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Dan Craggs (South Wales, UK)

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Pocket Guide to GastrointestinaI Drugs
Pocket Guide to GastrointestinaI Drugs
by M. Michael Wolfe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £39.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough and extremely well presented, 7 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Firstly, it's important to note the trustworthiness of the material in this book. Whilst only two names appear on the cover, the book lists five pages of contributors from across the medical community and GI specialism.

The book itself is split initially into chapters for the differing sections of the GI system, with subsections covering the various medicine classes. Each subsection is written by the different contributors mentioned above, ensuring that the material is written by those most qualified to do so. There are also sections for parasitic infection, probiotics, antibiotic therapy, and vaccines as they relate to the GI system.

The material is very thorough, with background and relations to other medications provided where appropriate. You are given the standard information you'd expect such as standard dose, interactions, adverse effects, and mechanisms of action. What are nice to see though are more generic introductions to each drug class, as well as discussions on clinical effectiveness.

All of the material is nicely laid out and written in an easy to follow manner, and where appropriate diagrams and charts are used to better illustrate points. You also are provided with recommended reading lists for each chapter should you wish to explore further.

Overall, the compact size of this book can be deceiving, as the material contained within is very thorough and very complete. Wolfe and Lowe have done a great job of making it all very accessible and keeping the detail consistent across sections. Do note though, this isn't a book you'll want for casual perusing as a worried parent or such. But if you want a superb reference guide on your shelf for GI medications, this is definitely a strong contender.

Rapesco Stapler, Stapling Plier for rapid stapling
Rapesco Stapler, Stapling Plier for rapid stapling
Price: £13.86

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rugged and with a mouth to rival Jaws, 24 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
You've probably been there. You need to staple a lot of paper, and your stapler isn't up to the job. You squeeze, and a staple lodges itself in the first few sheets and leaves the stapler hanging as a new appendage. You free it eventually from the dented sheet. You open the lid, and the force needed to release the jaw from the staple sends staples flying around the room. You're covered in staples, and your documents are ruined.

Okay probably not, but it's not infeasible. Many staplers just aren't up to the job, and very few can be called heavy duty. Granted you can only go so far with a handheld stapler, but the Porpoise might be as good as you're going to get.

The staples are loaded through the back, and sprung loaded into place by a slide that hooks to the main body. This does feel a little exposed and the coil pattern of the spring looks messy, but it holds them firmly in place. Also, no worries about trying to stop them escaping when you open the lid.

To put the stapler through its paces, I went to try as many standard sheets of A4 (80gsm) I could fit. 10 was fine, not that I expected otherwise. 20 was fine too. I managed to reach just over 25 sheets, until the problem wasn't with the stapler's capabilities, but with the depth of the staples themselves. It looks like as long as your paper fits on a staple, you'll be able to staple it. No problems there. It must be noted that the staples provided with the stapler look quite heavy duty, though they're definitely not non-standard.

The only issue for me with the Porpoise is the comfort. It's contoured to try and alleviate any issue, but it still can cause problems after a few uses. Maybe a wider handle, or even some rubber padding or similar might be better than the bare metal.

Overall the design is nice (even if it does look like an eel), and it definitely does the job. Its width (not much more than the staples themselves) means that it slides neatly into the tool drawer, which perhaps makes up for the increased weight compared to a lot on the market. Though I guess that's the price you pay for ruggedness.

LINDY Universal 5.25 Inch Bay Adapter for ODD/ HDD
LINDY Universal 5.25 Inch Bay Adapter for ODD/ HDD
Price: £11.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Not terribly well made, 17 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
First things first, this does what it says on the tin. After figuring out how the heck to fit a slim ODD into it (hint: use the angled part of the drive), I noticed two things. Firstly, the air grate (?) that comprises the bottom half of the front panel isn't fixed in place. It's held there by friction alone it seems, and any nudge will make it move inwards on one side or the other. To fix this, you either need to open up the PC to push it back from the inside, or use tweezers or similar to pull it back into place. I'll get around to gluing it, I'm sure.

Secondly, the ODD drawer won't close unless it's pushed from a particular part of the chassis. That might be particular to my drive, but I didn't experience the issue when it was still in the laptop. Perhaps the mount is changing the shape of the drive slightly to fit it, and this is having a side effect.

I've since also mounted an SSD 2.5" drive underneath the ODD, and this gets screwed in place from the underside. That was pretty painless, and the location means it's just above the rest of the HDDs.

So, it does what it says on the tin, but not nicely. If that tin were of fence paint, it would protect the wood and have a nice even coat, but be an odd shade of snot.

Lighting EVER® 3W E14 P45 LED Bulb, Omni-directional, Equal to 25W Incandescent Bulb ,Warm White
Lighting EVER® 3W E14 P45 LED Bulb, Omni-directional, Equal to 25W Incandescent Bulb ,Warm White
Offered by Neon Mart
Price: £12.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Very impressed, 17 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
At only 3W, I don't think I was expecting much light from this bulb. Another 2W bulb of mine produces a very dim light, just enough to light a corner. This bulb, however, seems to be much brighter than the estimated 25W equivalent.

The light is warm but still crisp, which makes a change from either cold hospital-feel LED lighting or an overcompensation with an uncomfortably warm light.

The globe does a good job of diffusing the light, and the sensible aperture angle means that you get good dispersion. I use this in a mid-width uplighter and it works well.

Not really sure I can find fault with this. It gets daily use of probably about 4 hours on average, and is still going strong. Immediate bright, clear light at a low power consumption.

Bose ® SoundTrue Around-Ear Headphones - Black
Bose ® SoundTrue Around-Ear Headphones - Black
Price: £149.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Close, but no cigar, 2 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My experience with headphones is fairly broad, having owned or used on a fairly regular basis pairs from most of the major brands. Bose is an exception to this, and the SoundTrues are my first introduction to their lineup. My day-to-day pair are Sennheiser's HD449 offering, which I've found exceptional for the price. Retailing over twice the cost, I had high hopes for the Bose and was determined to put them through their paces. I listen to a lot of music of all genres during the day at work, and at night I'm both a radio presenter on local radio and a house DJ, so I had ample opportunity.

First impressions of the Bose are very good, with them arriving in a minimal box just surrounding the headphones' carry case. The carry case itself is just big enough for the headphones, with them folding flat inside. That is, the headband stays intact but the ear cups themselves rotate 90 degrees. The zip feels smooth and very well made, which you'll definitely prefer over one that breaks a few months in. This pair isn't permanently wired, and you're provided with a 3.5-to-2.5mm four-pole cable to connect to bottom of the left ear up. It feels quite sturdy and locked when in place, though after many repeated removals I wonder how easy it would be for it to accidentally be yanked out.

A glaring omission for me was the inclusion of a 5.25mm adapter, as both our radio desk and the DJ decks I use have 5.25mm outputs. This won't be a problem for people using their phones, laptops, MP3 players (including the "made for" Apple products - because they're all that counts... right?), but really at this end of the spectrum you'd expect one to be included. When carrying the pair around, I've found I can easily store an adapter securely inside the divider pad between the ear cups.

First visual impressions are good, but the impression is definitely one of space saving rather than aesthetics. Perhaps that's the price you pay for having a pair that folds flat enough to easy slip inside a bag. The Bose logo is an understated gloss print on the satin plastic, which I think I actually prefer over a glaringly obvious logo.

Trying the headphones on, first impressions there are that they are very, very comfortable. The memory foam ear pads and headband pad are soft but well-fitting, and this doesn't seem to diminish with time. Adjustments made to the notches on each side stay put better than many of the pairs I've owned, and for such a thin pair they sit quite firmly on the head. Those with a wider head may find them a snugger fit, but I expect the memory foam would make this bearable.

Noise isolation is on the good side, though they're not touted as noise isolating. Using these in a very noisy environment is possible, but not ideal. For general office or commuter noise they do a great job though. The only real downside to the snug memory foam fit is that they can tend to make your ears a little toasty over extended periods, especially when you're actively moving about doing tasks.

Plugging these in, I encountered a problem. The four-pole plug you get to plug into your device didn't like the first socket I tried it in, a headphone extension lead. If you've ever not quite had your headphones plugged in all the way, you'll know what it sounded like. But this was in reverse, and I had to pull the headphones out slightly for them to make contact correctly. Then they didn't like the second socket, a PC front-panel output. Same problem. They did, ironically, play ball with the 5.25mm adapter that I attached to use them with our radio desk.

This troublesome extra pole is because the cable has an inline microphone very close to the earcup, and three-button control for iPods and mobile phones. The up and down buttons do nothing on my Moto G, and the middle button serves to mute the microphone. The microphone audio is surprisingly good, and the positioning is great to keep the microphone from rubbing on clothing. However, it's a little odd not being able to see the controls when the headphones are on your head, and the positioning does look a bit strange. Overall I think I'd prefer a cable without the inline microphone, but replacing it may be difficult as the socket on the ear cup has very little space around it. Finding a replacement that is small enough may prove difficult.

I've always been led to believe that Bose produce products with the best quality in the business, or at least very close. If you have something like Beats Audio cans, these will blow them out of the water. If, however, you are used to reasonable quality audio then your mileage may vary with the SoundTrues. The audio they produce can be described as 'flat' or 'hollow' (to quote two colleagues). Very low sounds are reproduced much better than I've heard before, and highs are reproduced with excellent clarity.

In fact, the sound generally is exceptionally clear. I heard instruments and quirks in songs that I'd never heard with any of my previous headphones. But the issue is with the mid-to-low frequencies, where it feels like someone's just cut out a large portion of them. Where's my rich, warm bass from my house tracks? The punch of brass sections? It's kind of there, but not really. It feels like Bose have worked wonders with half of the sound, and only glanced over the rest.

That's what makes it so difficult to decide where to place this set. On one hand, they're probably the most comfortable headphones I've ever owned. They knock the socks off a lot of what you can get in the market, and they fill in detail that many competitors simply don't. But they do so without soul. As compact headphones go, you could do an much worse. But for me to give this five stars they'd have to fill the gap that they so unfortunately leave. After much deliberation, four stars is where I put them. Let's call it "close, but no cigar," for not just the sound but the connectivity issues too.

Cirrus Earplugs Premium Soft Foam
Cirrus Earplugs Premium Soft Foam
Offered by Rubber Soul Healthcare
Price: £6.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Flawlessly designed, 14 April 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm a semi-frequent user of earplugs, mainly for sleeping but also to block out traffic noise, neighbours etc. I've tried quite a few different types both at home and away, often picking up whatever a local pharmacy or service station had to offer. Eventually, I'd settled on the Laser Lite branded plugs, and those have been with me for quite a while and have become my benchmark.

The Cirrus plugs initially look quite cheap. They look strikingly similar to a terrible pair I picked up from a service station not long ago. However, they're far from being poor quality. The foam is of a perfect consistency to remain firmly put but to not irritate. With most plugs, I have to find a sleeping position that is comfortable with them in. It may be because of the material or because of the shorter length, but I found that the Cirrus were comfortable however I decided to sleep.

The shorter length certainly helped them keep in place, whereas my current brand will frequently go wandering if I have a restless night. Noise reduction is very good. With the foam being a little denser than I'm used to, they blocked out the majority of the sound. Usually I expect to be able to hear certain frequencies, but I can't recall that being the case here. I haven't gone and stood next to a jackhammer though, so I can't vouch for very loud noises.

As for the downsides to these plugs, I would say two things. Firstly, I dislike plugs that are packed in large bags together, instead of being packed two to a pack. Whilst this saves on packaging and cost, it means that I can't easily pick up a pack and throw them into a travel bag quickly. You get a small plastic container with these of dubious durability, which I doubt would stand up to much more than a few knocks. But it's better than nothing.

Secondly, if your intention is to use these on a work site or at work, be aware that they are not particularly visible. One positive of the Laser Lites is that they are fluorescent in colour, making it very easy to see when they're being worn. With these being shorter and duller, it might be quite easy for somebody to not realise that you can't hear them or anything around you.

All around, these are probably the best earplugs I've come across in terms of wearability and comfort. I can recommend them both for sleeping and for general use, though there are a few caveats that might put some people off using them in certain circumstances.

JVC Premium Grade DVD+R - 50 Spindle Pack
JVC Premium Grade DVD+R - 50 Spindle Pack
Offered by memorycapital
Price: £11.98

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My discs of choice, 5 Feb 2012
These are now my discs of choice for burning, after having tried Verbatim, PiData, Sumvision, HP, and countless others. The Sumvision come a close second, being a reasonable dye also, but these just pip them to the post.

The spread is perfect across all discs, and a nice rich colour which makes for very good contrast once burned, unlike worse quality brands that tend to be very light in colour. Error rates remain some of the lowest I've seen, with no marked increases to note.

Burning is flawless at 8x or 16x on Optiarc drives, which actually tend to read these as supporting 24x burn despite the front only claiming 16x. I suspect you'd be fine at such a speed, as the discs have reasonable weight and rigidity.

The top is plain matt gold, with lettering done by removing the gold sheen to allow disc silver below to show. This means that the markings are not intrusive, and could certainly be covered up very well by labels.

Read compatibility has been perfect across the board, having been tried in three laptops, an old PS2, two DVD players and two PVRs. Or at least that's what I recall. Longevity seems good, with discs standing up to a bit of a beating once or twice, and showing little signs of deterioration over time.

All in all, a rock solid choice. Jumping for some more of these any day now.

by Clive Cussler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars An enthralling, fun page-turner, 20 Sep 2011
This review is from: Treasure (Paperback)
This was my first experience with a Clive Cussler novel, so I can't make comparisons to his others. But in comparison to the Stephen Coonts novel I read before it, it was miles ahead.

The central protagonist Dirk Pitt is, granted, so sickeningly charming to almost everything with a pulse. I've heard people decry this trait as implausible or downright rude, but I'd say it's part of who he is. The flirting nothings and debonair grins that flow from him are wonderful, and in fact I genuinely do know non-fictional people like this; Pitt pulls it off much better than they do.

The underlying narrative is a fairly standard 'set out to do X, encountered Y, ended up doing Z, but had to keep X running in the background too' line, but is executed with ease and with just enough detail between switches to not allow the reader to drift, but also satisfy a thirst for more. The characters are believable for the mostpart (potentially with a few bordering on the cliché, but I suppose clichés are born somewhere), and it's only one or two events which I doubted would ever occur in real life. But hey, this is fiction; we're meant to be subjected to a little insanity and escapism.

Not only is the story fun, but it is smart. Without giving too much away from the plot, Pitt and his companions play detective on an international scale, and some of the plans and counter-plans they uncover are quite ingenious. This equaled many 'ah I see what they did there!' moments.

This is a truly fun read. Serious and smart enough to get you thinking, broad enough that you don't get bored, direct enough that you don't feel lost, and with just the right amount of charm. Thoroughly recommended.

Samsung S23A300 23 inch Widescreen LED Monitor (1920 x 1080 Full HD, 5ms, DVI/VGA) - Gloss Black
Samsung S23A300 23 inch Widescreen LED Monitor (1920 x 1080 Full HD, 5ms, DVI/VGA) - Gloss Black

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully bright, lightweight, cool, 20 Sep 2011
I've used Samsung screens for a little while now. My experience record totals three computer monitors (2xLCD, 1xLED), two televisions (one each), and an AMOLED mobile device. The quality of their displays is increasing consistently, and the level is now such that it's quite difficult to find flaws.

This particular model replaces an LCD display as my main screen, connected by DVI. No, there is no HDMI input to this display, but in my mind that doesn't warrant as much uproar as some people invoke; anyone with an HDMI output can, in theory, just buy an HDMI-DVI cable or adapter and connect accordingly. I do just this for other displays at the workplace with no issues. Legacy support is included via a VGA input which, don't forget, would be used by many existing laptops to connect an external monitor.

So a small jump (arc?) to the power connectivity: It's a bit of a toss-up between building in power components and having them external. The memories of punters decrying the Xbox 360 brick are still prevalent. This model has opted for an external brick, and I'd say that is the right choice. Actually it's less of a brick, and more of a mid-size chocolate bar. Very compact, in-line, unintrusive.

The lack of extra components in the casing itself, and the low weight of the actual display components, means that it's very light. My LCD monitor required a solid grip of at least one strong hand and preferably two, whereas this can comfortably be lifted with just one. The weight without the base is actually quite laughable.

Picture quality is crisp, but I'd expect nothing less from a digital connection. But my gawd is it bright. The leap to LED is just that, a leap. Whilst the contrast ratio is only listed as technically being 1000:1, I recall the dynamic ratio being much higher. The perceived ratio is greater too. Don't forget, this technology doesn't rely on a backlight being allowed through or blocked to the best of its ability, it relies on the LEDs being switched on or off, or somewhere in between.

Additional features like the 'magic angle' (if memory serves) allow the screen to adapt to different usage scenarios and viewing angles (stood up, etc. etc.) which is likely to prove more useful to non-desktop users such as those in retail environments or those looking to wall-mount, etc. The screen border is much thinner than most monitor's I've used previously, but seems on par with what most manufacturers are now aiming for. It would probably look pretty good mounted on a wall. Oh, and the back looks pretty good too, but I'm not sure how many people are going to see that.

So what is the down side? Well, initially the colour can seem a bit washed out. Either you choose to get used to this, or you have a minor tinker with the settings, or find a preset that's not so bright and may feel warmer. This isn't too much effort, but could be made to be a bit clearer. The controls for doing this are touch-sensitive, and on the underside of the monitor frame instead of the front or side. A little awkward, but nothing too bad.

Generally speaking, the monitor runs very cool. They're LEDs. Yet, the right side appears to be where the processing electronics are located. It gets a little warm after being left on for a while, and the disparity between the room-temperature remainder unnerves me irrationally. But certainly it's a lot cooler running than my previous LCD.

Overall this monitor is a solid contender that stands with the best in the game right now. It doesn't have a multitude of inputs which some might find frustrating, but it can be forgiven. The S23A300 has good resolution, good contrast, excellent brightness, good response, and is thus a very good purchase, let down only by the slight finicky nature of the controls.

Waterpik WP250 Nano Water Flosser
Waterpik WP250 Nano Water Flosser
Price: £44.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Potentially messy, but startlingly effective, 18 Sep 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Let me immediately clarify the 'startlingly effective' portion of the title. The initial step to using this flosser is to 'prime' it by running a full tank of water through it at full power. I did so, aiming it at my sink. The first result was water. Everywhere. The reviewers were not joking when they said that this has the potential to make one heck of a mess. The second result amazed me. It started cleaning my sink. Literally, stuck-on residue which would have taken a good scrub from a brush was just flying off. If there was a visual representation of the efficacy of the flosser, I believe this was it.

But make no mistake; you can quite safely direct the spray onto your hand (or gum) without damage. I must admit, however, I didn't want to tempt fate and never ventured past around the 1.5 level on the scale of 1-3 when using it in my mouth. The level differs depending on the attachment you are using, and I was feeling the results at close to the lowest. Now, the flosser is indeed effective. It does what it says on the tin. But it does take some practice to use it right.

The instruction booklet shows a diagram of correct use; leaning over the sink, lips pursed yet open (to restrict where the water goes), and allowing the water to spray in and run back out. If you don't let it run out, guaranteed you will have trouble. If you don't purse your lips, guaranteed your bathroom will look like a Somme-scale water fight aftermath.

The problem I personally had was directing the spray to the right areas. I don't mean I put it in my ear, but with the spray being pulsed (which I presume is responsible for much of its efficacy) it creates a general tingling sensation around the area being cleaned. It is, then, quite possible to be spraying the front-top of a tooth instead of between them, for example. But practice makes perfect and you slowly come to recognise the water's flow for different areas of the mouth.

So in conclusion, I would say that yes, this product DOES work. I simply cannot make any claims as to long-term effects because I'm no dentist. But it certainly accomplishes the same task as flossing (arguably in more comfort), and the use of water means that you're flushing out any particles instead of having to deal with them afterwards. Use cool water, and you also add a freshness. It does lose one star for the slightly awkward use, and the rather irritating sound it makes akin to a Borrowers-size two-stroke engine inside.

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