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J. S. Hardman "Consultant software developer (contractor)" (Near London, UK)
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RHS Grow Your Own: Crops in Pots: with 30 step-by-step projects using vegetables, fruit and herbs (Royal Horticultural Society Grow Your Own)
RHS Grow Your Own: Crops in Pots: with 30 step-by-step projects using vegetables, fruit and herbs (Royal Horticultural Society Grow Your Own)
by Kay Maguire
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for dipping into, 28 July 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've been growing vegetables for years, mostly in pots on the patio (as pretty much any vegetable planted in the ground in our garden gets devastated by slugs and snails, with fruit often devastated by ants). It's been trial and error, learning what works in pots, what is likely to suffer if overwatered/underwatered, what needs feeding and what hates extra food etc. Over the years, I've adapted what I plant to what seems to work, without actually spending the time to work out why some things have worked and some haven't. Since receiving this book ("Grow your own crops in pots"), I have dipped into it regularly to see what it has to say about specific crops, both ones that I already grow and ones that I have wanted to try. It has answered some questions about previous failures, and encouraged me to try again with some plants, and to expand into other crops (I have grown soft-fruits in pots this year for the first time). With a good balance between illustrations and text, this is a really useful and motivating book for those of us who do our growing in pots. I have dipped into it as I have needed information over the last few months. It's probably coincidence (good summer weather, almost no pests after the cold winter), but I've had the best crops ever this year. During the winter months, I plan to read this book end-to-end, and do my planning properly ready for next year.

Recommended.


Scrum: a Breathtakingly Brief and Agile Introduction
Scrum: a Breathtakingly Brief and Agile Introduction
by Chris Sims
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.42

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful for newbies and many seasoned developers, 2 July 2013
I've been working as a Team Member on a SCRUM team for 15+ months. Whilst I've read various books about Agile practices, covering different aspects of the development lifecycle (estimating, testing etc), I've not read one as concise as this before. Somebody I know who keeps hearing me talk about Agile bought this book to get an overview. I borrowed it and read it in half an hour (yes, it really is that short). Did I learn anything from it? No. However, it did remind me of a couple of aspects of SCRUM that the team I am part of doesn't practice. It also reminded me to address the definition of Done again, which is vital to things working smoothly. So, this tiny little book was useful for me as a seasoned software engineer (30+ years) who has been working with SCRUM for the last 15+ months. For anybody new to SCRUM and Agile, I suspect this book will also be useful, but mainly to trigger asking pertinent questions. This book is not enough on its own to suddenly convert a "waterfall" style team to SCRUM/Agile. It is, however, useful, accessible and short!


Testing for Continuous Delivery with Visual Studio 2012 (Microsoft patterns & practices)
Testing for Continuous Delivery with Visual Studio 2012 (Microsoft patterns & practices)
by Larry Brader
Edition: Paperback
Price: £29.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for anybody involved in development/testing, 15 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The first thing to note about this book is that the full text of it is available for free online. I like to do my reading away from the computer, so bought this softback version instead.

At 229 pages including index etc, it's not one of those books that takes weeks to find time to read. Given that it's full of cartoons and the text in between is well written, it's also an easy read. I'm sure that is intentional, as the subject matter is one of those areas that it is nigh on impossible to get most development personnel to read. That's a pity, as setting up infrastructure and processes correctly makes life so much easier for everybody involved in the software development life cycle, from product owners, product/project/development managers, business analysts etc. through developers, testers and support personnel. It also makes the whole development lifecycle so much more efficient and reliable, and improves the quality of the final product. Why would anybody not want to know this stuff? It's beyond me. Let's just say that in different jobs there have been certain books that I have insisted any new staff working for me have to read. In my current role, this book is going to be on the list.

As somebody who has been working in software development/testing for 30 years, predominantly in Microsoft technologies, I have to say that I didn't find much in this book that I didn't already know. However, whilst reading it, I did put approximately 30 yellow stickies in the top to remind me to highlight certain things to others around me. That is a pretty clear demonstration that it is full of very useful content. For somebody new to continuous delivery, or who is simply not up to speed on Microsoft tools, this book would be even more useful.

The book describes working practices in two fictional companies, one working how many companies do (I certainly worked for a number like that when I was a contractor), the other working how they really should (I've worked for a VERY small number like that, but they are so much more efficient and more fun to work for), then describing steps to move from one set of practices to the other. That includes things such as unit testing, use of virtual (and physical) machines for testing, automated build mechanisms and deployment to the test machines, manual and automated system testing, and setting up the infrastructure. The only thing I noticed in the book that I would question is the usage of the term "unit" test. Anybody "old school" is likely to grit their teeth at the usage, although those who have only started automating tests recently may be more comfortable with how the term is used.

So, the subject matter is great, the writing style is excellent, definitely a very worthwhile read, for development/test managers, developers, testers, infrastructure teams etc. I`m in the fortunate position that I can insist a few people around me (i.e. the ones reporting to me) read this. The difficult thing is working out how to get developers who don't report to me and who are only interested in reading about the latest .Net techniques to read it.

Highly recommended.


Locked in
Locked in
by Kerry Wilkinson
Edition: Audio CD

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent writing and very well read (on audio CD), 10 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Locked in (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I listened to "Locked In" whilst driving, having received it in audio CD form. It is very well read by Becky Hindley whose voice and reading seem perfectly matched to the story. Kerry Wilkinson has done a very good job with the writing, creating believable characters and a believable story. Although I had a hunch as to whom the culprit was shortly before that information was revealed, it was only a hunch. This is a good indicator - when listening to detective stories, I like there to be enough information to make a detection realistic, but many stories either make massive jumps, or are so predictable that I know who the culprit is long before the ending. With "Locked In", Kerry Wilkinson has got the balance just right.

I definitely recommend "Locked In", particularly on audio CD. I'll be looking out for other Kerry Wilkinson stories, particularly if matched up with the reading of Becky Hindley.


ComSafe Vision Discreet UV and Anti Glare Computer Glasses +0.25 dioptres
ComSafe Vision Discreet UV and Anti Glare Computer Glasses +0.25 dioptres
Offered by Eco PL Ltd
Price: £29.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Do the job, look good, but could do with a hard case for carrying, 1 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having been short-sighted for 30+ years, I had eye surgery to fix my short-sightedness. However, as I work with computers much of the time, I still need to focus close-up for extended periods. Until I reach the age where it is worth replacing my natural lenses (early 50's onwards), my ophthalmologist recommends using very-low strength reading glasses for computer work. After much searching, I drew a complete blank finding some of the recommended strength (+0.10 dioptre), so bought a couple of pairs of these +0.25 ComSafe glasses. Most of the time I find that I don't need them, but on those days when my eyes are tired, they do come in very handy, to the extent that I have now bought a third pair. Why three pairs? It's not because any have broken (they are all still in good condition). It's just a convenience - one pair in the bag I carry to my office, one pair by my computer at home, and one next to my favourite chair for reading. And another plus point for these - they look good, making the wearer look very professional! The only negative is that they only come with a soft sleeve to carry them. That's fine if you leave them in one place, but I found an old hard case for the pair I carry to and from my office.

Recommended.


The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing
The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing
by Bronnie Ware
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.69

3.0 out of 5 stars Mildly interesting, but not outstanding, 1 Jun. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Written as an autobiography, the author of this book describes her life with particular focus on her work as a palliative carer, and the people she met during that work. The title of the book may sound morbid, but the book itself isn't, and the author has described the stories of the people she looked after in a manner that is sensitive and compassionate.

The book's subject is interesting. It may make you think about what is important in your own life. But is it likely to be full of information that you haven't already thought about? Not really. Also, the author has a tendency to new age guff in some of her descriptions. That may work for some people, but doesn't really for me.

Ok, but not great.


argentum plus - Silver-MSM Shower Gel 2in1 for Hair and Body 100 ml
argentum plus - Silver-MSM Shower Gel 2in1 for Hair and Body 100 ml
Offered by Living Energy Systems Ltd.
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I think this worked, but cannot prove it, 27 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I do a lot of land-based work, whether gardening or forestry. Despite using personal protective equipment including various types of gloves, it is inevitable that I come into contact with all sorts of fungi, bacteria etc. At some point last year I developed a small rash on one hand that just wouldn't shift, no matter what over-the-counter stuff I tried. I was on the verge of going to the GP to get some serious stuff to clobber whatever was causing the rash, when I saw this Silver-MSM Shower Gel on Amazon. The Neem Oil used in it is claimed to have anti-fungal, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. I thought I'd give it a go. It's described as a shower gel, but I have only used it as a hand-wash. I'm not sure how many days I was using this Silver-MSM Shower Gel before the rash disappeared, but it wasn't many - maybe a week or so. Now, it's purely anecdotal - I have no evidence that the rash went because of this gel, but I suspect it did. Having had the rash for months, it would have been quite a coincidence if shortly after me starting to use this gel the rash just disappeared for an unrelated reason. It's possible, but who knows... I've continued using this gel as a hand wash ever since (alongside my old one). I've not had any recurrence of the rash since.

I'm not a big fan of the smell of this gel, but as a hand-wash I'm not too fussed.

Recommended (but admitting that I cannot prove this gel helped).


Under Armour Heatgear Sonic Fitted Men's T-Shirt
Under Armour Heatgear Sonic Fitted Men's T-Shirt
Price: £11.10 - £60.89

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly effective shirt for serious exercise, 27 May 2013
Over the years, I have tried many different types of shirt for working out at the gym etc. However, I was never completely happy with any of those shirts. Last year I tried some other Under Armour products, some of which were good and some of which are downright brilliant. As a result, when I saw this "Under Armour Heatgear Sonic Fitted Men's T-Shirt" I thought I'd give it a try. I haven't looked back (I now have three of these). This shirt works perfectly for the activities that I do - predominantly cardiovascular exercise, mostly stamina, with some short high-intensity intervals - basically stuff that generates a fair amount of perspiration. This shirt is comfortable, it's flattering (especially the black/steel colour combination), the "Signature moisture transport system" does wick moisture really well, it's not chafed at all, and a 40 degree wash seems to make it completely fresh again. The only negative that I have about it is the size of the label inside, which definitely takes the prize for the biggest label I have ever seen on an item of clothing - truly ridiculous. However, the shirt is so good in all other ways that I cannot take a star off for the label.

Highly recommended.


No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for delicate gardening work, not good for brambles or nettles, 27 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For a number of years, I have used Gold Leaf Tough Touch gloves for gardening activities. However, they are not much use for fine work, so I have done planting of seeds, potting up, and fine weeding with bare hands. That's fine, other than the annoying small nicks and the time it takes to get dirt out from under your nails (a nuisance if you have to dash in from gardening, have a quick shower and head off out somewhere smart). So, for convenience, I thought I'd try these Solus "Professional Weeding & Seeding Gloves".

How do they do? Well, they're comfortable. Planting seeds wearing these is no problem. Amazingly, separating delicate seedlings and potting them on is also fine. Delicate weeding is also fine. Where they are not good and this comes as no surprise given how thin they are is thorns. Don't try handling roses or mature brambles wearing just these. More of a surprise is that stinging nettles go through these as well.

So, for the fine jobs, these are great and they solve the dirt under the nails problem! They're not good for more serious weeding, but I find that I can pull my Gold Leaf Tough Touch gloves on over the top of these Solus gloves, so I now wear the Solus ones for most gardening tasks, and just pull the Gold Leaf gloves on over the top when required (although that does get a bit sweaty if the combination is used for too long).

Oh, I've put them through the washing machine as well (the Solus gloves, not the Gold Leaf ones). They come out a bit sticky (on the outside) - I haven't worked out yet whether that is the material, or whether it is plant sap from previous use. It hasn't been an issue so far.

Recommended for finer or more delicate gardening tasks.


Brazil
Brazil
by Michael Palin
Edition: Audio CD

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant, but not up to Michael Palin's usual standard, 12 May 2013
This review is from: Brazil (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a review of the audio CD version of "Brazil". These are enjoyable stories by Michael Palin in his well-known style of travel writing. The author does the reading of this audio version, and he reads it very well. Michael Palin certainly gives a positive impression of Brazil. However, it was 4 weeks ago that I listened to the 8 CDs, and to my shame I have to admit that I recall very little detail of the trip details. It was nice, it was an enjoyable listen, it was interesting at the time, but it also seems to be quickly forgotten. I listen to a lot of audio books whilst driving, but in this case I do wonder if it might have been better to get the printed book or the related DVD rather than the audio book.


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