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Dr. Paul Ell (NI, UK)
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Presenting Data: How to communicate your message effectively
Presenting Data: How to communicate your message effectively
by Ed Swires-Hennessy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.95

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A generic, and slightly dated, introduction to numeric information presentation, 28 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Potentially this might seem to be a challenging book examining how to present data. In fact it's pretty accessible with sections on 'Understanding number' discussing the use of rounding, decimal points, comma separators etc; 'Tables' giving pointers on ways to structure tabular information, and what to include and exclude; 'Charts' looking at some basic visualisations of numeric data through bar and pie charts; returning a little to the first chapter, a chapter on 'Numbers in text'; and finally a section on 'Data presentation on the Internet'.

In some ways this is a surprisingly slim book to address such a major topic as presenting data, at a little over 130 pages long, but I guess this is because the book does not dig too deeply into the issues. Overall I was expecting a rather more technical publication reflecting also the interests of the publisher, Wiley. The challenges of presenting complex data are many, especially in the era of Big Data. There's no mention of Big Data in the book and the really interesting ways of visualising complex data are really overlooked. The 'Charts' section really feels dated with such a focus on bar charts, histograms and pie charts. It could have been written 50 years ago or more, nothing on how graphics software allows so many additional charting options. The section of the use of the Internet only in the last few pages deals with interactive visualisations and does not address issues such as user-driven data queries.

All that said, there is some useful generic advice on how to present numbers in text and how to organise tabular data. And, as I've said, as a basic accessible introduction the book is OK. But it really is an introduction when the title suggests rather more. And it feels dated as I've noted.

Overall not a comprehensive work with much more left out than included. I was expecting a more penetrating volume rather than this rather slim book. Disappointing. 3 stars.


Panasonic ALL3 Wireless Speaker System (White)
Panasonic ALL3 Wireless Speaker System (White)
Price: £211.67

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Panasonic's challenge to Bose and Sonos, 22 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Panasonic join the already crowded market of wireless speakers which can be synchronised to play from the same source around the house. I've already use the Bose SoundTouch version of this concept and have considered buying a Sonos system in the past.

So what do you get for your money? Well, the base system, this speaker, is cheaper than the Bose nearest equivalent. You get a compact but weighty white speaker and a power cable. The speaker is minimalist in design with three hidden LED indicators behind the speaker grill and, along the top of the speaker, a power button, two volume buttons, an Aux button and a network button. Somewhat less welcome, the instructions are also minimalist with an A4 glossy page and a couple of additional smaller sheets.

In terms of setting the system up I would advise everyone to update the firmware. Others have reported problems in getting the speaker to work correctly, problems most often resolved by a software update. This is pretty simple to do. You need to turn the speaker on and use a tablet or smartphone to connect to it wirelessly. Then using the tablet/smartphone chose your preferred network for the speaker to connect to and select a suitable name for the speaker. Pressing a combination of buttons on the speaker, now connected to the internet, forces a firmware upgrade.I experienced no problems at all in getting the speaker to work.

The 'Panasonic Music Streaming' app is fairly standard. It allows audio from a variety of sources to be directed to the speaker. Irritatingly I found some BBC podcasts could not be read by the app. Spotify works fine but to use the speaker with Spotify you have to have a premium subscription - so £9.99 a month. This is a real limiting factor. I'd rather use the free version of Spotify and listen to the occasional advert than pay £10 a month. If you're new to Spotify you get a free month's trial subscription. Panasonic implicitly suggest that this is arranged by them. In fact it's the standard Spotify free trial. So if you've already had a free trial you won't get another one. The Panasonic app also works with AllPlay Radio and AUPEO. It doesn't seem to work with the BBC Radio iPlayer although I need to play around with this more. If the BBC app can't be used this will also be a marked problem for me.

Going back to comparison with the Bose system, as noted the Bose speakers are more expensive. They're also more difficult to set up initially. However, the Bose speakers will work independently of the associated SoundTouch App. Each speaker in the range has six pre-programmable buttons that can be set to stream radio channels. The Bose system also comes with a small display which shows what you are listening to. A really useful idea! Further the Bose systems all come with a small remote control so you're not dependent totally on a smartphone or tablet to use the system. This is compounded by an inability to use a PC to control the speaker. Again Bose produce a OS X and Windows app to allow this.

Overall, a reasonable effort from Panasonic but I don't see they ecosystem offering more than the Bose SoundTouch systems which to be honest I'd rather pay a bit more for. They have much more flexibility including a battery powered system, and clock/radio option and speaker links to use a TV surround sound system. Not enough stands out from Panasonic's offering to convince me it's worth investing in, or indeed that it will be around for that long. The problems with playing audio from Spotify and the lack of a display further compound my view.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 24, 2015 10:15 PM GMT


Oral-B Vitality Plus TriZone Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush
Oral-B Vitality Plus TriZone Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush
Price: £19.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Basic electric toothbrush with few features, 22 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This electric toothbrush is at the bottom of the range of Oral-B’s TriZone range. The TriZon brushes come with a larger tooth brush compared to the Professional Range which have the more typical smaller, round, brush head. In theory the TriZone brush is supposed to feel more like a manual tooth brush. That said, the TriZone is compatible with all the other brushes in the Oral-B range so presumably if you find the larger brush doesn’t suit you you can simply change the brush head. Personally although the brush is larger I don’t feel it cleans quite so effectively. It its more difficult to reach hard to access parts of your mouth and the round-headed brushes seem more precise in use.

As the most basic electric toothbrush in range the brush comes with just one cleaning mode - and a cut down cleaning mode at that with no pulsating movement in addition to brush sweeps. Equally significant, there's no alert system to warn if you are exerting too much pressure whilst brushing. There is further cost cutting - the battery only lasts for five days of use (two minutes twice a day) and while there's a two minute timer the brush doesn't indicate when it's been used for 30 seconds allowing you more accurately to move on to the next quadrant of your mouth. Nor does the brush have a warning light to warn the battery needs recharging - a bit irritating for something with such a short battery life. And it doesn't have a light to indicate when the brush is fully charged. The brush also lacks a carry box for travel, something which is useful if you travel a bit as it prevents the toothbrush coming on in your suitcase. You do get two brush heads though!

Overall I guess this is an ideal brush to have as a backup, or to take on holiday (pity about the lack of a carry bag) or to test the water to see if you want to move to an electric toothbrush. However, the limited battery life, lack of a warning system when the battery is running down, and lack of a pressure sensor are deal breakers for me. As indeed is the trizone action. I'd trade up to a better model.


Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power Razor with Flexball Technology Plus 3 Blades
Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power Razor with Flexball Technology Plus 3 Blades
Price: £14.49

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sensible technical advance, 19 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Gillette's latest iteration in their Fusion range. The key change is the 'flexball' feature. This allows the blade head to move from right to left, and left to right, when in use. It isn't a ball as such as it does not allow universal movement of the blade head - if that's their next innovation I'm copyrighting it first! What it does allow is the blade to follow your face more exactly. This seems like a logical additional feature and in many ways I'm surprised they didn't come up with it before.

I'm a habitual user of Gillette Fusion razors and this gives at least a comparable shave to other versions of the system. Logically this system should give a better shave but using earlier versions it was pretty good and I can't detect any immediate improvement. Nonetheless I'll probably switch to the Flexball system. Equally, adopting any innovation going, I prefer the 'Power' version of the Fusion range and again will stick with this. I think the vibration makes the razor slightly smoother in use.

Perennial issue with Gillette 'high end' razors is the cost of replacement blades, and especially the price difference between 'Power' and 'Manual' blades. There's no difference here. Replacement blades are expensive. I'll stand the cost albeit reluctantly. It's worth checking on Amazon to see the best offers for blades. Often a new razor and blades can cost less than the blades alone. Another point, a reviewer has suggested you have to buy Flexball blades to work with this razor. Certainly other Fusion blades work fine so that's not the case.

With this pack you get a Power Flexball razor, a battery and four blades.


VAX W85-PP-T Dual Power Pro Carpet Washer, 1200 W
VAX W85-PP-T Dual Power Pro Carpet Washer, 1200 W
Price: £169.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Top notch model, 9 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you're feel a serious need for a carpet washer this is one of the models you should consider. It has a large reservoir for fresh water, automatically releases and mixes carpet cleaner from a smaller receptacle, and has a large container for the dirty water. The suction with the machine is outstanding. Carpets are left remarkably near-dry after using the cleaner. There's also a separate suction hose and tool best used for cleaning small areas or sucking up and cleaning accidental spills. A separate attachment allows it to be used on hard floors.

I've dropped a star because it's a big machine. A problem in use and potentially for storage. That said it's not a machine you'll be using twice a week so perhaps weight in use is of less relevance. When using you have to be coordinated in releasing the carpet cleaner (ideally when pushing the VAX forward and apply suction when pulling the VAX back). It just takes a bit of getting used to. Also at the moment the machine is a bit expensive. VAX seem to heavily discount other models.

But as a carpet cleaner this is hard to beat.


Tefal Pressure Cooker Secure 5 Neo 6 L
Tefal Pressure Cooker Secure 5 Neo 6 L
Price: £68.93

5.0 out of 5 stars Faultless so far..., 9 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've always been a bit nervous of pressure cookers. Too many memories of, as a child, fearing my mother's was going to explode - and the one occasion when it did. Well technology has moved on in this Tefal model. The valve is easily removable, it has two pressure levels (one for vegetables, one for meat and frozen food), and there's a simple pressure relief valve. Finally there's an old-style gasket if everything else fails! .So I'm happy this is not going to explode!

In other respects this is a robust stainless steel pressure cooker (the Amazon-supplied version is certainly not aluminium as another reviewer has suggested) and is suitable for all types of hobs. It's robust as you'd expect from a pressure cooker. It comes with a steam basket and trivet for cooking some foods.

The pressure cooker, guaranteed for 10 years, comes with useful cooking guidance for various foods. For those not familiar with the technology, potatoes immersed in water take 6 minutes to cook, a whole chicken 22 minutes, so the pressure makes a difference! I particularly like the build quality and the easy pressure settings.

Overall I can't really find anything to fault in this pressure cooker. So five stars. Any problems and I'll report back.


Kenley 3in1 Buffet Server Hot Food Plate Warmer - 3 Trays x 1.5L - Stainless Steel
Kenley 3in1 Buffet Server Hot Food Plate Warmer - 3 Trays x 1.5L - Stainless Steel
Offered by Smart Parts UK, Digital Lifestyle Retailer
Price: £29.90

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor Quality, 7 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Well, this Kenley hot plate works, more or less. It can be used to heat plates, keep food warm on plates, or can be used with the three food dishes to keep food hot. It has a variable heat control which works well.

But there are serious quality issues. The metal frame the three food bowls sit it was bent for the product I received. The hot plate itself was also dented in a couple of places. I'd normally discount these sorts of issues due to potential damage in transit but to be fair the food frame is very flimsy indeed and part of the polystyrene packing material was broken and missing - I assume this happened in the factory. As a further mark of poor quality control one of the rubber legs the hot plate sits on is missing. These are screwed into place so would not detach easily. It wasn't loose in the box - I searched assiduously - so I doubt the leg was ever attached.

The problem with the missing rubber foot means the hot plate is unstable and not really usable. The various dents aren't really acceptable either. So only one star.

The distributor provided me with this product at no charge in return for an independent review. If I'd paid for it I would return if for a refund.


Philips Satin Soft Wet and Dry Epilator
Philips Satin Soft Wet and Dry Epilator
Price: £100.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new, 5 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm not sure what justifies the cost of this epistolar. It does nothing new, yes comes with a few very plastic and cheap accessories, there's no innovation. So a workman like effort, nothing special, still painful. If you're interested wait for it to be reduced.

Don't expect anything new here.


Gillette Fusion Proglide Manual 9 Razor Blades + Razor
Gillette Fusion Proglide Manual 9 Razor Blades + Razor
Price: £25.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Innovative, and the best-value pack, 26 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Gillette's latest iteration in their Fusion range. The key change is the 'flexball' feature. This allows the blade head to move from right to left, and left to right, when in use. It isn't a ball as such as it does not allow universal movement of the blade head - if that's their next innovation I'm copyrighting it first! What it does allow is the blade to follow your face more exactly. This seems like a logical additional feature and in many ways I'm surprised they didn't come up with it before.

I'm a habitual user of Gillette Fusion razors and this gives at least a comparable shave to other versions of the system. Logically this system should give a better shave but using earlier versions it was pretty good and I can't detect any immediate improvement. Nonetheless I'll probably switch to the Flexball system.

Perennial issue with Gillette 'high end' razors is the cost of replacement blades. There's no difference here. Replacement blades are expensive. I'll stand the cost albeit reluctantly. It's worth checking on Amazon to see the best offers for blades. Often a new razor and blades can cost less than the blades alone. Another point, a reviewer has suggested you have to buy Flexball blades to work with this razor. Certainly other Fusion blades work fine so that's not the case.

With this pack you get a manual (not power) Flexball razor and 10 blades, not nine as the pack suggests, with one on the razor itself. What's missing is a plastic case to hold the razor with the blades. Gillette seems to have phased this out across all the Flexball range which is an irritation.

In general this tends to be the cheapest razor/blade option, often cheaper than buying the blades with no razor! 4 stars.


Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power Men's Razor with Flexball Technology
Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power Men's Razor with Flexball Technology
Offered by Innox Trading
Price: £9.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Logical innovation, 25 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Gillette's latest iteration in their Fusion range. The key change is the 'flexball' feature. This allows the blade head to move from right to left, and left to right, when in use. It isn't a ball as such as it does not allow universal movement of the blade head - if that's their next innovation I'm copyrighting it first! What it does allow is the blade to follow your face more exactly. This seems like a logical additional feature and in many ways I'm surprised they didn't come up with it before.

I'm a habitual user of Gillette Fusion razors and this gives at least a comparable shave to other versions of the system. Logically this system should give a better shave but using earlier versions it was pretty good and I can't detect any immediate improvement. Nonetheless I'll probably switch to the Flexball system. Equally, adopting any innovation going, I prefer the 'Power' version of the Fusion range and again will stick with this. I think the vibration makes the razor slightly smoother in use.

Perennial issue with Gillette 'high end' razors is the cost of replacement blades, and especially the price difference between 'Power' and 'Manual' blades. There's no difference here. Replacement blades are expensive. I'll stand the cost albeit reluctantly. It's worth checking on Amazon to see the best offers for blades. Often a new razor and blades can cost less than the blades alone. Another point, a reviewer has suggested you have to buy Flexball blades to work with this razor. Certainly other Fusion blades work fine so that's not the case.

With this pack you get a Power Flexball razor, a battery and one blade.


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