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Collins Robert French Dictionary: Concise edition (Collins Concise)
Collins Robert French Dictionary: Concise edition (Collins Concise)
by Collins Dictionaries
Edition: Flexibound
Price: £17.10

3.0 out of 5 stars Flexibinding? A big thumbs down for this edition., 16 July 2016
An excellent dictionary as far as content goes and, if you want in-depth reviews on this aspect, search for the 2011 edition. But this is the new 2016 edition and my review relates to this new 'flexibound' ninth edition.

Interestingly, the 2011 edition is still on sale at a higher price. The answer to this conundrum might be contained in the fact that this latest 2016 edition is 'flexibound'. What a pity and loss! I was in Waterstones today and thought I would see if this latest edition was worth buying. Sadly, the so-called 'flexibinding' is, in my opinion, a disaster. The cover on this relatively thick book is indeed flexible and has a rather nasty plasticky feel. But the book won't open wide and then 'lie flat'; it is in essence a large and unwieldy paperback. This means that the parts of each open page nearest the spine are curved, and the text is too close to the spine, so that looking at each page becomes a chore and the book can't be left open on the desk in a way that a hard-back can be. Imagine trying to use War and Peace in a paperback edition, printed relatively close to the spine, as a dictionary, and you'll get something of the idea. Fine for a quick look-up of a word, as you might do in a compact dictionary, but totally unsuitable for a work of serious reference. And this dicitionary, although the concise edition, is indeed a work of serious reference.

I imagine this sort of binding is a lot cheaper than the traditional hard back binding. Well, in my opinion, it just doesn't cut it. I have noticed that a lot of the Collins series are going down the 'cheaper binding' route but at this end of the language market surely there is room for a quality binding edition? Any purchaser of the Collins Robert French Dictionaries, whether concise or unabridged, is hardly going to baulk at a few extra pounds for something that is much more useable?

So, if you want the concise edition, rather than the complete and unabridged edition, for the very good reasons given in the reviews of the 2011 edition, what should one do? I recommend you just go ahead and buy the 2011 (eighth) edition, notwithstanding that it won't be quite so up to date as the 2016 (ninth) edition. If you get the chance, compare the two bindings. I think you'll almost certainly agree with me.

To have a bit of a rant, Collins really need to get their act together over their book printing and bindings. I have had a couple of their books so badly printed that they have had to be returned (fading of the print on alternate pages), and their book of French Idioms, at full paperback price, printed on what can only be described as coarse newspaper; I joke not!

So, three stars; five stars for content, one for binding.

Bitcoin: The Future of Money?
Bitcoin: The Future of Money?
Price: £4.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing!, 9 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I found this book very disappointing. Two out of the four glowing reviews in the 'product description' are not for this book, but for Dominic Frisby's seemingly better received book: Life After the State.

If you want a rather rambling journey through the characters involved in starting up cryptocurrencies, including a somewhat lengthy discourse on who the creater of Bitcoin was (or is!), then the book might be of some interest. If you really care who Satoshi Nakomoto is, and there is a complete appendix devoted to the issue, then there will probably be something of interest (it clearly became a bit of an obsession for Dominic Frisby).
However, if you are interested in Bitcoin, the currency itself, and for learning about what it is and how it works then this is not the book for you. If you are happy to learn that Bitcoin is outside state control and somehow relies on a block chain to ensure security and uses complicated puzzles to mine new bitcoins, then fine. If it's just the personalities that interest you, you'll probably enjoy this book.

If you instead want some decent explanation of how Bitcoin actually works, how a block chain works in practice, how new bitcoins are actually mined, how security is guaranteed in practice, etc etc so you can actually start to understand cryptocurrences and take an informed view on their future, then look elsewhere. Dominic Frisby does write about the future of currencies and cryptocurrencies, but without the bedrock of being able to understand the mechanism of how cryptocurrencies actually work, one can't appreciate whether his predictions and observations have any sort of grounding in reality.

It is pretty clear that Dominic Frisby doesn't actually know much about the mechanics of Bitcoin. If he wanted to concentrate on personalities, he could have relegated some of the currency details to an appendix or appendices which just aren't there. Instead, in chapter one, we are told that bitcoins are mined by finding "the answer to a complex mathematical puzzle" along with many other simplified explanations that end up actually explaining nothing. In the acknowledgments, Dominic Frisby mentions that "the world of computer programming and cryptography was new to me six months ago..." and it shows. At the end of chapter one we are told "Well Done. You've just finished the hardest chapter in the book." Well, I would suggest that most people don't like being patronised. The patronising is all the worse because complicated detail just isn't there! I know no more about cryptocurrencies than I did when I started the book, and that was very little indeed.

I wasn't looking for a mathematical textbook on cryptography and cryptocurrencies, but I was really hoping for a book that would actually explain how Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies actually exist and work in practice. If you are hoping for the same, look elsewhere.

Fluent in French NOW: A Guide to Realistic French Mastery
Fluent in French NOW: A Guide to Realistic French Mastery
Price: £3.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Overpriced and not proofed, 9 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Sadly, I can't recommend this book.

At the price I paid, £2.83, it really isn't worth the very small insights into learning French that you may gain. I say 'may' because, if you have done a small amount of web browsing on methods of language learning, there is nothing new in the meagre 55 pages. And those 55 pages are littered with typographical errors of spelling, punctuation and grammar. English isn't John's first language but a bit of proofing from friends would have gone a long way to producing a more polished product. It would also have been useful if proper referencing could have been used for the small amount of language research referred to.

The rather rambling 55 pages of the book can be essentially summarised as: Motivate yourself, have a goal and don't be unrealistic, immerse yourself in the language as much as possible, go to a class if you can, get lots of French friends to help you speak French, and be consistent with your leaning.

John is clearly passionate about languages and I wish him well with his blog and future in the e-world. However, I do not believe this rather sketchy exposition on John's experience with language learning is worth the price of a professionally produced book.

Offered by Select Online
Price: £2.11

5.0 out of 5 stars I needed to remove the custom circular area to take a waste pipe and it gives some idea of the tough ..., 8 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For the price you really can't fault this product. It's tough, well made, and fits perfectly. I needed to remove the custom circular area to take a waste pipe and it gives some idea of the tough construction that my initial attempts to cut the section out with a boxcutter failed miserably. I had to use a hacksaw blade. It fits my drain perfectly with a snug fit. And you get two. Brilliant!

Coyote Pedal Toe Clip & Strap Set
Coyote Pedal Toe Clip & Strap Set
Offered by Y Frame Discounts Ltd
Price: £6.57

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just fantastic!, 30 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These are absolutely brilliant.

As another review has said, it is very easy to get your feet in and out and make cycling more efficient and enjoyable. In particular, they are great for keeping your feet in the right place on the pedals when something happens that might make them dislodge, eg a chain jump when changing gear under load.

My shoe size is UK 10.5 (EUR 46) and they are perfect. The specification is for shoe sizes 41 to 46, but I feel that you would be ok at 48 particularly if you wear a slim pair of shoes, eg trainers.. The straps (good quality and supplied although not shown in the picture) are easy to adjust; you can certainly adjust them while cycling if you do it by feel and keep your eyes on the road!!

As to fitting, there are no instructions unfortunately. Maybe I just had a brain lapse, but I tried to fit them so that the bit you fit your foot in sat on top of the pedals, in other words I bolted them to the rear of the pedal. This necessitated cutting a bit of the plastic out and generally fiddling around. I got it sorted and then found that I was cycling on my toes!!
A lot of scratching of my head followed and then the penny dropped. You bolt them to the FRONT of the pedal so that the business part extends in front of the pedals. They now bolted on easily and securely in a matter of minutes. Job done. You just need to ensure that your pedals have two holes drilled in the front to take the two bolts (nuts and washers supplied). I imagine the distance between the holes on pedals is standard but, if anyone wants me to check the measurement, just ask.

At the price these are just fantastic. And they look really good as well!!

Maths Dictionary
Maths Dictionary
by Peter Robson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for pupils starting secondary school through to GCSE, 2 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Maths Dictionary (Paperback)
This starter mathematics dictionary is highly recommended for students starting at secondary school, and will take them through to basic GCSE. It has just the right amount of detail for this level. Note: it is not suitable for mathematics study beyond GCSE.

I can't really put it better than one of my foundation level students who, having battled with her notes, and with definitions and remembering eg the difference between mean, median and mode, and the number of sides of a pentagon just said, with a big beam, "This is just brilliant!!".

8 x Heavy Duty Metal Book Ends 180mm
8 x Heavy Duty Metal Book Ends 180mm
Offered by Globe Packaging
Price: £12.05

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely excellent!, 2 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The ones I was supplied with had rectangular ends (not curved as shown in the picture), but this wasn't a problem. They look great!

They are good value and well finished. They are strong but made of thin metal so that the bit that goes under the books gets in the way as little as possible. They also have three thin 'cushions' underneath that help with anti-slip.

They do the job brilliantly, and so I have just ordered another batch of eight. At this price, they are excellent value.

The Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Mathematics, from One to Infinity
The Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Mathematics, from One to Infinity
by Steven Strogatz
Edition: Hardcover

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb! And especially for teachers!, 16 Mar. 2014
I spotted this book in 'The Works' and it looked as if it might have promise. Having quickly flicked through it I put it back on the rack. I am always looking for books that might give some ideas for the classroom, but was a little reluctant to buy yet another 'popular' maths book that failed to deliver; so many of them are yet another tour through numbers et al, from the Babylonians to Hilbert's Hotel, trying desperately to convince the reader that it is all so interesting and fun ...yawn, zzzzzzzzzzz. Why so many of these 'popular' maths books manage to make the subject so incredibly boring is beyond me; what is the point of boring the very audience one has decided to inspire? But when I returned to 'The Works' the next time I walked past (and unable to resist the magnetic pull of a bookshop)I had another browse. The endorsement by Alex Bellos, author of the captivating "Alex's Adventures in Wonderland" clinched it for me; if it was anywhere near as good, it was going to be worth the few discounted pounds that 'The Works' were asking. It was worth a punt.

And it turned out to be good; very, very good. I really recommend it to anyone with an interest in mathematics. It's knowledgeable and fun. Yes, it does talk about the Babylonians and Hilbert's Hotel, but I suppose in a book subtitled 'A guided tour of mathematics from one to infinity', they were bound to crop up! But where this book really wins is that it doesn't try to cover everything and succeed in actually covering very little.

Steven Strogatz is the Schurman Professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University, and (according to the blurb) is one of the world's mostly highly cited mathematicians. This could be a guarantee of uninspired writing BUT it certainly isn't in this case. Strogatz's writing is lucid and an absolute joy to read.

The book is divided into six sections: Numbers, Relationships, Shapes, Change, Data and Frontiers, and is a fun-filled romp through selected aspects of each.

There are two great strengths to the book which make it really stand out as a resource book for secondary mathematics educators. Firstly, what he writes about is connected to the real world by numerous concrete examples, and secondly, there are no less than 45 final pages of expansions, references and web links, plus an index (hurrah!). In fact, I found these last 45 pages some of the best in the book! For example, in the text it's mentioned that 'Every year about a million American students take calculus'... this is where most books would leave it. Not Strogatz. Quite rightly, he references this, and we can then go and read "The crisis of calculus" if we wish. But it isn't just simple references that make the last 45 pages a joy; for example we have a fascinating expansion on 'the solid common to two identical cylinders' - the Steinmetz solid, and also learn that the Romans and Normans were familiar with it in the design of intersecting vaults... and we are referred to various internet links to take things further if we're interested. From a teaching point of view, these last 45 pages are an absolute goldmine. For those of you who haven't come across it before, and I certainly hadn't, do have a quick listen to the recorded conversation between a George Vaccaro and customer services at Verizon (Google/Youtube it!). If ever there was an argument for making sure that everyone understands basic arithmetic, this is it!!

And Google 'pagerank'? Thought you knew what 'page' stands for? If you thought web'page', you're very wrong.

Fab book; a real joy.

How to Use Statistics (Smarter Study Skills)
How to Use Statistics (Smarter Study Skills)
by Dr Steve Lakin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb introduction to statistics., 17 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is a superb introduction to statistics. All the key topics are covered in a way that make understanding straightforward. Dr Lakin obviously enjoys both his subject and imparting knowledge in a clear and lucid manner. Each section is not overly long and covers all the basics. The book is ideal for the university student starting a course in the biological or geographical sciences who needs to get to grips with statistics quickly. It could equally well sit on the bookshelf of a mathematics A-level student who wants something to pull their dry A-level stats course into the real world. Sensible examples are used and one is left feeling, 'Yes, I can see where this might be applied, and better still, I can see how I might actually apply this'.

Each topic is accompanied by generalised study tips which might be seen as somewhat out of place, but given the likely audience of the book, I think they do add value. The book is beautifully laid out and has a binding and feel that makes it a joy to read. There are a few exercises to try for each topic introduced, but these do not overwhelm things.

Appendices include statistical tables, a glossary and useful Excel commands (for statistics).

There are a few errors, two that I spotted in formulae in the main explanatory text, which is a pity. But it's clear they are errors of proofing. Given the number of errors that normally appear in mathematics textbooks, the few I spotted here really isn't too bad!

Overall? For a refresher on the subject for someone a bit rusty, for undergraduate biologists and geographers who need to get to grips with statistics quickly and painlessly and have a simple reference, and for A-level students who want to put a bit of substance onto their statistics courses, this book is highly recommended.

The Universe versus Alex Woods
The Universe versus Alex Woods
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 7 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an unusual and rather wonderful book.

It confronts the issue of euthanasia in a sympathetic and empathetic way that leaves one considering one's own position on the matter, challenging any preconceived notions of reason and outcome. However, someone approaching the book with a religious preconception of what is 'right' and what is 'wrong', ie what someone has convinced them is right or wrong, is likely to dislike the book unless they have an unusually open mind.

Narrated through the eyes of a seventeen year old living in Somerset, the story is a delightful, quirky and often amusing journey through a few years in the childhood of Alex Woods, from being struck by a meteorite, through his friendship with a Mr Peterson, to arriving at Dover and the discovery of marijuana in the glove compartment of his car.

The narrative style rings true, as do all the events and emotional states the narrator details. Description is excellent; you could see everything very clearly. This quality of descriptive writing meant there was never any time that you felt disengaged from the book. The story flows on with pace; I found it a real page turner.

It's an unusual book in that it's a very light read, but with depths that would usually be more appropriate in a weightier tome. Gavin Extence pulls it off. Recommended.

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