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David Fidler
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Movea Gyration Air Mouse GO Plus Compact Suite
Movea Gyration Air Mouse GO Plus Compact Suite
Offered by Ballicom International
Price: 141.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The bomb!, 25 Dec 2010
The bomb.

That's what I keep saying to my wife as I look over to her whilst waving the mouse around and telling the HTPC to do something. She looks over and smiles, proudly, content in the knowledge that she nailed Christmas. :)

I've only had it for 14 hours so during that time I've been using it quite heavily today.

Pros:

The 'mouse' functions both as a mouse that works as you'd expect a normal mouse to but it also serves as a pointer thingy that you can wave around in the air and make the pointer on your HTPC move, kinda like magic. The resolution of the 'mouse' is fantastic in both modes.

The keyboard does not miss keys, period. (Neither does it auto-repeat keys unnecessarily, as was the case with another keyboard that failed me). It's also quite small so it tucks, nicely, into the table drawer that sits between our tv-watching chairs. It also has a cover that you can take off and sit the keyboard inside of it. Then, when you want to tuck it into bed, you put the cover back ontop of the keys, protecting them from the likes of my... er... your two year old daughter.

You can program it to do stuff with 'gestures' (hold down the gesture button and move it to one of the eight compass points). Useless feature, IMHO, but it wins on geek factor.

The keyb and mouse both 'power down' to conserve on battery and wake up when they're needed again.

Cons:

It took me 15-odd minutes to get used to the mouse in 'air' mode. I was trying to hold it like a mouse at first (it is, after all, a mouse) which didn't work because in holding it like that your fingers can't reach the mouse buttons. I was bemoaning the fact that you can't reassign the programmable buttons to simulate mouse clicks; which you can't. Here's a hint, hold it like you would a joystick... problem solved.

The keyboard is small... I have big fingers. Worse still, I bought it in the UK so it's got the UK keyb layout and it has these silly symbols where the '#' and '|' are supposed to be. Small enter key too... Darned Limeys just haaaad to be different, didn't they! ;) <-- Canadians can be ignorant too. :)

Keyboard takes AAA batteries. Not a con so much as I wish it took AA batteries as you could get twice the lifetime out of them. As I said, I don't know how long they last now so I'm just picking nits.

The mouse has a built-in proprietary battery meaning that if it dies, you're back on your knees plugging in your backup USB mouse and trying to get it work on carpet. I don't know what kind of battery it comes with (it probably tells you in the manual but being a man, I'm genetically incapable of reading it) but it doesn't matter.. all batteries die eventually (1-2 years on average, less if you always have them sitting in the charging cradle) meaning that you will have to buy a new battery for it one day.

You need to install custom drivers to be able to program the programmable buttons.

Summary:

There are no cons... I just randomly picked some nits so that the pros wouldn't feel lonely.

The bomb! :)

Wife's Summary:

It looks neat too! :)


Queen of Candesce (Virga)
Queen of Candesce (Virga)
by Karl Schroeder
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read, 14 Jun 2010
I'm enjoying this series so far. It's not the most mature read out there but the characters are interesting and mostly plausible. But the real appeal to these books is the imagination that Schroeder has put into them; I'm having a lot of fun flying around in the world that the's created.

This book changes gears a little from Sun of Suns; it's a little more epic and it gives us a lot more insight into the world itself and even a little bit of information on the world beyond.

Sun of Suns had a storyline of it's own but in retrospect, it appears to be more of an introduction to the setting with our main character as a guide. Pirate Sun also has it's own storyline but it is more of an introduction to what I suspect is going to be the true story arc of this series.

In fact, I'd now class Sun of Suns as the series prequel and this one as the first book of the series. And it leaves me wanting to read more.


Sennheiser RS 180 Open Digital Wireless Over-Ear Headphone
Sennheiser RS 180 Open Digital Wireless Over-Ear Headphone
Price: 169.95

302 of 305 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Headphones, but too simple., 14 Jun 2010
Because I wasn't able to find them in stores to try out, I purchased the RS-170 and RS-180 together for a side-by-side comparison. The theory being that if both were okay, the 180s would be mine (the hifi freak) and the 170s would go to the wife (the hifi luddite).

Sound:

Both have good highs but that's where the similarities end. The 180s have a much more robust sound stage (the 170s sound tinny by comparison) and the bass response is head and shoulders above the 170s. Some reviews have classed the 180s as hifi-snob worthy and I'd say that they're almost right. For a set of wireless cans, the sound is really really good. Anecdotally, the 170s received about 90 seconds of 'testing' between the wife and I before deciding that the gain in sound quality of the 180s was well worth the extra 40 quid.

Reliability of Signal:

Some have complained of issues with signal. I have one dead spot in the house (metal door frame as I exit the house to BBQ my steaks) but that's it. If I take them upstairs and close the door and move around a lot, do I experience the occasional drop out. But everyone knows that "100 ft range" means "line of sight". When you start to put walls/doors in there, of course that degrades your range.

User Interface:

They're generally pretty simple to operate but I find the process of mating the cans to the base to be a really tedious process. Because we have two sets running from the same base station, the way in which Sennheiser has you mate multiple cans is really stupid. Esp when you have to re-mate them. (We have two transmitters so I periodically mate one set to the base station in the computer room and growl at Sennheiser when I have to re-mate them to the transmitter in the TV room; it's a real faff).

Other Complaints:

The base stations can control up to 4 headphones but the extra cans are not yet available for you to purchase in the UK (as of June 2010). I was going to buy them 6 months ago, but ended up waiting on Sennheiser to offer the headphones (HDR 180s) on their own (I did't need the other base). IMHO, Sennheiser really dropped the ball here because while the system can support extra 'phones, you simply can't buy them without the base station (yet).

Also, I share the complaints about the position and design of the volume control buttons; A dial or rocker would have been much better.

Summary:

All in all, I really like the 180s. They give me quality sound and allow me to listen to music on the move or watch movies at unreasonable volumes during the evenings, all without waking the neighborhood (or the baby).

======== Update: Nearly a year later.... ========

When I first wrote this review, I gave it 4 stars. Now that I've settled into them, I'm happily upping them to a 5 star and I wish I could give them 6 stars.

Headset Mating:

Shortly after the first review, I found that I was re-mating the cans unnecessarily when changing base stations. This isn't documented in the manual but it appears as though the cans remember the mating settings for multiple base stations. That's really cool because when I want to mate them to my upstairs station, I just put the cans in the upstairs cradle, lift them, turn on the station and then turn on the cans. Viola. Mate them to downstairs (TV)? Put them in the cradle upstairs (which turns off the cans) and turn off the station. Then walk downstairs, turn on the cans. Voila.

Volume Buttons:

I don't use them and I don't care. In all honesty, they are useless for anything more than setting your relative listening volume. The wife and I have our dedicated headsets and we've set our relative volume levels to each other. When something is too quiet, chances are it's too quiet for both of us (if we're on the same source) so we just turn it up (or down) on the source [ie - with the remote]. On the computer, I have a multimedia keyboard that I use the adjust the volume. Simple.

Wireless Problems? - Nope:

I've read other reviews that these headphones interfere with wireless internet; I don't have that problem. I'm running two base stations. One is close to my wireless router (4 feet), the other is close to a couple of computers that use wireless (802.11g) and I never have a hiccup, and that's running two base stations.

I suspect that the people who have wireless issues are surrounded by other people who also have wireless internet and so the frequency band that it all runs at is saturated. I used to get this at my old flat. Between 6-8pm, it was unusuable because everyone else was trying to use it too. The base stations are basically going to act as another wireless router so I can see it causing interference. The solution is to live close to some Luddites.

Battery Life:

Awesome. I've had them run out of juice once and that was because I just forgot to put them back on the charger several days in a row. When my daughter goes to bed (7pm), the headphones go on and they come off around 1am. If I forget to put them on the charger for a night, no biggie.

Seriously, now that I've gotten used to them, I wish that I could afford to buy one set for every member of my family. They are just that good.
Comment Comments (33) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 18, 2014 12:58 PM BST


Absolution Gap
Absolution Gap
by Alastair Reynolds
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where's the rest of it? I think Reynolds is bored with the series., 24 Mar 2010
This review is from: Absolution Gap (Paperback)
As others have said, read Revelation Space and Redemption Ark before this one. The series has been engaging, as a whole, and I've enjoyed it; that is, until I finished this book.

If you ignore the last 100 pages or so, this is a really great book and would probably elicit 4 stars. It has all of the elements of a good story.

Having said that, there are a number of events that happen for no reason, as if Reynolds had come up with a great sub plot only to decide not to follow but it and then doesn't bother to go back to edit it out.

There are huge gaps in the storyline where there have been major revelations and they are simply glossed over with a monologues or some footnotes. For a while there, I'd thought that maybe I'd missed an entire book. And then there's the casual way in which he discards his characters in, what appears to be, a vain attempt to make a misguided point. About 100 pages into the book, I started to get the impression that Reynolds was getting bored with this series.

But the downward spiral, for me, started at about page 590 (ish). It was here that, with 100 pages left, I realized that I was in for a disappointing ending. The plot was developing well throughout out but as the remaining page count diminished, I knew that I was in for a Deus-Ex Machina ending. In some respects, I'm happy that i was wrong. In others, I would have preferred the old cliche ending to the one that I got.

Page 690 was "wow, have we got a journey ahead of us"
Page 690-693 was "ZOMG! I was supposed to have this to the publisher 3 hours ago!"
Page 694 was "Ooops, I forgot to set myself up for a sequel! I know, i'll put three pages worth of references to this last one to make it look like I'd planned this all along!"

Honestly, had the book ended at page 690, I would have really enjoyed this book. But those last few pages were the barrage that sank the Hood. One cataclysmic explosion and then nothing but a sinking hulk of glowing iron.

Having said that, the last page makes it obvious where Reynolds is taking us and I'm sure that it will all be a great read. But I'm really hoping that the next book in this series fails to recognize the existence of the last few pages of this book and just picks up where it should have left off. The other plotline can wait at least one more book.


Conjure One
Conjure One

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 18 Oct 2009
This review is from: Conjure One (Audio CD)
From about 20s into 'Damascus' (the first track), I was pretty sure that I was going to love this album and about 20s into 'Center of the Sun', I knew I'd bought a winner.

To be honest, though, I think that I listened to the CD twice all the way through in the first month; the rest of the time was spent listening to the first two songs (in fact, I found myself crying while listening to 'Center of the Sun' while looking into the eyes of my 6mo old daughter).

It wasn't until I took the CD on a road trip that I finally got a chance to fully appreciate it in it's entirety. I can really only describe this album as 'music to close your eyes and dissolve into' (which is hella dangerous when you're driving a car). :) It still has the ambient moods of Delerium but it's also more forward; it's got more meat.

I must admit that a couple of the songs were a turn off, at first, because I was expecting another Semantic Spaces or Karma, which wasn't fair to the album at all. 'Redemption' was a good example of this, but after a few listens it grew on me and now I can't help but be affected by it's powerful beat and mesmerizing chant (especially on a system that's got some oomph).

If I have any advice for you Delerium fans, I'd say go into this with an open mind. It's not Semantic Spaces, Karma, etc; it's something that's similar but it's also something more and it might take you some time to appreciate that. I've owned this for three months now and I can't seem to get it out of my CD player (or my head). I've been listening to Semantic Spaces for 15 years now and I suspect I'll still be listening to Conjure One, happily, 15 years from now. I'm just sorry that it took me this long to find out about it.

PS - If you have access to a very powerful (and clear) HiFi system, put on 'Damascus', close your eyes and turn the volume knob to 'ridiculously loud'; it's quite an experience. I know my neighbors hate me, but I really don't care. :)


Emerald Eyes
Emerald Eyes
by Daniel Keys Moran
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars First book in series; good story, great setup for things to come, 20 Mar 2008
Emerald Eyes is the first book in the Tale of the Continuing and is a good read with an edgy, in-your-face style. Set in the near-future, this cyberpunkesque tale follows the trials and tribulations of Carl Castanaveras and his group of genetically engineered telepathic children; all of whom live in a world that that doesn't want them there (if you're thinking X-men, don't). I found myself enjoying Carl and his co-horts but many of the rest of the characters are what they are; a backdrop.

I first read this book about 20 years ago and I loved it then, just as i love it now. However, I've matured (in theory) over the years and so I've left this book (but not he series) behind. Objectively speaking, Emerald Eyes is the weakest book in the series but it's important that you read this one if you're going to continue on (and I honestly think that you should). IMHO, it's a "must read" for any sci-fi fan that can leave their overdeveloped sphincter at the door.

I have purchased this series a total four times now (I often don't get it back when I lend it out) and I'll probably buy it a few times more.

However, with all of that said, I do have one warning...

The Tales of the Continuing Time is set in a rich universe that develops on many separate levels. It continually evolves and some things in this book really aren't going to make much sense until you've read more of the later ones.

When you realize this, you understand that there's more to this universe than you'd originally imagined and that all of the books that you've read up until now are just a really great beginning to something truly amazing (despite the fact that the existing ones are fantastic). I truly think that DKM had a the makings of a great epic here, provided that he could pull together all of the threads.

After reading each book, I am always left hungry for more. However, I've been hungry for 15 years now and that hunger has not abated with time.

I warn you, now, because if you end up loving the series, as I have, you'll probably never get to see how it all ends, or even how it all begins.

The author has gone AWOL and has left this fertile universe to dry up.

Damn you, DKM.

Damn you.


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