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P. Haydon (Moray, Scotland)
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Versatile & Inexpensive, 23 Oct 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This kit matches the manufacturer description, and I believe purchasers will probably not be too disappointed. It doesn't realistically replace a shaver, and nor is it claimed to, the mini foil shaving head is just that, mini, and too small for the daily shave. But for the Cap'n Birdseye in your life the various trimming functions could make a not too expensive gift.

Gripes:

The method of attaching/removing tools is awful, and I have fully expected something to break in my hand.

No bag/case/wallet is supplied for the kit, and it is not practical to transport it with the various pieces sitting rather insecurely in the plastic tray shown in the photo.

The build quality might not suggest an extremely long life.

Amazon are currently listing similar kits at more attractive prices.

This is a revised review. After a couple of weeks with the product I have lowered my rating and do not recommend it.


Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khruschev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth
Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khruschev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth
by Frederick Kempe
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Serious But Very Readable Book, 9 Oct 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was at school in 1961 and well remember the fearful atmosphere of those times, when the TV and radio news was invariably delivered in solemn tones suggestive of imminent nuclear war, and Berlin was in the spotlight as the likely venue for the opening shots of World War III. Fifty years later it is somewhat sobering to read this detailed and very informative account of what was behind the headlines. Nikita Kruschev, maneuvering to avert threats to his leadership from soviet hard-liners and the (then) rising power of China, versus John F. Kennedy, the new US president with a weak grasp of foreign affairs. Both leaders, we learn, had to interpret vague signals from the other side with little to guide them but their own instincts and the often conflicting advice given to them.

Frederick Kempe has made an excellent job of setting out how the Berlin crisis was handled by the protagonists. Immensely informative, always readable and fascinating, Berlin 1961 is a book I unreservedly recommend.


Philips HP6581/00 Epilierer SatinPerfect
Philips HP6581/00 Epilierer SatinPerfect
Offered by soteluk
Price: 134.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Quality Product, Effective And Very Complete., 26 Sep 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
For women who prefer an epilator to other hair removal solutions this Philips kit, although not the most expensive on the market, is just about top of the tree. It consists of two rechargable epilators and a truly brilliant pair of illuminated tweezers, plus a carry bag. The larger of the two units is the one that will get the most use, its broad head being ideal for legs, while the smaller one is designed for what Philips coyly term sensitive areas.

Both epilators, which share the same charger, can be used wet or dry, and there is a shaver/trimmer head for the larger one. The fact of being suitable for wet use does mean, apart from the obvious possibility of epilating in the bath/shower, that you can rinse the heads under the tap, making them easy to keep clean and fresh.

For those who have not used an epilator before, it's worth saying that the discomfort of having hairs plucked out is very much lessened by frequent use, and if used daily is hardly noticeable. This kit also contains a 'lift and massage' attachment that seems to make first use especially merciful.

Feeling comfortable and solid in the hand, an instant impression of quality is given by the epilators, and given that they work very well a five-star rating is deserved.


Origin
Origin
by J.T. Brannan
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.39

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not A Bad Thriller, 26 Sep 2012
This review is from: Origin (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Origin is a thriller in a somewhat familiar vein. An ancient secret has been hidden from the world by a select group of the wealthy and powerful, an Illuminati-style band of ruthless brothers (and sisters) whose objective is nothing less than world domination. Obviously, for such a postulate to form the plot of a thriller someone, in this case scientist Lynn Edwards, has to stumble onto the secret and thus incur the deadly wrath of the conspirators. Aided by her ex-husband Matt Adams (Native American and all-round good guy) Ms Edwards becomes embroiled in a perilous struggle to survive the murderous attentions of the bad guys and to expose their evil machinations.

If I write this in a flippant tone that's because Origin cannot be taken seriously. The cliched characters are straight from central casting, the writing is clunky in places, and disbelief has to be not only suspended but drawn and quartered. But it's not a bad thriller, because I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. So I have given it three stars, my code for OK but nothing special.


Shrapnel
Shrapnel
by William Wharton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.98

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unreliable Memoirs, 30 Aug 2012
This review is from: Shrapnel (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
William Wharton's 'Shrapnel' is written as a series of anecdotes, allegedly of an autobiographical nature. Together the stories are the author's wartime reminiscences, and relate his training in the US, his brief stay in England, and then service in action in France and Germany.

The problem I have with it is incredulity. Quite early in the book Wharton (a pen name) tells a confused and confusing story of how just prior to D day he, an 18 year old infantryman, was parachuted alone into occupied France at a few hours notice, with no training whatsoever, and lacking language skills. He seems to state the reason for that mission as being to prevent the British, American, and Canadian armies bumping into each other, and to give the French resistance a radio set. I found that incident very difficult to believe. Wharton wrote this book 50 years after the war, and although he may have believed all of it to be the literal truth, I very much doubt it.

The general tone of the book is more believable than some specific incidents. Wharton's descriptions of how ordinary soldiers felt about the war, and of their determination to survive it by hook or by crook, have the ring of truth. Also he touches on one of the great secrets of WWII, the way in which some allied soldiers descended to the sort of conduct we more easily associate with our former enemies. Nothing to compare with the atrocities of the Nazis, of course, but enough to dispel the fiction that 'we' were always the good guys.

As an account of how the liberation of Europe was experienced by a young soldier who just did not want to be there, Shrapnel is probably worth reading, but I cannot rate it above average.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 22, 2012 10:28 AM BST


Leitz Click & Store A5 Storage Box (White) - ref 60430001
Leitz Click & Store A5 Storage Box (White) - ref 60430001
Price: 9.59

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Simplicity, 27 Aug 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The assembly of this box has the simplicity that is the hallmark of brilliant design. Essentially you get two pieces, the outer carton of the product that becomes the lid, and a folded sheet that opens out and then has its edges fastened together with press studs to form the container. It takes less than a minute to complete, and then you have a reasonably sturdy storage box finished in gloss white.

As a convenient place to keep maturing bills, correspondence, or all those pesky little things that will go and loose themselves if not confined, this smart wipe-clean box is perfect. Recommended.


Krups Kp150040 Nescafe Dolce Gusto Genio - Black
Krups Kp150040 Nescafe Dolce Gusto Genio - Black
Price: 106.70

5.0 out of 5 stars A Coffee Lover's Dream, 22 Aug 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This machine's styling is very modern, and I confess it looks rather out of place in my tired old kitchen, but by crikey it serves its purpose, producing a cup of coffee virtually identical in appearance and flavour with commercial offerings at the various coffee shop chains. If you like your coffee, you will almost certainly enjoy what the Nescafé Dolce Gusto system produces.

Ingredients for drinks are supplied in pods, a concept used by many other manufacturers. Alas, other makes of pods cannot be used in the Genio, I imagine because Nescafé want all the income from supplies.

For simple drinks such as café au lait only one pod is used, it contains both milk and coffee. Layered drinks like latte and cappuccino require two pods, one milk and the other coffee. The procedure is to lift the handle at the top of the machine, this allows the loading tray to be withdrawn and a pod inserted. When the handle is returned to its rest position the pod is punctured, and the machine can pump hot water through it, heating and frothing the contents. Because a video is worth a million words, take a look at the many demonstrations on YouTube.

There is a range of Dolce Gusto machines available, the Genio's distinguishing feature is the scroll wheel that controls water dispensing time and thus coffee strength; the green led's on the machine's crown show the setting.

The tray on which your cup/glass stands is adjustable to cope with different heights, but your jumbo travel mug will not fit in.

It is possible to dispense hot water with the pod tray empty, so you can lob a teabag, spoonful of instant coffee, soup powder or whatever into a cup for a quick beverage.

The blue button at the top of the machine dispenses cold (not chilled) water. Nescafé have a number of cold drink pods available, and to make the best of those the water container should be filled with chilled water.

In conclusion, the Nescafé Dolce Gusto Genio will provide coffee lovers with their fix when they want it and at a less than coffee shop prices. But bear in mind it's not a particularly cheap way to feed a serious coffee habit, because every cup of cappuccino (for example) will cost about 50p in pods.


TP-Link TL-WN823N 300Mbps Mini Wireless N USB Adapter
TP-Link TL-WN823N 300Mbps Mini Wireless N USB Adapter
Price: 10.08

24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Commodity Product With An Interesting Plus, 19 Aug 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This TP-Link USB wireless adapator uses a common Realtek chip and is recognised by Windows Vista or 7 without needing to use the supplied disk; just plug it into a spare port and the driver will be installed automatically. Experience has taught me that it's invariably simpler to use Windows wireless management than to install peripheral manufacturer utilities.

Windows will support more than one wireless adaptor simultaneously, but of course can only use one at a time for network access. To test this adaptor in its primary role I disabled my laptop's internal wireless card, and after entering my wireless password flawless network access was obtained using the TL-WN823N. I could not say it works better than competing devices, and I would not expect it to, but as a cheap way to upgrade an older computer to N standard wireless I unreservedly recommend it.

So in terms of its core functionality the TL-WN823N is a competent performer, but it has another trick up it sleeve, it can be configured in Windows 7 as a wireless AP (access point) for the purpose of sharing an internet connection. For this to work the TP-Link utility software must be installed from the disk, and then SoftAP mode (for such it is called) is easily selected. The pdf manual seems to suggest it is possible to have the TL-WN823N both connect to a wireless router AND be an AP, I quote:

"With this feature, a computer can use a single physical wireless adapter to connect as a client to a hardware access point while at the same time acting as a software AP allowing other wireless-capable devices to connect to it."

But I could not achieve that result, if I used the TL-WN823N to connect to a router it would indeed also perform as an AP visible to other devices, but would not share an internet connection. If I used it to share a wired connection that worked fine. Possibly I will revisit that challenge and update this review accordingly.

To conclude, if you need a USB wireless N adaptor the TL-WN823N is a good one. Small, neat, with a full 300Mbps spec at an attractive price and carrying a three-year guarantee. The AP feature is something you may never need, but is a differentiation that sets the TL-WN823N apart from the crowd, and if you do need it someday you'll be very glad you chose this product.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 20, 2013 4:24 PM BST


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
by Robert Pirsig
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 11.05

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Production, 7 Aug 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
'Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance' is a formidable title and a very famous one. From its first publishing in 1974 the book has had an off-putting (for me) association with new age hippy mumbo-jumbo, and I have never read it. This two-CD set is a BBC radio play based on the book, not a book reading, and I would rate it as an excellent production with terrific voice acting, as I expected.

Robert M. Pirsig did take the motorbike trip across America with his young son Chris (later to be murdered in a street stabbing) as pillion passenger, and as presented in the play he uses that journey as an allegory for the philosophical exploration he was obsessed with at the time. Some if it I found very interesting, some pretentious, and almost all of it a prime example of the perils of thinking too deeply. However, I do now feel motivated to tackle the book, so the play must have made an impression on me.


Get Talking Spanish in Ten Days (Teach Yourself)
Get Talking Spanish in Ten Days (Teach Yourself)
by Angela Howkins
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 9.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Beginners Aid To Learning Spanish, 7 Aug 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I feel this product is a good introduction to Spanish for the tourist. The cover claims it will enable the user to understand Spanish "de pe a pa", meaning from start to finish, but it will certainly not do that. It basically sets you to repeating phrases used in scenarios such as ordering lunch, helping you become used to the sound of the language and to pronouncing a limited vocabulary of words.

It does require commitment by the user, skimming through it once or twice is not going to do the trick, but for anyone coming to Spanish from a zero or near-zero level it should provide at least a useful basis.


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