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Reviews Written by
Mac McAleer (London UK)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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Francis Frith's Leicestershire: Photographic Memories
Francis Frith's Leicestershire: Photographic Memories
by Michael Kilburn
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly photos from the 1950s and 1960s, 4 Feb. 2016
This is a collection of photographs of the villages and towns of Leicestershire and the city of Leicester taken from the Francis Frith archive. They are mostly from the 1950s and 1960s.I found this strange as the Frith archive dates back to the late nineteenth century. Presumably the dates reflect what was available in the archive. However, there are exceptions: Market Harborough has several taken in 1922; Uppingham and Oakham have some from the 1920s; Leicester has several from 1949; Melton Mowbray has one of the market place in 1932 and two of St Mary’s church in 1927; there is one photograph of Belvoir Castile taken in 1890.

All the photographs are in black and white and are of various sizes. The publishers point out that these are photographs, not postcards. Each has a short description. These descriptions are more detailed and thoughtful than I expected. Every photograph has an ID number; this number can be used to order a copy of the original from the “Francis Frith Collection”.

CONTENTS: Leicester (15 photos, 12 pages); Loughborough (10 photos, 8 pages); Barrow-upon-Soar & Quorn (10 photos, 4 pages); Mountsorrel (3 photos, 2 pages); Woodhouse Eaves (5 photos, 4 pages); Rothley (3 photos, 2 pages); Belvoir Castle & Bottesford (3 photos, 2 pages); Melton Mowbray (14 photos, 10 pages); Ashfordby (5 photos, 4 pages); Queniborough & Syston (3 photos, 2 pages); Billesdon (4 photos, 4 pages); Oakham & Cottesmore (4 photos, 4 pages); Uppingham (7 photos, 4 pages); Market Harborough & Great Bowden (16 photos, 12 pages); Kibworth Beauchamp (3 photos, 2 pages); South Wigston & Wigston Magna (3photos, 2 pages); Hinckley, Cosby & Lutterworth (6 photos, 6 pages); Market Bosworth (3 photos, 2 pages); Twycross (1 photo, 2 pages); Ashby-de-la-Zouch & Ibstock (7 photos, 4 pages); Coalville & Mount St Bernard Abbey (9 photos, 6 pages); Castle Donington & Kegworth (10 photos, 7 pages).

They also publish Francis Frith's Around Leicester (Photographic Memories), Leicester: A Miscellany (Did You Know?) and Francis Frith's Leicestershire Villages (Photographic Memories).

History of Leicestershire and Rutland (Darwen County History)
History of Leicestershire and Rutland (Darwen County History)
by Roy Millward
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars A readable, well-designed general history, 1 Feb. 2016
This book provides a detailed overview of the history of the counties of Leicestershire and Rutland. It is a readable, professional and well-designed non-specialist history.

The author was interested in landscape and how it is changed by history. This is reflected in this book. He was an academic but this book is carefully aimed at the general reader. Where there is historical debate he notes the uncertainties. Thus, in the chapter on the Danelaw an analysis of place gives one impression of the incursion into the area by the Scandinavians by the distribution of place names ending in –by or including a Danish personal name. They certainly influenced the local dialect, but there is almost no physical evidence of their arrival.

THE CHAPTERS: The text is divided into 19 short chapters: The Landscape; Prehistory; The Corritani and the Romans; The Anglo-Saxon Colonisation; The Danelaw; Domesday Book; Medieval Leicester; The Making of a Medieval Landscape; The Late Medieval Centuries; Landscapes of Aristocracy; The Landscape of Enclosure; Roads and Canals; The Leicestershire Coalfield; the Georgian Town; Hosiery, Shoes, Machines; Charnwood Forest; Railways and the Landscape; Leicester in the Nineteenth Century; Twentieth-Century Change.

THE BOOK: This book is illustration-rich. Throughout, in the margins and at the top and bottom of pages are small line drawings of places and objects. There are 46 photographs spread over 12 plates. Two plates are in colour. There are 16 half-page line-drawn maps. The main book is 112 pages plus a 2-page bibliography and a 4-page index. The author, Roy Millward, was a Reader in Historical Geography at Leicester University. The book is part of the Darwen Count History series.

Guilty Gadgets ® - 15M 15 Metre Male to Male RF TV Aerial Lead Cable Coaxial Extension Female Digital with Coupler
Guilty Gadgets ® - 15M 15 Metre Male to Male RF TV Aerial Lead Cable Coaxial Extension Female Digital with Coupler
Offered by Bristol Communications & Electrical
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I was happy with this product, 25 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My requirement was to move a TV thirteen metres away from its current position where it was close to an aerial socket in the wall. I had to either replace or extend the existing short co-axial cable that connected to the aerial socket (female) in the wall to the socket in the back of the Freeview box (female). My first solution involved a co-axial kit and was a small disaster (1), so I bought this product. With this type of product, the postage and packing can be a significant part of the whole cost. When the package arrived it was smaller and lighter than I expected. It worked OK and I had no problems.

I decided not to extend the existing short cable with the new cable by using the enclosed female-female connector. The new cable was long enough and it is always better to avoid extensions if possible. Some customers may also want to buy a bag of coax cable clips to be knocked into a wooden skirting board so that they tie the cable along a wall.

PRODUCT SELECTION was difficult. I had already made one mistake with the kit (1) and searching for co-axial cable on Amazon gives a lot of results. My criteria were:
- No kits
- A cable at least 13 metres long
- A cable with male plugs on each end
- The plugs did not have to be gold-plated (2)
- It must be a RF co-axial aerial cable
- It must not be another type of TV cable e.g. not a satellite receiver dish cable or a cable TV cable.
- The colour of the cable was irrelevant (most are white but some are black)

(1) I initially bought from a shop what I thought was a co-axial cable with plugs already fitted. It turned out to be a kit containing the cable, two loose male plugs, a female-female connector (for extending male-to-male connectors), some cable clips and an explanatory leaflet. The cable needed cutting to length and then a male plug fitted to each end. This is not a complicated job, but you do need some simple tools such as a knife to trim the ends of the cable and a small screwdriver. However, not knowing exactly what I was doing I managed to mangle the shape of one of the male plugs.
(2) Gold plated co-axial plugs are better. They corrode less and have a greater signal transfer.

William Morris At Merton
William Morris At Merton
by David Saxby
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Local history, by design, 14 Jan. 2016
This is a glossy, museum-quality A4 booklet on the William Morris textile printing, weaving and stained glass works on the River Wandle at Merton, south London. The booklet is half text and half illustrations, mostly black and white but some in colour, particularly the designs. These illustrations are a mixture of engravings, early photographs and pictures of William Morris designs. This booklet will appeal to both followers of William Morris design and to those who know the area.

The booklet has 24 pages spread across the following sections: Merton Abbey; History of calico printing; History of Morris & Co’s works; The archaeological excavation; William Morris; Morris & Co at Merton Abbey; The processes; Dyes used by Morris & Co; Block printing; Stained glass; Tapestry; Weaving; Carpet-weaving; Later years of Morris & Co.

There is a late Victorian map of the area on the inside front cover. The inside back cover is titled Finding out about William Morris and mentions William Morris at Morden Library, the William Morris Gallery at Walthamstow and William Morris at the V&A. It also gives two short reading lists, one for William Morris and one for life along the River Wandle.

The Vikings and their Origins: Scandinavia in the First Millennium
The Vikings and their Origins: Scandinavia in the First Millennium
by David M. Wilson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Viking culture through their art and archaeology, 5 Jan. 2016
This is a good overview of the culture of the Vikings as seen through their art and archaeology. It is relatively short, but illustration-rich and takes a global view. The writing is authoritative. The subtitle, “Scandinavia in the First Millennium”, hints that this book also covers the period before the Vikings became Vikings.

This book includes their early history. It moves on to their part in the great migrations that occurred in Western Europe as the Western Roman Empire tottered and fell. It moves on to the Viking era proper. It shows their influence on Slavic Russia, where they founded many towns. In Byzantium (the Eastern Roman Empire) they were the core of the imperial Varangian Guard. They dominated the Baltic and had a great influence on the British Isles. They settled the Faroe Isles, Iceland and Greenland and touched North America. Finally, from being the pagan scourge of Europe they accepted Christianity, lost their barbarian energy and became the northern frontier of Christendom.

This book has 132 pages plus an Index, Bibliography and a list of illustrations. Thames and Hudson specialise in art and art-related publications, thus there are 110 illustrations of various sizes. These are mostly black and white but some are full colour plates. The chapters are grouped into four sections: (1) The Unveiling of Scandinavia; (2) The Era of the Great Migrations; (3) The Viking Attack; (4) The Vikings at Home.

Here comes everybody: An introduction to James Joyce for the ordinary reader
Here comes everybody: An introduction to James Joyce for the ordinary reader
by Anthony Burgess
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A good, straightforward walk through James Joyce’s works, 14 Dec. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
‘ “Everybody knows now that Ulysses is the greatest novel of the Century” Anthony Burgess Observer’ says the blurb on the back of the Penguin edition of Ulysses. Whether or not this is true, Anthony Burgess is certainly very enthusiastic about the writings of James Joyce, as he shows in this book. The subtitle is “An Introduction to James Joyce for the ordinary reader”. The term "ordinary reader" is relative, but this is not an academic book. It gives some background biography of James Joyce and some literary discussion, but mainly it is a description of the writings of James Joyce.

The book’s chapters are grouped into three parts. Pert One gives some biographical background then steps through Joyce’s early collection of short stories, “Dubliners”, and his novel “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”. There is even a chapter on his two collections of poems and his two plays. Part Two concerns his most famous work, “Ulysses”. I found this particularly interesting. Part Three concerns his last work, “Finnegans Wake”. The chapters in this section can seem difficult, strange and obscure, reflecting Finnegans Wake itself.

THE BOOK: Physically this paperback is a Tardis. It looks small and thin but it has 272 pages plus a 4 page Index. The text is compressed into a maximum of 41 lines per gage but it is still readable and this read is substantial. The title “Here Comes Everybody” comes from Finnegans Wake where the hero, Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, has the initials HCE and phrases with these initials occur throughout Finnegans Wake.

Reading this book has prompted me to re-read Dubliners, treating the short stories as epiphanies rather than conventional stories and to go back to Ulysses, a book that that should be re-visited. It has also prompted me to attempt some or all of Finnegans Wake but, to misquote St. Augustine, please let me read Finnegans Wake, but not just yet.

Chance: The science and secrets of luck, randomness and probability (New Scientist)
Chance: The science and secrets of luck, randomness and probability (New Scientist)
by New Scientist
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps God does play with dice, 3 Dec. 2015
What is the probability of coming across such a good book? Very high when it has the imprimatur of New Scientist. This is a collection of New Scientist articles related to the theme of “chance”. The articles are short but substantial and always readable.

There are 27 articles (1) grouped into six sections: “Lucky to be there” (on the chance of life evolving on the planet and then of human evolution); “Chance vs the brain” (on the brain’s tendency to misunderstand chance); “Crunching the numbers” (on luck and coincidence); “My universe, my rules” (on philosophy and chance); “Biology’s casino” (on evolution and chance) and “Putting chance to work” (on how we can use chance). A short section at the end, “About the contributors”, gives a few lines about each of the authors of the articles. These are articles of scientific journalism, not short scientific papers, so there is an index, but no Notes section, no footnotes and no references to other publications. However, the names of researchers and their work are often mentioned in the articles.

The articles are varied. Each reader will find some of them of more interest than others and each reader’s choice will be different. The articles are all accessible, but some require close reading. Topics mentioned include chance, randomness, chaos, probability and non-determinism.

I particularly liked the discussion of Bayes’ theorem as applied to juries (2). Several articles ask how random is the universe? The clockwork determinism of a universe run by Newtonian mechanics is at odds with the probabilistic world of quantum mechanics. Einstein’s relativity was a deterministic extension of the Newtonian world. He famously said “God does not play with dice”. But is Newtonian mechanics really so deterministic and could there be an underlying deterministic explanation of the apparent randomness of the quantised world? (3)

In computer science, the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been revitalised by the introduction of probability (4). Biology is well covered (5). There are articles on evolution due to external factors (the earth being hit by an asteroid) and internal factors (random genetic mutations) as well as the chances of life evolving at all.

(1) The articles are spread over 236 pages. Each section has an introduction by the editor Michael Brooks. These vary from a few lines to a single page. Excluding these introductions, the articles have an average length of just over 8 pages (the median length is 8.5 pages, the shortest are 4 pages and the longest is 12.5 pages).
(2) “Rough justice” in the section “Crunching the numbers”.
(3) “Your uncertain future” and “God plays with dice – and for good reason” in the section “My universe, my rules”.
(4) “I, algorithm” in the section “Putting chance to work”. This mentions Bayesian networks and probabilistic programming.
(5) Two sections deal with biology: “Lucky to be there” and “Biology’s casino“

White touch up paint for microwave oven interior
White touch up paint for microwave oven interior

4.0 out of 5 stars OK for small jobs, 16 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Overall I was happy with this product, mainly because I had already bought and used the more extensive Microwave oven paint touch up kit from the same company, so I knew what I was getting.

The paint tin arrived well protected in a bubble-wrap-lined envelope (the shipping cost is almost 80% of the product cost). Inside the envelope were the tin of enamel paint and an explanatory leaflet (see Comment for a transcription). The tin is small (the leaflet describes it as a “tinlet”). It is about 3cm high by 3cm in diameter (1¼ by 1 ¼ inches in old money). As it is small, you will need a small paint brush (think model-making size).

The leaflet goes into more detail about preparation of the surface and use of the paint. However the leaflet can be a little confusing because it covers two products: this paint tin and the touch up kit. The touch up kit consists of the paint tin, two pieces of sandpaper, two small plastic paint stirrers and two small paint brushes.

The leaflet suggests at least 6 hours for the paint to dry. I my experience it need longer (overnight and all the next day). I presume the time to dry depends on the ambient temperature (i.e. whether the kitchen is warm or cold). It is important to wait for it to dry. The great advantage of buying this paint is confidence. Before I bought the related touch-up kit I had not thought it was possible to paint the inside of the microwave. Would painting it be safe? Would any metal in the paint react with the microwaves when it was in operation? I still don’t know if I can use any enamel paint or if I have to use a special paint.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 16, 2015 2:07 PM GMT

Microwave oven paint touch up kit - White
Microwave oven paint touch up kit - White

4.0 out of 5 stars OK for touching up, 3 Nov. 2015
The picture on the Amazon product page gives a good idea of what this product is. The kit comprises a one page leaflet (see Comment), two sheets of sandpaper, one coarse and one fine, two small paint brushes, two small sticks for stirring the paint and a small tin of white enamel paint. However, be aware of the scale of the picture. The paint pot is very small. This is very much a kit for touching-up.

I had to do more than just touch-up. I had a band of almost the entire circular area where the roller ring moves to prepare and paint and although the paint pot is small there was enough for several coats. The leaflet says the paint will dry fairly quickly. This was not my experience. However, later editions of this leaflet mention 6 hours. I also found that it was difficult to get the paint to cover the sloping side of the area I was painting. I do not know if the paint was being absorbed into the metal or if it was running down the incline.

The great advantage of this kit is confidence. I had not thought it was possible to paint the inside of the microwave. Would painting it be safe? Would any metal in the paint react with the microwaves when it was in operation? I still don’t know if I can use any enamel paint or if I have to use a special paint.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 3, 2015 12:54 PM GMT

Anti Scan RFID Protectors for your Credit Cards including 4 x Card Protectors
Anti Scan RFID Protectors for your Credit Cards including 4 x Card Protectors
Offered by Cosmic Deals UK
Price: £4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cheap and effective, but perhaps not a final solution, 30 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was a cheap and effective temporary solution to my gradually increasing paranoia caused by stories of contactless card scamming. The protectors look exactly like their picture on the Amazon page, namely thin silver-coloured plastic covers for credit or debit cards. I tried one of them out at a supermarket; even putting the card in one these wallets physically on top of the reader had no effect until I removed the card from the wallet. So I am satisfied that they work and are not just fancy-looking plastic covers.

Why did I buy this? I am not convinced that scamming of cashless cards is, or will be, a big problem, but I have heard stories (1). The alternatives are to do nothing or you can buy aluminium cases to hold your cards, but these tend to be small and you will still need a wallet to hold bank notes. You can also buy a scam-proof wallet, but these are more expensive. I thought these protectors seemed a little expensive for what they are, but I also thought that they were cheaper than the alternatives and they will provide immediate peace-of-mind.

The protectors arrived in a letter with the supplier’s address stamped on the outside. I expected a leaflet of some kind but all the letter contained was the protectors. My cards fitted snugly in to them and the protectors seem tough enough to last. Unfortunately, it was a tight fit putting the cards, now fitted into their protectors, back into the card-slots in my wallet (2). However, in use I can pull a card out leaving its protector still in the wallet. This is fiddlier than it used to be.
(1) SC magazine, an online security magazine, recently had an article about this. "A member of the SC team has had money taken from their bank account, apparently via a contactless card theft. A train journey to work is a very innocuous thing. But when a man slowly bumped into me and my pocket for a bit too long, it took me a second to realise what had just happened. I called my bank and found out that said individual had managed to steal £20 from my account via a contactless card payment; my bank promptly reimbursed me. . . . "
(2) The covers have a rim of about 3 mm on the three closed sides (left, right and bottom). This makes the covers noticeably wider than the cards.

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