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Reviews Written by
Timothy G. Rowe "digitig" (London, England)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just what I needed, 11 Jan 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Apparently this is an obsolete brake design, but it's the sort that my cycle frame is designed to take. When my old ones failed (the bushes cracked; apparently it's a well known problem with this design) cycle shops said they'd be hard to get and expensive. From Amazon they were easy to get and not expensive. If you have this sort of brake on your bike, chances are you'll have to replace them from time to time. Now you can!


Scribblenauts (Nintendo DS)
Scribblenauts (Nintendo DS)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: 9.89

1.0 out of 5 stars Was sent foreign language version; daughter disappointed at Christmas, 11 Jan 2013
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Received the French language version, with a note saying that it plays in English (but what about the documentation? I don't know, I didn't break the seal) and that the fact that it was a foreign language edition was stated in the product description. Really? I can't see it anywhere. Instead of the game she asked for, my daughter had to get a note from Father Christmas, telling her that he'd told the elves off and would be getting the right version to her in the new year.


AA Essential French Deluxe
AA Essential French Deluxe

1.0 out of 5 stars Can't get it to install under Windows 7, 9 July 2012
I've not even got as far as finding out if the lessons are any good, because it won't install under Windows 7, even in XP compatibility mode.


Fitbit Ultra Wireless Activity Plus Sleep Tracker
Fitbit Ultra Wireless Activity Plus Sleep Tracker
Offered by Sidney Square
Price: 270.00 - 300.50

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Non-USA users get a bad deal, 20 April 2012
First impressions of the FitBit were excellent. It's a smart inconspicuous pedometer with excellent functionality. Unfortunately when I started using it I quickly ran into problems.

The first problem I hit was that when I tried to enter what food I'd eaten it only offered me US branded ready meals and US fast-food outlet menu items. Being concerned for my health I usually cook from basic ingredients, but the entry form makes it hard to find basic ingredients: enter "milk" and it asks if it's "In-n-out Burger Milk", "Red Lobster Milk", "Johnny Lobster's Milk" and so on. No option for the likely UK choices of full cream, semi-skimmed, skimmed and so on. In some cases the option to "search foods" turns up what I want, but not often. The result is that it takes me between 30 minutes to an hour to enter the nutritional information for a normal meal, having to search the net for the nutritional content of my ingredients. It can remember meals, so the recipes I use a lot should eventually be faster, but it would be a heavy discouragement from trying new menus.

The next problem I hit was that I mis-entered my starting weight, and couldn't work out to correct it. FitBit technical support have now informed me that it *cannot* be corrected, so all of the weight-tracking capabilities of my FitBit are now irrevocably trashed (I suspect this is intentional, so the FitBit has limited second-hand value).

Probably my biggest problem, though, is that everything except the very basic pedometer feature -- absolutely everything that makes the FitBit special in any way -- is dependent on their website. The only application installed on the user's computer is the one that transfers data from the FitBit to that website. This means that when the website is down for any reason the FitBit is basically dead in the water. FitBit seem to do their website maintenance overnight in the USA, so as to cause minimum disruption to their US customers, but of course here in the UK we're up and about at that time. I got up this morning and found that I couldn't enter details of my breakfast because they'd made site updates and broken the food entry form. Customer support say that they're working on it. I expect it will be fixed by the time US users start getting up for the day.

Ah, yes, site updates. Everything is done via the FitBit website, which means that they can keep tinkering with what data is available and how it is presented -- and they do. You know all of the anger every time Facebook makes a change to the user interface? Well, FitBit hasn't got enough users to get the scale of protests that Facebook does, but they seem to be just as keen to infuriate their customers with random changes. The difference is that FitBook is a product and service for which we have paid.

And ultimately, what will happen when FitBit discontinue the website? Not "if", "when". It's bound to happen sooner or later, either when FitBit ceases trading or they find that it's no longer cost-effective to run the site. All our data and functionality will presumably evaporate. Cloud computing might be a current fashion, but there are sound reasons for wanting the data and application on your own computer under your own control.

Until this product is properly tailored for the UK market and shifts the premium features from the cloud to the client computer, I cannot recommend the FitBit.


Your Shape with Camera (Wii)
Your Shape with Camera (Wii)
Offered by Clearance Game Deals
Price: 8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Confused, 17 Oct 2011
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
The addition of a camera to the My Fitness Coach range is welcome, but unfortunately the program is confused and confusing. It is inconsistent over whether the screen image you are supposed to copy is a mirror image or a rotated version of yourself, so it's anybody's guess whether you should start of with your right or left arm or leg. And although it asks what gym equipment you have, it only includes handweights, step and balance ball (none of which I have), not resistance band or Wii Fit (which I do have). What's worse, even if you tell it that you don't have equipment it still gives you exercises that use the equipment you don't have!

Even at the recommended distance of 6 feet, I can't get the camera in a position where it can see my whole body when my arms are raised and when I'm on the floor doing push-ups, so I have to keep moving the camera between standing exercises and floor exercises.

The selection of exercises is extremely dull compared to the rival EA Sports' Wii Active. The latter incorporates the exercises into games and challenges, whereas Your Shape just has you doing plain, uninspiring exercises.

If you don't have a Wii Fit board then Your Shape is just about acceptable. If you do have a Wii Fit board then there are programs out there that do the same job *much* better.


Equations Of Life: Metrozone Book 1 (Samuil Petrovitch Novels)
Equations Of Life: Metrozone Book 1 (Samuil Petrovitch Novels)
by Simon Morden
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-paced dystopian action adventure, 4 May 2011
A well-plotted and fast paced adventure that keeps the attention all the way through and keeps the pages turning. True to the genre, there are not many twists and turns, just successive obstacles for the (flawed) hero to overcome, but Morden makes these obstacles interesting enough to keep us with him. It's particularly refreshing (after reading many novels with a too-clever-for-their-own-good writing style) that Morden's simple and direct prose doesn't get in the way but stands aside and lets the story through.


Rosie: Note To Self
Rosie: Note To Self
by Claire Connor G.P. Taylor
Edition: Paperback
Price: 4.81

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Gushing style overwhelms the story, 3 May 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Rosie: Note To Self (Paperback)
I seriously wonder how much input G P Taylor had to this book, and how much his name is just there to sell copies. The writing completely lacks dynamics, with the title character's wedding getting equal narrative space as the making of a cup of coffee. The onslaught of things happening, with no distinction between crucial and trivial (a writer's group level determination to show, not tell, perhaps?) results in a tsunami of events that completely crushes and washes away the narrative. Had I not been reading it for a book group I would have abandoned it before the page numbers got into double figures. It doesn't get better.


Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media
Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media
by Nick Davies
Edition: Hardcover

46 of 74 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Potentially important book, but fatally flawed, 11 Sep 2008
The cover of this book is splattered with quotes saying how important this book is, and they're sort of right. Davies looks with a piercing insiders eye at why the news reported to us -- even from "heavyweight" sources -- is even less dependable than even cynics think. The book clearly shows how commercial factors have all but eliminated any checking of stories, so the media are almost completely at the mercy of PR generated by vested interests.

The problem -- and it's a big one -- is that the book risks being tarred with the same brush (because of carelessness, I hope, and not because Davies sources really are poor). Davies repeatedly quotes the figure of only 12% original input from newsrooms, but only once mentions that there's another 8% that's uncertain so the actual figure is somewhere betweeen 12% and 20%. Responsible reporting would say 16% +/- 4%, or just 16%; by choosing the worst extreme of the range Davies is sensationalising the data. Even worse, the figure of 12% comes from a single study, and no reference is given for the study, so readers cannot check the data. What was the methodology? Was the study ever peer reviewed? In fact, no references are given for anything at all; we have to take Davies' word for everything he says. That's the very thing he complains about journalists doing, the very thing that leads to flat-earth journalism, the very problem he is trying to highlight. Sure, some of his sources would want to remain anonymous, but the total lack of any references at all in a book of this type is completely unforgiveable. And does he have a vested interest? Well, he's a journalist, complaining about massive cuts in employment of journalism, massive cuts in journalists' pay, and massive deterioration in journalists' working conditions: it looks like a vested interest to me (and he admits in part to this at the outset).

If we take the message of this book at all seriously then we can't trust this book at all. That's a real pity, because I think it deals with crucially important issues and Davies may well actually be correct in his allegations. It may just have been a foolish decision -- not to reference anything -- that holed this book beneath the waterline. But with that flaw, the book is sunk.
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Behind The Scenes At The Museum
Behind The Scenes At The Museum
by Kate Atkinson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 5.59

10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Well observed but unsatisfying, 23 Oct 2007
I found this hard to finish. Individual scenes are beautifully observed and written, and the lack of direction in the narrative isn't necessarily a problem: it worked wonderfully for Garrison Keillor in "Lake Wobegon Days", a book with which Behind the Scenes has a great deal in common. But where Keillor's narrator describes the flaws and foibles of his characters with warmth and love, Atkinson's narrators do so with distaste and ill-feeling. This relentless self-centredness and lack of sympathy for any other character (and a nearly universal dislike of the world as a whole) makes her first-person narrator, Ruby, unlikeable too. The total lack of sympathetic characters makes it hard to care about anything that happens. The result was a small-minded, mean-spirited world that I was glad to leave at the end.


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