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MarkZ (UK)

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Rotherham, Mexborough and Wath (Railway Memories)
Rotherham, Mexborough and Wath (Railway Memories)
by Adrian Booth
Edition: Paperback
Price: 13.50

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding piece of local history, 2 Nov 2010
Slightly smaller than A4 footprint, 112 pages. Colour pictures front and back covers, all pictures inside are black and white. Virtually every page has at least 1 picture on it.

Covers railways within an approx 10-15mile radius of Aldwalke/Parkgate, reaching to Penistone, Thunrscoe, Edlington, Thurcroft and Canklow. Mostly covers Midland and Great Central lines (plus some of the Woodhead route), from the post-war period through to the late 80s.

Includes a hand-drawn map of the relevant rail routes of the day, inside the front cover - a very useful guide to the info in the book and also a reminder of how much things have changed!

The text includes an interesting mix of the author's personal memories, extracts from railwayman's handbooks (a great insight), extracts from old timetables and sidebar rail "news" snippets from the day.

Inevitably, almost any examination of railways in this area and time-frame is closely tied in with the industry of the day, hence this book has plenty of insights into the coal and steel industries, in addition to the railways.

I found this book to be absorbing and highly re-readable.

Presumably, this book has fairly niche appeal - for those interested in the long-gone railways and industry of the Rotherham and Mexborough area, but if that is what you are looking for then I highly recommend this book.

The Distant Echo
The Distant Echo
by Val McDermid
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Great start, no killer punch, 30 Aug 2010
This review is from: The Distant Echo (Paperback)
There are enough plot summaries already, so I'll skip those. This is my first McDermid novel and I am not a huge reader of crime fiction - mainly because I have a very high threshold for believability, hence many novels leave me disappointed.

The book is in 2 parts - the original crime and investigation, in 1978, and the "cold case" review from 2003 onwards.

I found the first part of the book to be excellent, on a par with some of the best I have read - it set the scene perfectly and left me keen to see how the plot developed in the second part.

Alas, I could feel part 2 of the story sucking me towards disappointment almost immediately. I found the Macfadyen character fitted fine as a small-part of the picture but had too much of a "dues ex machina" feel about its pivotal role in the final part of the story.

Making allowances for the glaring failures of police procedure which are central to the plot, which others have commented on - but do actually happen in real life, I still found the concluding joining-the-dots phase relied on a little more from my credulity than I was willing to give.

Overall, I got the impression that the author came up with the first part of the story in a burst of genuine creative genius but then had to sit down and grind out some form of conclusion.

I gave this story 4 stars because it is still pretty good, but readers of an exacting nature should ensure they pick it up for a special offer price and limit their expectations accordingly.

Thumbs Up UK Block Styled Alarm Clock
Thumbs Up UK Block Styled Alarm Clock

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the tin, 3 Aug 2010
This is a simple product - press the top to show the time, that's virtually it!

The display is the classic red led bar type, very clear at night, ok during the day.

When pressed, the time stays on for about 5 seconds.

Unlike the previous reviewer, I did not find the construction to be any less "substantial" than most modern clocks of this type.

The clock has a built in alarm which, when enabled, is indicated with a simple red dot on the display. All sounds are the simple "beep" style.

As a previous reviewer states, there is no switch to keep the display on all the time, but I did not find this an issue (press when you want the time), and presumably this greatly extends the battery life.

A switch is provided to disable the push-button, which would be useful if you travel with it as any contact activates the display and likely the batteries would be flat before you arrived on holiday!

If you want the most simple battery clock (which I did), which is easy to read, unobtrusive and easy to use, then I can recommend this product.

Brettell and Shaw Extending Clothes Prop BEEXTLNPG
Brettell and Shaw Extending Clothes Prop BEEXTLNPG

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No more flimsy props !, 3 Aug 2010
Simple and durable, long reach, not especially heavy.

Simple locking mechanism (plug drops in holes) has little to go wrong.

Two bendy plastic lugs are used to secure the prod head to the line (push line between them); this would appear to make it best suited for people who leave the prop attached to the line all the time rather than put it away after each use. These lugs mean the prop does not come detached from line in windy weather.

No more flimsy and fragile props which last a few months and drop to floor each time the wind blows!

Stainless Steel Camping Mug
Stainless Steel Camping Mug
Offered by Home and Garden Bargains Ltd
Price: 6.25

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple and useful, 3 Aug 2010
Good quality construction, apparently hard-wearing; unbreakable by the kids outdoors.

Comes with a manufacturers sticker attached with super-strong glue, which remains sticky when label is removed and does not wash off easily - an elementary product quality issue! ...but in all other respects a fine product.

Blitzkrieg 2 Liberation (PC)
Blitzkrieg 2 Liberation (PC)
Offered by 4GamersUK
Price: 4.98

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but OK, 17 July 2010
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Firstly, another reviewer said they found this game extremely hard - I wonder if they are actually talking about "B2: Fall of the Reich", which I found to be stupidly hard to play. I found Liberation as easy to play on "normal" as the main game.

If you like the Blitzkreig games you will probably like this one also, its very much in the mould of the original (don't expect anything new).

The things which let this game down are the same weaknesses which spoil the whole B2 series (in my view), which are - vague objective information/area intelligence and lousy line-of-sight/range of view.

A scenario might have 3 consecutive objectives to take, and it might use the word "quickly" in the 25 word object statement - this might mean that half way thru the mission the "Mission Failed" banner appears and you are done. Why? Because the time limit for that scenario has expired. What was the overall time limit? Who knows. How far thru the time limit are you at a given point? Who can tell. Objective time limits are fine, but there should be a countdown timer on the screen. Presumably the designers intend for you to rush all your troops thru the way points - casualties be damned - and get to the end with one man left standing. If that was the case, they could at least tell you at the start. I find this a common weakness in the B2 missions.

The range-of-view issue is well known - your units can see the equivalent of about 100yards, even on open fields in daylight. There could be prominent line of heavy tanks 110yards in front of you, on a flat grassy plain, and you would only know when they popped up and wiped you out. The "binoculars" option of infantry is an attempt to plug this huge flaw, but implies a driver of a vehicle can see no more than 100yards, even in conditions when they could probably see 1000yrds. The firing range of most vehicles is similarly limited to a laughably short range - no long range tank killing in this game.

Having said that, I find that no modern battlefield sim is anywhere close to ideal and if you accept these shortcomings you can still have fun with B2.

If you like squad-level combat sims or if you like the main B2 game, so long as you get it CHEAP you can still have fun - albeit flawed - with Liberation.

Railroad Tycoon 2
Railroad Tycoon 2

4.0 out of 5 stars Good gameplay stands the test of time, 27 Jun 2010
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Railroad Tycoon 2 (Video Game)
This game was originally released in 1998 !

The publisher released a v1.05 patch, which is needed to make this game work on anything later than Win98/NT.

The graphics are poor in the main, showing how far things have come in that respect.

The gameplay, however, remains above average - showing that cutting-edge graphics are not needed to have (and do not guarantee) fun!

The premise of the game is to run a business and make money in the way most businesses do - by selling products/services for more than they cost you, and be keeping costs under control etc.

As is obvious, the "business" in this game is running a railroad - you get paid to haul other people's cargo. That simple concept, however, does not begin to cover the detailed areas of business this game offers (tho you can play with many features on "auto"); most key aspects of business are covered - issuing bonds, buying small industries (eg a Steel Plant) or buying out a competing railroad. You can also issue or buy back shares in your own company and alter the dividend rate etc. Borrowing for long term investment and debt repayment are also key factors. You can also play the stock market, speculating in other companies etc.

The basic game has several interesting scenarios plus there are many others available to download for free (even after all these years). Some scenarios are based on reaching a level of personal wealth and others are based on the success of the company itself.

The initial learning curve is somewhat steep, but the supplied manual is very good. It does not take long to become proficient.

Starting the game for the first time will likely make you laugh at the graphics, but don't let that put you off if you like a solid "business simulation".

On the "expert" level (which is the one I'd recommend) the way to make most money is to scout often for the best prices for loads (rather than just assuming city A to B will always make money), this makes the game a micro-managers paradise!

Most of the game is actually played in the "office" screens, where you conduct business, the dated graphics of trains running routes is not really need for 90% of the game and they could reissue the game to include ONLY the office screens and it would be just as good.

All in all, the gameplay is excellent - this game should be used in schools to teach kids the essentials of running a business.

Still valuable after all these years!

LUPO 205 Channel FM Transmitter (For all iPhones, iPads, MP3/MP4 Players)
LUPO 205 Channel FM Transmitter (For all iPhones, iPads, MP3/MP4 Players)
Offered by LUPO STORE
Price: 10.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Good at everything - except what's important, 27 Jun 2010
This device comes with every conceivable extra, I have no complaints about the features - mine even came with batteries AND an in-car power adapter.

My one complaint about this product is the sound quality; I readily accept that I may be more choosy than most people in this respect and that many people may be perfectly happy with this product.

I had 2 main problems with the sound:
1) Low strength - you need to run the mp3 player at full volume and turn the car radio up super-loud in order to get decent volume
2) Poor dynamics - I compared the sound quality of this device to one of those "cassette" type adapters that route your mp3 feed thru the tape player (yes, some older cars still have tape players in them!). I was not expecting the cassette-adapter to produce good results, and they were not perfect, but they were considerably better than using LUPO FM device.

Overall, I found using the LUPO to be like hitting a "low quality audio" button on your stereo.

I give this product 3 stars as there is no relevant extra you can think of which is not supplied, and also for many people the audio quality will not be an issue and this would still be a good buy for them.

6 Pairs of Mens Black Cotton Rich Formal Socks with Lycra 6-11
6 Pairs of Mens Black Cotton Rich Formal Socks with Lycra 6-11
Offered by Chameleon Online
Price: 2.90

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good value lightweight socks, 27 Jun 2010
Not sure if the supplier is using slightly different batches of stock or such like, but the items I received would not be called "thick" socks, which seems different to other reviewers impressions.

I found these to be an excellent lightweight sock, perfect for summertime office use and the like.

Great value for money.

Global Vision Driving Wraparound Glasses / Sunglasses Complete With Free Microfibre Pouch
Global Vision Driving Wraparound Glasses / Sunglasses Complete With Free Microfibre Pouch

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value for money, 27 Jun 2010
All-plastic wrap-around, the springiness of the plastic helps to keep the sunglasses in place. Light orange/copper tint. Comes with cloth carry pouch.

These glasses have a medium-to-light tint, which makes them excellent for driving and lower sunlight (eg late evening); of course this means that in very bright light (perhaps abroad) you may wish for more tint.

A fairly close fit leaves little room for ventilation if used during sports/activities.

The reflective surface looks like it will easily mark but everyday use so far has shown no problems.

At this price, they are excellent value for money.

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