Profile for The Guardian > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by The Guardian
Top Reviewer Ranking: 44
Helpful Votes: 3594

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
The Guardian (UK)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Toshiba PA5116E-1PRC - Hi Speed Port Rep III UK 120W
Toshiba PA5116E-1PRC - Hi Speed Port Rep III UK 120W
Offered by IvoryEgg
Price: £161.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Convenient but pricey, 25 Jun. 2015
For readers unsure of what this is and why you would need it, you use it as follows. If you travel regularly with your laptop but otherwise work in a regular office environment - either in a home office or at your place of employment - then this `port replicator' sits on the desk permanently. Into it you plug the mains power cable, printer/s, wired network connection, speakers, wireless mouse and keyboard, bigger monitor etc., everything you might use regularly to enhance your work environment and connect to your computer. You walk in the office, get your laptop out of your bag, plonk it on top of the port replicator and presto - you're immediately connected to everything. When you want to take your laptop out with you on a trip you just unlock it, pop it in your bag and off you go, without needing to unplug all the cables.

The Toshiba devices are called `port replicators' but other manufacturers use different terms; Sony for example calls theirs `base stations' but they all do the same thing.

The Toshiba PRs are slightly larger than many but do the same job. They have an adjustment which enables them to fit any Toshiba computer. I've had the current one for two months and it's completely trouble-free. The laptop locks itself in and can only be unlocked by moving a small unlocking switch on the right side of the PR, otherwise it won't separate. Once the laptop is locked onto the PR then its own connecting points become inactive, so as an example if you're using a portable USB storage device then you need to plug it into a port on the PR not the laptop.

You need a bit more desk space to accommodate the PR, but not that much. If you come and go with your laptop then it makes working much easier and more convenient.

The only issue with these devices is unless you get one free with the computer as a package deal, they can be pricey. They have just fixed circuitry, so not much to go wrong provided you don't spill coffee on it.


A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan 1974
A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan 1974
by Cornelius Ryan
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memorable title, memorable book: Cornelius Ryan's classic 1974 work on Market Garden has never been bettered, 22 Jun. 2015
Cornelius Ryan's 1974 book about the ill-fated Market Garden operation is one of the most readable and engrossing accounts of this appalling battle, written in a racy journalistic style.

Ryan's book draws heavily on personal testimony from the then-surviving participants and has still not been bettered for detail and accuracy. Richard Attenborough's 1977 film of the same title draws heavily on Ryan's book, with many scenes lifted straight from the text (though Attenborough's vilification of General Browning as played by Dirk Bogarde is not supported by Ryan's narrative).

Ryan focuses strongly on the courage, suffering and injuries of the soldiers, particularly British 1st Airborne in their 7-day long battles for the Arnhem Bridge and in the Oosterbeek pocket against Waffen SS II Panzer Corps, trying to hold out until XXX Corps of 21st Army Group could relieve them (planned to happen within 48 hours, it actually took 7 days for XXX Corps to reach Arnhem). It makes harrowing reading. The desperate plight of the Dutch civilian population caught up in the fighting is also described in distressing detail.

A good companion volume to Ryan's book is `It Never Snows in September' by Robert Kershaw, detailing the battle from the German perspective.


Delicate Sound Of Thunder
Delicate Sound Of Thunder
Price: £14.95

4.0 out of 5 stars The delicate sound of PF live onstage in 1988, 21 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This in-concert material from Pink Floyd's 1988 tour to promote `A Momentary Lapse of Reason' was released in November of that year, surprisingly the band's first `official' (non-bootleg) live-in-concert material available to fans since `Ummagumma' in 1969.

These concerts were, of course, without Roger Waters who had acrimoniously split from the band following `The Final Cut' and initiated legal proceedings to prevent the three remaining members using the Pink Floyd name. Having gained a royalty agreement and all rights to `The Wall', Waters settled the action and went his own way.

TDSoT is a good album, but IMO eclipsed by `The Pulse' released in 1995 from the `Division Bell' tour where the resurrected Waters-free band's mojo was working in overdrive. As you might expect, TDSoT majors on material from the new AMLoR album, with six tracks featured. The remaining material is classic Floyd: Crazy Diamond & WYWH, a storming rendition of `One of these Days' from Meddle, three tracks from DSotM (but not the work performed in its entirety as on `The Pulse'), and all three of Gilmour's modest contributions to The Wall: `Another Brick', `Comfortably Numb' and `Run Like Hell'.

BTW there's a film of the concert footage which includes more songs than the CD, notably an epic version of `The Great Gig in the Sky' which is worth seeking out if you've never seen it.


The Final Cut [Discovery Edition]
The Final Cut [Discovery Edition]
Offered by MediaMerchants
Price: £8.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Roger's PF Swansong, 21 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
With masterful understatement, Melody Maker described `The Final Cut' as "A milestone in the history of awfulness". It would be regarded as Pink Floyd's least memorable album if it were actually a Pink Floyd album. But it's not: it's a Roger Waters solo album released under the Pink Floyd name.

Waters is credited with all the composition and songwriting on `The Final Cut' and does all the singing, excepting one brief duet with Dave Gilmour. Rick Wright had been pushed out of the band by Waters, so the creative keyboard-dominant soundscapes so characteristic of classic PF are absent. Nick Mason didn't feel up to recording most of the drum parts so they were performed by session musicians, and such was the heated animosity between Gilmour and Waters that they hardly spoke to each other throughout the recording sessions.

The album's theme continues the preachiness and banality of the `Animals' & `The Wall' projects: overtly political in that juvenile, pompous way typical of the Waters-dominant-era PF. Musically TFC is unmemorable and dull, and doesn't come close to PF at their classic best (Meddle, DSOTM, WYWH, The Division Bell).

However, the album is not all bad. The closer `Two Suns in the Sunset' is good but not really a PF track, as there is no Rick Wright, no Nick Mason (drums played by Andy Newmark) and Dave Gilmour is sidelined. `When the Tigers Broke Free' is also a good song, though it appears only on the 2004 re-release and not on the 1983 original.

So overall, TFC is not a career highpoint for PF. The resurrected band led by Gilmour with Wright and Mason but absent Waters, which produced `A Momentary Lapse of Reason' and the epic `The Division Bell' through the late 80s and 90s saw a welcome return to form.


Houses Of The Holy [Deluxe CD Edition]
Houses Of The Holy [Deluxe CD Edition]
Price: £10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Zeppelin's 1973 experiments stretch the envelope to uneven (but mostly good) result, 20 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
`Houses of the Holy' was released on 28th March 1973 (the same week as Pink Floyd's `Dark Side of the Moon') to a less than uncritically enthusiastic reception, the first Zeppelin album not greeted by universal acclaim.

The reason for this lukewarm reception was that the band refused to do `more of the same' and decided to experiment a bit with different styles, and the dyed-in-the-wool hard rockers didn't like it.

The result is a mixed bag, with a few really stand-out songs: `The Song Remains the Same' and `Dancing Days' are amongst Zeppelin's best rockers, and `No Quarter' is an eerie dark mood-piece in a minor key which, though rarely performed onstage, remains one of the band's most distinctive numbers. `Over the Hills & Far Away', the love song `The Rain Song' and the closer `The Ocean' are also good.

Where the album comes unstuck for some fans is with the musical experiments `The Crunge' and the reggae-rhythm `D'yer Mak'er' which granted, are not among Zeppelin's best output. But they at least demonstrate the band's multi-dimensional musical reach, and their refusal to be pigeon-holed.

Some compositions laid down in the 1972 recording sessions (including the title track `Houses of the Holy') didn't make the final mix, but were re-worked and later released on the 1975 epic `Physical Graffiti' - though in the meantime were performed regularly by the band onstage.

Overall `Houses of the Holy' is an uneven but nevertheless very good album, with some fine songs.

So how about the 2014 `2-CD Deluxe Edition'? Worth buying, or not?

The first disk contains the original album content, the improvement in sound dynamics evident here as throughout this 2014 remastering series. Crisper and cleaner than previous CD releases - none of which have been bad BTW - this mix rivals the original vinyl album for warmth and immediacy.

The material on the second disk is more interesting than that on the recent LZ4 release. Alternate takes of all the original album tracks except `D'yer Mak'er (`Jamaica' - get it? It's a reggae rhythm) feature. Some are `karaoke' versions with no vocals; some have extra instrumentation and overdubs, but all sound genuinely different.

You get the three-gatefold album cover-artwork based closely on the 1973 12" original, but not quite identical: same trick as with the Deluxe release of IV, in that the original rear cover-art is replaced by a purple-psychedelic filtered image of the front. The 16-page booklet is pretty good though, with some nice colour & monochrome shots of the band.

All in all this is the version to buy of you want to add a hard-copy of this album to your Zeppelin collection.


[New Version] VicTsing USB 2.0 Slim External DVD-ROM CD-RW Combo Drive Burner Writer for HP Dell IBM Sony Toshiba Acer Apple Asus - Laptop Netbook Notebook PC - Black
[New Version] VicTsing USB 2.0 Slim External DVD-ROM CD-RW Combo Drive Burner Writer for HP Dell IBM Sony Toshiba Acer Apple Asus - Laptop Netbook Notebook PC - Black
Offered by VICTECH
Price: £20.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent external drive and great value, 19 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This VicTsing external CD/DVD drive is designed for laptops/notebooks which have no built-in CD drive, an increasingly common feature designed to save bulk and weight. It's compatible with most laptop computers.

A short but robust USB cable connects the drive to your computer to power it at the same time as enabling connective functionality. No installation software and no instructions for us are needed: you just connect it with the USB cable and off you go. It has a simple `open' button to load the CD, and the drive speed is comparable to a normal internal CD drive.

At 140mm square and 12mm thick excluding the small rubber feet at the corners, it's quite compact. The only thing you don't get is a carrying case for transportation, but it will fit in your laptop carrying case alongside your computer.


Potty, Fartwell and Knob: From Luke Warm to Minty Badger - Extraordinary But True Names of British People
Potty, Fartwell and Knob: From Luke Warm to Minty Badger - Extraordinary But True Names of British People
by Russell Ash
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and true, 19 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Russell Ash has delved into birth registries, censuses and historic Parish records to dig up hundreds of extraordinary and outlandish names, and lists the best of them in this hilarious book. He groups them into short chapters, each with a theme.

The result is a fun book to be dipped into, not something you might read as a continuous narrative. There really have been people who went through life called Harriot Orala Laywell, Florence May Pee and Emma Scunt.

A cautionary word: this book is not necessarily inappropriate for children (most teenagers for example will love it) but may lead younger children to ask "what does this name mean and why is it funny?" So you need to be prepared to have `that' conversation, and explain why people might find names like Jane Fuxlonger and Everard Cock worthy of mirth.


Vallejo Model Color 200 ml Polyurethane Primer - White
Vallejo Model Color 200 ml Polyurethane Primer - White
Offered by Airbrush Supply Online
Price: £11.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Vallejo primer in various shades: the perfect finish for the dedicated airbrusher, 18 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Vallejo surface primers are useful and good, perhaps the best available. They cover the surface with a micro-layer of self-levelling plasticised paint leaving surface detail clearly visible. Acrylics and enamels then adhere to the primed surface much better than to un-primed plastic.

The primer is best applied via an airbrush for the thinnest and best finish, but may also be used with a hairy-stick brush if you have no airbrush available.

These primers are available in a range of colours: pale grey & white are the most useful, as acrylics will cover these shades in two, or even one, coat/s.

The plastic container is supplied with a useful dropper-tip making it easy to dispense the desired amount into the airbrush hopper, so avoiding waste or spillage. You can thin it if desired (by no more than 20%, or it becomes too dilute) or try mixing-in a small amount of acrylic finish-colour so you may only need one final coat of acrylic. The 200ml container goes a long way.


By Lawrence Wright: The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11
By Lawrence Wright: The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ‘Wherever you are death will find you, even in the looming tower’ – quote from the Qu’ran, 17 Jun. 2015
Before reading Lawrence Wright’s excellent ‘The Looming Tower’ I held the mistaken idea that its primary focus might be the 19 hijackers in the September 2001 ‘planes operation’. But the book is not about that; it has a more ambitious reach with a narrative deeper, broader and more enlightening.

At the heart of the book is the story of Islamist-jihadism since the 1940s: the revolutionary ‘Moslem Brotherhood’ whose primary goal was the violent overthrow of Arab secular-nationalist governments starting with Egypt; the 18th-century Wahhabi tradition predominant in Saudi Arabia, and the Taliban movement jointly financed and supported by the Pakistani ISI & Saudi Intelligence. These detailed stories replete with revealing personal testimony (the author interviewed more than 1,000 people all over the Middle East & Af-Pak region whilst researching his material) are progressively interwoven with those of the key players in the US Government, in particular the clever but mildly eccentric Richard Clarke; the CIA and the FBI’s John O’Neill, a larger-than-life cigar-smoking polygamist highly respected and popular with his staff who prophetically foresaw the Salafi-Islamist attack on the USA in 2001 and worked tirelessly to forestall it before tragically meeting his death in the World Trade Centre on 11th September.

The book starts with a chapter devoted to the austere Egyptian anti-Semitic academic Sayyid Qutb, the pious and sexually-repressed father of modern theocratic Islamism whose time spent in the USA in the late 1940s convinced him the West was irredeemably decadent and deserved to be destroyed. Qutb eventually welcomed execution by the Egyptian government in 1966 as a ‘martyr for Allah.’ The personal stories of al Zawahiri and the bin Laden family are brought to life with a level of detail I’ve never read before: Osama was the only son of Mohammed bin Laden’s fourth wife and something of an odd-ball; MbL built his huge construction empire in Saudi Arabia whilst illiterate but could remember dozens of engineering measurements/calculations in his head; Osama had a lifelong love of horses, and one of his wives left him to return to her family in Syria with her daughters because she could no longer endure the privations imposed by their fugitive life in Afghanistan.

With coherent interlocking narratives, Wright brings these characters to life as real 3-dimensional people and shows exactly how the obsessively theocratic-reactionary strain of Islam became so dangerous. Emboldened in the war against the Red Army in Afghanistan in the 1980s (though of negligible military value compared to the native Afghan ‘mujahideen’), its ranks filled with now-underemployed angry young radicals whose birth-countries didn’t want them back yet supported by substantial funds both official & unofficial from those very countries, the Afghanistan-based jihadists became the principle perpetrator of extreme terrorist violence throughout the Middle East.

Thrown out of Khartoum in 1996 with his passport seized by the Saudis, ObL had no choice but to return to Afghanistan. “’Let him’, the Americans responded, ‘just don’t let him go to Somalia’” (p221). A depressing saga of non-co-operation between on the one hand the intelligence sources of the NSA and more particularly the CIA, with on the other hand the FBI charged with investigating, prosecuting & forestalling terrorism through the late 1990s is revealed step by logical step and with alarming details. The 1993 WTC truck-bomb, the appalling 1998 East African Embassy bombings, the successful attack on the USS Cole in Aden Harbour saw a relentless escalation of operations against US targets. As is now well known, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (who otherwise shared no common ground with ObL) travelled to Afghanistan to propose the ‘planes operation’ to ObL; a high-risk plan to strike the USA at its core. All this time, the impenetrable ‘wall’ between the CIA - who had actionable intelligence that several men with known Al Qaida connections had entered the USA - and the FBI whose task it was to stop them but were frustratingly denied the information, was ironically satirised at the FBI’s I-49 HQ thus:

“The agents at I-49 were so used to being denied access to intelligence that they bought a CD of a Pink Floyd song ‘Another Brick in the Wall’. Whenever they received the same formulation [from the CIA] about ‘sensitive sources and methods,’ they would hold up the phone to the CD player and push ‘play’” (p344).

Wright illustrates exactly how the 9/11 attacks could have been intercepted and prevented at an early stage were it not for these internecine turf wars between different agencies, particularly between the CIA and FBI. The CIA refused to reveal the presence of jihadists with Al Qaida connections in the USA to the FBI, because to do so might ‘compromise intelligence sources’ and the individuals concerned were not at the time technically indicted for crimes: a defensible legalistic position, but one eventually to prove fatal. Systemic non-co-operation was made worse by sclerotic bureaucratic procedures, rigid outdated rules and a failure at the executive level to pay attention to siren voices like Daniel Coleman seconded to the CIA’s Alec Station who saw the mortal danger of a major cataclysmic attack against US cities from Al Qaida, probably involving suicide bombers and possibly hijacked airliners. The CIA leadership in particular does not emerge from Wright’s book covered in glory, but the author does reveal the efforts of a few individuals like the heroically persistent Arabic-speaking FBI agent Ali Soufan whose skilled interrogation of Al Qaida prisoners detained by the Yemeni authorities further confirmed that ObL was behind the 9/11 operation, and others like O’Neill who patiently battled to get the lethal threat from bin Laden & Al Qaida given higher priority by a White House administration by turns vacillating and indifferent.

Lawrence Wright’s flowing novelistic style sets TLT apart from the shelf-load of other works on Islamist terrorism these past 30 years, like Steve Coll’s scholarly but tough-to-read ‘Ghost Wars’ for instance. The origins of the jihadist hatred and contempt for Western values (not to mention Jews, Hindus, Shi-ite Moslems & just about everybody else on the planet with a world-view different from theirs) and how they have been able to cause mayhem throughout the Middle East & occasionally in the West has rarely been explained with such clarity. In parallel Wright’s book is the story of precisely how and why the lavishly financed security agencies of the US government failed to stop them attacking America in September 2001; how in the real world small mistakes and seemingly trivial oversights can accumulate to catastrophic consequence. As a bonus TLT is a cracking read, well worth the time and effort.


Silverline 456956 Jump Leads Heavy Duty 600A max 3.6m
Silverline 456956 Jump Leads Heavy Duty 600A max 3.6m
Price: £16.03

4.0 out of 5 stars Review of the genuine Silverline 456956 heavy duty jump leads, 17 Jun. 2015
It's useful to have a set of heavy duty jump leads with really tough clamps which will convey sufficient charge to start even a completely flat battery, and these Silverline Heavy Duty 600A leads do exactly that. They are also 3.6m long, enough so you don't have to push the two vehicles nose-to-nose and still risk the leads not reaching between the battery terminals if one of the batteries is awkwardly sited; I can't overemphasise what a useful feature this is.

The only downside is because of the extra thick cables and 3.6m length, they take up a lot more storage space in the car boot than a basic lightweight set of leads, which would be adequate for the job of emergency-starting a car with a flat battery in most cases. But you can't have your cake and eat it.

A minority of low-rated reviews posted here are of cheap knock-off jump leads sent by dishonest amazon sellers. This is too bad, but these are criticisms of the seller, not of the Silverline HD jump leads - which are superb.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20