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M. Bhangal "S" (Somewhere in Northern England)
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10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse: Lose Up to 15 Pounds in 10 Days!
10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse: Lose Up to 15 Pounds in 10 Days!
by J.J. Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure the science (or ingredients) are there, 13 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you are on a crash weight loss, you need to be sure that the diet is built on a sound nutritional basis. Two issues right there.

First, the diet includes adding 'protein powder' (in brackets because the book never really specifies what that is). Its actually the stuff body builders use to put on muscle mass, and vegans sometimes use as a supplement because they do not eat the usual sources of protein (meat, chicken, fish, milk, eggs). A balanced diet would include at least one of these, and any planned diet that blithely adds 'OPTIONAL One scoop of protein powder' at the end of the recipes is probably not that balanced.

Secondly, there is only one way to detoxify your body, and that is to focus on healthy eating. There is no substance that can detoxify your body (remove poisons): you instead have to avoid those poisons in the first place, and you have to do it *long term*. Roughage in your diet is the only thing that may `detoxify', but that works in a very limited part of your body. It works by rubbing on your gastrointestinal tract, forcing your body to provide more lubricating mucus, thus making your digestive system healthier. Roughage also has benefits to intake (you eat less because your gut feels full) and benefits to your heart. There are many faddy products out there but even the (usually rather lax) FDA only allows a very limited number of ingredients to make health claims for roughage, and about the only one is oats. Eat your porridge and you have enough.

This diet does *not* include oats, so probably does not meet any claim for detoxification in the medical (or even FDA!) sense.

That put me out, but my partner thought she would give the diet a go given she is vegetarian and needs supplements anyway. She hit the next problem - ingredients. The book is aimed at the USA, and includes ingredients that are not usually available in the UK, and these include 'spring mix greens' (no idea, especially in winter), frozen peaches, blueberries strawberries (never seen frozen versions of any of these). I suppose you can use fresh, but you need about 0.5kg of each.

In the end, neither of us ended up starting. Me because I don't believe it is a healthy diet (a diet that consists of only healthy ingredients is laudable but does not make for a healthy diet overall if there is no evidence of a balanced diet). There are people out there raving about this diet working, but it looks suspiciously like a fast that contains supplement spiced juice to me.

My partner did not start because she got put off by the US ingredients and decided it would probably be messier with fresh fruit.

So a no from both of us, but to be fair, both of us were put off from even starting. But as they say in the USA, your mileage may vary.


iShoot PL-MIC02 Professional DSLR DV External Stereo Microphone
iShoot PL-MIC02 Professional DSLR DV External Stereo Microphone
Offered by UK Highland Photography
Price: £29.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A cheap step up from your inbuilt DSLR microphone, but consider better options, 9 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you watch any youtube or video short, one thing that separates a professional effort from content that feels decidedly amateur is sound. You could have the best lenses, a great camera, your footage edited in Premiere and colour corrected in Resolve, but if there is wind noise or anything less than quality sound you might as well forget it and left your 5D and 24-70 at home, and used your cell phone!

I have moved slowly from stills photography to video, starting with Sony Alpha, moving to a hacked Panasonic GH2, and finally coming to rest with something purpose designed for video: a BlackMagic camera. One thing I have realised is this: the sound your camera creates is for editing only: do not use it for the final production!

The problem with DSLRs with video recording bolted on is that they have automatic gain control on their sound amplifier (Google is your friend if you want to know why that is a bad thing, and you should ALWAYS disable it if you can), and the amplifier is not that good to start off with. That fact puts the i-shoot at a disadvantage straight away: you will not get the best quality sound from any mic going into most DSLRs. It also puts the i-shoot at a distinct advantage at the same time though: if you must record sound and video together (and therefore have to use the camera's sound circuitry), then anything much better than the i-shoot is probably wasted anyway, because the limiting factor will most likely be the camera sound amplifiers plus the usual `camera noise' (you pressing stuff, lens movement)!

Bad points of the i-shoot:

- It picks up sound from your camera (focusing, you pressing buttons or changing your grip. This occurs even with more expensive microphones (Sony, Canon, Nikon), so throwing money at this problem will not solve anything: you NEVER get good sound if you mount directly to your camera unless its on a tripod (or hand held rig that puts the mic away from the camera) and the sound source is directly in front.

- The foam mic cover does nothing for wind reduction. This is again an issue with foam mic covers, and not specific to the i-shoot. You will need a deadcat cover. Compared to the cost of this microphone, they can be expensive (I recommend Rycote).

- Even with the +10dB gain applied, the microphone output is still a little low, and using your cameras amplifier to make up the difference is probably a bad idea (as they are typically rubbish and will introduce a variable hiss).

Good points

- Price.

- Sound is reasonably well balanced, considering price.

- As mentioned before, using a higher quality microphone attached directly to a typical DSLR is probably wasted money.

- The microphone is pretty solid, consisting of all metal construction and a decent braided cable.

- You get everything you need to at least get started in one package: cable, holder, and microphone. If you're unsure about video recording and don't want to spend too much initially, the i-shoot is probably a reasonable bet.

- The battery lasts ages. I left mine on overnight as a test and it was still on in the morning. If you put a fresh battery in at the start of an event, you can leave it on all day.

Finally, if you are willing to spend something comparable to the cost of a kitlens, then this is what I would recommend:

Buy something like the Zoom H1 or Tascam DR07, attaching it to your DSLR via a short 3.5 to 3.5 cable, and with a deadcat attached for outdoor shots. If your camera does not have audio meters (a quite common omission, and a basic requirement for good sound), you can now use the meters from the recorder. You then record from both the camera and the external recorder, and replace the low quality audio from the camera with the higher quality from the recorder during post. You now also have the option to take the recorder off-camera, something you will almost certainly do more and more as you get more proficient. If you will be recording `talking head' videos, then using even a cheap pin-on mic will give you FAR better quality than a better mic on-camera, because to take a good quality headshot you will be at portrait lengths (70-90mm on the lens) and that puts your camera too far away for an on-camera mic (search Amazon for `pin on Lavalier mic'). Oh, and Google `Audacity for your sound editing if you don't have anything for post sound editing (it's a free application).

Conclusion

The i-shoot is decent for its price, and certainly better than relying on your camera's inbuilt mic. I'd recommend it if you are just dabbling and don't want to divert too much cash from that all important lens pot(!). If you are prepared to spend about a hundred quid (come on... that's cheap: about the cost of a second hand crop-frame kit lens!), you can get near-pro quality sound via the suggestions above.


I'm Much More Interesting On The Internet T-shirt
I'm Much More Interesting On The Internet T-shirt
Offered by Only 4 Humans
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Arial who?, 3 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Good for a few chuckles in the office, especially if, like me, you are a web designer.
Would also make a nice secret santa or gift for any web designers in your life.

Also worth considering is 'I Love You But I've Chosen Design', or the more have-to-be-there-to-get-it, 'Where's the brief?'. Oh, and the classic 'Give em hel(vetica)'.


AEG Jetmaxx All Floor Plus Bagged Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner, 700 Watt, Ebony Black
AEG Jetmaxx All Floor Plus Bagged Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner, 700 Watt, Ebony Black
Price: £159.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Good for small houses, in addition to an upright, or for the noise challenged, 2 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The JetMaxx is a medium sized canister vacuum cleaner. Rather than having a on/off push-button, it has a dial that goes from off to max (it looks like a very large radio volume control). At anything below maximum, it is *extremely* quiet, which has to be a big plus for anyone with skittish animals or people who don't like to be disturbed.

The suction is surprisingly good, and you rarely actually need to go to maximum suction. We have an upright full size Dyson, and in comparison for noise, our cat will bolt for the kitchen door over the Dyson, but with the JetMaxx, she will happily carry on doing her usual nothing-in-particular.

A big selling point is that the JetMaxx is very economical (the box blurb states that it is the *most* economical vacuum cleaner). May be useful for the economically minded or caravan users (where turning on a normal vacuum will otherwise dim the lights!).

Finally, you get all the attachments you will ever need, so no need to buy any more. Incidentally, the smaller attachments provide more suction than the same ones on our upright Dyson, which is a big plus.
In use, the JetMaxx can clean a whole floor of a typical semi-detached house, but I prefer to use an upright for that. Where the JetMaxx comes into its own is cleaning all the other parts: steps, edges, under furniture, in the car, or just a single room where you can't be bothered with an upright.

I've used this vacuum cleaner for a month, and in that month we have had an accidentally smashed front window, and a young lady skipping down the steps and spilling a mug of minestrone cuppa soup (and not telling anyone until we found it dried into the carpet, complete with croutons!). Both were handled well via the JetMaxx, and because of the smaller size of the JetMaxx over an upright, both were cleared up quickly. Bonus: the JetMaxx is small and uncomplicated enough for the young lady to be made to clean the soup herself!

Bad points?

Firstly, it uses a bag. The bags are designed to be thrown away after one use. You *can* reuse them, but this can be a bit messy as you have to get the dirt out through the round hose hole at the top (there is no clip at the bottom of the bag as used to happen in older vacuum cleaners). In fairness though, the system uses the s-bag system, which is a new standard that is common to all mainstream canister vacuums. The s-bag system even has its own webpage, Google is your friend.

My advice, don't buy new bags from the link in the instructions: buy them from Amazon or third party resellers, as they are cheaper there. As well as the bag, you also have filters to clean every couple of months of use.

Second bad point: you only get one bag to start off with. Tight!

Thirdly, the hose goes in at the top of the vacuum and not at the front. One of the big advantages of canister vacuums is that you can store them in a very small space, and perhaps even under a sofa. Well, not with this one, unless you unscrew the sticking-up hose!

Conclusion.

I'd recommend the JetMaxx as the main vacuum for a smallish house, or as an addition to an upright for a typical house. Small, powerful, but can also be quiet and economical


Vanish Gold for Whites Oxi Action Stain Remover Powder 1.41 kg
Vanish Gold for Whites Oxi Action Stain Remover Powder 1.41 kg
Price: £13.99

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Vanish soap and spray, 1 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Not much to say about this one other than its the best Vanish. We've used the spray and soap, and this stuff is better than either of them.

Although the blub on the tub says 'for brighter whites', we actually used Vanish Gold on a general wash of clothes (both coloureds and whites) we would have otherwise binned: old tea stains, curry splashes, last years grass stains, you get the picture!

The wash came out perfect with all the stains gone, and most of these stains could bot be moved with either the Vanish spray nor soap.

Only downside is the cost, but bear in mind that one tub will go a long way: you will not be using it for all your washes, just for clothes that need a bit of a good clean.

Recommended.


Logitech G300S Optical Gaming Mouse
Logitech G300S Optical Gaming Mouse
Price: £34.87

4.0 out of 5 stars Cheap but quality gaming mouse, but a little small, 25 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Lots of good things about this gaming mouse: the body and buttons are placed exactly the same irrespective of whether you are left or right handed, it can remember per-game settings in its own onboard memory, and it definitely looks pretty, with a nice finish and customizable coloured LEDs.

The mouse is also cheaper than most other gaming mice. Despite this, the mouse does not look or feel cheap: solid button movement and a nice rubber surface for your fingers (and not the painted on rubber that wears out even on other more expensive Logitech mice - the g3000 has a real rubber panel glued on). The only minor concessions to price are rubber wire (rather than a braided one) and a rubber scroll wheel (rather than the metal one you get on other more expensive Logitechs). Neither of these concessions to price affect usability.

Compared to other gaming mice I have, it is very responsive and accurate... but then, we expect that from Logitech gaming mice.

Perfect mouse so far, there must be a catch!

Unfortunately, yes there is: size. The mouse is a little on the small size. An older Logitech MX mouse I have (and would consider to be 'full size) is 13cm long. The g3000s is 11.5cm. Doesn't seem much of a difference, but I asked a large handed work colleague to have a look: the back of palm of his hand rested on the MX mouse, but with the g3000s, the back of bis palm was totally off the mouse. Nevertheless, this small size can be an advantage for a portable gaming laptop, or if (like me) you do actually have small hands.

So to conclude, a very nice and very customizable gaming mouse, but perhaps a little small for large hands. Recommended for laptop gaming users, people with smaller than average hands, and all left handers. If you are looking for a small gaming mouse, 5 stars. If you are looking for a full size gaming mouse, three stars. I'll split the difference: 4 stars.


7 Day clear Pill box in Blue
7 Day clear Pill box in Blue
Offered by The Out Let Store UK
Price: £3.50

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars cheap and cheerful... for a while., 13 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Cheap, but you get what you pay for. The box is made of one piece of plastic, meaning that the hinges are a thin film of plastic that will eventually break through constant use or if you drop it. I bought two boxes, and one lid came off after three weeks.

I have now binned both these boxes, and would recommend Anabox 7 Day Pillbox Green instead, which I now use. More expensive, but made of tougher plastic and has a proper hinge.


Twitter is Not a Strategy
Twitter is Not a Strategy
by Tom Doctoroff
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twitter is only part of the strategy, 12 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In the first chapter of the book, there is a section on web marketing done correctly. It cites the Cadburys 'eyebrows' campaign (the one with a boy and girl who move their eyebrows in time to music). In particular, it talks about an online advert that was part of this promotion. This allowed users to record their own version of the eyebrow dance, and the best ones appeared in the ad. This ad appeared on the front page of MSN, one of the biggest websites on the web.

The actual technical build of this online ad was done by one of my colleagues (who still sits a few tables down the office from me).

The ad was not an idea that we designed though. The ad was just one part of an overall, linked campaign that had to speak in a consistent voice. The online ad had to tie in with the TV ad, which had to tie in with the print media, and all of which had to tie in with the Cadburys chocolate marketing (i.e. `A glass and a half of milk', which was temporally changed to `A glass and a half of joy' for the eyebrows campaign).

That all takes some thinking, and that thinking goes under the names of `branding' and 'marketing strategy'. And that is what this book is all about.

Web advertising and social media in general is no different to conventional (`top down') marketing and branding: the message is still the same. Although people in the web space talk about social, interactive and other advertising where the user rather than the brand marketers has a say (`bottom up'), this book shows how both top down and bottom up marketing are actually closely related in that they must be linked to give a consistent message... otherwise your web content becomes just another good but unlinked idea in a sea of other good ideas.

This book shows you how to do that, starting from first principles. Having worked in rich media advertising for several years, I have a good idea of what does and doesn't work in rich media, and this book seems to be a good description of the process.

The only issue that some have may be that the book delves deep into standard marketing and brand techniques. By the end of the book though, you realise that is because the old ways work: the web does not break anything. The goals of marketing are unchanged.

Conclusion

Best suited for web entrepreneurs who need a quick primer of how to market something you want to sell. Existing TV and print marketers may be less excited because the book goes through a lot of what they already know.

Assuming you are the target audience, 5 stars. Recommended.


Genuine Soviet Russian Air Force Great Coat - Navy Blue Double Breasted Full Length Overcoat
Genuine Soviet Russian Air Force Great Coat - Navy Blue Double Breasted Full Length Overcoat
Offered by Epic Outdoor - The Military & Outdoor Specialists!
Price: £44.95 - £64.95

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone loves a man in uniform, 11 Jan. 2015
Fair disclosure: I haven't bought my greatcoat from Amazon, as I wanted one in black (they are available in black from a seller at a popular auction site).

Military style greatcoats for men were high fashion in the early 90s (and are still worn: the original Kasabian band image had them for example). Sure you can wear a pea coat or a camouflage pattern and call it a military look, but nothing says `classic military' more than a double breasted great coat.

So if you are in the market for a military greatcoat, you have two choices: buy an old 90s version by Gaultier, Valentino or Dior (good luck with that!), or buy a current imitation (these will be cut down versions and usually look more like a long pea coat).

Or you can realise that the Russian Army has a load of original and unworn winter greatcoats that they have had mothballed since the mid-80s and they are now appearing as surplus. The great thing about these greatcoats are that they are the real thing. You can tell they are no imitation just by picking one up: it weighs over 4Kg! Better still, they are cut just like the Gaultier and Dior versions from the 90s, which you would expect, because the Soviet greatcoat was the original 90s inspiration!

Buying tips:

Firstly, you need to get the length just right. A greatcoat should fall to just below the knee, otherwise the coat will go lower and you stop looking like a cool indie rock star and instead end up looking like a retro 80s goth, Captain Jack Harkness or a Matrix fan (unless of course that's what you want...). Too short and it ends up looking like a bad idea IMO. I already have a tailor made long coat. I followed the height chart exactly, and this coat falls to exactly the same length as the tailor made one: two inches below the knee. The coat actually comes with an unlined hem, so you can easily get it shortened if necessary (I haven't). Fashionista nit-pick: the man in the product photo is actually wearing one a tiny bit too short: it should stop at the knee when sitting, so when you stand the hem should be about two inches below the knee.

For the waist, bear in mind that people in the 80s were a little thinner than they are now and all sizes listed are for a medium build. If you are anything above that at the waist, you will have trouble as the coat comes in at the waist when you button it up (when buttoned up, the top half tapers down to the waist, and the buttons form a shallow 'V', and then the coat then tapers back out from there to the bottom... so you will look good in it unless your body, um, tapers in the wrong direction at the waist!).

The coat will smell funny when you first get it. When I said `mothballed' earlier, I don't mean that as an analogy to time: you will smell the moth repellent on the material! You will need to air the coat for a week or so (or pop it on a hanger and put it on a clothesline for a day) until the smell goes away. I initially thought it was the age of the materiel that was causing the smell, but don't worry, its the preservative and it goes away within days. After that is smells as wool should. Patience is the keyword: you do not have to get it dry cleaned!

The material is 90% wool, but bear in mind that it is Soviet quality, not Dior! It isn't fully lined inside, only the top half. The cloth is a far from soft, but looks as if it has been built to last (well, actually, it has lasted 20 years already). You might find the material rough around the neck and the wool stiff generally for a while until you break it in. I found no issues whatsoever due to the age of the garment. It has not faded, does not have any creases that won't come out, and the cloth looks new. The only real issue is a lot of loose thread ends, but the stitching is sound, so you just have to cut the ends.

If you want a shorter coat in this style, search the web for 'Buschlat'. This has the same upper design as this greycoat, but is only as long as a pea coat... but much more striking.

Overall, if you want to wear the high military look but fashion pea coats and camouflage jackets are not enough, this is the one to buy. These coats will not be around for ever (they are limited supply, and once the stock has gone they will almost certainly become collectors' items... and many popular sizes are already unavailable anywhere. It goes without saying that these coats serve their purpose well: they are brilliant winter coats.

Oh and my partner loves the look, which is to be expected: everyone loves a man in uniform!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 11, 2015 3:04 PM GMT


Zyliss Acid Etched Rotary Fine and Coarse Drum Grater
Zyliss Acid Etched Rotary Fine and Coarse Drum Grater
Price: £18.12

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice kitchen gadget for the pizza lover., 4 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 1:16 Mins

Firstly, this is described on the box as a cheese grater and not a general grater. I have tried it with vegetables (carrots), and it doesn't work at all well with them.

You get two cutting drums, a fine grater (lots of small strands, which I would use for sandwiches) and course cut (thicker strands, which I would use where I intend to melt the cheese).

In use, its all pretty easy: pop your cheese in the compartment at the top of the grater and then turn the drum handle. The grater is designed so that as you grip, the cheese is pressed onto the grater drum.

Perhaps rather cheekily, I have shown an alternative in the video: a small grater board. As you can see, the Zyliss grater is far quicker. I'd use the Zyliss for grating cheese for a pizza. If I was just grating cheese for a sandwich for one, I'd go for the grater board, as its easier to wash up afterwards (NB - I am a bloke though!).

Overall, recommended for anyone who cooks pizza often, or anyone who just can't stand all the mundane bits of cooking and lives for kitchen gadgets that make it all quicker! It also comes in a very present shaped box, so would make a decent gift for a kitchen fanatic.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 4, 2015 9:38 PM GMT


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