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The Fat Monk (UK)

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Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013, Licence Card, 1 User (PC)
Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013, Licence Card, 1 User (PC)
Price: 94.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear, they broke the office! (again?), 22 July 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Although and, probably more so, Libre Office come very very close these days to providing all of the functionality of MS Office it is still really the de facto office suite.

Like it or not, most offices have MS Office users, even if that's by virtue of large corporates sticking to a large corporate supplier.

But what on earth have they done to the interface with 2013?

There were cries when the ribbon bar was introduced (with 2010?), but actually I quite like that now I've got used to it. Sure, I still find some of the old functions a bit difficult to find, but it still looks pretty functional and works.

2013, though, I don't think I'll ever actually like.

I'm pretty sure that most, if not all, of the previous functionality will be in there (though there are a few worrying reports that some (auto-)correction functions may have gone). And there are certainly some new functions and 'cloud' integration included in this new version, but the interface looks awful.

In fact the interface looks entirely unfinished. It looks like a first draft where they haven't got around to prettying things up at all.

Yes, functionality is more important than the looks of an interface, but why did they have to break what looked pretty good anyway. This doesn't even look like an unfinished Windows 7 or 8 application (except for the startup screen of which more in a bit) it actually looks like an unfinished Windows 3.11 application - all square and blocky and muted.

That startup screen is just an annoyance. When I open an application I expect to be presented with that application not a full screen (and I mean full!) overlay inviting me to open a previously opened file (it didn't list anything on first run as it didn't recognise files previously opened by MS Office 2010 which is on the same machine.

The 'theme' colour schemes are dire as well. I like my theme black. Here you get a choice of 'White', 'Light Grey' and 'Dark Grey' though dark grey would be better called 'slightly less light grey' as it is far from a dark theme. And add-on themes done;t appear to be available for the interface either.

So not only have MS ruined the interface, they've removed the option to restyle it to your liking as well (though customising buttons on toolbars etc is still possible).

The three stars scored here are purely for the functionality. The interface scores a big fat 0. Try a Google image search for 'MS Office 2013 interface' and take a look to see just how bad it looks. I know there is a certain amount of personal preference here and some people may like it, but the general consensus seems to be that MS had made a mistake with this version in the same way they have with the Windows 8 interface design.

Before you buy I'd suggest trying Libre Office. 99% of the functionality and compatibility is there and the interface, although not as polished as Office 2007 or 2010, will be very familiar. If you must go MicroSoft then I'd try to get hold of Office 2010 if you can.

Or if you have it already as I do, I'd stick with Office 2010 Starter - it will do almost everything you want and won't look aweful to work with like 2013 does.

Wpro Genuine Samsung Internal Water Filter For Side By Sides
Wpro Genuine Samsung Internal Water Filter For Side By Sides
Offered by Jamicks
Price: 17.45

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now on my second one of these, 3 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I held of reviewing this until I'd gone a full replacement cycle just to make sure there were no problems.

There weren't - but then again why would there be. As I understand it these are the same filters that Samsung supply. The only difference being that these are badged by the manufacturer - not re-badged and hiked in price by Samsung.

The first one I bought worked fine and now I have replaced that with a second one which has also slotted into place fine.

I notice some reviews comment on them being tight to fit - the original Samsung one that came with my fridge was also tight to fit so I don't think that's a problem with the filter in general, it just needs to be snug to remain watertight. Unless, of course, the other reviewers had faulty units.

So long as I can keep getting these at this price I will not be buying the Samsung ones for as long as I have the fridge!

Omron M10-IT Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor with Dual-User Facility and Dual-Size Cuff
Omron M10-IT Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor with Dual-User Facility and Dual-Size Cuff
Price: 45.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Consistent and simple, 3 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This seems to work really well and is very simple to use.

I was a bit concerned about the number of reviews stating that the readings were inconsistent, but I have not experienced that. The monitor has a mode in which three readings are taken consecutively and the average of the three is what gets stored on the device. When using the device in this mode the variations in readings are very slight. It's work noting that you should try to remain still during the readings (as you would with a doctor taking the reading) as if you move your arm around then the readings will vary quite significantly.

I haven't tried the PC software yet, but even just using the in built memory, which can record day and night values for two different people, is useful to see if there are any trends in your blood pressure.

Omron is a trusted name, and Amazon are selling these for vastly less money than you will find them in chemists or supermarkets - just keep an eye on that price though as they seem to go up and down a lot, for reference I paid 35 pounds!

One final note... This monitor comes with a slightly different cuff to most other Omron BP monitors. This cuff is designed to be easy to fit yourself. Because of that it has a spring loaded metal band within the cuff which makes it stiffer than a normal cuff. I didn't find it difficult to put on or uncomfortable in use (any BP monitor cuff gets very tight when in use - that's how they work) but it is certainly different to others. The unit is supplied with one cuff and therefore fits a limited range of arm sizes - though it should be sufficient unless you are seriously thin or built like Arnie.

D-Link DHP-W311AV/B Mini AV 500 Wireless-N HomePlug Starter Kit
D-Link DHP-W311AV/B Mini AV 500 Wireless-N HomePlug Starter Kit
Price: 53.13

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast and neat powerline network starter kit or extension to an existing powerline network, 13 Jun 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My home network is mainly based on TP-Link kit using AV200 powerline kit with a couple of wireless access points either built into the powerline adapters or as separate access points.

I decided to give the D-Link AV500 kit here a go to boost the speed from my media PC to the media renderer (an ASUS O!Play box).

First off things seemed to work well. The D-Link adapters seem to play nice with the TP-Link kit establishing a powerline network connection no problem. I haven't tried 'pairing' the D-Link adapters with the TP-Link adapters for encryption - apparently that can sometimes be an issue when mixing manufacturers, but I have not tried so can't comment.

[UPDATE October 2013: I have now paired these with my TP-Link adapters and everything is working without problems so the powerline encryption seems good to go with other manufacturers' kit]

My first problem was configuring the wireless network on the WiFi enabled adapter. As I'd established a powerline network which included the D-Link adapter I thought I'd be able to connect to the WiFi access point adapter via my existing network - not so. I had to connect to the D-Link's own wireless network and do the config that way. The default details for this network are on a card enclosed in the box so it's no big deal to get connected, but once you browse to the adapter to set up your own WiFi parameters (I use the same SSID and key on every adapter so that roaming around the house and between access points is seamless) the config screen seem to insist on you following a wizard setup which tries to send you down the route of creating a hybrid link to the rest of your network. This hybrid link uses both the powerline and a WiFi connection back to your main hub/broadband router to increase the speed of the connection - this seems a nice idea but is likely overkill in most cases as a 500Mb/s powerline connection should be more than most people need and almost certainly more than your broadband provider will be giving you. Once you get around the wizard set up is pretty much as per any other WiFi access point requiring you to set the SSID, choose WPS or WEP and an access key.

The non-WiFi adapter in this bundle has three LEDs which indicate power, powerline network established and LAN connection. The first is self-explanatory, the second indicates that the adapter has found one or more other adapters to talk to on the main wiring and also indicates signal quality and the third indicates that something is plugged into the RJ45 network port on the bottom of the adapter.

That second LED is a tri-colour affair with red indicating 'good' quality main networking signal, amber indicating 'better' quality and green indicating 'best' quality. I find it a bit disconcerting seeing the LED flash between these three colours regularly as I associate red and amber with faults. That said network speed seems pretty good regardless ofthe colour of this LED - so long as it's lit!

I have tried both adapter in various sockets - always a direct connection, not via any multi-gang adapters - and have found them to be a bit more picky than the TP-Link adapters. Where the TP-Link adapters seem to work in any of my sockets I found the D-Link adapters failed to establish the powerline network connection at all in some sockets - frustratingly one of those being the one where my media PC is hooked up so I'm not actually gaining the network speed increase where I wanted it!

All in all these are good, neat kit. Its a good starter kit at a good price and will probably work to expand an existing powerline network using other brand kit. One star is knocked off only for the slightly frustrating wizard based setup software and the fact that they seem a little picky about the mains socket they are plugged into.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 22, 2014 11:29 PM GMT

128GB KingSpec 1.8-inch IDE CF 50-pin SSD Solid State Disk (MLC)
128GB KingSpec 1.8-inch IDE CF 50-pin SSD Solid State Disk (MLC)

5.0 out of 5 stars Ideal upgrade for Cowon iAudio X5, 14 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought one of these to replace the spinning-disk hard disk in my RockBoxed Cowon iAudio X5 music player and it is ideal. It should also work for other players with the same HDD (see below).

I filled the 60GB of the X5 about6 months ago and have been looking for a suitable SSD since - crunch time came and so after a bit of research I found that this was a suitable replacement for the Toshiba MK6006GAL disk the X5 shipped with. The sizes are very close - the KingSpec is about 4mm shorter and about 3-4mm less deep, but more of that later.

Other than the 60GB being full and wanting to upgrade to 128GB, I figured going SSD rather than spinning-disk would increase the endurance of my player significantly - I don't have hard facts on the increase yet, but the battery doesn't seem to have gone down after about 4 hours of playback! I'll update when I know more on that score. (I replaced the battery in the X5 a few years ago as the original battery life had really deteriorated overtime).

(Note: The following is an indication of how I upgraded my player. I cannot be held responsible for any damage you may do to your player if you use these as a guide! Also note that my player already had RockBox and the RockBox firmware and bootloader installed - this will probably not work with a player that is still using the iAudio firmware or other players with stock firmware.)

Opening the X5 is simple - four small x-head screws.

Once inside there are a couple of bits of sticky tape to remove which sit over the HDD and also hold power wires in place - carefully remove those then the HDD can be removed by gently lifting from the connector end (not the bottom as you might imagine). The HDD is connected on a flexible ribbon so it's easy to get out.

The SSD connects the same and just slips back into the same place. I thought I'd have to add a few millimeters of padding to the bottom of the SSD to make it the same size, but the metalwork and the rolled rubber pad (you'll see it near the bottom of the HDD when you open the X5) once transferred to the SSD seem to hold everything nice and snug anyway. The thickness of the disk is no problem either as the HDD sat on a rubber 'gasket' with a hole to allow part of the HDD to protrude through - the SSD just sits nicely on top without protruding through). The flexible connector also means that the connection is unlikely to come unstuck in use. You may prefer to add that extra padding, though, to be sure.

Once all the sticky bits (including the sticky rolled rubber from the HDD) are back in place re-assemble.

If you power up your player at this point it won't work for two reasons. i) There is no .rockbox folder on the disk unless you pre-copied everything onto the new disk and ii) the disk comes NTFS formatted out of the box - that won't be recognized.

So, plug the player into a PC via USB and the new disk should be recognized on most modern OSes. Reformat the disk to FAT32 (this is the only format that works - formatting will erase anything and everything on the disk so make sure you format the right one and that you have a copy of your music somewhere!!!).

A couple of Windows7 notes... Windows 7 doesn't give you the option to format to FAT32 from the GUI, you need to go to the command line to do that. Start->Run cmd.exe will get you there and "format /FS:FAT32 I:" should do the job if I: is the drive letter for your player - make sure of that don't just copy my command!!!

That said Windows 7 gave me an error that the volume size was to big for FAT32 when I tried the above. It's not too big, but Win7 didn't want to play directly so I used Partition Commander 11 (PC CD) to do the formatting for me.

Once formatted just copy back the contents of your old disk including the .rockbox folder and your ready to disconnect and power up.

The first two power-ups resulted in RockBox shutting down after the splash screen for me, then everything has behaved fine since (maybe Rockbox was figuring out the new disk size or something, I'm not sure). I now have more than twice the storage I had before - that means I have more free space now than I had music before the upgrade! Back to the CD stack to get it transferred now.

Oh, and the player is now a lot lighter as well!

Corel VideoStudio Ultimate X6 (PC)
Corel VideoStudio Ultimate X6 (PC)
Price: 67.61

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally VS(Pro?) gets there - some great features + 4K editing!, 14 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've tried various versions of Corel Video Studio Pro (they've dropped the Pro from this version, though) and always found it a bit 'My First Video Editor', however with X6 it may have stepped up a bit.

It's always had a fair stack of features, but customizing them has always been restricted or awkward meaning that anything you produce with it has a bit of an amateurish feel. It's never good using loads of the transitions and overlays included with NLE software, but if you can suitably customize the effects then you can end up with something unique and more understated (read 'professional looking'!).

It's still not massively intuitive when trying to customize things, but I did get further with X6 than I have with previous versions, so there's a definite improvement there.

The inclusion of ProDad Mercali and Boris Graffiti go a long way towards helping you make a professional looking production. These are very good tools and BG particularly, rather than the stock title effects, will really help a production.

New features such as 4K support and the motion tracking titles are interesting. I'm not sure why anyone with kit capable of capturing 4K video would use a budget editor like this right now, but I suppose as 4K kit comes down in price it may make sense to be familiar with a software package - I just don't see the 4K price coming down much very soon.

The motion tracking titles and overlays (and path editing for objects in general) actually works very well and creates some nice effects that are both smooth in appearance and effective. My only issue being that applying these effects is not as intuitive as it could be. Creating a motion tracking path and then replacing that with a title repeatedly resulted in titles that were far smaller than I expected - though they did track very nicely! If you do a search on YouTube you can find some Corel training videos that show a much simpler way of using the motion tracking (create the track without an associated object, then right click on the overlay you want to follow the track and associate that with the appropriate motion track) - tellingly it involves un-checking a default setting every time you create a track.. see what I mean by unintuitive?

I should, though, say that I am absolutely not dismissing the bundled effects. Some of them are very very nice. The clouds effect and the wave effect in particular are very well rendered and the waves effect in particular is very customizable meaning fluttering flags from images etc are very easy to create and very convincing. The simple transitions such as the fades, wipes, peels etc are very well done and genuinely useful.

A lot of reviewers have had stability issues with this version. I'm pleased to say that I didn't have any while testing - and that was a bug surprise to me. I'm a Pinnacle Studio user by choice - another product now owned by Corel - and the latest version of that software (version 16) has proven a nightmare on my hardware so I was expecting bad things here.

[UPDATE: After another few hours of testing this pretty heavily with some 1080p footage, motion tracking, various overlays and transitions I'm happy to say that I still have had no crashing issues whatsoever!]

The only 'stability' issues I did see were to do with plugins. When opening up the settings editor for New Blue effects I was briefly greeted by a screen promoting New Blue's wares, quickly followed by a registration screen. Unfortunately these screens immediately disappeared behind the main Video Studio Pro window BUT kept focus meaning that I couldn't click on the popups to close them, bring them to the front of the screen to interact with them or continue to work in the editor. (the fix was to right click on the task bar icon and select 'Close' which brought the dialogs to the front where I could cancel them. Video Studio pro did not close at this point but after closing the two dialogs I was able to return to the main screen and continue what I was doing!)

In the past I've uninstalled Video Studio Pro and continued using Pinnacle Studio and CyberLink Power Director to achieve everything I've wanted to do. I think X6 will be staying on my machine - not as my primary editing package, but certainly now a useful addition to my video toolbox.

[UPDATE: The extra few hours of testing have really bumped this package up in my opinion. My gut feeling at this point is that Video Studio Ultimate X6 will now replace Power Director as my second line NLE. It will probably actually be the first call for some project from now on.. and that's after more than 10 years of very heavy Pinnacle Studio use!]

[UPDATE June 2013: Well I've now had my first crash - last night on a project I've been working on for a good few weeks now. I was moving an overlay graphic and the application froze completely. I crashed out of it using task manager - a pretty sever way to shut down any application - and on restarting Video Studio offered to recover the project that was open when it crashed. It recovered perfectly and the only changes missing from the recovered project were the ones I was making to the position of the overlay when the application crashed! I hadn't saved the project for a good 20 minutes or so and had made a lot of changes in that time and all of those were recovered perfectly. Yet another big tick from me then - crashes are almost inevitable in complex software like this, for me the measure of good software is how well it recovers and Video Studio Pro did that brilliantly.]

Sci-Fi Sound Effects (Vintage Beeb)
Sci-Fi Sound Effects (Vintage Beeb)
by BBC
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A trip down Memory Hyperspace Bypass?, 14 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's got a picture of the Liberator on the front so I really couldn't be expected to resist.

With no point of reference at the time I would have gladly told you that I was the biggest Blake's 7 fan in the world. So, despite having the DVD's I couldn't resist this.

Add the fact that somewhere around the same time, or maybe a few years later, I was the geek going to the local library to borrow the BBC sound effects LPs and then spending many an hour in that space of ultimate creativity - the Theatre of the Mind.

As for the Hitch Hikers' Guide... That has probably been the most significant Book, TV series and even Radio Series (this time tapes from the library, and we'll leave the film if you don't mind) in my life having led me from Adams to Dawkins, Hitchins and beyond.

It is with this background that the vague disappointment hit me with this compilation. Sure, hearing The Guide start up brings it all flooding back - that'll be my phone message alert pretty soon - but pretty soon the lack of context of the sounds has me slipping back into the real world.

It's a testament, though, to the skill and creativity of the sound engineers behind these effects that every so often I'm drawn back to the Liberator's transportation deck while Blake and Gan dematerialise before turning up in a disused quarry somewhere apparently on another planet.

Dr Who was never my thing really, though there are iconic sounds here even for a non-Whovian. The fourth series included, Earth Search, is entirely new to me so I felt no connection there.

And maybe that's the whole point of this review. If you have some sort of connection to the original material then you'll find some stuff of interest here and your memory gland will be suitably prodded in places. But as a whole it's usefulness and listenability is not particularly mind blowing. It demonstrates what can be achieved with a bit of imagination, a synth and a multitrack recorder, but it's unlikely to make it into your party playlist (even I wouldn't want to be at that party I'm afraid).

Pukka Paper, Everyday 80GSM A4  Pack of 5 Reams
Pukka Paper, Everyday 80GSM A4 Pack of 5 Reams
Offered by Ebuyer UK Limited
Price: 24.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Cheap but good for inkjet, 21 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Cheap paper that works well in an inkjet printer giving good quality print. Does not seem to suffer from the smearing that you sometimes get with cheaper papers.

Ideal for every day use.

Sony CMUBR100 Skype Camera for Bravia TV (discontinued by manufacturer)
Sony CMUBR100 Skype Camera for Bravia TV (discontinued by manufacturer)

5.0 out of 5 stars High quality camera that just works, 21 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
When I first got my Bravia TV and discovered that Skype would only work with Sony's own very expensive webcam rather than a generic I thought that this was a total rip off.

I then unexpectedly received some Amazon vouchers right about the time that Skype on the telly was about to become very useful (family members off travelling) and figured I'd put the vouchers towards one of these.

(Note, I paid sixty quid which I thought was expensive but the price of this thing varies wildly - I've seen it selling for almost three times what I paid. I think it was worth the sixty I paid, but wouldn't pay more than that)

In short it's a brilliant camera. As it's designed to sit with the TV it provides the perfect wide angle to capture most of a room and the resolution is high enough for the detail of facial expressions not to be lost between TV and sofa. (Note, however, that if your Internet connection is slow Skype will compress the video image to the point that detail could be lost.)

It appears to have two mics - one each side of he camera. Whether these are both used to pick up your voice or if one is used to assist with noise cancelling I'm not sure, however I've not had any issues with audio feedback while sing this even with the volume quite high and the sensitivity is fine for sitting back on the sofa and chatting which is pretty impressive.

Of course to make use of this you need a compatible Sony Smart TV that is connected to the Internet. That means that the potential market for this is a lot less than for a generic PC webcam. This furthers the justification of the price beyond the fact that this is a nice, very good quality webcam.

Carbon Steel Non-Stick Wok (34 cm)
Carbon Steel Non-Stick Wok (34 cm)
Offered by zonnixuk
Price: 15.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big Wok, 20 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Carbon Steel Non-Stick Wok (34 cm)
This is a big wok - not just diameter (as per the description) but deep as well.

That makes it really good for keeping your food moving when cooking.

After a couple of uses the inside has heat tarnished a bit as you'd expect, but the non-stick doesn't seem to be affected. The etched pattern inside seems a little odd and I half expected that to make it difficult to clean - I wondered if the grooves might get clogged with food or oil or something - but that doesn't seem to be an issue at all as the etching is very fine and very very shallow.

The two handles are a useful touch as well.

(Works on electric jobs as well... Does that make it an eWok?)

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