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D. Clarke

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Guerlain Habit Rouge Eau De Toilette Spray for Men 50ml
Guerlain Habit Rouge Eau De Toilette Spray for Men 50ml
Offered by Online Beauty Buys
Price: £27.71

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If it's good enough for Sean Connery..., 26 Feb. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Interesting French aftershave / EDT that has been around since the 60s, Luca Turin describes it briefly as "Sweet Dust", which is a fair assessment. I find it a bit of a chameleon; sometimes it seems on the brink of veering into some odd kind of old granny talc vibe, and at others it just projects a kind of wonderful timeless charm that I don't seem to have come across elsewhere. Would suit someone self confident and over 40 most likely, and comes with the almost certain guarantee you'll be the only man in the room wearing it. The bottle's a great design too.

Panasonic Smart 1 TB HDD Recorder with Freeview Play
Panasonic Smart 1 TB HDD Recorder with Freeview Play
Price: £229.00

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful box with unappealing software., 18 Dec. 2015
Somewhat reluctantly bought this device after a similar Sony box gave up the ghost, since we are nearly (but not quite) at the stage where you can manage with a good broadband connection and the various catchup and streaming services.

Also somewhat reluctantly giving it 4 stars since it does work well as advertised, including the integrated catchup services. The software works, but is a real dog's dinner from a functional and aesthetic point of view, like something that was knocked up on a tight budget in a hurry circa 1999. There are various jarring transitions, apparently random use of different fonts and some noticeable performance issues. These are replicated by the free iOS "Media Centre" app which can be used for remote viewing and setting recordings. Unless I'm missing something, there is no way to search the schedule for a program either on the device or through the app, which is frankly odd, since it's about the first thing you would put on the list of desired abilities for a TV recorder. I'll update again after using for longer.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 16, 2016 10:37 PM BST

Platinum Fountain pen PTL-5000A 14k Gold Fine point Black
Platinum Fountain pen PTL-5000A 14k Gold Fine point Black
Offered by PARAISO Japan eu
Price: £41.38

5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to beat at the price, 26 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Gold nib is unusual at this price and is practically useful if you use Iron Gall inks; it's not super smooth in the fine nib, it has some lovely tactility and feedback. It's very light, so easy to take anywhere and comes supplied with a converter. It's single best feature is that it's a terrifically reliable starter, something which many fountain pens can struggle with and which can send you irritably off looking for a crappy old bic.

I have a range of fountain pens, some twice the price or more, but this is one of my favourites, a decently priced and well made pen with no significant problems or downsides - so much so that I bought one for my wife.

Apple MK4N2B/A 12-Inch MacBook (Gold) - (Intel Core M 1.2 GHz, 8 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, OS X 10.10 Yosemite)
Apple MK4N2B/A 12-Inch MacBook (Gold) - (Intel Core M 1.2 GHz, 8 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, OS X 10.10 Yosemite)
Offered by DA TECH PRO
Price: £1,129.00

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The future is Space Grey, 26 Aug. 2015
Beautifully made and delightfully lightweight, this is Apple's vision of the future of the laptop made tangible.

The reengineered keyboard is odd at first (I was disconcerted when using in the Apple store because of the extremely shallow key travel) but after a few days it's enjoyable and surprisingly accurate. It doesn't need terrific force to register a keystroke; if you hit the keys hard it's rather loud. The change to the backlighting mechanism results in illumination that is a little uneven, which some have found disappointing, but this is holding Apple to very high standards indeed and is not really a practical concern.

The single USB type C port is a compromise of course, no doubt one that will be fixed in later models, but unless you are constantly plugging in devices of one sort or another with your current laptop, its hard to see it as a real downside. It's likely that competition among vendors will eventually produce some very lightweight, inexpensive and useful adaptors. For the time being I'm doing wireless transfers of data and will hang fire until I find an adaptor that is economical and supplies all the missing ports I might need. Given the low cost of manufacture it's a pity Apple couldn't have included a basic USB 3 / HDMI or SD / HDMI one in the box, it would have won them a few friends.

The very low weight aids portability and was my principle reason for buying this device instead of the other models in the range. My prior experience was that cumbersome devices, even powerful ones, remain unused. It's hard to imagine laptops running a full general purpose operating system could remain as functional and get much lighter than this.

As a platform for computing it's very flexible, provided you are happy accommodating a virtual machine or two in the 8GB of RAM, with the ability to run any OS X, Windows or Linux app that might take your fancy.

The screen is lovely. I'm using it with the emulated 1440x900 resolution, which is a decent match for the 12 inch physical size of the screen. Viewing angles are great and I've been watching the Vuelta happily on it.

Battery life is reasonable so far at about 8-9hrs for general faffing around on the web; the performance likewise. It's anticipated that the next OS X release (El Capitan) will improve both aspects by some incremental amount. If you start pushing the CPU beyond its base speed you'll only be getting 4-5 hrs or so, so it's not necessarily a device that will see you through a full untethered work day. The base where the logic board resides can warm up a bit, but not uncomfortably so and without a fan there is no noise.

The trackpad is terrific. It's odd - but utterly convincing - that the trackpad doesn't move physically up and down on a hinge but via vibration fools the senses that it has.

On the face of it the MacBook is underpowered and overpriced, but measured against the Pro or Air, when specced out with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD, the differences in price are quite small, so this is a reasonable trade off of weight vs CPU performance and bags you a much better display than the Air.

I will update the review again after using the MacBook for a longer period.

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Kingsman: The Secret Service

5 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Laughable attempt at comedy., 21 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
James Bond by way of Kick-Ass, this is the most witless and dispiriting film I have had the misfortune to sit through.

by Kim Stanley Robinson
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Boldly Going., 17 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Aurora (Hardcover)
What I've admired in the past about Kim Stanley Robinson's work is the kind of slightly mad nobility it takes to really think through both the hard and soft science of what aspects of our human future might really be like. The Mars trilogy succeeded in doing this to a large extent, there's no getting away from the central profundity of some of the topics (to terraform a planet or leave it a wilderness ?) and it's exciting to consider that one day these might be real decisions for our descendants.

In Aurora, we're back on the same ground, this time attending to the practicalities of exporting humanity beyond the solar system. There's lots of science and social science to enjoy here again in fictional form and the key events and consequences all felt believable and well worked out. As before, I do think you have to take your hat off to the author for the work he's expended in making an interesting fictional future out of a a lot of fairly taxing source material.

Does it really succeed as an enjoyable novel though ? My answer would be not quite. Even allowing for the metafictional excuse of the first 5 sections being "written" by the ships's AI, the prose is very dull in parts and the closing sections long on newtonian physics, even duller and finally anticlimactic. As in the Mars trilogy, I don't feel the characterization of the human individuals was strong enough to engage me emotionally.

Perhaps these heavyweight topics are still waiting for an author who can really do them full justice ? Interesting though.

Seiko Black Automatic Dive Watch SKX013K1
Seiko Black Automatic Dive Watch SKX013K1
Offered by best quality watches
Price: £189.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Svelte sibling for the SKX007, 10 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The SKX013 is the smaller sibling of the famous SKX007 Diver's watch and is less widely available online. In most respects the reviews of the SKX007 apply here as well. At 6ft with a fairly normal 7 inch wrist I could have gone for either I suppose, but I prefer watches below 40mm diameter in general (probably due to my advanced age) and despite sitting rather high on the wrist I'm very happy with it.

The supplied Seiko rubber strap is of better quality than I expected, it obviously works well if you are actually intending to get below the waves at some point. The Lume is very bright.

It's nice to own a mechanical watch that has an interesting lineage behind it, going back to the 1960s or so. I like the fact that these watches have a kind of functional honesty and sense of purpose about them.

I bought the watch from Long Island Watches UK, and it was imported from the US. Arrival time after ordering was 10 days and there were no additional fees to pay.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 14, 2015 5:12 PM GMT

Expo 58
Expo 58
by Jonathan Coe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uitstekende 58, 2 Sept. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Expo 58 (Paperback)
A delightfully written and thoughtfully constructed comic novel. I was especially taken by the way Coe interleaves his interests in the music and English film comedies of the period into the text. The bittersweet ending was very moving. Anyone looking for a contemporary example of a novel with a particularly English sensibility need look no further.

If I had any criticism it would merely be to note in passing the somewhat conservative nature of what's on offer here, for a writer of Coe's ability this is artfully done, but feels like a backward glance to the David Lodge of the early 1970s rather than anything more adventurous. Very enjoyable though.

The Bellwether Revivals
The Bellwether Revivals
by Benjamin Wood
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Well crafted but dull tribute to influence of Donna Tartt., 30 Aug. 2014
Wood's background from an MFA program is evident here in a well crafted and tightly structured narrative. Despite the Oxbridge setting the model here is of course less Brideshead (Eden no Sebastian Flyte and Ruth no Lady Marchmain) than Donna Tartt's "The Secret History". This central weakness of hewing so clearly to a model already set is evident in the rather overwrought finale, which is anchored in the gothic drama of Tartt's book, not derived organically from Wood's own plotting. Admirers of Tartt's book might feel wistfully that there was really no need to try a rewrite so soon and that perhaps Wood should have reached for his own plot.

Having said that, there's a lot of credit due here to the author for taking the business of creative writing seriously, research and due diligence clearly done, but the philosophical and musicological aspects were unconvincing to me, and they float over some seriously dull prose a la J.K. Rowling in Robert Galbraith mode: functional at best. If you are going to take on the deeply familiar it pays to have something unique to say, or some freshly creative take on the subject - here we have tropes, characters, narratives and settings that are as comfortable as old slippers and Wood's solid, well researched novel ends up less a fresh lyrical take on matters and more like something the screenwriters of Inspector Morse might have abandoned at the second draft.

Sony ILCE7B Full Frame Compact System Camera Body (24.3 MP, 117 Points Hybrid AutoFocus, 3.0-inch Tiltable LCD, 5 fps, XGA OLED Tru-Finder) - Black
Sony ILCE7B Full Frame Compact System Camera Body (24.3 MP, 117 Points Hybrid AutoFocus, 3.0-inch Tiltable LCD, 5 fps, XGA OLED Tru-Finder) - Black
Price: £838.61

53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My wait is over, 11 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's probably worth saying that, the unloved Canon EOS M aside, there are no really bad mirrorless systems to buy into at the moment and that anyone in the market for the A7 or the A7R has probably also had a long hard look at the Fuji X series or an Olympus or Panasonic Micro 4/3 body.

It can be a tricky decision, since for most people it’s an investment in a system including lenses and other accoutrements that rapidly cost more than the body alone. An investment that might reasonably be expected to last for 5 years or more.

These other systems certainly have their attractions: The Fuji bodies have a striking retro SLR and rangefinder appeal with fast all metal prime glass purposely designed to set alight the hearts of photographers for whom a 35mm Summilux remains as dreamy as the Leica glow.

The Olympus OMD EM1 pitches in with its weather sealing, quick autofocus and that very wide range of M43 lenses, all of which are good and some of which are the equal of anything made for a competing system, full frame or not.

And yet, there is something about the final emergence of reasonably sized full frame in the digital world that feels to this old film SLR user like returning home to something sensible after a long and trying digital absence.

Getting down to brass tacks, a few pros and cons after first use.

+ Full frame at last ! No more having to multiply things by 1.3, 1.5, 1.6 or 2. DOF as she was in the 1980s when I were a lad. Stepping gently round internet flamewars about equivalence in DOF and light gathering.
+ Manual lenses a plenty of course, with adaptors at £20 a pop. Buy now before the entire stock of R, OM, FD and PK lenses is exhausted in five years time and a battered Pentax 50/1.7 is going for £200.
+ High ISO. Shoot with impunity. If you are printing at A4 or less it’ll look great at 6400.
+ Dynamic Range. Wow. It’s good. You really do have latitude to mess up exposures and still come home with something worth looking at.
+ It’s well made. The A7 has lots of metal and feels weighty but not heavy. Smaller than an M9.
+ AF speed is fine for me with the Zeiss 35/2.8. YMMV of course, but no complaints from me.
+ EVF is great. Refreshes quickly, dioptre adjustment works well. Sometimes it feels like an OVF.
+ Looks innocuous enough in public, like any old Sony Bridge camera. No red dots to attract anyone.
+ Buttons, Dials, switches, more buttons. If you would like to set the ISO with the Exposure compensation dial then Sony will not stand in your way.
+ If you plump for the OMD EM1 or XT1, when the Sony A7 is rattling around second hand for £350 in a few years time, you are going to want to pick one up anyway, so why not short circuit the whole gear acquisition thing ?
- Weather sealing. Yeh right. I wouldn’t shoot an A7 in the jungle any time soon. Beware.
- Having to pay for useless add on applications to the firmware ? What were you thinking Sony.
- firmware update process on 64 bit Mac. Plugin, run app in 32 bit mode and pray. How hard would it be to stick the firmware on an SD Card and get the camera to update itself that way ?
- Auto ISO insists 1/60 is the right speed for everything all the time. If only that was 1/125. No way of changing it with the current firmware. One workaround is to shoot in manual, set the shutter speed and aperture with forward and back dials and let the ISO float.
- It’s complicated. My brain hurts with so many options. No proper manual. Short instructions included in Albanian as well though, so that’s OK then.
- Appeal of old MF glass is somewhat limited by the short registration distance and therefore long adaptors, the variability of adaptor manufacture (mostly of concern to pixel peepers I would have thought) and the fact that Leica M fitting wide angles (<35mm) are hit and miss depending on optical design, leading to vignetting and potential colour shifts. And having to manually focus, obvs.
- The Zeiss 35/2.8 is really a super lens. It should be the kit lens because it’s an affirmation of the design principle of a small FF camera. Beware that a lot future FE lenses will probably be big, heavy and expensive. It’s not going to be like Fuji X and definitely not like M43.
- Sony will get bored with the FE mount in 3 years time and launch some other overlapping system with Leica S2 sized sensors and a new range of lenses, or stop making cameras altogether, or just make some other weird decision that makes you shake your head because it’s really a gadget maker not the bijou Wetzlar dream factory.

I took a photo of my daughter sitting with a friend at a kitchen table. I realised later it was the first digital image I’ve taken that happily looked to my eye in all respects like film. Bokeh, DOF, framing, dynamic range, it all looked just like the images I used to capture on my Olympus Mju-II (with its 35mm/2.8). Home at last. Well done Sony.

*** Update on 21 Aug 2015 after 12 months usage

I remain happy with the choice. It didn't turn me into a much better photographer, but we all know that's not how it works I suppose.
I did manage to knock the exposure compensation dial by accident and expose a week's worth of shots at -1 1/3EV, which was fairly stupid on my part, but the RAW images were all processable into printable photos without any trouble.
My suspicions about lens size look right, the newer lenses like the Zeiss FE 35 1.4 are optically well reviewed behemoths and some of the new zooms laughably huge.
Shutter sound's not actually that loud for most real life situations.

At the time of writing the A7 II is a better bet because of the image stabilisation, so if you can stretch to it I would buy the newer model.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 9, 2014 12:21 AM GMT

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