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Reviews Written by
Matthew Pollock (Bristol)

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Smart Lunar 60 Lux Front with 1/2 W Rear Light Set
Smart Lunar 60 Lux Front with 1/2 W Rear Light Set

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate in economy cycle lights, 18 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Great lights. Reliable, durable, light brightly, good fittings, rainproof. I wouldn't buy any other cycle lights, they're so small and easy to carry around. Despite the price these are quality lights, they will last forever.

6 x 15w R80 Reflector ENERGY SAVING LIGHT BULBS CFL ES27 Instant start & No flicker
6 x 15w R80 Reflector ENERGY SAVING LIGHT BULBS CFL ES27 Instant start & No flicker

2.0 out of 5 stars Early death, 18 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I am finding that these die sooner than expected.
It is also true that they are less bright than they should be.

Making Sense of the Industrial Revolution: English Economy and Society 1700-1850 (Manchester Studies in Modern History)
Making Sense of the Industrial Revolution: English Economy and Society 1700-1850 (Manchester Studies in Modern History)
by Steven King
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.99

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pedantic and tedious, should never have been published, 8 Sept. 2014
There are many species of pedant. Meet here the species Pedant Historical.

In telling you his story he will tell you is about to tell it, that he is in the process of telling it, and that he has nearly finished telling it and that you would be told more were there space to tell it to you, but unfortunately there is not. And of course that further research is needed.

The Historical Pedant loves long introductory sections enumerating concepts in what one would have thought were obvious terms. If a possible consumer revolution is being discussed, the conceptually different possible types of demand are spelled out in detail tiresome enough to make the dictionary of economics itself groan with boredom. You will be told that it must not be forgotten - a favourite expression of the Historical Pedant that, along with it must be remembered - that manufacturers (amazing information!) were keen to take advantage of the various advertising opportunities. Such revelations does the Historical Pedant vouchsafe us.

You will be dragged painfully through the various forms of advertising used, reminded that more research is possible, and then at length will be reminded what you have already been told, what you are about to be told.

This is history by enumeration. It is tedious beyond belief. The authors' idea of style is the A-level essay framework, where everything is itemized, introduced, and periodised in a creaking, uninspired format. It is what you might expect from a pair of mid-ranking lecturers at provincial British universities which in an earlier era would be classed as polytechnics, trying hard to spin an extra penny out of lectures which must have sent their unfortunate students to sleep.

If, occasionally, some genuinely live-wire issue is touched on, maybe by accident, it the authors immediately seem to do their very best to cover it in a maze of tedium, so that nothing comes of it.

Reader, ignore these pedants. You will learn nothing from them. They will bore you and frustrate you. This book which should not have seen the light of day.

Wilhelm Ropke (Library of Modern Thinkers)
Wilhelm Ropke (Library of Modern Thinkers)
by John Zmirak
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.95

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Indifferent coverage of a maybe forgettable thinker, 8 Jan. 2014
I frankly don't know enough about Ropke to judge - is the author of this intellectual biography simply not up to the job? Or was Ropke himself a little dull, which nothing really new and original to say? Whichever! There's nothing much here to interest anyone, it seems to me.

Canon PIXMA MG5250 All-In-One Wi-Fi Colour Photo Printer (Print, Copy and Scan)
Canon PIXMA MG5250 All-In-One Wi-Fi Colour Photo Printer (Print, Copy and Scan)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very hard to scan, poor design of software, 9 Oct. 2013
The hardware in the Cannon Pixma MG 5200 printer is good. The problem is the software. Each scan attempt produces obscure messages such as "Set the PC to start scanning" (this message routinely appears on the printer) or "Cannot communicate with the scanner for these reasons: - Scanner is turned off, Please check and try again. Code 5,145,55" (this message routinely appears on the PC).

It is beyond human patience to delve into these endless faults. Communicating with Cannon produces one-time solutions, but next time another problem comes up.

The software interface is incredibly clunky. It is never clear where scanned documents are being saved, or how to bunch the documents into one pdf file.

Cannon need to study HP's software and copy its supreme ease of use.

No Title Available

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty amateurish, 14 Sept. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It came a little bent. OK, I straightened it out without too much difficulty. Also I couldn't get the screws in the sides, for the reasons others have mentioned. Also, it seems a little long for the slot.

Other than that it works, it supports the SSD.

AND1 Lay Up Basketball System
AND1 Lay Up Basketball System

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Appalling instructions, tightening nuts and bolts very difficult, 5 Jun. 2013
The instructions for this are appalling. It amazes me that nothing has been done. The problem has been pointed out so many times.

You will need a complete set of tools to assemble it, because often you have to grip both ends of the nut-and-bolt sets which hold the structure to together. This is often almost impossible because either the nut or the bolt is semi-inaccessible. Once assembled, further tightening cannot be done as one end is hidden. Over time, during use, bolts fall off the unit, leaving it increasingly shaky.

Nevertheless, as others have remarked, once assembled the structure seems oddly solid. But its long-term survival seems in doubt as over time it leaves a worrying trail of nuts and bolts which cannot be re-inserted into the unit. Maybe it will collapse and cause serious injury (it is very heavy). Maybe it will be with us into our son's old age. Who can tell?

Euro-Converter Plugs. Converts 2-pin moulded-on Euro plugs to UK
Euro-Converter Plugs. Converts 2-pin moulded-on Euro plugs to UK
Offered by imustbuy
Price: £3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Misleading image, 5 Mar. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The image is completely misleading. These adaptor plugs cannot be opened. There is a safety screw which keeps them shut. This screw cannot be dislodged, without destroying the adaptor. So the only way the adaptor you order will work, is by sliding the plug into the adaptor, rather than the normal method of opening the adaptor.

Be warned!

Buyers therefore should be specially careful. Is the plug you wish to have adapted EXACTLY the appropriate size? And shape? (In this respect the image is correct). If not, your plug will not fit in. You will have wasted your money. Gone for ever.

There are many different continental plugs. This adapator only fits one of them.

Otherwise, if you leave aside the fact that a large proportion of buyers who order them will not be able to use them because their plugs will be the wrong type of continental plug, these adaptors are fine. Of course! They are manufactured by an excellent and reputable maker. But the vendor seems to be an idiot.

Offered by BuzzBase
Price: £8.80

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Size problems, 23 Jan. 2013
Although these snow and ice grips are labelled for shoe sizes 9-12 - buyer beware! No happy clients exist with shoe size 12! If you buy one of these supposedly 'large' overshoes, the heel of the unit will reach at most your instep. You will teeter around, wobbling alarmingly from one side to another like a drunken rhinocerous in high-heeled shoes. Danger will lurk at every step, catastrophic slippage, large medical bills, psychological counselling and physical rehabilitation.

I am not saying there aren't many happy clients with shoe sizes 7 and 8 and even 9. I am merely saying these overshoes aren't big enough for people with shoe sizes 12 by a very long shot. They're minuscule! Half the size of the normal foot of a size 12-footed person!

Manufacturer - please manufacture an "extra large" size. Your quality is good, even excellent. But your labelling is shamefully deceptive.

School Wars: The Battle for Britain's Education
School Wars: The Battle for Britain's Education
by Melissa Benn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Passionate but lazy, 26 Dec. 2012
This is a manifesto for a return to a non-selective education system led by successful comprehensives, and an impassioned denunciation of New Labour's undermining of the comprehensive system and centralisation of power over education. The general argument is that comprehensives work well, that selection has been conclusively shown in cross-country studies to lower overall educational performance, and that the Coalition is forcing academies and free schools on us and tilting the balance against comprehensives by diktat and bribery. The result will be a decline in performance, reduced parental oversight, increased class tensions, and a sharpening of inter-ethnic and inter-faith tensions, all in the context of increased system complexity and a rhetoric of 'parental choice' which disguises the reality that it is the schools that will select the pupils, not vice verse. Private sector edu-preneurs are to be allowed to cream off profits, but the state will pick up the pieces when they fail.

So far so good. My objection to Melissa Benn's book is that it is disorganized. Each 'chapter subject' is drowned out by the book's general argument, and the impetus of each chapter is constantly interrupted by anecdotes about visits to particular schools, or retelling of comments from particular parent. These are well enough told, but the general impact is to blur the outlines, with key themes incontinently reappearing in each chapter. Chapters 2 and 3, which tell the story of "how we got here" are by far the best, clearly argued, and logically ordered. Chapter 1 is chaotic. Toward the end the book deteriorates again into a formless re-hash of the general argument, and I found it hard to keep turning the pages. Some key points, such as the differences between free schools and academies, are never properly explained, and this reader finished the book confused about how much control remains in the hands of local authorities and how much this varies by area. I sensed that Benn either couldn't be bothered to tidy the book up by reducing opinionation and increasing factual and analytic content, or didn't realize that this was necessary.

Benn is passionately hostile towards free-marketers and reformers, considering them moral monsters, thieves and profiteers, or totally deluded by fashion and their own lack of exposure to the comprehensive system. Of course, the book would have benefited from a more dispassionate attempt to understand her opponents.

The book would also have gained enormously in persuasive power, if at least a third had been devoted to a discussion of the successful alternatives which we are told exist in other countries, such as Finland and Alberta in Canada. But we are not even provided with proper references to discussions of these cases. There is now a huge amount of cross-country work on the issues that Benn deals with, but once again, she prefers opinionating to clearly collecting, arranging, and presenting the comparative evidence.

To sum up: I wouldn't have bought Benn's book if I hadn't been sympathetic to her viewpoint. I enjoyed it, but thought it was lazy. It is a manifesto, but it neglects to equip its readers with the comparative evidence to substantiate its argument, or to provide proper references to material elsewhere. Some other readers have used the term "rant" and obviously there is some truth to this criticism. I finished the book better-informed and still sympathetic to her case, but strongly feeling that this is not "the book" which would fully equip me to understand the changes that education is undergoing, and even less to understand the richness of cross-country evidence about what is possible in education. A pity.

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