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Dr. D. C. Davies "deadlyvices" (Nottingham, UK)
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AmazonBasics Bluetooth Audio Receiver
AmazonBasics Bluetooth Audio Receiver
Price: £21.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great little gizmo!, 22 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
When I received this device, it came with a power supply and phono cable. It was simply a job of plugging it into my aging Kenwood amp and pairing it with my phone.
The sound quality is excellent for the price. It is also a doddle to set up and retains its settings: it's always on and you don't need to re-pair if you lose connectivity. The only reason I have given it 4 stars instead of 5 is that it only pairs with one device.
But if you want to upgrade your listening experience, there is no easier or cheaper way of doing it.


Dell V313w Wireless A4 All-in-one Printer (Print/Scan/Copy)
Dell V313w Wireless A4 All-in-one Printer (Print/Scan/Copy)

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A White Elephant, 28 Jun. 2011
Just about the only good things I can say about this printer are (a) it's cheap for an all-in-one and (b) the wireless is easy to set up.

As for the bad things, well, where do I start? I got mine as part of a bundled deal with Dell. The laptop which came with it is very good, in sharp contrast. Talking about 'sharp contrast', the print quality is muddy with poor blacks and greys, and it doesn't print particularly quickly either.

Where it really falls down is in running costs. The supplied cartridges ran out after a short time, so I set about sourcing both kinds of cartridge. The cheapest I could find was £80, considerably more than the printer cost in the first place. This is a ridiculous amount of money for two inkjet cartridges. Unless you have a desperate need to have a Dell badge on your printer, this product is best avoided.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 24, 2015 10:36 PM GMT


Bioshock (Xbox 360)
Bioshock (Xbox 360)
Offered by Netro Enterprise
Price: £15.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Eighth Form of Art?, 18 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Bioshock (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
I am not a great fan of first person shoot-em-ups, having got to the sort of age where I lack the speed of reaction required to do them justice. I've therefore avoided playing them on my daughter's Xbox 360, and the only reason that I came to the Bioshock party - several years after it started as it happens - was because a friend of mine nagged me into getting it. I thought the premise of the game was a bit ludicrous: an underwater adventure where there is no underwater action, where little girls harvest genetic material from corpses in an Art Deco milieu based on the writing of Ayn Rand. Still I suppose in retrospect it seemed so bloody obvious. Someone just had to get there first, that was all.

Enough of the irony. Having played Bioshock through many times now I can honestly say it is the definitive first-person adventure of the past decade. The reason the game works so well is because the disparate plot elements are knitted together by a first-class script and performances (especially Armon Shimerman's), sumptuous graphics and challenging game play. A better name for it would have been `Postmodernshock': today's take on yesterday's vision of tomorrow. Andrew Ryan's dystopian and decrepit `Rapture' is threatening, oppressive, decadent and seemingly fatally flawed, even on the drawing board. If the surroundings weren't menacing enough, the game sets you up against opponents that are mostly corrupted humans, convincingly enough realized to scare one half to death. Walking, talking Pictures of Dorian Grey.

The game play is beautifully thought out: survival is constantly challenged by lack of resources, ammo, healthcare, you name it. Its richness is owed in part to the variety of ploys you can use to get around sticky situations. For instance, the act of co-opting some gun turrets or security bots to back you up in a skirmish requires that you hack their workings, which is quite a challenge in itself.

As for the game's central quest, it won't be giving anything away to say that you soon become aware that you aren't a hero but a glorified junkie vagrant. There is always a lumbering Big Daddy standing between you and the next fix and you're reduced to scrounging half-eaten candy from waste bins and jury-rigging weapons from bric-a-brac. Survival becomes the order of the day and the quest, when it reveals itself for what it is, is far from heroic. You're even confronted with a profound moral dilemma early on in the game that determines your trajectory thereafter.

Bioshock isn't perfect, though. My major complaint is that the gut-wrenching dénouement comes halfway through the game and the action thereafter is the fulfillment of a standard revenge fantasy. But oh, several Hollywood scriptwriters would give their right arms for such a plot twist. The opportunity for some real underwater game play has also been missed which, given the setting, seems either an oversight or laziness.

However, Bioshock transcends its initial concept to become something far beyond a video game. Despite its violence and shocks, it is always a thoughtful and intelligent experience, and in an age when rampant individualism seems even more entrenched than ever, it puts the boot in to the whole wretched `philosophy' far more effectively than many films or novels. In fact, we might even be watching the emergence of the Eighth Form of Art.
Now, Would You Kindly leave me to my Xbox? I have some deep philosophical issues to grapple with.


The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of a Science and What Comes Next
The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of a Science and What Comes Next
by Lee Smolin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

59 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Postmodernist? More like Pre-Enlightenment!, 24 Mar. 2008
Theoretical physicists are a peculiar bunch. They go to ground for thirty years and emerge blinking into the sunlight, talking an arcane gobbledegook that only they can understand and which seems to have no relevance to any other area of science, let along the material world as a whole. They then act amazed and hurt when other scientists have the temerity to ask whether their work actually has any value.

Of course, it's easy to belittle such criticisms when they come from, say a chemist (such as me), as they can claim that we really don't understand the subtleties and are incapable of grasping the technical detail of their arguments. At which point one wonders that if such a reality is all so damn complicated and abstruse, perhaps it's because (gasp) their theory might be wrong after all.

Lee Smolin has pondered this elementary objection, yet to be satisfactorily addressed, and elaborates upon it brilliantly in this book. He happens to be a physicist, not a chemist, but like *most* other scientists he understands perfectly well how science is done. I say `most', because there is an obdurate rump of numbskulls out there that seem to have developed a radical new way of modelling the world around us. This radical variation on the scientific method dispenses altogether with the need for experimental verification because it has *also* previously dispensed with formulating theories that yield testable predictions. This branch of science is called `string theory', its practitioners `string theorists', and they make up the majority of particle physicists recruited to many academic departments in the past decade.

Trouble is, they have produced a theory that actually cannot be tested, because the effects that it predicts take place at such high energies and such tiny distances that no experiment that could be devised in any foreseeable future. It's just mathematics, albeit of a very clever and sophisticated kind. But it isn't science, not as old-school boffins like me recognise it. Of course, because it can't model reality in any meaningful way, at least not the reality we know, its champions have sought to excuse this failing on the basis that it predicts not our universe but billions of billions of billions of possible universes, and they just haven't yet worked out what the parameters are yet that predict our own universe. This is obviously a ridiculous way of doing science but according to Smolin this is precisely what has been going on for the past three decades.

Tendentiously dismissing this important book as a `postmodernist diatribe' does it a gross disservice and says a great deal more about his traducers than it does about the book itself. For one thing, postmodernism is mostly illucid gibberish but Smolin's writing is lucid, compelling and passionate. For another, Smolin is not arguing for a diversity of interpretations of physical reality, quite the opposite. He is arguing for a diversity of *approaches* towards some of the fundamental problems of particle physics, a *recognition* that there are some equally important unanswered questions in modern physics (such as the foundational problem of quantum mechanics) and a re-embrace of the tried and tested ethic that accords experiment the pivotal role in the scientific method.

In fact, it's hard to think of a more postmodern approach to physics than string theory, if Smolin is right. The language might be mathematics instead of French, but the parallels are too uncomfortable to ignore: any subjective interpretation of reality is held to be as valuable as any other, truth is constructed almost entirely within (mathematical) discourse, and evidence is relegated to a secondary role. None of this will impress the string theorists, who are convinced that they are right, even if they can't prove it yet. It almost makes you wonder if you are witnessing the birth of a new religion. Smolin on the other hand is quite prepared to accept that his proposed way of modelling the Universe might well turn out to be wrong, if only because he knows when the time has come to stop playing with models and start doing some proper experiments.

Every string theorist should go out and read this book. They should treat it as a wake-up call: the rest of the scientific world - and not just that part that consists of physics departments - has been regarding them with a scepticism that is now in danger of turning into full-flooded contempt. At the very least they should listen to what Smolin has to say then go away and think about it, rather than dismissing it out of hand. It would make a major change from what they've been doing over the past thirty years, which is exclusively listening to each other.
Comment Comments (24) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 24, 2012 2:16 PM BST


Pure DMX60 Micro System With Single CD, DAB & FM, & SD Card Slot With ReVu & EPG
Pure DMX60 Micro System With Single CD, DAB & FM, & SD Card Slot With ReVu & EPG

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One more reason for the US to envy the UK, 8 Jan. 2008
My brother-in-law visited for Christmas from New York. He was moving into a new apartment, and was looking for a new micro system to listen to. Our DMX-60 therefore drew his attention immediately.

He liked the look of it, first off, with the monochrome display contrasting stylishly with the black and silver. He certainly appreciated the sound quality: those custom-wound speaker units do sound very good for such a small system. What *really* got his attention was the DAB radio. Micro CD systems are ten-a-penny so it's the DAB functions that will give this unit its distinctive appeal, if any. No worries: Pure Digital practically pioneered DAB radio in the UK and so, to maintain a commanding lead, they've been applying the innovative approach to tired old formulae like the micro system and, in so doing, breathing a new lease of life into them.

The result in this case is a very high-quality system that not only `does what it says on the tin', but adds a whole load of DAB wizardry as well, such as recording up to 30 hours of crystal-clear, flawless radio onto a 2Gb SD card. My brother-in-law is a Paul Weller fan and was rather impressed with my recording of the great man's Desert Island Disks appearance, which I then burned onto a CD from my computer. You can go the other way too: burn an MP3 CD and the unit's CD player will play it. Whatever it's playing, the CD player sounds as sharp and clear as the radio. The bass is also deep and rich and one can even attach a subwoofer.

The radio also handles terrestrial FM as well as DAB but given the limitations of the former medium there isn't a great deal of point in using it unless you're in a DAB blackspot. To help manage the bewildering range of channels, the DMX-60 comes with a hundred presets. It also supports the Electronic Program Guide, allowing you to schedule recordings when you're out. There are also several different alarms you can set. It also has two auxiliary inputs (iPod and DVD player, anyone?). All these functions are readily accessible using the unit's remote, that in itself is easy to use and comprehensive. The remote really comes into its own when listening to live radio as you can pause and review a broadcast in real time.

It's not perfect: the black on white LCD display isn't easy to see from an oblique angle, although the choice of these colours was probably motivated by aesthetic rather than functional considerations. Other Pure radios tend to have a much clearer white on dark blue display and it would have been better fitted with this, if of less harmonious appearance. Our unit also sounds a little harsh when first turned on but soon settles down when warmed up properly.

Brother-in-law liked it so much he wanted to buy one, but I pointed out that not only is it not available Stateside, the Americans haven't yet cottoned-on to how good DAB Radio actually is to the extent that they actually broadcast in the medium. A pity, as there's potentially a lot more to radio than non-stop pop music, phone-ins and right-wing shock-jocks. Until then, I'm grateful for the fact that Radio GaGa hasn't discovered DAB yet as, thanks to Pure, it is now my favourite broadcast medium (and that includes the television). Our gain is America's loss, by the sound of it.


Pure VL-60802  Bug Too, Stereo DAB Digital Clock Radio with ReVu™ & EPG
Pure VL-60802 Bug Too, Stereo DAB Digital Clock Radio with ReVu™ & EPG

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost, but not quite, the perfect bedside clock-radio, 29 Sept. 2006
When I first caught sight of a picture of the original Bug, it reminded me of one of those Martian flying machines in the 1950's version of War of the Worlds. When I unwrapped its second reincarnation on my birthday, I was therefore half expecting to be vapourised when I turned it on.

Instead of directing a heat-ray upon me it opened a pair of bleary eyes and then went about tuning itself into all the available DAB stations. Once it had settled down I was able to find out what a fine piece of kit this radio is.

For eighty quid you get an incredible amount of functionality in a very stylish package. First, there's the stereo DAB sound: hardly ever less than flawless. You can pause and rewing live radio for up to 4 minutes, which is a very neat trick.

There's the umpteen alarms that you can set, ideal for coping with the shift patterns of even the most overworked junior doctor. The Bug doesn't lose time or alarm settings even after a power cut, and all timer-related settings are easily accessible when the thing is on standby, being indicated off the main display (a very nice design point).

The EPG makes recording and listening to your favourite programs a breeze: you can set timing schedules up to a week in advance. The Bug Too records onto an SD card: a tenner for a 2Gb card allows you to record up to 24 hrs worth of radio. The Bug also plugs into the USB port of your computer and functions as a disk drive so you can pull programs off it for transferring to CD.

Niggles? Well, it's not flawless: the selector switch is a bit imprecise, and I've found the display unreliable, on its lowest level setting. On its highest setting it's so bright you might get a nasty case of sunburn. Also, given that the Bug only really comes into its own with an SD card, the omission of even a 128 Mb card seems rather niggardly. It's also questionable whether putting two stereo speakers eight inches apart is going to have any material effect on one's listening experience.

Niggles aside, for a radio fan like myself the Bug Too is an excellent purchase. It sounds good and looks fantastic, it frees you from the tyranny of schedules and it functions as a superb alarm clock. Function follows form in this case, but since the form is so stylish, the fact that the function is only 'very good indeed' means it has a hard job keeping up. Pure should nevertheless be congratulated for reinventing the clock radio.


T-Factor Diet
T-Factor Diet
by Martin Katahn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does it work?, 12 Feb. 2006
This review is from: T-Factor Diet (Paperback)
Well, the answer is an emphatic *yes*. I went on this diet about 10 years ago and lost *stones*. There is no such thing as a painless change to one's eating habits, but the book helps immensely by providing plenty of tasty and nutritious recipes. The book also has, uniquely, a literature review at the back stating the scientific evidence for its approach - a tactic which won me over quickly as I trained as a scientist and was able to check up the references myself. Contrary to what some of the other respondents might maintain, carbohydrates are *not* lipids, and are metabolised differently, which is what the review states.
Since I came off the diet I have steadily and inexorably put on weight. I went back on it two weeks ago and have been eating better than I have done in years. It's worth doing just for the feeling of well being, never mind the weight loss.


Mighty Like A Rose
Mighty Like A Rose
Offered by westworld-
Price: £8.48

2.0 out of 5 stars Mostly Like A Trial, 13 July 2004
This review is from: Mighty Like A Rose (Audio CD)
When I read the word 'underrated' in a review then I tend to translate it as 'everybody laughed at me when I said I thought it was good.' Only the die-hard Costello fan, who values his trenchant and barbed wordplay to the point of ignoring the need for a decent tune, will admire this album. To be fair, it has a handful of worthwhile tracks, and one or two might be viewed as outstanding (such as the closing, obscurely-title 'Couldn't Call it Unexpected No. 4').
But it's a slog getting to the good bits - the best track is the last, and the second to best is the first. Book ended by these two are oddities like 'Invasion Hit Parade', 'How to be Dumb' and possibly the worst song Costello (or anybody else for that matter) has ever written - Hurry Down Doomsday, a wretched, tuneless rant apparently inspired by a bad attack of the DTs.
Immediately after listening to this album, I felt compelled to play 'Spike', to remind me how good a song writer Costello can be at his best. This collection best serves to also remind you of how uneven he can be.


Hydroponic Gardening: The Magic of Modern Hydroponics for the Home Gardener
Hydroponic Gardening: The Magic of Modern Hydroponics for the Home Gardener
by Raymond Bridwell
Edition: Paperback

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and a waste of money, 14 April 2003
I have to say that I really wasn't impressed by this book. Bridwell's writing style is overly anectdotal and rambling, and the critical detail needed for getting off to a flying start in hydroponics is missing. There are almost certainly much better books on the subject which are half the size.


Spike: THE BELOVED ENTERTAINER
Spike: THE BELOVED ENTERTAINER

12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gets to the point, 19 Mar. 2002
Those of us familiar with Costello's later oeuvre might be forgiven for thinking that he'd shot his bolt a long time ago. Even back in '89, when 'Spike' was first released, he'd already gained an unenviable reputation for bitter rants made up of overwrought lyrics coupled with disaffecting tunes. This album was therefore greeted on its release with a mixture of trepidation and indifference.
I'd formed much the same impression myself, until I heard 'Spike'. On this album, probably his best ever, he hardly puts a foot wrong. For once, lyrics and music mesh to lasting effect: from the chimingly tuneful rabble-rousing of 'This Town', through the bittersweet lament for lost youth that is 'Veronica', to the sugared vitriol of 'Tramp the Dirt Down', no word is wasted, no tune seems knocked together as an afterthought.
A glimpse of the old Costello, who would have picked a fight with the whole of Oliver's Army (and won), 'Spike' drives the point home.


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