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M. C. Cresswell
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Intego VirusBarrier X6 - 2 Machines (Mac)
Intego VirusBarrier X6 - 2 Machines (Mac)

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy upgrade to X5, 12 July 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Just as with the previous version, this package fills that difficult niche - a virus guard that is both easy on the eye and relatively entertaining. X6 updates the excellent X5 with some useful additions: the main thing you notice is an update to the graphic interface - I do rather miss the car dashboard mock of the previous version, but X6 combines much of the eyecandy with a much more intuitive layout, so you have easier access to all areas such as settings, schedules, logs and quarantine. For the first time you can virus scan your iPhone and also items connected to your mac via Bluetooth. Essentially a makeover of an update, but having had a few viruses on my Mac I can vouch for the need for this software. It should serve you well.


Transparent Irish Premium
Transparent Irish Premium

4.0 out of 5 stars Gentle introduction to the Irish language, 27 May 2010
This review is from: Transparent Irish Premium (CD-ROM)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Learning Irish has always been something of an obsession of mine, but having the chance to actually do it has been the problem. So I was thrilled to get the chance of trying this out. Basically the system used by Transparent is much better suited to a language like Irish than the other language package of theirs that I have tried, Arabic.

Even though the spelling is difficult, the vocabulary is presented in a user-friendly way, and you can repeat the electronic flash cards as many times as you want, self-testing as you go, until you feel confident enough. There are more advanced exercises for conversational phrases, and which test oral amd written comprehension.

I feel I'm making fairly good progress for the time I'm putting into it.

My gripes about the inconsistency of the look and feel are still valid (see my review for Arabic) but the whole package seems to work a bit better with this language, hence they seem less important.

Nice effort for a tough language!


Transparent Arabic Premium
Transparent Arabic Premium

3.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive but disjointed, 22 April 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is quite an impressive set of learning tools - an introduction to the Arabic language which lets you choose your own path through what is, let's face it, not the easiest of languages to pick up as a beginner on your own. You can choose whether you want to dive in to the alphabet, or learn sets of words phonetically, or learn a number of key survival phrases built around various scenarios like telling the time, ordering food in restaurants and general chit chat. There are, for the more advanced, reading and oral tests to check your ability to comprehend written and spoken language. There is a nice multimedia learning tool which plays you virtual flashcards which you repeat until you have learned them; you can also refresh "stale" vocab (ie that you've not used in a while). Crucially you can listen to native speakers as you learn the words phonetically and alphabetically, and record your own versions, comparing the two via a graphical display of the sound files of each.

I am a linguist, though within European Romance and Germanic languages, and for a more "straightforward" language (and one where an additional script is not needed) this approach might give you a feeling of greater flexibility, but for a language like Arabic I felt like I needed to be guided more firmly about the best route into the language. But then I suppose a self-access course for something like Arabic is always going to be a tricky one.

One thing that is quite distracting is the way you constantly flit from one platform to another. The main program is contained with the Transparent Language System platform, which has a slight feel of a half-baked prototype; the vocabulary is delivered by a separate program, Byki; plain dialogue boxes appear for certain questions and comments, and for others it's back to one of the other programs; some options take you out of the programs all together and onto the Transparent website; it's all rather confusing and erratic.

So all in all, a wealth of material that's looking for a methodology (and a consistent look and feel). Get that sorted and they might be on to a winner. But I'm definitely going to keep plugging away.


AmazonBasics Digital Optical Audio Toslink Cable 6 Feet / 1.8 m
AmazonBasics Digital Optical Audio Toslink Cable 6 Feet / 1.8 m
Price: £5.45

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back to Basics, 13 April 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Good quality digital audio lead from Amazon Basics, although I did actually find the packaging quite frustrating - there was too much of it, and it could definitely have been paired down more than that. But the lead itself won't let you down.


Freud- The Key Ideas: Teach Yourself
Freud- The Key Ideas: Teach Yourself
by Ruth Snowden
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple and engaging presentation of Freud's concepts, 13 April 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an immediately accessible book - the opener summarises the contents into three differently sized digests: Only got a minute / Only got 5 minutes / Only got 10 minutes? This is actually quite an engaging way of laying out the information as it gives a quick burst of overview and readies you for what comes later. Each subsequent section deals with a hefty chunk of Freud's work and concepts, from psychoanalysis to dream interpretation to identity. Each chapter draws on a very interesting range of case studies, and these are then summarised back to the concepts and finished off with a Points to Remember section. In addition you get a good insight into the man and his life, and the link with how this led to his development of what became psychoanalysis. One that I'll be dipping into rather than taking cover to cover, but an excellent reference for anyone who's interested in finding out more.


Office 2008 for Mac, Home and Student Edition (3 User Edition) (Mac)
Office 2008 for Mac, Home and Student Edition (3 User Edition) (Mac)
Offered by Empire Group
Price: £99.00

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Office to home transferability in one easy package, 9 Mar 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Mac = fun, pretty, Radio 4 on in the background and all things nice.
PC and Windows = grey corporate suit, rainy Monday mornings and internal audit.

Office for Mac fuses the two together for those unavoidable times where you have, or want, to be working on a spreadsheet, Word doc or Powerpoint from home. This suite of software works perfectly for anyone interested in taking MS Office files home, working on them at home and subsequently using them again back at work. As far as I'm concerned, very much a means to an end rather than something to get excited about, but it has made my life a whole lot easier through instant and complete compatibility between my office drudgery and my nice shiny iMac at home.

A fine home-working tool, and recommended.


Ultimate Ears Super fi 4 Earphones - Gun Metal Silver
Ultimate Ears Super fi 4 Earphones - Gun Metal Silver
Price: £82.51

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another pricey, unsatisfactory set of earphones, 4 Feb 2010
There seems to be a fashion for these phones at the moment - in-ear-canal, nice to look at, but unsatisfactory for a number of reasons. The first is that the bass is very low down in the sound, so that you don't get a full, rounded sound, unless you whack up your bass setting on your iPod; the second is that, although the mid-tones are undeniably crisp and powerful, the treble is somewhat overdone, meaning that the overall effect is one of being just too sharp to the ears to be comfortable. The final problem I have with these phones is the fact that you need to wedge them into your ears - comfortable though they are, having something so close to your eardrum means that every time the cable brushes over your clothing it's like hearing the tide come in. All in all, not my cup of tea in the (highly subjective) world of personal audio accessories. Great to get the chance to try these out, but not ones I'll be making the most use of.


Something Hidden
Something Hidden
by Nick Blackstock
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Cracking mystery, 17 Dec 2009
This review is from: Something Hidden (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Excellent novel based on (apparently) true events of two unidentified children who died in a train crash in 1928. There's something reassuringly oldy worldy about the narrative style, which is magnified due to the story being so mysterious and compelling. Without giving anything away it delves into the mystery of the affair through the eyes of a young journalist on a regional newspaper, set to the backdrop of a blossoming romance between him and a woman who helps provide him with information in the early stages of the investigation. The novel's climax brings about an end to the suspense, set against WW2 London. All in all quite thrillifying. Also came complete with a very sweet, hand-written note from the publisher apologizing for the typographical errors she managed to let slip into the finished text - there are quite a few but combined with the note they almost add to things. Great read!


Creative Aurvana Air Nickel Titanium Premium in-ear Earphones with Flexible Ear Hook Design for Active Sports Use
Creative Aurvana Air Nickel Titanium Premium in-ear Earphones with Flexible Ear Hook Design for Active Sports Use
Price: £82.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good sound, smooth styling, need improvement, 25 Nov 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The excitement I felt at the prospect of reviewing a pair of phones valued at £170 exceeded the reality. What these phones do well is two things: first, they look amazing; sleek, minimalist, unobtrusive, and they come presented in a very flash display box that has a pleasing weight to it; second, they are hugely comfortable to wear, in fact you hardly notice they are in your ears, and there is no rustle when the cable scrapes over your clothes. Where these phones are a let down is the sound, and that's a pretty fundamental flaw, particularly at this price. The treble is slightly over-done to my ear, meaning you end up feeling like your eardrums are being sandpapered; mid-tones are excellent and it's here that you really appreciate the clarity and the fidelity of the sound reproduction - make no mistake, these headphones are quality gear - in fact, music I've been listening to for years almost sounds like new music as you pick up lots of details you might have missed in the past; sadly the bass is very muted, so you would need to whack up the bass setting on your iPod if you are an addict (like me).

What drives me insane about the Aurvana is the horrific sound leakage. The phones sit against your ear, rather than in it, so everyone within a small radius will be able to sing along with whatever you've got playing at any given moment, even at relatively low volume. If you're walking round the house then you might not mind, but I'm very anal about this and really don't like people around me on the tube or on the bus knowing what floats my boat musically (there are some shockers on my iPod by the way!)

Whichever way you look at these headphones, they are beautiful, looking the bees' knees and, incidentally, coming in a real leather hard case. Nevertheless at this price I would expect nothing short of total aural perfection from a pair of cans - and that means full rich sound including the bass, and a zero tolerance policy to sound leaks. Get this fixed, and Creative would definitely be onto a winner.


Jamie Oliver Health Grill
Jamie Oliver Health Grill

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Appy Days, 12 Oct 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's clear from reading the instructions that Jamie Oliver's direct involvement in this product has been pretty limited. They're not that coherent and they're laid out humourlessly and messily, so actually finding the info you want to set the thing up is a little trying. Anyhow - on to the actual product. Say you want to fry some chicken breasts. Crank up the thermostat to 3, wait for the green light to go on, shove the chicken onto the plate, close and wait for about 10 minutes. No oil necessary. You can use this as either a grill (with the lid down) or a barbecue (with the lid up, doubling the area you have to work with). Removing the plates is simple with the little hooks, which you need to do after each use for cleaning etc. The plate is a little on the small side but for snacks or meals for 1 or 2 you should be ok.

Good piece of kit which doesn't take any effort to use and which works quite happily. Haven't tried it to toast a panino but looking forward to that yummmm.

A bit like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, possibly, but this is a health-conscious and potentially cholesterol-busting device that does a good job and looks pretty on your worktop. Recommended.


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