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russ_w (London, England)

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Fine Elements 800 Watt Mini Oven with Baking Tray/ Wire Rack/ Pull Out Crumb Tray
Fine Elements 800 Watt Mini Oven with Baking Tray/ Wire Rack/ Pull Out Crumb Tray
Offered by Topnotchsales
Price: £39.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Twenty guinea genius, 24 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've awarded this product 3 stars as a compromise. I could have given it anything between one and five depending entirely on how much weight I gave its performance as an oven versus its value for money.

As an oven ... well, it barely even qualifies as an oven. It's more like a two-bar electric fire inside a tin box. A double-sided grill masquerading as an oven. And, however you try to use it, it's flawed.

The bars radiate so much direct heat that it's always going to do more grilling than cooking, even if you follow the manufacturer's advice to pre-heat the oven for 10–15 minutes. This means it's OK for something like a pizza (a small rectangular pizza) but not much use for something thick that needs cooking right through.

As a grill it's slow, because – even at maximum temperature with or without the door open – the thermostat keeps turning the bars off. (Incidentally, the door stays open fine on mine, despite the complaints of one or two other reviewers in this regard.) And you can't control the bars independently so it always grills from below as well as above, though you can try and diminish unwanted radiance by judicious placement of the crumb tray.

But for less than the price of the average toaster, it's awesome!

Quality Gents Black Leather Wallet and Card Case
Quality Gents Black Leather Wallet and Card Case
Offered by Leather Express Dispatch
Price: £6.40

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Warning: low height, 2 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This item is perfectly satisfactory in most ways. But compared with my last wallet (which had served me well for about a decade but finally fallen apart) its height is a bit low. I think British notes of higher denominations (like £20) are just that bit taller than most other currencies' notes – and the dimensions of this wallet don't quite suit them: i.e. the notes protrude a fraction, unless you thoroughly wiggle them down, when they just about line up flush with the top.

Aurora AS610C 6 Sheet Cross-Cut Shredder with Waste Bin
Aurora AS610C 6 Sheet Cross-Cut Shredder with Waste Bin
Price: £26.47

3.0 out of 5 stars Should never have given this 3 stars, 25 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This product half-worked when I first got it, so I gave it 3 stars.

Now it doesn't work at all. It works fine in reverse, but not when you try to get it to actually shred anything.

By far the worst product I have ever bought from Amazon.

London 2: South, The Buildings Of England,
London 2: South, The Buildings Of England,
by Bridget Cherry
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond criticism - except for being out of print, 9 Feb. 2013
This magnificent volume covers 99 per cent of the worthwhile buildings in all the boroughs of Greater London south of the Thames, including the whole of Richmond upon Thames, which straddles the river. Minor structures get a pithy architectural summary; buildings of great significance sometimes get several pages, with plenty of historical background and commentary. As an added bonus there's a chapter on Thames crossings, as well as the usual Pevsner glossary of architectural terms, which is an education in itself (and is soon to be available as an app, I gather).

For me, the book is beyond criticism, although I have one inconsequential comment about the style: as with all the books in the series the prose adopts its own shorthand, whereby Cr means Croydon, C12 means twelfth century, Dec means Decorated, EE means Early English, and so on. It's not hard to get used to, but I'd see no harm in such things being written out in full.

It's tragic that this volume is presently out of print. Gone are the days when the Greater London Council's grants ensured regular updates and reprints. Fortunately, Yale University Press seems to have undertaken a long-term commitment to the series, so it's to be hoped that a new edition will be published some time in the next decade - but I recommend this old edition to those who can't wait, because the vast majority of its content remains valid.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 8, 2015 10:46 PM GMT

TeckNet H1000 2.4G USB Wireless Stereo Earphone With Microphone For PC/Laptop
TeckNet H1000 2.4G USB Wireless Stereo Earphone With Microphone For PC/Laptop

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fully forgiveable flaws, 2 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
You know how it can be. With certain products - and not just products but all sorts of things - some can have imperfections that put you right off them while others can have the same share of flaws but you still adore them. For me, these headphones are Type II. They have their weaknesses but I think they're wonderful. The "installation" is non-existent: they really are just plug and play. For anyone who's always used wired headphones before, it's fabulous to have total freedom to move around while wearing them. The sound quality is perfectly acceptable and they're so lightweight and comfortable I don't ever want to take them off.

What are those flaws? The most serious is the voracious consumption of the 2xAAA batteries (which, incidentally, are not included in the package). You *must* use rechargeables or you'll soon have spent more on batteries than you did on the headphones. Also, I don't find the range to be as good as the claimed "up to" 10 metres, a maximum that I suspect applies only in ideal circumstances. And they make a very faint hum but you can only detect it when there's no other sound. But never mind those things. These are marvellous headphones!

G9 SMD LED Light Bulb Warmwhite Energy saving LED Technology replacement for halogen G9 with Aluminum body
G9 SMD LED Light Bulb Warmwhite Energy saving LED Technology replacement for halogen G9 with Aluminum body
Offered by Strictly Lamps
Price: £5.29

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Miniature spotlight, 11 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Considering the minimal energy consumption, this is an impressive little bulb. The light is bright and quite warm. The main differences between this bulb and the halogen bulbs it's designed to replace are:
1. It's a little longer, so I suggest you check carefully whether it will fit the shade or unit for which it's intended.
2. Its light is much more directional, as other reviewers have pointed out. Despite the opalescent diffuser cap, this LED bulb functions more like a tiny torch than a conventional incandescent bulb with a filament that spreads light all around it. That's why LEDs are great for things like traffic lights and brake lights, where a fairly narrow beam is an advantage, but the technology needs to evolve some more if they're going to conquer the world of domestic interior lighting.

Britain etc.
Britain etc.
by Mark Easton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Illumination etc., 16 May 2012
This review is from: Britain etc. (Paperback)
I can't improve on, disagree with or add much to JMAnderson's excellent review (12 May 2012), so I'll just make a couple of extra points. Mark Easton seems to have researched his book exhaustively, throwing in a comparison with Finland here or evidence from some obscure 1957 report there to support an argument, without ever getting bogged down in a welter of facts or figures. His writing is consistently crisp and drily witty, and I'll excuse the occasional painful pun that he seems not to have been able to resist. He also makes judicious use of illuminating quotes from the speeches or writings of other observers of the national scene or experts in the relevant fields. I came away from Britain etc. with a new and better informed outlook on several key aspects of modern British life and armed with some delightful anecdotes that I plan to sprinkle into my conversation wherever possible. I'm tempted to organise a dinner party just so I can show off.

The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes - Vols. 1 & 2 The Short Stories
The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes - Vols. 1 & 2 The Short Stories
by Leslie S. Klinger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £52.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed beauties, 16 Dec. 2010
I agree with all the other reviews for these books, including the 2-star one, although I think that rating is a little harsh. With reference to that latter review, I especially agree that the pretence that Sherlock Holmes was a real person does become irritating after a while, as do long asides about whether Dr Watson really wrote a particular story or whether his literary agent (one A. Conan Doyle) had a hand in it. Silver Spoon is also right about the spoilers in the introductions and the murderous over-analysis of flawed logic or discrepancies between or within stories. However, to be fair to Leslie Klinger, in discussing such inconsistencies he's only summing up the statements and verdicts of other Sherlockians and an annotated edition can scarcely be expected to pass over such matters without comment.

As a London specialist myself, it was occasionally obvious to me that Mr Klinger isn't quite as familiar with the city as he should be. He talks about the London Library in the past tense, for example, when that institution is still going strong and he describes Cheapside as being in 'East London'.

One more negative: there are several typographical errors in the books, which is disappointing when Mr Klinger makes such a fuss about similar things in the originals. It looks to me as though the errors in the main text have been caused by the books having been typeset from a scanned (OCR) version of a previously printed edition, because most of the mistakes are of the 'dump' for 'clump' variety. There are also typos in some of the annotations, but these are of a different kind: 'Violent' for 'Violet', for example.

That nitpicking aside, this is, as every reviewer concurs, a beautifully produced (and very heavy) pair of books. It's very well illustrated, with many contemporary photographs of places mentioned in the stories, advertisements for long-forgotten gadgets, machines, items of clothing and the like, together with original illustrations from both the British and American editions of the stories - although some of the latter, from minor syndicated publications, are pretty ropey (the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Portland Oregonian seem to have had particularly poor staff artists!). Some of the annotations may be more necessary for an American than a British reader, but most are either helpful or interesting or both. The annoying ones don't have to be read beyond the first sentence!

Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 Ultimate
Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 Ultimate

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A review for those familiar with earlier editions of PSP, 29 Dec. 2009
I've used PSP since it was shareware, and been through about 5 versions. As one would hope, this is the best yet. I use it mainly for enhancing the look of photos, but it's still good for creating and manipulating all kinds of digital images. I've drawn professional-looking maps with it, for example.

Most of the improvements in this edition are tweaks and minor additions, and little has been sacrificed (with the exception of Animation Shop, which not many people may have used, but I did). There have been allegations that recent versions had become 'bloatware': slow to load and perform. I've found little evidence of this, except that the splash screen sometimes obscures my view for more than a minute while the program is loading if I'm performing (or trying to perform) several other tasks at the same time, which can be pretty annoying.

Among the improvements are the power of the 'clarify' function, which is now an even better way to help a previously dull picture gain some impact; high pass sharpen, which is at least as effective as the unsharp mask (in its own, different, way); and smart photo fix, which can be moderately useful if you're in a hurry or feeling lazy.

There are several functions that aim to remove flaws caused by using inferior digital cameras or lenses, none of which I find very helpful. I think the real solution is to use a better camera in the first place! [Update: after more use, I now think the noise removal function works quite intelligently. Also the 'one step purple fringe fix' can occasionally do a good job, although more often it has little effect at all.]

There's a cute 'time machine' function, with which you can make your photo look as though it was taken in 1839, or 1875, or at several other stages in the evolution of photography, and gives you a little history lesson on the subject in the process. In fact, the whole range of available photo effects is now very good, unlike the art media effects (brush strokes, etc.), which remain pretty average. There are plug-ins you can buy that provide far better results if you want to make your photo look like a painting.

The perspective correction tool has been much improved from the last version I was using. It's not *too* difficult to use, and you can hardly tell that the effect has been employed. I consider this a major advance.

This version has an HDR merge function, which should in theory be a big step forward. If you haven't tried HDR photography, you should. But PSP's HDR software is distinctly inferior to that of the dedicated package made by Photomatix, which admittedly does only one thing, yet costs more than the whole of PSP.

If I'd been writing this review a couple of years ago, I'd have given this version five stars. I've only marked it down to four because it raised my expectations by including an HDR merge function, and then disappointed me with its results, compared with other available software.

Offered by Direct Entertainment UK
Price: £4.25

4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh noise, 13 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Skeletons (Audio CD)
You might be tempted to buy this album solely for its novelty value, what with the focal Masters being aged about 7 and 9. Or something like that.

Certainly you won't find much sophistication in the music or the lyrics, and some of the tracks are a bit samey.

But that's not the point. Skeletons is enormous FUN! Raw and bouncy, infectious and endearing. I wasn't sure about the production at first, which seems to be based on the motto 'we've got a fuzzbox and we're gonna use it' with a bit of scratching thrown in for good measure. But the more I listen, the more right it sounds.

There's some debate about whether acts like the Ramones could have influenced the Tiny Masters, considering their great-grandparents hadn't been born yet, back in '76. Or something like that. But to my ear, there can't be any doubt. These kids not only know their Ramones but every other early punk act from their home town. I think they've heard some B-52s as well.

It's far too soon to guess whether the Tiny Masters will burn out or go on to true greatness. And it doesn't really matter when they're making such a fresh noise right here and now.

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