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Reviews Written by
S. GODFREY "Chocky100" (UK)
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LaCie d2 USB 3.0 3TB Thunderbolt External Hard Drive
LaCie d2 USB 3.0 3TB Thunderbolt External Hard Drive

5.0 out of 5 stars LaCie Get It Spot On, 17 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've owned many hard drives in my time and while there are a lot of much cheaper alternatives out there on the market, I always believe that you get what you pay for and in the d2, I have a solid reliable workhorse. Tunderbolt is incredibly fast and in my line of work (sound engineer) that is a vitally important attribute.

A great product with a professional spec, which I highly recommend.


Cooperstand Pro G Acoustic/Electric Guitar Stand
Cooperstand Pro G Acoustic/Electric Guitar Stand
Offered by 1to1music
Price: £36.85

4.0 out of 5 stars A Clever Design, 17 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've been using this stand both at home and at live gigs for a couple of months now and found it to be a light and portable way to keep my acoustic in place. There are cheaper alternatives but they are twice as heavy and no-where near as portable when folded away.


Apogee ONE Carrying Case
Apogee ONE Carrying Case
Offered by DJ and Studio
Price: £28.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Essential But Handy, 17 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I am a professional sound engineer and producer and purchased the Apogee One I/O box so I could work on the road. In order to protect the box itself, I bought the carry case with it and two months in, the product has thus far protected the Apogee One very well.

The neoprene is tough, splash resistant (but not waterproof) and designed so it can accommodate both the unit and the breakout cable. I will say however that even though there is a pocket on the outside and two pouches inside (separated by the main area for the Apogee one itself) but there really isn't room for much else.

I was able to place the USB cable which connects the unit to the Macbook in the other pouch but it was a tight squeeze and made the case much more more bulky than the picture suggests. This is a small niggle however and I would recommend this case for anyone wishing to tour or record on location.


John Leslie - Greeting Card (Pack of 2) - 7x5 inch - Art247 - Standard Size - Pack Of 2
John Leslie - Greeting Card (Pack of 2) - 7x5 inch - Art247 - Standard Size - Pack Of 2
Offered by Art247
Price: £4.00

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Informative Card., 16 Mar. 2013
I went out one evening and saw John by chance in a pub. I don't remember much after that but I notice that he's wearing my shoes in the picture so happily that is one element of mystery about the evening which has now been solved.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 25, 2013 10:54 PM GMT


Outliers: The Story of Success
Outliers: The Story of Success
by Malcolm Gladwell
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £30.66

3.0 out of 5 stars Subjective, Nuanced and Entertaining., 24 Nov. 2011
(Review of audiobook version read by Malcolm Gladwell himself)

This book confused me at the beginning. For the first chapter, I wasn't really sure if this was a scientific or sociological study of what makes up the crucial elements of personal success.

It began by giving the reader copious amounts of seemingly irrelevant of information about a small Italian town called Roseto which almost totally transplanted its entire population to Pennsylvania, USA during the late 19th century and how their unique social structure meant they unwittingly eradicated coronary disease in their small part of 1950s America.

How this relates to success began to crystallize as Gladwell put forward the idea that the biggest misconception about success is that we do it solely on our smarts, ambition, hustle and hard work. Instead he submits the notion that we are as much and in some cases more, a product of where and when were born and raised, the good or ill fortune we encounter during our early years and how these crucial factors impact upon our innate abilities.

To illustrate his point he uses a number of compelling examples from the strange phenomenon of the Canadian youth hockey training program and how the vast majority of pro players appeared to be born in the first three months of the calendar year, through to the unusually large amount of air crashes attributed to South Korean Airlines in the late 1990s and how it was finally explained by examining the rigidly defined nature of the South Korean social structure.

Over and above environment factors he also put forward the 10,000 hour rule i.e. genius is as much about effort as it is about innate ability, more so in fact contends Gladwell. He uses a significant number of examples from Mozart, Chess champion Bobby Fischer, Bill Gates, The Beatles and one of the founding fathers of the modern internet Bill Joy to illustrate that to attain real greatness, you have to put the hours in first (10,000 hours in fact).

With Mozart he states that although he was a child prodigy, he didn't write his first great work until he was in his twenties, Bobby Fischer was beating grandmasters at 13 but his greatest successes came later (again when he was in his twenties). Similarly, he cites the Beatles in Hamburg and their nightly 8 hour sets which honed their skills (this is something I can kind of relate to simply because most of us in the band (Jem included) learnt our live chops by playing in covers acts on the pub circuit for half a decade or so before we began to exhibit any sign's of being able to do the do on our own terms).

Both Bill Gates and Bill Joy had access to IT technology that only a privileged few could (in Bill Joy's case it was access to the University of Michigan's state of the art at the time, mainframe, one of the first in the USA to be accessible by user terminals rather than through giving your punch cards to an operator who then did the inputting for you). In having access to this kind of machine (via a system cheat he exploited to get unlimited time in the data centre), Joy then put in thousands of personal hours so when he was ready to go to Berkeley in California, he was already way ahead of the technology curve in comparison to his classmates.

Again, Gladwell contends this illustrates how circumstances can enrich an individual's chances of success. The right time, in the right place with the will to put the hours in to make it all work is a crucial combination.

Personally I'm not entirely convinced by his argument that the year your we're born can can be a strong indicator to the potential level of your success or failure in terms of a generation finding the right doorways to achievement. The examples he gives (I feel) are a little arbirarty e.g. Bill Gates, Steve Balmer, Steve Jobs and Bill Joy all being born within an 18 month period of one another hardly proves his point beyond doubt, but I'll happily admit that factors such as this are worth a closer look.

There is a lot of reference to other people's research in Outliers which as given rise to the criticism that Gladwell is simply regurgitating the work of others and claiming it as his own. I take a slightly more charitable view in that this book (however unwittingly done) edges towards a kind of sociological version of The Grand Unified Theory in that Gladwell is pointing out that no human activity sits in isolation and the connectivity is subtle, constantly evolving and yet exterts incredible influence. The book could be considered oversimplified in places and therefore lacks the detailed nuance required to thoroughly convince but in a book aimed at popular science readers, it was always going to be thus. I'd like to think that Gladwell is reaching out to the casual reader in the hope that such a book will pique their interest and encourage them to be more curious about the society around them.

All in all this is a personal journey through Gladwell's idea of what makes an individual or group rise to the top (the interview at the end is particularly insightful regarding his motivations for writing the book). It's also not afraid to confront culturally taboo areas such as racial stereotyping and why we employ them which is refreshing to see.

In places I am in full agreement with the man, in others I am less onside. That said, when employing sociological techniques to back up developmental areas of the human condition, there will always be two faces (and an edge) of the coin to examine.

If you enjoy books which hold a mirror up to society and examines how our cultural development can sometimes be counter intuitive to our expectations, I think this would be a book you might enjoy. I certainly did.


Bobby Fischer Against the World [DVD]
Bobby Fischer Against the World [DVD]
Dvd ~ Liz Garbus
Price: £3.75

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Man Is An Island., 16 Nov. 2011
There is a lot to be said for Gareth Wood's question in his review when he asked; are documentaries just intended to provide people with information about the past that used to be common knowledge to anyone who was vaguely aware of the news?

If you are already aware of Fischer the man or are a fan of his chess, then I suspect this film is not going to offer you much in the way of additional insight. That said, those paying a first visit into his world should be delighted as it paints (albeit in the broadest brushstrokes possible) a compelling picture of a brilliant but ultimately broken individual.

Although the technical elements of his chess are largely sacrificed in the interests of producing a commercially viable film, it vividly communicates many elements of Fischer's unique physical attributes; the often commented upon swagger as he walked and the changing look in his eyes over the years from alert intelligence to a kind of tired pleading at the end are successfully rendered in film for all to see.

The documentary tries hard to not judge its subject although ultimately, it seems to arrive at the same conclusion that many who knew him also came to i.e. Bobby Fischer was a very troubled individual but in the end, his incredible chess talent acted as a portal into the game for an entire generation of devotees and for that we do owe him a huge debt of thanks. Respect for Fischer himself might be another matter entirely.


Toshiba Satellite L755-154 Intel Core i5-2410M, 6GB, 640GB, 15.6", W7HP, Onkyo speakers, Bluetooth, Graphics
Toshiba Satellite L755-154 Intel Core i5-2410M, 6GB, 640GB, 15.6", W7HP, Onkyo speakers, Bluetooth, Graphics

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent For The Price., 13 Jun. 2011
On paper, this machine appears to have everything you might wish from an Intel i5 Sandybridge machine. I purchased this laptop on the strength of reading the review posted at The Register which gave it a 90% rating and put it top of the pile in a head to head against nine other similar i5 machines.

Upon getting it home and un-boxing it, the hardware spec certainly appears to live up to its hype (the 6GB of RAM included certainly sets it apart from most of the crowd in this price zone). The 1gb NVIDIA graphics card also handles itself very well but as is to be expected when pushed, the machine does get hot so if you wish to do any prolonged work involving video or heavy gaming, I would suggest that you also invest in a laptop cooling mat or fan tray.

It's too early yet to comment upon the machine's battery life but initial tests seem to indicate that it holds its charge well unless you really work the processor hard. There are several apps that come bundled with the machine that help manage the power usage but again, it's too early for me to tell if they are effective or not.

Speaking of bundled apps, I quickly deleted a good proportion of the (bloatware) programs that came with the machine as they seemed to slow the Windows 7 (64 bit) Home edition noticeably. The Toshiba Webcam app however I found to be a useful little gadget to initially test the webcam but it does become annoying after a while. It nestles at the left hand side of the screen and pops up constantly if you happen to accidentally run your mouse over it. Having Skype already pre-installed was both welcome and handy.

As the Register reviewer mentioned, the keyboard is a little strange at first due to their being little or no space between the keys and hardly any downward travel when pressing them. It was odd at first and I had to return to a more 'hunt and peck' typing style for the first few minutes but thankfully got used to the layout very quickly.

The touchpad is practically invisible which lends the front of machine a very modern aesthetic but it is initially a little hard to locate. Again like the keys, this stopped being an issue after about half an hour or so as I got used to it's location without having to look for it. The screen is bright and clear (although not HD) and the speakers do their job very well.

Overall, I am initially very pleased with this machine. It is powerful for the price, well built, stylish and lighter than I had expected.

Thank you Toshiba, thus far you've done me proud.

UPDATE:

I've been using this machine for nearly a year now and the performance has been top notch. No hardware of software problems save a small issue regarding the touchpad freezing when a mouse is connected. I contacted Toshiba and they informed me of a small button just above the touchpad (which I honestly hadn't noticed) which toggles between the touchpad and the mouse. Other than that, I'm still a very happy chappy! :-)


Belkin iPod SportCommand RF Remote
Belkin iPod SportCommand RF Remote
Offered by BESTBUYIT
Price: £4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Afraid Of The Cold, 2 Mar. 2010
The remote and it's associated unit is an intelligent piece of design. I used it upon my daily bike commute as I prefer to lower the volume or turn off my iPod at certain points in my journey so that I may concentrate on the traffic around me. To do so without a remote would mean stopping at the side of the road, fishing said iPod from my pocket and making the required changes from the Pod's input wheel.

The Belkin is easy to attach to your wrist and and both simple and safe to use but as has been mentioned before in other reviews here, it ceases to work entirely in cold weather. This has made it all but useless during the UK's winter months and as a result, I was forced to buy a second remote made by another manufacturer.

A seriously flawed bit of kit which is sadly now gathering dust in the back of my wardrobe.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 22, 2013 5:47 AM BST


Garden Shed
Garden Shed
Offered by HURRICANE RECORDS BERLIN_1
Price: £12.26

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The 'Lost' Prog Classic Of The 1970s, 10 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Garden Shed (Audio CD)
For the longest time, trying to get hold a copy of The Garden Shed by England was like looking for rocking horse droppings. Even though the Yes sounding vocals, the King Crimson Mellotrons and the second hand Genesis arrangements meant this was by no means a ground breaking prog album (by 1977 when this record was first released, there was little original ground left to walk upon), it was played with such skill and enthusiasm, you couldn't help but be dawn into it's deft embrace.

By 1977, Prog was undergoing the long death that would be Punk and New Wave and it's no lie to say that if England suffered from one terminal attribute, it was to be the victim of incredibly bad timing. Three years earlier (or 20 years later during the prog resurgence of the 1990's), they could have been significant names upon the scene. As it is, they have attained cult like status in the prog community as the band that produced the great 'lost' classic of the 70's genre.

The Garden Shed sums up all that was best (and worst) about Prog in the 1970s. It's an irresistible album to own and listen to for both those reasons and a truly iconic document of the time.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 12, 2011 6:47 AM BST


Different Breed
Different Breed
Price: £6.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fortune Favours The Brave, 28 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Different Breed (MP3 Download)
If there was a list of great British bands during the 80's who's individuality and unique sound proved to be as much of a hindrance as it was a boon then Beltane Fire would right up there at the top. Originally starting life as Rockabilly band The Blue Cats at the start of the decade, singer Clint Bradley, guitarist Carlo Edwards, double bass player, Mitch Caws and drummer Steff Edwards dragged the genre kicking and screaming into uncharted territory with the release of Beltane Fire's one and only album Different Breed through CBS.

With it's U2-esqe guitar lines, Stray Cat rhythms and rousing Big Country anthemic choruses coupled with a strong lyrical narrative, Beltane Fire created a razor sharp hybrid sound that was unlike any of it's contemporaries. The opener Captain Blood delivers itself in great comic book fashion whilst at the other end of the scale The Poacher oozes both rage and serious menace. The material occasionally suffers from the primary colour mid eighties production that typified many bands of the time but happily, the strength of the compositions ensure that no lasting damage is done and the album lends itself very easily to repeated listens.

Ultimately, had Beltane Fire been formed and supported in the internet age, they might still be an active unit today. The good news is that the band left a fitting tribute to it's own belief and strength of character. It was after all what they were; a Different Breed.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 23, 2009 1:24 PM GMT


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