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John Tierney (Wirral, UK)
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Duronic HDS3 Mini 3 Port Gold HDMI Auto Switch PIANO BLACK 3x1 (3 way input 1 output HDMI Switcher)
Duronic HDS3 Mini 3 Port Gold HDMI Auto Switch PIANO BLACK 3x1 (3 way input 1 output HDMI Switcher)
Offered by DURONIC
Price: £49.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Works fine for PC and PS3, 21 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this because we have moved the PS3 to share the monitor with the main (desktop) PC. Connection is blindingly obvious (1 output, 3 inputs). Works fine as it defaults to the PC (Input 1) unless the PS3 (Input 2) is switched on, in which case the PS3 takes priority. Once the PS3 is turned off the PC display reappears, as if by magic. The only slight problem I've got is when the PC takes back over and has gone into sleep mode, there is an annoying, monitor-generated "No HDMI input" message floating around, but there is a simple work around. I just turn the monitor off (which is good for the environment) until I need it again. Simple, affordable solution for no messing about turning the monitor upside down to switch cables any more. The only (obvious) thing to remember is that you need an extra HDMI cable to use this.


HIVE
HIVE
Offered by Creative Group
Price: £30.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great game - simple, but leads to endless permutations, 20 Jan. 2013
This review is from: HIVE (Toy)
This is a great game, deceptively simple as there is no board. The hexagonal-shaped pieces take a bit of getting used to in terms of their functions, but move as follows:
Queen Bee - one space at a time; you win if your opponent's Queen becomes surrounded on all 6 sides (by any combination of your pieces and their own).
Beetle - one space at a time, but can jump on top of other pieces, locking them in place; very useful
Grasshopper - jumps across any straight line of contiguous pieces
Spider - moves 3 places around the outside
Soldier ant - moves any number of spaces around the outside: very powerful
There are a few other rules:
You can only place a new piece into the game by placing it next to one of your own pieces (and not next to any of your opponent's pieces)
You must place your Queen by your 4th turn
You cannot break the chain of pieces into 2 (The "One Hive" rule).
And that's it. Once you've remembered the way the various pieces move you're off. Games can get quite complex - for example if you can pin down the Queen with one of your Beetles it can't move and ultimately the end is nigh. So don't let this happen! You'll also find your own pieces as the only link in the chain, which means you can't move them (otherwise you'll break the chain).
Hugely enjoyable and a great leveller - my 9-year-old enjoys beating me.
I've noticed some additional pairs of pieces (ladybird and mosquito) for sale on here (bit pricy though), but the basic game is more than enough and since all you need are the pieces, it can be played on any flat surface (e.g. Floor, table etc). Great fun.


The Closed Circle
The Closed Circle
by Jonathan Coe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Good for closure, but - oh! - the coincidences!, 20 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Closed Circle (Paperback)
This sequel to The Rotters Club (which I thought was pretty good) revisits the characters from the first book 20 years on and covers the period from the end of the 90s to the early years of the 21st century. Benjamin's younger brother Paul takes a much bigger part in his new book, having become a New Labour MP in the 1997 election and this provides Coe ample opportunity to make somewhat heavy-handed political points about Blair's government (although, to be fair, he is bang on in his criticism of the illegality of the decision to go to war in Iraq).

If you liked The Rotters Club then there is a huge amount of closure to be gained here as Coe revisits all the major characters and shows us both how they turned out and also goes back and analyses major events from the 70s and puts some of these in new contexts. All this is quite satisfying, but this is offset by sme big problems for me. The biggest of these is the amount of coincidences that are strewn thoughout the book. I think any more than one coincidence in a story is too many and here there are too many to count. Other problems arise from clunky dialogue and prose (just bloody call it Have I Got News For You and have done with it, rather than "a topical humorous news quiz) and a belief that people in their forties go around constantly thinking and taking about events from their teens in great details All The Time.
So despite the closure and good intentions, I think 3 stars is all this deserves sadly. If you liked TRC I'd recommend this just for the updates and readability (which can't be denied), but it's not as good and is no masterpiece.


Arc
Arc
Price: £7.99

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Versatile, melodic, challenging, satisfying, 15 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Arc (Audio CD)
This is an essential purchase if you liked Everything Everything's first album Man Alive. Building on that excellent debut, Arc feels more controlled, slightly more consistent and has some wonderful flowing, complicated but accessible tunes. You know you're being challenged when the first lyrics on the first track are "(Cough cough) Yeah.... (Cough cough) So.... (Cough cough) Um.... (Cough cough) Wait a second...." but don't worry - it's just Everthing Everthing messing with you right from the start.
Jonathan Higgs's typically falsetto voice lends a tenderness undercut with menace to twisting, challenging lyrics (you'll need them as you did for Man Alive). The first 7 tracks belt out finely crafted song after song, with a brief pause for the short, slight title track.
Nothing quite like the almost-commercial-but-too-clever-to-be Photoshop Handsome from Man Alive is here, although The Peaks is reminiscent of the stark beauty of NASA Is On Your Side (the best track from Man Alive for me).
Armourland, Choice Mountain, Duet and (the first single) Kemosabe jump out initially as wonderful exercises in writing and performing intelligent, non-conformist pop. Undrowned starts like a poem set to a nursery rhyme, but builds and builds. It all flows wonderfully and although this is written after only a few plays I think this will build to become one of those rare albums where you don't want to skip a track. This album, like its predecessor, almost hides the complexity and stream of consciousness lyrics, which are right out there and demand you to read along to the songs. Feet for Hands is both weird and joyful ("let's get up off the floor and use our feet for hands").
Everything Everything remind me of an XTC for this century in some ways - determined to do things their way and this they certainly do and succeed admirably.
If you like bland, production line, X-factor pop don't buy this. But if you like your music to challenge you, then look no further - you will reap the benefits amply. An excellent (but not difficult) second album.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 21, 2013 9:55 PM GMT


World's Ultimate Running Races: 500 races, 101 countries, Choose your adventure
World's Ultimate Running Races: 500 races, 101 countries, Choose your adventure
by Angela Mudge
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A great global guide, 4 Jan. 2013
I was bought this as a present and it's a great book, covering 500 of the worlds best races. I've only done 2 of these races, but this book has made me ambititious to try more, although some of them are very daunting ultramarathons. Well laid out, very up to date and covering a wide range of races from 5ks to 100+ miles endurance races, it's easy to track races you are interesting in by date, location or length and there are lots of great pictures to illustrate along the way. Great to dip into when you are bored, injured or resting after a run. I particularly liked the "Round the world race" which turns out to be a 2-mile race around the South Pole. Nicely done.


D'Addario Planet Waves Electric Guitar Accessories Pro Pack
D'Addario Planet Waves Electric Guitar Accessories Pro Pack

4.0 out of 5 stars Good quality but perhaps a bit expensive, 4 Jan. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a decent goody bag for any guitarist and contains 3 sets of strings, a good leather strap, a 10ft cable, mini tuner and a Pro Winder for string adjustment. So basically if you just have an electric guitar and an amp, this is everything else you need (and in fact serves as a good sets of spares or replacements for an overhaul). The tuner is particularly nifty in its design.

My only quibbles are (a) price - I got this through the Vine programme and I know the contents are decent quality, but thought that maybe it could come in a little cheaper for the quantity of items and (b) the packaging is a simple, if sturdy, plastic bag, although again this may be just to reduce cost.


Belkin Glam Tab Case with Stand for Kindle Fire HD 7", Black (will only fit Kindle Fire HD 7" [Previous Generation])
Belkin Glam Tab Case with Stand for Kindle Fire HD 7", Black (will only fit Kindle Fire HD 7" [Previous Generation])

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good protection, but standing position slightly awkward, 4 Jan. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This cover provide good, solid, comfortable protection for your Kindle Fire HD. My only quibbles are (a) that when you position the cover into "standard" position to watch something it looks a bit awkward - perfectly functional but it doesn't seem to have been designed quite right and (b) £34.99 seems a bit steep to me (I was luckly enough to receive mine through the Vine Programme). I think it's pretty good, but not totally convinced from an aesthetic or value for money perspective.


Arthur Christmas (DVD + UV Copy) [2011]
Arthur Christmas (DVD + UV Copy) [2011]
Dvd ~ James McAvoy
Offered by SweetBuzzards
Price: £4.75

4.0 out of 5 stars Attention to detail that works on both levels, 4 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is another great addition to the Aardman body of work. The story of the Christmas family and the power struggle for succession to the throne of Father Christmas, it gives a wonderful vision of how technology might be used nowadays to deliver presents - a sleight designed like the Enterprise and a mission control manned by thousands of elves.

The story focusses on how Arthur is left to deliver a missing present with his grandfather (the previous Santa) using only the old low-tech sleigh and how this causes the frictions in his family power politics to fracture. But the voices, animation and most importantly script and visual jokes more than carry the day. It's not quite up to the standard of Chicken Run [DVD] [2000], but if a great film that will entertain you and kids from 7 upwards, working visually and dialogue-wise on both levels.


Life of Pi
Life of Pi
by Yann Martel
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book - thought provoking and very readable, 4 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Life of Pi (Paperback)
This is one of the best books I have read this century. The story of Pi (Piscine Molinar Patel) who grows up in a zoo in India, but gets stranded in the Pacific on a rowing boat with only a tiger and (temporarily at least) some other animals for company, it's extremely well written. Although not the opening line, I think "I was named after a swimming pool" could have been a great first line and the first 100 or so pages cover Pi's childhood, his experimentation with following 3 religions at the same time and his life in the zoo leading to his families emigration to Canada via the Pacific.

Following the sinking of his ship, Pi finds himself alone with the tiger, an organutan, hyena and zebra. After a while only the tiger remains to keep him company, but this is no fairy tale with a talking tiger (as I thought it would be) - this tiger is real and ferocious and the story of how Pi survives for 227 days is gripping and believable. There is some wonderful writing - after battering his first fish to death it shimmers different colours over its scales in its death throes - "I felt like I was beating a rainbow to death". It's funny and moving and religion plays a big part, but is not rammed down our throats and we are left to make up our own minds. The mysterious Richard Parker flits ellusively through the first part of the book and we are left to guess how he will impact the story - very well done and funny too.

I re-read this prior to watching the film and enjoyed it as much 2nd time around, which is as high praise as I can give. The film is a decent shot at the book, which I thought was fairly unfilmable, but do read the book first.


Bad Santa [DVD] [2003] [2005]
Bad Santa [DVD] [2003] [2005]
Dvd ~ Billy Bob Thornton
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.17

5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect antidote to sickly-sweet Christmas films, 4 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a very funny film and if you are sick of anodyne, sugary Christmas fare, you can do no better for this as a handover cure. Billy Bob Thornton excels as the eponymous Bad Santa who is bad, bad, Bad. With his short-in-stature counterpart, he drunkenly takes advantage of shops during Christmas by using the Santa job to facilitate inside job robberies. Falling in with a barmaid with a thing for Bad Santas, he ends up being responsible for an overweight kid who believes he really is Santa. The film is coarse, uncouth and extremely funny. The language is very earthy and the humour is fast and base, but clever.

Whether Bad Santa can ultimately be redeemed by the woman who loves him and the child who looks up to him is something we are left to guess at for the whole film. Whether it can have its cake and successfully eat it is something you will determine if you watch it and I wholeheartedly recommend you do.

I saw this on TV two years running and panicked this year when I didn't think it was on and bought it (new for under a fiver from Amazon - bargain). It was on anyway but I don't care as this is now an annual treat. I read that Billy Bob Thornton admitted he really was drunk during filming, which only adds to the fun. Highly recommended.


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