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Dr. Paul Ell (NI, UK)
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QuickBooks Pro 2015 Plus Payroll - 1 Year Subscription (PC)
QuickBooks Pro 2015 Plus Payroll - 1 Year Subscription (PC)
Offered by Direct savings
Price: £199.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One-Stop-Shop, 27 Sept. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
QuickBooks Pro seems to be the near standard software now for managing small business accounts and bundled with Payroll is really a one-stop-shop.

I first came across Intuit, the company producing QuickBooks, some years account through their personal finance software Quicken. Alas Quicken is no longer available in the UK, and hasn't been since 2004. It's a mark of how good the software was, however, that I am still using it, coaxing to run on a Mac even though it was designed for Windows XP! QuickBooks follows the same ethos as Quicken with a brilliant GUI and clear instructions if you need help. The real strength of the software is that everything has been thought of.

If you're new to QuickBooks the key issue to bear in mind is that it will take time to get your data into the software. It's pretty important that you take your time with this. The software is only as good as the data that goes into it. Due to the comprehensive nature of the software, and its integration, it's worth thinking about all aspects of your business and how QuickBooks might be used. It goes well beyond invoicing and credit control to balancing bank accounts and assessing net worth. However, the software does work, and begins to pay its way, from very limited information. Once you've installed the software, which I found worked without a problem, some basic company information allows you to chose to set up bank accounts, products sold, or the people you sell to. The beauty of the one-stop-shop is that data reentry is kept to a minimum. Your customer database links to the products you've provided for them and the payments they make can be tracked into you bank account.

Moreover, a strong feature of QuickBooks is its customer support which ranges from software updates to take account of always varying revenue changes to the option of 60 days free return - so if the software really doesn't work for you it can be sent back!

In a world of free and low cost software QuickBooks might seem expensive. I would expect most business to recoup the cost readily - in terms of saving your time, making good business decisions based of firm financial data, and saving in accountancy fees - together of course with making sure you're paid on time! As such I think the software is brilliant value for money.

So I'm sold on this software - definitely five starts


Topstar Sy HE20PBC00E Head Point Comfort Swivel Chair with Contour Shaped Mesh Backrest
Topstar Sy HE20PBC00E Head Point Comfort Swivel Chair with Contour Shaped Mesh Backrest
Offered by LUXURY EXPRESS
Price: £325.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid adjustable computer chair, 25 Sept. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This computer chair is made by Topstar the German manufacturer of a vast range of high-end office chairs. It comes well packaged in a very large box. It is largely disassembled although all but the arm rests can be assembled without tools and within a couple of minutes. The chair casters simply attach to the five-spoke base, the pneumatic spring and cover slide into the base, the chair sits on top and the backrest slides into the mechanism at the rear of the seat. You will need to use the two allen keys and six screws to attach the arm rests. I'd suggest that you do this before assembling the rest of the chair, not doing so last as the instructions sort of suggest. It's much easier to access the screw holes on the base of the seat before it's completely assembled. The chair would seem to work almost as well without adding the arms if you're short of space and want to be able to push the chair completely under a desk.

In use the chair can be adjusted in several ways. The height is set by a lever under the seat. The pneumatic spring is adjustable based on the user's weight via a swivel knob on the seat base, the backrest angle and seat angle adjust through a second lever under the seat although together and not independently and the height of the seat back can be adjusted by standing behind the seat and moving it up or down. If fitted the armrests also adjust up or down through a ratchet mechanism. Once you've got the settings to suit your needs - which might take a bit of time to get completely right - the seat is very comfortable in extended use. Topstar suggests that it should be used for up to 8 hours which is reasonable.

The chair is very solidly made and I would expect it to last for many years. The polyester seat cushion and backrest can be cleaned using any standard upholstery cleaner.

One point to note is that if you plan to use the chair on a hard floor and not a carpeted floor the casters are not suitable and need to be replaced with Topstar 6991 Hard Floor Castors Set available from Topstar.

Overall a computer chair that's hard to better


Scalextric 1:32 Scale GT Lightning Slot Car (Green)
Scalextric 1:32 Scale GT Lightning Slot Car (Green)
Price: £19.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a brilliant Scalextric car, 25 Sept. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Disappointing. This 1:32 slot car lacks almost any detail making it a rather poor plastic model. Most of the paint detail on the car come in the form of a sheet of stickers which have to be attached at home. I’m not sure why Scalextric don’t do this themselves as some are pretty fiddly to fix to the car - and without the aid of pictures with the exception of those on the box it’s not clear where most of them go.

More importantly, the Amazon description is incorrect. This car is not Digital Plug Ready. Part of the confusion may arise as Scalextric have a ‘Car Features Icon Guide’ on the side of the box which lists many features which can come with a Scalextric car - including DPR, working front lights, working rear lights etc. This does not mean this model comes with those. To establish that you have to look as the icons displayed on the front of the box.

In use the car, as the ‘lightning’ moniker suggests, is fast. Largely that’s because it’s very light indeed. As a result it leaves the track with ease.

Overall not one of Scalextric best efforts. Three stars…just.


Tenvis iProbot3 HD 720P(1280x720) H264 Wireless Wifi IP Network CCTV Camera IR Cut 5x ZOOM Pan/Tilt PTZ, Day/Night Vision, Motion Detection/Alarm, iPhone & Android Mobile View (Gray)
Tenvis iProbot3 HD 720P(1280x720) H264 Wireless Wifi IP Network CCTV Camera IR Cut 5x ZOOM Pan/Tilt PTZ, Day/Night Vision, Motion Detection/Alarm, iPhone & Android Mobile View (Gray)
Offered by GLOBALEBUY-UK
Price: £49.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value-for-money webcam, 25 Sept. 2014
This is an excellent webcam for the price. I have a Philips M100E/12 Netcam, Wireless Interface which costs more and lacks several features that the Tenvis camera does.

So what's so good about the camera. Well, first is the quality of the video playback. It's not quite what I would consider to be 720p but on a phone screen looks brilliant and pretty good on a tablet as well. Second, the camera works both in normal daylight and at night using infrared lighting. Third, the ability to remotely move the camera from left to right and up and down is brilliant. The design means that the camera can pretty much be directed to any point through 180 degrees. Fourth, the wifi feature means that the camera can be positioned more or less anywhere you like. The power cable, which is quite thin as there's a transformer built into the UK plug, is very long indeed so you don't need to be very near to a power outlet. Fifth, the camera works with both Android and iOS with free apps for both operating systems. Sixth, the built in speakers mean that you can use the camera to talk to someone at home. Seventh, the security alert features allow an e-mail to be sent and video stored if the unit detects sounds or movement. And finally it really works. I was doubtful I'd manage to get the camera to broadcast over the internet so that I could receive video away from home. In fact this works very well. It's also possible to redirect the camera remotely from anywhere in the world.

There are a few downsides but for the price these in no way negate this excellent device. Setup is not problem free. I had some difficulties in getting the app to detect the camera which perhaps took about 30 minutes to resolve - mainly by resetting the camera a couple of times and reading the instructions more carefully. I was expecting problems in getting the camera to stream online. This involves messing around with router settings and particularly setting up port forwarding. In practice though this only took around 30 minutes. The Tenvis website at www.tenvis.com has some fairly helpful guidance. The key is to download the Tenvis Search Tool programme which allows you to adjust some of the camera settings and setting up port sharing on the router. Setting up cameras can be very complex so it was a pleasure to find this all took around an hour and worked first time.

Other issues, well whilst well made the camera is not small. It's around 15cm high an 10 wide - not something you'll be able to hide away. This is made more difficult still by a green flashing LED which is continuously active. Further, I haven't been able to get an email sent to me when the camera detects motion. The software only seems to allow SMTP mail systems which I don't have. There are other features which it would be nice to have - perhaps a camera zoom - but for the money I'm very happy with the system.

So, overall extremely good value for money and a system that is fairly easy to set up, is well built, is flexible and allows you to see in the dark! All in reasonable quality as well. A definite five stars.

Note that the camera was provided by Tenvis on the understanding that I would post an independent review.


Hornby R2784X RailRoad BR 4-6-2 'Mallard' Class A4 00 Gauge Steam Locomotive
Hornby R2784X RailRoad BR 4-6-2 'Mallard' Class A4 00 Gauge Steam Locomotive
Price: £68.32

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 23 Sept. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
One of the best known steam locomotives, the 4-6-2 Mallard engine in BR livery from the 1950s instead of the pre-nationalisation LNER blue. This really is a fantastic model. Although it's part of the Hornby RailRoad range which basically means that it features fewer details, this detailing is pretty impressive nonetheless. The engine name and number are well applied as is separate railing and pipework. As a result although Hornby recommend the model for children age three and above in fact it needs careful handling to avoid parts falling off. I think it would start to be suitable for children at least twice that age. Strangely whilst the engine itself is of very high quality the tender seems poorer with flexing in the plastic superstructure and less convincing detail.

The engine is DCC 'fitted' so ignore the section of the Amazon description that suggests it's not. The model has a built-in Hornby R8249 Loco Decoder V1.3 NMRA Compliant DCC Accessory and was easy to add to my setup. Hornby's Digital Command Control system allows multiple engines to run on the same track, each individually controlled. You'll need one of the Hornby DCC controllers to take advantage of this - the Hornby R8213 Select DCC Control Unit or Hornby R8214 Elite DCC Control Unit - or run the Hornby R8144 RailMaster for PC Model Railway Control System on a PC. The engine will run on a standard setup as well however.

Overall, for the price, nothing to criticise here. An excellent locomotive.


BRITA MAXTRA Water Filter Cartridges - 15 Pack
BRITA MAXTRA Water Filter Cartridges - 15 Pack
Offered by MightyHousewares
Price: £51.40

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Look at all pack prices, 14 Sept. 2014
Take a look through the prices for all pack sizes working out the price per filter. The larger packs are not always better value by any means (both in terms of price per filter and total cost). I've found six filters for £2 each and packs of four costing more than packs of six!

Necessary product which works well but is a bit like buying petrol...


The Maharajah's General (Jack Lark)
The Maharajah's General (Jack Lark)
by Paul Fraser Collard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and repetitive, 12 Sept. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'd hoped that I'd find Paul Fraser Collard's second book more satisfying than his first. I was certainly sufficient interested to read his new novel. As in the previous book we follow Jack Lark a common soldier who through deception becomes an officer in the British military. It's a bit of a risk of using the same plot in two successive novels - and I do hope there's not a third in the wings.

As with novel one, I felt there was too much concentration on battle seems, and really the blood and guts bit of this, and not nearly enough on recreating the experience of the British in India. At no point did I feel that I was gaining an understanding of life in India in the mid-nineteenth century. I'd almost suggest that the battle scenes are created to draw attention from a lack of historical research, or a writing style that doesn't lend itself to rich narrative. As a new writer I would have thought the author would have many potential scenarios for books but a second rehearsal of the same plot is really a bit desperate.

Overall two stars and should Jack Lark appear again I won't be searching him out.


Business Networking For Dummies(R)
Business Networking For Dummies(R)
by Stefan Thomas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.14

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tiresome networking, 12 Sept. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I know that Dummies books are supposed to make complex topics easy but this book perhaps goes too far. Much of the content I found pretty obvious and superficial. Largely the focus of the book is on networking at events specifically created for networking. I'm more likely to need to network at conferences or after meetings and didn't find the book much help here. What would have been useful is a more detailed discussion of social media, particularly developing a Twitter following, but all of this is very much peripheral to the books main concerns. The author says this book should be dipped into. I didn't find much incentive to do so and having read much of the book didn't feel I'd network better than I would had I not read it.

A disappointing three stars.


Station Eleven
Station Eleven
by Emily St. John Mandel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £8.66

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Non linear, amateur dramatics, apocalypse novel, 12 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Station Eleven (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Somewhat to my surprise this novel didn't really work for me. I didn't find the the post-apocolypse travels of the Symphony particularly interesting and nor did I like the organisation of the novel switching between pre and post apocalypse worlds. Some of the links between key characters were interesting but for me didn't strengthen the story much. The keeping of the museum of pre-apocalypse artefacts at a provincial airport struck me as bizarre. Clearly most other reviews think this is an excellent book so I'm in a minority but on completion of the book I'm at a loss o think why others think it so outstanding. Three stars paying heed to what others think but probably close to two for me.


Jura Impressa Z9 One Touch TFT Coffee Machine, Chrome
Jura Impressa Z9 One Touch TFT Coffee Machine, Chrome
Price: £2,200.13

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant bean to cup machine, 12 Sept. 2014
Very nearly the most expensive stand-alone bean to cup coffee machine you can buy for the home market. As you would expect it does produce excellent coffee. I prefer milk-based coffee products and here the machines excels with a guaranteed quality, and automatically produced, cappuccino. Lattes are equally easy. All milk drinks can be produced without the need to move the cup.

Almost all settings can be adjusted to meet your own requirements including the fineness of the ground beans, water temperature, coffee strength, amount of water/milk etc. The LCD screen is a nice addition to the Jura range.

I guess the test of a fairly specialised piece of kitchen equipment is how long you use it for. This is my second Jura and both were used every day without fail. Plus remember that the machine can also produce hot water - so I now never use my kettle - plus hot milk. It's not just coffee.

If you're in the minority, like me, who think the price is not insane, thoroughly recommended and 5 stars.


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