode it will eventually start counting down and finally beep when it's done. But since steaming only takes around 15-20 minutes, you tend to steam for less than the full Quick mode program. Hence you need to keep track of the time yourself and stop it manually when you reckon it's done. Knowing how long to steam things is a matter of experience but it's not hard and the instruction booklet does give hints. 15 minutes is a pretty good starting point.

A final slight worry is the talk of an internal battery which only lasts five years and then is a hassle to replace. For that reason I've been keeping my machine plugged in constantly (powering just the internal timer and LCD display, not the heating element!), as recommended by the instructions. I doubt it uses much power in this standby mode, and if it does then it's outweighed by the energy savings of not using the oven to roast, fry or grill.

In summary I can't readily imagine a more useful addition to any kitchen, but especially one with a view to eating more healthily. By its nature the machine encourages healthy eating. You find yourself eating lots of rice, because cooking rice is suddenly easy, smart and fun with no risk of failure. I find myself looking for more kinds of vegetables to steam, since everything I try is a revelation: so *that's* what broccoli's supposed to be like - no wonder people like it! etc.


What to Eat: Food that's good for your health, pocket and plate
What to Eat: Food that's good for your health, pocket and plate
by Joanna Blythman
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In love with this book, 23 Aug. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Yes we're all tired of being told "eat this", "don't eat that", to the point where we're negative about food and have come to view it as a task, a guilty sin, a risk.

The reason you should read this book is because it's a positive, clear-headed, rational-minded antidote to all the rubbish we've heard about food - from the industry, but also from well-meaning but misguided scaremongers. It's a fundamentally moderate book, and is not preachy or condescending. Given the weight it punches in terms of research and good sense, that in itself is a huge triumph.

Refreshingly, its core message is a positive one: that we should strive to eat basic, honest, simple, traditional foods, and know what we're eating. It's a celebration of all that's good about real food and dismisses myth and fear simply with facts. The book draws our attention to the hidden value, as well as the hidden costs, in the food we by, and in that sense it's a great education and one we should all embrace.


Colourworks Silicone Ice Tray, Set of 2, Green
Colourworks Silicone Ice Tray, Set of 2, Green

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funky colour, easy to use, does the job, 7 Aug. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I like these trays. The bright colour helps.

When I bought them I was actually looking for trays capable of making large ice cubes, and I assumed these trays were full-size. In practice the cubes are normal-sized, so the trays are smaller than the picture might suggest. Easier to fit into the freezer, you could argue.

The cubes come out easily, and they come out very cleanly with sharp, well-defined edges -- a nice feature if you're into that kind of thing.

A very small downside is that the bottoms of the moulds are bevelled, so the cubes aren't perfect cubes.

Being flexible, the trays are mildly tricky to carry when full of water. Nothing I can't deal with.


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