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Andrew Dalby "ardalby" (oxford)
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Celestron Infiniview LCD Digital Microscope
Celestron Infiniview LCD Digital Microscope
Price: 151.36

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A magnifier more than a microscope., 15 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When you hear the word microscope you imagine something that will allow you to magnify to see things like cells. So you anticipate something that can magnify 400-fold or maybe more than 1000-fold. This is not a microscope and you are not going to see microscopic things with it. What you have hear is a magnifier with a good platform, strong illumination and a camera to grab images. This makes it an excellent tool for a hobbyist working with electronics or miniatures, which is great for me, but if you bought it for looking at biological samples you are going to be disappointed.


The Babylon Gene
The Babylon Gene
by Alex Churton
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.54

3.0 out of 5 stars Very detailed research but needs to show less of the detail in the story telling., 3 Jun 2014
This review is from: The Babylon Gene (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What attracted me to the book was the title involving gene. I should have known that this was a bad idea as I am someone who works on genetic data as the science was going to be full of holes. Sadly I was right but bad science is common in fiction (Angels and Demons anyone). So the plot is a bit daft as during the time the mad Iraqi scientist was finding the genetic differences that gave his subject immunity, the world had only just conceived the human genome project and it would not be ready for another 20 years making his findings impossible.

Ignoring reality and imagining the genetic plot could in fact be true. The real problem is the writing. It begins like someone who has just finished a weekend creative writing course. Sentence written, get my thesaurus, I need an adjective there, an adverb there, a big word that I need a dictionary to check what it means there ... and so on. It is trying to follow a formula to write literature without realising that great writing flows and this doesn't. At least when it gets into the action the writing improves significantly but then there are endless technical details where the author is showing off the background research he has carried out but which interrupts the flow of the plot.

At least it gets better and less clunky as it goes along. Another problem is that there are too many characters with inter-connected stories (a list of who is who might help). The short chapter structure is for cutting from one thread to another but seems to sometimes serve no purpose as the action continues with the same people in the next chapter. So that structurally a mess.

Having made all these criticisms I have read it to the end and it is entertaining enough. I did want to find out what was going on. But the author needs to stop trying too hard and let the story unfold itself.


Crown of Midnight: 2 (Throne of Glass)
Crown of Midnight: 2 (Throne of Glass)
by Sarah J. Maas
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Another fantastic fantasy series for Hunger Games Fans, 3 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It is good to see strong female lead characters. Here is a rival for Katniss from the Hunger Games. My son thoroughly enjoyed the book, he found it a great read. He did point out that there is a bit of bad language, so maybe bear this in mind for that it is aimed at slightly older audiences.


How to Read a Paper: The Basics of Evidence-BasedMedicine (HOW - How To)
How to Read a Paper: The Basics of Evidence-BasedMedicine (HOW - How To)
by Trisha Greenhalgh
Edition: Paperback
Price: 25.12

5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading for Evidence Based Medicine Practitioners, 3 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In How to Read a Paper Trisha Greenhalgh gives an introduction to using and evaluating evidence based medicine. Evidence based medicine has become the focus of public attention because of scandals such as the MMR vaccine study that showed a link to autism and that has now been retracted. Nobody has done more to bring these sort of cases to the attention of the public than Ben Goldacre in his books Bad Science and Bad Pharma. If you are expecting something similar here then you have bought the wrong book.

This is a book that takes a much more measured and serious look at evidence based medicine without Goldacre's strident rhetoric. That makes it a much drier and in some senses more formulaic book (there are a lot of check-lists you can use to evaluate research). So this does not have the gripping prose of Goldacre but that is because this is a text-book and not a popular science book. Here everything is much more carefully defined and carried out and the author even has time for alternative views and possible weaknesses of the evidence based approach, especially in complex interventions and when including the patient. I think that it is very well balanced and this MUST be on everyone's bookshelf if they are involved in medicine, medical policy making, medical research, or even bioscience research in general. It is an invaluable tool for sorting good evidence from bad.


Seventeen Equations that Changed the World
Seventeen Equations that Changed the World
by Ian Stewart
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves, 3 Jun 2014
Ian Stewart has been in the forefront of popular mathematics writing for over 20 years. In that time I would say that most of his books have been good books, especially the collections of his Scientific American columns and Fearful Symmetry come to mind. But then there have been the odd aberrations such as his Very Short Introduction on Symmetry which was aimed at far too high a mathematical level.

This book falls somewhere in between good Stewart and bad Stewart. In the first half of the book he tries to explain where the maths comes from as well as its context. For formulae such as those of Euclid and Fourier this can be a very demanding exercise and this part of the book is not for the maths phobic. Where the book improves is when you get to the more advanced equations where the derivation is no longer possible to explain in lay terms and so the development of the equations are only sketched. Then the focus is on their implications to provide context. So once you get to Relativity it is a fairly easy ride after that. His take down of the entire field of economics in the Black-Scholes chapter is particularly worth the cover price. It just shows how all those experts are fooled by their equations. So there are gems and some chapters that are excellent but the first half is at times painful.


Player Piano
Player Piano
by Kurt Vonnegut
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dystopian novel about the rise of automation, 24 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Player Piano (Paperback)
Back in the 1960s we thought that machines would do everything. We would now be living the life of luxury while robots do all the hard work. Player Piano was written even earlier than that and shows the approaching second transition from Labour to automation. That is when machines and algorithms take over from human thinking and not just from human action. The main protagonist is Dr Paul Proteus, the son of the man who had lead the first transition during the war by bringing automation and quality control to industrial production. Now Paul is finding that the role of humans in this automated world is getting less and less and so he feels the need to rebel.

It was a novel of its time and the methods of automation and computing have been replaced by silicon and not valves but the message is as important today as it was then. If we turn everything into an algorithm then we lose our humanity. Today the threat is from protocols, check lists and standard operating procedures. Once you have these machine like devices then you take away human thought. In theory this is there to improve quality control, but in reality when it becomes ossified like in the book then quality declines. So for anyone who wants to think about the future, this book should be on your reading list.


Bench Patterson Men's Sweatshirt Biking Red Large
Bench Patterson Men's Sweatshirt Biking Red Large

5.0 out of 5 stars Great colour, good materials, great product., 24 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It fits me perfectly, it is warm, it is a great colour. The workmanship is pretty good (some lose threads around the cuffs) and the materials are good quality. It washes well. The only problem with it is that I wear it too often and so I am going to wear it out. So I had better buy another one.


AmazonBasics Thermal Laminating Pouches A4 Pack of 100
AmazonBasics Thermal Laminating Pouches A4 Pack of 100
Price: 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the packet., 24 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There is really not a lot to say about the laminating pouches. There are lots of them, they go through the laminator and they give you laminated documents. They are very tight to A4 and so there is not a very big margin for error. This makes them a bit fiddly to use.


The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next)
The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next)
by Jasper Fforde
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.09

5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant start to a brilliant series. Full of wit and inventiveness., 11 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is the first of the books in the Thursday Next series, and it provides an essential background to the rest of the series. In this book we meet Thursday Next a member of Literatech, the detectives that investigate literature crimes in a parallel history to our own. In that world Swindon is a hub of excitement, the Crimean war is still going on, Wales is a separate country (The People's Republic of Wales) and cheese is a major taxable item.

If that seems crazy enough, then you have to throw in homicidal ex-lecturers trying to kill off literary figures, a mad uncle who has invented a machine that allows you to travel into books (the prose portal), a renegade time-travelling father and an evil world dominating corporation called Goliath. All of this centred around a plot involving Jane Eyre and the theft of the original manuscript.

The writing is breathless, original and brilliant. The author grabs hold of you and drags you along in the mad rush of Thursday's adventures. In any review I cannot do justice to Fforde's creation without spoiling the thrill of reading it for yourself. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a laugh out loud read.


Bosch ART 26-18 Li-Ion Cordless Grass Trimmer
Bosch ART 26-18 Li-Ion Cordless Grass Trimmer
Price: 98.00

4.0 out of 5 stars No more cords and no need for petrol, 5 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Having a lithium ion battery trimmer takes the hassle of dealing with power cords or having to get petrol. Petrol driven trimmers are much more powerful and this will not work on thick brush but for a home garden use this is perfect. It has a plastic blade system that I was worried that it would break hitting the slightest resistance but it is tougher than it looks and it also comes with a spare. This replaces the plastic cord type blade that always gets tangled. The cutting head can also be rotated to do edges. So for what I am going to use it, it is ideal.


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