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multidiscipline (Newcastle, UK)

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Car Sick: Solutions for Our Car-addicted Culture
Car Sick: Solutions for Our Car-addicted Culture
by Lynn Sloman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, buy a copy for your local MP!, 27 April 2012
An excellent book, although a few years old it is still highly relevant today as nothing has really changed!

I choose to read it out of my interest in better transport policy and urban design, and for me I found it contained a lot of 'truisms' and common sense. However, these were backed up with studies and well thought out, non-polarising arguments, which should hopefully make it more comprehensible and persuasive to the average motoring member of the public. Such an approach is particularly valuable at present as the debate has as partisan as ever (e.g. the Addison Lee cyclist bashing of late).

The stuff about urban sprawl, out of town shopping, and car-based suburbia I found rang home very true. With Rio+20 approaching I can't help but think that we have an opportunity to stop the developing world making the same mistake as we have in the West. Their growth gives them the opportunity to develop their cities in anyway they please, but this must not be in the style of the USA/post-war Britain. They can go for a dense, 'fingered' approach, built around public transport corridors and fast, safe, direct, uninterrupted walking and cycling routes.

Finally, I only have one complaint. That is her (somewhat bizarre) occasional tirades against civil engineers. As a civil engineer myself I'm fairly sure she doesn't fully understand what our profession is: i.e. solving transport problems, water problems etc. whatever method is best, not just through automatically pouring concrete. Talk to most transport civil engineers these days and they'll eat your ear off about road user charging etc., in the same way that water engineers when asked about flooding will go on about SUDS and stopping development on flood plains rather than about flood walls! However, I am willing to admit that she probably had bad experiences meeting some less enlightened colleagues in the industry / dinosaurs. Unfortunately they do still roam aplenty!

Norton Internet Security 2009 - 1 User 3 Computers (PC)
Norton Internet Security 2009 - 1 User 3 Computers (PC)

4.0 out of 5 stars Be wary if using a proxy serveer., 8 Jun. 2009
I'm not going to go into much detail about the product, other people have done that. It works well and is good for peace of mind.

However, if your internet connection is via a proxy server be careful. My connection at university was via the university's proxy server and despite setting up Norton Internet Security 2009's proxy settings in exactly the correct manner (numerous times) it would refuse to update. I tried many different tactics including turning the proxy settings completely off and it still didn't work. I could only ever recieve security updates when I went home for a weekend or the holidays. I have now moved out of my university accomodation since the academic year is over so it is no longer an issue but if your connection is only via a proxy server you might want to consider a different option such as McAffee (although I have no idea what's that like connecting to proxies).

The West on Trial: My Fight for Guyana's Freedom
The West on Trial: My Fight for Guyana's Freedom
by Cheddi Jagan
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating insight into Guyana at the time of its independence and the British Empire., 21 May 2009
Jagan starts the West on Trial with an excellent couple of autobiographical chapters before he moves into a detailed account of the political events in (then) British Guinana in the decades preceding independence in 1966. The final 100 pages of this 480 page book then contain a series of epilogues written with every re-publication since the 1966 first edition, which span the 30 years Jagan and his party spent in the wilderness before at last gaining victory in Guyana's first post independence, free elections in 1992.

Before you read this book it is hard to believe the oppression that was still going on in the British Empire until well after the Second World War. You cannot help but feel sympathy for Jagan, branded a communist by the American and UK governments (even though his policies were no more left than those of British Labour at the time!),the electoral system constantly being fiddled by London and his party and nation split along racial divides that previously weren't an issue to try and get an administration more sympathetic to the West in power.

The book can sometimes drop into a bit of a ramble about policies, facts and figures (otherwise I would give it 5 stars) but that is its only drawback. At times I also found myself doubting what Jagan says and although his account is inevitably biased you have to remember that in the end he was proved right by history - Burnham his arch rival became a dictator, wrecked the economy, tens of thousands emigrated, racial splits were created that last to this day, and Guyana had to wait almost 30 years before it was put back on track.

Overall this is a fascinating read for anyone with an interest in the politics and history of the Caribbean or anyone looking for an account of what went on in the days of empire.

Freecom ToughDrive 2.5 inch 160GB External USB-2 Hard Drive
Freecom ToughDrive 2.5 inch 160GB External USB-2 Hard Drive

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, Quick and Reliable, 23 Feb. 2009
I've had my Freecom 160GB Toughdrive for over 6 months now and I'm still very pleased with it. It's very simple to use, once or twice a week I just plug it into the USB port, open up the nice user friendly software that comes with it, set it going and its done in a couple of minutes.

EDIT: Since I wrote this review there was a problem with my computer, my hard-drive broke and it needed replacing. Luckily for me it was completely stress free because I was backing up evrything on my ToughDrive so lost nothing. If you're unsure about buying a back up hard drive, do it! You never know what could happen!

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