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Freewheeler

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Harbour Housewares Large Polytunnel Vegetable / Fruit Greenhouse With Strong Reinforced Cover
Harbour Housewares Large Polytunnel Vegetable / Fruit Greenhouse With Strong Reinforced Cover
Offered by Rinkit Ltd
Price: £57.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great for sheltered spot. May need tweaks., 16 April 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A very good polytunnel for the price (at least when reduced - we got one under £50), and Rinkit were very responsive to email correspondence (I thought the instructions were missing and they sent a copy; I eventually found them at the bottom of the box!). It went up easily and feels reasonably sturdy, although we elected to put it up in the back garden, which is more sheltered, when we actually intended it for the allotment. I think I'd be worried and have sleepless nights every time there was a gale otherwise. I've knocked one star off for a few minor issues.

1. The main one is that the curved top, combined with the space between the top longitudinal bars, creates three areas of the roof that can collect rainwater. The more the rain collects there, the heavier it gets and the more it sags and tends to pull the sides up, also increasing the volume to collect even more rain. Eventually, I guess, it would pour over the sides, but it's putting a strain on the plastic and the frame. I discovered this immediately after putting it up when I hadn't got perfectly sorted out with the guy ropes, but even well secured it needs a fix. One fix I wondered about is putting a little hole in the plastic in the middle of each square, since the ventilation won't harm and it would just run into the tunnel, helping with the watering. Problem is, it would be running in in the middle just where you're walking if you go in when it's raining. What I've done is tie several pieces of paracord from end to end along the top, wrapped round the frame members in the middle, to hold the plastic up into a better arch and improve the run-off. Better still would be to fasten some extra poles of some sort, as long as they're not in danger of damaging the plastic. A triangular pitch roof won't have this problem of run-off, but would catch the wind more, so you can't have everything...but a pole along the top, rather than two some way down the sides, would be a big help!

2. It doesn't say that the cover is UV resistant, so it may not last as long as some that are.

3. In a windy location, I really think this would suffer quite badly, although I have to admit this isn't based on experience. Although generally good quality, the four guy points on the corners would be a weak point, perhaps ripping from the plastic where they are sewn. The size and shape of the tunnel presents quite an area to the wind. The poles, although of a good diameter, are made of a relatively thin steel, and could buckle under severe strain. But nothing is immune to the British weather, and I'd just recommend careful placement and/or additional windbreaks. It comes with four fairly thin, green paracord guys, which I assume are for the corners, although it doesn't say in the instructions. These could be tied to the loops at their middle and pegged in two directions from each. I've actually used them to brace between joints inside to add stability and bought another length of stronger paracord for the guys and to tie it to walls, etc., bright yellow for visibility. Finally, I'd not trust the standard camping-type pegs that come with it alone, but make some good long posts or other anchor points.


1/2 DRIVE TORQUE WRENCH IN CASE
1/2 DRIVE TORQUE WRENCH IN CASE
Offered by Uk Tools Direct
Price: £16.86

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Lower-torque Wrench - Puzzle over instructions though, 15 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I needed a wrench that went down to a lower setting than most for some common jobs on my Honda CBR125, particularly the oil change. I used to work on my bike decades ago and just guess, but this one is a bit more expensive and I didn't want to risk over- or under-tightening the drain plug - or the wheel nut when adjusting the chain tension.

It feels good and strong, it's a heavy piece of kit, and it passed a few little tests I did before unleashing it on the bike: trying various settings on some spare nuts and bolts and judging as best I could if it was consistent in tightening and undoing them. It seemed fine.

There was a puzzle over the instructions, in that it says to undo the locknut at the very end of the handle before making adjustments to the torque setting, and tightening it again before use. This is standard for torque wrenches, but mine didn't seem to have the locknut - instead it has a black circular part that doesn't turn, isn't knurled, and couldn't be pulled out or moved at all. I concluded that the manufacturer must have changed the design and done away with the locknut, but not changed the piece of paper with the instructions on, since it looks "finished" with nothing missing. I made enquiries of the seller, who acknowledged my email, said they would enquire of the manufacturer and get back to me, but I didn't hear any more. I'll try to find out and edit this if I do. I would have given it five stars otherwise.

The seller's service otherwise was quite adequate and the wrench well wrapped in plastic and strong tape.


Religion for Atheists: A non-believer's guide to the uses of religion
Religion for Atheists: A non-believer's guide to the uses of religion
by Alain de Botton
Edition: Hardcover

47 of 60 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Atheism for the Religious?, 16 Sept. 2012
This book is weird. By the time I got to the suggestion that we reintroduce a period of debauchery once a year in newly created "Agape Restaurants", because people hate following the rules all the time, I thought I must be reading it wrong. Was it some kind of satire? Had de Botton lost his mind?

As another reviewer noted, de Botton appears to be a religious person in all but name. He refers tediously often to the "human soul" and its needs, but fails to question what this entity is. Had history favoured Hippocrates, the ancient physicalist, rather than Plato's dualism, we might be in a better position now.

De Botton's view of atheism and secular society, on the other hand, is so dismal that it rivals some of the worst pronouncements from pulpits. We are lost, helpless children, insane, violent, forgetful and greedy. His remedy is to celebrate secular "saints" and "sacraments" to provide guidance and succour, now that religion is, supposedly, gone. He does not bother to establish whether modern culture is in any real sense secular, but considers that feature the source of its sickness anyway. A quick google shows that non-religious people make up somewhere in the region of 10 percent of the world, and my experience is it's stuffed full of magical thinkers like himself. He never once considers how much religion might be contributing to societies' ills.

Unfathomably, de Botton hardly mentions science (surely the sharpest tool sculpting atheism) and when he does, he makes these points (paraphrased): scientists talk in technical language that leaves him cold; there are awesome vistas of time and distance that science could use to teach us perspective instead of boring facts; therefore we should build various pieces of architecture, disregarding scientific education, simply to inspire us with awe. To show how marvellous science could be, he sketches a Temple to Perspective, a tower 46 m high, with a layer 1 mm thick made of gold at the base to represent humanity's time on Earth in proportion to the latter's age, which seems a monumentally silly idea to me.

He may also have named a few scientists as examples of "secular saints" on whose valour we should meditate on given days, although he doesn't seem to have learned much of their actual work. He doesn't get it: scientific awe and guidance only follow from learning actual facts.

De Botton is steeped in a different aspect of human culture: literature, philosophy, art - and apparently he does not understand how deeply these have been influenced by Judeo-Christian psychology. He sees "the human soul" as philosophers have handed it down to us, a mental or spiritual entity composed of various ideal aspects, or a vessel requiring filling with virtues. Had he studied psychology - the science, that is, rather than the inventions of mere thinkers - he might know that our brains are hard-wired to navigate the social world as peaceably and successfully as possible. Indeed, if anything can, a scientific understanding of evolution, of our impulses to compete and co-operate, could empower us to forge a peaceful global future. It seems pretty clear by now that temples and sermons have failed to do it. Ironically, de Botton is didactic and authoritarian, which would seem to be one of the biggest barriers to inter-cultural harmony. He's envisaged a truly disturbing Orwellian dystopia of statutory moral education, with giant electronic billboards depicting Forgiveness, where the evil Footsie used to be.

I am shocked that a philosopher could tackle this problem without asking what goodness and evil mean to an atheist, when a moral vacuum is perhaps the greatest fear of the believer. He colludes with this fear and appears to feel it acutely himself. He paints a pessimistic view of people, just as Christianity does, and chides modernity for its optimism. When an exponentially increasing proportion of the world learns most of its moral sense and factual information online, peer-to-peer (I don't think he mentioned the Internet once), he wants grand architecture and a string of identically branded therapy shops to save us from our pathetic selves. It really does make more sense to reverse the title. This is a prejudiced, fearful book about atheism, and from his metaphysical perspective atheism looks pretty ugly.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 13, 2015 3:02 PM GMT


Lloytron Fast Alkaline/NiMH Intelligent LCD Battery Charger
Lloytron Fast Alkaline/NiMH Intelligent LCD Battery Charger

71 of 75 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars WARNING: Alkaline Batteries May Leak, 1 Nov. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I just got this today and I'll try to remember to update the review later. This warning can't wait. ALKALINE BATTERIES MAY LEAK IN THIS UNIT.

First impressions were very positive: I had a big heap of spent alkaline AAs and AAAs waiting to go to a recycling site, and I was very happy when the first of them was charged - I took it out and measured the voltage at 1.5V, just like new. I wanted to tell everyone I know - don't throw your old alkaline batteries away, buy one of these! Now I'm not so enthusiastic.

The unit seems very well made. The LCD is very bright and clear. In terms of the physical design, my only minor quibble is that the batteries are held very tightly, making them a little difficult to remove and often you have to take one out at the side to get to one of those in the middle.

Out of the eleven alkaline AAs that I've charged today, I had to remove three because they were fizzing, and two of those leaked. I'm not sure if any alkaline-battery chargers are free of this flaw. While the 3 reviews of this model that I've seen were all completely positive, other alkaline chargers that have been around longer have a significant number of warnings about alkaline batteries leaking or even "exploding". I took a chance that this one had improved technology. It failed my health-and-safety test.

For people who are careful, especially anyone reasonably knowledgable, this may not be a problem, but I certainly wouldn't recommend this charger for more vulnerable people or those who want a completely failsafe product.

Why did the charger not reject batteries that leaked? Maybe it's not smart enough. Maybe there's no way to analyse a battery to tell if it'll leak. The instructions say not to try charging completely discharged AAs, or any that are very old or in bad condition (but then, oddly, it also says not to charge "non-rechargeable batteries" as well as clearly saying you can charge alkaline ones!).

I assessed each for any signs of previous leaking, bulging or other damage, and rejected those that even looked suspect, but I must admit I didn't check the date on them (some aren't date stamped anyway). I tested them and they all had a fair residual charge. The unit didn't report any as faulty. I discarded the ones that fizzed, two of which leaked round the contacts. The liquid seems to have marked the plastic inside the unit.

The liquid that comes out is potassium hydroxide, a caustic chemical that can cause respiratory, eye and skin irritation. It's an alkali, no surprises. If it spills, you should wash it off anything, especially you.

If you're one of those people who often find yourself complaining "it's health and safety gone mad", you might appreciate a charger that could make batteries leak or explode! I'm not sure if I'm going to keep using it for alkalines, but I won't leave it unattended if I do. The fizzing has been fairly loud (it's more like a crackle), so it's hard to miss if I'm in the room - then it's a case of taking them out carefully one by one and seeing if the crackling is coming from the one in my hand...and cleaning up. I'll keep it on something like a tin lid in case of a more serious leak, and I'll examine each battery carefully as I remove it.

But I might just abandon the rest of the alkalines and stick to rechargeables. I don't believe this product should get through health and safety tests, and I'd be well within my rights to return it immediately, but since it does rechargeables too and I'm happy with the build quality and price, I'm tempted to keep it. I might discover the secret of which alkalines can be recharged in time.

I'm also a bit dubious about the financial and environmental benefit of this type of charger. In the short term, I expect to have a load of good batteries that would have been taken to the tip. But in the longer term, when these no longer charge (it says you can recharge alkalines up to 10 times), I thought I might save money by buying alkaline batteries instead of more expensive rechargeables, but if they're going to leak, I might not bother. On the other hand, rechargeable batteries don't recharge forever, and I've had a lot that have been very short-lived. I don't know enough about the environmental problems of the different chemicals to decide yet.

So far, I haven't even tried it with rechargeable batteries. I expect it will do the job. I'll let you know if it doesn't.

Oh, that's disconcerting: a battery just made a loud crackling noise - long after it was taken out!

EDITED TO ADD: I said I would update this after more testing. After many months using the charger I have reduced my review to 1 star - a very high proportion of the non-rechargeable batteries I try to charge in here leak and/or crackle, making it unsuitable for the purpose for which it is advertised. Although I wasn't too bothered - as I said, it's cheap and works well for rechargeables - PopsAmazon's comment made me aware how serious this issue is - exploding, leaking batteries are dangerous, especially for anyone vulnerable, and I believe the unit should be withdrawn from sale. I certainly won't be putting any more alkaline batteries in mine. I've had enough cleaning the compartments, and the plastic is corroded with it. If such a leak wasn't noticed, the batteries could be inserted in other equipment and damage that too, not to mention burning the skin or worse.
Comment Comments (19) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 29, 2014 12:14 PM GMT


Rally Championship Xtreme
Rally Championship Xtreme
Offered by marxwax
Price: £17.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard and Fast, 24 Oct. 2010
I've had this game for ages, but just installed it on a new machine. Before, despite a lot of fun, I didn't get far in it, partly because of a lack of PC memory/power and partly because of minor issues, which I'll come to. The new PC is only a netbook running at 1.6 GHz, but the game is flowing better and I can appreciate the game more. There's still bad delay at points where the images are complex and deep - but this machine doesn't even have a dedicated graphics card! If I got a fast machine, this would be one of the first things I'd install. I'm not a gaming nut and haven't bothered with steering wheels. I don't generally bother with manual gears either, so this is a four-arrow-key experience. The game copes with this digital on-off steering very well.

Rally Championship Xtreme is a good compromise between a simulation and an arcade game. There's an arcade mode, where you simply try to get through from section to section before the timer runs out, and if you start with that mode, you learn a lot about the driving before you start doing it for real (and the tracks are different, which is a nice touch). The scenery is lovely - hard sometimes to stop admiring it or watching a helicopter or hang-glider. One of the fun things about the game is that you're not confined completely to the track and a few yards either side, but have sections where you can scramble up hills, fly over jumps, squeeze between gaps in trees, and generally wreck the car bit by bit until the time-out. The damage is very satisfying! It's realistic in the lighter scenarios (I like using the view over the bonnet, which flaps up and down with a broken latch before eventually smashing off). The physics of normal driving is extremely good. The wheels don't always stay in contact with the ground (as one reviewer incredibly complained), because you're driving over bumpy ground at 200 mph! Or maybe a wheel has come off. I rather wish the realism extended to serious crashes, which would make writing a car off in one go an option, and avoiding falling off cliffs a lot more serious than a few seconds and a reset.

The game rewards the patient playing of stages over and over, finding the sweet spots. While there are some obvious shortcuts, these often have a payoff in terms of accurate driving or damage, and many of them seem like they've been put there deliberately as double-bluffs when your skills improve to handle the intended route faster and safer.

There are downsides - the readme doesn't seem to explain how and when you'll unlock cars and rallies, which is why I ended up just playing roll-and-crash on the Scottish stages before. Quick Play mode seems to open new rallies to you, but there seems little advantage in that over doing the championship itself. The save positions don't save a viewable record of the time or position. I can only guess or google to find out how I unlock different cars. The developer and publisher links seem to have long gone quiet. I could do with more information about the many video options, rather than using trial and error. Another irritation is the lack of a quick "Restart stage", so you have to load a stage from the menus again, and you have to go through repairing the damage again (and check car settings too) - all very annoying if you keep messing up the first corner.

I'm wondering about using the cheat code to unlock the whole lot together. I have to admit that the fun is wearing thin, working long hours trying to get through the Wales Rally and never knowing if I'll see more than the default cars. The vintage cars and other routes are tempting right now.

They've skimped on camera views on playback, having set ones for each section, and you can't save playbacks, or rewind except to the beginning (you can FF), but the graphics are so good that with the video options set to high you can grab some great screen shots with PrtScr and paste them into a graphics editor. I particularly like the dust and rocks that get kicked up, and the lustre of highlights on the painwork, which gets dirtier through the course.

Until I got the patch it kept crashing from the menus, now fixed. I've also applied the CD crack so I don't have to keep my external drive attached.


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