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techpuppy "in cyberspace no-one can hear you woof" (UK)
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D-Link DSL-320B ADSL2+ Ethernet Modem - UK
D-Link DSL-320B ADSL2+ Ethernet Modem - UK
Price: £15.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Almost plug and play..., 30 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In some ways I can understand the negative reviews this (and most other) modem and routers get from frustrated owners - it's one of the few areas that hasn't been made plug-n-play easy and it's difficult to avoid struggling with passwords and obscure networking settings to get things going right. Just to confirm, this modem is what you need if you've got a separate standalone router and want to connect it to a standard phone-line to access standard ADSL broadband. It's also what you need if you don't have any wi-fi devices at all and just need to connect a single computer to broadband with an Ethernet cable, though that scenario must be quite rare these days.

To give D-Link some credit, they have tried to make setting this modem up on your phone-line as easy as possible - there's a quick setup wizard onboard which knows about the technical settings for hundreds of European ISP's and you only need to provide the username and password your ISP gave you and you're basically done. It worked first time for me and I was online in a couple of minutes - at least until I tried to connect to my Linksys router, more about that later. There's a setup DVD included but you probably won't need it to begin with - it contains the quick setup guide, the full manual and a link to get technical support but there's a printed copy of the setup guide in the box and the DVD only runs properly on Windows, so Mac and Linux users are left to figure it out themselves anyway.

Most people will connect this modem to a wi-fi router to share their broadband connection with other devices and that's when some might have a problem. This modem's default IP address is set to 192.168.1.1 which is the same as some wi-fi routers default to - Linksys routers for example. You cannot have two devices on a network set to the same IP address so unless you reconfigure one of them to use a different IP it's just not going to work. This is that inevitable moment when you'll have to log into the modem (or router) via your web-browser and tinker with the settings manually to avoid such a conflict.

While you're logged-in you'll discover this modem has a host of other obscure networking settings and a bunch of features usually reserved for full-blown routers - things like parental controls for blocking certain websites at certain times, setting preferred DNS servers, toggling the onboard DHCP server, QoS settings, VLAN support and a host of other geek-happy tweaks you can make if you know what you're doing. If you don't know you can leave them all alone and just get a fast and stable modem. My previous modem, before it died completely, kept dropping the ADSL connection and then would hang leaving us all in internet limbo. This modem has reset the connection a few times but seems to recover quickly and just keep going, I haven't had to reset it manually once yet. My only minor complaint is that the four LED's, which indicate power, DSL, Ethernet and LAN activity, are awkwardly placed on the bevelled edge of the router where they can be difficult to see during daylight hours. Apart from that very minor quibble it's a very capable and speedy little modem.


The Secret Place
The Secret Place
by Tana French
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.49

3.0 out of 5 stars Keep the secret..., 30 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Secret Place (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Maybe I would have enjoyed The Secret Place more if I'd once been a teenage girl instead of a teenage boy? Tana French does create a compelling claustrophobic portrayal of the closed and privileged world of a girls private school and the cliquey girl-gangs within it but I really didn't care much about the individual girls or their personal dramas. It might suit the whodunnit aspect of the story to keep the different teenagers slightly indistinct but it doesn't make for very compelling characters. Really, does anyone still say 'totes-amaze-balls' with any intent other than mockery?

The adult characters aren't really much better, the snippy school headmistress is a stock character from any school drama of the last 50 years and the character of Detective Conway, a lone female in the man's world of murder investigations, comes off as a girning version of DCI Jane Tennison - all over-aggressive retorts and sarcastic asides, like she'd watched one too many box-sets of The Sweeney. Things do all improve as the novel progresses, Conway thaws slightly, the girls slowly de-coalesce into individuals and the story starts to find direction and there are even some hints of a supernatural thread that binds the girls together. However by the time we get to the denouement, and that takes too long, I'd passed caring who actually killed who and why.

This all makes the book sound terrible but it isn't. I really enjoyed Tana French's style, the snappy asides that carefully distill a character's mood or thoughts into three words or less are a delight. The closed community of the school and the internecine battles within it are nicely observed and make a fine, if hackneyed, backdrop for the story. As I said, maybe if I held any nostalgia for being a teenage girl this would have worked better for me, but I don't and so although it's very well written it was all a bit un-involving.


Booq Cobra Courier XS Bag for iPad
Booq Cobra Courier XS Bag for iPad
Offered by Booq Europe
Price: £80.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Small and perfectly formed..., 29 Sep 2014
I really liked the style of the Cobra Courier XS as soon as I saw it - booq seem to take tough utilitarian materials and then make stylish and practical bags with them, which works for me. The Cobra Courier XS is different but understated and makes a great stow for a travelling iPad and its owner. The main fabric of the bag is waterproofed nylon with a rubberised bottom section and a real leather flap at the top. The main materials are all quite heavy-duty, maybe unusually heavy-duty for a bag of this compact size, and give the bag a chunky and tough feel. Inside there are contrasting linings, beige in the main compartment and orange in the front pocket, and the iPad pocket is slightly padded and lined in a flocked black fabric. The iPad pocket stops before it reaches the bottom of the bag - meaning if you thump the bag down on a hard surface the edge of your iPad probably isn't going to take the full impact, which could be helpful. The iPad pocket is roomy enough to take our iPad 3 while it's still in its smart-case, although it's only just deep enough.

There's enough room, with a selection of pockets, in the rest of the bag to take a useful selection of items but the bag is a bit shallow top-to-bottom, for example it's not deep enough to take A4 size papers or a binder without the top sticking out, so if you need to carry (unfolded) documents alongside with your iPad this might not be the ideal bag for you. The strap is made from seat-belting and so it's very strong while being very thin. The strap's quite slippy too, although I found that worked for me - it makes it easy to slide the bag from the front of your body to the back when you need to and it doesn't get caught up in clothing. There are also two seatbelt straps threaded through the base of the bag which I don't think are functional, at least I couldn't see a use for them, but I was slightly concerned they'll let rain in and compromise the waterproof base - but they do look good. My only other concern is that the leather flap is only held down by two good-sized velcro pads and although it seems perfectly secure now it might eventually lose its 'stick', but time will tell, it does seem to be good quality velcro. As I said, I really liked the look of the Cobra Courier XS, but until I received mine couldn't appreciated how sturdy it is - it's an unusual combination, a bag that's cool-looking and tough enough to last too. So at its current (recently reduced) price I think it's a good buy compared to many others, you're getting a stylish, well designed bag without the designer price premium. (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


Inateck® 15.4 Inch Macbook Pro Retina Sleeve Case Ultrabook Netbook Bag Cover Carrying Protector Envelope Case [Size: 39 cm x 28 cm, Color: Grey]
Inateck® 15.4 Inch Macbook Pro Retina Sleeve Case Ultrabook Netbook Bag Cover Carrying Protector Envelope Case [Size: 39 cm x 28 cm, Color: Grey]
Offered by Inateck
Price: £29.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That felt feeling..., 29 Sep 2014
The Inateck Felt Sleeve Case is simply designed and made but that's the whole beauty of it - it delivers good scratch protection and a bit of bump protection for your precious laptop with great style and at a sensible price. The felt is soft and thick and feels like it might hold together for a decent number of years, it's lined in a soft 'suede-effect' fabric throughout and together they should have your MacBook or other laptop travelling in comfort. The design includes simple slash pockets on both sides, one large under the front flap and two smaller ones on the back - I'd be wary of putting anything too bulky in the pockets in case they start gaping and spoil the overall look, but they'd be fine for papers, ID cards or similar items.

The mini pouch is a fine size for your laptop's mains adaptor, even with a UK plug, or maybe a portable hard-drive and cables - but it's very simply made and doesn't have the stitched edges the main sleeve does, which are presumably there to stop the edges stretching and looking baggy. The sleeve is thick enough to offer some meaningful protection without making your laptop too bulky - so mine still fits nicely into my laptop backpack and adds a welcome extra layer of bump protection. I really liked the lo-fi style of the Inateck sleeve, it delivers exactly the kind of protection you'd want without covering your laptop in brand-names and logos (there's just a subtle tag sewn into the side seam) and unnecessary bulk. My only concern would be how to clean the bag if it gets dirty, you cannot launder it and so spot-cleaning is probably the only option or, if it's really bad, replacing the whole thing. Still it seems like a really good buy at the current price, especially when so many computer and smartphone cases are so over-priced. Note: I chose the '15.5 Inch/New' style. (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


Greenpan Venice 24 cm Ceramic Non-Stick Open Frypan, Grey Aluminium
Greenpan Venice 24 cm Ceramic Non-Stick Open Frypan, Grey Aluminium
Price: £25.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Out of the frying pan..., 29 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Greenpan 24cm Venice Ceramic Frypan has a really nice weight to it - heavy enough to feel substantial but not so heavy you need two hands to heave it off the stove. The outer finish of the pan is a stylish shade of grey but I'm really not sure about the colour of the inner ceramic cooking surface, which is the sort of unappetising institutional green you'd expect to find in an NHS sluice room - or maybe that's just me? :-)

In use the ceramic lining is a delight, virtually nothing sticks to it and cleaning the pan afterwards is (usually) incredibly easy. You could actually get away with simply wiping it clean with some kitchen-roll but hand-washing in the sink is the recommended option. The pan is dishwasher-friendly but it's not the preferred cleaning method because strong alkaline will slowly erode the ceramic finish. The handle is really nicely shaped with curves that fit your hand comfortably and thankfully doesn't seem to get too warm during use, although because it's all-metal you'd have to be aware of that possibility. I noticed that some people have had problems with the long-term performance of their Greenpans, I haven't had mine long enough to judge but I will report back later if we have any unexpected issues. We already have another ceramic frypan from a different manufacturer, with a (more attractive) white ceramic inner, and so far there seems to be no difference in performance or durability, however the Greenpan is a weightier and sturdier-feeling pan at a comparable price.


#1 Deluxe Solar Garden Security Flood Spotlight - The FireBlaze (TM) - Wireless Ultra Bright LED - Outdoor Exterior PIR Motion/Angle Sensor - Wall Mount for Path, Shed, Garage, Porch, Fence, Gate - Long Lasting Rechargeable Batteries Included - Night Intruder Alert - Free Home Security eBooks - Protect Your Investment with 90 Day 100% Money Back Guarantee
#1 Deluxe Solar Garden Security Flood Spotlight - The FireBlaze (TM) - Wireless Ultra Bright LED - Outdoor Exterior PIR Motion/Angle Sensor - Wall Mount for Path, Shed, Garage, Porch, Fence, Gate - Long Lasting Rechargeable Batteries Included - Night Intruder Alert - Free Home Security eBooks - Protect Your Investment with 90 Day 100% Money Back Guarantee

5.0 out of 5 stars The silvery moon..., 26 Sep 2014
The FireBlaze is a solid, well-made little gizmo that feels like it might survive the elements for a year or six. Fixing it in place just takes five minutes and two screws (supplied, with rawplugs) and then you just switch it on using the little prong key supplied (the on/off switch is hidden inside a pinhole) and you're good to go - ours arrived already charged and so worked the first night we tried it. As evening falls the four LED's light up at a low brightness and stay that way all night - as anyone approaches the PIR sensor spots them and sets the light to full brightness, switching back to low-light 10 seconds after they move away. The low-light setting casts a pool of light for a few metres around the light and seems about the same as a full moon on a cloudless night, it has the same cool-blue colour too. At full-brightness it's really surprisingly bright, easily enough to read by within the pool of light it casts, and it's certainly bright enough to let you find your front door keys buried your bag or to identify who's outside your door.

Years ago, we had some solar-powered garden lights, bought just after these things first appeared, and they required about 16 hours of Mediterranean-equivalent direct sunlight to manage even a dull glow for about an hour each evening. Thankfully progress has taken care of such inefficiencies and this light seems to manage a full evening's illumination after a day of even overcast sunshine. I fitted ours overlooking the front door on a south-facing soffit, slightly in the shade of the guttering although not actually obscured by it, and I wasn't sure it would catch enough sunlight there to charge but it's been no problem, even on dull days. Like all PIR sensors the light reacts only to moving heat sources, like human and animal bodies, and only keeps the light on for 10 seconds after the warm body has moved away to avoid depleting the battery unnecessarily. This does mean if you stand still for about ten seconds the light will go dim again even with you standing there, so while it's ideal for security or visibility it's not so good as a task light. My only other concern would be the long-term life of it, you don't seem to be able to open the device up to replace the rechargeable batteries inside and so it can only last as long as they do and when they stop holding a charge you're probably looking at replacing the whole thing, however that should still means years of useful life. The all-in-one design with a fixed solar cell and LED array does mean you'll have to find just the right, preferably south-facing, location for it - but assuming you do the FireBlaze is a brilliant (literally!) little device. (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


booq Taipan shock TSH-BLK Backpack for MacBook (Air / Pro Retina) or Laptop up to 15", black
booq Taipan shock TSH-BLK Backpack for MacBook (Air / Pro Retina) or Laptop up to 15", black
Offered by Booq Europe
Price: £80.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A subtle shock..., 25 Sep 2014
The booq Taipan shock backpack feels very lightweight when you first pick it up, which is no bad thing in a piece of luggage, however it also feels like a quality item throughout. The main fabric is attractive, with a semi-reflective texture - like lots of little graphite pixels - and seems to be highly water resistant. The zips are also supposedly water-resistant although I haven't put this to severe test yet, but they're all of very good quality and work smoothly. Three of the pockets have black leather pull-tabs on the zips and you also get a set of coloured leather tabs if you want to swap them for something more visible. The main compartment has four internal pockets, three open and one zipped, together with set of pen-pockets, although these seem a bit shallow to me and my pens don't always stay in them for very long. The back compartment, meant for your laptop, is well padded and has a semi-rigid back with a flocked lining. It should be big enough to take a MacBook or most other 15" laptops, even if you're also using a sleeve with them. There's also an extra padded 'bumper' at the bottom of that compartment so your laptop shouldn't suffer any damage when the bag's put down on a hard surface.

The shoulder straps on the Taipan shock aren't as wide or as padded as some backpacks I've had but they're very comfortable in use, they just seem to sit in a comfortable position for me and I don't have to be constantly adjusting them. The back has padded mesh-covered sections with a scoop in the middle to allow some ventilation between your back and the bag. There's a sternum strap which, although fine while in use, is a bit annoying when it's not deployed, I wish there was a way of tethering it out of the way when you don't need it - but that's about the only negative comment I can make about the Taipan shock, otherwise it's an excellent carrier. The booq style seems to be for genuinely useful working bags made with quality materials in an understated style - and personally I like that a lot. Your laptop should feel quite safe inside the Taipan shock and the bag's quiet style doesn't scream "steal me!" to nefarious passers-by. At full retail it's certainly a bit pricey compared to some but it does have the look and quality materials to back it up.


1Byone Digital Amplified TV Aerial, Indoor Digital TV Antenna For USB TV Tuner/DVB-T Television UHF, Free View And Analog TV Signals
1Byone Digital Amplified TV Aerial, Indoor Digital TV Antenna For USB TV Tuner/DVB-T Television UHF, Free View And Analog TV Signals

4.0 out of 5 stars Turn on, tune in, don't dropout..., 25 Sep 2014
This 1Byone Amplified TV Aerial isn't that exciting to look at, the build quality and design are so-so, but it really does deliver a decent performance and we're receiving most of the Freeview channels using it in a spare bedroom. You can choose to fix it to the base in either a vertical or horizontal position but I'm not sure that it matters as far as reception goes - we chose the vertical option simply because it means the aerial's footprint is minimal and it sits neatly on a bookshelf behind the TV. We're in a medium/strong strength rural area for digital TV reception -- we definitely need a high-gain loft or roof aerial to get all the Freeview muxes -- and so I wasn't sure how many of the muxes this little aerial would receive indoors, but it actually gets most of them. In its current position, well away from a window, it's getting all the main full-powered muxes (giving all the main BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and C5 channels) but on the other lower-powered muxes it's a bit more patchy, some stations are watchable but some are not. I must admit I haven't taken a lot of time to position the aerial perfectly, it just worked where I wanted to put it and, since it's a temporary fix, I've been happy to leave it there. If I re-positioned it nearer the window (as the instructions suggest) we could probably pull in the missing ones too - it's quite impressive that it works as well as it does without having to try 100's of different locations and positions around the room.

You can power the aerial using an included mains adaptor or from USB with the included cable and so it would work in a variety of situations, like camping or caravanning. There's an RF aerial cable included and it's a good length, about 3m, but the cable from the mains adaptor is a bit short so you need to place it near a mains socket. Our mains adaptor is making a buzzing sound at the moment, there's no heat being generated so I'm not unduly concerned, but it's an annoying sound - 1Byone have offered to swap it for another so it'll be fine. Apart from that minor concern it's a great little device, not exactly pretty, but it does a very creditable job of picking up digital TV signals and it's small enough to go almost unnoticed. It doesn't take long to set it up and to start receiving the main TV channels, although getting all the multiplexes and a full channel list might take more careful placement. My previous indoor TV aerial looked like it might have been designed to detect intelligent life on other planets - this one is smaller, neater and does a better job. Progress! (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


Salad Love: How to Create a Lunchtime Salad, Every Weekday, in 20 Minutes or Less
Salad Love: How to Create a Lunchtime Salad, Every Weekday, in 20 Minutes or Less
by David Bez
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.89

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Salad: The Missing Manual..., 22 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Maybe it takes a man to put together a book like this, at least it takes a non-chef. It's like an instruction manual for salads more than a recipe book. The author tells no tales of his bucolic childhood in Italy, though he probably had one, just presents his carefully researched theoretical findings for salad creation. So, there are six elements in the perfect salad algorithm: the base leaves, the vegetables or fruit, the protein, the toppings, the fresh herbs and the dressing. It sounds more technical than it really is - think of a Mozzarella, Cherry Tomato & Spinach salad (actually the first one in the book) and it's a bed of baby spinach topped with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella cheese sprinkled with fresh basil leaves and drizzled with a balsamic dressing and a pinch of dried oregano - all six elements in perfect algorithmic synergy. Simple really.

Having expressed his basic salad algorithm David Bez then presents a near endless (OK, there are 260) variety of finished salads like he's expressing Pi to the name number of decimal places. Each salad is beautifully presented on a plain white plate against a plain white backdrop and with the ingredients listed below. They're grouped into seasons, so you can ensure the salads you make consist of in-season ingredients and don't rack up the food-miles on their way to your plate. Each salad is then labelled as either raw, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or omnivore, but there's usually an alternative suggestion given to turn that omnivorous salad into a vegetarian one or a vegan one into a raw. At the front of the book are a wide selection of simple recipe for dressings but each salad in the book also has a recommended dressing, usually a simple balsamic vinaigrette.

Of course Bez, in preparing this book, produced all these salads at his desk at work during his lunch hour with a simple selection of kitchen utensils stored in his desk drawer. Luckily we can be less constrained and could even use entire kitchens to make them. The book provides so many salad combinations it's bordering on overload, but they're so simply but effectively presented that it becomes like a reference book for salad-making. I always loved salads - maybe I should say I always loved the idea of salads - but was never that inspired at creating them, but after being introduced to Bez's Salad Theory I really have no excuses anymore.


OZ Naturals - THE BEST Hyaluronic Acid Serum For Skin - Clinical Strength Anti Aging Serum - Best Anti Wrinkle Serum With Vitamin C + Vitamin E - Our Customers Call It A Facelift In A Bottle. This Vegan Hyaluronic Acid Serum Will Plump & Hydrate Dull Skin As It's Designed To Fill Those Fine Lines & Wrinkles. Satisfaction 100% GUARANTEED!
OZ Naturals - THE BEST Hyaluronic Acid Serum For Skin - Clinical Strength Anti Aging Serum - Best Anti Wrinkle Serum With Vitamin C + Vitamin E - Our Customers Call It A Facelift In A Bottle. This Vegan Hyaluronic Acid Serum Will Plump & Hydrate Dull Skin As It's Designed To Fill Those Fine Lines & Wrinkles. Satisfaction 100% GUARANTEED!
Offered by OZ Naturals EU
Price: £11.69

4.0 out of 5 stars Stop the droop..., 22 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've been using OZ Natural's Hyaluronic Acid Serum for about 3 weeks now and have been pleasantly surprised by the results. To put it into context, I'm old enough to be worrying about looking old and don't regularly use any serious skincare regimen, just a mild face wash and some natural oils, like Argan oil. My results with this serum have been subtle but noticeable, the superficial texture of the skin did improve in the first week or so, nothing very dramatic but noticeable, and using a moisturiser over the top of the serum does seem to work synergistically to further boost that effect. I didn't notice much difference to wrinkles but the skin does appear slightly more hydrated and less tired looking overall. The real surprise was that it also feels firmer and more taught, which is probably the effect I was least expecting because I would assume it's the hardest to achieve. Again, the difference is subtle but there's definitely a bit less 'droopage' since starting with this serum and that makes me want to keep using the product to see if it continues or even improves.

It's very easy to use, the eye-dropper means you have precise control over the amount to apply and the serum slides easily and evenly over the skin and disappears very quickly, so you have to work quite fast. I've had no negative reaction to it at all, even with slightly sensitive skin, and there's only a very faint fragrance. For a serum based on quality ingredients the price seems relatively good and my results so far would certainly encourage me to keep using it. It's no elixir of youth, despite the marketing, but it's certainly worth a try. (Disclosure: item was supplied for independent review)


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