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M. Bhangal "S" (Somewhere in Northern England)

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The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (PC DVD)
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (PC DVD)
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I see dead people, 18 Oct 2014
A coming of age story gone wrong, told in an understated and restrained American Gothic style. You don't carry a gun, you never kill anyone, you don't change anything, and you are not told what to do.

You are a detective, and you have a story to uncover. You do this literally, by piecing together little bits of flashbacks that are interspersed within a beautiful but empty landscape.

Its not just your character that has to understand the story: you have to as well. It is possible to run through the game and not understand what the main character comes to understand.

Only at the end do you realise what was driving the events: you realise why the story is set in autumn, what the 'sleeper' is, and why the world is empty. And best of all, its not something to do with an alien artifact, the Templars or some other gaming cliche. Its actually something simple, and the clues were there all along the way hidden in plain sight.

There is only one slight concern, and that is that the game lasts around 5 hours. Seven is probably the norm for me, so perhaps a little short.

We talk about next gen games, but its becoming more and more apparent that next-gen refers more and more about hardware and less and less on creativity and direction. Along with Dear Esther and Ultraworld, the Vanishing of Ethan Carter is the beginning of something really new and cutting edge, and its all about getting away from lazy game design and Hollywood visuals and towards real narrative.

Veet Infini'Silk Pro IPL Hair Removal System with Precision Facial Attachment
Veet Infini'Silk Pro IPL Hair Removal System with Precision Facial Attachment
Price: £224.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don’t use in a darkened room, but apart from that, pretty good!, 14 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I got this for my partner, but as we have very different skin (she has fair skin with fine hair whereas I am more the swarthy type with jet black hair, and lots of it), we thought we would both try it out. Well, what actually happened was that she point-blank refused to use it unless I used it first!

Anyway, the Veet checks your skin type and only allows you to use it if it is appropriate, and it okayed both of us.
We’ve been using the Veet for a month, which is two treatments each: her legs, my back. She definitely sees a useful difference, and I notice a more gradual slowdown of hair growth.

In use it feels much like a camera Flash against your skin: you put the Veet against shaved skin, press a button and there is a burst of light and a slight sensation of warmth (it’s not at all unpleasant). A second later, the flash has charged up and you move the head down a bit to the next skin area, and do it again. You repeat this every two weeks initially, and should see hair growth start to slow down.

So that I could do a full and proper review, my partner also helpfully showed me the relative painfulness of using a mechanical epilator and wax sheets. Well, that experience was certainly fun packed for one of us, but it is fair to say that I found the light Flashes to be the most preferable of the three! If light Flashes may be a problem for you, just use it during the day in a bright room to begin with.

Neither of us have had any skin problems with the light pulses, and looking at the instructions in detail, it looks like the people who would be expected to have trouble with the Veet are the ones who are very sunlight intolerant.

If you are naturally very dark (or have tanned yourself to be so), the Veet won’t work, presumably because you will absorb too much of the light to your skin, and not allow the light to get deep enough to act on the hair follicles. When I say ‘it won’t work’, the Veet actually physically stops you using it if you are too dark: the main head refuses to Flash. The instructions don’t show images of how dark you have to be for this to be an issue, so I can’t comment on that. Your best bet is probably to google ‘infini silk faq’ and have a look at that (there is also a download link for the manual at the bottom of the FAQ if you want to have a look at that before you buy). For those interested in how long the Flash will last, the FAQ tells all.

So, to conclude:
The Veet will not replace your normal epilation technique (shaving or wax) overnight but over time it slows down hair growth significantly. It doesn’t look like it stops hair growth completely (or at least, it did not do this for us, but we started on low power settings). Oh, and I can certainly vouch that between a mechanical epilator, wax sheets and the Veet Infini Silk, the Veet is certainly the most humane hair removal system out there! It is also the easiest to use once you get past the concept.

I have given the Veet four stars so far because it looks like it will work for both of us. I’ll update the score as and when we see more definite results. If you have any questions add a comment and I’ll ask the expert (i.e. my partner).

Fotodiox Pro Lens Mount Adapter, Sony Alpha A-Mount (Konica Minolta Maxxum AF) Lens to Canon EOS Camera, for Canon ESO 1D, 1DS, Mark II, III, IV, 1DC, 1DX, 30D, 40D, 50D, 60D, 70D, 5D, 7D, Rebel T3, T3i, T4i, T5i, SL1, and C300, C500
Fotodiox Pro Lens Mount Adapter, Sony Alpha A-Mount (Konica Minolta Maxxum AF) Lens to Canon EOS Camera, for Canon ESO 1D, 1DS, Mark II, III, IV, 1DC, 1DX, 30D, 40D, 50D, 60D, 70D, 5D, 7D, Rebel T3, T3i, T4i, T5i, SL1, and C300, C500
Offered by Fotodiox Inc. USA
Price: £26.04

4.0 out of 5 stars Your only option: beggers can't be choosers!, 24 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This adapter (and its clones such as Pixco) is your only option if you want to attach Sony Alpha to Canon. There are two issues though:

Firstly, the difference in flange distance between Sony Alpha and Canon is of the order of a millimetre, so you would not expect the glass element to be much of a problem. The adapter is clearly not a millimetre long, so most of the glass is actually correcting the added length of the adapter itself, rather than correcting the difference in flange distance between the two lens types! Fotodiox are obviously doing this because they have only one standard size of adapter, but a thinner adapter would have been more appropriate as it would require less glass.

Secondly, the adapter introduces a +0.5 zoom. Great if you want this, but not so good if you are trying to use a wide angle lens as I was! This issue totally defeated my objective!

Since this is actually your only option for attaching a Sony A to Canon AF, I'm awarding 4 stars. If a better alternative appears (i.e. an adapter that is far thinner), I'd be tempted to give that a try, but right now, you are stuck with fotodiox!

Relaxing Music Nature DVD - Seasons: Spring & Summer
Relaxing Music Nature DVD - Seasons: Spring & Summer
Dvd ~ Tony Helsloot
Offered by naturedvdcouk
Price: £17.95

4.0 out of 5 stars good, but not true HD quality, 24 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My partner loves these videos. We are avid walkers, but when we can't get out, she often puts one of these videos on as background.

I am, however, an amateur video shooter (I own a few video capable DSLR cameras), and it is obvious to me that these videos are not full HD as advertised. They have been upscaled to full HD (they look like 720 upscaled to 1080, and there seems to be a lot of digital zoom going on). If you have a large screen or are someone who is likely to notice the lack of resolution on these videos you may want to reconsider purchasing.

My partner is totally oblivious to this issue (I have bought her the 'Spring and Summer', 'Autumn and Winter' and 'Autumn' DVDs) and she loves them.

5 stars from her, three stars from me. I'll split the difference: 4 stars.
Can't say fairer than that!

Pinzon Plush Velvet Throw Grey
Pinzon Plush Velvet Throw Grey
Price: £11.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Plush but not quite as warm to the touch as expected, 24 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Really soft to the touch but not as warm to the touch as other similar products we have in the home, and neither is it thick enough to be used as a warming tv blanket. If you want a throw that can also be used as a warming blanket, you are probably looking at the wrong thing - search instead for 'teddy bear throw'.

The stitching looks good and it has been nice in use. So far it looks like it will last.

I'm not sure what `micro-plush' is but the label says 100% polyester, which goes some way to explaining why it isn't as warm to the touch as expected, and neither is it as usable as a tv blanket - this product is strictly a throw only.

As with all throws, the true colours will only come out after it has been washed a few times. In my experience, things either get much worse or much better. I'll update this review if anything untoward happens.

*** Edit October 2014 ***
The resident household expert on comfy blankets and an easy life generally (Marmite, our cat) saw the throw on the window sill one night and decided it would be her preferred place to sleep from now on. She now gets agitated if it is not there and has claimed it as her own. She is one of the most finicky creatures I have ever met, so its fair to say that this turn of events represents the highest level of acclaim possible from our household - rating increased from three to four stars!

Linksys RE6500 Universal Dual Band AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender (4 x Gigabit Ethernet, AUX Music Streaming, WPS)
Linksys RE6500 Universal Dual Band AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender (4 x Gigabit Ethernet, AUX Music Streaming, WPS)
Price: £82.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Like one of my mates: hard work initially, but nice once you get to know it, 10 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is the third extender I've bought, the others being the TP-Link TL-WA850RE TP-Link TL-WA850RE 300Mbps Universal Wall Plug Range Extender/ Wi-Fi Booster (WPS function, Easy Configuration), and the tiny TP-Link WR702N Nano router TP-Link TL-WR702N Wireless N Nano Router/Range Extender/TV, Gaming, Set-top Adapter with USB Charger. The `850 just did not work (could not get a signal) and the Nano worked but tended to lose connection if you did anything other than load basic webpages (BBC iPlayer would kill it).

The Linksys AC1200 Max is the first one that actually works, and it works well.
The problem was the setup. The manual has a simple 1 page quick start, and it would have been great if that all worked, but it did not.
I connected to the router setup immediately with my Android tablet (noting that the Android wireless signal strength symbol will stay grey rather than turn blue, this means there is a connection to the router, but no connection through to the internet, which I'm guessing has confused some of the other reviewers).

Anyway, the setup could not see my wireless connection. After about 20 minutes of trial and error (including trying to put in my router wireless settings into the extender manually), it turned out to be because my router wireless security was set to WPA-PSK which the extender does not seem to like. Once I went into my router and switched to WPA-PSK+WPA2-PSK, it all worked well, at least it did once I turned the extender off then on.

All fine, but hard work. I had to mess about with my router and do lots of random things to get it all working, none of which could be gleaned from either the supplied manual or the online pdf (NB - the model number is NOT `AC1200', but `RE6500', so you need to search on that to get to the online pdf manual - grr!).

Now that the extender is working, it is working VERY well. Tablets get 80 to 100% signal strength anywhere in the house, when before they used to only get signal at all if on the same floor as the wireless.

All good in the end, but I really had to earn it!

In conclusion, a really good product, but make sure you have someone computer savvy around to set it up!

Fair disclosure: I am a web application developer, having written 20 or so books on web design and web development, so I would put myself towards the higher end of `computer literate'. It took me 30 minutes to set the extender up.

Top LED 2.1Mm To 2.5X0.7Mm Dc Plug Converter Adapter - Takes 2.1Mm Male Dc Jack
Top LED 2.1Mm To 2.5X0.7Mm Dc Plug Converter Adapter - Takes 2.1Mm Male Dc Jack

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for BMPCC, 9 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this to be able to attach an Anker Astro Pro 2 battery Anker® 2nd Gen Astro Pro2 20000mAh Multi-Voltage (5V 9V 12V) 4-Port Portable Power Bank Pack External Battery USB Charger with PowerIQ™ Technology for iPhone 6 5S 5C 5 4S, iPad Air, mini, Galaxy S5 S4 S3, Note 4 3, Galaxy Tab 4 3 2, Pro, Nexus 4 ... to my Black magic pocket camera Blackmagic Pocket Cinema.

Does the job perfectly without having to get the soldering iron out.

Worth noting that the Lanparte cable Lanparte BMPCC DC Power Supply Cable 12V For Blackmagic Pocket Camera DSLR Rig does NOT work with the Anker, because it connects to the Anker IN and not the OUT port!

Level Up!: The Guide to Great Video Game Design
Level Up!: The Guide to Great Video Game Design
by Scott Rogers
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A standard text on the subject, 4 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book is derived from a well-received lecture that resulted in the publisher inviting Scott Rogers to write something for them. You can get to the lecture by Googling `Everything I learned about Level Design, I Learned from Disneyland Scott Rogers' and clicking on the first YouTube video result. If that lecture looks interesting to you (noting that the sound gets a lot better 5 minutes in), then this book is definitely for you.

For those not into sitting through a 1 hour video to choose a book, all you really need to know is that this guy did game design for stuff like God if War and Soul Blade/Soul Calibur.

In this book, he goes through the entire game design process (that is, everything other than the coding and graphic design). So we are talking about story, character and controls, game UI, level design, combat and balancing, cut scenes, and all the other things that need to be designed before a game stops being an extended graphical demo and becomes something playable and compelling.

The trouble is that most people thinking about writing a Mobile or Desktop game tend to think about the other stuff first: coding and graphic design. If you want to make a successful game though, you probably need to look at Level Up, because it talks about all the things that will help give your code and graphics the illusive thing we call 'good gameplay'.

The book itself is an entertaining read, with lots of common sense and logical, down-to-earth advice. In fact, Level Up is so good that I'm pretty sure it will become a standard text on game design. Can't say better than that!

The Warren Buffett Way: + Website
The Warren Buffett Way: + Website
by Robert G. Hagstrom
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.58

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'd rather be vaguely right than precisely wrong, 27 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Let's cut to the chase. The reason Buffett is such a successful investor is that he treats investing in a company the same as buying the same company outright. Rather than looking at a company as an accountant or bookie, he looks at it as a prospective buyer and asks far simply (but ultimately deeper) questions. That is essentially his strategy in a nutshell.

For example, if you are thinking about buying shares in Ford, you should treat it the same as buying Ford outright (if you had the money), or at least the same as buying one of their cars. If there are better cars available, you should be looking at the other car manufacturers to invest in. What if you don't know much about cars? Don't invest in cars: choose something else you know about!

Further, Buffet has a habit of saying very simple things that tend to cut through previously complex discussions.

For example, there are two main types of investor: growth or value. Growth investors look for fast growing companies, and value investors look for sound companies that will last in the long term (but are perhaps currently out of favour and therefore undervalued). Buffet believes 'growth is simply the calculation to determine value'. The discussion then becomes a non-argument: other things being equal, growth and value are the same thing!

Another common complex financial term is risk. For most personal investors, risk is generally tied to share price: beta, limit orders, stop-loss and target prices, etc. By assigning a value or value-range to risk, we hope to minimise it (or at least, control average risk for a given portfolio by balancing it with risk values - such as beta - in mind). Buffett takes a much simpler route: risk is simply everything you don't know but should. If you use indices or ratios to quantify risk you are more likely to panic sell too cheap or buy high just because the indices turn suddenly (or are even being manipulated to fool the unwary - as any AIM investor knows only too well!). If you instead do your research and only buy shares in areas you understand and for companies whose background and prospects you have well researched, then fluctuations do not concern you. Instead, you look at whether anything material has changed, and if it has not, you don't worry about artificial indices such as risk.

The book is full of lots of down to earth advice such as the examples above. Like most down-to-earth advice though, you will forget it all unless you have something in mind to apply it to. My advice to get the most of this book is to have one or more companies in mind when you read the book, and apply the advice to them. I actually applied it to two companies: the next one I am considering investing in, and the one I work for.

For the one I work for, I joined when it was a start-up, and assumed it has now matured into a `normal company'. It hasn't: from my Buffett-guided research, I now realise it was sold at a high price that factored in the growth rate it had maintained as a start-up. From my previous perspective, I thought it was still growing (we have doubled in size every 18 months), but I now realise it has doubled in staffing levels only: I now know what the real picture is, but I needed this book to show me where to look for the real growth.

The only downside to the book is that it panders a little too much to the cult of personality. For me, there is a little too much about Buffett as a person in the early third of the book (especially the forward and introduction, which can only be described as schmaltzy!). Another possible criticism would be that it can be vague, but to coin a phrase (by someone far cleverer than me, and possibly Buffett), `I'd rather be vaguely right than precisely wrong'. Plus, if you follow my advice and have a couple of companies in mind as you read the book, it all becomes a lot more specific (I'd strongly advise you to include the company you work for, you may well come away with the same eureka moments I did!).

It also goes without saying that this book is all about a style of investing, and not investing itself. In particular, you should be able to understand company accounts to get the most out of investing. If you do not, then I strongly recommend you search `FT Guides' and buy at least one of them before you put your savings on the line!

Overall, recommended.

1234-Buy 70
1234-Buy 70

5.0 out of 5 stars Bargain for small cameras and cheap if you can bear the plastic head for larger cameras, 9 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: 1234-Buy 70 (Electronics)
Costs less than a fiver and the monopod leg sections are very sturdy, so has to be top marks for that alone.

The head however is a different matter and where the saving is being made - its plastic, which limits what you can put on it without feeling a little squeamish.

Its ok for my small Panasonic LX7 and Olympus Stylus 1 (both advanced compacts), and actually seems to be fine for my Micro 4/3rds and Sony Alpha A77 APS-C (the latter of which is a large heavy camera with a full magnesium body, and with many of my lenses, as heavy as a 5D) as it looks like the head can take it... but I really worry about a hairline crack on that plastic costing me dear!

The worst thing is that you can't even replace the plastic head for a better metal one: the plastic is molded on and there is no screw thread for a replacement. If they'd sacked the plastic head off completely and just put a screw thread on it I could have turned this into an absolute bargain video tripod by putting one of my pro fluid heads on it, as that was my original plan. Ho-hum.

In the end I decided to go totally the other way and stop being a cheapskate, and have gone for this much more expensive monopod: Benro Video Monopod with Twist Lock Legs, S2 Head and 3 Leg Base (Black)

The Benro might be x20 the price, but the leg section on it is not 20 times better (more like twice as good), but is actually x3 the weight, so the cheapo monopod still gets used with my Advanced compacts for long walks.

So, fine for small cameras, and probably fine for most enthusiasts on occasional use, but that plastic head is really off-putting if you have an expensive lens hanging from it, irrespective of weight!

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