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Reviews Written by
J. J. Baker-bates (London, England)
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Grand Designs Handbook: The Blueprint for Building Your Dream Home
Grand Designs Handbook: The Blueprint for Building Your Dream Home
by Kevin McCloud
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.88

3 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Curious entertainment, 3 April 2009
On the face of it, designing and building a house should not be a buttock-clenching drama akin to escaping from Colditz or stealing the crown jewels. Yet that is what this book sets up such an enterprise to be because it assumes (perhaps correctly) that those involved are either idiots, wholly ignorant of the design principles of architecture, or both. This is curious if only because we have qualified professionals available to design and build houses in this country, and that we have been building houses, with some demonstrable success, for the past 500 years.

While I concede that all builds are different, and that when aesthetics are brought into consideration things can become tricky. But really, why is it that we must assume the whole thing to become some heroic and noble venture when performed by the unqualified? I'm not an architect. I'm not a lawyer. I'm not a heart surgeon either. I would therefore not attempt to design my own house any more than I would attempt to negotiate its sale, or perform a bypass on my wife. Indeed, doing so would invite ridicule. Why then should I undertake the design of my house?


Scythe Shuriken Rev.B SCSK-1100 - processor cooler
Scythe Shuriken Rev.B SCSK-1100 - processor cooler
Offered by EStore99
Price: £38.23

5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice and quiet - does the job, 26 Mar. 2009
Very good for slim-line HTPC machines as it's about half the height of stock fans. Easy to fit, but a tad wide at the top so some mobo configurations could get a bit fiddly with it. Nice and quiet though (the bigger the fan the slower they can go, the slower they can go, the quieter they are - simple!).


Speed-Link Media Remote - Multimedia PC Control
Speed-Link Media Remote - Multimedia PC Control

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for use with XBMC on Linux, 26 Mar. 2009
While I did eventually get most of the buttons to work through sheer trial and error, the fact that Linux sees this as a USB keyboard (so you can't use it with lirc) means it's a real pain. If you want to use this with XBMC (and proabably MythTV) then best avoid.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 16, 2009 11:59 AM BST


Creative EP-630 Noise Isolating Earphones (Black)
Creative EP-630 Noise Isolating Earphones (Black)
Price: £22.33

5.0 out of 5 stars Very good value, surprising quality, 26 Mar. 2009
I bought these to replace the bundled earphones that came with my cheapo MP3 player, and for the price I've been very impressed. The rubber ear fitting (removable and in three sizes to you might have to experiment with the best fit) is very comfortable and plugs your ear canal to exclude a decent amount of external noise. Unlike similar earplugs, this means you don't have to turn up the volume to drown out wind or train noise.


Pinnacle ShowCenter 200 Digital Media Center with integrated WiFi 802.11g
Pinnacle ShowCenter 200 Digital Media Center with integrated WiFi 802.11g

3.0 out of 5 stars Would be perfect if it played more media, 19 April 2008
I'm using Linux, and running the free Swisscenter software on my PC. It's very nice, with features like RSS/podcast integration and LastFM. There's no way I'd run the bundled Showcenter software, even if I was using Windows.

However, the Showcenter's support for video and audio codecs is in hardware, and it doesn't support that many. Most DivX videos are OK, as are WMV and MP3 etc., but I would say about 50% of the videos I give it to play are unsupported - including (very annoyingly) the AVI files produced by my Canon IXUS60. Tanscoding them is slow and difficult. Perhaps for the price of the Showcenter, that's not too bad, but it is frustrating given the otherwise lovely features of the (open source) sofware.


Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data
Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data
by Stephen Few
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Written, Well Presented, 4 Jan. 2008
Stephen Few nods more than a little to Edward Tufte when it comes to approaches to visual and information design, and this book is both a highly informative and pleasant read for that. While not quite in the same league as one of Tufte's works, Information Dashboard Design is refreshingly devoid of waffle and mere personal opinion. The design principles he identifies are not hard to grasp, and the theory and rationale for them is very well argued and presented. Few's invention of the "bullet graph" also ensures his place alongside Tufte in the field of information design.

We can only hope that his ideas will now catch on, and that the awful drek that infests the vast majority of dashboard designs by even the largest of vendors will be swept away forever. If I never see another big shiny gauge again, it will be too soon.


Vale Royal
Vale Royal
by Aidan Andrew Dun
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable, 28 Nov. 2007
This review is from: Vale Royal (Hardcover)
While I am not myself religious, this is a rather remarkable work. If you live in London, or otherwise have an affinity with the city, it's a very powerful piece of writing. There is something transcendent about the poem - and the person who wrote it.
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