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Gizmophobic
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Birdsong: 150 British and Irish birds and their amazing sounds
Birdsong: 150 British and Irish birds and their amazing sounds
by Jonathan Elphick
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.40

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One to tweet about, 20 May 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I must admit I had my doubts about how useful this would be to me. I'm not a birdwatcher as such, more of a gardener and dogwalker who takes an interest in bird life. Consequently I'm unlikely to find myself near enough to an oyster catcher or Auk to hear it, and I certainly wouldn't be carrying this quite bulky book in tow if I did. However I have to admit its really rather charming. I was converted when I turned randomly to the sparrowhawk page, typed in the number and actually recognised the cry from a recent excursion with my labrador. I'm now straining for the buzzard on the next page every time I take that route.
The book itself is beautifully illustrated, simple to use-the bird cries are accessed by typing in the code on the page, the birds are organised helpfully into groups, finches, tits etc. and although I shall have limited use for it I can see me coming in from the garden to check out the odd bird I can't place. Overall a very nice present for the casually interested twitcher.


Fellowes DS-500C Cross Cut Personal Use Shredder with Safety Lock
Fellowes DS-500C Cross Cut Personal Use Shredder with Safety Lock
Price: £49.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a very good Fellowes, 25 Jan 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It might seem a bit churlish to give this 3 stars given that it came via Vine but you have to call them as you see them as it were. Certainly this looks and feels like a good design. It's very easy to operate and the integral bin makes the impromptu confetti shower when emptying a thing of the past.
The big drawback is the limited recommended usage. I'm fine with 5 sheets at a time but the instructions recommend a daily usage of only 30 sheets - now given that I've seen a tesco shredder literally go up in smoke I'm inclined not to push this beyond its limits. Then again its called a 'Powershred'-and is pumped as "One of the world's toughest shredders"-not in my world its not. Assuming you are unlikely to be buying this in the first place if you hadn't accumulated a backlog of work for it, its going to be a while before you catch up. I guess its fine if you have a limited need for it, a pair of good scissors or my puppy could give it a run for its money though. Finally a lot is made of its safety lock on the box, you'd have to be pretty determined to have to need it as the slot is impossible to get anything wider than the measly 5 sheets it allows you to process. Personal use is the term to remember here.


The Best of Experts
The Best of Experts
by D. G. Hessayon
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars Complete jumble, 22 Jan 2012
This review is from: The Best of Experts (Paperback)
The Expert series of gardening books has proved useful to me in the past, primarily when I wanted to research a new project such as putting in a pond, planting fruit trees etc. They are reliably informative if a little dryly written, well illustrated and generally represent good value advice.
This, as one reviewer has already pointed out, is a completely randomly arranged selection from previous guides. Apart from general browsing I can think of no practical use for this book. It may I suppose act as a leader, so if you are unfamiliar with the series, it does at least introduce the format, however there is no subject which it covers in sufficient detail and you would be better of buying an entry which appeals to your interest area. Why there is no index is a complete mystery-avoid.


The Complete Garden Expert: The Expert you've been waiting for - All the gardening Experts condensed and updated into one enlarged volume
The Complete Garden Expert: The Expert you've been waiting for - All the gardening Experts condensed and updated into one enlarged volume
by D. G. Hessayon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.39

3.0 out of 5 stars Competent but not inspiring, 21 Jan 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Since this series is by guys who know a lot more than I do about gardening its hard to criticise it on the basis of the information provided. However as a consumer with loads of gardening books I can't see where this one will take its place on the shelf. Its attractive enough with good illustrations and diagrams. Its also quite broad for its size if that makes sense, i.e. it covers a lot in quite a handy format. It's not the complete guide by any means and there are others more comprehensive. More importantly I find it curiously uninspirational, its factual without much passion for its subject.
I've a feeling it might make it outside with me if I need on site info, but its hardly the one I'd turn to on a rainy day for ideas.


Topstar 9020AG20E Trend SY 10 Comfortable Design Swivel Chair to Intervertebral Discs - Black
Topstar 9020AG20E Trend SY 10 Comfortable Design Swivel Chair to Intervertebral Discs - Black
Price: £162.37

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top star chair, 22 Nov 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was about to report that this was one of the easier self assembly tasks I've had to deal with over the years when I glanced at the picture opposite which suggests I've put the arms on back to front.......oh well it seems to work fine that way too. Apart from that embarrassing faux pas it was pretty simple despite the minimal instructions, basically diagrams (without a picture of it fully assembled)-took me 30 mins including getting it out of box.
Chair itself excellent.Robust and comfortable. Very easy to adjust with the levers-I did for a minute think this was an attempt at sedentary Alexander therapy as it initially forces you into a very upright position-however when you use the lever its easy enough to adopt the standard slouch that I've carefully nurtured all this time.


Golden Records (PC & Mac)
Golden Records (PC & Mac)

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite the gold standard, 25 Oct 2011
This review is from: Golden Records (PC & Mac) (CD-ROM)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a pretty good product for those who want to transfer vinyl to cd. Previously I've been using the ion Mixmeister-see previous review-however the substantial advantage to this software is its ability to distinguish the spaces between tracks. This does free you up to do something else while inputing the records (I haven't tried tapes)but beware, if you leave the record running, my deck doesn't shut off automatically, you will generate potentially endless useless files which are cumbersome to delete. You also have to register your software which presumably means for use on one computer only, a hassle this as it didn't like my old laptop and so has to be connected with my main one. It has a ridiculously short lead so effectively puts it up against record deck. Worst still, although it gives you the option to connect through amp(presumably this would allow you to hear the music properly while copying), I can't get it to work without being directly attached to computer. I've also had hassles with the disc burning function although this could be my computer which frequently has a ruck with windows exp, so I've been transferring MP3s to i-tunes and burning from there.
All in all not quite the answer I've been looking for but bear in mind my phobic response to gizmos.


Dirt Devil 1000 Watt Mains Handheld Vacuum Cleaner with Microban Antibacterial Protection
Dirt Devil 1000 Watt Mains Handheld Vacuum Cleaner with Microban Antibacterial Protection
Price: £44.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Tough little devil, 23 Oct 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've only had this a few days but its already proven useful in my home office. As the latter is small and busy (like the product) its a hassle taking the house vacuum in there, especially if its only to deal with the usual confetti after emptying the shredder. Similarly hard to reach areas such as our stairs and the car are looking considerably smarter. Its also given my keyboard and hi-fi a spruce up and if you are inclined to dust books (remember them?)then this could be for you.
The machine is quite hefty and packs a fair bit of suction. There is a shoulder strap provided but its flimsy and I haven't found it useful. Its very easy to assemble and empty. Well designed attachment brush/nozzle is also good-remember to pull out the brush properly or it could scratch. Overall I can't fault-even the instructions make sense.


Boogaloo: The Quintessence of American Popular Music
Boogaloo: The Quintessence of American Popular Music
by Arthur Kempton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.50

3.0 out of 5 stars Misses its mark, 13 Sep 2011
This is a long, often entertaining and insightful, but ultimately weary and rather jaundiced trip through the development of the business of black music in the 20th century. Its by no means a comprehensive history. For some reason the author largely ignores post war blues, instead drawing a line from the classic era of Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, through gospel Thomas Dorsey and Mahalia Jackson, the change to soul with Sam Cooke, then the Stax and Motown stories, and ending up in hip hop and Death Row Records. Almost all of the characters come across as unsympathetic and the emphasis is very much on the contortions artists had to go through to sell to a white market. Cooke of course epitomises this and while the gooey strings on most of his famous recordings bears this out,Kempton seems to have little faith that his recorded work would have developed if he had lived. Indeed he doesn't seem to like much of any of the music either. Only Curtis Mayfield, Smokey Robinson and the Temptations come out ahead in that respect, and there is certainly no sense of the awsome power of Stax in its heyday. Instead we get the long painful decline, better told elswhere. Kempton is quite amusing in his portrayal of Berry Gordy, citing Iceberg slim several times as the template for Motown-i.e. a pimp (Gordy) and his whores the artists. By the time I got to hip hop I wsa quite worn out and that's not where you want to be when you are reading about these guys. I'm no expert in our rapping friends but there was nothing here to alter my view of the ugly exploitation that hip hop and its bland R& B cousin represents.
Overall a diverting read but flawed with no overall cohesion and very little love for the music..


The Majestic Silver Strings
The Majestic Silver Strings
Price: £14.51

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Majestic experiment, 18 Aug 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a seismic shift for Buddy despite the presence on vocals of country stalwarts Emmylou Harris,Lee Ann Womack,Patty Griffin and of course wife Julie. It starts off with an old Tex Owens song "Cattle call" complete with yodels-however the ghostly guitar intro from Bill Frisell, reminiscent of the Band's last waltz theme, hints we're into something a little different. The next two tracks though could be on any of Buddy's other excellent albums. "No good lover" is at the border of country and blues and rocks along, while "I want to be with you always" is a delghtful country ballad with Patty Griffin.
It was at the beginning of the next track that I thought someone had changed the cd without me looking. "Barres de Prison" is sung by Marc Ribot-new name to me-with a voice closer to Leonard Cohen and subject matter to match. Its a sad and beautiful song with lovely guitar from Frisell. Next up is "Meds" sung by Womack and although I'm not too familiar with her either I expect this is quite a departure. I'm reminded more of some of the quirkiness of the likes of Rickie Lee Jones than country and the next track "Dang me" could be on the last "Drive by Truckers" album-unbelievably its an old Roger Miller song,,,,,,brilliant interpretation by Marc Anthony Thompson who again is completely new to me. "Bury me not on the lone Prairie" is even further away from Miller country. Again an adaption of a traditional country song this is firmly in the land of alternative country-closer to Cowboy Junkies than country cowboys. As though awakening from a dark (but amazing) dream we're back to country with "That's the way love goes" sung by Shaun Colvin and again greatly benefitting from the excellent and moody guitars of Frisell and co. 'Freight train' is an instrumental designed to show them to even greater effect.In fact Frisell is all over this album and prompted me to revisit his previous takes on country such as Beyond the Missouri Sky. Back to pretty straight ahead country with Emmy singing lead on "Why I'm Walkin' and back to Buddy's trademark rocky style with "Why baby why". The last two tracks are again in familiar territory -Womack sings Return to me before Julie Miller ends the album to excellent effect with her collaboration with Frizell "Gods Winged Horse"-well they had to get HIM in there somewhere.
This is absolutely a 5 star addition to Miller's catalogue although old fans will have some surprises in store and if you are coming at him from the Emmylou corner you'd be better to go to an earlier album first. That said there is something for a lot of differing tastes here without a clunker anywhere.Wonderful.


The Band Of Heathens
The Band Of Heathens
Offered by rbmbooks
Price: £41.05

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soulful easy country, 25 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Band Of Heathens (Audio CD)
Despite the resemblance to 70s country rock thankfully BOH are closer to Little Feat than the Eagles. This one is produced by Ray Wylie Hubbard who shows up on one track-Cornbread- and the lads are also joined by Patty Griffin to excellent effecton backing vocals for three tracks, (Gurf Morlix and Stephen Bruton also contribute). The playing is fine throughout with strong songs too. I'm not quite as taken with it as the later One foot in the Ether but its an easy 5 star.


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