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Dr. Paul Ell (NI, UK)
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Road to Referendum
Road to Referendum
by Iain Macwhirter
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative read on an issue which will impact far beyond Scotland, 20 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Road to Referendum (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book is very shortly set to be out of date with the referendum on Scottish independence due to take place in less than a month. As someone who's English living in Northern Ireland I guess I have more than a passing interest in the debate and the outcome of the referendum. What's particularly interesting from a NI perspective is that the British/UK government has demonstrated that it is prepared to allow a democratic vote from a constituent country within the Union on whether it wishes to remain part of the Union. This doesn't necessarily solve the Northern Ireland problem as many would suggest that a vote restricted to the Northern Ireland of today is undemocratic as the state was established to ensure an inbuilt Unionist majority. Indeed if a vote were held today there would, no doubt, be a very large majority in favour of the Union, a vote against a break from the UK which would attract more voters than from just the traditional Unionist community. Of course, from the other perspective, the `nationalist' NI position would be that only an all Ireland vote on the constitutional position of NI would be valid, something that Unionists would not accept, and even then a majority for a break with the UK would not be guaranteed.

So interesting questions and impacts for NI from the Scottish vote. This book is neither pro or against independence. In fact it does a very good job in charting a neutral path whilst explaining both sides of the debate. It's also very readable. It sets a very good and well grounded historical context to the independence vote and a particularly interesting section on the rise of the Scottish Nationalist Party including their remarkable win, that was never meant to happen, in the last Scottish Assembly vote. The pre-war history of Scotland is necessarily an overview with increasing detail from the 1950s. The debate on how Scotland would fare as an independent county I found insightful as was the discussion of government from a somewhat distant Westminster.

Overall this book should be of value to anyone with an interest in UK politics. If the vote is for independence somewhat bizarrely I suspect the book may attract more English readers then! It's certainly pertinent in an England looking favourably to an extent on the UKIP vision of the world, to the debate about whether Scottish MPs should vote on legislation just impacting on England (although of course the reverse has always happened for Scotland) and for the UK's future in the EU with the SNP firmly in favour of continuing membership. Moreover, if Scotland goes, the remaining parts of the UK are pretty much guaranteed a right of centre government for the foreseeable future. Well worth a read, and five stars.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 22, 2014 12:28 PM BST


Bolse® Wireless Presentation Presenter with Laser Pointer and Fly Air Mouse
Bolse® Wireless Presentation Presenter with Laser Pointer and Fly Air Mouse

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent multi-function presentation tool, 9 Aug. 2014
I give a lot of conference presentations and invariably use PowerPoint. I hate being tied to my laptop when doing this - pressing the spacebar to move on to the next slide - and have been looking around for a wireless presenter for a while. This device certainly fits the bill and includes some very useful add ons as well.

So what you get in the very smart box the Presenter comes in? Well with the device are 2 AAA batteries, instructions and and USB wireless usb receiver to connect the computer to the Presenter. Of course I didn't read the instructions and couldn't get the Presenter to work and worked out I needed a USB receiver. I then discovered this was included and was cleverly stored in the battery compartment of the presenter.

The Presenter is plug and play. When I first tried to use it with my Apple MacBook Air the Air seemed to think I was installing a keyboard. I removed the USB receiver and plugged it in again. It then worked perfectly. The presenter allows you start a PowerPoint presentation if PowerPoint is open, move backwards and forwards through slides, and very usefully blank the screen at any point allowing you to take questions for example at the end of a talk without the final slide still being shown. It also works with Apple's Keynote presentation software although not quite as smoothly.

The usefulness of the Presenter doesn't stop at this though. Built in is a powerful laser pointer which has a dedicated button and can be used during presentations. This means one less device to carry, and something that's very useful in its own right.

The Presenter can also be used as an 'air' mouse. In this mode the mouse pointer is moved my moving the Presenter in your hand through three dimensions. You get the usual mouse select buttons and roller wheel. This works particularly well when demonstrating something on a laptop without needing to stand in front of it using the touchpad. It's also good to manipulating images with 3D visualisation software. It can also be used for presenting something via an LCD projector - such as a website - using the air mouse and looking at the projector screen instead of being hunched over your laptop. This works very well as long as text entry, obviously, is not required.

Overall I think that any one of the three functions the Presenter delivers - a high powered laser pointer, an aid for PowerPoint, or a remote Air Mouse, is worth the price. Combined, and with excellent build quality and thoughtful design (especially when you realise the USB receiver is held in the battery compartment for safekeeping and transport!), this product is pretty much unbeatable.

So overall five stars and throughly recommended. If you give a lot of presentations this device is pretty much essential.

This device was provided by the manufacturer for independent and impartial receive purposes.


Philips YS527/17 Click and Style 2-in-1 Shave and Stubble
Philips YS527/17 Click and Style 2-in-1 Shave and Stubble
Price: £52.88

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good value multi-function razor., 3 Aug. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This Philips 2 in 1 Shave and Stubble system both works as a wet/dry shaver and stubble trimmer. It comes with two different heads for each function. At this price point, and reflecting the dual function, it works well in both capacities. Whilst it is at the lower/lowest end of the Philips shaver range having only two rotating blades, and from what I can discern, the most basic design of these blades, it works surprisingly well. Best results are achieved using the razor with a wet shave. However, if you're going to stand over the sink and use shaving foam etc as far as I'm concerned you may as well use a standard razor - certainly you're not saving any time and I don't think any electric shaver is as good as a traditional razor. I think one of the main reasons the shaver works so well is that two shaving heads simply makes the shaver more manoeuvrable and it's easier to reach all parts of your face with ease.

The stubble trimmer is probably the more effective part of the package. After all there are better shavers around. This has a 5 length adjustable plastic head, and it can be used without the attachment for even shorter stubble. It works well although on the shortest cut without the attachment is a little hard on the face as in effect you're running a bit of metal up and down your cheeks!

Positive features - it charges very quickly indeed, is shower proof if not completely waterproof, and is good value for money.

Negative elements - well the shaver is not top of the range, but that's reflected in the price. The stubble cutter is, as noted, a little hard on the skin and the plastic attachment looks as though it might break over time.

One additional point. Amazon suggest this is a shaver for younger men - 16 to 25. I'm not sure why - it's not especially kind to the skin - and this is not repeated in the documentation from Philips as far as I can see.

As a final assessment, with the dual function, fast charging, and mixed wet/dry use this is worth four stars.


Rapesco X5-90ps Less Effort Heavy Duty Stapler Half Strip, 90 Sheet Capacity Uses Staples 923/8-12 mm and 24/6 mm - Black/Purple
Rapesco X5-90ps Less Effort Heavy Duty Stapler Half Strip, 90 Sheet Capacity Uses Staples 923/8-12 mm and 24/6 mm - Black/Purple
Price: £33.93

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heavy duty manual stapler, 3 Aug. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a large and heavy stapler which if left out takes up a considerable amount of desk space. It sits at around 17cm high and 21 cm long. It does, however, have a solid, weighty, reassuring feel to it. The number of pages that can be stapled in one go depends on the staples you use. Mine came with a pack of Rapesco 923/10mm staples that are recommended for stapling between 40 and 70 pages. Longer 923/12mm staples can cope with up to 90 pages. 'Standard' staples - 24/6mm will only staple up to 30 pages however. Not rocket science i guess, the longer the staples the more pages they can hold together. To get best use of this stapler you will need to source the correct staples though.

The term 'Power Assisted' is a little misleading. It suggests some sort of battery operated motor to force the staples through sheets of paper. In fact the length of the stapler simply allow you to leverage more pressure when stapling. Not a big issue if you know what you're ordering but a potential pitfall if you're expecting a fancy electric stapler.

Other features, there's a yellow paper guide, purple in the Amazon picture, which allows you to make sure that multiple stapled documents are all stapled in the same place. This guide when moved to a 30 degree angle can also be used to help clear any trapped staples from the stapler. Refilling is easy by pulling back the top of the stapler and inserting the staples into the staple channel with staples pointing down. It holds a fair number of staples - very slightly above 100 when fully loaded.

Overall if you're looking for a powerful mechanical stapler, and have the space, this stapler looks like a good choice. Plus it comes with a 15 year guarantee.


Logitech Harmony 650 Remote
Logitech Harmony 650 Remote
Offered by Gadget Outlet
Price: £64.99

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent mid-price universal remote, 2 Aug. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I tried a top of the range Logitech remote control a couple of years ago which was considerably more expensive than this model and I wasn't impressed with the results. In fact it was returned. So I guess it's fair to say that my expectations for this combination remote were limited to say the least even though it's the 2014 version of the 650 remote (confusingly a 2011 model looks the same and has the same 650 coding so look carefully if you think you've found a bargain).

Trying to set up the remote seemed to confirm my expectations. As with most mid to high-end remotes you need a computer to set the device up. The problem was that Logitech didn't seem to be able to decide whether I should use their web-browser set up process or the newish `MyHarmony' app. Incidentally both are available for the latest versions of OSX and Windows. After going around in circles for a while I finally managed to start the set up procedure using MyHarmony.

I have to say that setting the remote up was remarkably easy. You simply need the precise model of device you want to operate and this matches (hopefully) to the same device in Logitech's database. I had no problem with finding exact matches for any devices I tried to find. This includes a Bose SoundTouch WiFi 30 music system which has only been on the market for a couple of months which was quite impressive. Other successfully linked devices include a large screen Sony smart TV, a Sony combined Blu-Ray and cinema sound system, a Sky+ HD box with 2Gb of storage and a recent Apple TV box. It even has pre-programmed settings for a Dyson fan - pretty impressive. Once you've matched devices the set up programme will ask a few questions about how each device is connected - specifying HDMI or scart inputs mostly (and not including the fan).

To get the remote up and running that's pretty much it and, having overcome the initial software problems, it really only takes about 15 minutes. I think this is a big plus that it doesn't take hours of work before you have a remote that more or less works.

Once the basic set up is complete you can set the remote to carry out specific tasks such as `Watch TV', `Watch a Movie', `Listen to a Music'. This involves choosing the relevant devices and the correct connections between them. Watch TV works well. I've had more problems getting my Apple TV to be selected - which involves turning the Apple TV on, turning the TV on and selecting HDMI 1, and turning the blu-ray/amp on and selecting a HDMI input for it. All works apart from the last step. To be honest this might be asking a bit much of the remote as selecting the correct HDMI for the amp requires choosing a specific HDMI output from a couple of different menus and several options.

More importantly each device works as I would expect it to when controlled by the remote. I had a few niggles with the Sky setup in that a `backup' button was not available on the remote but it's easy to train an unused button on the remote to send a signal to the Sky box learnt from my old Sky remote. `Backup' was available as an option via the LCD screen which is typically used for commands which don't feature as standard buttons on the remote. There are a few of these for my Sony Smart TV for example. The ease of trainability though means that after a few days, and a spot more programming, you can get the remote to do exactly what you want.

Nice additions include an option to set around 20 channels as favourites and decide whether these are set by your TV or Sky box (and from other sites you can download and display logos for the channels on the LCD screen), the fact that the remote is movement sensitive so comes on as soon as you pick it up (although this also means you can't fully turn it off either), and the buttons are all backlit.

Problems - well much to my surprise there are very few. I think I've got a fairly complex audio-visual set up but the remote can certainly control each device individually perfectly. it does get a bit confused in setting strings of commands such as getting all the settings right to watch Apple TV, or Netflix or the Amp but most people without instructions would fail to do this! One limitation is that this model without an add on unit will not control a Playstation. It does not use bluetooth and you'll need to add a Harmony Hub to allow this. The LCD screen has lowish resolution but good enough at this price point. The more expensive Logitech universal remotes have a touch screen a little like a mobile phone with a bigger range of customisable on-screen options but they are double the price.

Overall for the price I'm surprised just how much this remote can do. I'd recommend it for most users. It's not difficult to set up or fine tune and effectively replaces a stack of remotes. Just make sure you get the 2014 model and not an older one. Really recommended, five stars.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 19, 2014 12:12 PM GMT


Philips 5W (50W) GU10 Master LED Value Spot Light, Warm White 3000K, Dimmable
Philips 5W (50W) GU10 Master LED Value Spot Light, Warm White 3000K, Dimmable
Offered by Surplus Trade Supplies
Price: £7.79

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Philips ‘value' GU10s, 2 Aug. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Another LED light bulb to add to my ever-growing collection and a new bulb from Philips. This bulb, like a number of other LED lights, is designed to replace 50w halogen spotlights - coded GU10 - which are commonly embedded into ceilings in kitchens and bathrooms or form part of spotlight installations. They have rounded power fittings not to be confused with the needle-like connections of some 35w halogen bulbs. These Philips bulbs use the latest technology - LEDs (light emitting diodes) - which are the next generation of lighting replacing florescent tube bulbs which have, in turn, replaced the original incandescent bulbs.

The bulbs form part of Philips 2014 light bulb release (yes, there are annual releases of light bulbs together with glossy brochures about them). They are available in three different types - there are three choices of colour warmth - 2700k very warm white, 3000k warm white and 4000k cool white. These bulbs use slightly less power than last year’s Philips’ range at 5.3w compared to 6w. The bulb forms part of the Philips ‘value’ range and has a reduced life expectancy at 25,000 hours compared to the 50,000 hours of last year’s bulbs. This is still a very long time though compared with standard halogen bulbs! I’m not sure if Philips have cut corners in the value line which have resulted in this reduction of projected lifespan. In theory the `very warm white' 2700k bulb reflects the light colour from a standard halogen bulb. I prefer this 3000k 'warm white' for most settings. The 4000k `cool white' produce a noticeably whiter-white which works well in bathrooms and kitchens for a slightly more clinical feel.

The headlines for these bulbs is that they use just 5.3 watts almost a 90% drop in power consumption. As most halogen bulbs tend to be installed as groups there's a chance for big power savings - 4 halogen bulbs use 200w which can be reduced to 21.2w. You could almost leave the bulbs on continuously they use so little power. The other important factor is that the value range is about half the price of last year’s bulbs. Importantly they are exactly the same size as normal halogen bulbs so can easily be retrofitted simply by replacing the bulb.

One thing I’m not quite so keen on, and marks these bulbs out as being different from halogen bulbs, is the lighting head with individual holes for each LED. I prefer a design where the LEDs fit behind a single layer of glass.

Overall, design taste put aside, these bulbs represent good value for money, use very little power, and can be easily used to replace existing halogen bulbs. Difficult to fault so 5 stars.


First World War For Dummies
First World War For Dummies
by Seán Lang
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.18

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to WW1, 2 Aug. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book offers a reasonable introduction to WW1. It has a wide-ranging brief from a chapter on Europe at the turn of the nineteenth century, to the home front, to the post war settlement. It aims to cope with true bigginers to the subject summarising the countries involved and even defining terms such as theatres of war, fronts,battles etc. Significantly it does not just concentrate on the western front but places the war in a global context with sections on Africa, the Far East and Oceana.

Criticisms, well some of the chapter headings are perhaps misleading in the topics they cover. There's probably too much emphasis on the context of the war and the post-war situation as opposed to looking at the war itself. The chapters are a bit too broken down into small subsections for my taste and I think a more chronolical approach might have been better, especially in dealing with the military aspects of the War. I don't like the way readers are guided to a section of the book to clarify a matter referred to in another chapter when often there's only a line or two about the issue there. Finally some of the marginalia such as 'Remember' seem pretty random to me.

Overall though not a bad book to improve your knowledge of WW1.


Ritzenhoff 0.3 Litre Martina Schlenke My Darling Mug, Multi-Color
Ritzenhoff 0.3 Litre Martina Schlenke My Darling Mug, Multi-Color
Price: £16.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another design from Ritzenhoff, 27 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Very attractive design on this Ritzenhoff My Darling collection mug.


Black Sim+Micro SD Memory Card Slot+USB Cover Replacement For Sony Xperia Z1 L39H
Black Sim+Micro SD Memory Card Slot+USB Cover Replacement For Sony Xperia Z1 L39H

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Necessary for Z1 Xperia, 27 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A design weakness of the Sony Z1 is the need to lift the waterproof cover to the USB charging port to charge the phone - unless you have a more or less essential magnetic charger. Despite having a charging stand I don't take it on business with me using port charging then. At some point the cover became damaged and this company provided a perfect replacement - and replacements for the two other covers for the SIM card and memory card. Due to use the charger cover is likely to fail first but it's worth having replacements for all.

Costly for three bits of plastic and metal but they match the phone exactly and Sony would no doubt charge far more for what they would regard as an out of warranty repair and the phone would have to be sent to France! So five stars.


Kenwood BM450 Bread Maker with Ingredients Dispenser
Kenwood BM450 Bread Maker with Ingredients Dispenser
Price: £89.50

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still a winner, 15 July 2014
Much has been written by others about this bread machine. I just wanted to add that it has stood the test of time. I purchased it about a month ago and it consistently produces good results. The bread is a good size and the ingredient dispenser gives additional functionality. Well worth the money.


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