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C. Nation "chrisnation" (Bristol UK)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A game of two halves, Brian, 30 April 2009
This product is fine until the lugs on the sides, which clip together to hold the two halves together, snap off.

This they will do chop-chop. Or even sooner.

So you are left with the two halves. These go in the bin

Then you buy one of those silicone skins which protect yr device from knocks [the plastic case also cracked very easily] and are 'sticky' enough to save yr device from sliding off surfaces like car dashboards.

So forget this awful plastic thing.

Russell Hobbs 13361 Glass 4 Slice Toaster (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Russell Hobbs 13361 Glass 4 Slice Toaster (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It toasts very well and it looks stylish, 18 Feb 2009
I've been using one of these for about 3 years now. It toasts evenly on both sides. It has room for two slices from a standard 800 gram loaf. It looks very stylish. Mission accomplished.

I'm sure other models produce toast just as well at half the cost, so if a premium of 25-30 for the snazzy looks is in your budget, go for it.

The only reservation I would have is that Russell Hobbs products as a whole have a less than encouraging reputation for reliability. As in the case of the toaster in my description, getting a reliable device is a matter of chance.

Toshiba 42XV555 DB - 42" Widescreen 1080P Full HD LCD TV - With Freeview
Toshiba 42XV555 DB - 42" Widescreen 1080P Full HD LCD TV - With Freeview

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Can't keep my eyes off it!, 7 Jan 2009
Ante-script. Somehow [digit trouble] I seem to have given this TV a 3 star rating. This was not my intention. I'd like to give it 4.5 stars but will settle on 4 stars on account of the sound rattle problem and lack of 100HZ engine.

My broadcast techie mate [now back in Poland trying to keep the steam-driven Polish TV service from falling over on a regular basis] was a bit sniffy about me chopping my CRT 28" Tosh for an LCD screen of any sort. So when I got this 42" Tosh, he sent me a text saying I was crazy but the fact is - I love this TV.

Since I've had it, my TV watching has increased about 70%! I find myself watching all sorts of trash TV just because it looks so flippin' good. The old CRT Tosh had a very sharp picture and I was a bit afeared that an LCD screen would be a step back in that respect but I'm very pleased to find that it's not.

Comments elsewhere that the sound can produce a rattle from the bodywork are regrettably true. It doesn't occur on a consistent basis, so is difficult to diagnose and, for me, is not intrusive enough for me to reject this TV. I have it hooked up to my high quality stereo audio rig, so can eliminate the problem that way if I need to. The sound itself is interesting, producing whacky spatial effects on occasions - presumably when the broadcasters intend.

The main thing I like about this TV is that it has resolved the viewing distance/screen size problem I had. From my viewing position I now get realistic sized images at a distance that minimises the chance of being disturbed by seeing pixilation and other artefacts. The fact that it is so sharp, produces such high quality images, is almost a bonus - but it does perform very well indeed.

At this price, I guess 100Hz is not really on - the manufacturers have to keep some degree of added-value option up their sleeves in order to have premium-priced models in their catalogues. As I'm not interested in gaming, motion blur is less critical for me and from what I can see from broadcast and DVD reproduction, it is not a problem for this TV.

One last point: if in doubt about screen size, go for the bigger one. As with shoes, better one size too big than one size to small, i.m.h.o. I dithered over 37" v 42" and am very happy to have gone for 42".

B.T.W. this TV can be had for less than the price posted here & with 12 months 0% interest from that chain that sounds like it should sell tikkas and tandooris.

The Waste Land, Four Quartets and Other Poems
The Waste Land, Four Quartets and Other Poems
by T. S. Eliot
Edition: Audio CD

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only Eliot will do., 15 Dec 2008
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I used to listen to The Four Quartets on 12" vinyl, read by Eliot. Apart from the wonderful poetry, his very voice has echoed in my mind these past 30 years since I last heard the recording.

There are phrases which, in his reading, have stayed with me: "human kind can not bear very much reality", "all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well." "We shall not cease from exploration and the end of our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

They say that Paul Scofield's reading is magnificent. I don't know: I've not heard it. But, however good, it cannot compare with the author himself reading this work. It is, in a word, sublime.

And - BONUS TIME! Amazon's listing has it that this is an audio cassette edition. Not so - it's CD! I was getting all worked up about having to get the cassettes copied to CD but note: 'HCCD 1164' [Harper Collins] is a 2-CD set. So 4 Quartets can go straight into my Sony MP3 player. Magic.


5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent performance and seemingly inifinite battery life., 1 Dec 2008
I have TomTom euromapping in my Nokia e61, with Joanna Lumley's sexy Ab Fab 'Patsy' voice giving me the instructions [eg "You have reached your destination, dahling!"], so when the Nokia is in GPS mode, it is called Joanna.

To make it work, I have this GPS receiver. It is a lot more efficient than Edina's P.A., Bubbles, but because it is so small and neat and goes on and on, 'Bubbles' is what it is called.

And it works brilliantly. I have a Navman N60i GPS unit and Bubbles finds the sats faster than the N60. I don't know whether it's a function of the software or the speed of response of the hardware - I suspect this latter - but Joanna and Bubbles also update themselves quite a bit faster than the N60 on complex junctions like a big roundabout with multiple exits.

This is absolutely vital on a spaghetti junction M/way interchange - some of the interchanges in Holland and Belgium make Spaghetti Junction at Brum look dead simple. With Bubbles and Joanna, I can actually track my position second by second on the interchange, the mapping constantly reorientating as you change direction. With the N60, the mapping 'sticks' at the point where you come up to the junction/interchange and then updates itself once you've made your move. Sometimes, that's just too late from saving you taking the wrong exit - and if you do that on an M/way, you might go 20 miles round trip to get back on track.

I have no idea how long the battery will run on a charge because Bubbles has never run flat. I use this device for whole long days at a time, taking clients touring the WW1 battlefields of France and Flanders. I have frequently left Bubbles on all night, or found it has switched itself on in my pocket [the on-off switch is a bit too easy to move and can catch against something in a pocket or bag] and it has run all next day, too.

So if they say 30 hrs run-time, I'm inclined to believe it.

All in all, I prefer Joanna and Bubbles to my stand-alone Navman. between them, they perform better.

International Road Atlases - 2008 Collins Road Atlas Europe
International Road Atlases - 2008 Collins Road Atlas Europe

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you've got to have Europe in one atlas, it might as well be this one., 18 Nov 2008
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Although I have two GPS units, in the spirit of maritime navigation lore, I regard GPS and other gizmos as merely aides to navigation. However good the satnav service is, the gizmo itself - or maybe both - may go down. You need good old paper maps and charts to fall back on.

I bought this atlas because I felt it's a a bit naff taking clients across France, Belgium and into Holland, to tour the areas involved in 'Operation Market Garden' [Sept 1944 a.k.a. 'A Bridge Too Far'] with only satnav to navigate with.

So it was I bought this atlas and parked it in a prominent position in the bus to show the punters I was a belt-and-braces kinda guy and I was not going to get them lost.

As it says on the cover, its a road atlas of Europe. In fact, it's the EU plus a bit of eastern Turkey. If you need to drive from the village of Gamvic in northern Finland, to Faro in Portugal, this atlas will get you there.

It's got a brief summary of some of the major legal requirements of various countries. Two warning triangles for Spain, for instance. These and hi-viz vests [along with a single triangle, mandatory in France now] must be inside the car, not in the boot. Useful info, this.

The problem is that the scale is so small, to accommodate this all-encompassing coverage, that detail in the bits between major towns and off the m/ways is just about OK to work round a major m/way hold-up, say, but not much use for cruising the area. Collins have acknowledged this problem by adding, at the end of the mapping pages, 6 sides in a larger scale of a rectangle of the most densely built-up part of northwest europe, from Lille and Amsterdam in the west to Wurtsburg and Ulm in the east.

The city maps are only as basic as needed to get you from your approach m/way to the centre or an adjacent area. All are presented on the same size panel, about the size of a postcard. If a city has a ringroad or m/way 'periferique', the city is shown with that as the boundary. So London, for instance, shown within the M25, is 40+ miles across x 30+ miles deep. Edinburgh, bounded by the A720 and A902 with plenty of the Firth of Forth to the north and the Pentland Hills to the south, is 20 miles x 15 on the same size panel. Knowing both these cities well, I'd have a stab at finding Edinburgh Castle using the Edinburgh map but the British Museum on the London map? No chance. The scale is so small that inside the Norrf/Sarrf Circular, there's no room for the names of any boroughs, just a few stars marking Buck House, the B.M. the Hs.o.P. Pretty useless.

The perennial problem of the binding comes up. Do you go for ring-bound, which will lie flat when opened but create a substantial gap between adjacent pages, or do you go for glued or stapled? Continuous mapping but won't lie flat - glued much worse in this respect than stapled.

My experience of glued binding of road atlases is that if you bend the pages back or otherwise try to get the pages to lie flat, single pages soon come unglued, so when it goes AWOL [it will], you've lost 2 sides of mapping. Worse, stapled double-page spreads make holes around the staples and that loses you 4 sides of mapping. Most of the major road atlas are available in both ring bound and stapled. Stapled is better if someone is riding shotgun but ring bound is better if you're going solo.

So the upshot is this. If, like a truckie, you drive hundreds of miles in any one day and you already know your way round a destination city, this atlas is a good one to have handy if the satnav packs up.

If you need more detail to actually get around and see something in a visit to an area, or you need to drive around in a city, you're going to need another atlas for that country and maybe some city maps, too.

But, as I said, my copy is only really for show and I see that a punter has planted a dirty great muddy footprint on the front cover during my last visit to the WW1 battlefields around Mons. Good job the cover is wipeable and that the book wasn't open at the right page ...

Navman N60i Portable Car Navigation System With European Mapping
Navman N60i Portable Car Navigation System With European Mapping

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Badly let down by some important shortcomings, 13 Nov 2008
I have this N60i unit and T/Tom Euro mapping in a Nokia e61.

Firstly, the screen size. The N/man screen is over twice the width of my Nokia screen [and about the same depth]. The extra width is redundant - not worth paying for. In addition, widescreen units result in a much bigger lump to carry about/store. My phone goes into my shirt pocket. The N60 has to go in a bag or br/case. It's over 4x the volume and weight of the Nok. One aspect of the size I would have expected to see is massive battery life from a big, meaty cell. Not so. The juice runs out on this unit in 1 hr- the Nokia will run TomTom Nav 6 for 6 hrs! It's absolutely essential to run this unit from the car outlet. It's driving all those pointless pixels, see?

As another reviewer has mentioned, the dragging and screen response to tapping is far from satisfactory. On my Nokia, I can navigate the cursor around a map with a 4-way toggle switch. This is accurate, fast and consistent. None of these attributes are shared by the Navman's dragging function. I have found myself scratching away at the screen like a dog at a flea bite.

Messages that pop up on screen will not go away and let you see the map again until you have tapped your choice. When another message follows immediately on clearing the first, this is really irritating, especially if they happen to come up just when you are negotiating some tricky routing. An example of this is a message asking if you will accept a route that involves toll roads. Heading through France towards a UK destination, this message always appears and is immediately followed by another asking if you realise that "one or more ferry crossings" are necessary. Don't think that once you've answered these two questions, you have finished with them. I have found these two messages coming up repeatedly over the course of a two hour trip, sometimes two or three times in instant succession. I'm tapping away at the screen like I'm trying to kill a mosquito.... I guess the ferry warning could be avoided by routing just to Calais but then another shortcoming immediately rears its head: a real clanger.

Now you've arrived in Calais and are waiting to load. What better time to plot the route from Dover to The Union Jack Club in Sendell St. London SE? No can do. The Navman will only let you plan a route from your present position. This is a really major failing. I am often asked by clients for info about trips we will be making in days to come. This is entirely possible with T/tom s/ware but not with Navman. This drawback alone is very good reason to reject this unit. On tour, I often play around with different routings, some of which will depend on how much time clients spend in any one spot, others may be weather-dependent and so on. Not being able to do this makes any satnav unable to allow advance routing useless for road professionals and highly limiting for amateurs.

With these critical points made, how come I don't give my Navman 1 star and put it on ebay?

1] It does work well purely as a satnav and is a one-lump backup if I lose either my phone [physically or in any other way] and/or the walnut-size Bluetooth satellite receiver needed to feed it data.

2] The Navpix facility is not the gimmick that reviewers, esp in the mags when the Navpix units first appeared, declared it to be. In fact, I wrote to Navman pointing out that Navpix would find many users and the camera ought to be of far greater resolution, to make it useful for producing acceptable quality prints for presentation or display.

In my own case, now that I am doing WW1/2 battlefield tours in Europe, I find the Navpix facility invaluable for building a library of spots, some merely fields or woods out in La France Profonde, others small military cemeteries that clients wish to visit, lost out in the country in a maze of farm lanes.

Do not buy this unit for its w/screen: I assure you, you don't need it. Don't buy it if portability is a consideration. Don't buy it if you would like to use it on battery power for extended [1 hr+] periods. Think carefully about buying it if advanced route planning is at all interesting to you. Avoid at all costs if advance routing is essential to you.

Buy it if the Navpix faciltiy will help you in your work. Then buy a TomTom to avoid the downsides.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 6, 2009 12:55 PM BST

Andalus: Unlocking the Secrets of Moorish Spain
Andalus: Unlocking the Secrets of Moorish Spain
by Jason Webster
Edition: Hardcover

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Webster. Poor exploration of the subject., 11 Aug 2008
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I was ill-abed when I read this book, pretty much straight through in one go. It is ideal for that sort of situation because Jason Webster is no slouch with a sentence. He can and does write interestingly.

The problem with this book is that he does not have anything original or even particularly interesting to say about the residual influences of mediaeval Moorish culture on current Spanish life.

He repeatedly uses the 'example' of 'hola!' being derived from 'Allah'. Well, 'hello', which seems clearly derived from the same root, is given in the Oxford Concise as derived from the identical word 'hola' in French, being a conjunction of 'ho!'[hey!] and la ['there!']. I'm as inclined to believe this version as the Allah one, perhaps more so as the use in French cannot be influenced by Arabic 'Allah'.

There was another example of mis-attribution to Arabic culture of something concerned with navigation and seafaring, which I happened to know was certainly wrong [being a bit of an old salt, m'self] but I'm sorry to say that as I write, I just can't remember what it was [I mentioned I was ill at the time, you recall], so until I find it and add it to a comment following this review, you'll have to take my word for it. Suffice to say that Webster has been pretty weak with the ground-work and research required to make his attributions soundly based and believable. The result is paper-thin evidentially and thus entirely untrustworthy as a proposition

Jason Webster can tell a story well. His personal narrative in his book 'Duende' proves this. But why are some of the stories recounted here in what is intended, we are led to understand, to be a serious exposition of a major cultural omission [if such it proves to be] from the Spanish view of themselves and their present culture? The tale of his escapades with Zine, the Moroccan he feels obliged to help out after his escape from the mafiosi tomato farmers, is a slim branch to hang the Moorish quest on and it often gives way completely. Other episodes, like the Nativity gig in the pole-dancing club, are amusing but entirely irrelevant, pure filler.

His publishers recognise Jason Webster as a talented writer. His book 'Duende' was a success both as writing and as a narrative. He has published 'Andalus' and another, 'Guerra' on the strength of the first book and both these later two, being explorations of something 'hidden' in Spanish society and culture, fail because Jason Webster is not equipped with sufficient depth of knowledge nor rigour of research to do them justice.

Sony NWZA818 - 8GB Video MP3 Walkman - Upto 30hrs Battery Life - Black
Sony NWZA818 - 8GB Video MP3 Walkman - Upto 30hrs Battery Life - Black

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely superb player and transfer softwware. No mains charger, though., 11 Aug 2008
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After an awful time with 2 Creative Zen Vs, one of which was incurably corrupt and the other unworkable with Creative's s/ware, I wrote off the 28 I spent on this garbage and went for the Sony. Can 138 5* reviews be wrong? NO!

This player is so good. Why? Sound quality: really superb. Ease of music transfer: very easy indeed. Operation: simple, intuitive. Options: The EQ and other options for repro are outstanding. Design: sleek & neat. Manufacture: it's metal, not cheap-feeling plastic [like the Zen]

AS a music player, this device ticks all the boxes. There are those who moan about watching videos on it. Why anyone would want to watch a video on a screen the size of a Christmas postage stamp, I can't think. What a waste of file space.

So why deduct 1 star? I think that Sony have seriously short changed us by not including a mains charger. After all, this player almost certainly will go on the road with its owner, way out of reach of a recharge from a prolonged spell connected to a PC. Someone has mentioned, in a comment on a review, a charger 'on eBay/Amazon for 5'. I have not found one on Amazon, probably because Sony themselves do not list one in the accessories available for the NWZ-8xx series. I have found a useful mains + car-charger + USB cable for 20 inc p n p from Singapore on eBay. They say that the cable is a genuine Sony one. Why Sony don't even list one is a big mystery and rather dopey.

There's been some rather petulant spouting about file types and compression rates versus library size. I have written in more detail about this as a comment to one of the 1 star reviews but I'll summarise by saying that this player will provide anybody with less than barn-owl hearing ability and studio quality headphones with many hours of pleasure listening to music transfered at at least 128 kbps. This is NOT cd quality but for most people, in most realistic listening situations, it's perfectly adequate. I was prepared to trade 25% library space by using 160kbps for a notional 25% increase in quality - but only probably audible in a quiet hotel room or such.

The only way I can think of to improve on this 8Gb player is to get one with more capacity. Then maybe go for the wireless Bluetooth option. I've heard an MP3 player [don't know which make/model] through Bluetooth cans and the sound was brilliant.

Finally: the Zen V which was a complete dud was ceremonially stamped to atoms under a stout boot heel. It was all it was worth.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 1, 2008 6:27 PM GMT

Wine Report 2008
Wine Report 2008
by Tom Stevenson
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a guide for buying wines, 30 Jun 2008
This review is from: Wine Report 2008 (Hardcover)
My experience with this book is that it is more or less useless as a guide to what to buy. It's really a wine industry yearbook - yields, hectalitres produced here, hectares under vine there - all sorts of stats and reports from the wine-producing and marketing world.

For a wine buying guide, give this a wide berth and head in the direction of Oz Clarke.

Better still, DIY. I've given up buying wine guides.

If you have a PDA, phone or other handheld that you always carry around & will do spreadsheets or text, save yourself the cost of a book and make up your own guide. Just rate the the stuff that you actually buy from the shelves of the shops you go to regularly or wine you get a taste of from someone else's bottle. Score XX/20 plus a brief note is all you need, along with the i.d. from the label. Dig your gizmo out as you stand in front of all those bottles ... this way I have discovered loads of wines that I now buy over and over again that have never featured in any guide. They can't taste them all, can they?

The merit of this DIY system is that if you buy a BOGOF, 2fer or, particularly, one that is usually priced more than you like to spend, you can note it [if it's any good] and build up a data base that will provide you with a list of wines that you like that are, from time to time, temporarily in your price range. A great eg of this is Nero d'Avola Sicilian red from Tesco. This is usually 8. Priced at 3.99 I was happy to give it a go. It was terrific. Well, I've just discovered it's an IWC Silver Medallist - at 8. At half price, it's a steal.

So now it's in my data as one to buy when they run another offer on it, which they will. A book will not give you this info. Worse, they often feature a wine - or even a whole range of wines - that never actually make it onto the stock list of the supermaket. One of Oz Clarke's Supermarket Superheroes suffered this fate at Morrisons. His purple prose was wasted on a range of wines that didn't exist! The replacements were plonk.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 18, 2008 5:54 PM GMT

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