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Ben Saunders (Stirling, Scotland)
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Dettol Antibacterial Laundry Cleanser Powder 990 g (Pack of 3)
Dettol Antibacterial Laundry Cleanser Powder 990 g (Pack of 3)
Price: £22.50

3.0 out of 5 stars Clean, but not easy, 1 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My partner and I do most of our washing at 30 degrees, using eco wash balls rather than powder (though we do sheets and towels at 60). Though we’re normally happy with the results, I thought it might be worth giving this a try, to kill off any bacteria that might survive the process.

The instructions say to mix a spoon of the powder in to 2 litres of warm water and soak garments for 5 minutes, before putting them through the wash normally. I have to say that this struck me as a lot of effort. Thankfully, our washing machine is next to the utility room sink, but still it makes the whole process of putting laundry on take longer and inevitably results in water dripping all over the floor, and white residue all over the metal sink. (I am tempted to try just putting the powder in the machine, but haven’t done this.)

I should say that I’m pleased enough with the results. When I first tried the powder, it did make a noticeable difference – although this may have been only because I’m not used to the small of cleaning chemicals on our clothes. However, I’m not convinced that it’s worth the extra effort involved: we’ll continue to use up what we have, but I doubt we’ll bother buying any more.


Linksys RE4000W Universal Dual Band N600 Pro Wi-Fi Range Extender (2 x Ethernet, Flexible Placement, Easy Set Up, WPS)
Linksys RE4000W Universal Dual Band N600 Pro Wi-Fi Range Extender (2 x Ethernet, Flexible Placement, Easy Set Up, WPS)
Price: £44.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fiddly to set up, 13 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We use BT Broadband with one of their Homehubs (number 4, if I remember rightly). We sometimes used to find that this didn’t provide good reception throughout the whole house though, since moving to a smaller house last year, that hadn’t really been a problem anyway. I ordered this primarily with a view to using my laptop in the conservatory, or even garden, once spring/summer arrives, but haven’t yet had chance to try that.

Set up was rather frustrating. The instructions provided are very minimal, so I ended up consulting a number of online guides and reviews before I managed it – though it turned out that part of the problem was the fiddly power button! Once set up, it’s not been a problem. Be warned though that the connection it initially sets up is not secured. I hope this is no longer the case, though I can’t remember exactly what it was I had to do to secure it.

It’s hard to say much about how effective a range booster it is, since we hadn’t been having many problems on that front lately, but we do keep this downstairs (the router being upstairs). It’s handy that we have the option of plugging an Ethernet cable in directly – that would actually have been very useful in our previous house (and before I got my own laptop), since I could have re-sited the router whilst still being able to use my old desktop in the ex-garage conversion.

The one thing I don’t like, though it’s only a small point, is that my laptop now connects automatically to our home network. Since we have a metered connection, I previously set it not to do that, only connecting when I actually want to be connected, but it now keeps over-riding that.


McAfee Internet Security 2015 - 3 PC (PC) [Frustration-Free Packaging]
McAfee Internet Security 2015 - 3 PC (PC) [Frustration-Free Packaging]
Price: £32.05

4.0 out of 5 stars Ok so far, 13 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I had been using Macfee’s Total Protection 2014, without problems, so was happy to stick with them when offered this product. I should say that this is Internet Security, though I’m not really sure of the difference. I’m not interested in various bells and whistles, such as parental controls; I only need anti-virus and site advisor and this product provides those (as did the other).

Having to download the product, rather than having a physical CD, was a bit annoying since we have limited bandwidth, but at least it means you get the latest version right away, rather than needing to install and then update. Installation was relatively pain-free once I’d remembered the password for the Macafee account that I set up last year. I was disappointed, however, that the one-year licence was not added to what remained on my previous subscription – I actually had over a month of the previous subscription still to run, but that was lost (and without warning). Not a huge deal, since I was offered the product free (otherwise, I would have waited), but a little annoying all the same.

My partner and I have each been using the product for several weeks and neither of us have experienced any virus problems or noticeable performance problems due to the anti-virus (which I have experienced with other packages). Obviously it’s hard to say whether the anti-virus has really done anything or not, but it does claim to have blocked and/or quarantined a couple of potentially malicious files. I do wonder whether it may be a little over zealous, since the site advisor warns me about some seemingly innocuous forums, but I guess I’d rather a false positive than a false negative.

Overall, I’m happy so far and would certainly accept the 2016 product if offered – though, if possible, I’d wait for my licence to expire before installing it.


Ultralieve Personal Ultrasound Therapy
Ultralieve Personal Ultrasound Therapy
Price: £115.26

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to know really..., 23 Dec. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My partner and I both suffer from occasional chronic pain – me in my lower back and her in her hand/wrist. While I haven’t tried anything like this before, I thought there wasn’t much to lose from giving it a try.

To be honest, we haven’t really managed to integrate it into our regular schedule, so it only gets occasional use (normally when the pain is bad). I think this is largely because it’s a bit of a faff: you have to be prepared to sit around for at least 10-15 minutes rubbing the head over the affected area (or, if you can’t reach easily, it takes two of you). The power cord could do with being a bit longer, to make it easier to find a suitable position, and the need to use gel (and clean the head afterwards), all makes it too much trouble for regular use (in our experience).

Given this, I can’t really comment on the benefits of regular, sustained use but, based on my somewhat sporadic trials over 6 months or so, it’s by no means a miracle cure but I have sometimes felt better after using it. Of course, this is no scientific test – maybe the affect is largely psychological (making the whole thing effectively a placebo), or maybe it’s just more likely that after any given ‘bad day’ I’d feel somewhat better the next day anyway – but it’s enough that I’m still inclined to give myself a little treatment session from time to time, when my back is sore.


AmazonBasics DSLR Gadget Messenger Bag Medium with Grey Interior
AmazonBasics DSLR Gadget Messenger Bag Medium with Grey Interior
Price: £16.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Handy bag for other purposes too, 23 Dec. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I don’t actually own a DSLR camera, but I ordered this as a handy padded bag for transporting breakables. Though it doesn’t get many outings, it was useful when we moved house – some delicate plastic models survived the back of a Pickfords van in here, so that’s good enough for me.

Like other products from the Amazon Basics range that I’ve tried, including a laptop bag, it seems pretty sturdy and well made. Perhaps it wouldn’t stand up to particularly rough treatment, but I don’t intend to subject it to such with fragile items inside.

If you want a carrying case for your camera, with a bit of extra protection, but don’t want to break the bank then this is a good choice.


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
Offered by DiscountDiscs
Price: £33.85

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: £16.10

3 of 4 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.


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