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Portuguese in 3 months (Hugo in 3 Months)
Portuguese in 3 months (Hugo in 3 Months)
by Maria Fernanda Allen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor, but there are few alternatives, 9 Dec. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Very poor. The CDs seem to be no longer available, which of course makes the book completely useless unless you have another source like the Pimsleur or Michel Thomas course to learn pronunciation from. But even when supplemented by good audio material, the book is poorly organised. Furthermore, it does not state (or if it does, it's hard to find) whether its focus is European or Brazilian Portuguese. (It matters - the difference between European and Brazilian Portuguese is much bigger than the difference between US English and British-Commonwealth English).

I gave it 2 stars rather than just one, because there are not many alternatives. For Spanish, French, German etc there are lots of excellent courses, and an inferior course like this one would quickly disappear. For European Portuguese there isn't a lot of choice. If you find a better book than this for beginners, please add a comment to this review.


Oxford Chinese Dictionary
Oxford Chinese Dictionary
by Oxford Dictionaries
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £29.20

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not recommended, 17 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this dictionary to replace my battered old copy of "The Pinyin Chinese-English Dictionary" edited by Wu Jingrong, published in 1979, which was falling apart after 25 years of use. Accordingly, my comments apply only to the Chinese-to-English part.
This Oxford dictionary is far inferior in usability. First, the list of radicals doesn't number the radicals, so when you look up the radical of a word in the radical index, the list of radicals refers you only to a page on which there may be entries for up to 14 radicals, which you then have to scan for the radical, before you can scan for the actual character. When you've finally found the radical and the character, you are of course referred to a page number in the body of the dictionary. But the page numbers aren't near the outer edges of the pages, they're on the inside, right near the spine! Haven't any of the people involved in the production of this dictionary ever USED a Chinese-English dictionary?!
I also object to the practice of including both Chinese-to-English and English-to-Chinese dictionaries in a single, very large, volume. They are far more usable separate; binding them together makes them very cumbersome to use.
A few pages are wasted on a "Pinyin Index". It tells the user that the word "ā" is on page 1, ..., and the word "zuò" is on page 1008; an utterly pointless waste of space, since the words are listed in alphabetical order of Pinyin, making an index unnecessary.
I shall probably ditch this doorstop, and buy a copy of the "New Age Chinese-English Dictionary", edited by the same scholar (Wu Jingrong) as my old dictionary.


Solaris [2003] [DVD]
Solaris [2003] [DVD]
Dvd ~ George Clooney
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £3.25

1 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A weak 40-minute film stretched out to an hour and a half of boredom, 8 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Solaris [2003] [DVD] (DVD)
There may be enough material in "Solaris" for a 40-minute short. It's stretched out to nearly an hour and a half, though, resulting in a film that may well send you to sleep.

It's fashionable to like films and stories that set up questions, but don't answer them; occasionally this can work, but usually it's just a sign of inadequate plotting by the writer. Setting up a mysterious scenario is easy, but then resolving it in a satisfying way takes talent and hard work. Many modern writers either lack the talent, or are unwilling to reject plot ideas which they can't complete. All they're interested in is getting paid for a script. "Solaris" sets up (excruciatingly slowly) an interesting scenario, but makes no attempt at any rational explanation of what happens, placing it firmly in the domain of fantasy, not science fiction.

The sound track is OK. You might enjoy "Solaris" if you like very slow-moving, somewhat atmospheric films, and if you don't care much about the plausibility of what you see.


The Thick of It - Complete First Series [DVD] [2005]
The Thick of It - Complete First Series [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ Chris Langham
Offered by BOOKS-DVDS-TOYS-TECH
Price: £3.22

4 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not remotely in the same league as "Yes, Minister", 6 July 2012
This is poor stuff indeed compared with "Yes, Minister".The script is full of foul language; is that supposed to be funny? Maybe for 13-year-olds it is, but then why is this program being marketed to adults?

The camera work is shoddy even by today's low standards. Parts of this program look as though they were shot by an amateur trying out his new digital video camera - the view swings from person to person, sometimes losing focus for a second in the process.

Yes, we know that some governments operate as chaotically as this sometimes, that there's backstabbing, mistrust among "colleagues", and so on. In fact there are so many political autobiographies exposing the authors' colleagues that we know, in broad terms, what goes on in a typical government. That's how we know that "The Thick of it" is exaggerated beyond the point of parody. It not only isn't very funny, is tiresome to watch, and stuffed with adolescent expletives, it also fails as satire because the connection with reality is too tenuous.

In fairness and honesty, I must state that this review is based on watching only about 15 minutes of the start of the series. I couldn't stand any more.


Perl Pocket Reference
Perl Pocket Reference
by Johan Vromans
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.50

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No more useful than a reference card - but priced as a book, 3 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Perl Pocket Reference (Paperback)
This book is grossly overpriced for what it is. The level of information is comparable to the reference card that came with a Perl book I bought years ago. It has more words, but the words are not more useful. For example, under "Smartmatching", there is a paragraph that is word-for-word identical with the online (perldoc) documentation, then a table which is less useful than the table in the online documentation, and finally a little "info" icon that refers you to the online documentation.

It's difficult to imagine a class of users who will find this book useful. If you have been using Perl for 10+ years and want to become aware of recently-introduced features (like smartmatching), the book's lists might be helpful. For anyone else, the book is really too superficial to be useful. Being a book, it's not as quick or convenient to consult as a reference card, but it doesn't have enough additional information to be worth the trouble of looking things up in it. For anything more than checking the existence or spelling of a keyword (elif? elsif? elseif?) you're going to have to look at a more detailed description anyway, so why waste time on this booklet?


Blake's 7: Complete Collection [Import]
Blake's 7: Complete Collection [Import]

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best series ever made by the BBC., 18 July 2011
Blake's Seven is a wonderful series, a "must see" if you are interested in sci-fi. Of course, in such a long-running series, there are a few dud episodes, but the general level is very high. Good story lines, excellent main actors, originality, and the underlying theme of rebellion against an oppressive State make this a series you can re-watch.

On the negative side, the special effects are 1970s-vintage "budget BBC", and fall far short of what modern audiences expect. If that's important to you, you might not like the series. But for the imaginative viewer who values content over visual glitz, this is one of the best sci-fi series ever made anywhere.


Firefly - The Complete Series [DVD] [2003]
Firefly - The Complete Series [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Nathan Fillion
Price: £11.39

16 of 214 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor as sci-fi; might appeal to Western fans, 18 July 2011
'Firefly' is a mediocre American Western series set in outer space. Apart from adopting standard sci-fi clichés, it has little to do with science fiction, so if you appreciated Blake's Seven, you will probably find Firefly a waste of time. The interplay among the characters is also much less interesting than it is in Blake's Seven, and the series has little originality.

On the other hand, if you like Westerns, especially accompanied by a country-and-western soundtrack, and haven't read or watched much sci-fi, you might enjoy it. The special effects are competently done.

The actors are mediocre, with some unclear diction, which is inexcusable. Actors who mumble should not be tolerated.

The rating of one star is for the guidance of other sci-fi enthusiasts like myself. I'm not competent to rate it as a cowboy series, because I don't watch enough westerns, but the few I have watched are better than Firefly. I'm at a loss to understand why so many people rate it so highly.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 2, 2015 11:44 AM GMT


Hitler's War: And the War Path
Hitler's War: And the War Path
by David Irving
Edition: Hardcover

29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding book, but read other books about the period as well, 27 Sept. 2010
This book focuses on the events leading up to the war, and the war itself, seen from the viewpoint of Hitler and his immediate entourage. Drawing on a large number of original documents unearthed by the author, Irving has presented a detailed, well-written, and very readable account. References to original documents are given as notes at the end for professional historians; where they add some particular insight, they are quoted in the main part of the text.

Irving has received a great deal of abuse from people who accuse him of being a 'holocaust denier' and the like. Presumably, most of them have not read this book. Far from denying that the Nazi regime murdered large numbers of Jews, Irving cites detailed documentary evidence that it did, in the context of the relationship between Hitler, Himmler, and Goebbels. The emphasis of the book, however, is on the strategic military, political, and economic conduct of the war.

What the book does not do is convey much about what sort of people the Nazis were; for this, it is important to read other accounts to get a balanced picture. The Nazi Party was not so much a political party as a gang of thugs who managed to hijack an important country, but this is not apparent from Irving's account. With this reservation, I strongly recommend 'Hitler's War'.


Gilbert & Sullivan: Patience [DVD] [2010]
Gilbert & Sullivan: Patience [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Christine Douglas
Price: £14.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!, 4 Oct. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a terrific production - don't hesitate, order it. Unlike most reviewers, I rarely give 5 stars in a review; I reserve it for really exceptional quality.

Some other reviews found fault with Patience's accent. They are wrong to do so. I'm English, and I'd say that there are so many regional accents in England that only a Professor Higgins can judge whether an accent like Patience's is authentic or not. What does it matter? Regional accents have changed anyway since Gilbert and Sullivan's time. The "message" is simply that Patience does not speak the standard, non-regional English which in Gilbert and Sullivan's day was spoken by the educated classes.

I agree with the good things other reviewers wrote about the music, and would add that the performance is lively as well as technically excellent - it's fun to watch, as a comedy should be.


Mozart: Die Entführung Aus Dem Serail [DVD] [2006]
Mozart: Die Entführung Aus Dem Serail [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Gianluigi Gelmetti
Price: £17.01

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, practically perfect, buy it., 26 Nov. 2007
This is a thoroughly enjoyable performance. Musically, it is excellent, and the staging is very well done and adds to the enjoyment of the whole. Too often nowadays one sees classical operas presented with "innovative" staging, that has little or nothing to do with the libretto and that distracts with irrelevancies. That is not the case with this production. The only nit one can pick is that the audience (it was filmed at a live performance) applauds too often; but it would be churlish to deny this fine DVD 5 stars for deserving too much applause!
Look no further. You will enjoy this performance again, and again, and again.


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