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Hugh Janus (London, UK)

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Bootleg USA
Bootleg USA
Price: £10.78

5.0 out of 5 stars Favourite Simpson album, 24 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Bootleg USA (Audio CD)
I only discovered this album fairly late into Martin Simpson "fandom", having started with some of his more produced albums such as Prodigal Son and Righteousness and Humidity. Much as I enjoy those, I have to say that this has become far and away my favourite album by what is arguably my favourite (folk) musician. Simpson offers a highly engaging combination of blues-guitar wizardry and pensive ballads, with several standouts (Jasper Songbird/Spoonful, Highway 61, One More Day/Boots of Spanish Leather among others) amid a very solid overall offering. The focus here is definitely more on Simpson's Americana/Blues of his old-world-new-world balancing act, slide guitar and string bends over airs and reels, but then you probably gathered that from the name of the album already.

If you like Martin Simpson and don't hate blues, or if you like blues and don't hate Martin Simpson, you really have no excuse not to own this.


Statistical Mechanics: A Survival Guide
Statistical Mechanics: A Survival Guide
by A. M. Glazer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £26.09

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Survive & thrive, 15 Jan. 2013
This book was a life saver. In 150 small pages it effortlessly achieved what my 200+ page, dense, A4 lecture handout couldn't: to provide a clear, structured understanding of the underlying principles and applications of the basic ideas of statistical mechanics (which was then formally confirmed by an unexpectedly strong exam result). It took me a weekend to read through, after which (almost) everything that had been so obscure and opaque in lectures & handouts became transparent and accessible. I can't say if this book would be enough to support an entire course on its own, but it is at the very least an indispensable companion. I only hope that the OUP are planning to make the "survival guide" format into a series covering other areas of physics too - this was truly a revelation.


Concepts in Thermal Physics (Second edition)
Concepts in Thermal Physics (Second edition)
by Stephen Blundell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £26.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clear exposition but a bit light on explanation, 21 Oct. 2011
"Concepts in Thermal Physics" by Blundell & Blundell is written with the undergraduate student in mind and this comes through in the clarity of its exposition. All results are carefully derived and the working is on the whole straightforward to follow. If you are revising for an exam this provides an excellent resource for applying thermodynamic ideas to problems and, if necessary, memorizing derivations. That said, although this book will allow you to be comfortable with the mathematics of thermal and statistical physics, it won't do a whole lot for your intuition and understanding of the subjects. A lot of starting assumptions are simply stated without further explanation (eg from the chapter on chemical potential on p.232: "If you add a particle to a system, then the internal energy will change by an amount which we call the chemical potential". Ok, but why? Where does this energy come from? What kind of energy? After that opening statement the text delves immediately into partial derivatives), and the authors take little time to discuss the implications of the mathematics beyond how a particular result feeds into the next equation. Nonetheless, all in all a valuable text for untangling the often convoluted-seeming mathematics of thermo and statistical phys.


Mahima
Mahima
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My musical discovery of the year, 11 Sept. 2010
This review is from: Mahima (MP3 Download)
This is not indian classical music. If you're looking for that you will be disappointed. What this is a beautiful blend of indian vocals, bengali slide guitar, tabla rhythms and a small infusion of western arrangement courtesy of Bob Brozman that comes together in triumphant manner. Particular favourites are "Sujan Re" and "Tagore Street Blues".

I would advise that those considering purchasing this record first visit a well known video uploading website where a few of the tracks are available in full. The amazon 30 second preview doesn't really do most of the songs justice.


Martin Simpson: Just A Closer Walk With Thee (Mel Bay Archive Editions)
Martin Simpson: Just A Closer Walk With Thee (Mel Bay Archive Editions)
by Martin Simpson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful compilation, 11 Sept. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you like the CD and play the guitar buy this, simple as.

If you don't own the CD, buy it. Then buy this. It's a fantastic collection of acoustic guitar arrangements of american hymns. Might not sound up everyone's alley, but Martin Simpson does a fabulous job of arranging these into intricate yet eloquently simple guitar pieces. The arrangements are challenging but in my opinion within the reach of intermediate guitarists with fingerstyle guitar experience. One word of warning: quite a few of the songs (probably around 1/2, I don't have the book in front of me right now) are arranged in non-standard tunings. So if you're uncomfortable with that or object to open tunings on principle for whatever reason, you may want to think twice.


Stuff Good Players Should Know: Intelligent Basketball from A to Z
Stuff Good Players Should Know: Intelligent Basketball from A to Z
by Dick DeVenzio
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exhaustive collection of under-the-radar basketball, 11 Sept. 2010
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This book will not make you a great basketball player, but it will provide you with a great list of tips and tricks to polish your game and at least pretend as though you know what you're doing. Being a good basketball player starts with athleticism and practice, but quite often the best players, particularly those that excel despite physical limitations, play as though they've been let in on some secret that elevates them above the mean. This book uncovers a lot of those secrets. It's well written and makes for a fascinating read, and you will want to read it over and over gradually building its suggestions into your game. This is not a beginners book: if you're only starting out you probably won't be able to relate to much of what DiVenzio is saying, but this is a great buy for all those with a bit of experience aspiring to be more intelligent players.


How to Prove It: A Structured Approach
How to Prove It: A Structured Approach
by Daniel J. Velleman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.45

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book but requires some commitment, 11 Sept. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a beautiful introduction to proofs, propositional logic, sets, relations and functions for first year university students. It is clear that Velleman's first and only interest is to keep the reader engaged and make sure that the concepts become accessible and sink in. His style is vibrant and engaging, and I actually found myself looking forward to reading this while I was studying for part of a Computer Science exam.

That said, this book truly comes into its own if you read it cover to cover, or at the very least chapter to chapter. This is not strictly speaking a reference text, and Velleman places more emphasis on fluidity and clarity than on organising the material into neat compartments. The chapters aren't unreasonably long, however, and with a bit of dedication this book will take you a long way.


Java: A Beginner's Guide, 4th Ed.
Java: A Beginner's Guide, 4th Ed.
by Herbert Schildt
Edition: Paperback

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent text for learning java - but see caveat below, 10 Feb. 2010
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Herb Schildt offers a very clear and readable yet also commendably thorough step by step approach to learning to program in Java. Of all the beginners Java texts I've read or leafed through this seems to me to be the most complete and well structured, and it really does a fantastic job of breaking the often mystifying world of object oriented programming down into managable chunks.

That said, I do not think this text is unreservedly suitable for absolute beginners wishing to learn how to programme in complete isolation (that is, sitting at home with nothing but this book and their PCs). The book assumes that you're familiar with some basic programming terminology (eg "compiler") and also assumes that you're quite comfortable using a command line interface to compile and run programmes (which I wouldn't ever recommend really, if you're learning Java download an integrated interface like eclipse - just google "java eclipse").

If you already know a bit about programming or are converting from another language that's no problem, and if you read this book alongside taking a more formal course you don't need to worry about that either, but if you're absolutely new to the game and just want to spend your evenings learning a bit of programming I would really recommend reading something like "Beginning Programming with Java for Dummies" first because that really will hold your hand and walk you through all the basics of actually setting up your computer so that you can start programming (which, as mentioned, is somewhat glossed over here). That said, once you have graduated from programming pre-school so to speak, this text is absolutely invaluable.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 17, 2012 9:03 PM BST


Understanding Earth
Understanding Earth
by Raymond Siever
Edition: Paperback

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent background reading, 17 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Understanding Earth (Paperback)
Understanding Earth offers a well-written, clearly structured and beautifully illustrated overview of the basics of geology. The authors are clearly eager to excite the student for their subject and, by focussing on the Earth as a complete system rather than just a collection of separate events, largely succeed in doing so. The content is slightly less mathematical (that is, there is virtually no maths at all) than might be the case in univeresity lecture courses so don't rely on this to single-handedly sail you through your exams, but as a secondary resource to put everything into a clear, systematic and flowing perspective this is outstanding.


Mafia (PC CD)
Mafia (PC CD)
Offered by Korte-EDV Internetmarketing & Vertrieb, Preise inkl. MwSt.
Price: £11.97

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good story and action sequences marred by bugs and nonsensical design, 29 Oct. 2009
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This review is from: Mafia (PC CD) (Video Game)
Mafia is a very engrossing game. The voice acting is excellent, the story compelling and the narrative perfectly paced. The missions are varied and challenging and combat is always satisfying, be it by sneaking up behind people with a baseball bat or going all out with a vintage 1930s tommy gun. Unfortunately, in between the story and the action sequences lies a rather sloppily designed game that had this reviewer screaming at the screen in frustration.

The main problem is the save system. It's one of those old school autosaves that don't allow the player to save freely. Presumably this was included to make the game more challenging or provide it with a more authentic feel. I don't have a problem with the saving per se, but it becomes a real issue in combination with some of the other problems this game suffers from: For one, the insane amounts of driving in old cars that aren't allowed to do more than 40mph. You WILL spend most of your time in this game driving around the streets of Lost Heaven, in cars that struggle to go up the several inclines dotted around the map with policemen who will stop, fine and potentially arrest you if you do more than 40mph. Add to this that almost NONE of the missions take place in any sort of reasonable vicinity of your home base and what you have is a game that makes you drive the same old routes over and over and over again. Note this is not GTA type driving, whizzing into the sunset in sports cars, these cars are slow, and the police will stop you if you jump a red light, speed or cause a crash. Now here's where the save system comes in. A lot of the time the game doesn't save for you until you've actually achieved or activated something at your destination, so a lot of the time you end up spending 10 minutes driving to a mission only to have something go wrong early on and find yourself having to repeat the drive every single time until you advance far enough into the mission to activate a save point. I don't mind redoing missions until I get it right, but having to go through the whole slog of getting there time and time again is a bit too much to bear. Similar problems exist with the AI of your gang members who occassionally assist you on a mission. Quite often they will do incredibly stupid things to get themselves killed like keep running into the flame of an exploded molotov cocktail. A lot of games have stupid AI and this is in principle forgivable, but if you find yourself having to repeat long stretches of a mission because the game hasn't saved and your squad members keep killing themselves in ridiculous ways you will be pulling your hairs out.

Technically the game seems to have its problems too (I run it on an ATI graphics card which it supposedly doesn't like). Hours of smooth play will suddenly be interrupted by long periods of complete framerate crash and stalling, other times you walk into a building only to find the walls haven't loaded properly and you're somehow stuck in some half-generated door.

So, overall, I did finish this game because it is great fun in parts and the story is certainly absorbing. I only wish the framework in which the core gaming experience is delivered wasn't quite so shoddy.


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