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M. Bhangal "S" (Somewhere in Northern England)
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HyperX Medium FURY Pro Gaming Mouse Pad
HyperX Medium FURY Pro Gaming Mouse Pad
Price: £9.80

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good, reasonably priced, 2 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Excellent mouse mat for the following reasons:

Its made of cloth with a real rubber back rather than the cheaper foam backed ones, which means it will both grip the table better and not flatten in the middle with use.

The area is larger than the typical mouse mat (I have the 36x30cm one, which is about the proportions of an old 4:3 17 inch monitor). This means that your wrist is not resting at the edge of the mat so no worn or frayed edges. Important because this is the main reason I end up throwing most of my mouse mats out!

It works very well. All my mice (Logitech and Roccat) glide easily on it. Good enough for gaming and general use.

Despite being rubber, it doesn't smell that much on first use. Oh, and unlike the Amazon basics mat this is replacing, it doesn't melt if left in an office with a bright sun on it!

Any downsides?

It comes rolled up. Not really an issue, but you will have to lay it flat for a couple of hours before it stays flat right at the ends.

Finally, worth noting that HyperX Fury Mats are actually made by Kingston who are normally noted for memory and hard drives. The product page for the mats is not easy to get to (its not on the main kingston landing page). If you want to see it (likely if you are a potential buyer!), go to the Kingston website and add `/furymousepad' to the url.

Conclusion
A very good mouse mat, and reasonably priced for what it is. Recommended.

I'll be using mine at work (I'm a web application developer and dinnertime game-head), so will be using it 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. I'll post an update to this review if and when the mat starts to give up the ghost under heavy use.


Thrill-Power Overload: Thirty Years of 2000 AD (Rebellion 2000ad)
Thrill-Power Overload: Thirty Years of 2000 AD (Rebellion 2000ad)
by David Bishop
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Good companion to the comics - if you have the comics, 27 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Im currently going though all my back progs, starting with prog 1 and making up the gaps with electronic editions.
This book makes a good introduction to each period of 200AD, and I dip into Thrill Power Overload (TPO) book to see the background of what was going on internally within 2000AD.

I've actually been in publishing myself (I wrote, co-wrote or acted as technical editor/reviwer on 20 books, Web design and multimedia, 2000-2005), and a lot of the issues and incidents at 2000AD make me nod knowingly, because a lot of the time, the whole publishing industry is just one big vanity publisher (or acts as if it is!).

The books itself looks good, being in full colour quality paper with lots of illustrations. As other people have mentioned though, the comic strips themselves take a second role to the people involved in this book, so if you want to know about all but the main the strips themselves, this is not the book for you - TPO assumes you are already a fan and therefore assumes all the common knowledge that a regular reader would have. Some people may complain about that, but I think its pretty fair: you would not buy this book unless you were in the Squaxx dek Thargo. Most of the big stories are covered though. There is a nice and satisfying writeup about my favourite strip for example (The Ballad of Halo Jones), a lot said about the tardiness of Bisley for the Slaine and Dredd/Batman strips, and all the other main strips that are key to 2000AD..

People who don't have at least some of the progs (such as someone coming in from the Judge Dredd films) will suffer though.

Additionally, the book is a bit dry, and you won't be able to get through it in one sitting without a pile of back progs near you to inject the thrill power of the actual comics into the endeavour.... however, that's exactly what I am doing, so full marks!

Most importantly, it is making this 40 something year old reader more aware of one of the big deals from his childhood!

Fun fact: reading this book has made me realise all sorts of strange facts - such as 'I can see where 2000AD used to be printed from where I currently work (Holbeck, Leeds). How zarjaz is that!


Rexel Advance 4 Pocket Project Files - Purple (Pack of 5)
Rexel Advance 4 Pocket Project Files - Purple (Pack of 5)
Price: £9.44

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for the (nearly) paperless traveller, 17 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Years ago, we'd all be carrying a laptop bag or briefcase to a meeting, so the odd ring binder would fit. Nowadays, I carry a little folio case with a tablet or chromebook style laptop in it, and my entire travel luggage is smaller and thinner than that single ring binder!

Less paper because most of it is on the tablet, and smaller travel bag because all I need to pack is the tablet. Which is where these files come in. Perfect for carrying the minimal amount of paperwork I need, and small enough to go in a folio case. You get x4 pockets for loose leaf, plus a standard 4 hole punch pattern if you want to use the file as a binder.

I would also recommend buying 100 X PLASTIC END COLOURED TREASURY TAGS 25mm RED or similar treasury tags if you want to use the files as binders, as you don't get any in the set (but that's not an issue, as the tags are inexpensive).


Philips GC4520/30 Azur Performer Steam Iron - 190g Steam Boost, 2600 Watt
Philips GC4520/30 Azur Performer Steam Iron - 190g Steam Boost, 2600 Watt
Price: £62.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Big, fast, powerful, 17 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Back in the 1990’s I worked in an engineering office with a shirt and tie dress code, and had to iron a shirt every day. Nowadays I’m in a much more laid back environment: an internet company with not much of a dress code, (except perhaps a requirement for a fair bit of facial hair), and no need for that shirt and tie.

So yeah, the lack of having iron every day means I’m out of practice. I don’t really need an iron now.
Except for weddings.
And going out dresses for my other half.
And because I buy *all* my clothes online and they always come through the post with the odd deep crease.
And interviews.
And meeting clients.

And that’s the trouble: when I actually need to iron something, it’s actually more important than just another day at the office circa 1990. I need to get it right. Which is where this iron comes in. I won’t say it makes ironing easier or even fun, but it is the best iron I’ve ever used.

It’s heavy so you don’t have to try too hard to get creases out, but it glides easy, and never sticks so you don’t actually feel the weight. It warms up quickly and has safety cut-outs. Pleanty of steam and a good shape and point to get to difficult collars and shirt shoulders. It looks good (much better than the picture implies). It looks like the top end model it is, so it would make a good gift. All good!

Downside?
It makes me look like I’m good at ironing. That’s why ‘going out dresses for my other half ‘is in the list above.

Bah!


Braun Series 9 9040s Wet and Dry Electric Shaver
Braun Series 9 9040s Wet and Dry Electric Shaver
Price: £179.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expensive but the best dry shaver I have ever used, 8 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 1:55 Mins

I have previously owned two shavers: a rotary one and a foil one. A foil shaves closer than a rotary, but if you are the swarthy type like me, skipping a shave for more than 2 days leaves you with bristles too long for a foil to cut, so the fall back is the rotary. The rotary can cut longer bristles, but never cuts as close as a foil.

With the 9040s the distinction blurs. Although it is a foil shaver, it can handle long growth with no problems whatsoever (so I can bin the rotary). In fact, I can bin any other shaver I have ever owned (about 3 so far) and also my manual shaver.

The 9040 not only gives me the closest dry shave I have ever got from any electronic shaver, it has also done it in less than a minute (my current foil shaver, a Braun Series 3: 340s - takes about 2-3 mins).
Best of all, the 9040 never once pulled my hair or felt anything other than smooth, even with 4 days worth of growth.

It is actually the best razor I've ever used.

Bad points? Well not many. It is heavier, larger and nosier than the 340s (which is a best seller and a more usual size and weight), but you expect that because the 9040 is clearly more powerful. It is also expensive. Perhaps less so for me when I consider that it is replacing both a foil and rotary razor, but still on the steep side. Oh, and the box contents seems a little sparse for what is a top end model.

Overall though, any issues are minor. The 9040s is what it purports to be: an expensive shaver but also one of the best you can buy.


Lava Brightsounds Bluetooth Speaker with Lamp for Smartphone - Teal
Lava Brightsounds Bluetooth Speaker with Lamp for Smartphone - Teal
Price: £39.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Nice, simple, fun., 28 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 2:47 Mins

The video pretty much says it all.

The sound was recorded with a Tascam DR07, which has better sound fidelity than the Lava, so if you are playing the video back on decent speakers then you will get a good impression of the sound quality at the end of the video. Sound is about as good as the sound from an average TV: a bit bass/treble heavy and lacking in mid but ok for a portable device ('ok' because thats the exact response curve from most small speaker systems).

A few additional points:

There were absolutely no problems connecting to the phone via bluetooth. Unless you don't know how bluetooth works and have never done it before on your phone, you should have no issues.

Bluetooth only works if you are playing back music or internet radio from your phone. If you want to play from terrestrial radio (i.e. FM radio) from your phone, you have to use the supplied wired 3.5 inch jack. This is not a fault of the Lava - its because the radio has to use the wired connection as its aerial.

The lava seems very well built, and has no case vibration at any volume.

I tested the waterproofing by throwing a few glasses of water at it, and it was fine.

I recorded the sound with the volume at 100%, and there is a tiny bit of distortion on the bass on the very deep sounds. This disappears if you go down to 95% (NB - I'm not sure where this distortion is coming from - it could easily be from the phone, but in any case, its easy to get rid off: just go down one notch from 100% volume).

The lamp function is separate to the sound, so you can use them independently.

Battery life is good: far better than your phone!

What would I use this for?
Playing music in the garden or on a picnic in the park, listening to music in the office, or following a match on streaming radio from the phone. Anywhere away from the car and away from the hiFi, where you want something portable but are not that worried about sound fidelity. It would also be good as a night lamp for a young child who has a phone, or if you are watching iPlayer on a tablet and want some decent sound.


How We Are (How to Live Trilogy 1)
How We Are (How to Live Trilogy 1)
by Vincent Deary
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highbrow self help, 23 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've not enjoyed this type of book in ages. A self-help book that is less Oprah and much more James Burke.

The topic of the book is change: moving from what you are to what you want to be.
There are no simple techniques and self-affirmations. If you want that style of self-help book, save yourself a lot of money and just google `90% of self help books chopcow' (if nothing else, it will give you a chuckle).

The book is more of a philosophy for change. No `fake it till you make it' and `you make yourself feel the way you feel' (and a host of other non-results based theories whose only claim to fame is that they sound good). This book is more about what creates bad habits and poor ways of living, how to understand them, and then how to overcome them.

The book is full of insights and real eye opening stuff rather than the usual self-help platitudes. For example: the 80:20 rule. In both world wars, it was noticed that most people didn't directly kill anyone. Most of the casualties were at a distance or caused by the debilitating effects of war.

Most people simply can't face killing, and only a small proportion of soldiers (1 in 5 or 20%) actually had the stomach to do it face to face. Modern armies have researched this and put in place ways to make that number closer to 100%. In world war one, you would hear soldiers talking about duty and king and country. The modern soldier is not so vague. Ask one why they kill and they will say they are just completing the job they were trained for.

That must be some training!

This book looks at how this change from 20% effort to 100% can take place: how we can train ourselves to live better by understanding what is stopping us making changes so that we face what we need to do.

Oh, and the book is well written. Really well written. If nothing else, it will give you an enjoyable read through a sprawling discussion about how we choose to live the way we do.


L.A. Noire - The Complete Edition (PC DVD)
L.A. Noire - The Complete Edition (PC DVD)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £7.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Decent budget game for windows 8, once you get it running, 18 May 2015
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Not a game I would buy at full price, but now it has come down to budget price, its a decent game to get, with two big caveats

Firstly, it doesn't work at all out of the box on windows 8. Even if you follow the support instructions on the Rockstar support page, it still won't work. The two things you have to do as well as the Rockstar support instructions is (1) turn off your antivirus during the install, and (2) make sure the install path has no spaces in it *at all*. You have to select 'custom install' and set the install path manually, making sure you don't install it into a 'L.A Noire' folder as per the standard install, and neither do you want 'My Games' or anything similar in the path.

Secondly, L.A Noire is story lead rather than an interactive game. That makes it quite linear and not as open ended as some other sandbox games. You do missions in order, and don't have things like concurrent missions nor side quests going on. If you are fine with that, then its a great game. Just don't expect a 1940's themed Skyrim!

On my Windows 8 machine it works well with everything maxed out, and at WQHD (my NVidia 770GTX can make 4k, but only if I drop a few settings, but I prefer full-on graphics at less than 4k). I don't have stutter or other graphics issues.

So overall, not a free world sandbox, but a strong story led interactive experience. Some people may say that is not their definition of a game in 2015, but each to their own! I quite like it: it brings a welcome slower pace after a few hours on Battlefield multiplayer!


Iron-Front - Liberation 1944 (PC DVD)
Iron-Front - Liberation 1944 (PC DVD)
Offered by Soprano Entertainment
Price: £29.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Finally playable - as an ARMA2 mod, 11 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this in February 2013 for under a tenner. Two years later the game is full price.
Why? Because it has been reworked as a mod for ARMA2 (with an ARMA3 version in development), and it looks and plays great.

There are other free WW2 mods for ARMA2, but only Iron Front has the extended damage model (which now also works well). Graphically its still very good because its one of the few games where the graphics really do scale with better hardware, especially with graphics hardware that can run beyond HD and a fast CPU (I run on a 4k monitor with a decent GPU and fast 12 core i7).

You have to have Iron Front installed on the same PC to get the full ARMA2 Iron front mod experience (you can also try the 'lite' version of the mod for free, which has lower quality textures, etc), but if you like the ARMA series then Iron Front is now one to add to your collection.

I'd hold off until it is mid price again if you can though, although the rarity of this game seems to be set to keep the price up for some time: its in demand from ARMA fans but has been dropped by both the developer and publisher (community patches have fixed it though). The upside of this is that all the people with the game DVD who never liked the game can sell it on the bay and not only get their money back, but make a profit... but I'll be keeping mine!


XCSOURCE 5x 1/4" 3/8" Tripod Mount Screw Convert Adapter Flash Light Stand Spigot LF600
XCSOURCE 5x 1/4" 3/8" Tripod Mount Screw Convert Adapter Flash Light Stand Spigot LF600
Offered by XCSOURCE
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Saves having to buy lightstands, 2 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you have some LED lights (such as the Aputure Amarans) or ice lights, then as a photographer you would normally have a tripod or two, but will soon realise you need light stands for your LEDs. Well, with these adapters, no more! You can use these adapters to attach your lighting to an old tripod. Yes, they are not the top range quality, but there's two things going for them: you get five of them, and LED lighting weighs nothing so you don't need Manfroto solid brass ones at 6 quid just for one!

I have three LED lights (A Travor ice light for my rim light and a pair of Aputure AL-528S for my main and side lights), so have all the adapters I need for about a fiver all in... plus two extra, which is useful because two of these together make a good makeshift handle for hand held lighting. Plus I save the three figure sum I would need for three sturdy light stands (I could of course get the cheap twenty quid ones, but those are more 'slight stands' than 'light stands', and a false economy even for cheapskates like me!).

Bargain.


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