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M. Bhangal "S" (Somewhere in Northern England)
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LAPTOP COOLER STAND 2 LARGE FANS TILT FOR 15 17" INCH LAPTOP COOLING PAD L136
LAPTOP COOLER STAND 2 LARGE FANS TILT FOR 15 17" INCH LAPTOP COOLING PAD L136
Offered by ChanceryChairCover
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Cheap quick solution, 26 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have an older i7 Sony Vaio 17" laptop that has begun overheating. I use it for work and needed something to tide me over until the work order system got me a new laptop. This cooler fits the bill nicely.

It definitely cools the laptop, so does it primary purpose well. You can hear the cooler fans, but this is offset by the reduction in noise of the Vaio's internal fan.

In terms of build, the cooler is a little plasticky and big, making it less than portable (i.e. it won't fit easily in your laptop bag), and it doesn't rest easily on your lap, but if you just want something cost effective that will permanently stay on your desk, this cooler is ideal.


Kärcher SC4 Continuous Steam Cleaner, 3.5 Bar
Kärcher SC4 Continuous Steam Cleaner, 3.5 Bar
Price: £208.26

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Faster than doing it manually, really gets into the corners, 25 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 2:47 Mins

The video really says it all (go straight to 1.26 if you just want to see the steam cleaner in action), but here's a few additional points:

The device itself is rather small, but once all the attachments are added, it is a fair bit bigger, so have a cupboard/garage handy to store it away.

The water reservoir is rather small and you have to refill it after about 4-5 minutes continuous use. Not a problem if you are in the house, but if you are outside, take a bucket of water with you!

For my first test (as videoed), I did not clean the cooker top for a month as a trial for the Karcher.

The attachment I used (small detail brush) got clogged up with grease after a few minutes, and I had to clean that off with washing up liquid. Shows that the thing was shifting some serious grease, but if you don't clean grease build up off the brush, you end up just spreading the grease about!

Although there was a month's worth of burnt in food/dirt that was cleaned off very quickly, there was also some long term grease under the gas burners that has never been cleaned (and been there for over 10 years - since we got the house). The steam cleaner loosened some of this off, but by no means all. I guess it will take a few more cleans before it comes off. Worth noting that I used absolutely no detergent or pre-soak, so it was all water from the steam cleaner.

There was some long term grease in the cooker knobs that we could never have got off with a cloth because it is right in a corner, but the steam cleaner excels at this sort of thing, and blew it off straight away, as seen in the video.
The steam played havoc with my camera, so I could not film all I would have liked (the lens kept getting fogged up with the steam!).

The steam comes out at a maximum of 3 bar, which is quite fast (about as fast as a fire extinguisher with the smallest attachment that I use in the video). So this is NOT something you want to be accessible to small children... I'd be tempted to store it in the garage to prevent inquisitive fingers. I didn't think to use gloves on my first attempt, but if you need to hold things whilst cleaning them, get a pair of vileda gloves.

The steamer is easy to set up and put away. Only thing is that because the steam is under pressure, I fired the nozzle with the unit powered off to make sure all the pressure was gone before I packed it up. This took 2 minutes. Not bad, but bear in mind the entire wash itself took 5 minutes. I think you can do the same simply by unscrewing a lid on the heater unit, but I intentionally only read the quick instructions for the demo (as that's as far as most people read!), so didn't know.

The end result really was after 5 minutes, and my first attempt. Quite pleased, although the downside was the fact that the 10 year old grease was not totally shifted... I'll add something later once it has all come off to say how many cleans it took.

And, yes, my better half is less than happy I have filmed her cooker in such a state for all to see on Amazon, and would like to point out that most of it is me making curries as I was left alone for a few weekends. She says I'm going on the couch for it if it doesn't do the curtains.

Bah, that's the Saturday lie-in gone!


ByteStor Pro 16GB 40Mbps Class 10 High Speed Micro SDHC UHS-1 Card with SDHC Card Adapter
ByteStor Pro 16GB 40Mbps Class 10 High Speed Micro SDHC UHS-1 Card with SDHC Card Adapter
Price: £8.89

5.0 out of 5 stars No issues, (nearly) no surpises, 21 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The SD card comes formatted, with a formatted capacity of 14.9GB. No surprises there. The mcro SD card comes with a decent microSD to SD adapter (useful if you want to use a microSD card in a laptop where the norm is an SD slot). One odd thing I noticed straight away is that SD adapter's `lock' graphic is printed the wrong way around (you can see this clearly in the Amazon product shot, the lock position should be down away from the contacts, but the Bytestor has it up). Looks like a silly mistake. No worries for me, but may confuse the hell out of some people initially!

Putting it in a USB3 card reader to see how fast it is in practical terms (as manufacturers tend to be a little economical with the truth!), I get 12-14MB/s for typical write with largish files, with the average sustained rate being 12.5Mb/s (I was copying 10-100Mb video footage for a sequence I shot a few weeks ago, from a fast SSD drive through USB3, so the limiting factor would be the SD card write speed). For small files (music MP3s) it's just under 12MB/s

Read speed to an internal SSD through an external USB3 card reader (so again, the limiting factor will be the SD card's read speed) was a respectable 60-80MB/s.

So what would I use this SD card for? It is fast enough for the following:

If you want to put external SD card in your cell phone/tablet for music or app space.

For a quick way to transfer a small amount of files from your laptop, or to back up your documents folder from a laptop. Unlike a

USB stick, the usb inside its SD adapter fits easily in your wallet, so is more portable.

The read speed is probably too slow for most current (24MP) DSLRs unless you want a cheap and slow backup. That is not a fault of the ByteStor though - stop being a cheapskate and get yourself a sandisk extreme pro 95Mb/s if you want DSLR speeds! HD video is ok (on my Sony), but again, I would use a faster class for video even though this one is in spec for typical compressed HD, because even a single dropped frame kills you.

Fine for a cell phone or tablet camera though. If you shoot JPEG you may also be ok.

As of this writing, the Bytestor is a little more expensive than other class 10s, but that is probably because it is a new release. Compare before you buy as prices are competitive.

Other than that, all good! I will update this review if I have any issues.


NuoYa005 Camping Lights CREE Q5 3 Mode Spiked Mace Baseball Bat LED Flashlight/Torch
NuoYa005 Camping Lights CREE Q5 3 Mode Spiked Mace Baseball Bat LED Flashlight/Torch
Offered by sntuk
Price: £11.62

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good torch for brightness and personal security., 15 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Far better than expected. I expected a no brand plasticky cheap thing, but I got something better...

The brand is Utrafire (search Amazon for 'Ultrafire' and you will see it is a cheap but well reviewed brand, so no worries there).

The case is 100% aluminium, making it light enough to carry in a camping bag but not so cheap it will crack if you drop or throw it.

The handle is covered in rubber, so the grip is good.

Its not as bright as a Feenix or other uber-bright, uber-expensive brand, but it is good and bright. Only slight issue is that the beam is long with less throw than others (think 'search light', the hotspot is only about a foot at 6 metres out, but the spill is about 3-4 metres), but this feels acceptable given the other use for this torch (i.e. when used as a security torch, you want the beam to be tight so it is able to dazzle, and given the main beam is about face width at a couple of metres out, it certainly does dazzle - I just tried it on the other half in the back garden in the dark - her report is 'yes it did *!&£? dazzle me!). Nevertheless, its certainly good enough to take the dog for a walk in winter, or to search a dark property and garden.

Ok, so this is nice bright and sturdy torch, but you're really buying this particular model for personal security. What you want to be able to do is to be left in peace walking the dog or whatever, but if someone approaches in an aggressive way, you want the torch to be able to dazzle them long enough for you to do whatever you need to do.

The torch seems more than capable of this. It has the size and weight of a metal rounders bat (but a little thinner at the top), with the top 4 inches having a set of fierce looking 4mm bumps. The front of it has some light castling, meaning you can jab with it, Finally, its not so over the top so it does still look like a torch.

Oh, and it accepts AAA batteries, so it will be cheap to run if you have the required batteries as a rechargeable set (you need 3). You don't need to buy any odd non-standard battery type you can't get at the supermarket.

It fits all my requirements perfectly (useful as a torch, useful for personal security yet not offensive, not too heavy, cheap to run, cheap to buy).

Finally, the torch does come from China, but it came well packaged and in good time, so no issues (I bought from niceEshop).
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 21, 2015 1:08 PM GMT


The Handbook of Mobile Market Research: Tools and Techniques for Market Researchers
The Handbook of Mobile Market Research: Tools and Techniques for Market Researchers
by Ray Poynter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Up to date with technology, way behind the outliers on process, 14 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In a previous career as technical e-learning manager at a workshop on `gaming technology for learning' it quickly became apparent to me that most designers were being held back by a fixation. That fixation was marking. Interactivity was just a buzzword to the big thing holding the industry back: everything had to reduce to a multiple choice test (because `that is the easiest digital element you can mark'). I was of the opinion that you can build a safe, sandboxed learning environment where you did not mark based on tests, but on graded paths through the content. Rather like game levels (where your position is based on skill), your position would directly relate to how much you had learned: no multiple choice test needed.

It seems mobile marketing is the same: they have a fixation on surveys.

After moving from e-learning, I went on the massively multiplayer online gaming. One project I built (I was the lead developer) was a series of virtual rooms we rented out to marketers. The rooms were simulated like multiplayer games, with personalised avatars, a world, and chat and interactivity. The room had a TV, where the marketer could play videos. There was a radio where people could listen to sound, and a whiteboard that was actually collaborative: anyone could draw on it in real-time (and everyone else would see it and be able to edit it). Marketers still use it, because it's a great way to get online feedback from young adults. Participants like it because there is no survey form to fill in: it feels like play. This was in 2006. Almost 10 years ago. Nothing like this is in the book.

Now I work in online advertising. I am a lead developer for a set of tools that have transformed how easy it is to build a large online campaign.

My point? This book is good because I know it is looking at current best practice, but this best practice is miles away from what is available because the industry seems to be fixated on survey forms. This fixation raises a number of problems:

The biggest issue is social media, which is never even discussed(!). You do not have to build a survey platform today: you just have to set up a closed Facebook group per campaign. You can add questionnaires on the user group wall, and you have your message board (Facebook wall) and chat (Facebook chat) inbuilt. And the kicker? Almost every mobile phone sold today has the Facebook app on it by default. See what I mean about a fixation on surveys? They are totally missing the ability to use social media. Not as a marketing tool, but as the actual marketing *feedback platform*. For the knowledgeable SME marketing strategy manager, this tool comes free!

Secondly, the authors are so behind the curve on online advertising practice it hurts. You can geo-locate where a person is without any permissions on the user's phone. You do this by *buying a service* that uses all available passive means to get position, triangulating based on all of them. The book's focus on mobile phone permissions and accuracy is irrelevant: a good technology solution would totally bypass it anyway!

We are already looking at `holistic targeting in online advertising (where we are not just looking for the click-through, but are thinking about what the user is actually doing. Things like `work out if the user is at or near the point of sale at a competitor, and if they are, make an undercutting offer'. This is pure gold for a marketer: they can track not only their own campaign, but also the effects of competitors in real time.

Further, you no longer need to do things like A/B testing on a focus group: just do it in a real (but cut-down) online campaign targeted at your entire market using all available online channels (desktop/mobile)! Development houses already do this with online games: they advertise the same new multiplayer game using different graphic styles (perhaps high fantasy vs cyberpunk) and see which page gets the highest signup, and this defines which one they develop. No A/B marketing focus group needed: it's implicit in the introducing online advertising campaign. If you are really fixated on survey forms, most adservers now offer a survey ad-type anyway, and this can be easily targeted to only mobile as necessary (as of his writing, its now a common ad template that ends with a survey, and you get the results back as part of your campaign reporting... its advantages are cheapness and the fact that you are sampling your actual market rather than a small focus group).

So, to conclude, a fine book on current state of the industry, but it feels like the industry as a whole is behind the curve because of a survey fixation.
They don't understand social media as a platform, and they don't understand that you don't use the phone's abilities (because you need permissions you won't have), but instead go through third parties. I would advise any new entrant in the field to get this book, but then think about alternatives to get to the same place with social media as a platform, and current best online advertising practice.

5 stars because the book is actually showing best current practice and is well written, one star off because that best practice is far behind online advertising and online rich media, and the authors are oblivious to what is happening just outside their scope. Potentially another star off because they have totally ignored social media (especially social media as a platform), but that's probably more to do with how you want to conduct your campaign.


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: £7.99

1 of 2 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
Price: £28.99

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: £158.50

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: £12.70

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.


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