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TobyToby (Midlands, UK)

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Rust and Bone [DVD]
Rust and Bone [DVD]
Dvd ~ Marion Cotillard
Price: 10.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cold fish of a film, 15 May 2014
This review is from: Rust and Bone [DVD] (DVD)
I selected this film based on the blurb - and it sounded intriguing. Sadly I got half way through and gave up, fast forwarding in 5 min chunks to the end, just in case there was a rainbow behind the clouds.

Nope. A brutal lump of cinematographic concrete. Absolutely hated it. It's very rare for a film to provoke such a strong reaction in me so why do I feel this way after watching most of it?

I just could not believe in the story - from the portrayal of the child/father relationship to the freak Killer Whale accident - I just don't buy it.

I found the characters portrayed in a very superficial way - I found nothing to like about them (apart from great swimming technique). The portrayal of disability - disability dominated the film - seemed to be rather old hat. Feeble woman requires strong Neanderthal to free her soul from the prison of her disability. Really?

I found myself asking why the male character took up bare knuckle fighting. It didn't seem to be the actions of a man who had survived on his wits and previously given up boxing- again, I could not believe this aspect of the character or the ease with which he entered into such competitions.

I also objected to the use of captive killer whales in the film.

So all in all, I just found that it left me cold and fed up!

SanDisk Sansa Fuze+ 4GB MP3 with FM Radio - Blue
SanDisk Sansa Fuze+ 4GB MP3 with FM Radio - Blue

4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed out of the box, but fantastic with Rockbox!, 30 Dec 2013
The Sansa Fuze+ straight out of the box running the stock Sansa firmware is a terrible experience when you have more that a few GB of songs. It is sluggish, the touchpad has a mind of its own at times and it is a very frustrating player to use. Which is strange because it has more RAM and a better processor that its predecessors.

Alas, the Fuze+'s firmware is sadly lacking - which is a pity, because someone has really worked hard on it.

Before I returned mine, I tried it with the Rockbox firmware - and boy, what a revelation. Rockbox shows what this player is capable of - Sandisk, this is how it should work!

Before you all go and install Rockbox for Fuze+, please note that it most likely invalidates your warranty, is currently "unstable" (ie has a few more iterations of development to run before it is a fully tested bit of software), and attempting to change your firmware carries with it the potential to brick your device. Saying that, I urge frustrated Sansa Fuze+ owners who can't be arsed to return their players to look into Rockbox. It is a revelation.

Escape the Diet Trap
Escape the Diet Trap
Price: 5.49

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real eye-opener and highly recommended!, 3 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Like most people, I've never really taken much of an interest in what I eat. My parents fed me on a grain and margarine (!) based diet which I continued, unthinking, into adulthood. I ate the things that were culturally available to me.

Very recently, when both my mother and sister were formally diagnosed with coeliacs disease, and I too found that my digestive system increasingly suffered terribly when I ate certain things, I started to wonder what was going on. It sounds daft now, but I just accepted that the nausea, discomfort, fatigue and heartburn I felt after eating very specific staples of my diet (e.g. bread, shop bought cakes, ready meals etc.) was normal for a significant portion of my adult life.

So I started to question what I was eating. Should I really be feeling so bad? I looked at a few books on Amazon and settled on this one after reading a few recommendations, and what an excellent book it is! It is a very factual, science-based examination of the (poor) effects of the modern western diet on the human body, and ways to modify your diet to a diet more in tune with human physiology to improve health and wellbeing.

This is definitely not some bleached toothed, bronzed yank fad diet book - it's a fascinating exploration of the assumptions behind the modern diet. It's a very readable book, with summaries at the end of each chapter. Chapters are short and focussed, so you don't drift off.

I would even go so far to say that it is one of the most interesting books that I have ever read - I would recommend it to anyone who suspects that their diet might be having adverse effects on their health and wellbeing. It is also half the price of other books I've seen out there and so an absolute bargain!

UPDATE: after completely removing grain, processed fats and high carb items from my diet (ie no bread, no cereals, no spuds, no cakes, no ready meals), and eating more unprocessed meat/protein, butter/olive oil, nuts and veg, I am amazed at how quickly my digestive system has responded. No heartburn, no nasty cramps, no stomach pain. I am already sleeping better with no interruptions. Such a simple solution but very effective. I don't feel that I have sacrificed anything (still have Chinese take away as treat, but don't order noodles or battered items), and if anything feel like I have eaten too much! Haven't checked weight, but my primary goal is to stop my horrible stomach aches and heartburn without resorting to my usual medication. This is working really well for me, I'm eating stuff I like, I'm not hungry at all - I wish I had known about this a few years ago! A massive thanks to Dr Briffa for writing this book.

No Title Available

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great phone holder for the price, frustrating instructions!, 31 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a great little phone holder, ideal for when you are trekking around country lanes and need to use something like google maps to locate a pub.

However, the fitting instructions are a bit confusing, written in Chenglese and it took me quite a while how to fit the holder to the bike. Once you have sussed it though, fits securely, although not the best fitting I have experienced. So great little phone holder, but loses 1 star for the confusing and poorly translated instructions. Still, for a few quid, can't go wrong really!!

Samsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01UK 11.6-inch Laptop (2GB RAM, 16GB HDD)
Samsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01UK 11.6-inch Laptop (2GB RAM, 16GB HDD)
Price: 223.38

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The future, here, now!, 6 July 2013
I've spent many years working in IT. I've lived through various thin client fads, and have seen various failed attempts to bring "toasters" and Web apps to the masses. The technology and the timing has never been quite right until now...

The Google Chromebook is quite simply the most elegant, cost effective way for Joe Public to leverage all the benefits of cloud computing and thin client technology that I have yet seen.

It just works. And improves week on week. For a fraction of the cost of a Windows laptop. It will change the way you think about computing, and instantly consigns fat client technology to specialist applications.

I'm hooked on my little Samsung Chromebook and I can't wait to see how things will pan out a few months down the line as the platform develops.

Vodafone Mobile Phone Chat 655W Dark
Vodafone Mobile Phone Chat 655W Dark
Offered by Go-Shop Limited
Price: 43.97

3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad for those on a budget, 22 Jun 2013
I've had touch screen phones, but don't like the size and find touch screens really irritating, so was looking for a cheap QWERTY phone, so bought the Vodafone Chat - reasonably priced, thin and compact.

First things first - build quality is excellent - really smart looking phone with sturdy keyboard, no creaks, good quality plastics used. Battery life is excellent - much better than android (but then it does less).
Signal is great, as good as a Nokia. Call quality is very good for such a cheap phone. Built in Facebook app works fine and does the job, email app excellent, opera browser excellent, screen is pretty good, with nice colour rendition, google maps works well (not installed by default - you need to go to google maps site) and it is a 3G phone for peanuts...

Now the downsides - twitter app doesn't work. I just can't get it to work - after about 3 minutes trying to connect, it gives an error "connection timeout, no servers could be reached". I've contacted Vodafone, but suggestions did not work. Pity, because I really like twitter so am forced to access using Opera. The built in ringtones and wallpapers are poor. You can add your own easily though. The MP3 player is VERY basic - and does not recognise track order on an album, preferring to sort alphabetically rather than proper album track order.

This could have been a really good budget phone if it had a working twitter app and a reasonable music player, but it doesn't, so I give it 3 stars overall. I still like the phone, but am disappointed that it doesn't do quite what it is advertised to do, so feel a bit ripped off. Still what do you expect for the money?

Lanikai LU-11 Soprano Ukulele
Lanikai LU-11 Soprano Ukulele
Offered by DJdepot
Price: 50.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great sound - average build quality - but worth persisting with!, 20 April 2013
This review is from: Lanikai LU-11 Soprano Ukulele
First off, this is an absolute bargain of a uke - it has a really nice sound to it, lilting and sweet, no boomy tones and the sound is very controllable, from whisper quiet to a banging strum. I love the sound of it!

On the downside, the tuners feel cheap and are not as smooth to turn as they should be. The finish is acceptable, but it will not win any prizes in the beauty stakes - expect a few rough spots and cosmetic glitches.

The most surprising thing for me is the time it takes for this uke to settle and remain reasonably in tune. My supplier set it up for me professionally and it just wouldn't stay in tune despite tuning and very gentle stretching of strings. I restrung it using a different method with new aquila strings, tightened the tuners slightly and that did bring improvements, but it has still taken a month of playing before it stays accurately in tune for a day or so. Looking along the neck, there is a very, very slight curve (no more that a fraction of a mm) on one side, dead straight along the other on my model.

So, for the price, you won't get anything sounding as good and as controllable as this uke. But, on the downside, the price point means that the maker has had to make some compromises in terms of build quality.

Despite the issues I mentioned, I still give it 4 stars, because it is so cheap, is lovely to play once set up and has such a beautiful sound that I can forgive the build quality.

UPDATE: 5/5/2013 Thought I would update my initial review - I have replaced the cheap tuners with a modestly priced set of chrome tuners from a well known Taiwanese ebay seller. Immediately the tuners are a lot smoother, and the uke holds its tune well - 15 well spent, plus a bit of time enlarging the holes for the tuners and tidying up the head.

Common Sense Rules: What you really need to know about business
Common Sense Rules: What you really need to know about business
Price: 4.31

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for aspiring business owners..., 27 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Deborah Meaden writes directly and honestly about her experiences in business. It's an easy read and well worth spending a few hours digesting and thinking about what Deborah has to say about running your own business before setting forth on your own.

I read this book after leaping in to set up a (very) part-time IT home support business whilst working full-time - I had done some paid work for a couple of friends and so registered online with HMRC (there's a fine if you don't register for business taxes) and so my "business" was born, by default really, so I didn't come a cropper with HMRC. Anyway, after popping a few cards in shop windows in a half hearted attempt to get more customers, I found I wasn't attracting new business, and frankly, found that I did not want to give up the security of my full time job!

The lessons I learned from Deborah include:
1) Commitment is key - she mentions the pitfalls, including working part-time on a business idea (!) - and reading behind the lines, you REALLY need to be doing something you enjoy and are passionate about
2) You need to be motivated, and have particular characteristics to be successful in business - these characteristics include actively dealing with issues on the fly, fearlessness, honest and integrity, people management skills, desire to succeed, make money, solve problems, mold teams
3) You need to be interested in making businesses work, the processes and engine room stuff really is important - the comparison she makes of a new business to a baby is really thought provoking
4) You need to do your preparation, plan and know your customer - you need to be the sort of person who will go out there and sell your business (in a nice way!)

As a result of reading Common Sense Rules, I reflected on Deborah's comments and discovered a lot about myself - I don't share Deborah's passion about nurturing a business and I don't have the kind of personality, drive and energy that is required to run a business. My skills lie in other areas, and this realisation has allowed me to be more realistic and honest about myself and my future.

Read the book, and think deeply about what Deborah describes, the skills and personality you need to successfully run your own business. It could save you at the very least the hastle of filling out tax forms, and at the most a lot of money if your business idea requires loans to get it started. Still, I'm really glad I dabbled in setting up a business and have learned a lot from the whole experience (really!).

You may have a terrible boss, and dream of escape - there's a lot of pressure put on people these days to be financially "successful" and hugely rich (does that matter? no pockets in the shroud etc. etc. - another debate!) - but do you really want to work 24/7 on an idea which has a 20% chance of "success" (defined as not failing)? Me, I'm happy to let those with the skills and inclination do that stuff and reap the rewards, while I make my honest contribution as an employee earning a reasonable wage and enjoy my life and hobbies.

HTC Wildfire S Sim Free Mobile Phone - Black
HTC Wildfire S Sim Free Mobile Phone - Black
Offered by Technomobiles
Price: 97.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great phone, but get a silicone cover!, 29 July 2012
The HTC Wildfire S is a fantastic, great value entry to mid-level Android smartphone. It does everything you need and more in a tiny, yet usable package. Once you install a decent music player (like Winamp Pro), you can sell your expensive iPod and use the phone as your sole music player (it takes 32GB memory cards).

It is a budget phone, and so it is less robust than more expensive models. After a day, I knocked mine off the bedside table onto carpet and it sustained a small dink on the metal trim fascia (grrr!!) - it is more like thick tin foil!! So, after you buy your HTC Wildfire, make sure, as number 1 priority, that you get a silicone cover for it, to protect it from everyday knocks and bumps!!

Battery life is not brilliant, just OK - it doesn't really bother me too much - but there are after market extended battery packs on Amazon that you can use if that is a problem for you. The display is really bright and vivid and the camera is pretty nifty too.

Overall, I am really pleased with the phone, but just wished HTC had used tougher casing material - otherwise would have got 5 stars.

Sony CMTBX77DBI Mini Hi-Fi with DAB Radio and iPod Dock
Sony CMTBX77DBI Mini Hi-Fi with DAB Radio and iPod Dock

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing value, 2 May 2012
I was quite cynical about the overwhelming positive reviews, but now I have received my little Sony, I have to agree. It is a superb little system at a fantastic price. The sound reproduction is superb through quality headphones, the best test in my book. The supplied speakers do the job, but once you sample the level of detail through headphones, you will be left feeling a little disappointed with the speakers.

I replaced my large separates system with this Sony, keeping my Mission bookshelf speakers, and they offer an improvement over the supplied speakers. The system is nicely designed, easy to use and compact, although still quite deep. Ideal system if like me you are pushed for space.

In short, astonishing value and excellent sound, detailed and engaging, clear as a bell through all frequencies when you turn off the bass boost thingy.

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