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Samuel Halliday (London, England)

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Andrew James Luxury Double Belgian Waffle Maker In Cream With 2 Year Warranty
Andrew James Luxury Double Belgian Waffle Maker In Cream With 2 Year Warranty

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Style over substance, 4 April 2013
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It can make waffles, no doubt about that, but there are a few problems that make me believe that this was not really stress tested beyond its looks:

1. the button to open the casing often sticks when the device gets hot (i.e. when waffles are ready!)
2. as with all waffle makers, steam inevitably comes out during the toasting, but this design seems to funnel the steam at the front so it immediately turns to moisture. Expect your table top to get really wet after using.
3. any overfilling whatsoever will result in the mixture falling onto surface that is very hard to clean, and in particular the back has a cable which, once dirtied, can never be cleaned properly.

So, stylish and sort of does the job, but definitely not very well engineered. I wouldn't buy it again in hindsight, because I really appreciate good engineering.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 7, 2013 1:04 PM BST

The Physics of Golf
The Physics of Golf

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A poor man's Wesson, 8 Jun. 2012
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Poorly written, full of egocentric boasting and anecdotal stories with real names hidden. It feels like the author spent a day writing a golf swing model in MATLAB and converted it into a wordy chapter, padding it out into a book by adding a few more chapters that don't really have a purpose or conclusion. Scientifically-minded golfers will find Wesson's "Science of Golf" a much better read.

Vitalstock Lift Tee Ultra 2.5" Step - Blue
Vitalstock Lift Tee Ultra 2.5" Step - Blue
Offered by Langham golf
Price: £5.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Consistency and value for money, 1 April 2012
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These tees ensure the ball is teed up consistently for every shot and are designed to be easily found if unearthed. Their durability means saving a fortune over one-shot tees. I'm happily buying a new set for this season, a full season being how long the last pack lasted.

I think the other reviewer needs to see things in perspective before giving a 1/5 because the colours aren't all blue.

Digiflex Flexible LED Reading Light Lamp for Amazon Kindle
Digiflex Flexible LED Reading Light Lamp for Amazon Kindle
Offered by Digiflex
Price: £7.00

1.0 out of 5 stars Not suitable for modern kindles, 14 Jan. 2012
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This product is not suitable for the new (4th generation) kindles - the plastic clamp is far too large and must be attached to the front of a (separately purchased) kindle cover.

This product feels cheap and the battery section has a tendency to fall apart.

In short, I regret buying this item. It was obviously designed as a generic laptop lamp and is now being sold as a kindle lamp, which it is not really suitable for.

Motorised Golf Ball Cleaner - cleans golf balls like a pro
Motorised Golf Ball Cleaner - cleans golf balls like a pro

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Utterly useless, 26 Mar. 2011
When I ordered this item, I thought it would be a super-fast golf ball cleaner that would function a bit like a car wash in a bottle. Sadly, that is far from the reality.

I originally thought the included battery was dead because the brushes were spinning so slowly, so I replaced the batteries - but no change to the operation! A better design would have been to do away with the batteries completely and make it a mechanically operated cleaner - a portable version of what can be found near the tees of many good golf courses.

I agree with the previous reviewer regarding the soap water section. The dispenser button is not designed very well making it difficult to fill the chamber with water.

This device is so utterly useless that I strongly recommend everybody to stay away from it. Just bring a damp cloth or sponge with you to augment your golf towel!

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship (Robert C. Martin)
Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship (Robert C. Martin)
by Robert C. Martin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.79

107 of 116 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Scattergun list of pet peeves, 31 Dec. 2009
This book is best described as a list of "pet peeves" by the authors. I stress that this book is mainly written by a collection of authors - and not Robert C. Martin - because this is not stated in any promotional material and appears as an unwelcome surprise in the introduction of many chapters.

The first chapter pledges a lot and is very motivational - continuing the promise of the back cover "you will be challenged to think about what's right about that code, and what's wrong with it. More importantly, you will be challenged to reassess your professional values and your commitment to your craft." However, for the remainder of the book, the authors never quite get out of their individual rants and fail to provide any great insights beyond the obvious - concluding with a collection of scattergun practices that are more elegantly described in other books.

The value of the second part of the book - described as "several case studies of increasing complexity" - is not particularly evident. I found the Arg (first) and SerialDate (last) cases to be needlessly long. Everything there could be described in isolation. I had expected the second part of the book to be left as a series of short examples for the reader to work on - in the style of Java Puzzlers - but alas, it was a tour of some recent open source contributions that the author wishes to share with the reader.

The section on Concurrency was particularly shocking. The author appears completely oblivious to "Java Concurrency in Practice" by Doug Lea - discussing the 1999 predecessor by introducing it alongside a derogatory statement about maturity. Not only are the concurrency chapters skin deep, but I question why these chapters even made it into this book. Further evidence that the authors set out with no specific agenda when compiling the book, and have ended up with repetitive, sweeping generalisations that deliver only wholesale value across the board.

Debug It!: Find, Repair, and Prevent Bugs in Your Code (Pragmatic Programmers)
Debug It!: Find, Repair, and Prevent Bugs in Your Code (Pragmatic Programmers)
by Paul Butcher
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.35

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A motivational tool that succeeds in making debugging sound like fun, 12 Dec. 2009
"Debug It!" is more than a book on debugging best practices - it's a motivational tool that succeeds in making debugging sound like fun.

Full of humorous and insightful anecdotes, the main message is "nobody writes perfect code - this is how you deal with it".

Paul Butcher does a great job of succinctly documenting the different types of bugs that show up in the wild, and best practices on how to find them and stop them appearing again. The book places a strong emphasis on development in a team environment, not neglecting the human factors that are often the trickier bits to manage.

For a good programmer, many of the best practices in "Debug It!" will not come as a surprise, the true value is in having all this experience documented in a single place - you're not the only one who's had to solve these problems. That said, even seasoned programmers will feel challenged at times by thought provoking advice such as Butcher's recommendation that you occasionally work on Customer Support to get closer to your customers.

Despite having thoroughly enjoyed reading "Debug It!", I cannot help but disagree with much of Section 10.1 "Assumptions and Assertions". This is perhaps a cultural approach between languages, with my primary language being Java. I prefer explicit checks on method parameters, with appropriate exceptions being raised - greatly simplified by the Google Collections API - than Butcher's recommendation on the use of "assert". For me, bad parameters should be discovered as soon as possible, using "assert" to catch them will only lead to difficult-to-track bugs on production deployments. In my opinion, "assert" is best used to check parameters in non-public APIs and for checking variables deep within an algorithm.

The final chapter "Anti-Patterns" is perhaps the most insightful. If you are too busy to read this delightful book in its entirety, then at least read the final chapter whilst mandating that your entire development team read "Debug It!" from cover to cover.

Morrowind: The Elder Scrolls III (Xbox)
Morrowind: The Elder Scrolls III (Xbox)

3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring, slow and unoriginal, 26 Mar. 2008
I cannot believe the reviews that I am reading here! Am I really the only person who did not enjoy this game? I'm a seasoned role playing game (RPG) player and would consider games such as Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, KOTOR, Jade Empire and Fable to be some of the best games ever written... so please bare that in mind when you read this rather scathing review.

This is an RPG in a Dungeons and Dragons style fantasy universe. The beginning of the game is promising (if not a little formulaic), with you possessing the usual mysterious background, that is not yet revealed.

I've now been playing for 10 hours and if this were any other game, I'd be knee-deep in the plot by now. But with Morrowind, I'm still spending 90% of my time walking between major cities. That's right... walking! There doesn't appear to be any mechanism for what I'd call "running" and there are certainly no cut-scenes that remove this monotonous task. (UPDATE: apparently I have been running around after all... you don't want to know how slow "walking" actually is!)

The main plot hasn't even kicked in yet, and the subplots are like the rejects from a teenager's first attempt at DMing a game of D&D. The NPCs are totally lifeless and have no personality. For my first mission, I set some innocent prisoners/slaves free from a bandit cave... they just said "thanks" and stood in the jail for the remainder of the game. No realism whatsoever.

I've now got a list of about 50 pointless things that I am prompted to ask every NPC that I engage in conversation. This is because the conversation engine is so stupid that it doesn't know how to optimise what is important. When I do eventually manage to work out a clue to begin a side adventure (usually achieved by sequentially clicking all options), the dialogue is so boring that it can be skipped and then read more concisely in the journal... that's not a good sign for an immersive game!

Morrowind prides itself on the claim that you can do whatever you want to do. I won't dispute that, but it's no more freedom than you'd get in any other modern single player adventure game. The question is, is there actually anything worth doing? I think not.

A few other things that annoy me about this game:-

- enemies show no backlash when you hit/miss them in battle. It's almost like you never touched them.
- walking is entirely realistic to real life, which means if the next village is 5 miles away... you really will take an hour of game play to get there. But the clocks go forward at an accelerated rate!
- far too many "dumb" NPC characters... just because I can engage one of them in conversation, does not make them real
- there is no auto-save when going near a dangerous area
- day/night happens in sky graphics only. Time of day does not affect NPC availability. Either ignore time of day, or do it properly. Ditto rest/food for the player character.
- weapons and other items degrade as they are used, and cost a fortune to repair... not fun.
- the walking around piece really is so annoying, it deserves another mention
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 25, 2011 10:19 AM GMT

Ajax on Java
Ajax on Java
by Steven Douglas Olson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars should have been called "AJAX on JSP", 12 Aug. 2007
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This review is from: Ajax on Java (Paperback)
A badly named book... should have been called "AJAX on JSP", because 90% of the book is only relevant to Java Enterprise Edition frameworks and the JavaBean approach.

The quality of the Java code is poor and the book takes no time at all to offer hints at server-side principles. The examples are riddled with both security, performance and scalability holes.

One thing the book does make very clear is that there are a lot of frameworks for doing AJAX on Java, and they are all ugly as sin. However, you won't be able to use any of them after reading this book because it simply skims over them... it points the author to the download pages and suggests reading the documentation. I'll save you the effort of reading the book and list the libraries here:-

- Dojo
- Rico
- Scriptaculous and Prototype
- TLDs in JSP
- Struts-Layout
- JavaWebParts
- JSFs
- Google Web Toolkit

you'll learn just as much by looking at their websites and reading the documentation. In fact, that's pretty much all the book will ask you to do anyway.

Java Puzzlers: Traps, Pitfalls, and Corner Cases
Java Puzzlers: Traps, Pitfalls, and Corner Cases
by Joshua Bloch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £30.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read for fun, not to be a better programmer, 7 May 2007
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Josh Bloch/Neal Gafter have a talent for giving concise coding wisdom with rock solid examples, this book is no different to Effective Java in that respect.

However, those expecting to hear coding philosophies and common pitfalls to avoid are not going to find them here. This book is about exactly what is says on the cover: corner cases. You may never encounter any of these issues in your entire Java career.

That said, the puzzles are insanely difficult and I found them very entertaining to read. There are possibly 2 or 3 puzzles in the entire book that are "cheap tricks", but the rest are all to do with subtleties in the language itself. If I had any criticism it would be that the puzzles go straight from puzzle to explanation without explicitly showing the output as an intermediary step... the author suggests that you run the programs and try to reach an explanation yourself. I tend to read books when travelling or when taking a break from the computer screen, so this was not practical for me.

If you haven't read Effective Java, I'd strongly recommend you read it first. I'd recommend this book to those that like a challenge or enjoy reading about Java subtleties.

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