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Julie Cutler
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Beginning DotNetNuke Skinning and Design (Programmer to Programmer)
Beginning DotNetNuke Skinning and Design (Programmer to Programmer)
by Andrew Hay
Edition: Paperback
Price: 26.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Sadly an overly dated book, 12 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Dotnetnuke or DNN in version 7 is absolutely brilliant and absolutely frustrating. This book helps a bit and then it doesn't. I'm a wet behind the ears noob (with a far too busy to help guru) who has been trying to find a free .net content managed system for clients for 2 or more months. I tried Umbraco, but it was incomprehensible why you had to go into so much effort just to set up your editing environment, I tried Orchard, but most of the clever bits had to be rewritten because the freebies add ons were lame. I can't say that Goldilocks quite likes the taste of this bowl of porridge, but it seems the most filling!

This book is written in dotnetnuke 4, which was written in Visual Basic with a layout based on arggh scream scream, tables.
The current version is DNN 7.3 which is written in C# and is mercifully laid out with CSS3 and html5, with distinct pane sections you can drop modules into all div-ed up. The CSS was completely rewritten for version 7, but is still way over complicated. See the problem?

Information on writing skins is hard to come by as those in the know are making a lot of dosh writing skins.....we seem to be under a code of omerta on the web. Technically DNN 7 does come with a brilliant skin called Gravity (a bit dull and grey) which sits on top of a beastie called the Twitter Bootstrap. Bootstrap is utterly brilliant because you can shrink the window with a lovely flow and colapse the menu to an alternative, making it great as a low cost design deployment for both desktops and mobile phones if you're developing small business websites.

As a resource the relatively pricey annual subscription to DNN Creative proved to be my only way into the mire, so long as you start with the version 7 videos. However the more useful bits on skinning have only been written for previous versions at the moment. YouTube can be slightly helpful, but not on skinning it yourself to date, just on dollar hungry skin kit deployment.
I managed to customise most of the Gravity skin by renaming a copy and bashing away at the skin.css file. However this only gets you so far, because if you want to do anything clever with the header section you have to butcher the aspx page for whichever page style you have set your individual pages to use as a master. The guru ended up ripping out the search function, but we did have a wobbly moment with the Bootstrap flow (rather a Blue Peter get an adult to help you area). Oh and you should be uploading your site images into the portals/0/images folder(oh mama, there are a lot of image folders in this thing).

There were times when this book did give me a little insight into how to apply skins, but I was rather grateful to have bought a magic penny plus postage copy. Buy it with trepidation, pray to the digital gods to get off their bottoms and write clear updated beginners guides. Hope this helps and if you find anything useful please comment kindly! Toodles.


The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit
The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit
by Tom Hunt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.60

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite the sum of it's parts in the great scheme of cookbooks but has merits, 12 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm a bit perplexed that like another reviewer I too ordered this book under the impression it would solve food gluts from the allotment. While the recipes look interesting and are based on a selection of things to do with a particular vegetable or fruit ingredient, it is far from comprehensive. For instance, lots of recipes for apples and apricots, but none for pears. Compared to other ingredient focussed books as by the lovely Ms Grigson (tthe younger one) this work does leave you reaching for something else off the kindle cloud for the gaps in the recipes.
However, pluses are: enough vegetarian recipes to pick out, nice pictures, generally Mediterranean cuisine for the non meaty recipes, alternative ingredients in recipes (pearl barley or rice for instance), a few quirky ideas such as barbecueing broad beans and also stir frying, picling radishes and turnips, Portuguese tarts with rhubarb (impressive idea), making short lived fruit jams and using up leftovers (although usually by adding more expensive ingredients).
As I'm gearing up for a glut of certain items from a late planted garden I have yet to try out this book (sorry folks, but my reviews have to be within a certain time frame for freebies). For myself I'd say this would be the book I reach for second to fill up the end of a week's menu AFTER I've found the star items from other books (still finding yummies from 'Hugh's 3 good things') and store cupboard use ups. I can't speak from a meatie perspective, apart from noting that the suggested leftover recipes require you to add steak or venison, which to me seems a little odd.


TCP LED B22d Bayonet Cap 10 Watt LED Classic Shape, White
TCP LED B22d Bayonet Cap 10 Watt LED Classic Shape, White
Price: 12.71

5.0 out of 5 stars impressive at first light, 8 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Well it's certainly bright, and as with the other leds I've tried it appears to out perform it's supposed 60w equivalent rating. It's fairly heavy too, so I'm hoping that's due to an effective aluminium heatsink which will keep it performing.
Only time will tell if it lasts as long as it claims. I did a bit of calculation a while back. Leds seem to be worth the price in saving running costs if you are replacing tungsten or halogen bulbs. But you are only saving a little in place of a compact fluorescent, and since these are full of unpleasant gases, you might as well let these tubes last out their full life. Irritating though that may be.


Rosewood Small Animal Christmas Tree Climb 'N' Shred
Rosewood Small Animal Christmas Tree Climb 'N' Shred
Offered by River Direct Ltd
Price: 5.91

5.0 out of 5 stars Hamster approved, 3 Jun 2014
Just got the one to try. Isabella the Syrian had a quick chew and clambered to the top, just like in the illustration. It does fit in a Rotastak "toblerone" cage with plenty of over the top hamster room, if you take out the shelf.


Orchard CMS: Up and Running
Orchard CMS: Up and Running
Price: 9.26

5.0 out of 5 stars So far so good - Kindle version, 28 May 2014
Considering that this book is two years old at the time of writing, unlike other how to books, it does work reasonably well with the current version. Your mission is to develop a website for a band called Daisy's Gone (why I don't know).

Orchard CMS seems to be a fairly easy to understand FREE content managed website building package. What is not included in the basic site are certain modules which are available for download from an online gallery. This is very much like the online SharePoint system for basic users with its add ons.

25% through on day one and only a few squeaks from me is pretty good going. Content is now split over two menus instead of one and 3 submenus. I'm having a little difficulty with the image manipulation module that was recommended (check the module gallery reviews - it won't display in the menu for the latest version). contact forms isn't behaving I'm not sure that I have not been mislead and there was an image manipulation package available in the current version. I've sort of over loaded my installation now (editable in WebMatrix)!

Having struggled for a few weeks with Umbraco, this is a relatively delightful easy to use .net based flavouring. I'm not fully sure why it isn't more fully known (although I've still got to get to grips with some of the prettier layout options or adding c# code -you can mess around with C# in the umbrella platform Microsoft WebMatrix, by the way,- thankfully as I haven't got Visual Studio installed yet). Fun fun fun, for a first go.

Update. Ultimately we've decided not to go with Orchard as a platform as it is MVC based, which due to it's hefty programming, probably causes the slow page loading reported by other users. Currently trying out the free version of DNN 7, formerly known as dotnetnuke. Orchard still has pluses, and reasonable learning material, but it looks like you need to start stripping down the engine for any functionality and reliability.


Rotastak Home and Away Hamster Travel Case
Rotastak Home and Away Hamster Travel Case
Price: 13.90

4.0 out of 5 stars still a good design carrier. careful of top clips., 24 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A very necessary item in case you need a visit to the vets. My only concern is that it is easy not to properly engage the sprung plastic clips at the top which secures the handle. I tend to carry the carrier in a carrier bag! Fortunately when I did drop this it was empty of hamster. I find the round clips very securely hold the bungs. Used to rehome two of Isabella's unexpected brood.


Superpet Critter Puzzle Seesaw 38 piece
Superpet Critter Puzzle Seesaw 38 piece
Offered by Petremedies
Price: 6.93

5.0 out of 5 stars Approved by two Syrians, 24 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Although the learning curve on these sets is a bit challenging for the owners, both my Syrians adored it. However this could be due to the sunflower seeds which I hide in the centre before playtime. This is my second critter puzzle, so it went together a little more smoothly. You have frames and plastic square centres which you pop in later. The triangular bits take a bit more time, but finally hold together firmly. There are two plastic squares with pivots for the seesaw action. All very sturdy eventually. It washes easily between sessions to reduce territorial hamster scents. Definitely the better puzzle of the I think 3 offerings..


Pull Key Reel Keyring 1m Extendable Retractable Metal Chrome ID Holder - Heavy Duty Version
Pull Key Reel Keyring 1m Extendable Retractable Metal Chrome ID Holder - Heavy Duty Version
Offered by K Direct
Price: 2.87

1.0 out of 5 stars Won't retract, 23 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The reel wouldn't retract when I received it. Useless. I've used this sort of item for years- they always go, but not so quickly. ~Really really annoyed considering the other reviews praising it. Trying to get my money back


Rotastak Mission Pod Small Animal Housing
Rotastak Mission Pod Small Animal Housing
Price: 29.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb add on for spare parts post Jan 2014 version, 18 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
At a pinch, this would work as a starter home for a young Syrian hamster, but you'd need to add to their territory fairly quickly. Dwarfs should really have the tunnels on the flat, unless you add socks or rope up the tunnels, to allow grip (it appears).

Pros: it has a traditional wire door which is superb for getting even the most bad tempered of hamsters to jump on and calmly feed out of your hand (my 5 week old black bear Aleppo, who has been routinely cursing me and large pieces of broccoli in loud hamster) Getting a hamster to stuff their cheeks with food for their store IS the way to their heart. Plus it's easy to clean. Take off the middle spring clip carefully and the two halves generally stay together for a thorough wipe. Neither mamma hamster, Isabella, nor her unexpected brood of 6 have been over keen on the middle shelf at first. I have found that they cope with it better with a sand bath and lid half wedged under it to lower the height down....they just won't use the small tube. It's a solidly built construction, especially given that one of Isabella's daughters ate her way out of the cheap cage her new carer got her on the first night.

It has lots of curvy tunnels, which are much easier to put together in the post January 2014 version. There is one sliding side lug, and several engaging pins, so now the two sides hold together while you are manipulating them into the locking ring. Before the two sides were smooth. It wasn't impossible to put them together, but it took deep calm. The trick on the locking rings, suggested by a wonderful lady on this site, is to heat them in very hot water so they expand. Fitting them then is a doddle. You then do have to let them cool down or they pop out again, but then they are rock solid. Personally I don't intend to clean the tubes out more than every three weeks so the owners have the comfort of their scent after a cage wash wipes their territory clean, barring over enthusiastic liquid scent marking that is (Aleppo!) I still can't see where the giant race of hamsters who get stuck in tubes is coming from, Isabella has grown into a bigger hamster than I remember my original girl and boy. She can really stuff her pouches and yet is off with a voom through the tunnels to her store. Nor is there any particular difficulty on the angle, my 18 day olds, just a third the size of mamma hamster were managing the tunnel system within a day (sometimes they had to take a run at it or just keep trying, but they made it). However their Mamma, who had grown up in a plain cage had much more wobbly muscles for a few days, plus the fact she was a teenage single mum slowed her down a bit after that.

It has two spheres, which were adored by my two hamsters in 1995 and are appreciated by our three current residents. At the moment the spheres aren't for sale separately, and this is the only offering with two. As soon as I added them I had three hamsters setting up bedrooms in them, having dragged some soft bedding there themselves. They also like anointing the curves with their scent glands in their flanks. The trick on spheres is that you get a piece of electricians tape to wrap around three quarters of the linking tube's diameter. Then all the connections are also rock solid. I also tend to add in a bit of extra ventilation by drilling quarter inch holes (6mm?) in the end caps. So far the hamsters haven't tried chewing them further, and in any case the caps are easily replaceable.

It comes with a wheel and water bottles.

As I finally had enough bits between all the cage modules (adventure zone set), Isabella has a triple yellow cage section and a single wire cage, and Aleppo's set is all in blue. Cleaning day is relatively stress free for the hamsters and their skivvy as the modular system means that by removing the connecting tubes and popping in a spare cap (twist to lock and tug) you can isolate the hamster in one section while thoroughly sorting another, and then temporarily connect a tube so your obliging hamster moves up into the clean section.

Personally I haven't seen any better cages on the market, and the design has much improved over the years, (I bought a hamster ball by the much praised Savic, and it turned out to be thin plastic with one lug that didn't engage. Somewhat dangerous for hefty Isabella ramming objects at full speed). Hamsters have a short life and they might as well thoroughly enjoy it. I only set out to indulge one very polite hamster. Fate meant I ended up with two and a temporary squatter in one of Aleppo's modules. Because I had the Rotastak modular system it was easier to separate out the early weaned squabbling brood (a bit of rapid learning of how to tell girl from boy also helped, thanks YouTube)and to give their Mamma a rest from them (her poor little ears had gone all wrinkly with stress). I hope you don't end up with a, 'it must have just been a mistake, you can always bring it back for a refund' from the UK's main pet store chain, but the only way I coped was by buying this system initially.

Verdict, as a starter it's fine. Budget for more in a month, but in that time your hamster will adore you and entertain you with its energetic activity. And if you're very lucky, you'll get to be sworn at in fluent hamster for not cutting up the broccoli small enough...for half an hour.


Easipet Fabric Pet Play pen, Medium, Green
Easipet Fabric Pet Play pen, Medium, Green
Price: 28.69

4.0 out of 5 stars Hamster review, 17 May 2014
I actually bought the small version (10cm smaller diameter) for our Syrian hamsters to play with toys. It works pretty well as they go manic with solid walls and the fabric inserts allow enough vision to calm them. My only long term concern is the base. It is fixed at 6 corners with a very small tab of velcro to a strip that is attached to he walls.. If the hamsters got under any of the unvelcroed lengths, they'd be under and out. I need to find some way of sticking down the sides, but still make the base removable for storage. Isabella the mamma hamster was rather annoyed by the smell of new material. It does need to air a bit fully open. Otherwise looks good, although may need some patching from nibbling with use.


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