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D. Ballard (Ramsbury Wiltshire UK)
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Genuine Original Surface Pro 3 Charger 12V 2.58A 30W Microsoft Charger Laptop AC Adapter Tablet Charger Power Supply-36W Microsoft PSU
Genuine Original Surface Pro 3 Charger 12V 2.58A 30W Microsoft Charger Laptop AC Adapter Tablet Charger Power Supply-36W Microsoft PSU

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Problem has no plug!- but the vendor did sort the situation out, 17 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This item arrived without a plug. Yes, that's right, you don't actually get the thing that you stick into the wall plug to allow the electric current to flow through it to your device. I assumed they had made a mistake but then checked the pictures and - yes, bang on - no plug is shown. I of course had assumed that this was to avoid choosing between UK and European or American plugs. But no, what you don't see is what you don't get.

So that was a negative start - originally I gave it 1 star. But when I complained the vendor did supply a plug, so I now have what I wanted. It's actually powering my Surface Pro 2 as I type right now. So I increased the review from 1 to 3.

Advice - by all means buy it - provided you've checked that a plug is now provided.


Plugable USB 3.0 Universal Notebook Docking Station with DisplayLink DVI/VGA up to 2048x1152, Audio, Ethernet, 2 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Ports, 2 High-Speed USB 2.0 Ports and 4A AC Power Adapter with Plugs for UK and EU Mains
Plugable USB 3.0 Universal Notebook Docking Station with DisplayLink DVI/VGA up to 2048x1152, Audio, Ethernet, 2 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Ports, 2 High-Speed USB 2.0 Ports and 4A AC Power Adapter with Plugs for UK and EU Mains
Offered by Plugable Technologies
Price: £89.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it - excellent bit of kit - but do be careful about specification when buying it., 15 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an absolutely superb device, just works beautifully with everything connected very quickly and almost like magic. It works beautifully with the Surface Pro 2.

Only quibble is only at the time of purchase. It is very easy to buy a single monitor version rather than a dual monitor version, which I wanted. (It's a pull down menu on Amazon UK). So I bought the wrong one. However, I needed two (one single, one dual monitor) and the first was a test before buying the second, so in the end it didn't worry me.

Since the prices are so similar for single and dual monitor versions, and since one is so likely to want to upgrade in the future, I did wonder why they bother to sell two versions? I'd be tempted only to sell the dual version.

One final point - do remember to eject the device before yanking out the USB cable. It's easy to do, but don't forget!


USA Gear Tablet Case Sleeve Cover with Protective Neoprene Padding & Zipper Accessory Pocket- Will fit Asus Transformer Book T100 10.1 / Microsoft Surface Pro 2 , Surface 2 , Surface RT / Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 / Apple iPad Air 2 & More - Fits BOTH Tablet & Type Cover
USA Gear Tablet Case Sleeve Cover with Protective Neoprene Padding & Zipper Accessory Pocket- Will fit Asus Transformer Book T100 10.1 / Microsoft Surface Pro 2 , Surface 2 , Surface RT / Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 / Apple iPad Air 2 & More - Fits BOTH Tablet & Type Cover
Offered by Accessory Genie
Price: £11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Just does the job very nicely, 15 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have just bought a Surface Pro 2 and will be rationalising all my systems onto this one device. I need to protect it while on the move and so bought this sleeve. It works absolutely fine. It's chunky, which means it has protection. The device slips in and out very easily. Perhaps equally important, the external pocket is big enough (I have checked!) to take a pen or two, a couple of connectors (to VGA or HDMI displays) plus - and this is where it really scored for me - to a small travelling wireless mouse.

I highly recommend it.


Dear Lupin...: Letters to a Wayward Son
Dear Lupin...: Letters to a Wayward Son
by Roger Mortimer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read but very limited range, 15 May 2013
Many people seem to regard this book as side-splittingly funny. I did actually laugh once (p. 124 - someone's nickname) but only that once. Generally I found it sad rather than funny.

We have a selection of letters from a father to his son. None of the replies, though it appears that the occasional postcard was sent, perhaps more. The son makes no attempt anywhere in the book to correct the impression that he is a total wastrel. The father's early letters make some attempt to deal with the issue but following a few explosions after the son gives up yet another opportunity apparently on a whim, the letters descend to a mundane local news round up - all about drunkenness, who's run off from his wife, the state of the father's health, how many people have been killed in recent car crashes, etc. It seems clear that Dad decided that he wanted to stay in touch with his son and that he was diligent in doing so. Apparently with little or nothing back from the son except a huge phone bill every time he came to visit.

The whole time, the son's lifestyle is being supported by an allowance (if this ever stops, it's not mentioned) and frequent financial top-ups plus talk of the legacy that will follow Dad's death. Not a word of reflection about the way that the son's path is actually being supported by the father.

A lot of bad mouthing of other family members, especially the mother, who may well have been an alcoholic. If I were 'Hot Handed Henry', the son-in-law', I'd have thought that that joke would have time-expired quite quickly. As I read, I just saw a lack of family intimacy and love. Also a fair bit of casual racism, e.g. about black doctors.

So I struggled to find much 'wisdom' in the letters (some reviewers managed to find this quality in the book, though I was at a loss to spot it myself), though I did sympathise with the father's decision to maintain a somewhat anodyne stream of consciousness rather than drive his son away altogether. As others have said, the elder man clearly did care for his son, after his fashion.

As for the family being 'middle class', give me a break! These people went to Eton as a matter of course, had Nicholas Soames (I think Churchill's grandson and a current MP) as a chum, were really quite rich (look up their house, The Miller's House, in Kintbury, Berkshire, on Google for evidence!), dinner parties with Lord and Lady this and that or with Sir whatever. Not the middle classes I know and belong to!

I rather saw a life of quiet genteel desperation, the avoidance of which might also have contributed to son's path in life (self described 'middle-aged spiv').

The son's part in the book hardly exists. No reflective writing about either himself or his father or anything. Comments at the level: 'Dad never did like birthdays much'. Never can someone have done so little to earn a co-author's name on the cover of a book.

I discussed this with my 17 year-old son. His comment: 'Sounds like he's still living off his parents, Dad'. Couldn't have put it better myself.

I'd have given it 1 star but the book has a certain ghastly fascination that kept me reading so I felt I needed to give another just to be fair. It's basically a look at how the top 1% or conceivably 5% of society live. I confess to having been fascinated (although in quite an ashamed way). Wise, however, not in the slightest. Funny - not really, though depends on what you find funny. I'd spend your cash elsewhere (got my copy out of the e-library!).


The Architects
The Architects
Price: £8.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good book indeed, 16 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Architects (Kindle Edition)
I found this book to be excellent. The characterisation was first class - no ciphers here, but complex, credible characters. I found the storyline gripping on several levels - love, creativity, politics, even architecture. I also found that the work taught me a great deal about life in East Germany before the fall of the Wall. I was sorry that it came to an end and thoroughly recommend it.


Berlin, A Novel
Berlin, A Novel
Price: £3.79

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but left a nasty taste, 10 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Berlin, A Novel (Kindle Edition)
I have just finished this. I never contemplated failing to finish it but cannot really say that I enjoyed it.

The good things: above all the stories of the women (I am not going to spoil any plots so don't worry). One genuinely gets a sense of the tragedy of murder with the victims seen as living, complex, contradictory people. Also the sense of Berlin immediately post war. And since all the stories span the period from 1933-ish to mid 1945, once gets a real sense of the journeys that people had to make through those dreadful years.

Less good, the coincidences and the reappearance of characters, perhaps an artifice to reduce the number of characters (the 'novel' resembling a collection of short stories in many ways) but if so it didn't work for me. Especially on a Kindle, which made it hard to cross reference (at least it did for me), I kept on thinking, 'I remember that person - or did I?'. And the minor characters - even secondary characters such as the police and the lovers - were too many and too often caricatures to be credible for me. (However the central women were strongly drawn).

And the plot - well I got the murderer about half way through. And how he came to be doing what he did.

Above all, I found the sex scenes really distasteful. Not that I am a particular prude or that I don't appreciate a good one but I found these nasty, too many, repetitive, offensive, gratuitous, ridiculous. Yuck.

So a very mixed bag. On balance I don't recommend it. But I did learn from reading it. However I am now pleased to have finished and to be able to move onto to something more substantial.


Microsoft Surface with Windows RT 64Gb Tablet
Microsoft Surface with Windows RT 64Gb Tablet

56 of 62 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Potentially great little product, with some issues, let down by Windows 8 limitations, 15 Feb. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
First of all, this is a really nice-looking and feeling bit of kit. However, the keyboard sold with the computer was hard to use (I made error after error and they didn't stop coming). So I had to buy the upgraded keyboard, which worked fine - but the price made my eyes water.

Second, bluetooth pairing is eccentric to say the least. I bought a bluetooth mouse to save the USB port but although it paired, it won't stay paired. A hassle.

It is now a joy to type on (just as well at the additional price!) and the battery life is amazing. A whole day no problems. HOWEVER if there is a 'hibernate' option I couldn't find it so it can run down unexpectedly.

But why no 3G slot? It seems very strange to have a PC that depends 100% on cloud access and then not to give 3g connectivity (more on this below). And I find the WiFi connectivity - e.g. to my iPhone personal hotspot or even to a Vodafone hotspot - very poor. So I find myself frustrated and offline much more often than I'd have thought necessary (I work on the train all the time these days, worse luck!).

Being able to run Word, Excel and PowerPoint is great. This is why I bought the Surface and they work just fine. However here come the problems, and they are big ones for a professional person.

MS are not (not yet at least) allowing you to synch cloud storage with local storage on the device itself. For instance, the version of SkyDrive does not give the option of keeping files both in the Cloud or on the PC. Nor does the DropBox version available (or at least not the one that is yet available). This is a huge problem away from the office - and in any event, who wants to go to the online DropBox when it's so much easier to navigate through local files?

Now the expansion SD slot is great - but what's the point if you can't store and synch your working files there? A real black spot.

There is also no Outlook and the email programme sucks. Also unavailable for working when not accessing the cloud: you can't work offline.

Now it may be that these problems are temporary - my PC guru (who had to reassure me that I was not being stupid with the above) tells me that one day DropBox will issue an app that synchs to the local drive and that when they do MicroSoft will have no option but to allow their SkyDrive also to synch. His view is that MS have not really got their heads around the reality of life in the UK away from the connected city. He also says that the eventual proper version of Office 2013 may address these issues. But these issues were not clear before buying (you look on the MS site and see who mentions them) and they seem perverse - why on earth would anyone hobble their product so that you can't use the excellent local storage.

These turn a fantastic bit of kit into a bit of a problem. I bought early and would probably have been better to wait until MicroSoft came to their senses with a bit of market feedback. When they do, it will be really great.

But I think that there must be someone really stubborn responsible for product policy at MicroSoft.

In the meantime, I am sorry to say that I would wait or buy something else. You just need to be able to work when offline if you are a professional person.


Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals
Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals
by Niall Ferguson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive discussion of the role of chance in history, 8 Feb. 2013
I borrowed this book on a whim from an e-library and was impatient to move onto the first of the analyses - how would British history have turned out had Cromwell never come to power. But I thought I had better read the introduction first. Over 80 pages later, I finally finished it, enthralled by a fantastic critique of various approaches to history (broadly the deterministic approach of the 'historicists' such as Marx and his followers, but also the Whig school, etc., and the idealists such as Collingwood). Ferguson ends by making a very strong case for 'counterfactual' history as consistent with the essentially chaotic nature of events and as allowing the historian to consider causality more critically - in a world of multiple necessary but not sufficient causes, how do we ascertain which were actually necessary? By considering what would have happened without them, he proposes. He places historical discipline on this: alternative courses of action should not only be obvious to us in hindsight, he proposes, to be appropriate for analysis, but must have been seen as possible to people at the time. And should be supported by historical records.

As an ex-historian myself in my first degree many years ago, I found this extremely interesting and plausible. Ferguson's use of modern science such as chaos theory and quantum mechanics and evolution is well-informed and also persuasive.

The introduction would be excellent, thought-provoking reading for a historian at A-level or International Bac level or in the first year or two of a university course. And of course for the general reader as well.

I have not yet read any of the eight actual counterfactuals and may comment or revise this review as I do so. But the book, for me, was worth reading for the introduction alone. Thanks!

OK I have now read three of the counterfactuals. To be honest I did not enjoy them nearly as much as the Introduction and so I did not go on. The problem is probably with me not with the articles. They are very much written by academic historians and focus on the types of issue that I found (to be honest) so boring in my old university course 40+ years ago: what were the ages of the more senior judges in 1639 and how might the composition of the bench have changed had the Covenanters not defeated Charles 1? How did the political views of members of parliament differ by their age and how long would it have been before few if any of the Commons had any personal memory of the King ruling through Parliament. In other words, data rich, highly analytical, very professional and really quite tedious to read. The same for the American war of Independence and even for the non-assassination of JFK.

This is exactly what Ferguson was arguing for - counterfactuals as a tool for professional historians - so there's nothing to complain about. But I put the book down with relief that I don't have to read this type of thing any more and picked up Jeremy Paxton's far less academic but infinitely more enjoyable and provocative history of the British Empire instead.

No reason to downgrade the 5 stars - this is a good book with a great introduction!


Start the Car: The World According to Bumble
Start the Car: The World According to Bumble
by David Lloyd
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sorry - really not something I can recommend, 21 Jan. 2013
This book rambles and the stories are neither funny nor structured nor insightful. I only got half way through before deciding I couldn't take any more - very unusual for me.

As do others who have reviewed the book critically, I regard Lloyd as a serious commentator. But he's no writer. He had a great career - believe it or not, he was an umpire as well as commentator and England batsman and England coach and (perhaps above all) member of a great Lancashire side. What a career! I'd have liked more about that and less about Ian Botham's post drinking recovery routines.


Veho VCC-A007-PBP Pebble 5000mAH Portable Battery Pack Charger for iPod, iPhone, Mobile Phones and PSP
Veho VCC-A007-PBP Pebble 5000mAH Portable Battery Pack Charger for iPod, iPhone, Mobile Phones and PSP

1.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, but ..., 10 Jan. 2013
Bought this yesterday and charged it up and waited until my iPhone 4 needed a charge (not long, as all owners will know to their cost!).

Then I finally worked out how the cables went and plugged in the phone so that it could charge, turning it on in the process. Nothing happened - the phone battery ran down further and the unit turned itself off. Repeated the fault, and again, and again.

So either I am missing something basic (but if so I can't see what, which would be an issue in itself) or the unit doesn't work.

Which is a real shame, because it's a nice-looking bit of kit and could have been very useful while walking etc (we got badly lost at nightfall in the Peak District over Christmas with only about 5% battery left and without a spare GPS so not a trivial service to be able to charge a phone).

Oh well!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 22, 2013 4:38 PM GMT


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