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Reviews Written by
William B. Samson (Dundee Scotland)
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Graceful Degradation
Graceful Degradation
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation!, 9 Jun 2013
Wonderful music by composers from an era we would likely associate with the rise of the fortepiano. In fact most of it wouldn't sound out of place played on a piano. Chris Wilke produces an incredible dynamic range on his 13 course lute (I almost said 'baroque lute' but clearly this instrument was used well into the 'classical' era). This contrasts greatly with the careful, precious sounds we normally associate with the lute - Wilke plays with an explicit passion and panache I've never heard before on any lute. This album deserves a place in the list of pioneering recordings of 'early' music. It also deserves a place on the shelf (real or virtual) of every aficionado of the lute and its music.


Parade's End
Parade's End
Price: £1.89

4.0 out of 5 stars A L-O-N-G read . . ., 4 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Parade's End (Kindle Edition)
After watching the excellent TV adaptation of these books I bought the Kindle version - over 1000 pages long in old money. As you might expect, the characters are more complex than is evident from the adaptation. For me the big plus of the book is the very detailed first-hand account of life in the trenches, and in particular the long periods of boredom punctuated with incidents of extreme violence that seemed to be completely beyond anybody's control.
The other interesting thing, to me, is how much society has changed in the past hundred years - racial assumptions (not necessarily vindictive) are breathtaking. Sexual behaviour - particularly infidelity - is not very different from what takes place nowadays, but the way it is judged by society is very different.
You might find it worth reading if you are fascinated by sociological changes in English society over the past 100 years - otherwise it's a very long slog.


Canon Digital IXUS 117 HS
Canon Digital IXUS 117 HS

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very happy with my purchase, 15 Jun 2012
I bought this camera as a point-and-shoot replacement for my old Canon A540 Powershot.

I have had it for a month now and am delighted with it. The Auto setting does most of what I want and the P setting lets me do something a bit more special when I need it.

The f2.8 lens allows me to to do lots of indoor work without flash, giving more natural shots.

The 4x optical zoom range is fine for most practical purposes and with a total of 12.1 Mp the additional digital zoom is OK because there's still plenty of resolution for snapshots despite the reduced number of pixels.

There are loads of additional features - many a bit gimmicky in my opinion, but the ones that I use most are vivid and super-vivid colour that work really well for shots of flowers and scenery. The in-camera cropping feature allows me to crop images without having to use Photoshop or similar. The black and white alternative to colour images is also great for some kinds of arty shots.

The only thing I really miss about my old A450 Powershot is the possibility of using manual focus which can be indispensible for shallow depth-of-focus macro work or portraits.

I should perhaps point out that I also have a DSLR for more specialised work, like astrophotography for instance, but it is a chore to drag it around and this little camera is my constant companion these days.

Terrific value.


Love Is The Cause
Love Is The Cause
Price: £15.31

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, varied and oh so Scottish!, 20 Feb 2012
This review is from: Love Is The Cause (Audio CD)
I bought this CD two weeks ago and it has seldom stopped playing since then. The CD taps into a rich vein of Scottish music from the 17th and 18th centuries - a time when Scotland was closely in touch with the music of other countries, particularly France and England, but had a great variety of traditional and newly composed material of its own.

Jonathan Dunford (viol) and Rob Mackillop (baroque guitar) show a perfect understanding of the music and its context. Their interpretation is flawless.

Anybody with an interest in the music of Scotland owes it to themselves to listen to this. It will help place Scottish music of today in its historical perspective as well as bringing to light a wealth of sophisticated instrumental music that is now all but forgotten.


Choosing and Using a Refracting Telescope (The Patrick Moore Practical Astronomy Series)
Choosing and Using a Refracting Telescope (The Patrick Moore Practical Astronomy Series)
by Neil English
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aspiring astronomers please note, 29 Dec 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've just finished reading this wonderful, comprehensive review of the world of refracting telescopes at the present time. As a telescope owner it has given me ideas on how to upgrade my existing instrument to get much more out of it. It's a pity that a paperback book like this is so expensive, but I don't suppose there are economies of scale to be made.

Bill Samson


Continuo Playing on the Lute, Archlute and Theorbo: A Comprehensive Guide for Performers (Music: Scholarship & Performance)
Continuo Playing on the Lute, Archlute and Theorbo: A Comprehensive Guide for Performers (Music: Scholarship & Performance)
by Nigel North
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Long live 'print-on-demand'!, 29 Dec 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've been looking for a copy of this book for some time, but have found that I'd need to sell the house to be able to afford a second-hand copy.
Imagine my delight when Books Etc offered this print-on-demand version for a very reasonable price.
There's no Kindle version, and although I own and use a Kindle it's useless when it comes to things like printed music and detailed diagrams.
Let's see a lot more of this kind of thing.

Bill Samson


Draper Bicycle Tool Kit
Draper Bicycle Tool Kit
Offered by Phils-Trading-Post
Price: £12.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful value, 25 Feb 2011
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This review is from: Draper Bicycle Tool Kit (Sports)
I have twice recently been caught out miles from home with punctures, resulting in long trudges pushing my bicycle. The main problem was that I didn't have a portable pump/repair set for emergencies. This should never happen again!


The End of Discovery: Are we approaching the boundaries of the knowable?
The End of Discovery: Are we approaching the boundaries of the knowable?
by Russell Stannard
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.75

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lucid account of some difficult science, 19 Jan 2011
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At first I thought the book was a rather plodding attempt to get scientific ideas across, but as I read on I found a beautifully balanced account of current ideas in almost every field of science. I have never read a clearer explanation of special relativity.
The book is a refreshing chnge from the deliberately obscure writings of Stephen Hawking who seems mainly interested in promoting his own ideas rather than taking a critical look at them. This book redresses the balance.
The author neatly avoids the trap of expressing opinions about religion, though I understand that he has religious beliefs. But don't let that put you off.


Paitarkiutenka / My Legacy to You
Paitarkiutenka / My Legacy to You
by Frank Andrew
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful account of the lives of the Yupik eskimos not so long ago, 3 Sep 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
We are fortunate indeed that the writers interviewed Frank Andrew before he died, capturing the details of the lives led by Yupik people in the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta region of western Alaska.

These people lived in very small groups, mostly dying young, so Frank was the last survivor of his generation who had first-hand experience of their day to day lives and who was also a highly regarded hunter and builder of kayaks.

As an amateur builder of kayak replicas I have learned huge amounts about how the Yupik selected their timber, how it was shaped and how it was put together.

Thanks to Frank Andrew this is one part of social history that will not sink into obscurity with the death of the last of his generation.

Top marks to the researchers who gathered this information and wrote it up.


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