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Profile for Mark Loughridge > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
Mark Loughridge (Letterkenny, Ireland)
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

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Philips Sonicare HX6511/43 EasyClean White Rechargeable Toothbrush
Philips Sonicare HX6511/43 EasyClean White Rechargeable Toothbrush
Price: £29.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Simple no-nonsense toothbrush, 19 Jun. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I had Philips Sonicare HX6952/71 toothbrush before, until its handle packed in--three replacement handles in 3 years. So I'm hoping for increased longevity on this handset.

First thing I noticed was this it was immensely stripped down compared to the previous model I owned. It didnt have as many settings - which didnt matter much since I only used the one setting. It seems to brush just as well, and I'm glad to return to an electric toothbrush after a few weeks of manual labour.

The toothbrush is programmed to increase in intensity over the first 14 uses, to ease the user gently into the rigorous cleaning experience, but this can be skipped.

Pros
-superior cleaning
-the toothbrush is relatively light and the handle is quite slim
-it beeps to tell you to move to another part of your mouth, lest you forget!
-Simplicity--no worries about which mode to use

Cons
- Can't think of any so far--watch this space though until we see if the handle can outlive its warranty!


Canon IXUS 265 HSCompact Digital Camera - Silver (16MP, 12x Optical Zoom, 24x ZoomPlus, Wifi, NFC) 3inch LCD
Canon IXUS 265 HSCompact Digital Camera - Silver (16MP, 12x Optical Zoom, 24x ZoomPlus, Wifi, NFC) 3inch LCD

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great little camera, 18 Jun. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Really pleased with this camera. It arrived just as we were heading out to our girl's ballet show. Straight out of the box, I put it into low light mode--and was amazed at the quality of the pictures. We were far enough back in the audience, yet I got lovely clear pictures with the zoom, although the girls had to be reasonably still.

The nighttime mode really worked well for some sunset shots - taking four pictures in rapid succession and combining them into one shake-free shot.

Unlike my older Canon there is a fairly fast response time when you press the button.

So far I'm pretty happy with the regular pictures too. Everything seems just like it should for a point and shoot camera.

On the down side
- its a little light and plasticky, and easily scored.
- I'm disappointed that there doesn't seem to be a feature for stitching panoramic photos included on the camera.

As a minor note
When the battery warning light comes on there is a lot longer left than when the warning comes on on my Canon Ixus 75.

However a great camera if you want something to point and shoot and have a lot of well thought out modes which seem to do their job really well.


SanDisk Ultra Dual USB Drive 16GB
SanDisk Ultra Dual USB Drive 16GB

3.0 out of 5 stars Miniscule Drive, not for the fat fingered!, 7 April 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Tiny little drive - 35x15x10mm yet holds 16GB. Standard USB at one end, micro USB at the other. Retractable covers protect either end. I had no way to try out the micro USB port as Apple havent bothered with them on any of my products. In a world of cloud storage I still find these boys useful since there are times I cant connect to the web to get info, and having files backed up on them is great.

Pros:
- Fast enough (3 minutes to copy a 2gb file compared to 8 minutes to copy it to my SanDisk 16GB Cruzer Blade Flash Drive)
- Small
- Versatile

Cons:
- Small enough to lose - but there is room for a lanyard to be connected.
- The sliding covers are a bit fiddly - not for those with chunky digits!


Xcessor Triple Flange Conical Replacement Silicone Earbuds 4 Pairs (Set of 8 Pieces). Compatible With Most In Ear Headphone Brands. Size: LARGE. Black
Xcessor Triple Flange Conical Replacement Silicone Earbuds 4 Pairs (Set of 8 Pieces). Compatible With Most In Ear Headphone Brands. Size: LARGE. Black
Offered by Accessory Department
Price: £5.30

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Redeemed my Sony Waterproof Sports MP3 Player, 1 April 2014
Just when I thought I had wasted £50 on my Sony waterproof MP3 player I saw someone recommend these replacement ear buds. The ones that came with the mp3 player were no use and let in water with ease. These boys were still going strong after 120 lengths--only after too vigorous a push from the side of the pool did one shift enough to let water in.

NOTES:
- I was switching between the medium and large Sony buds to try and get a fit, so I ordered the Large version of these, and they do the trick. If you are medium to small on the Sony buds - buy the smaller ones.
- It does take a little fiddling around to get the hang of putting them in, so if you don't get it first time, don't despair.
- Put the mp3 player buds into your ear when you are dry, work them in until the surrounding sound is muffled. Then swim a length and push them in a little more.
- They do extend quite far into the ear.

An excellent investment--only sorry that Sony hadnt provided ones up to the task.


Zoggs 300394 Ultra Finz Flippers - Blue / Grey   9/10 UK
Zoggs 300394 Ultra Finz Flippers - Blue / Grey 9/10 UK
Price: £13.29

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great short blade flippers, 25 Jan. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Overall these do exactly what they are meant to do, and do it well.

Pros
Very comfortable - I am a size 9 and the 9-10 fit perfectly
The rubber is softer than the Zoggs Silicone Blue Finz i have. Less chaffing across the toes where they stick out

The splay at the front is shaped differently - I'm not sure of the theory to this, but it seems to work a slightly different set of lower leg muscles than the other ones. Dont know if this is good or not - but I can certainly feel it!

Cons
Can't think of any. Very happy with these.


Finis Agility Technique Paddles, Yellow
Finis Agility Technique Paddles, Yellow
Price: £15.20

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Innovative hand paddles, 9 Dec. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These are a great idea. They use the pressure of the water generated from correct hand positioning to keep the paddles in place. This in turn forces you to think about your hand positioning.

They are designed with a slight curve - I presume to improve your catch, and perhaps force you into an earlier one.

There's a certain logic to the design and I was intrigued to see how well they performed in the pool. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well they worked. and they stayed on well throughout, except when I got sloppy.

I mainly used them for freestyle, but gave them a go on breaststroke. They seemed to work well with both, although they needed me to adjust my breaststroke technique a little.

I found them more tiring to use than my old ones - perhaps thats because they are forcing me into an earlier catch (ie improving my technique) and so I'm pulling more water. Time will tell.

Maybe I need to refine my technique further, but I do find that I use a little pressure from my thumb to hold them in place.

As others have pointed out - the only draw back is that they sink. Presumably not an issue for most swimmers!

Very happy with them.


Philips Foldie On Ear CitiScape Headband Headphones - Green/Brown
Philips Foldie On Ear CitiScape Headband Headphones - Green/Brown
Offered by DIGITALGUY INTERNATIONAL, INC
Price: £26.79

3.0 out of 5 stars Headphones for the fashion conscious, 2 Dec. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
From the turquoise earpieces to the tan leather headband and earpads, through the fabric covered cable, these headphones are definitely aimed at the fashion conscious. They stand out and look good - if thats your thing. Not quite mine, but my daughter will love them.

On initial listening I was happy enough with the sound, but after playing around with the EQ settings on my ipod it became clear that there wasnt much bass or treble. This was confirmed when I tried another pair of headphones (Not high quality ones either KitSound KSDJ DJ Headphones) - which were far more responsive. The sound isnt bad, its clear and nice enough, but no great warmth, or sense of space. I finished off an audiobook and listened to a couple of podcasts and they were fine for that.

The cable also has a mic built in for use with phones and a button to enable calls to be answered. I keep my phones simple, so this feature wasnt testable for me!

PROS
- Colourful
- Tactile
- Well constructed - the cable disconnects from the headphones, thus preventing (hopefully) it getting yanked an dwrecking hte whole thing. Also if the cable gets damaged, it can be replaced rather than losing the headphones.
- Can be used in conjunction with smartphones.

CONS
- Colourful!
- Sound lacks warmth, bass, and space.
- Pricey, given the 'adequate' sound quality.
- sound leaks out - so not great for listening in a room with other people.

SUMMARY
Seem to be designed more for looks than sound. That said, if you want a nice pair of headphones, and arent massively bothered about the sound quality, or if you listen to the spoken word more than music, or watch films on your ipad, or programmes on iplpayer - these will likely hit the spot.


Remington B95T53 Keratin Therapy Round Hairbrush
Remington B95T53 Keratin Therapy Round Hairbrush
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!, 14 Oct. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
By Mrs ML: This is a lovely brush. The handle is oval - a great feature which makes the brush easy to rotate, The rubber grips on the handle help too. The drum is quite big which helps give hair body rather than a definite curl. Plenty of sharp bristles too without being scratchy.

I was surprised to read some other reviews - mine hasn't snagged once or caused any static or pain! I have fairly fine shoulder length hair, if that makes a difference. And it seems to give my hair a nice soft finish.


The Book of Books: The Radical Impact of the King James Bible 1611-2011
The Book of Books: The Radical Impact of the King James Bible 1611-2011
by Melvyn Bragg
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what it could have been, 30 Sept. 2013
This book will amaze, amuse and infuriate you. It has laugh out loud moments, and tear your hair out moments. And that's only at Melvyn Bragg's writing style and commentary on the subject!

I have to say I was looking forward to this book. I love the Bible, and wanted to see Bragg explore the richness of the impact of the King James Version. It all started so well - the first few chapters on history and scene setting were well written, and accurate as far as I can remember. Then it all started to slide downhill.

The book is divided into three parts: The History; the Impact on Culture (Literature and Language); and its Impact on Society. The main strengths are in the first third of the book. the second has just about enough useful information, but the final section is where conflation and inaccuracies multiply.

Turgid, convoluted prose bedevils the text thoroughout. As do pointless pithicisms (I felt I had to coin a word to describe these pithy appendages at the end of otherwise complete sentences. Eg.
- "I look upon all the world," said Wesley, "as my parish." As it was.
- The poverty-stricken King hoped it would generate great wealth. It did.
- This was not an inheritance to be lightly thrown over. Nor was it.

To be fair to Bragg this did become a great source of amusement, causing several 'stop and read out loud' moments. So it did.

Add to that vapid, vacuous statements of the obvious - "[Tyndale's] deep study on Hebrew undoubted enriched his translation" - Who'd have thought that would have been helpful in translating a book from Hebrew?!?!

Those are simply matters of preference and style. But of more substance, Bragg repeatedly conflates the King James Version with Christianity or the Bible in general, attaching grandiose claims to the KJV that properly belong elsewhere. This pervades the whole book.

This tendency leaves him open to making frankly ludicrous claims - that the move away from the magnificent KJV to modern translations has led to the decline of Christianity in the UK, to name just one. I'm surprised that there isnt a claim that global warming is linked to the decrease in reading of the KJV too!

Throughout the book there are basic errors either of factual accuracy or interpretation when it comes to the Bible. When it comes to the chapter on the Bible and Sex, it seems as if it was written on the Tube with no Bible handy to check even basic facts - such as the story of Judah and Tamar. It seems more like he was referring to The Da Vinci Code as a primary source. It seems like that chapter alone has more misrepresentations and basic misunderstandings than the others put together.

For a man who has the ability to see through Richard Dawkins empty rhetoric (chapter 16) it was disappointing to see sloppiness throughout the book. Sadly it robs the book of its power. His lack of grasp of theology and his tendency to look only to liberal scholarship with its easy dismissals of the text, and its imposition of its own meaning, leaves Bragg's book the poorer.

Apart from that the idea was a good one - and there are useful quotes and nuggets of information scattered throughout especially in the chapters on the impact on literature - yet, not knowing much in those fields I am left wondering how much is accurate.

It was a struggle to finish.
Comment Comments (14) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 21, 2014 9:51 AM GMT


Thinking, Fast and Slow
Thinking, Fast and Slow
by Daniel Kahneman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars So you think you can think..., 19 Sept. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Before I read this book I thought I could think - now I'm not so sure!

Having read this book, I'm no longer sure whether I needed to read the book in order to write a review, or whether rating it without reading it would have given a better evaluation. Or whether you should buy this book because it is highly rated by experts, since the authors shows why experts often get it wrong.

Ok I jest. But those are some of the areas into which Thomas Kahneman takes his readers in this book as he seeks to show why we arent as coldly calculating when it comes to the decisions we make.

Kahneman packs his book full of insight and examples as he seeks to analyse how it is we make decisions. His main thesis is that we have two 'systems' which make decisions - a fast intuitive track and a slower analytical track. He divides his book into five sections:

Part 1 introduces the two 'systems' and examines particularly the errors that can plague our intuitive thinking.
Part 2 examines how biases and a failure to apply basic statistical data undermine our decision making.
Part 3 looks at 'our excessive confidence in what we think we know'
Part 4 deals with specific applications within the fields of economics and probability, and how we make decisions there.
Part 5 asks the question - what is the difference between what we experience and what we actually remember.

I found the book fascinating - although Part 4 was slower going than the rest, and less applicable for me.

His sections on how knowledge can blind us, how stockbrokers perform less well than they think over the long term, and his numerous examples of how we make irrational decisions over and over again make for fascinating reading. Of great practical help were his sections on 'The Planning Fallacy', 'The Outside View', 'The Pre-mortem' and the idea of putting our view on paper before entering into a group discussion since we are too often affected by the earliest and most assertive voices.

You may wonder what use a minister would get out of reading such a book - well I want to understand how we think. I want to know what errors I am inclined to make in my thinking. I want to see what blind spots we have. The book was fascinating in many other ways-- for example, providing passing support for the way the New Testament documents were put together, as well as giving grounds to question the way evolutionary scientists often fail to question their assumptions.

I found Kahnemans's book helpful in understanding our tendency to construct an explanation for events based solely on what we see--believeing that what you see is all there is (WYSIATI). While Kahneman isnt dealing specifically with science and a materialistic view of the universe, but our failure overall to look for factors and explanations outside those immediately apparent, nevertheless I think there are applications here.

Also Kahneman highlights our tendency to attribute too much to skill, and to fail to recognise the role of 'luck'. As a Christian I dont believe in luck as a blind force, but rather the guiding hand of a supreme God over all events. Yet there is much that is applicable here, even to the work of church planting which I am involved in. Too often we see the latest Christian 'experts' given a voice because they have been successful, yet their success is much less down to what they did, and more down to the way God caused things to unfold.

A book well worth reading, digesting and annotating.

My only problem with it was that I fell into the trap of the Planning fallacy--I thought I would be able to read it quicker than I did!


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