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Chris Hoare "Chris" (UK)
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Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22l AW Bag for DSLR Camera - Slate Grey
Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22l AW Bag for DSLR Camera - Slate Grey
Price: £79.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for travelling and commuting, 10 Sep 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Lowepro Photo Hatchback; is a great compromise backpack for commuting or as a daypack. The slate grey isn't the most stylish; but it is fairly discrete.

The compromise comes from its three pocket stores;

The biggest downside is there is a slot on the front for a macbook air 11" or Tablet computer; its great you can carry it but bad you can't easily tell when its being stolen. Atop the laptop and camera section is a larger area where you can store your lunch; headphones or larger items. This section has a zipped pocket and two mesh pockets (which are good for filters.) The zip pocket has a handy lanyard for your keys. On the sides are two mesh pockets for water bottles (there isn't a strap to allow you to use it as a tripod. Finally you get to the camera store; this is kept tucked under a hatch on the back of the bag. The bag comfortably holds an SLR with a small zoom and an extra lens; I Was able to carry a Canon 6d with a 24-105 F4L lens attached; its petal hood on one side and have room for a Nex 5, Sigma fisheye lens on top. Under the camera section there is a waterproof hood which adds to the padding. The entire camera padding section can be removed to make it easier to load / unload away from the bag; or to give you an extra pocket when you don't need a camera.

The straps and padding are good; but nowhere near as good as those on my new baseline outstanding bag the Vanguard Quovio 44. That said I have just returned from a long weekend overseas and walked dozens of miles through desert mountains and the bag was comfortable - though I did have a VERY sweaty back. Having used it for such a long period of time; one thing i found myself doing over and over was not quite zipping the back up; the design stopped anything significant falling out but its a constant risk; one for any bag - but its harder to spot when the open zip is against your back.

The Lowepro 22l AW is a great bag for travelling with; it holds documents and a computer as well as a set of camera equipment - and is small enough that you wont break your back carrying everything around. In my experience Lowepro bags hold up to abuse and the Hatchback feels doesn't feel like it will be any different.


John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: Series 1
John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: Series 1
by John Finnemore
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £13.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh out loud fun, 29 Aug 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
John Finnemore's Souvenir programme cement's John's place as the King of Radio4 comedy. It can't be long before the BBC finds a budget for him to move to TV. Till then the slow release of his work on CD from tbe BBC library is all we have. Series 1 has 4 30 minute(ish) episodes of John's sketches. There is no theme; just a mixture of fun and silly. Its repayable and the jokes on the whole are pretty timeless and the overall standard is as great as my long term favourites The Consultants. 5*s


Vanguard Quovio 44 Professional Photo Video Backpack - Black
Vanguard Quovio 44 Professional Photo Video Backpack - Black
Offered by DUKE FOTOGRAFÍA
Price: £123.36

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Padded like your favourite Chair, 29 Aug 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Vanguard Quovio 44; is an anti Tardis and thats what really relegates its usefulness for me. The discrepancy between external and internal voulume is because Vanguard have gone for huge amounts of foam padding on the base, top and and around the sides of the bag. The nice thing about this padding is that it isn't just for your camera's there is a lovely contoured back to the bag - partly to store a rain cover but between that and the padding the Quovio almost felt like lumbar support. The shape of the back allows for a bit of ventilation over your back. The downside is there is a lack of space for secondary item's - there is a tight pocket for an iPad on the back - but it wont take an 11" macbook air or much thicker than an iPad. There is a small zipped pocket on the top; but again this can't take much more than pens. There are dedicated memory card pockets on the top flap. For your camera equipment though the Quovio is Nirvanna. Inside the Black backpack is a bright orange padded world for them to relax. Your tripod isn't left out thanks to a pull out tripod holder on the side; though being on the side I wouldnt use a heavy tripod or you will feel lopsided - using my travel giotto felt OK but I wouldnt want to walk with it for a long period.

All around the outside of the bag are chunky contrasted Orange Black zippers all with glove friendly pull ties. Away from the tripod harness on the other side of the bag is a full height zip that allow you to use the Quovio 44 as a sling opening opening easily from the side (though in a nice touch the zipper has a magnet to prevent you using it by accident) . The quovio is a convertable; thanks to some sturdy metal clips you can change the bag from a backpack to a sling. I did find the sling side opening tight though - my 7d with a lens was difficult to extract; this may be because the bag is new and still a bit stiff or my personal preference to the backpack design. I do like that I am free to switch easily between the two options though.

Thanks to the large size of the bag; and inspite of the padding, the bag can take a Pro sized SLR with a Sigma 150-500mm Zoom with ease. Though doing so reduces the amount of other lenses you can carry as it compressed one side of the bag (see the photos I have uploaded.) The Quovio is happier with a smaller zoom attached like a 70-200 but its nice having a back that so comfortably carries the bigma on or off the camera. You can overcome the limited storage by putting a foam plug into the internal bag at the cost of carrying a long lens attached to your camera; which allows the curved top section to be used for storing small items. This may be essential given the lack of secondary storage pockets. The plug doesnt provide any liquid protection -and the lack of liquid carrying is the biggest drawback to the back if you are going to go on a long day with it out of town.

The Vanguard isn't a cheap bag; as a contrast I have been using an AmazonBasics Backpack for a couple of years. That has far less padding but far more secondary storage. The Quovio's thoughtful touches make it a much nicer bag to carry around though; the better build is evident the moment you pick it up via the soft feel top handle. There are so many little touches that make the bag nicer to use; from a magnetic flap to stop you accidentally opening a zop; to the Velcro ties to keep any excess straps tidily looped up. The Vanguard is built to last; the zips are more rugged, the padding is considerably thicker and the shape is better suited to carrying a zoom lens. In the end its the comfort from the back of the pack that make it a 4* bag - the lack of secondary storage costing it a star.


Withings Pulse Wireless Activity and Heart Rate Tracker - Black
Withings Pulse Wireless Activity and Heart Rate Tracker - Black
Price: £79.00

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lacks Motorvation. Jawbone Up is better, 26 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I ordered a Withings pulse as I already had both the Withings blood pressure and scales and despite being a user of the Jawbone Up I wasn't completely satisfied with that device. I have been using the Jawbone UP since it was released and found it good a motivating me to move about rather than sit and work. I have found having all my lifestyle data to hand helps when dealing with the medical profession; and into shaming me into doing more with my time. My biggest criticisms of the Up were its lack of Bluetooth - relying on the headphone jack to connect to my phone; and that it couldn't do pulse readings. The Withing's pulse ticked both of those boxes. Once it was charged up using a standard Micro USB cable (the Jawbone uses a proprietary 3.5mm charger) As I am expecting of Withings product setup was an absolute breeze; connect the bluetooth using the phone menu, run the app and (After a firmware update to the pulse) I was away. The Pulse is very small; about half the size of a pack of matches if you can remember them. The iPhone Withings App is very polished outstanding (and designed by them to encourage you to track more of your life through their products - which i guess worked on me.) Besides having the data on your phone its also accessible via the Withings website.

The Up comes in the form of a plastic bracelet which is pretty visible as you move around (especially as mine is in Blue - grab a handle on the Tube and it shouts out from my exposed wrist to those who care to look - possibly breaking the rule about the only jewellery men should wear being glasses, wristwatch and dog tags); the pulse is a rounded lozenge that goes into a belt clip or a separate wrist cuff for nighttime use. With the Up you put on and leave it for a week (or until you go swimming) sleep; suit shower its happy all the Time. The lozenge shape of the Pulse results in a belt clip for daytime use; a wristwatch like sleeve for nighttime use; and as its not waterproof a shelf when you take a shower. This constantly changing holder is a chore; I am not enamoured by the belt clip either which didn't feel 100% secure It may be more discrete than the UP but I am less concerned with losing the up. I also found myself taking it off when i got to work so it didn't get caught on chairs during the day which meant it did my commute but unless I remembered to put it on not whilst i was moving around the office. The nighttime sleeve works fine; its just with the Up its on your wrist and you only take it off to charge - and as it doesn't have a screen or bluetooth you charge it a lot less. My Pulse managed about 3 days on its first charge and 3 again on the second - the Up lasts all week comfortably. I am happy to sacrifice battery life for the screen though - it makes it much more clear where you are and the Pulse is much easier to use than the up as a Result.

The Pulse reader itself; is activated using the menu button and selecting the heart from the touchscreen; when it comes to taking your pulse its a bit hit and miss - and doesn't give you the chance to try again or delete a dodgy reading. So my pulse history is mostly 60's and 70's with the odd 150-180. Whenever these readings happened taking my pulse instantly again recorded what was expected. The pulse reading when giving an answer I as happy with agreed closely with the reading taken from the Blood pressure cuff. The movement tracking was in 5% of the Up; and what little sleep I get resulted in similar sleep pattern readings.

My review of the Up was titled Shakes you up; and that is for me where the Pulse is let down. The Up has a motor that makes it vibrate - this means it can act as an alarm clock in sleep or napping modes. Thought the biggest use of the motor for me was telling me I had been sitting still for too long and I should get up and do something - that little motivation works wonders. The pulse is passive; it tells you what you have done and the app tries to get you to do more; the Up shakes you to get up and do something. I bought the Pulse as I wanted something to replace the up; what I have ended Up with is two wristbands neither of which I am 100% happy with. The Pulse is much more user friendly; and I haven't lost it via the belt clip yet; but constantly shuffling between holders is a Pain. The UP though takes more effort to sync up to your phone; can't take your pulse and although the Jawbone app can sync data from other Withing's devices it doesn't have the all round health features of the Withings. I'm torn between the two they both track and show back the data accurately in user friendly ways; but for now the Up has it simply for shaking tell me to get up and do something.


Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 (Mac/PC)
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 (Mac/PC)
Price: £99.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shown Aperture the Door, 18 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have been a staunch user of Apple Aperture since its first release; only Aperture 3 has gotten increasingly long in the tooth - and as a camera collector I am getting fed up of Apple's lag in supporting Raw formats. Aperture 3 is iPhoto + - its a great easy to use Library for OS/X. With Lightroom 5 Adobe should have made it easier to switch from Aperture.

I wasn't immediately sure how my library would look in the final process - I really like the album structure in Aperture. Lightroom doesn't have this; I found an option on the import to Organise by day which groups photos into a stack saved my bacon and allowed me to almost mimic the old structure. I then had to import my photos; i'm Not a professional photographer but do have over 10 years of digital images and to transfer from Aperture to Lightroom I had to export my images and import them back in - a process that took 4 days on my Mac Pro. There really ought to be a better way...

Once my images were in Lightroom; the interface shock subsided over a few days and over the weeks i'm slowing drilling down into some of the keyboard shortcuts. Its clear that lightroom is massively superior for editing images. Having the Photoshop healing brush and radial gradients often allows for a quick adjustment to an image without opening it in another editor. The flickr publishing interface is far better (though when I tried to push a video up it never finished encoding at the Flickr end - manually uploading the same video worked fine.)

One of the key benefits for me over Aperture is the ability to merge catalogs from a laptop into your main catalog; this handy feature lets you easily move images around - and saves on the transfer issues I had moving over from aperture.

Lightroom 5 is a learning curve from Aperture; the library is quicker; the editing functions are better, the sharing functions are better, working away from the office is easier and it isn't onerously expensive; 5*'s


Give Up: Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition
Give Up: Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition
Price: £11.07

5.0 out of 5 stars Let me help you remember, 18 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
10 Years of Giving Up and its bleeps and bloops have stood up to the test of time and passed with flying colours. Now reissued and remastered (but im not sure where if anything has changed); with two new tracks and some remixes - it also includes the absolutely sublime Iron and Wine version of Such Great Heights. If you aren't sure listen to the preview of Nothing Better on the MP3 store a him versus her love song 10 years before Gotye's; with trully biting lines "I've prepared a lecture on why i have to leave." It is the absolute standout on the album.

Getting the physical copy gives you the autorip MP3 version so you can have the CD quality at home and good amazon MP3 on the move which is the best of both worlds acoustically.


Lavolta Monitor Mount for LCD LED TV Screen Display with Fully Adjustable Arms - Dual
Lavolta Monitor Mount for LCD LED TV Screen Display with Fully Adjustable Arms - Dual
Offered by Smart Parts UK, Digital Lifestyle Retailer
Price: £41.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to setup steady as a rock, 18 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Lavolta monitor mount comes with well laid out instructions and the plastic wrapped parts are cleanly segmented; something ikea would be wise to learn from. The only tool you need to bring to put it together is a philips screwdriver for when you attach the monitors to your screen(s). As soon as you pick up the box you know its made from metal; all the parts have some heft. The Desk Clamp attaches to your desk with two large eye bolts; I would have preferred were half as long as they are (or if the mount came with a shorter option. I put a wooden shim under the clap on the topside of my desk to get around the issue and its tightly bolted up. In the box are two sets of bolts for attaching to your screen short ones for flat backed screens; and longer ones (with grommets) to attached to curved screens. I attached two VESA mount equipped LG IPS234V-PN.AEK PS 23 inch LG screens to the stand; and attaching them to the Vesa mounts is really the job of two people.

When it arrived some of the bolts were very loose; but the supplied allen bolt allowed me to tighten them so the screens are more or less floating now - i can move them without sagging unless i want it - took quite a bit of dialling in to get there. The bolts require too much torque to tighten them; and the last bolt on the monitor arm is adjusted by almost torquing the monitor (if its attached) which isn't great. Once your screens are on there are cable loops on the arms and on the main stand that make it easy to thread the wires through in a tidy fashion.

THe Lavolta is a very adjustable stand for height and tilt and angle in the plain; the only thing I would wish for in addition is the ability to rotate the screens so I could flip from landscape to portrait. 4*'s.


Wrigley Extra Ice White with Microgranules Sugarfree Chewing Gum 14 g (Pack of 30)
Wrigley Extra Ice White with Microgranules Sugarfree Chewing Gum 14 g (Pack of 30)
Price: £13.80

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars LIght mint but contains Sorbitol, 18 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I buy a pack of 30 gum each month from Amazon to keep me ticking over at work. I have been trying my way around the Wrigley's range and made it Wrigley's Extra Ice white gum. My first choice before I started my odyssey was Spearmint (the green packs) which has a nice punch and a long flavour. Extra Ice White has a nice mellow mint flavour that lasts a fair amount of time; the micro-granules don't have a chalky texture and aren't really noticeable as you chew. No idea if they are having any impact on whitening my teeth; or if i really care about the whiteness of my molars) but the gum works.

So why only 4*s well Ice White is a good news bad news though; they use sorbitol as a sweetener which kills bacteria and so its great for your teeth the bad news though is quite bad - sorbitol is a mild laxative; so i'm alternating packs of icewhite with spearmint.


BT Broadband Extender Flex 500 Kit, Passthrough Powerline Adapters - Twin pack
BT Broadband Extender Flex 500 Kit, Passthrough Powerline Adapters - Twin pack
Price: £39.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rock Solid Network; and keep your power socket, 13 Aug 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The most limited resource in my very newly built apartment are power sockets - there just aren't enough of them and fitting more is disruptive and expensive. The newly bit isn't bragging but a warning that the wiring in my house is near brand new and may be in better condition as a result.

I started using Powerline adaptors as I have a number of devices whose manufacturers didn't feel wireless network access was a good value proposition; and left them with an ethernet socket only. I have been with great success WD Livewire Powerline AV Network Kit to fill the gaps with my devices where they don't have wireless adaptors (and it was far cheaper to do it that way than buy all the manufacturers own brand wireless adaptors.) The WD is rated up to 200mb/s and it was more than fast enough for super hd Netflix streaming; it was also noticeably quicker than the Wireless N network I have around the remains of the house. The other nice benefit of the WD adaptors is the 4 port switch at either end of the circuit.

The biggest downside to most Powerline adaptors though is when connected you lose access to that valuable power socket; you cant plug them into extension sockets. The BT Broadband Extender Flex 50 plugs into a power socket; and in return gives you back the power socket along with network transmission.

It also like my existing WD adaptors conforms to the Homeplug and so when I connected up the BT adaptors they were able to interoperate. The speed rating of the BT Adaptors is definitely a best case; copying some video files from my living room to bedroom systems resulted in about 10Gb of data being transmitted in around 180Mb/s rather than the rated 500mb/s.

Setting up the Homeplug network is best done by setting up the devices side by side rather than running around the house pressing buttons inside the two minute window (or have a friend help.)

The BT Extender flex delivered rock solid network connectivity and uses very little power in operation - the manual says 2.7W! The plug itself is huge as a result of the oversized UK plug; it rises up from the plug so if you sockets are close to a desk or the floor it should be ok; but if your sockets are close to something above them it will be a problem. My distributed home network is predominately used for media sharing, online gaming and web surfing and for all those tasks the BT Flex is more than up to the job (and in the case of online gaming its superior to the experience using wifi.) My only real complaint is that BT didn't include an onboard switch.


Netgear ReadyNAS 104 4 Bay Network Attached Storage (No Disk)
Netgear ReadyNAS 104 4 Bay Network Attached Storage (No Disk)
Price: £144.98

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent DIY home and cloud storage system, 6 Aug 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The most important thing to know about the Netgear ReadyNas104 is that the software that controls it is very easy to use; and has been polished. The unit itself seems very robust, and in my experience netgear is a brand you can trust. The Readynas also has both gigabit ethernet and USB2 and 3 connections so you can use it as a plug in disk on your computer now and move up to using it as a network storage array later.

In the diskless version I had to test the box contains the impotant network cable making it easy to get going; all I had to do was plug it into my houses Router. Given the overall size of the device it came as a surprise that Netgear are using a separate DC converter rather than building it into the device; so whilst the device looks OK there is a large DC adaptor hanging around in your cable area which is unfortunate (and makes it harder to move if you hide your cables as I do. The main unit has 4 drive slots; you pull a tab on the caddy and they slide out. The trays can take 2.5 or 3.5" disks so any spares you have lying around will work. 3.5" disks don't need any screws - the caddys have a nifty (albeit a bit fiddly) tray to hold the disks. For 2.5" disks Netgear provide some screws and the on CD manual shows how to use them with the caddy (there are 4 clear holes on the plate though.

One of the reasons to have an array like this is to use lots of drives to provide some resilience for when the eventually die. This is done by a system called RAID; raid can be complex to setup and manage - sometimes you get tied into the disks you started with and they all need to be the same size. The ReadyNas104 like my existing Drobo storage the Netgear has a Raid system that will create redundant storage out of whatever disks you have lying around; so I used a Spare 1Tb and 2Tb drive that had been demoted out of my Drobo for being too small. Once they were in I powered the device up; on the front is a blue screen that tells you the IP address and you connect to it via your web browser.

As I lead in the software is simply excellent and is easy to understand what you are doing. By default things are turned off and you need to turn them on; so you get the choice on what data is shared or which services are activated. For example if you want to use the AppleTimemachine compatible backup function you turn it on and the options it wants for you .You can easily create user accounts for different members of the house or office as well as folder structures with individual permissions for user. When its all setup the device can email with status updates; so if the virus-scanner is updated you get an email letting you know; or if a disk fails (or is added) these status messages are a nice touch that make it easier to manage a device; ultimately you are going to turn on and leave to do its thing.

For people wanting to use the device in a home two notable services are an iTunes music server and DLNA server that allow you to easily share music and video to devices that support either of them. On my Panasonic TV the readynas appears as a device on the media options and streaming full HD video from it to the TV resulted in an excellent picture.

The best features are those you get when you want to leave the Home; the ready connect features allow you to remotely connect to your household disk from computers or your android / ios phone as though it was in the room with you. This includes a function like Dropbox or google drive that lets you synchronise folders between your computers and the storage system - so the file is on your computer and when you ahve internet access it syncs files back up to your home. This makes it fantastic for editing files in another place; or reading up on them from your Phone. You have to register your device onto Netgears Readycloud service (whcih is free at the moment. Readycloud lets you access your disk remotely and if you want the ultimate peace of mind you can replicate your storage array on the netgear servers.

Finally the device uses 37 - 88 watts of power meaning leaving it on all the time isn't going to run up a massive bill; if you are using it as a media server it does use less than most all computers you might have on your network to do the same task. Its also very quiet (even in the high temperatures of my apartment as I write the review.

The readynas is easy to setup and once its setup lets you know of any status issues by email. The software lets it become part of your home media system; and when you are away from home lets you access and synchronise your files as though you were at home. 5*s
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 6, 2013 6:23 PM BST


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