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Stephen Cooper (Norfolk UK)

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NZXT Aperture M Card Reader USB 3.0 13.3 cm / 5.25 Inches Black
NZXT Aperture M Card Reader USB 3.0 13.3 cm / 5.25 Inches Black
Price: £32.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Looks nice but doesn't work with CF cards, 21 April 2015
I bought this elsewhere as I found a better price.

Two problems. Firstly the card readers aren't USB3 but USB2 which means that you're not getting the greatest speeds. However far worse is the slot for CompactFlash cards. There should be rails on either side to guide the card in but instead the pins are just inside the reader and bend at the first hint of a card being inserted. CF remains the format of choice for many photographers, and there's no way they're going to be able to rely on this. Mine failed on first use.

So, a premium priced product let down by shoddy, couldn't-care-less design. I was well-disposed to NZXT after doing my last build in the original Phantom case, but this really is a cheap and nasty product. Looks nice though!

Corsair AX850/750/650 sleeved cables BLACK, CP-8920009 (BLACK)
Corsair AX850/750/650 sleeved cables BLACK, CP-8920009 (BLACK)
Offered by Scan Computers Intl Ltd
Price: £32.34

1.0 out of 5 stars Not sleeved, not new, not what I expected, 3 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I made the mistake of buying this. It most certainly isn't a set of Corsair individually sleeved cables, it isn't part CP-8920009, and it's definitely not new. What you'll get if you purchase from 'Quite PC' is a set of standard cables that have been split from a PSU and with the main cables all very obviously used. No packaging, no box, yet the seller is asking more than you can now pick up the individually sleeved set.

Any original owner of an AX850/750/650 will still be covered by their seven year warranty, and able to get replacement standard pattern cables from Corsair without charge. Otherwise look elsewhere for the individually sleeved set which are far nicer and now cheaper as well.

My rating is for what is being sold here, not for the proper Corsair set which are a decent upgrade.

Ramsay's British Model Train Catalogue 2 Volume Set
Ramsay's British Model Train Catalogue 2 Volume Set
by Pat Hammond
Edition: Paperback
Price: £34.95

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Time to dump the photoshop kitsch, 22 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If I were only concerning myself with the text, then this book would definitely deserve four stars, with an awful lot of useful information presented very clearly. As you might expect, there are still omissions (completists shouldn't take these lists as definitive) but that is the nature of the beast with volumes of this nature.

Unfortunately, however useful the book might be, I most definitely won't be buying the next edition unless Robbie McGavin's ugly and intrusive illustrations are dropped. Crudely photoshopped, they're not in the slightest arty, and unfortunately there's far too many of them spread across the two volumes with no regard whatever to context or relevance.

This book is aimed at collectors and what collectors want in the way of illustrations is clear pictures of the models, along with packaging and advertising material, particularly for older and rarer models. Let's hope that the publisher looks again at the mess they've made of this before the 9th edition appears.

Son Of Dust Sucker (Captain's Tapes Of Bat Chain Puller)
Son Of Dust Sucker (Captain's Tapes Of Bat Chain Puller)
Price: £10.33

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sheer Desperation from Ozit, 22 July 2012
Well, they've taken this one from the internet, and still managed to make a bad job of it. Unless I'm mistaken, JWB did the original master for this, and made a far better job of it.

'Computer buff' appears to be an Ozit employee (and no doubt 'grateful dead fanatic' will be along to add a second 5 star review at some point); best ignored.


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It worked with my GiffGaff SIM, 15 Nov. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The cheap mobile phone network GiffGaff send out SIM cards that have no number on the card itself (your number is generated when you activate the card). This is a problem for users of smartphones, which use the SIM to identify the user's number for some functions. The latest iPhones offer an edit function which solves the problem, and some other phones will write the number automatically, but Android users have to make other arrangements.

So, I downloaded the free SimCardExplorer software, and looked for a cheap dongle to use with my SIM. Despite the vendor's disclaimer, I thought I'd take a risk on this as it was so cheap, and I'm very pleased to say that it did the job perfectly.

The software had no instructions. If you're using this for the same purpose as I did, it may help if I tell you that the number is found at SIM - PhoneBook - Own Number, and that in order to enter either name or number you need to start with a quick double click in the appropriate box. To enter the number you have to use the Caps Lock key (it took me a while to figure that one out!), and if you want to have the +44 at the beginning you'll need to copy and paste from a text document. The number has to be entered without spaces, or the phone will add zeros to the gaps. I experimented with an old discarded SIM, before writing to my current card.

This worked with both XP and Windows 7. I made no use whatever of the supplied software, and didn't run SimCardExplorer until Windows had finished searching unsuccessfully for a SIM driver. Most functionality was missing, but not the bit I needed, and I was very happy.

BargainUniverse® MICRO SIM CARD CUTTER 2 ADAPTER FOR iPHONE 4 4G---Bargain Universe
BargainUniverse® MICRO SIM CARD CUTTER 2 ADAPTER FOR iPHONE 4 4G---Bargain Universe
Offered by KingPower Tech
Price: £1.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Works and it's cheap, 18 Oct. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Ordered from bargain universe, who supplied the 'Noosy' branded cutter. It works as well as any of the other cutters out there, and the price was ultra competitive, so there's not really any point in spending more.

The Circle Game
The Circle Game
Price: £7.79

68 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the Royal Albert Hall show, 30 Aug. 2010
This review is from: The Circle Game (Audio CD)
Joni Mitchell at her very peak, the simpler arrangements make some of the material here that subsequently appeared on 'Blue' even more potent to these ears. Great great music, sublimely performed.

However, earlier reviewers with Albert Hall ticket stubs face a minor let-down since this recording was no more recorded at the Albert Hall than Dylan's infamous '66 bootleg. In fact it was recorded by the BBC earlier in the year in the far more intimate setting of the Paris Theatre on London's Regent Street, and broadcast as an hour-long John Peel 'In Concert' special on Radio 1. The BBC also filmed the performance and later broadcast an edited version of that (there are plenty of clips to be found on YouTube, just note the very cheesy set).

The bootleg history becomes even more muddied because James Taylor later recorded a separate 'In Concert' session, and over the years the two performances have been repeatedly cut together by bootleggers with different track choices all supposedly from the Royal Albert Hall.

Like so many recently issued live recordings from this era, this CD appears to be scarcely more legitimate than the bootlegs from which it has been sourced, exploitative of the artists and European copyright legislation in equal measure. But the original BBC recording (and FM broadcast) was of exceptional quality, more than good enough to withstand the inevitable audio deterioration that results from repeated analogue copying of off-air tapes. Assuming you haven't long since downloaded this easily available material, and you're not uncomfortable buying some sort of glorified bootleg, you'll certainly want this. I was fortunate enough to be in the audience for both the Paris Theatre and the later Royal Albert Hall performances and take it from me, this was the better of the two.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 25, 2013 9:03 AM BST

Hymns to the Silence: Inside the Words and Music of Van Morrison: Inside the Music and Lyrics of Van Morrison
Hymns to the Silence: Inside the Words and Music of Van Morrison: Inside the Music and Lyrics of Van Morrison
by Peter Mills
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £50.00

20 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars You'll want to 'Click to Look Inside' before you buy, 13 July 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Writing about Dylan, Michael Gray introduces the wonderful `Song and Dance Man' with a quote from D.H. Lawrence, "Never trust the artist - trust the tale". It is advice that the author of this volume would have done well to heed.

Peter Mills' principal premise is that Morrison is an artist who explores the concept of exile within the Irish literary tradition. It is a line of argument that could usefully fill a couple of fairly substantial fanzine articles, but not unfortunately the weighty tome we have here, which offers too little in the way of serious analysis for far too much of the time. There's a certain incoherence and considerable repetition as the author endlessly cherry-picks phrases or lines that suit his argument (somewhat randomly across Morrison's entire oeuvre) while convoluted sentences mask the marked lack of clarity and meaning; the critical perspective required to do Morrison justice is simply not present. All too often Mills finds he is unable to sustain an argument without resorting to quotes from interviews or the work of a select group of favoured journalists and writers - unfortunately these very selective quotes are simply treated as holy writ when they should have been properly tested.

Let me give an example. Writing about `Madame George' (perhaps the song which best defines Morrison's greatness), Mills quotes the Irish poet Gerald Dawe:

"'Madame George' is a portrait of a society about to withdraw from public view at the same time as the voice which describes it is also leaving the scene. Memories shift and coalesce. The site of the poem blurs and moves in and out of focus. It is the Belfast of Cypress (sic) Avenue; there is a Fitzroy Avenue too. The rituals of collecting bottle-tops/Going for cigarettes and matches in the shops are identifiably Belfast. But the journey is on a train from Dublin up to Sandy Row. Parsing the song in this fashion does not take us far. What is constant is the voice and the connections which the accent makes between raps, cops, drops and gots."

And a bit further:

The shock of hearing the phrase, `On a train from Dublin up to Sandy Row' has never quite left me. An inexplicable connection, coded beneath the words themselves, identified for the first time the actual city in which I lived"

Dawe's comments are helpful, not least since he makes clear that they is describe both his initial reaction and a deeper personal response. In his more general analysis he acknowledges the apparent contradiction in what he is saying. Mills doesn't seem to grasp that at all, but simply lifts straight from Dawe to elsewhere in the book. So writing about `Irish Heartbeat', he says, "The whole project reaches past the then troubled present into a more unified and integral past, an identity associated with wholeness as opposed to exile and fragmentation; the songs speak of this unity in their free movement from place to place. In comparison, Morrison's own devastating image in `Madame George' of the train journey from Dublin up to Sandy Row seems both part of this tradition and also to be its endpoint..." Dawe has clearly explained why he found the lines so powerful - they carried a personal resonance. Mills has no such excuse, and his claim that Morrison's image is `devastating' passes (like so much else) without explanation or justification. Incidentally, there is an entirely rational explanation for Dawe's conundrum. The events involving Madame George, the rituals that are so `identifiably Belfast', surely take place in Dublin (where, as it happens, there is also a Fitzroy Avenue, although I doubt the name of a street was ever intended). Cyprus Avenue serves only as a location that triggers long gone and elusive memories after the youth has become a man.

It might be helpful if I look at Mills' analysis of one song in detail. `Saint Dominic's Preview' is one of the key albums in Morrison's catalogue, and the title track is central to the album. Mills devotes little more than one page to the song, branding the music "melodically undazzling" before setting about dealing with the lyrics. "So just what, I wondered, does this opaque, even runic song - described by Morrison as `just a stream of consciousness' - really have to do with Northern Ireland?" he asks.

Like a lot else, Morrison's claim that the song is `just a stream of consciousness' passes unexplored which is a pity since the lyrics are among his most carefully crafted, and map out the obsessions that would recur across parts of his work over the next few years. Mills writes, "The lyric begins surely enough with a reference to his adolescence in Belfast, with its nod to the lot of the window cleaner, making a punning connection between the French name of the leather and the evocations of Frenchness via Edith Piaf and the iconic bulk of the Cathedral Notre Dame." I doubt that "Chamois" is intended as a pun (and intention is vital in determining a pun) but it certainly assists in providing additional formal structure to a verse where in the original studio recording both the third and fourth lines end in French (but sung of course with Van's normal Belfast accent). The chamois plays an important role in a far more sophisticated pun (in a verse where almost every phrase carries at least two readings). The opening couplet is complex; it could be Morrison (as the window cleaner) who is singing, or it is the sound of the chamois crossing the drying window that is the `singer', probably existing only within Morrison's meditative imagination. But Morrison is of course singing the song we hear, even as he hears (and maybe once sung) a different song from the past. Then there's "blue strains" which suggests both music and the physical exertions of the window cleaner (and blue would be the colour of refracted light from a still soapy window). This punning use of `strains' repeats with absolute clarity later in the song: "In every strain..." which resolves the previous line with one meaning and opens up the next with the other. As for the reference to Notre Dame Cathedral, that also works at several levels of meaning. It suggests the spiritual nature of a music apparently echoing back across the street to the window cleaner. It offers a Parisian location, alongside the (presumably) Belfast one. Where it is certainly present is within Morrison's consciousness, as is the sound of the chamois. Finally the full name of the Cathedral (translated) is `Our Lady of Paris', a singularly apt description of Piaf. Mills refers to the Cathedral's "iconic bulk", quite why escapes me.

He blunders on, and keen to get the song out of the way, glosses over the later verses, "... we get impressions of a showbiz party; these glimpses and fragments are more than the sum of their parts by dint of the unifying reference point - the chorus that repeats the song's title - to which all of the parts are connected." Finally he offers his conclusion on the song's relevance for the `troubles'; "Through it all, Saint Dominic's Preview remains. It is that which holds the song together, and unifies the apparently unconnected, resolving fracture through reimagining what it means to belong: in this, the song is indeed a helpful observation of the situation in Northern Ireland in the 1970s" I'll leave it to the reader to decide how `helpful' that observation is. Apart from a single passing reference, the song is never mentioned again. But why waste too much time discussing one of the truly great rock songs when you could be recycling Jeff Beck's memories of Radio Luxembourg, or analysing Bert Berns' sleeve notes for `Blowing Your Mind'?

This book reminds me of a poor student dissertation; too little substance and almost interminable floss. It says too much, tries too hard and finally sinks beneath the weight of all its verbose pretensions.

The author of `Hymns to the Silence' lectures in Media Studies, and this poorly constructed book doesn't exactly counter the widespread prejudice that such courses (and by implication those who teach them) lack intellectual rigour.

Thankfully Amazon have a considerable section of this book viewable if you `Click to Look Inside', and prospective purchasers would be well advised to do so; they will then be able to make an informed choice better than any reviewer can offer. I should have looked myself, I'd have seen more than enough to know that this book was not for me.

Instead I'd recommend Van Morrison fans purchase Greil Marcus' `Listening to Van Morrison', a work that says so much more in less than a quarter of the words this author uses. It covers similar ground, stimulating and occasionally infuriating in doing so. Marcus is an exceptionally skilled writer who has long championed Morrison; he has a singular ability to express complex ideas with remarkable clarity, and his passion for the music is genuine and infectious.

Van Morrison is a great artist (at least the equal of Dylan) and as such he deserves considerably better than Peter Mills manages here.

Continuum, who published this book have things to answer for too - the indexing is poor and the hardcover edition is being imported without any dust jacket. With regard to the latter, cheapskate is the word that comes to mind.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 8, 2013 5:41 PM GMT

Frank Zappa -200 Motels [DVD] [1971]
Frank Zappa -200 Motels [DVD] [1971]
Dvd ~ Frank Zappa
Price: £16.09

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A dismal cash-in, 27 Mar. 2010
Mastered from poor late sources - both video and film damage is visible, the picture has been 'stretched' - and with a very poor quality soundtrack, Frank Zappa's 200 Motels deserved far better. 39 years ago Tony Palmer was not claiming authorship of this film (quite the opposite in fact) so his motives for this dire issue are at the very least suspect. As is his claim that the film was edited 'live', well the film was really edited in LA from the first generation celluloid transfer (by which time Palmer had long since ceased any involvement in the project).

Get a secondhand VHS tape and rip it to DVD-R, you'll do far better than this. Or if you're fortunate enough to own a laserdisc player hunt it out in that format (good luck to you, it's not easily found) - that shows how it should have been done.

Perhaps Gail has a decent print.....

Prime Quality Beef
Prime Quality Beef
Price: £15.11

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The stench of rotting beef, 19 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Prime Quality Beef (Audio CD)
That early 5-star review by 'Dr. Nick' has to be satirical. This is just another Ozit CD whose sound is as dubious as the source of its content. Like pretty much any of the Beefheart product from this cynical company, not fit to be fed to your dog.

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