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Alan J. Stedall "yoss_uk" (Birmingham, UK)
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Sony ICFS22 Personal Radio
Sony ICFS22 Personal Radio
Offered by K.K. Electronics
Price: £12.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, honest little radio !, 12 Feb 2013
No, it doesn't have DAB. Neither does it have pre-sets, an alarm or a stereo ear-phone socket (mono feed, on one ear only).

It's just a cute little radio with simple controls, good reception and a comfortable level of sound when used on a personal basis, eg on a bedside table. Moreover at a great price. Highly recommended.


TP-Link TL-WR1042ND 300Mbps Wireless N Gigabit CABLE Router
TP-Link TL-WR1042ND 300Mbps Wireless N Gigabit CABLE Router
Offered by BESTBUYIT
Price: £39.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very easy to set up - but may not live up to expectations, 26 Jan 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I used the TP-Link to provide a wi-fi connection to a Toshiba lap-top that drives a large wall-mounted panel TV.

The standard wi-fi connection provided by the Toshiba to my BT Voyager Router runs at 54 Mbps and the video stream frequently "stutters" while it re-buffers.

Attracted by the possibility of a 300 Mbps wi-fi connection I ordered the TL-WR1042ND Gigabit Router.

It was a doddle to set-up. You connect the TP-Link Router to your PC using the supplied ethernet cable. You then onward connect the TP-Link to your internet connection, in my case my BT Voyager, also using an existing ethernet cable (NB This second cable is NOT supplied.

You then run the wizard set-up program provided on the CD-ROM on your PC and within a few minutes the TP-Link Router is active. You choose your own transmission name for the router service and your own security password.

I then installed a TP-Link 300 Mbps Wireless USB adaptor (TL-WN823N)into my lap-top. This also comes with a wizard set-up software on a CD-ROM. Within a few minutes the USB Adaptor was working perfectly and I was able to connect via that wi-fi port to the TP-Link Router.

The adaptor comes with a utility program that reports connection speeds to the router. On my system these reported connection speeds vary between 120 Mbps and 300 Mbps.

So, very impressed at this point.

However after a month the "System" light on the router switched off, indicating a system fault. This despite being run on the latest release of firmware. Several successive re-boots of the device cleared the fault on each occasion for a few minutes but then the fault returned.

Notwithstanding the system fault the system continued to report connection speeds of 135 Mps. However, when trying to connect my Humax to the BBC i-Player via wi-fi connection to the router the Humax connection stuttered, indicating insufficient bandwidth. I re-started the BT-Voyager. This did not improve matters.

I then switched the wi-fi connection of the Humax from the TP-Link back to the BT Voyager (i.e. by-passing the TP-Link) and the Humax was very happy with the connection to BBC i-Player, even playing at HD quality without re-buffering.

So, where do I come out ?

The TP-Link functioned perfectly for a month or so, but then its system became flaky and its provided connection wi-fi speeds fell off.

Of course it may be that my particular device is suspect, however, on the basis of my above personal experience I hesitate to recommend this router.


InLine Toslink Audio Umschalter 4 zu 2, 4x Buchse Eingang auf 2x Ausgang (Fernbedienung)
InLine Toslink Audio Umschalter 4 zu 2, 4x Buchse Eingang auf 2x Ausgang (Fernbedienung)
Offered by Linden Kontor UG (haftungsbeschränkt) & Co. KG (Preise inkl. MwSt.)
Price: £50.91

5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, It Just Works !, 12 Jan 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I really struggled to justify the £50 cost of this optical switcher.

However, I had tried several of the "three-way plastic manual circular optical switchers" and found that after some period of usage they started to fail.

I then found a small two-way electronic switcher by Gefen. This still had to be switched manually, but was much more reliable. However, as I have three optical-output devices devices, I was still one input short and having to connect and disconnect the tos-leads was wearing out their connectors, making firm connections less able to obtain.

This device ticks all boxes. It has four inputs (one more than I presently need) and two outputs (also one more than I presently need). The audio connerction is reliable and clear, with no break-ups. The resultant overall audio quality is first-rate.

Additionallly, because the device has infra-red control, I have been able to program my Logitech controller so that when I switch to DAB radio, TV or Squeezebox, the Inline device selects the correct tos connection for that particular input.

So yes, five stars. Expensive, but worth it. I just hope it proves reliable in the longer term.

BTW: I use a Logitech Harmony One to control my media devices. I also highly recommend this controller to anyone who, like me, has a regular "zoo" of different pieces of hi-fi kit and wants to co-ordinate/manage them through a single infra-red controller.


The Art of Assertiveness
The Art of Assertiveness
by Joanna Crosse
Edition: Audio CD

4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended to those of us who still struggle to "get their point across", 30 Dec 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
"The Art of Assertiveness" is a forty-five minute audio guide, written and read by a presentation coach, Joanna Crosse.

The purpose of the guide is to develop one's personal capacity to communicate clearly, thereby to ensure that "the message you send is the one that is received".

The guide takes the form of a lecture in which Ms Crosse, amongst other things, helps us to distinguish between the four main different aspects of communication:-
* Aggressive
* Passive
* Indirect
* Assertive.

Ms Crosse holds the first three methods of communication as essentially negative and sets assertive communication as the form to strive for: This she describes as speaking your personal truth clearly and communicating with others with respect and integrity.

As part of her lecture Ms Crosse offers advice on how to ensure one gets to be heard, how to handle aggressive behaviour and the importance of giving feedback.

I found the audio guide informative. Joanna Crosse presents her subject with confidence, clearly and in a manner that is readily understood. In forty-five minutes she presents on a wide range of related and relevant topics, even offering tips on the use of emails.

My only noted short-coming was that the guide simply takes the form of a monologue lecture: It would have been a bit more lively if Ms Crosse had concluded the lecture with a final interactive question and answer session with a selected audience. Perhaps we can look forward to this on version two ?

Well recommended to those of us who still struggle to "get their point across" in professional and/or domestic situations.


Teach Yourself Happiness Workbook (Teach Yourself: Relationships & Self-Help)
Teach Yourself Happiness Workbook (Teach Yourself: Relationships & Self-Help)
by Hilary Pereira
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.52

3.0 out of 5 stars One of many other self-help guides, 28 Dec 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I ordered this book through the Amazon "Vine" programme on being intrigued to understand how one can "teach yourself happiness": Is happiness a skill, and moreover one that lends itself to self-education?

The work book is aimed at self-study and includes several self-appraisal questionnaires.

The chapter contents of the book are as follows:
What is happiness ?
Your relationship with yourself
Relationships past and present
Changing your inner voice
Your relationship with your family
Friendship choices and your happiness
Materialism and happiness
Happiness and lifestyles
Who do you think you are ?
Spirituality and the gift of giving
A re-evaluation

The cover of the book promises the reader to:
* Assess where you are now
* Set goals you want to achieve
* Take practical steps to improve
* Monitor your progress
* Get to where you want to be.

The book contains a multitude of practical, specific steps that one can take to become happier.

In my view this is both the strength and weakness of the book; it contains a smorgasbord of tips that the author believes will move you further along the Yellow Brick Road of Happiness.

Unfortunately the book lacks an overall sense of direction, coherent structure and logical development: Each of the above chapters is effectively a free-standing essay that fails to build on earlier chapters in a meaningful way.

And regrettably the author doesn't pause to question whether happiness is an attainable goal under all circumstances: Life contains many setbacks and disappointments. Most of us experience the loss of loved ones and many of us suffer severe, if not terminal, illnesses. Is it reasonable (or sane) to expect to be happy under all such circumstances ?

For me happiness is a transient, elusive experience that, of its nature, cannot be sustained. I am also highly dubious that happiness can be attained through its direct pursuit. Rather it seems to me that we simply gain true happiness "en route" in life; on encountering those circumstances that resonate with our more deeper emotions (soul).

My personal moments of greatest happiness have been momentary, fleeting experiences, when I seem to have briefly glimpsed a higher reality and a higher meaning beyond the normal wheel of life: the first sight of the destined love of my life; holding my first new born child. Such moments of greatest happiness can be recalled, but cannot be sustained.

At a more fundamental level one can ask whether "the pursuit of happiness" is in fact not a peculiar (and unhelpful) obsession of the Western world, that calls for short-term (if not instant) personal gratification of the senses, mostly of a materialistic and/or venereal nature ?

Do many of us try to satiate an inner spiritual hunger with increasing quantities of material goods and changing personal relationships which, of their nature, cannot assuage our feelings of inner hollowness ?

In my view a more worthy, sustaining and sustainable objective than happiness is peace of mind; our spirit and conscience at rest with themselves. This is not to be attained through a set of quick-fix tips, but through long-term character development and a resolute pursuit of "the good life" through day to day practice consistent with that most unfashionable of concepts; virtuous principles.

So if you are committed to the unending pursuit of happiness; buy this book as it offers you a plethora of practical suggestions and tips.

If however, you are seeking a depth of contentment that will reliably sustain you in the face of the many adversities and unfair blows of life, my advice is to look elsewhere. "The Mediations" by Marcus Aurelius would be a good start point, as would the "The Seven Habits of Highly effective People" by Stephen Covey.

Final question: Is it possible to be happy, in other than a transient and frenetic way, without having first gained underlying peace of mind ?


LeapFrog Learn & Groove Music Player (White)
LeapFrog Learn & Groove Music Player (White)
Offered by TECH SENSE
Price: £14.24

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very neat little toy !, 1 Dec 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The "Learn & Groove Music Player" is a small, attractively designed device that easily fits into a child's hand. It has a rounded shape with no sharp edges.

The thinking behind the device is that a toy can be both entertaining for children, whilst also being educational (without them noticing !).

The Music Player largely achieves this objective.

The device offers five "modes" that are easily selectable by the child: "Sing-along songs", "Active games", "Dance Party", "Serenity mode" and "Paw button". (You press "Paw button" for silly sound effects).

The learning objectives are well integrated with the entertainment aspects of the device. These include the alphabet, numbers and counting, shapes, animals, music and active play.

Our twelve month old grandson has had several hours of fun with the device. I'm sure he thinks its his very own iPhone !

Well and easily recommended for children of pre-school age.


Business Continuity For Dummies
Business Continuity For Dummies
by The Cabinet Office
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, well written grounding in the subject, 17 Nov 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a practical well-written book on the subject of Business Continuity Planning (BCP): A subject that can be made to seem unduly complex and difficult. However, this book takes a commonsense and practical approach to the subject, setting out simple plans and straightforward guidance.

Regrettably the issue of business continuity is one that tends to get pushed to the back of daily business activities: It tends to fall into the "Important but not urgent" category, that is until a water main bursts in the neighbourhood, 30% of your staff are down with flu, or a fire in a neighbouring office block places your own block in a "no go" zone.

This book is well worth reading before the fateful day arrives or the day one of your major customers says that he can't renew his contracts with you because his business can no longer rely on a supplier who has no proven BCP to hand.

Just one general comment. Why is this series, that frequently offers good serious professional advice, entitled "for Dummies" ? The publishers really need to get a grip on this. How many managing directors want to be found reading a book intended for dummies ?

Perhaps the publishers should offer a plain brown paper jacket for their series of books ??


How To Improve Your Mind: 20 Keys to Unlock the Modern World
How To Improve Your Mind: 20 Keys to Unlock the Modern World
by James R. Flynn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.27

3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read, but a very misleading title, 17 Nov 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I must confess that this book and I got off on the wrong foot from the outset.

From its title I had greatly looked forward to the contents of the book "improving my mind" by honing my intellectual rigour and deductive thinking.

Instead I found twenty short essays in which Flynn sets out his own wide-ranging opinions and views on issues as diverse as moral judgement; statistical sampling and error; the worship of the market; science and its enemies and the goals of nations.

Having read half-way through the book I felt that perhaps a more honest and authentic title of the book would have been "How to Improve Your Mind - by Thinking Like Me".

I am afraid that this realisation led me into a bad temper with the book since, while I concur with many of Flynn's views, others are certainly open to challenge and, much more disappointingly given the title of the book, some of Flynn's supporting arguments simply lack due logical validity.

Notwithstanding the above points, once I accepted that what I was reading was in fact a series of essays by a retired (and somewhat crotchety) university professor, I began to enjoy the book on that more simple basis. For example, the chapter in which Flynn describes the mechanisms that brought about the economic crash of 2008 provides one of the most lucid and clear descriptions of the phenomena I have come across.

So where do I come out ?

Well if you want a book to "improve your mind" I am afraid you'll need to look elsewhere.

However, if you want an easily read book that takes a number of modern "sacred cows" and does its best to lead them to the slaughter, then you may find this book of interest.


The Hobbit
The Hobbit
by J. R. R. Tolkien
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £18.82

4.0 out of 5 stars A BBC Classic !, 17 Nov 2012
This review is from: The Hobbit (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This five CD set contains the masterful 1968 BBC Radio 4 presentation of J.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit".

Well arranged and well acted, it offers engaging audio theatre.

I accept that today's chidren and teenagers are more addicted to films and TV rather than radio presentations of classical and semi-classical novels, however for long car journeys or when travelling by tain, this CD set offers several hours (3 hours 45 minutes to be exact) of engaging entertainment for young or old alike.

Well recommended to Tolkien fans.


LeapFrog Poppin' Play Piano
LeapFrog Poppin' Play Piano
Price: £11.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent little toy: Hours of entertainment !!, 17 Nov 2012
This review is from: LeapFrog Poppin' Play Piano (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I can't really praise this product too highly. Made of colourful high impact plastic it is of a smooth and attractive shape of the form of a miniature piano with eight large keys, each numbered and in a different colour.

An easy to use ring allows the child to choose the "mode" of the toy. This includes "numbers", whereby on pressing each key the toy speaks the corresponding number, "colours" whereby the toy speaks the colour of each key pressed, "music" which allows upto eight different instruments to be played via the keyboard and "songs" whereby each key plays a different very catchy "sing along" rhymic song.

The toy "speaks" with a very clear and pleasant British accent, so you can be comfortable that your child won't learn to speak with a mid-Western US drawl !

With its many different "modes" this is a very versatile little toy guaranteed to give hours of amusement.

Our one year old grandson loves it.

Great fun and highly recommended !


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