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R. Emmott (London)

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Command and Control
Command and Control
by Eric Schlosser
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

5.0 out of 5 stars It describes in great detail the historical development of nuclear devices from their ..., 4 Oct. 2015
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This review is from: Command and Control (Paperback)
This is a long and detailed book, with almost 100 pages of notes on source material and an extensive bibliography and index. It is well written but heavy going at times because of the complexity and detail. It is a book that could perhaps only have been written recently given the declassification of certain documents. It seems few stones (if any) were left unturned in its writing. The book works on several levels. It describes in great detail the historical development of nuclear devices from their invention to the present day. It describes how they have been controlled (or not) by the USA, and what has happened to some of them on the way. There is a lot in the book about how organisations work (or do not work), and about how resourceful people can be, and what happens to them when they are. There is also much about B-52 bombers and other delivery mechanisms and what happens when they do not work as they should. It is a scary book and yet there is hope. Thankfully.

Everest - The First Ascent: The untold story of Griffith Pugh, the man who made it possible
Everest - The First Ascent: The untold story of Griffith Pugh, the man who made it possible
by Harriet Tuckey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.48

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unexpected page-turner as Griff Pugh's daughter discovers the father she never knew, 5 May 2015
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This book is an unlikely page turner. Having read recently John Hunt's Ascent of Everest, his autobiography Life is Meeting, Jan Morris's Coronation Everest, George Lowe's Letters from Everest and George Lowe and Huw Lewis-Jones' The Conquest of Everest, as well as Eric Shipton's The Six Mountain Travel Books, I was aware of Griff Pugh and his role on the 1953 Everest expedition.

What I was unprepared for was the highly charged and complex circumstances leading to his appointment on the expedition and his activities since that time until his death in 1994.

The book covers in great detail real-life plot twists and turns of Griff Pugh's life. He made outstanding contributions to the understanding of human performance at altitude, initially on the mountains and later athletics, contribution much understanding to the performance of athletes at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. He was not thought to be a team player but did outstanding team work especially on the Silver Hut project post Everest. Before and after the successful Everest expedition he worked with some of the leading climbers of the day including Eric Shipton and Ed Hillary and many others. He loved the mountains, climbing, wine, women and song (not necessarily in that order) and was clearly a highly original thinker and scientist of the highest order.

There are many messages here for those whose work are not fully recognised or those whose work is recognised but where others take the credit.

Pugh's daughter Harriet takes us on a unforgettable journey as she painstakingly discovers and reconstructs, with meticulous research and clear lucid writing, the father that she never knew.

Samsung 64GB Class 10 UHS-1 Grade 1 70MB/s MicroSDXC Pro Memory Card without Adapter
Samsung 64GB Class 10 UHS-1 Grade 1 70MB/s MicroSDXC Pro Memory Card without Adapter
Price: £24.00

1.0 out of 5 stars but I cannot recommend this product on the basis of my experience, 16 Feb. 2015
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My card worked for 18 months in my phone, then failed suddenly. I do not know if if was real or fake, but I cannot recommend this product on the basis of my experience.

SanDisk Extreme PLUS 32GB SDHC UHS-I/U3 Memory Card up to 80MB/s Read (SDSDXS-032G-X46)
SanDisk Extreme PLUS 32GB SDHC UHS-I/U3 Memory Card up to 80MB/s Read (SDSDXS-032G-X46)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ordered two cards, both jammed in camera. First bad experience with SanDisk products., 1 Dec. 2014
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Ordered two cards, both jammed in my camera, could only extract them with difficulty. Other SanDisk cards work fine so not the camera. I have used SanDisk cards exclusively for years so this is extremely disappointing. Returned them for refund.

Steel 2050: How Steel Transformed the World and Now Must Transform Itself
Steel 2050: How Steel Transformed the World and Now Must Transform Itself
by Rod Beddows
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book brings a positive optimism about the steel sector that has often been lacking. Clear, thought provoking, recommended., 13 Oct. 2014
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This book should appeal to all those that know the steel industry, as well as those that don't. It has many important and far-reaching messages. Rod Beddows writes the book as an economist but does himself an injustice as he is also a philosopher, historian and storyteller (if not more) and the reader will learn a lot about the economics of steel, the philosophy of the sector as it has evolved, much about its history, and there are many pertinent stories that he shares.

Rod Beddows has been involved with the steel industry for 40 years and claims to have written the book that he would have liked to read when he started in the industry in 1974. As he points out in the book, steel or the various forms of iron that preceded steel have been around in one form or another since the 18th century, yet the magnitude of change in the last 20 years let alone the last 40 have been enormous. He contends that we will see even greater changes in the future.

Before building to his conclusions and thoughts for the future, he addresses the issues of overcapacity, price and volume volatility, excessively high raw material costs, unfair competition and a lack of consolidation.

Whilst claiming not to be a technologist, he has a firm grip of steel process routes, the development of the blast furnace and basic oxygen furnace as principal steelmaking routes and the emergence more recently of the electric arc furnace, which he sees rising in importance and increasing its penetration quite significantly by 2050. He has a firm grip also of yield improvement and its impact over the years. He relates technological improvements through to their commercial implications and addresses the impact of rising costs and the improvements that can and need to be made in the industry's working capital. He also addresses the often mentioned issue of the availability of raw materials.

He has quite a lot to say about forecasting, and a fair amount to say about China and India. He also looks beyond these two countries and identifies the next 20 countries, which collectively will very soon be much larger than China and India combined by population and economic measures, and where the potential of some of these countries is not always fully recognised today.

He also has a lot to say about the inefficiencies of the steel sector particularly the service levels or more specifically the lack of service levels that the industry has not delivered over the last 40 years. He shows various examples of steel delivery performance. There is one memorable picture of a car with three wheels, used by one steel customer to demonstrate the 75% delivery
performance that he received regularly from one of his main suppliers. Would you for example be willing to accept a car with three wheels? Would you find it acceptable if only 75% of the flights you took ever made it to their destination? Not surprisingly, Rod argues that the steel industry has a massive opportunity to improve customer service. He does not say that this will be easy, but that it is possible, and not only possible but essential for the industry to survive and prosper. For grow it will, and the scale and nature of the growth may surprise many.

This is a very comprehensive book. It goes into some quite involved technical, commercial and economic detail at times. Despite this, it is generally easy to follow. Some knowledge of steel will be useful but not essential to grasp the book's messages. The book indeed covers much more than steel. It is also an essay on times past, present and future, the vagaries of forecasting, with a summary of political and economic systems, and a sprinkling of philosophy thrown in for good measure.

Most importantly, it conveys a deep understanding of the core story of steel and its role in the evolution of our world, its history and its future. Rod Beddows contends that steel is an absolutely essential part of the development of modern economies, and that no effective substitutes are likely to be found in the horizon of his book (for reasons that he explains).

The book brings a positive optimism about the sector that has often been lacking. Steel 2050, How Steel Transformed the World and Now Must Transform Itself, is highly recommended.

The Ascent of Everest
The Ascent of Everest
by Baron John Hunt Hunt
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent and undervalued book of the first ascent of Everest, as relevant today as in 1953., 13 Oct. 2014
This review is from: The Ascent of Everest (Paperback)
I have just read this book for the second time. Re-reading it has proved immensely valuable and instructive for a number of reasons that I explain in this review. If you read this far and have no time to go further, it is truly great book, it is still as relevant today as it was in 1955 when first published, and I strongly recommend it.

This is a book about achieving the impossible. It is a book about make a dream reality through teamwork, collaboration, leadership, breaking new boundaries, the value of planning, the value of flexibility, strength, determination, benefit of sheer weight of numbers, the benefit of experience and learning and probably many more things that I have missed.

Critics of the 1953 Everest expedition have been rather rather scornful of the siege mentality amd military-style planning employed. By modern standards, the people and logistics required seem massive overkill. But surely in 1953 there was no other way? At one stage 350 people were employed to shift the 13 tonnes of equipment and supplies on foot to base camp. (Purists will calculate that this is only about 4 kg each but presumably the team needed to carry more than this along the way to keep itself fed and watered). A small team was needed to carry the local currency in coins necessary for their payment. No Paypal or bank transfers in those days. Thankfully no robberies, either.

Hunt starts by recalling the background to the 1953 expedition. Since 1921, 11 major expeditions had attempted to climb Everest, culminating in an almost successful attempt by a Swiss expedition in 1952, which had been forced back by the limits of their endurance some 1000 feet from the summit. It seemed inevitable that Everest would eventually be conquered, but it was by no means inevitable that this would occur by a British climbing team. In 1952, Eric Shipton, an experienced British climber with experience in the Himalayas conducted a major reconnaissance mission of Everest, together with New Zealander Edmund Hillary, also an extremely experienced high altitude climber. Shipton was appointed to the 1953 British Everest expedition. At a very late stage, the organisers decided that Shipton's preference for small teams and a relatively ad hoc approach was not right for the proposed expedition. Hunt was appointed organising secretary for the expedition, to bolster Shipton's team. When the two men met, they did not get on. Pressure on Shipton forced his resignation, and Hunt took over as expedition leader. Whilst he had some Himalayan experience, he was not seen to be of the same stature as Shipton or Hillary as a climber, and there was considerable resentment in the team at his appointment, many of whom were loyal supporters of Shipton who knew him well and had climbed with him over the years. Hunt did, however, bring considerable military experience, having graduated first in his class at Sandhurst, and having had a distinguished military career since then.

Hunt does not dwell on these issues. In his first chapter, Perspective, he recounts the background and why, in his view, the previous expeditions had not succeeded. He also addresses the question that many people ask: what was the point of climbing Everest? He gives a variety of answers to this question including the comment "yet to solve a problem which has long resisted the skill and persistence of others is an irresistible magnet in every sphere of human activity" as well as the oft quoted "because it is there".

In chapter 2, entitled The Problem, Hunt goes into some detail about the difficulties of altitude, the need for acclimatisation, the need for oxygen in order to climb Everest successfully, and also the weather. It was realised that there was a very small window probably in late May or the beginning of June when an ascent on Everest would be possible, and for all other months of the year the weather conditions would make an ascent impossible. Overlaying these two issues were the technical challenges of the climbing itself and the fact that no-one really knew what lay at the top, as the aerial photographs of the time were very basic and of course there was no Google maps in those days. Hunt describes the geography in some detail and the book shows the best available map of the time as produced by the Royal Geographical Society. This shows the intended route across the Khumba Glacier, across the Western Cwm, to the South Col and thence to South Peak of Everest and the summit itself.

There was also the recognition that the two climbers on the Swiss team that had nearly made it the previous year were among the most experienced and best climbers in the world, and the fact that these two had failed to make the last 1000 feet, a height that would be climbed in minutes at lower altitudes, highlighted the extreme conditions on the mountain. It was clear that Everest, and especially the last few thousand feet, were not to be underestimated.

Chapter 3 is entitled Preparations One, and the title itself may give some clue to their military nature and style. This includes the characteristics that Hunt looked for the team that he selected in this section is of particular interest for its thoughtfulness and thoroughness. Hunt insisted on meeting all candidates personally where he did not already know them. His final core team members included: Tom Bourdillon, Alfred Gregory, Edmund Hillary, George Lowe, Charles Wiley, Michael Westmacott, George Band, Wilfred Noyce, Tenzing Norgay, Griffith Pugh, Tom Stobart and James Morris (The Times correspondent).

The diary of the expedition, compiled by Wilfred Noyce and included as Appendix 1 in the book, shows that Charles Wiley started work as organising secretary on 1 September 1952, that the main party arrived in Kathmandu on 8 March 1953, that the summit of Everest was reached on 29 May 1953, and by 20 June that year the main party had reached Kathmandu once more.

In order to make the summit the huge amount of preparatory work has been undertaken, and this is detailed in the many chapters of the book. It was recognised at an early stage that in order to make a successful ascent of Everest, it would be necessary to allow for potentially three attempts, and each of these would need to be fully supported in terms of tents and sleeping equipment, stores, oxygen, food and drink. It was also realised that a very significant logistics program was necessary to get these stores into place, with the establishment of a base camp at some 18,000 feet, and progressive further camps going higher and higher up the mountain. There was also a point of revelation for Hunt, in learning from previous expeditions, that the final camp should be as close to the summit as possible. Previous expeditions had been unsuccessful partly because they had attempted to do too much in their final hours at such high altitudes in such arduous conditions.

It was also realised, and the physiologist on the team, Griffith Pugh, had much to say on the matter that not only was a good diet critical to success, but it was also necessary for the team to be drinking between 5 and 7 pints water each day at the high altitude. This is common knowledge now, but was not then. It was realised that the Swiss expedition of 1952 had not been sufficiently hydrated, and this had been a contributory factor to their lack of success. Producing this quantity of water involved melting snow or ice and this in turn meant that stoves and fuel needed to be carried to the various camp locations sufficient quantities, thus adding to the overall complexity of logistics.

There was also the further matter of oxygen. Oxygen sets of the day were heavy and relatively unproven but it was realised that the only way in which Everest would be climbed was using oxygen, and there was relatively little relevance experience, so much of the experience required had to be gained during the acclimatisation period, which was not ideal.

The main party for the expedition set sail to India. Whilst slower than travelling by air, this mode of transport had the considerable advantage that the main team was able to bond and get to know each other really well on the way to India. There was also a benefit that Charles Wylie and other members of the team spoke languages that could be understood by the Sherpas who spoke no English and who would be invaluable in establishing the various camps and indeed in the ascent itself. Thus the sea voyage was used partly for language lessons.

Hunt describes in some detail the establishment of the base camp in the many activities that carried on their and he continues to describe the various acclimatisation periods and explorations further up the mountain. Whilst there had been a number of previous expeditions, relatively little was known about the exact geography nor its dangers especially at the higher altitudes, and navigating the ice flow proved particularly problematic. The team had a number of ladders that were vital in being able to cross the many crevasses that were encountered. They were also able to use trees brought from near base camp. One photo shows just how hazardous these crevasse crossings were.

There were a number of near misses but thankfully no lives were lost. Not only were no lives lost but there were no major injuries and only very minor incidences of frostbite during the entire expedition.

Hunt then describes the various exercises that were carried out to establish the further camps, and the enormous logistics feat required to take stores and everything else from base camp to the various higher camps. The planning had been carefully worked out in London, and a detailed document "Basis for Planning" written which is a model of how to plan. It was firm and precise where it needed to be, but recognised that the final decisions had to be made on the mountain. A copy of this document is included in the book's appendices.

For the most part the planning had worked extremely well. There were several incidents with oxygen bottles leaking or not working properly, but the oxygen supply had been supplemented by the discovery of some bottles which had been left by the Swiss expedition of the previous year. It had been recognised prior to the expedition that the Swiss and British teams used different oxygen sets, and in the expectation that some bottles would be found, adapters have been made in the UK so that in the event of the Swiss sets being found they could be used by the British equipment. This was to prove a wise decision, as the Swiss oxygen was to prove invaluable.

On May 26, 1953, Tom Bourdillon and Charles Wiley made the first attempt on the summit. They reached the South Summit before realising that the conditions were too bad, they were not in sufficiently good shape to continue, and with the benefit of hindsight, it is now generally accepted that had they done so, they would not have returned.

Three days later, on May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay successfully climbed Everest first time. The ascent is described in the book by Hillary himself. Reaching the summit is almost an anticlimax. Hilary takes photos of Tenzing but there are no photos of Hilary as Tenzing does not know how to operate a camera, and as Hillary later says, on the summit of Everest is not the best place for a lesson.

Hunt then recounts the aftermath, the celebrations that followed (including firing the team's 2 inch mortar, intended for snow clearance duties but never used for this purpose). He adds a final chapter entitled Reflections. This chapter is enlightening, because he explains that the significance of previous attempts was that each one added to the mounting some of experience, and that experience had to reach a certain total before the riddle of Everest could be solved. Seen in this light, Hunt explains, other expeditions did not fail, they made progress. Hunt goes on to thank all those on the team, and those that contributed to the funding of the team. He is also very cognisant of the meticulous detailed planning that went into the expedition, of which he had been a key supporter, but which was largely implemented by others. It pays tribute to the excellence of the equipment they had used, much of it used on Everest for the first time, including the oxygen sets. He pays tribute to the Sherpas, and to all who had climbed Everest before. He has also, earlier in the book, acknowledged the valuable contribution that Shipton had made.

In summary, the ascent of Everest was a remarkable achievement for 1953. John Hunt was a remarkable leader of that expedition. The book was written in one month, an astonishing achievement in itself. It is generally very well written and clear, and whilst the detailed explanation of the establishment various camps can get a little monotonous, this is doubtless necessary to show the massive preparations that were necessary to ensure that two people were able to make it to the top. The qualities shown by Hunt and his team were quite extraordinary and would not be out of place in any large-scale project or venture today. The book also includes many of the original photographs taken during the expedition. Some of these are not particularly high quality by modern standards, but they serve to illustrate the progress that the expedition was making and the conditions on Everest that have to be overcome. Other books (in particular one by George Lowe) are available with higher resolution photographs from the expedition itself.

Overall then, this book is highly recommended. It is a remarkable story of a unique achievement by team led by a perceptive, clear thinking man who confounded the scpetics, brought his team together and delivered the result that many thought impossible.

Thought Leadership: Prompting Businesses to Think and Learn
Thought Leadership: Prompting Businesses to Think and Learn
by Laurie Young
Edition: Paperback
Price: £31.49

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent in-depth guide to thought leadership by an experienced professional marketer and thought leader, 13 Oct. 2014
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This is a well-written book that covers the world thought leadership in depth, tracing its roots from Boulton and Watt, and William Lever, to practise used in the present-day.

The book was started in 2010 and was published in 2013. One of the author's key assertions is that, at the time of writing, there was very little written on the subject. In 2010 this may have been the case. In 2014 there seems to have been an explosion of interest in the subject and this excellent book may now get lost in the many sources of advice available. The few Amazon reviews at the time of writing, over a year after its publication, suggests that it has not been read by many.

This is a pity, as the book which covers the principles of thought leadership clearly and in-depth, with thoughtfulness and passion, and examines the subject in great detail, illustrated with many case histories drawn from the author's own extensive experience of consulting and research.

The author tragically died shortly after the book was published. It deserves to be read by those seeking to understand thought leadership and how to use it effectively. It is a testimony to a true professional whose curiosity, enthusiasm and deep interest in the subject add considerably to the body of knowledge that is available.

HP Officejet Pro 8620 e-All-in-One Printer
HP Officejet Pro 8620 e-All-in-One Printer

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent wireless printer. Seems well worth the cost. Handles multiple computers with ease and also prints from smartphones., 13 Aug. 2014
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This was a replacement for an Officejet 4500 that had done good service but had started to jam and not scan well. I wanted a wireless printer (my first) but was a little nervous about set-up, complexity and reliability of printing. Also I was unsure how the printer would cope with multiple devices and scanning of multiple documents. Previous reviews reassured me on most of these points. I also wondered whether it was worth the investment, after all there are many good printers available for less.

First impressions are that this is an excellent device. The installation is quick, easy and almost fully automatic. The touch screen is clear and easy to use. Printing works well (although there is a delay mid-page when printing the first page, not a major issue and possibly due to my wireless signal?). Once under way, printing is smooth and fast. Quality is good in absolute terms and relative to the 4500. Blacks are denser, colours more rich (on the same paper stock). I have not checked ppm but it seems in line with the spec. It is good to have a decent sized paper bin. Scanning has been smooth and fast although on one occasion I had to re-feed sheets to get better alignment, possibly I had not set the paper guides properly. I have not used the fax but the facility is there if needed.

I have connected 2 laptops and the printer knows which is which automatically. I can also print from my phone using HP's e-print app. I have not owned the printer long enough to comment on cartridge usage. A replacement set of 4 cartridges is expensive but others have mentioned the low ink consumption of this printer. I don't know if it is significant but this printer does not go through all the cleaning noise exercises that the 4500 used to. I hope this is a good sign.

Overall, very pleased with this printer so far in all respects.

Genesis Revisited: Live At The Royal Albert Hall
Genesis Revisited: Live At The Royal Albert Hall
Price: £16.79

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great music and playing. Bassy mix that requires good equipment for best sound., 7 Aug. 2014
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Great music and playing but the mix is very bassy. I have played with the equalisation and even with all bass frequencies turned right down, the mix has a lot of bass. By contrast, Live at Hammersmith is well balanced and if you are in any doubt as to which to buy, my recommendation would be that one first.

Update. I have listened to this again several times. The better the equipment, the better it sounds. On phones and similar this will not sound great. On decent equipment it will. Also bear in mind that the acoustics at the RAH are not fantastic anyway.

LCS - ORION PRIME - 32.8 Feet / 10 M - Ultra High Resolution - Professional Optical cable TOSlink - shielded / braided - Optimized for all devices such as sky HD, blu-ray player, apple computer, PC and game console... - Gold plated connectors
LCS - ORION PRIME - 32.8 Feet / 10 M - Ultra High Resolution - Professional Optical cable TOSlink - shielded / braided - Optimized for all devices such as sky HD, blu-ray player, apple computer, PC and game console... - Gold plated connectors
Price: £17.06

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My first optical cable. Very impressed., 7 Aug. 2014
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I am new to the world of optical cables and bought this on the strength of the Amazon reviews. I was a bit nervous about what the quality would be like over the 10m length. I need not have been. The cable looks like a professional audio product, the nylon braid looking just like stainless steel. The plugs fit well. The sound quality is impressive, whether classical, speech or rock.

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