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M. Juvonen

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NATO G10 Leather Military Watch Strap by ZULUDIVER, Light Brown, 22mm
NATO G10 Leather Military Watch Strap by ZULUDIVER, Light Brown, 22mm

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent thin NATO-like strap, 11 Sept. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this strap to replace another leather one that had worn out over the last year or so. That one had a butterfly clasp which had started to get a bit too loose, and I figured something simpler might be a good idea. The strap is for my Seiko SNZG15J1 automatic watch which originally comes with a low-cost fabric strap. (The fact that it's an automatic is relevant because it means I like to take it off my wrist at night to regulate it. That means more wear on the strap.)

It looks really good. The leather is nice and strong and the grain looks nice. One of the reasons I liked the look of this strap is that it's just a simple strip of leather, no lining or other decoration. All hardware looks custom made, high quality brushed stainless steel.

This is a NATO strap, not a Zulu strap, meaning it has two strips of leather under the watch. I was a little worried about how thick the strap would be, seeing as the Seiko 5 is already quite chunky and it would need to have another two layers of leather underneath. In fact it's quite thin and doesn't add much extra thickness. The reverse side of the leather feels comfortable against the wrist.

Overall, I like it a lot. I don't expect leather straps to last forever, particularly the way I mistreat them, but for the cost I'd be quite willing to replace it once a year as needed.

Mudd Soft Brown Hunter Leather roundish style holdall
Mudd Soft Brown Hunter Leather roundish style holdall
Offered by D2D Products
Price: £132.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Spacious and well made weekend holdall, 13 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
After literally ten years of looking for a good weekend holdall I bought this one about a year ago. I've used it from short weekend breaks to international travel. It's been great.

The leather is very thick and feels high quality. It's quite a dark brown colour. The leather has a smooth, waxy matt texture, feels robust rather than supple and looks casual rather than classic. The stitching is very neat. All zippers and fittings are high quality and well made.

The main compartment is simple but neat, and the bag opens up wide enough for good access. The lining is the same dark brown colour as the bag. On the inside there are a few side pockets, only one of which has a zipper. The outboard shoe pocket is surprisingly handy: it won't take up any room when not in use, as it's just a thin pouch made from the lining material.

If there is something I would change, it's the handles. They are quite short and very stiff. Particularly the velcro grip which hold the handles together, and which cannot be removed, is very stiff and pretty much has to be closed in order to carry the bag. The shoulder strap, in contrast, could be a little wider. It's holding up fine so far but could be a little more substantial.

This is a great weekend bag that would probably hold a week's worth of gear if you are good at packing. It's well made, easy to carry and, if you're flying, a perfect size for hand luggage.

Ultimate Addons Water Resistant Sleeve Case for Apple iPad 3 Tablet PC
Ultimate Addons Water Resistant Sleeve Case for Apple iPad 3 Tablet PC
Offered by UltimateAddons-UK
Price: £11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great occasional case for the digital outdoorsman, 13 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I wanted to use my iPad for mapping during hikes in all weather conditions. Looking around for a rainproof case I realised that most of the cases around were hard, big and bulky and designed to be left on all the time. I want to use my iPad with just the Smart Cover most of the time but when I go hiking, I want the device rainproofed. The Ultimate Addons sleeve seemed like a convenient, lightweight case for occasional use.

The soft case provides a good grip in outdoor use, certainly better than the aluminium back of the iPad. The case comes with a foam rubber insert. As far as I can tell, this is there just as an iPad shaped spacer and is meant to be discarded. For extra protection you can leave it in but it is a bit of a tight fit. Whether you do or not, the rear-facing camera of the iPad is blocked off by this case. To access the iPad's power button, you need to press a corner of the case. It takes a bit of practice to know exactly where to press, but it's not difficult.

The zipper is very good and I can believe it provides a fairly waterproof seal. Obviously this is not an underwater case but I have never had problems with water ingress, even in rainy conditions. All other seams seem equally well sealed.

The soft plastic of the window is a little stretchy and fairly thick, with a somewhat sticky feel to it. It clings to parts of the screen which leaves some air gaps; this in turn makes the screen a little harder to read than a bare screen without the plastic cover. The plastic doesn't affect the touch sensitivity of the screen but, because your fingers don't slide on it very well, it is a little harder to use gestures on the iPad. I'm sure any case would cause similar issues.

As any soft case, this can only provide a limited amount of impact protection. The back and sides are actually fairly well protected and I'm pretty confident my iPad would survive a drop if it landed on these; conversely, if I managed to drop it on a pointy rock screen-first, I'm sure the screen would shatter.

I've taken my iPad everywhere from snowy hilltops to rainy valleys, and this low-tech case has always kept my iPad safe. If you're looking for an inexpensive case for occasional outdoor use, this is a good one.

Set of 2 Minosharp Guide Rails
Set of 2 Minosharp Guide Rails
Offered by Cutting Edge Cookware
Price: £9.45

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quality set particularly recommended for Global knives, 13 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As far as I know, MinoSharp and Global are the same company. This is the set of guide rails recommended for Global knifes. Of course, there's nothing special about these other than the fact that they provide the same sharpening angle as the knives' original edge. Given that the whole point of a guide rail is to keep the sharpening angle consistent, this is a good thing.

I bought these rails to go with my set of Global knives. I use them with a Kirameki waterstone (bought from Japan). I've also used the set for other knives, from small pocket knives to large fixed blade utility knives.

These guide rails are made of high quality 18/8 (304) stainless steel. The inside is lined with a grippy material that feels more like plastic than rubber but provides enough friction to keep the guide rail well in place. The rail is springy enough to stay in place; you need to be careful your hands don't slip when you slide the rail on or off. Sliding the rail on is easiest from tip of the blade.

The large rail is a good size for larger kitchen knives; I use it on the Global G-2, G-3 and GS-5. The smaller rail works well for smaller knives and I have used it on the Global GS-11, GSF-49 and GSF-46 (although the latter is perhaps a little on the small side for the rail.)

I have found just two small problems with the rails, and neither is specific to this set. First, the metal will rub on the waterstone. While this doesn't harm the rails, it does leave a mark on the stone and (presumably) causes unnecessary wear. Secondly, on small blades or those with a curved spine, clipping the rail against the spine means it will not align with the edge. I can solve this by aligning the rail with the edge instead of the spine, but then it clips a little less securely.

I've had this set for about 2.5 years and it's still as good as new.

If you have a quality set of knives and a waterstone, and you'd rather use a guide than sharpen free-hand, then this is the set to get.

Practical Computer Vision with SimpleCV: The Simple Way to Make Technology See
Practical Computer Vision with SimpleCV: The Simple Way to Make Technology See
by Kurt Demaagd
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.50

3.0 out of 5 stars A decent introduction for a beginner with some Python experience, but go for the ebook, 12 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have been using OpenCV on and off for about five years, both natively and with various language bindings. While it's an impressive library, I find it a little unwieldy, particularly for experimentation. When using it from C++, I find myself writing too much boilerplate. When using the Python API, it still feels too much like C++.

SimpleCV to the rescue. Picking up this book I wanted to experiment with a simple alternative to low-level OpenCV (with an option to fall back on OpenCV as required) and was also hoping to use it for basic image processing tasks instead of Matlab. Ultimately I wanted to give the book to someone with little experience in programming and computer vision, to get them started with both.

The book is logically structured and the structure is suitable for someone who wants to read the book from cover to cover to learn the basics of computer vision from a practical perspective. Before jumping into SimpleCV itself, there is a very short (just a few pages) introduction to computer vision in general. As the book is clearly aimed at a beginner audience, this chapter could be expanded to provide a little more context to computer vision.

The book covers installation on all three main platforms. On Ubuntu the process is simple enough (even without the instructions, one hopes) but the Windows instructions did not work for me and I had to find installation help elsewhere.

The remaining chapters deal with various aspects of SimpleCV including image acquisition and simple processing, transformations and (probably most interestingly) image segmentation, feature detection and tracking. All come with simple examples but in most cases only a simple example is given. Further experimentation is left to the reader but in most cases the book doesn't really provide enough to go on, so frequent referencing of the API documentation is required.

The structure of the book also highlights the limitations of SimpleCV: compared to OpenCV, in its current state this really is a very basic API with only the most common features supported. However, with such a simple API, I feel the authors could've expanded on the topics a bit more, perhaps giving more context and further examples.

Very annoyingly, the book does not have an index. This makes it unnecessarily cumbersome to use as a reference work. I keep wishing I had an ebook version of the book.

A note of caution: SimpleCV is quite a new project and the API is not quite as stable as it could be. The book has been written for version 1.2 although, curiously, I could not find this fact mentioned. I have found slight differences between the book and the version 1.3 API documentation. It's nothing serious, but you may want to either refer to the API docs online or stick with SimpleCV 1.2, at least while working through the examples.

SimpleCV is a decent beginners' image processing toolkit, and this book is a decent beginners' guide to computer vision for someone with little to no image processing experience and some Python background. If that applies to you, consider getting an electronic edition so you can search it. If you are a seasoned programmer, particularly with some OpenCV experience, the online API documentation is probably adequate.

AA Car Essentials Euro Travel Kit
AA Car Essentials Euro Travel Kit
Price: £28.77

4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly everything you need, 12 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Let's be honest here: most people buy one of these kits to comply with the regulations rather than because they think they need one. I did too.

This kit is more comprehensive than AA's France-specific kit as it has a bulb kit, a first-aid kit and the AA European Drivers Handbook. While most of the other items have limited use in the UK, the bulbs and the first-aid kit are both something you should keep in your car anyway and so they seem like a worthwhile addition. As far as I know, it is not a legal requirement in the UK to carry a warning triangle but many cars have them anyway.

What's missing, though, is the NF approved breathalysers. However, these can be purchased separately for a few pounds.

The kit comes in a handy and compact but not terribly high quality pouch. Mine had a slightly broken zipper which I was able to fix.

The beam converters have a high-quality adhesive and are easy to apply on a wide variety of headlights. The GB plate is magnetic which is particularly handy for rental cars; if your numberplate has a GB logo, you won't need it.

So far everything has held up fine. I have no reason to believe they would break in use but if they did, I'd be quite happy to buy another kit. These are emergency items and, to be perfectly frank, I'm not too worried about their durability.

Even if you're only driving in France, I recommend skipping the AA France kit and buying this and a disposable, approved breathalyser or two. The extra accessories make this a useful kit to keep in your car, even when driving in the UK.

Allcam LCD110 15" 17" 19" 22" LCD TV Wall Mount Bracket Slim Slide In VESA 100x100
Allcam LCD110 15" 17" 19" 22" LCD TV Wall Mount Bracket Slim Slide In VESA 100x100
Offered by eHome
Price: £5.60

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Simple mount but not a very tight fit, 11 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought a number of these for a project where I needed to mount a few 22-inch monitors on a wall.

The two-plate design is handy. Mount one side on the wall, one on the display and the slide them together. Add two screws in the bottom to secure the plates together.

The finish could be better. One some of the mounts there were scratches and other defects. Of course for something that is most of the time hidden behind the display, this is not a huge problem.

The biggest problem is the amount of play between the two plates. When you slide the plates together, they move back and forth by a few millimetres. This doesn't sound like much but in practice means that the display sags a little from the vertical. Mount one display above the other and it's almost impossible to get them to align properly. This can be rectified somewhat by adding suitable spacers between the plates to wedge them in place. It is still an obvious design flaw.

Be aware that the mount should be secured in one orientation only. Mounting it upside down might be convenient for certain installations but then your display would be hanging only by two small screws.

If you want a VESA mount that allows you to mount a single small to medium sized monitor on the wall and you need no adjustments, this will do the job. If your display is heavy or you are building a multi-display system, this will probably not give you enough flexibility.

Draper 29595 10-Piece Metric Ball End Hexagon Key Set
Draper 29595 10-Piece Metric Ball End Hexagon Key Set
Offered by Toolville Limited
Price: £11.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good set of hex keys in a poor holder, 11 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought the set for engineering work and have so far used it anywhere from building aluminium profile frames to tightening grub screws and even motorcycle maintenance.

I like the ball end design. I find myself using it less for hard-to-reach bolts and more to quickly undo screws I've already loosened.

The quality of the metal seems good. I'm not sure of how far these have been tempered but the smaller sizes seem to flex quite a bit in use. So far nothing has broken, chipped or rounded off.

The plastic holder is a different matter. The sizing feels a little inconsistent and a couple of the keys don't sit very securely in their slots but slide around. I assume this is a matter of manufacturing tolerances in the holder and not the keys. If you need a set that stays well in its holder, this may not be the best one. The printing on the holder is good and easy to read.

I now wish I had gone for a slightly bigger set. In the weeks after buying this set I've had to deal with screws and bolts with heads both bigger and smaller than what's included in the set.

Belkin 6-Way Economy Surge Protector, 1m Cable
Belkin 6-Way Economy Surge Protector, 1m Cable
Price: £6.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compact and handy, 11 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought three of these surge protectors, two with a 1m cable and one with a 3m cable, for a project which required 14 (low-power) appliances to be plugged in. I was looking for a good quality surge protected power strip with small footprint and mounting holes on the bottom, and this fit the bill.

The build quality is quite good and I can imagine these lasting for a long time. I've had other similar products before that felt very flexy, but this is made from quality materials. The cable feels quite stiff as most inexpensive PVC flex does.

For most uses I would look for a power strip with switched sockets and indicator lights. This has neither of those.

There are mounting holes on the back of the strip. I wanted to hang the strip on the wall so I drilled a couple of holes on the wall, inserted some flat head screws and hung the strip on them. Be aware that the mounting holes are very shallow and a normal pan-head screw wouldn't work.

Due to the compact footprint the sockets are fairly close to each other. I had to plug both kettle leads and USB chargers into these, and had to alternate them in order to make them fit in the sockets. The strip is also quite narrow which allows the earthing pin of a plug to be inserted with the plug upside down, bypassing the safety shutters in the socket. This is not a major problem but may potentially make the product a little less child-proof.

Overall, this feels like a good product, compact and better built than most leads of a similar design. I'll probably end up buying more of these in the future.

Joby GorillaPod Magnetic Tripod for Compact Cameras - Black/Red
Joby GorillaPod Magnetic Tripod for Compact Cameras - Black/Red
Offered by British_Bargains
Price: £15.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Not as useful as its big brother, 10 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this to use on my Canon PowerShot S100. I also have a couple of UltraPod mini tripods of various sizes.

The original GorillaPod is obviously a lot bigger than this mini version. The idea was that you can wrap the legs around anything to secure it in place -- hence the name. This doesn't really work for the mini version, as the legs are very short. They are more useful to position and aim the camera on a level surface rather than to wrap around objects.

Surprisingly, the magnets are strong enough to keep the tripod, and a compact camera, stuck to most things magnetic, at least when the legs are not fully extended. I would not try to support anything heavier than a small compact camera on this though. I was hoping that the magnets would allow me to find a convenient object to attach my camera to. In practice it's often difficult to find such an object, so the magnets have limited use. I find the UltraPod's velcro strap more useful in fixing the camera to various things like branches and handrails.

The tripod screw is mounted on a small platform that detaches from the rest of the tripod. The platform is quite fiddly and I'm not sure I trust the plastic. Furthermore, the platform is a little too big so that when I leave it on my camera, it prevents the battery door from opening. A screwdriver or a coin is needed to tighten the screw as it doesn't have a finger grip.

There's no getting around the fact that it's made from fairly cheap plastic. I've seen unbranded versions of this tripod on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, and I'd be surprised if they didn't come from the same factory.

If you carry a small compact camera and want a tripod that's always with you, your choices are limited. The GorillaPod magnetic is a good option as long as you understand its limitations. Given the choice between this and the UltraPod, though, I would probably opt for the latter.

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