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Bialetti Elegance Venus Induction 4 Cup Stainless Steel Espresso Maker
Bialetti Elegance Venus Induction 4 Cup Stainless Steel Espresso Maker
Offered by 118store-com
Price: £19.03

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tricky little thing, 21 Aug. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have had mine for about two month now. Compared with the variety of aluminum ones I have had before it's much more difficult to use.
Firstly, apparently, to stop the scorching of the nicely polished, shiny steel exterior, it is designed to leave much more water at the bottom, as a coolant, even after the coffee has been made. This makes it somewhat difficult to tell, from sound alone, whether it has finished. The sound doesn't change, as it used to with my aluminum ones, and if you are not careful you can end up stewing the coffee; I open the lid to check on its progress now.
Secondly, as others have mentioned, it vents steam from the reservoir holding the finished coffee in only one place, directly onto the handle; no accidents as yet but I approach using the handle with caution. It also drips coffee from the handle, being lazy my cooker has a coffee stain which I periodically wipe clean (this too is mentioned by other reviewers).
Thirdly, I was puzzled at first how the amount of coffee it produces seemed to vary considerably. In an attempt to correct this, I began to monitor the amount of water I use, curiously this didn't affect the outcome, sometimes I would get a very concentrated coffee, and when I came to empty it I found a lot of the water still in the bottom chamber, no matter how long I let it bubble away for. At other times, it seemed that almost all of the water from the bottom had been used and on these occasions it produced a much better coffee. I took to tightening the seal with extra vigor, thinking pressure might be a factor, but this didn't affect the outcome either. After some time I hit upon changing the grind of my beans (I grind the fresh beans each time I make coffee). I found this was the cause of the variability in the quantity of coffee it makes. When I use a much rougher, larger grained grind, it produces much more volume of coffee, and if I grind my beans closer to a powder, in the espresso style, I get a much smaller amount, about half I would guess- but much stronger of course. I don't have a grinder with variable settings and have learned from experience how to produce a grind that produces a good volume of coffee at the strength I like. I can only speculate why the grind affects the volume of the coffee, but in some way the finer grains restrict how much of the water in the bottom chamber is used. So for anyone struggling to get the desired volume from this machine I would suggest varying the grind and observing the results. Previously, with my aluminum devices, I never had to concern myself with grain size and could comfortably put the beans in the grinder and go to sleep whilst it ground them, now I listen carefully to the sounds to determine the grain size so as to get the desired volume and strength of coffee. Ah, the lengths we addicts will go to.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 6, 2016 11:53 AM BST

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

18 of 52 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not much in the book, 22 Mar. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Not a book I would ever recommend. The author tries to dramatise the events of her investigation but succeeds in just drawing it out, for me it was tedious. Not very much science in here about how the cells were used, just generalisations about the areas they helped in. I did learn how resentful her family were about the scientific community's use of their mother's cells, and just how widespread and influential her cells became but this could have been covered in an article and didn't need a book. The prose style was banal. I think I would have enjoyed the background more, the parts where we visit the slave cabin, for example, if the prose was more worth wile, it was just dull. She played upon the emotions of the surviving family a lot. I felt her motivation was to write a popular book about the family reaction to their mother's death, hooking people in with the potentially interesting and strange immortalisation of Henrietta lacks'cells. I love books but this books doesn't deserve space on my book shelf, I will get rid of it.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 2, 2015 3:21 PM GMT

Why The West Rules – For Now: The Patterns of History and what they reveal about the Future
Why The West Rules – For Now: The Patterns of History and what they reveal about the Future
by Ian Morris
Edition: Hardcover

13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Narrating human history, horse racing style, 5 Mar. 2011
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The central thesis of this book is that the West's development, it's dominance over the "East", has been achieved by the geographic advantages the West has enjoyed, one that may be removed in the future since the impact of geography is altered by the arrival of technological developments. I should say that I have no problem the thesis itself, it seems plausible. I would agree, also, with one of his other points that technological developments, previously regarded as the product of genius and inspiration are, much more mundanely, the product of cumulative technological capacity . The author points out how simultaneous scientific discoveries are commonplace (the emergence of Wallace and Darwin's evolutionary theory is my example, not the author's).

I picked up the book thinking I would get much more detail about how geography and technology had worked together in the past. I thought the book was padded with material which had dubious relevance to the central thesis (the anecdotes about student sit ins on page 141, for example). The book tends to make vast generalisations and then generalises about them. The index the author uses to measure human development over time, for example, based upon energy capture, urbanism, information processing, and the capacity to make war calibrates development in the broadest of terms. How effectively, for example, can we equate levels of urbanism (does this mean urban population density?) with cultural development? The point I am raising here may, to some extent at least, be attributable to the result of the tackling such a vast subject matter, the comparative development of East and West from prehistory to present. In order for this central thesis to be more believable I would have liked an occasional change of perspective, from macro to micro, to show me more of the detail of how the author thinks this process might have worked in a given culture at a given point in time. Sometimes I wanted to know about the specific mechanics of the relationship between geography and technology in detail, and the book stays stubbornly with the general. In short, I would have like a more focused approach, cutting out the extraneous and a variation of perspective, allowing me to see the detail behind the macro approach.

One of the key points the book raises is the way that technological innovations can impact upon hitherto peripheral regions, catapulting them to the forefront of development and power. Technology and geography work in combination, so that new developments can reduce regional advantages. For example, "by 5000bc agriculture had hardly touched Mesopotamia" and according to the book, took off developmentally because, under the threat of climate change, their conventional agriculture was no longer sustainable and that they were forced into innovative irrigation management. The result of this technological innovation was to push Mesopotamia to the forefront of world development. However, I felt that I had to take the strength of these arguments on trust (not having a compendious knowledge of world history) and not having enough evidence provided for me.

The book reads, at times, as a racing commentary on human development, with not enough time devoted to a detailed analysis. Whilst the enormous scope of the book can perhaps account for these deficiencies, the author writes a great deal that has little or no direct bearing on the central thesis and the book needs editing. An example of such 'asides', of which there are many, is his discussion of Von Daniken's books and how implausible his ideas are (there is some irony in this, given the extent to which I felt I needed more evidence from the author). Given the book's ambitions there wasn't time to stray off subject. I think its central thesis would have been better served by a more closely argued and cited approach, even if this was at the expense of its massive scope. As it is currently set out, it is unconvincing, and at times tedious (tedious because it strays so much from developing its central argument). I wanted to be convinced by rational argument, but the tone of the book, its title, leads me to suspect that it was written to ride the tide of current interest in the 'West verses the East'. I can understand an author who wants to write a book that responds to the concerns of the times but I was a dissatisfied by it's lack of detailed persuasiveness.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 12, 2015 4:18 PM GMT

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