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Ben Saunders (Stirling, Scotland)
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Everyday Medical Ethics and Law
Everyday Medical Ethics and Law
by BMA Medical Ethics Department
Edition: Paperback
Price: £34.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A useful resource, 5 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I’m not a medical doctor, but a philosopher who researches and occasionally teaches in medical ethics. As such, I’m not in this book’s target audience, but nonetheless I thought it a useful resource for medical professionals (primarily doctors, since nurses and others are likely to have their own guidelines).

Each chapter starts with examples of some real life dilemmas and the subsequent discussion runs through both ethical and legal considerations – acknowledging, where necessary, legal differences within the UK and matters of legal uncertainty. Real life cases are also used to illustrate good and bad practice. While there’s very brief mention of ethical theories in the introduction, this isn’t a book that gets bogged down in abstract theorising, beyond affirming some basic concepts such as the importance of patient autonomy (the approach could therefore be likened to that of Beauchamp and Childress).

This book isn’t as comprehensive as the companion volume, Medical Ethics Today (which I haven’t read), but focuses on more common, practical issues. Practitioners will, of course, need to be aware of any changes in medical law, but this is an accessible introduction to how to think about choices that aren’t mandated by law.


AmazonBasics DSLR and Laptop Backpack with Grey Interior
AmazonBasics DSLR and Laptop Backpack with Grey Interior
Price: £36.99

4.0 out of 5 stars My first choice, 16 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is one of two laptop bags that I own (the other being from Case Logic) and, while I never feel entirely happy carrying my laptop around, this is the one I trust more. While it doesn’t have a pouch that holds the laptop firmly in place, the cushioned padding is thicker and there’s also the camera section, which provides a bit of extra space/padding. I don’t have a camera, so I use that space for various other things, including laptop cables, my glasses, and sometimes a bottle of water. The various dividers make the space less useful than it could be, but at least they can be moved around as needed and hold whatever’s inside securely. I don’t take my laptop outside the house very often but, when I need to, this is the bag I go to first.


Case Logic Backpack for 15 inch Evolution Plus Laptop/Tablet
Case Logic Backpack for 15 inch Evolution Plus Laptop/Tablet
Price: £37.09

3.0 out of 5 stars Now my everyday bag, 16 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I don’t often carry my laptop outside of the house and when I do I already have a satchel-type case for it anyway, but I thought that this would be handy for carrying the laptop and other things – especially since my previous backpack (which was large enough to take the laptop case) broke.

As others have said, this bag – while padded – doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence about the safety of a laptop inside. It’s fine if you’re just walking along, but I’m very glad that my laptop wasn’t inside when I dropped the bag the other day.

Given that I needed a new backpack, this has now become my standard daily work bag. It has plenty of handy pockets and I use the pouch to hold files or other papers. While the padding means there’s less room for other things, like shopping, than my old backpack, the padding helps to protect whatever’s in there – I just don’t trust it with my laptop.


Colour Deconstructed
Colour Deconstructed
by Tricia Guild
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.40

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Colour me unimpressed, 19 May 2014
This review is from: Colour Deconstructed (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I ordered this without having much idea of what to expect. Though I’m not particularly interested in home decorating, I do dabble in painting and thought that I might learn a bit of colour theory. Sadly, I was disappointed as there’s very little about complementary colours and so forth. In fact, there’s not a lot of text at all; most of the book is ‘arty’ photographs which didn’t, in my opinion, give a very good impression of the rooms in question, with a page and a half or so of rather pretentious text introducing each chapter. It was mildly interesting to flick through, but I doubt I’ll be ‘reading’ much again.


Night School: Wake up to the power of sleep
Night School: Wake up to the power of sleep
by Richard Wiseman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eye Opening, 17 April 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
According to Richard Wiseman, the importance of sleep is neglected in modern society. This is certainly plausible, with many of us burning the candle at both ends. This book serves as something of a public information service – he even suggests that most of its lessons should be taught in schools! (I note that one reviewer has criticised its over-simplicity, but this is supposed to be what, in Wiseman’s view, everyone should be taught – not a university-level textbook.)

It begins with a bit of science about the stages of sleep and then the importance of getting enough sleep to one’s general functioning and, consequently, health and happiness. Different people may have different needs, and different needs at different times, but if you’re not getting enough sleep then your alertness will be diminished and you’ll be at increased risk of accident. A lot of the rest of the book is devoted to how to improve one’s sleep, both in quantity and quality, though along the way it tackles night terrors, dreams, sleepwalking, and much else.

I found the style reasonably engaging; it’s certainly not a dry, academic text, even if the attempts at humour often came across as forced (some of the results described were funny in themselves though). As with other popular science type books, such as Freakonomics or Thinking Fast and Slow, there was a clear attempt to add ‘human interest’ by including biographical details about both the author and those whose work was discussed. Personally, I think that’s dispensable – it’s findings about sleep that I want to learn about, not who came up with them – but I guess market research shows that most of the public prefer this writing style.

Throughout there are little tips and exercises for improving one’s sleep (all with a disclaimer that you should seek professional help if you have severe problems). It’s not, as some might want, a book that will help you to reduce the sleep you need, in order to be more productive – the main theme of the book is that sleep is not ‘wasted time’ but something we should do more of, with daytime naps apparently increasing productivity. I’m not sure it will do anything to change my habits, but it’s certainly opened my eyes to the importance of shut eye.


McAfee Total Protection 2014 - 3 User - 1 Year (PC)
McAfee Total Protection 2014 - 3 User - 1 Year (PC)

4.0 out of 5 stars Works fine (I hope) but can cause 'go slows', 16 April 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My girlfriend and I had been using Kaspersky anti-virus/security products for the past three years or so and were quite happy with them, but we decided to give this a try since I was offered a free review copy.

Installation was fairly smooth. Though we had a CD the instructions recommend downloading the programme from the internet, presumably to get the most up-to-date version. My girlfriend had to do that anyway, since her laptop doesn’t have a CD drive. Since we’re on limited bandwidth, I tried using the CD, but that turned out to be less straightforward – it refused to work without being connected to the internet, so I don’t really see what the point was.

We’ve been using it now for around a month and, so far, it hasn’t found any problems. Hopefully this means it’s working and we’re safe! I do like the way it checks website links and lets me know which are safe and which may not be, though given that it flags warnings about some seemingly innocuous forums I do wonder whether it’s a touch over-protective.

I don’t find either it or its updates obtrusive, though my girlfriend says it gives her computer/browser bouts of the ‘go slows’ as it updates each day (and our bandwidth usage also seems to have gone up a bit, which might be connected). I think, given the choice of renewing this next year or going back to Kaspersky, we’ll probably do the latter based on my girlfriend’s experience (I’m pretty indifferent), but this will work fine until the licence expires.


Weetabix Strawberry Breakfast Drink 250 ml (Pack of 8)
Weetabix Strawberry Breakfast Drink 250 ml (Pack of 8)
Price: £11.92

3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, but no replacement for breakfast, 16 April 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I thought I’d give these a try as a healthy treat to have on the go – perhaps a replacement for elevenses but I certainly wouldn’t replace my breakfast with a drink. They’re ok. Though they contain some real strawberry puree, they’re quite thin – almost watery – so more like a milkshake than a smoothie in consistency. While I didn’t find the taste especially nice, I didn’t dislike it either. That they’re packed with added vitamins is a bonus. I doubt I’d buy them, because I don’t usually buy such things anyway, but I’d happily accept more if offered.


Alpen Porridge Raspberry and Apple 40 g (Pack of 4)
Alpen Porridge Raspberry and Apple 40 g (Pack of 4)

3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, 20 Mar 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I’m not a great porridge eater, though it’s certainly a useful standby for early/cold mornings. Usually, I’d just put plain oats and (soya) milk in the microwave anyway, so the advantage of these sachets was not their convenience but that they offered something a bit more interesting, with their promise of raisins, apple, and raspberry pieces. (Personally, I thought that a slightly odd combination and would have been happier with just two of those three.)

It comes in individual-sized portions and the sachets are even marked with a line for measuring the ‘right’ quantity of milk – though of course this can be varied to taste. I prefer my porridge fairly thin/runny. The fruit did make the bowl slightly more exciting, but I wouldn’t describe any of it as ‘juicy’ (as it does on the box) since it’s only dried fruit. Adding fresh fruit pieces to regular porridge would definitely produce more appetising results, if you have it to hand (here, I suppose, is where this is more convenient).

I found the portion sizes rather small for my liking (though I am a large man with a good appetite). If I’d been making my own porridge, I’d probably have had about 50% more. That aside, these were perfectly adequate, but nothing special.


"Tacwise Duo 50 Electric Staple/Nail Gun "
"Tacwise Duo 50 Electric Staple/Nail Gun "
Price: £114.93

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Could do with a longer cable, 26 Feb 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I had some loose planks of wood in my garden fence that needed nailing back into place and this was just the job – put in place, pull the trigger, and bang the nail is in. If anything, it’s a bit too forceful – it left something of a dent in the wood where the nail was driven in – but that was probably because I removed the plastic guard piece (I thought that was only necessary where you want a particularly smooth finish but, if in doubt, I suggest you err on the side of using it). Overall, I’m very impressed with how quick and easy this is to use. The downside, however, is that the cable is rather short. Even though I was using an (outdoor) extension lead, which I normally use with the strimmer on my lawn, I couldn’t reach the bits of fence that were most in need of repair. This will be handy in many cases, but I’d recommend keeping a hammer as back up.


Bosch Quigo Cross Line Laser Level
Bosch Quigo Cross Line Laser Level
Price: £44.95

0 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hi-tech spirit level, 16 Feb 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a small cube housing a laser that, when activated, projects two intersecting red lines. When I ordered it, I didn’t have any particular purpose in mind for it, but I figured it sounded like something that may prove useful, even though I’m not much of a DIYer. To be honest, I’ve not found much use for it yet. It really is designed to project onto an opposing wall or some such and not useful for up-close detail work (where I might well have found hobby/craft use for it). Moreover, though the lines are supposed to adjust to vertical/horizontal, they can only do so if the cube is itself pretty close to level, so you can’t simply hold it any old way up and expect magic results (hence the clamp provided).

No doubt if you’re a painter and decorator or something then this might prove handy, but personally I think an old-fashioned spirit level works fine and it’s not often I even need one of those. Consequently, I’m glad that I was offered this for review rather than buying it. That’s not to say that it’s a bad product, just that I think it’s very expensive for only occasional (in my case, probably very occasional) use. Oh and, as others have said, the packaging is a real pain – it took me several minutes to get into it, using a knife.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 28, 2014 2:10 PM GMT


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