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Doug Jay

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The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
by Deborah Blum
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.56

5.0 out of 5 stars The Birth of Forensics and CSI., 7 Nov 2014
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The Poisoner’s Handbook

Not, as the title suggests, a book defining methods of eliminating your nearest and dearest, but an account of how in the early part of the 20th century, a nascent forensic team investigated intentional and non-intentional deaths by poisoning in the city of New York. This is an extremely informative and well-researched book, written in a style akin to a crime novel leaving the reader wanting more at the end of each chapter. In essence the story of two scientists, one a pathologist the other a chemist, both committed to establishing forensics as an essential tool of criminal investigation whilst hindered by an indifferent and hostile bureaucracy. The narrative covers premeditated murders using arsenic, accidental poisonings initially perceived as criminal and corporate negligence resulting in the deaths of workers from substances such as radium. An easy and interesting read deserving a high rating.


Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
by Mary Roach
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Stiff but not without humour, 28 Oct 2014
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It’s fair to say that ‘Stiff’ will be unsuitable for people of a squeamish disposition or those with an irrational fear of death and the manner in which human cadavers are treated and eventually returned to nature. The author explores amongst other things, dissection (legal and illegal), autopsies, transplantation, crash testing, cannibalism and environmental disposal methods. However for the free-thinking and enlightened individual, this book will be very informative, albeit grisly, macabre and nauseating in parts. Whilst the subject is dealt with in a matter-of-fact manner there is a liberal sprinkling of black humour throughout without appearing to be disrespectful. A well-written book and an easy read which deserves a high rating.


Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? (Gollancz)
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? (Gollancz)
by Philip K. Dick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Rebellious androids and electric sheep!, 22 Oct 2014
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For fans of the film ‘Blade Runner’, this book will be either a major disappointment or provide an interesting insight into how the screenplay was developed. Prior to the film adaption, I would have probably dismissed this book as just another, not particularly well written, sci-fi story about a post-apocalyptic dystopian society capable of manufacturing androids which ultimately become self-aware and a threat to their creators. However thanks to the vivid imaginations’ of the screenwriters and the director Ridley Scott, an easily forgettable book was transformed into a thoroughly enjoyable cult movie.

It is tempting as you progress through the narrative to highlight the characters, events and social atmosphere that formed the basis of the screenplay and also those parts that thankfully were ignored as irrelevant to the storyline. Read in isolation, the book would probably only deserve two-stars, but as valuable background to those addicted to the film, I would double this rating given the content provided the armature for a truly remarkable screenplay.


Masterplug Individually Switched Adaptor with 3 Sockets
Masterplug Individually Switched Adaptor with 3 Sockets
Price: £4.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Masterplug 3 Way Fused Adaptor, 22 Oct 2014
I bought two of these a year ago and both have performed faultlessly so it deserves a decent rating. However there is a drawback which is shared with most other adaptors on the market, in that it can only be fully utilized if the load devices supplied are fitted with standard plug-tops and the adaptor is plugged into an unswitched socket outlet. If the devices are fitted with an integral power supply module or the flex exits the plug from the top rather than the bottom, the adaptor cannot service three devices and a multi-outlet extension lead may be a better option. Whatever you buy, use it with care to avoid overloading the source outlet.


3 Way Surge Protected Fused Adaptor. Ideal for use with audio/video equipment, computer equipment and other electrical appliances.
3 Way Surge Protected Fused Adaptor. Ideal for use with audio/video equipment, computer equipment and other electrical appliances.
Offered by Slamtech Online
Price: £3.89

2.0 out of 5 stars Use with care, 9 July 2014
Strictly speaking this can only be classed as a three way adapter if inserted into a single 13 Amp socket outlet and then using only standard plug-tops rather than those with an integral transformer/power supply module. The two adapters I bought for use with computer /audio equipment both failed within six months so I would not recommend this particular product. A four-way outlet with surge protection and short extension lead is a much better option albeit more expensive. Whatever you buy, use it with care to avoid overloading the source outlet.


Am-Tech 2-in-1 Adjustable/ Pipe Wrench with Wide Jaw
Am-Tech 2-in-1 Adjustable/ Pipe Wrench with Wide Jaw
Offered by BargainShop_London
Price: £5.45

5.0 out of 5 stars Am-Tech 2-in-1 Adjustable/ Pipe Wrench, 12 April 2014
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Not sure how long this wrench would last if used daily by a professional, but for the DIY enthusiast this is a great tool for those occasional plumbing jobs. The 38mm jaw capacity and stubby handle are ideal for dealing with 15mm and 22 mm compression fittings located in tight spots. I am usually sceptical about the durability of ‘cheap’ tools but in this instance I consider this Am-tech wrench to be good value for money.


Timeguard SLW400G 400W Energy Saving PIR Halogen Floodlight - White
Timeguard SLW400G 400W Energy Saving PIR Halogen Floodlight - White
Offered by MCD Electrical - Established 1993
Price: £22.45

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeguard SLW400G PIR Floodlight, 27 Feb 2014
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Over the years, I have purchased and installed several PIR floodlights from various manufacturers and the failure rate has been high mainly because of poor quality materials and inferior surface finishes. Admittedly, all could be described as economy or contract-standard products designed down to a price rather up to a standard, but first impressions indicate the Timeguard floodlight will not fall not this category. Although twice the price of its predecessors, the unit is robust in construction and the finish should be more resistant to the effects of the weather.
Unlike so many other floodlights, the mounting bracket is detachable which makes installation a lot easier and safer, and if the cable connection can be made in advance of erection then attaching the body is relatively straightforward. Instructions for positional adjustment of the light and sensor are excellent although some fine tuning will inevitably be required if spurious activation and light pollution is to be minimised. Three months of operation have not revealed any negative aspects of this product so at the moment it deserves a five star rating.


Kent Brushes Pf10 Small Handbag Size Pure Bristle Brush
Kent Brushes Pf10 Small Handbag Size Pure Bristle Brush
Price: £6.50

3.0 out of 5 stars Relative Sizing, 30 Jan 2014
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I have no problem with the quality of this brush but the size at 160 mm is disappointing and not evident from the product description. It is impossible to judge the size of a product from a photograph and the use of relative terms such as 'small handbag' is misleading and could easily be avoided by the inclusion of an extra line in the description.


Gildan 18000 Heavy Blend Adults Crew Neck Sweatshirt Sand M
Gildan 18000 Heavy Blend Adults Crew Neck Sweatshirt Sand M
Offered by Leisurewear Online Ltd
Price: £8.80

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heavy Blend vs Heavyweight, 30 Jan 2014
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My main concern with this product is the use of the word 'Heavyblend' which implies the garment will provide more warmth than one designed for summer usage. Comparing the product with Gilden sweatshirts previously purchased, marked 'Heavyweight' (80% cotton/20% polyester mix), the 'Heavyblend' fabric (50%cotton/50% polyester) is significantly thinner and the garment should really be described as light or medium weight. I have no problem with the quality of the sweatshirts, but the product description is in my opinion misleading.


Weighing the World: The Quest to Measure the Earth
Weighing the World: The Quest to Measure the Earth
by Edwin Danson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Weighing the World ?, 21 Dec 2013
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Weighing the World

The title of this book is misleading as the closest the content comes to `Weighing the World' is the revelation that the earth has a density equal to 5.448 times that of water! Admittedly this conclusion was the result of extensive experimentation and land surveying over three centuries but a more appropriate title would have been `Measuring the World'.

Notwithstanding this point, the book is still an informative read as it describes in great detail the efforts of numerous individuals, mainly during the 18th century, to evolve techniques for accurately measuring distances on land and in the process determining the likely shape of the earth. This historical account is given against the backdrop of warfare between various nations, the execution of which was hindered by the absence of accurate maps. However the main theme is the individuals involved who were from a wide range of social and educational backgrounds and hence extremely competitive in their endeavours, to the extent of sometimes taking credit for the work of others to advance their personal status.

The book is well researched albeit somewhat lacking in detail about the actual methods used to achieve the measurements, although there are occasional sketches throughout and an appendix giving explanations and definitions of terms referred to in the text. As the author advises, the subject of surveying can become complex so perhaps the book is pitched at the correct level for the casual reader.

As a historical account of the trials and tribulations of those who laid the foundations of modern mapping and geodesy, this book is an interesting read and would be worth a higher rating if it has a more realistic price tag.


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