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april-showers "april-showers" (uk)

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Upgrading your Windows Server 2003 MCSE to Windows Server 2008 70-649 Online Course (PC)
Upgrading your Windows Server 2003 MCSE to Windows Server 2008 70-649 Online Course (PC)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars great value for training, 1 April 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The score of 3 stars is an average of the 2 categories this software really needs splitting into. I would give 4 Stars for the training and 2 stars for the ability to use this training to pass the MCSE exams.

Quick Summary: This package would be quite excellent for someone who wants to learn about how to set up and run a Windows 2008 Network, who doesn't already know how to set-up and/or run a windows network. It will help you to get underway to passing your Microsoft Exams, but as with all Microsoft training material, it falls well short of preparing you for the very difficult, intentionally misleading and misdirecting exam questions.

What's in the Box: This package consists of a DVD that connects you to the online training site. From here you can perform your training online, or download all the class lessons and go through them off-line (or a mixture of both). Once you have downloaded the courses you only need to go online to do the labs.
The online subscription to the labs and online training lasts for 1 year.
You can download all the course material as many times as you want, on multiple PCs. This is what I did, so that I could work through the courses at home, and in free time at work.
The expiry time on the downloaded material is 2017, for some reason.

What Training is Given: This training is the Microsoft Classroom Instructor led course that you would get in a classroom, but in software format. The fact that it is less than half the price of instructor led training makes it great value. Especially as the subscription period is for a year and it would only take a couple of weeks to go through all the material. And then you could use the material for reference, or redo a section if you have forgotten anything.

Who is it for: This software would be ideal for training new and junior members of an IT/ Network support team, or for training someone in a small business to set up and maintain a simple network.
The material in the course is good at getting over all the main points of the sections, but its outstanding strength are the labs. The labs are great and help you get the real hands on practice that is needed to put the training to use in the real world.

The Labs: The labs are delivered using remotely hosted virtual environments (let me just say here and now, I was hugely impressed with these). This means that you don't need to install Windows Server 2008 or anything else on your own PC or network. When you want to start a lab you simply click on the lab link and you are connected, via your browser, to a remotely hosted Virtual Active Directory Domain consisting of at least 2 Windows 2008 Servers, on which the lab runs.
The labs then ask you to perform operations that you learnt about in the lessons. As you are connected to real servers they behave correctly and you can really play around and go off lab script. If you mess everything up, you can simply reset the lab. Of course if you get stuck, the labs contain the answers.

As for Passing the Exams? : On it's own, Pretty Hopeless. This is not to denigrate what's here, because it's good, it's just that having taken and passed 3 MCSDs (Microsoft Certified Solution Developer) I know this software alone will not prepare you for the difficulty and deviousness of the exams.
In order to pass you will need to use other training materials (Amazon sell quite a wide variety of exam prep and guide books).
If you are serious about taking your MCSE and you don't have an environment in which to practice your skills and apply this knowledge, then I would recommend this for the labs alone, because being able to practice helps cement what you have learnt is invaluable in the exam.


Baking Cakes in Kigali
Baking Cakes in Kigali
by Gaile Parkin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a definite keeper., 15 Jan. 2009
This review is from: Baking Cakes in Kigali (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Angel Tungaraza going through the menopause has recently moved with her husband and 5 grandchildren from her native Tanzania to Rwanda as her husband now works for the university. She has set up a bespoke cake making service.
She lives in a flat in one of the foreigner compounds in Kilgali, you come into the story when she already has a few customers for her cakes and knows a few of the people in and around the compound. You follow her through a year in her life as she gets customers and learns about them through finding out what kind of cake they want and what they are celebrating, little realising that she is also learning about herself and her deceased children.
She is a very modern thinking woman as well as a bit of a busy body so she ends up getting involved in whatever is happening.
The whole war and what happened is not what this book is about but it is part of the history of the place and the recent history of the people, so it is lightly touched on as it is part of their lives even as they move on into the future, it is why someone is a widow, why someone wants a cake to celebrate finding his family etc. It in no way dominates the book but gives it a sense of time and place.

It is a very readable engrossing book which I enjoyed it is reminiscent of Alexander McCall Smith's 'No 1 Ladies detective Agency in its pacing but it does have a definite feel of its own.
When you have read the book you almost get the feeling you have had a pen friend who has let you in on all the gossip as well as her life.


I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue: Chairman Humph - A Tribute
I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue: Chairman Humph - A Tribute
by BBC
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £6.41

3.0 out of 5 stars A great man but an extra cd rather than the main event., 15 Jan. 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you read the amazon blurb you will realise that this is a tribute to chairman Humph of I'm sorry I haven't a clue. So it opens with Stephen Fry telling us about the life of Humphrey Lyttelton which is quite interesting whether you are a fan or not, but then it goes on to all the celebrities talking about him with the odd very short clip interspersed and whilst on 1st listen through this does not seem too bad you quickly realise that its not something that your going to listen to time and time again but maybe once every couple of years.
If you have all the other I'm sorry I haven't a clue cds then this is a good extra but if you haven't spend your money on them instead of this.


Trends WobBally
Trends WobBally

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I think this is one of those games you either like or dislike, 15 Jan. 2009
This review is from: Trends WobBally (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you can do things like `pick up sticks'Pick Up Sticks/Jacks N Balls, kerplunkKerplunk, operationOperation and jenga then you should be able to play wobally quite well and will therefore like it, if your have not honed your skills on these other games you might not be so good at pushing the balls out without the whole tower collapsing and thus you will undoubtedly get frustrated.
If you set the tower up on a flat surface on a tray or something (as the plastic barrier supplied is totally hopeless) and follow the instructions to get the centre level a steady hand (have you trained on operation?) easily gets the tower case off without the tower collapsing.
The 3 suggested games are good fun the first being the easiest and probably for younger children or those without a steady hand, and the last is harder and the most fun with everyone cheering when your dice rolls mean you have a difficult ball to dislodge.
There is a definite technique to be successful at this game and that technique is in more ways similar to `pick up sticks' than jenga.

I have 2 criticisms of the toy one the useless plastic barrier included (this broke easily too and thus only the 3 stars for durability) and two you need to count the balls back in on each layer otherwise drop one extra in and its impossible to get out forcing you tip the whole thing back and start again


A Woman with No Clothes on
A Woman with No Clothes on
by V.R. Main
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In some ways this is a good book in others it really is not., 23 Dec. 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
(2 ½ stars to be accurate)
The prologue is set in 1967 and are about Isabella and her love as a child for a particular painting and then about her discovery by x-ray of different paintings underneath it. After these 10 pages you never see from the characters again, normally this would not bother me as its just a set up for the rest of the story but because your told about her childhood love of this painting you are expecting to come back to her at some point.

The main body of the book is about Victorine Meurent who the author is saying (this is a work of fiction) is the lady in Manet's famous painting `Le dejeuner sur l'herbe and the painting `Olympia' a portion of which is on the cover.

The author writes about Victorines life and about how she has always wanted to be an artist and paint but she is of working class her mother is a washer woman desperate for Victorine to join her and save to set up their own laundry, Victorine has other ideas and starts the book working in a café and then going to her studio that she keeps secret to paint. It covers her meeting with Manet and how she ends up modelling for him along with her lover the woman holding the bouquet of flowers in the painting `Olympia'. We also get several chapters from Manet's point of view including lots of French (un-translated) poetry from his friend Baudelaire. And apart from the contrived ending that's kind of the plot.

The harsh realities of life for such a woman in 1862 are thoroughly described and are interesting to read yet the thing that keeps Victorine going the thing that makes her cold and indifferent yet ruthless to anything/anyone that gets in her way is her desire to paint. Like I said it is interesting BUT you never feel for Victorine, you never have any empathy or emotion for her you cannot even feel her huge passion for art, you know about it because your told about it but you don't feel anything.

It is very much like reading an interesting easy to read text book but as a work of fiction it lacks that spark that really gets you to emote with the characters, which makes it a book that interesting yet leaves you feeling very flat.


Book diary (2009)
Book diary (2009)
by Victoria Barry
Edition: Diary

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect gift for the difficult to buy for general fiction book lover or something to treat yourself to, 18 Dec. 2008
This review is from: Book diary (2009) (Diary)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Now the thing you might ask yourself is are these lists of books and authors all the high brow snobby kind and the answer is a definite NO. Take for example the 6 quotes on the front of the diary which are just about readable if you enlarge the image (answers are on the front flap which is useful for keeping your page) and are
Partners in Crime - Agatha Christie
The Power and the Glory - Graham Greene
Riders - Jilly Cooper
Family and Friends - Anita Brookner
Amaryllis Night and Day - Russell Hoban
Three Men in a Boat - Jerome K Jerome.

These are the kind of authors and books that are listed inside the diary, so a very nice general mix and not at all high brow but nicely ordinary.
The last quote had me remembering the actual scene in Three Men in a Boat (Wordsworth Classics) and I realised it would make the perfect gift for an American friend plus its now on my to reread list. And that sums up this diary which apart from the obvious diary use its little lists and biographies either remind you to reread something or when you realise that you have read all the books bar one on a list it intrigues you to try the last book etc.

Almost perfect my only grip being the photos of people reading which is of no interest places that appear in the books or something might be more interesting. Plus the whole page of acknowledgements to the people who posed for the photos and thanks to the places where they were taken on the last page just feels wrong!


National Geographic Egyptian Kit
National Geographic Egyptian Kit

4.0 out of 5 stars Something different, 20 Nov. 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
First off the picture that amazon shows with the cat is the archaeology kit, someone has put up the correct picture so check that out.
Second if your buying this as a gift which you are then thinking you will post on be advised that the plaster of paris makes this heavy, so best to have amazon send it direct especially as it qualifies for free delivery.

This is one of those kits that's good to buy for a child that has everything or to get for when your niece/nephew/grandchildren are coming over and you want something to do with them.
Adult help will mean that the most is got out of the kit and the information booklet about the Egyptians that comes with it - other reviews have explained in detail what is included so I will not repeat.

Whilst some parts of the kit like the mask and bracelet have one off uses the statue is a latex mould and after doing the Egypt style we cast another one and spray painted it gold (not in the kit) to have a mini Egypt style Oscar.


Lemur Street [DVD]
Lemur Street [DVD]
Dvd ~ Martin Shaw

4.0 out of 5 stars Anthropomorphic nature documentary, 20 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Lemur Street [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Growing up watching Johnny Morris and Dotty the ring tailed lemur on animal magic as a child, I found this series on dvd interesting yet vaguely disappointing as the lemurs did not speak (ok I know it was Johnny Morris doing the voices but still......).
Animal magic finished in the early 1980s as its anthropomorphic approach was deemed out-dated but this approach has come back in fashion with meercat manor and big cat diaries and now lemur street.
Set in the home of lemurs - Madagascar, it follows two troops of rival ring tailed lemurs showing their lives through mating season (smell my tail darling!), births and deaths and all the joys and everyday stuff inbetween including the sunbathing.
As you follow the different characters of each gang you feel for them as well as learn about their lives and habitat they live in.

Each episode is 20mins of actual action with 3mins tacked on at the start for titles and to say what has happened so far and a few mins at the end to say what will happen next time and the credits. This is good if your only watching an episode every now and then and want the reminder but is tedious when you want to watch more than one or two episodes per sitting.

It's the kind of dvd set that would make a brilliant gift.


Breath
Breath
by Tim Winton
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A tale of exhilaration and destruction, 21 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Breath (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
(A vine review)
The prologue is the now, Bruce (50+) a paramedic is responding to a call about a boy accidentally hung whilst trying to asphyxiate himself. Bruce's young partner does not understand how he knows it was accidental and not suicide, he will not tell her but by the time you have read the book you know and understand.

The rest of the book is about how he as a young boy in a small Australian town grows up whilst learning to surf, of the friend he makes and their surfing mentor and his wife. The first 2/3rds are almost pure discovery of surfing the different challenges and waves, all wonderfully and enthrallingly described so that you can taste the salt and see and hear the waves.
But in the last third the friendships are changing and start to become destructive.

The last 15 pages are briefly about the lingering effects on the man he became and how he recovered/adjusted and has started to reshape himself.

Unexpectedly I found this an easy book to read even though I have no interest in surfing, it catches you and takes you with it effortlessly. You feel for and connect with the main character even when you have nothing in common with him (the writing and story are that good).

The only problem I had at the start was that speech is not denoted by quotation marks, however by chapter 3 I had got used to it and it was no longer an issue. The authors style means they are not really needed its just disconcerting to start with.

It will definitely stay on my bookshelf to be reread at a future date.


Reavers' Ransom
Reavers' Ransom
by Emily Diamand
Edition: Paperback

5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A very poor children's Sci fi story, 20 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Reavers' Ransom (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Set in the future in the `last 10 counties' 147 years from the collapse - a time when floods storms and destruction came to the UK, when everyone in London was killing each other to get out and to find food, when people destroyed every computer, even technology using New Scotland does not have any?! (New Scotland is Birmingham up).

Told from first person point of view by 2 characters:-
Lilly a 13 year old girl with a magical sea cat is the heroine, the Reavers come to her fishing village taking the Prime ministers daughter and killing Lilly's grandmother. The PM conscripts all the able village men saying they should have resisted the reavers, among them is a boy Lilly fancies so when she finds out that the PM's sister is trying to get the ransom to the reavers she disguises herself as a boy to make the ransom and thus get her love out of the militia.
Zeph the boss reavers legitimate son, definitely a product of his environment, very arrogant and cocky but trying to prove himself to his father in the face of criticism from his older illegitimate ½ brother.
The 12 year old boy whom I lent this book to, after initial enthusiasm for a pirate book did not get far reading this saying it was a girls book. In some ways I would agree as the character of Zeph is really a secondary character but as its in 1st person point of view his voice is needed to balance things out and show what's happening.

However my main problem with the book is the poorly thought out new world (in what condition would a Metallica t-shirt be in after being taken from landfill 147 years later?? The DNA element of this book is laughable, for it to work off Lilly's dna it defeats the whole object of dna security. Its misinformation for plot points) rife with old fashioned sexism.
The author whilst creating possibilities that happened after this collapse has in fact reverted to some sort of a past society where there are slaves (Lilly feels nothing for them even when she knows the slaves will be punished for her escape) and concubines, where woman are married young (13-14) and require a dowry, where a woman can only hold strong views and be different is she is very old or pre marriageable age, where woman are men's possessions.
The female characters in the book (apart from Lilly) are few and lowly individuals. Only 3 female characters have more about them:-
1. Lillys grandmother, dead in the 1st chapter.
2. The PM's sister who whilst willing to go behind her brothers back to pay the reavers ransom still thinks that delivery of it is a mans job and that Lilly should marry. After Lilly leaves the village she is no longer mentioned.
3. Aileen, she is Zeph's fathers slave and concubine (she must be based on someone the author really hates as the undeserved vitriol about her drips off the page). Aileen (I repeat) a slave tries to intercede for the PM's kidnapped daughter and also when Lilly is being tortured etc. She is in a desperate situation one that Lilly is very lucky not to be in, yet both Lilly and Zeph have no understanding or compassion for her.

Now with a historical book the sexism can be explained and put in some sort of context but with a modern Sci fi book its almost impossible to place any context on it to a young girl.

The unfinished ending is so evidently set up for part 2 etc that really the book cover should indicate that it is part 1 of a series. As for what the PM does at the end it totally goes against his character (re chapter 4 and Lord Brown - trying not to put in spoilers)

When there are so many very good children's sci fi or adventure books out there unless the child picks it up and wants to read it I could not recommend you buy this for them.


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