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Reviews Written by
R. F. Stevens "richard23491" (Ickenham UK)

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Oral-B Genius 8000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Oral-B Genius 8000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Price: £130.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Good tooth brush, suitable for the technologically enthusiastic, 28 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This Oral-B 8000 'smart' toothbrush is a significant improvement on our well proven four-year-old 5000; with a new charger, slimmer lighter body, LED indication of state of charge, ability to vary brushing intensity, and load sensing to help prevent applying to much brush pressure on the gums and teeth.

So far (only a couple of weeks) it has worked well and the new 3757 charger seems to be slightly quicker than any of the previous Oral-B chargers we have had both for the trusty old-style 5000 and a very short lived 6000 ('smart' but binned after six months for dead battery). Rated at 0.9W it uses less than 0.1W on standby and about 0.7W when charging. But at about ten hours for a full charge it is still very slow compared with my old Philips Sonicare toothbrush and shavers.

This 8000 kit does not have a phone charging option, merely an excessively thick holder with a sucker to stick it to a mirror or glossy tile.

We've not attempted to use the app, partly because it did not seem to want to connect with our android tablet, and partly because a toothbrush is for cleaning teeth and not playing technology. However I can easily see how this could be beneficial in the family environment by offering children a clever and novel technological incentive (ie toy) to clean their teeth properly.

The brushes offered with the set are a useful combination, and our normal existing cross-action brushes fit properly as well.

I'll add to this in a couple of months after we have seen how well the battery lasts and how well it cleans compared with the old 5000.

Rapesco Galvanised Staples 24/8 mm - Box of 5,000
Rapesco Galvanised Staples 24/8 mm - Box of 5,000
Price: £5.83

4.0 out of 5 stars Good medium duty staples, 27 Jun. 2016
These are good medium duty galvanised staples, half an inch wide, with 8mm long tines and with sharp cutting tips. They are suitable for securing layered paper in a thickness of up to a maximum of about four millimetre when using a properly hinged stapler that can remain square.

Rapesco gave me a box of these with one of their Long Arm Staplers as part of the Vine program.

Any sideways deviation or twist of the stapler head will encourage the tines of the staple to buckle or collapse on this maximum thickness, and perhaps a more rigid heavier duty stapler might be better.

The galvanised coating should help to prevent the paper showing any rust stains around the staples for many years.

If you have any doubts about the suitability or strength of a stapler or its staples merely fold up a piece of scrap paper to multiply the thickness, five folds for thirty-two layers, and test if the staples are satisfactory by stapling this wodge. These passed the test in two different machines.

Rapesco Long Arm Stapler - 790, 50-sheet Capacity, 300mm throat depth
Rapesco Long Arm Stapler - 790, 50-sheet Capacity, 300mm throat depth
Price: £13.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for stapling slim booklets, 27 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
An durable, ergonomic and well made long reach stapler, this has a throat deep enough for the staples to reach to the centre fold of an A2 sheet if one was going to make an A3 booklet. Adjustment to A3 for an A4 booklet or A4 for an A5 booklet is easy and repeatable by merely setting the click-stop depth limit. The product description in the Az blurb is accurate, except that the 50 sheet maximum thickness is somewhat optimistic even with the 24/8 staples.

The calibrations on the arm are just inches and centimetres, and no convenient indication of half A3 or half A4 etc, so one needs to be careful when setting the depth stop. The button on the back of the moving part releases the staple carrier, but it is not likely to be released inadvertently in use because one tends to press on the front end immediately above the stapling point.

There is some sideways flex and twist possible in the assembly which can compromise the stapling of thick wodges of paper, and care is required to ensure the pressure is vertical to eliminate this so as to prevent the staple tines from buckling.

As normal, the anvil-foot can be set to fold the tines in or out, for the staple to be either closed or open.

Using the correct staple for the thickness of paper is important if one requires a secure hold with a neat finish, always choose a staple with tines about three to five millimetres longer than the thickness of the paper wodge. The maximum tine length in this stapler is 8mm; when I tried some heavier 24/10mm staples they would not quite fit.

For most small booklets with only a few pages the subsequent trimming to remove the protruding edges of the inner pages is not really necessary. But with more than say a millimetre or two of wodge thickness, then it becomes more apparent.

Remember when stapling a booklet that the cover is uppermost so that the staple tines go through to the inside of the fold. Also for the thicker booklets chose good strong staples that will not collapse. The 24/8 staples that Rapesco supplied with my Vine offer were ideal, but only up to a maximum paper thickness of about 4mm (ie five folds thickness which is 32 sheets).

Parker Jotter Royal Blue Chrome Trim Ball Pen Medium Nib - Blister Pack
Parker Jotter Royal Blue Chrome Trim Ball Pen Medium Nib - Blister Pack
Offered by West End Stationers
Price: £12.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Reliable ball-pen from Parker, as usual, 20 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This slim Parker pen in the classic T-Ball Jotter profile, supplied with the Medium, 1mm tip permanent-blue ball-point cartridge, has all the positive attributes and negative failings of the original. The pen is slim and durable with the reliable click-click in-out action on the button at the top, and will accept the widely available replacement cartridges in different tip sizes and ink colours and types.

Once dried, the ink in this pen does not smear or smudge even when rubbed with a wet finger. I find that the ball tip is much better to write with than the gel type cartridges. Of course neither is as good as a proper fountain pen with nib, but the T-Ball jotter comes close, and is so much better than a Bic type.

Unfortunately the sleek lines also mean the pen has the major failing of being too slippery to grip in a relaxed way; which is why I always wrap some very thin rubber bands around the barrels on my existing stainless Parker jotters and propelling pencils. Improving the ease of grip has greatly reduced the frequency of both spasm attacks and RSI in the back of my hand and wrist.

This pen has a durable blue lacquer on the lower barrel, and a corresponding colour blue ink cartridge, but is otherwise very similar in appearance and dimensions to our pair of forty-year-old plain stainless brushed-finish jotters (free from Shredded Wheat), which still work perfectly and I've lost count of how many black and red refill cartridges they have used. In all those years I can only remember one cartridge leaking. This new French-made model is a few grams lighter thanks to modern construction methods, and has a softer feel with the more rounded button and arrow clip, but it also has a coarser and less secure thread holding the two halves together.

Curiously the packaging for the pen still bears two Royal Warrants even though the pen is now made in France.

STV International STV415 Defenders Jet-Spray Fox Repeller
STV International STV415 Defenders Jet-Spray Fox Repeller
Price: £26.83

4.0 out of 5 stars A harmless but effective deterrent., 15 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This spray is actually rather good; the principle is sound, with the water and noise of operation being a significant inconvenience and yet not harmful to either people or the animals it is intended to deter.

However the execution is more problematic for a couple of reasons; the first that the device is somewhat flimsy plastic, and the second is that it takes some careful thought and skill to correctly locate and aim it for the desired effect without 'collateral damage' or wasted water.

On my sample the limit stops were wrongly placed so that the adjustment for movement was very restricted, but by carefully removing and replacing the two collar-stops correctly I was able to achieve a much wider sweep for the spray.

There are two other adjustments for the spray not mentioned in the instructions; the one on top is a black dial that with my water pressure angled down most of the spray to vary the reach approximately between 2 metres and 8 metres if the spike is vertical, and the other is a small green set screw that adjusts the speed of travel of the spray and this speed is also partly dependent on the pressure. I've added a picture annotated to show the reach dial, the set screw and the two limit stops correctly adjusted for a spray angle of about a hundred degrees.

Aiming the sensor and setting the sensitivity with the knob on the back are both important; false triggering is a waste of water and battery life.

The PIR (Passive Infra Red) sensor has quite a wide angle of detection, and this is likely to produce false triggering from movement outside of the target area, be it by animals or sun-warmed plants in the wind. Some black tape stuck down the sides has proved to be effective at narrowing the field of view.

It requires two AA cells, but these are not included. I found that rechargeable cells worked well enough for this sort of intermittent use. The battery housing has a rubber seal on the cover, and this is then also protected from the spray by the black shield.

When we read the instructions they were all very sensible to begin with; making sure the water was off and stressing the importance of setting the PIR correctly, and listening for the click of the water switch to know when it was right. But the last sentence made us laugh, because it said to turn on the water and walk in front of the spray to check the coverage was correct! I would have instead suggested choosing a warm sunny day and volunteering an energetic small child to test it.

One advantage of this system is that it can be used simply as a garden spray by not fitting the PIR module in between the ground spike and the spray head, which is how I initially tested the coverage. But now the flimsiness of the plastic becomes more significant because I doubt that it would stand up to sustained use, perhaps for watering the lawn, as well as would one of the old-fashioned brass type.

On the spike there is a blanking plug covering a second hose connector which allows daisy-chaining several of these units. Another tap connector would be needed to be able to use this feature.

My application is limited to covering the fish pond to keep both the neighbour's cat and the heron at bay. Careful aiming has meant that we do not become soaked when feeding the fish if having forgotten to turn off the tap. I'm using brass fittings on the hose because they are so much more durable than the usual plastic types from the likes of Hozelock etc.

My main worry is about leaving the thing connected to the tap overnight and the foxes having their revenge by chewing through the hose! That could waste a lot of water.
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Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-Ageing Featherweight Moisturiser SPF15, 50 ml
Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-Ageing Featherweight Moisturiser SPF15, 50 ml
Price: £10.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Smooth and light to apply, soaks in quickly, leaves an excellent feel to the skin., 14 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-ageing Featherweight Moisturiser with SPF15 seems to be living up to its claims.

It is very light and easy to apply, a little goes a long way, and the skin then feels soft and smooth. After a couple of weeks of regular use it continues to soak in quickly without any greasy residue and there are no signs of pores clogging nor any adverse reactions.

Make-up can be applied only a couple of minutes later and the SPF15 is almost an essential feature these days for those of us with older thinner skin.

No further wrinkles have appeared in the last fortnight, and it is too soon to estimate if there has been any beneficial effect on ageing. I guess more than this mere 50ml will be required and over a longer time before one might notice any changes.

Be aware that some people might react to the parabens listed in the ingredients.

Casablanca -- Two Disc Special Edition [DVD] [1942]
Casablanca -- Two Disc Special Edition [DVD] [1942]
Dvd ~ Humphrey Bogart
Price: £8.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Bogart film in an excellently re-mastered edition, 14 Jun. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My two DVD 2003 Special Edition has a remastered print that is beautifully steady and clean, a superb rendition of the classic film we all know and are happy to watch time and again. The subtle interaction between all the cast coupled with the excellent direction and attention to detail in the sets make this an outstanding flm, especially when compared with the more frantic modern films. One would never realise that the film was shot almost on an ad-hoc basis with the cast often not knowing what they would be doing from one day to the next.
Of course it is only 4:3 B&W and has mono sound, and the Az blurb is to the point.

Disc one has two commentaries, one by film critic Roger Ebert, the other by film historian Rudy Behlmer, plus an introduction to the film by Lauren Bacall. It is split into 32 scenes which can be accessed from the menus.

The normal menus on Disc 2 give us some scenes that had been cut from the film, various bits of production data, a collection of musical out-takes by Dooley Wilson, and two more features; the brilliant spoof by Bugs Bunny and his usual cronies 'Carrotblanca', and the 21 scene feature 'Bacall on Bogart'. Disc two also has enhanced content that can be used with a PC.

The Maltese Falcon [1941] [DVD]
The Maltese Falcon [1941] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Humphrey Bogart
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Bogart at his best, 14 Jun. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is one of the great classics of tense who-dun-it, with Bogart breaking into the big time as Sam Spade. My fifteen-year-old DVD is still a pleasure to watch, and this damp afternoon it was so very much better viewing than the wet tennis, and it took our minds off the grass visibly growing taller on what once used to be a lawn.

We all know the film, and the Amazon blurb is to the point. But after not having seen it for a few years, when compared with modern high-octane, all-action, shouting TV and films, it was so good to be able to enjoy the intimate interaction amongst all the cast and the subtle direction and excellent editing.

My DVD (bought in 2005) is Mono sound and has a good stable Black and White picture. It also has subtitles in several languages and an interesting 'Featurette' discussing how the film trailers through Bogart's career helped bring him to stardom, as well as the trailer for this film and the ability to select the various scenes.

This film is an essential part of any enthusiast's collection.

Manuka Doctor Manuka Honey 12 Plus Total Active 250 g
Manuka Doctor Manuka Honey 12 Plus Total Active 250 g
Price: £19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the most pleasant way to ease a sore throat, 13 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This Manuka Honey 12 plus is claimed to have antibacterial benefits both when ingested and applied topically. It is also extremely expensive.

When it tastes as good as this it seems to be a bit of a waste to apply it topically, and that does leave one very sticky when perhaps just a wash with a normal antiseptic would be just as effective.

Fortunately one can also use it as a relief for sore throats and colds when taken as a drink in a glass of warm water, perhaps with some real lemon juice added, or perhaps a little slurp of medicinal alcohol; and now it becomes a vast sensory improvement over a normal mouthwash or gargle. And one can easily be convinced that it is just as effective.

Victor M792 Heavy-Duty Sonic Pest Chaser
Victor M792 Heavy-Duty Sonic Pest Chaser
Price: £28.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A headache proves that it seems to work, one can only hope the rodents also object to it, 11 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Solidly built, extremely well packaged in a very posh box, the Victor M792 promises much. So I read the instructions, all common sense and good practice, and switched it on. There is no immediate sign of it doing anything other than the faint red light from the indicator, and some power being taken from the mains.

Naturally my aged ears could not hear it, but after about five minutes in the same room I began to develop a mild headache, which is always a good sign that the ultrasonics are working well, as the outdoor cat repellents and other indoor rodent repellents have also had this effect on me. I would hope that any invading rodents, with their excellent hearing, will develop more than a headache and rapidly depart.

It does need an unobstructed field of view for broadcasting the ultrasonics from the pair of transducers. So for example, if one's kitchen cabinets were on feet then it could lurk at the back in a corner underneath one and scatter the sound across the floor around our feet, and our ears being much higher up should not be picking up enough for any headaches. Alas my kitchen is not like that, but the garden shed could be a good place, and when storing the bulbs over winter this could be ideal.

It uses between one and one and a quarter watts from the mains, pulsing slowly with the variation in frequency; so one can expect to spend somewhat more than a pound a year on running it. More of a problem is to find a suitable location with a wide enough field of effect that will not induce a headache.

The lead is only two metres long, and with this level of power it could not be battery operated, and it is also not suitable for outdoor use.

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