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Kevin Trebell (Cornwall, UK)

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The Hobbit Invisible Bilbo Baggins Action Figure
The Hobbit Invisible Bilbo Baggins Action Figure
Price: £2.66

45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't put it down, finding it would be mordor., 8 July 2014
After all the positive reviews I found myself caught up in the excitement and ordered this in a moment of madness.

In all honesty I can't see the appeal, I just can't see it at all.

Guitar Theory for Dummies
Guitar Theory for Dummies
by Desi Serna
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.59

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Packed with content but I'd consider it more "Guitar Theory for Improvers"., 28 Jun. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Guitar theory for dummies is a book aimed at those who already have a handle on how to play guitar and are confident in the physical skills but who want to really understand how to apply music theory in a guitar context to get the best out of the guitar and to begin to be able to freestyle, to compose their own music and to really understand the guitar music they are listening to.

I've been playing guitar now for several years and feel I've got to the point where I'm not progressing as much, playing too much of the same things and hitting a bit of a ceiling based on my understanding of music.

This book is perfect for someone like me , introducing and explaining the theory behind, chords, different scales and keys, progressions and different techniques. I did understand a good amount of it already from learning I've needed to do to play various music over the past few years but It has plenty to help me to better understand music I want to learn and play but also to begin to play freestyle around scales and have much more freedom in my playing.

The book is packed with content and an excellent learning source for someone who wants to get a good grounding in guitar theory to help take their practical guitar skills further and it really helps to fill in the gaps and is helping me to get a much deeper understanding so I can freestyle and come up with my own music. Well worth a look.

Kingston DataTraveler R30 G2 USB 3.1 Gen 1/USB 3.0 Flash Drive - 16 GB
Kingston DataTraveler R30 G2 USB 3.1 Gen 1/USB 3.0 Flash Drive - 16 GB
Price: £7.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Waterproof , Rugged and speeds as advertised, 22 Jun. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This Kingston drive is a handy compact portable flash drive with a reasonable 16 GB capacity.

The drive comes in a tightly sealed rubber covering that makes it water proof and also rugged (you can happily bounce it around).

I've tested the speeds on both USB 2 and 3 ports and get results as expected. I actually got a little higher on my read of 144MBPS (using Speedout) and write speeds of 44 MPBS. From a USB port I get 32 MBPS read and 29 MBPS write.

Overall a rugged well performing drive at a very reasonable price.

Crucial CT256MX100SSD1 MX100 SATA 2.5-inch 7-mm SSD Includes 9.5-mm Spacer - 256 GB
Crucial CT256MX100SSD1 MX100 SATA 2.5-inch 7-mm SSD Includes 9.5-mm Spacer - 256 GB
Offered by Kikatek
Price: £91.98

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A budget yet quality SSD - a great way to improve PC performance, 21 Jun. 2014
Firstly I'd like to state I got this drive through the Vine, so didn't pay for it but a mistake meant I couldn't review it the usual way (I wanted to ensure this was transparent)

The crucial MX100 is a new offering from Crucial, aimed at replacing their M500 series and delivering a slight improvement in write speeds - 300 mbps v 250 mbps in the 256 GB drive range) with read speeds of 550MBPS V 500 MPBS . These drives use a technology akin to that used in flash drives , and seen in the likes of tablets and smart phones, to provide a slim, cool and fast performing storage device for your system.

I've installed this in my sons PC to replace his primary drive, which was a Kingston SDNow 300 120 GB drive. He had been using that SSD since replacing an HDD last year. It had hugely improved his boot times and overall performance compared to that HDD we had used before. That Kingston drive had read speeds of 450 mpbs and write speeds of 450 MBPS and was fantastic as a system drive for running the OS and key programs but I avoided using it for general data reading and writing due to the desire to prolong the life of the drive.

This crucial MX100 reads faster at 550 mpbs so delivers similar speeds (I had cloned my system drive using Macrium Reflect to directly compare this with the same build) and slightly slower write times but these were still perfectly acceptable when carrying out that clone process to set the drive up. The jump to a 256GB drive from 120GB is more than worth the small decrease in write speed for us, especially with faster reads when that will be the bulk of work for this as a system drive.

I've had been using an SSD in my PC for a couple of years and have been very pleased with the performance and the stability once I realised you must be sure to optimise and trim your drives regularly so that the SSD's own garbage collection routines can run properly (otherwise I had got freezing problems with a Crucial M4 as the drive tries to access unavailable areas of the drive).

The biggest bottleneck to performance on all our old systems had been the HDD, and it will be for a lot of people still running these. The temptation can be to buy a new motherboard or CPU but it's often the case that these may well handle everything you need perfectly fast but are being hamstrung by a slow old mechanical drive. This is an upgrade that can affordably transform a system and lead to it running cooler in the process.

It's worth noting that these drives are 2.5" laptop sized. If you want to install them in a desktop then an adaptor like this allows you to attach them Akasa AK-HDA-03 2.5-3.5 inch SSD/HDD Adapter

Installation was easy. I plugged the drive into the adapter bay and easily slotted this into the tower. I then plugged this into a spare sata port (choose a sata 3 port if you have one for the 6 gb/sec rather than 3 gb speeds). I then used Macrium to clone my other drive to this one having booted into windows.

Following that I booted up and went into the BIOS set-up to tell the system this was the primary drive and to set my boot order. If you are moving from an older HDD then a fresh install is preferred rather than copying an image from and old HDD as Windows 7 onwards will optimise itself for an SSD and you always get a better and fresh performance when performing a clean build.

I installed Windows 8 and the main programs onto the SSD. Everything else is running on his main hard drisk drive (media, documents and data, steam library and the likes) so he gets very good performance but doesn't shorten the life of the SSD by writing to it more than necessary. That way the majority of dynamic and frequently changing high volume stuff can sit on the HDD whilst the SSD handles the task of running the OS itself. This should ensure a balance of performance and system life and the system still runs very quickly. This also means this drive is still two thirds empty , thus ensuring plenty of spare capacity and hopefully life.

Overall this is a nice performance boost over the previous Crucial M4 SSD's and a little over the Crucial M500 and would be a huge improvement over an HDD as a system drive. Worth considering as an upgrade, pretty much essential as a replacement for older HDD's.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 30, 2014 1:07 PM BST

Nineteen Eighty-Four
Nineteen Eighty-Four
by George Orwell
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling, prophetic and deserves every bit of its reputation, 15 Jun. 2014
1984 is a book that I've been intending to read "at some point" for years. It's a book that's so influential and left such a mark that I knew so many of it's phrases, ideas and characters (even if not always aware of where they came from).

I finally decided it was time to give it a go and to coin an overused phrase, I was blown away.

I'm no literary expert but to me this is just beautifully written and a somewhat terrifying view of a world where political ideology and the desire to control has met the technology that enables it (a technology that is now common place).

The book itself tells the story of Winston Smith, an ordinary member of "The Party" born in a post nuclear world where all freedoms had been lost and all individuality removed by a state that was piece by piece removing all traces of the past to keep it's people trapped in a perpetual state of war, fear and subsistence. Sadly for Winston he commits the cardinal sin of beginning to think for himself and to question, behaviour that is not well received in his 1984.

Given Orwells experiences in the Fascist uprising in Spain and his own views on Stalinism as expressed in Animal Farm, it's clear that he had powerful fears about the totalitarian states that might rise out these ideologies and what might happen if they had the technology to support them and didn't make the mistakes of past failed states.

Reading it now so many years later gives a really interesting perspective on it. We are now surrounded by the technology to support this state, we carry little cameras and location trackers with us at all times, we regularly use online repositories as the basis for wisdom and knowledge... it's chilling to think how Big Brother could subvert this.

So I must add my voice to those who call this essential reading. A fantastic book, a gripping read and a classic.

Watch Dogs (Xbox One)
Watch Dogs (Xbox One)
Price: £14.52

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable sandbox with a fun hacking mechanic, 8 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Watch Dogs (Xbox One) (Video Game)
Watch Dogs is a "GTA" like sandbox game set in a Chicago of the near future. In this future the entire town and it's denizens are monitored and controlled via the "CTOS" monitoring systems and you set out to both use and oppose this system.

The story of the game is fairly enjoyable but a little over serious. It has a number of interesting characters and I felt compelled to see it through , though I wasn't very keen on the gravel voiced protagonist Aiden.

The game is based heavily around it's hacking mechanic and I found this and the puzzles that come with it enjoyable. The combat in the game is also plenty of fun but the driving feels "off" and I found a lot of cars very difficult to control and I was often struggling against the game which became annoying in chases (top tip, get to the water front and hop in a boat to end any pursuit super quick).

There is a lot of game here. The story is a good 16-20 hours but there are a whole range of different types of side quests and also a bunch of online game modes that can give the game many dozens of hours of life.

The game looks nice. Not stunning but for a big open world I was still quite impressed.

Overall I think they've released a good game that is a victim of it's own hype. No it isn't an experience that transforms gaming or takes it to the next level but it is an enjoyable sandbox adventure. Worth a look.

Mario Kart 8 (Nintendo Wii U)
Mario Kart 8 (Nintendo Wii U)
Price: £35.86

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely graphics, smooth as butter and a lot of fun, 30 May 2014
I've been a big fan of Mario Kart since the snes , having had many drunken nights as a student up far too late playing that one, and have enjoyed iterations of the series since then.

I never got into the last one as much though, not being so keen on the wii mote controls for it and having moved onto HD graphics most of the time by then.

This game thus finally delivers what I've waited for, a lovely looking and super smooth HD iteration of Mari Kart that controls beautifully using the gamepad or a pro controller.

The game still plays fantastically, with the inclusion of anti gravity allowing you to drive up walls and go upside down and the level design is once again pitch perfect. There are other Kart racers but somehow Nintendo just nail it. Perfect controls and level design just take MK way past any of the imposters out there.

It's still amazing fun to play with friends and family and also online.

Additions such as Mariokart TV just add to a comprehensive package.

Very impressive , highly recommended.

D'Addario NYXL1046 Regular Light 10-46 Electric Guitar Strings
D'Addario NYXL1046 Regular Light 10-46 Electric Guitar Strings
Price: £10.50

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Give a bright sound , feel quality, 25 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The chance to try these strings came along at the ideal time as the Ernie Ball strings of the same gauge on my PRS had become very worn and were badly in need of a change. I was planning to change to a new set of EB's but this was the ideal time to try something new.

I'm not an expert when it comes to my guitars , a casual player who's only played for 5 years and I play Acoustic far more but I certainly noticed the difference between these and the ones they replaced immediately. The sounds is rich and the strings seem to require little retuning even though they are new and they feel strong. Certainly a worthy alternative to Ernie Balls for me and well worth giving them a go.

Pikmin 3 (Nintendo Wii U)
Pikmin 3 (Nintendo Wii U)
Offered by The Game Collection -
Price: £29.23

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely looking strategy fun, 10 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is the third entry in the Pikmin series in which you play as a group of space explorers who have crash landed on a strange alien planet. You soon discover and then control the little Pikmin to perform a range of tasks in order to help eat, solve problems, find items etc in order to ultimately escape the planet.

The game itself is as good as ever. I played the first many years ago and this captured the same magic for me, Nintendo cute hiding a clever game that requires plenty of thought.

The arrival of Nintendo into the HD era means we have a Pikmin game that looks absolutely lovely, both technically and in visual style it's a joy to watch and play (either on TV or on the gamepad).

The controls are ok but a tad fiddly with the pad. Oddly enough the wiimote/nunchuck of the previous gen seem to be the optimal control method, slightly odd when they don't come as a part of the system (presumably Nintendo expect pretty much all Wiiu owners to have owned a wii and kept their controllers). It isn't a game breaker though and I still got by ok with the pad as I often wanted to play off screen.

Overall this is an excellent game, looks lovely, plays great and is a whole lot of fun. I'd consider this a must have for Wiiu owners, one of the gems of the system.

PG tips Peppermint 20s Pyramid Teabags 22g (Pack of 4, Total 80 Tea Bags)
PG tips Peppermint 20s Pyramid Teabags 22g (Pack of 4, Total 80 Tea Bags)
Price: £4.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite Refreshing, 26 April 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These PG Tips Peppermint infusions are a quite fresh, crisp tasting Peppermint herbal drink.

Each bag has a string to easily allow you to dip and remove when you get the strength you like.

I'm not a massive fan of herbal teas, though I quite enjoy a few flavours. This isn't my favourite but it's not too bad, nice for a fan of minty drinks.

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