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Philip Graves "author of Consumerology" (UK)

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The BRAIN SELL: When Science Meets Shopping - How the new mind sciences and the persuasion industry are reading our thoughts, influencing our emotions ... Read Your Mind and Manipulate Your Behaviour
The BRAIN SELL: When Science Meets Shopping - How the new mind sciences and the persuasion industry are reading our thoughts, influencing our emotions ... Read Your Mind and Manipulate Your Behaviour
by David Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Guide to Neuromarketing, 23 Oct. 2013
What makes David Lewis's book so impressive is the balance it strikes between conveying his undoubted expertise in investigating the way consumers' brains work and his candour about the limitations of neuromarketing techniques like EEG and fMRI.

Lewis evidently understands the subject with the depth that reflects his academic background, however his written style is light and accessible and the book is peppered with real-world examples that reveal how companies capitalise on the way in which our brains work (which is appreciably different from how we think we think!).

The Brain Sell makes no secret of the fact that the author is the director of a company that conducts neuromarketing for companies all around the world. Fortunately, unlike a number of other books in this broad category, it is definitely not a veiled sales pitch for his services. Rather, it's an account of the state of the science today and how it's being used by companies to get people to spend more.

In the end The Brain Sell succeeds in being both a fascinating tour of how we think and a practical guide to anyone in business who wants to better understand his customers. Whether you're going to capitalise on this knowledge to reduce the extent that you're influenced by the emotional engineering used by brands, or make your own brand's marketing more effective, there is much to learn from this book.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 5, 2013 5:24 PM GMT

5m DIY Aluminium Scaffold Tower / Towers
5m DIY Aluminium Scaffold Tower / Towers
Offered by BPS Access Solutions
Price: £399.99

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Does the Job with Limitations, 15 Oct. 2012
I spent several days researching before deciding which scaffold tower to buy. In the end I decided that I'd read enough positive reviews for this one to make a decision to buy it, with the (relatively) low price being a primary consideration. I needed the tower to cut a long hedge alongside my property: it's too deep to reach from the ground and the extended hedge trimmers I use don't lend themselves to use from a latter.

It took me about an hour to assemble the tower (I now understand why they do one that's quicker to erect). The instructions are straight-forward and are printed on a label that's on the underside of the platform so you won't lose them, although since they cover several different sizes of tower you need to take a moment to figure out which ones apply to you.

In my view assembling it is a task best performed by two people, but one person could do it, I'm sure.

The main problem with assembly is that it can be hard to get the bolts through the aluminium frame: because the design relies on (a) manufacturing precision and (b) it being square when you try and push the bolts through the frame, I kept finding that the bolts wouldn't line up to go right through the frame. It didn't help that some of the holes had residual pieces of aluminium in them that needed to be pushed through to make the hole the right size.

The key to successful assembly is not to tighten the bolts on the first level so that you have some wiggle room: this is where having the second person comes into its own - they can alter the position of the frame until you can get the bolts at both ends through.

The same applies to the diagonal (blue) braces that, in part, attach the second level of scaffold to the first. However, when it comes to the (red) safety rails at the top, you need to be up the tower to fit them and, by necessity, all of the other bolts have to have been tightened. I found myself up on the platform trying to force through the bolts and applying force pushing out over the edge of the platform... not desperately safe!

Another limitation is that, if you're not using the platform at full height - I only needed to be part way up, the positioning of the blue cross braces limit where you can position the red rails. In theory the two could share one hole, but in practice you don't really want to be unscrewing these whilst you're up there and, with the issues about keeping things square, it's far from certain that you'll be able to get them in position if you take them out.

Once constructed I found the platform worked well. It is very lightweight and therefore easy to move. I was using it on a gravel drive and found it to be supremely stable bedded into the gravel. Whilst I couldn't use the wheels to move it on the gravel I was able to either drag it or, much better, get someone to help me lift it into position: it was sufficiently lightweight that my ten year old son could help me do this without a problem.

I'm lucky enough to have the room to store the tower partly assembled, so I'm leaving the base level intact to speed things up next time I need to use it.

Overall, I'm happy with the purchase and am glad that I didn't spend any more than I did. If you are using a tower occasionally and won't need to assemble and disassemble it frequently I would recommend it.


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Positive First Impressions, 15 Aug. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this trolley after playing a round with a friend who had a premium three wheel trolley and becoming convinced of the advantages of pushing something on three wheels over pulling something on two. The problem, I came to appreciate, with two wheel trolleys is that you are not just propelling the trolley, you're also forced to counter-balance it's gravitationally-driven preference to rest it's base on the floor. If it was possible to maintain the two wheeler in perfect balance it would probably be much easier to propel, but the action of walking over uneven ground means the balance is constantly shifting and, if you're above 5'5" tall it's likely that the balance point is some distance below where your arm wants to hang.

Put another way, three wheels is much-more-nicer!

The premium version I'd tried (a FastFold) was a joy to behold in form and function, but it was also £140.

So my evaluation of the Bullet 5000 Deluxe is framed against an experience with a more expensive product.

Functionally it would appear to cover the same ground. The only major differences in function are that it isn't a one-hand/one-button style of assembly and the front wheel doesn't get removed for transportation. On the latter point, whilst it may mean it has a slightly larger volume for transportation, the way it folds under the base makes this very slight indeed: it's a good design and the added convenience of not having to remove one of the wheels each time gives the Bullet a slight edge overall. As for the assembly, it's not difficult at all. The only minor flaw is that the handle must be loosened and repositioned each time (I can't recall if this was necessary on the FastFold). In any event, for the difference in price, I'm happy to spend twenty seconds rather than ten putting the thing up.

The remaining difference, and the reason I have given the Bullet four stars rather than five (arguably a little harshly) is the build quality. It arrived in perfect condition, well packaged and looks to be assembled properly. However, I'm slightly nervous about the quality of construction: the plastic wheel attachment mechanism is somewhat flimsy and the constant loosening and tightening of the handle is going to put some strain on that plastic interlocking tightening mechanism. The vertical part of the frame snaps into plastic uprights that may, in time, become loose through the weight of the bag and action of snapping and unsnapping. Time will tell.

On the plus side the front wheel mechanism looks very solid and the design and materials result in a lightweight product.

At the Amazon price (£57.99) this quality dimension is fairly reflected in the price. At the claimed RRP of £100 it certainly isn't. In time Amazon will come unstuck with the OFT for this kind of price framing - it could already be argued that it is 'unfair'. Suffice it to say that you would struggle to find anywhere selling this item for £100. (As a consumer psychologist I was aware of this when I purchased the item, so it didn't affect my purchase; I'm aware of the evidence that shows it will affect other people though).

I hope I won't regret buying a cheaper product than I might have done.

Samsung ML-2525W Black Mono Laser Printer (Wireless)
Samsung ML-2525W Black Mono Laser Printer (Wireless)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice Printing, Painful Configuration: PLUS How to Make it Work!!!, 22 Feb. 2012
I can see from the other reviews that I'm not alone in thinking that a wireless printer shouldn't be this much of a pain in the backside to set up.


As others have experienced, everything appeared to go swimmingly as I followed the instructions and had my first printouts within a few minutes.

But then the printer went off-line (having gone into its powersave function) and I entered a world of trouble.

Bravely, or charitably depending on how you look at it, I thought I would give Samsung support a chance at sorting things out. After being told on numerous occasions that my call would be recorded, although clearly no one is listening to these recordings and hearing how awful the design of the customer service experience is - I got through to a nice enough chap who insisted on taking all my details. He was doing what he'd been instructed to do, but whichever clowns in the UK, Korea or the US that thought this was a good idea understand nothing about consumer psychology.

After the predictable comment about reinstalling the drivers, I was told that I needed to turn the printer off and on each time I wanted to print after it had gone into powersave: but I was told I could set the powersave to the maximum two hours via the, up until that point, unmentioned remote printer interface, to minimise the inconvenience! I would, and did, settle for this mildly irritating situation.

However, this was not the end of it. The next time I tried to print the printer had disappeared again.

Some Googling around led me to discover that I wasn't alone. The printer seems to have some kind of issue with its IP address (we're at the limit of my understanding by this point incidentally).

The solution MIGHT be relatively simple. But if my current solution continues to keep my computers on speaking terms with my printer it will not be thanks to Samsung.

Whilst the Samsung instructions to explain about setting a static IP address for the printer, they manage to do so with references that only someone reasonably well versed in wireless networks would understand. Fortunately, I stumbled across HPs website, their guidance on giving a printer a static IP address was infinitely more helpful. In short you will need to know your router's IP address, a static IP address that won't get muddled with a dynamic one and the default gateway.

I managed to get two of these numbers by holding down the printer off button (a red circle with a red triangle inside) for about six seconds - basically until the green light changes the speed it flashes at. You may need to get these numbers immediately after doing a fresh install of the original software (i.e. when it's pretending to work). This will give you the router's IP address (a number like - probably ending with 001). You will also get the default gateway (probably

All that's left is to make up an IP address that won't conflict. HP's advice, which seems to have worked for me, is to use the first nine numbers from the printer's IP address when it's dynamic - i.e. the one on the printout - and change the last three numbers to something like 250 (high but less than 254). 250 worked for me.

For now it appears to be a happy printer. I'm optimistic enough to write this in case it helps others. And I'm disappointed enough in Samsung to give them two stars for inflicting this sort of technological misery on me. It probably took about three hours to get this sorted (if it is!)
Credit for the solution goes to Samsung email support. They replied quickly and told me what to do. Why the manual couldn't share these secrets is anyone's guess!

Get the printer back to its factory wireless settings. You will know how to do this if you've played around with this part of the set-up, if you haven't been tinkering you can just proceed without worrying.

1. Uninstall the printer software and driver: go to Control Panel and use Add/Remove Programs and order the list by most recent. You'll see the Samsung one. Double-click and then select the 'Remove' option.

2. Connect the computer to the printer via the USB cable AND connect the printer to your router (or range extender) with an ETHERNET cable - this is CRITICAL.

3. Wait 2 minutes and print off a configuration page on your printer by pressing and holding the button with the red circle with a triangle inside until the light changes its rate of flashing (about six seconds).

4. On the configuration page you will find the ip address for your printer. Then using your laptop/PC go onto the internet and in the search bar please type in the printers ip address. This will bring up the Samsung Sync thru web service.

5. Select `network settings' from the tabs across the top; another page will open.

6. Along the left hand side you will find a list of options, click on `wireless'.

7. Another page will open up, scroll down the page and please select `wizard' and click `next'. The next page that comes up should give you a list of all available networks to connect to, select the SSID of the network that you are connected to and click next.

8. It will then ask you to confirm settings and click on `apply'. You should then find a box opens that says "your selections have been modified successfully, please click on `ok'.

9a. Now go back to your printer and unplug the Ethernet cable, wait a few minutes then a blue light should show on the printer (this light stands for wireless signal), now the printer is connected wirelessly to the network. Then go to the laptop/PC and install the print driver from the CD that came with the printer.

9b. For what it's worth... I didn't install Samsung's printer management software, in my previous attempts it had conflicted with the Windows one; I opted for less stuff cluttering up the Windows system.

10. It should ask you about installation type select `typical installation for network printer' and click next. It will then search for available printers and will show you a list.

11. You will see 2 names for the same printer- one with `local port' and the other with the printers ip address. Select the option with the ip address and click on `next'. The set up will copy the files when it finishes, it will ask you to print a test page, click `ok' and it will print off the test page for you.

You problems are now, officially, over.

And with any luck you will have saved several hours of your life by reading this first. It really is quite straightforward!

Thinking, Fast and Slow
Thinking, Fast and Slow
by Daniel Kahneman
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating and Wonderful Book, 2 Dec. 2011
I was prepared for disappointment when reading Thinking, Fast and Slow. In my experience, being a brilliant academic - and Daniel Kahneman's credentials here are not really open to question - doesn't mean that you are any better a writer than anyone else. In fact, the style of writing often used in academic papers can be verging on the impenetrable and many academics' work translate very poorly to book form.

However, having referenced Kahneman's work extensively in my own writing I knew I had to buy this book and, if necessary, fight my way through it.

My hopes were raised enormously when I had the pleasure of hearing the author talk about the book at the Royal Institute (courtesy of Decode Marketing). Kahneman is a witty, erudite and charming speaker, and possesses a refreshing level of candour: confident in his knowledge and equally happy to say, 'I don't have the faintest idea' when appropriate.

The book is a delight. Years of psychological study are distilled into a fascinating account of how our minds work. Kahneman's focus is clearly on conveying his ideas and understanding, rather than dotting academic 'I's and crossing 'T's, and the resulting book is, in my view, both enormously profound and extremely readable.

Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 19, 2013 6:08 PM BST

28 Business Thinkers Who Changed the World: The Management Gurus and Mavericks Who Changed the Way We Think about Business
28 Business Thinkers Who Changed the World: The Management Gurus and Mavericks Who Changed the Way We Think about Business
by Rhymer Rigby
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.74

5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Informative, 26 Aug. 2011
Whilst this is a very easy book to read, thanks to the author's excellent writing that balances the facts with a wry humour, there is something far more satisfying about it too. I suspect that this is a by-product of two things: firstly, for anyone involved in business, the 28 people (with perhaps one exception) have left their mark on the business landscape we inhabit today: as with any history lesson, understanding the past helps explain an awful lot of what takes place today. Secondly, Rhymer Rigby enhances his analysis by judging the 'business thinkers', many of whom defined an era, in the broader context of how the world views them now. The result is a salutary lesson in how, despite its mask of considered seriousness, the world of business is as susceptible to fads, whimsy and short-sightedness as any individual you might care to name. Read it, you'll be glad you did.

Task Force Black: The explosive true story of the SAS and the secret war in Iraq
Task Force Black: The explosive true story of the SAS and the secret war in Iraq
Price: £4.31

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Non-explosive True Story, 29 Mar. 2011
Like others I feel this book missed the mark. Against the background of other books about the Special Forces it attempted to compete as an "explosive" companion and resolutely failed. Either the author lacked the insight into what actually happened on the many Special Forces raids that took place during the operation in Iraq, or else he preferred not to focus on them.

Instead, the book is a detailed account of the political and intra-military wrangling and strategy that occurred. As such it is a fascinating, valid and important insight into recent history. But it's inert rather than explosive.

I suspect this is a publisher cashing in, rather than the author. The editing is very clever. The introduction delivers the pulsating thrill of living a dangerous nighttime raid with the SAS, and a flick through the book on the shelf reveals those tell-tale pictures of SAS teams, faces blacked out, guns poised. Unfortunately, after the introduction the book never recaptures this insight into the raids that were taking place (and the Kindle edition doesn't even have the pictures!).

All in all a disappointing experience, not because the book is poor in any sense, but because it has been so significantly misrepresented.

The Exiled Times of a Tibetan Jew: A Tragicomedy
The Exiled Times of a Tibetan Jew: A Tragicomedy
by Jake Wallis Simons
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended, 25 Feb. 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed The Exiled Times of a Tibetan Jew.

Conveying the real essence of this book is extremely hard and, judging by the other reviews, curiously personal. Yes, the teller of the story is living his life in reverse, but what's so impressive to me is that this doesn't become a preoccupying focus for the reader; I came to accept it just as Mo had to do. The author's skillful avoidance of dwelling on the book's central premise allowed its other themes to flourish.

Rabbi Chod is a delightfully drawn character whose 'attractive' presence dominates when he is in focus; it's easy to see how he has been allowed to create his duplicitous cult (that someone writing the synopsis on Amazon described him as 'somewhat dubious' indicates a moral compass directed quite differently to mine when it comes to exploiting the weakness of others, but his charisma is evident and entirely credible).

The book's core themes, as I saw them, of responsibility, retribution and the force of life (destiny, but not quite) are skillfully presented with both humour and poignancy.

My only criticism is that I don't feel the title or description do the book justice. The Tibetan theme is clearly central to story, but somehow placing the focus on the characters' ethnicities shifts the focus slightly from the most rewarding parts of the story. But this is a small criticism and not one that lessened my enjoyment of reading it (I do wonder if it might have limited the book's appeal to others though).

Sorbothane Sport Heel Pads 9-13
Sorbothane Sport Heel Pads 9-13
Offered by BabyMad Ltd
Price: £8.95

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Be sure it's what you need, 16 Jan. 2011
As far as it goes this product is fine. Well made, accurately sized and durable.

However, I suspect it falls into the category of products that are sold because someone has created a market for it, rather than because it has demonstrable benefits in the longer term. I spoke to an excellent sports therapist just after buying them and he cautioned me against using them. Adding them to your existing shoes (i.e. not replacing something that's already there) will change your posture and shorten your calf muscles. If, like me, you're experiencing calf problems, this will have a short term benefit but, in the longer term, increase the likelihood of tearing because the muscle adapts to its new shorter length. Similarly, if your walking style is causing "shock" through your heel, perhaps it would be better to adapt your walking style. Studies have found that the cushioning in running shoes encourages people to put more force through their feet, which rather than being absorbed is transferred further up the body to cause joint problems higher up.

So I never used mine and instead, through stretching and rest, achieved complete recovery without risk of adverse side effects. My advice, be sure they're what you need.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 20, 2011 9:00 PM BST

Press Here!: Managing the Media for Free Publicity
Press Here!: Managing the Media for Free Publicity
by Annie Gurton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent guide to PR, 16 Jan. 2011
With my first book about to be published and the hope that I might find myself with a few seconds to promote it on a local radio station or in the village newsletter, I realised that I didn't know much about PR beyond what I'd experienced at a corporate level (which was mostly vacuous, strategically naive and managed by people who had no discernible skills or talents).

Fortunately Press Here isn't a book about schmoozing senior managers, looking pretty, smiling a lot and making suggestions that have nothing to do with your brand. Instead it gives you a highly practical appreciation of what journalists are looking for, how to deliver it and how to avoid making mistakes along the way.

This book is one of those that neatly encapsulates a subject so that, if you have the confidence, you can go into an area that you previously had no understanding of (or in my case a cynical and jaundiced view of) and get results. The style is extremely accessible, but at the same time the coverage is comprehensive: on several occasions I found myself using the book as a reference guide, be it for preparing for an interview or drafting a press release in the right format.

I have ended up doing a lot more media work than I ever imagined; national TV, Steve Wright's show, national press, international blogs... I was fortunate to have an excellent publicist at my publishers and a topic that the media were interested in, but Press Here gave me the confidence to tackle each of those situations and, with the exception of the time I said "Cock ring" to Radio 4's Winnifred Robinson (a reference to a Mattel market research blunder that her question and encouraging eyes led me to believe she wanted me to discuss - and fortunately it was a pre-recorded interview) I've managed in the media!

Press Here gives you a great understanding of the other side of the media fence and extremely practical advice on how to connect with it. I have a new found respect for (some of the) people who work in PR!

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