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Blueinsmoke (London UK)

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The Ego's Nest (City 5)
The Ego's Nest (City 5)
by David Charters
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dave Hart- back with a bang !, 28 Aug. 2011
The latest in the Dave Hart saga sees our antihero return from the dead (not a spoiler- it happens right at the start) before setting out to single-handedly reshape the post-crash world and kick organised crime into touch for good measure. Fantasy ? Well, yes, surprisingly enough. Entertaining ? Absolutely ! I was in stitches. And for those who think that Dave Hart as a character could never exist in the real world, I just wish you could have been there in the City in the glory years......

Tremendous knock-about fun- maybe less appealing to committed Liberal Democrats.

Datel Wii Lan Adapter (Nintendo Wii)
Datel Wii Lan Adapter (Nintendo Wii)

1.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't get it to work, 1 Oct. 2010
I have just emerged from a massively frustrating week, trying to get my wii to connect to the internet. It used to connect without difficulty but when I tried to use it to watch a programme on iPlayer (the only thing I use the connection for) it told me that it couldn't access the internet. After much time looking up numerous useless error codes on the internet and trying every conceivable combination of settings, I gave up and ordered this product. I followed the instructions which came with it, plugged it to my network (via a hub, connected to a plug-in range extender) and enjoyed watching its lovely blue light flicker on and off for a long time...before my wii told me that it couldn't connect to the internet (together with another useless error code). Upon visiting Nintendo's entirely useless (for me at least) "help" site, I saw that Nintendo's official position on this is that "LAN adapters not made by Nintendo likely will not work with the Wii console". Great. I suspect that this is not correct and will never know why this piece of kit failed to work for me. Maybe it doesn't work with hubs, maybe it doesn't work with plug-in range extenders, maybe Nintendo are telling the truth and only their adapters will work. All I know is that this adapter did not work for me.

By the way, I managed to get the wireless connection working in the end. Not sure how. Possibly I just bored it into submission.

HP Officejet 6500 Network Enabled All-in-One Multifunction Colour Inkjet Printer, Scanner, Copier, and Fax
HP Officejet 6500 Network Enabled All-in-One Multifunction Colour Inkjet Printer, Scanner, Copier, and Fax

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great with a Mac and easy to set up, 8 Feb. 2010
This is the second printer I have bought in the space of 6 months, having binned an infuriating Epson SX 600 FW which stubbornly refused to clean its print heads and was costing me a fortune in wasted ink.

I took it out of the box, plugged it into my router and 5 minutes later I was up and running. It does exactly what it says on the box and slotted into my network (including PCs running XP and Windows 7 in addition to my iMac) with absolutely no difficulty. Print quality is excellent and, to round it off, ink is relatively cheap, even using original HP inks. Best of all is the fact that it actually works properly with my iMac. Both the useless Epson and a slightly better Lexmark before it had irritating shortfalls in functionality with the Mac- eg Scan buttons on the printer didn't work with the Mac (you had to use a separate Mac interface, making scanning to email a hassle). This machine works perfectly- you press the button, tell it to scan to email, and it does. Not much to ask for, admittedly, but it is amazing how few all in one printers actually manage it. Oh, the automatic page feeder is excellent too. And the paper is stored at the front.

It's good. Definitely worth buying.

Last Night in Twisted River
Last Night in Twisted River
by John Irving
Edition: Hardcover

43 of 50 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An endless trudge of no consequence, 8 Feb. 2010
Before I begin I should note that, in common with many of the other reviewers, I have been a fan of John Irving for a long time. I think I have read, and enjoyed, all of his books (including Until I Find You). A Prayer for Owen Meany is probably my favourite book of all time (and one of the few that has actually brought me to tears).

And then came Last Night in Twisted River.

I have just finished the book. This, in itself, I felt was a major achievement and primarily a reflection of the fact that I am very reluctant to put a book to one side once I have started it.

I am used, in John Irving's work, to encountering many unique (and often bizarre) characters, interacting against an unpredictable, sometimes quite shocking or disturbing backdrop of events. The pace is not always fast, but Irving has a knack for working his characters under the skin of the reader and then, with an unexpected plot twist, creating situations of great emotional intensity.

On the face of it, Last Night in Twisted River has all the hallmarks of a classic Irving novel. The events which it describes take place over a 50-year period, it has a full helping of slightly off-beat, emotionally and/or physically damaged characters and it hinges around a truly bizarre event (right at the start, for those who might be worried about a spoiler).

However, for me at least, that's where the similarities end.

I felt no attachment to any of the characters in the book (with the possible exception of Ketchum's farting dog, but that doesn't really count). I think this is because, despite the lengthy descriptive prose, none of the characters really made any emotional connection with me. They were just, I suppose, there. I couldn't understand their motivations and didn't even feel much sympathy when one or two of them met their end. It was all very distant.

I also felt patronised by the book. Some of the translations felt like a primary school language lesson. I am also not sure why Irving felt the need to describe Danny as "the writer" constantly. Maybe it was all very clever, certainly too clever for me, but I was left with the impression that there was some fantastic literary joke at work known only to the author and his circle.

I wanted to like this book, but I didn't. I had an extra spring in my step for this morning's commute- a tedious book (and heavy too) finished and something more interesting to look forward to.

I would urge those thinking about getting to know Irving's works to start with A Prayer for Owen Meany or The World According to Garp.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 12, 2012 12:12 PM BST

Sitecom Wl-330 Wireless Network 300n Range Extender
Sitecom Wl-330 Wireless Network 300n Range Extender

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Glory works !- a couple of hints for you, 20 Aug. 2009
Like the other reviewers, this extender worked for me very quickly and, in the general scheme of things, without much hassle. It produces an excellent signal in a large house and makes the most of a Wireless N network. Compared to my old Linksys, this unit is a dream. I did, however, have a couple of problems- neither of them the fault of Sitecom- and I thought I should share the solutions (pretty obvious to an expert perhaps, but I'm no expert !) to save others aggravation or having to call the overpriced technical helpline (which I managed to avoid, so I don't know how good it would have been- but the cost alone is responsible for dropping a star). I wanted to connect 2 PCs to my network, one running XP and one running Vista. Both found the extender's signal immediately but neither connected. Here are my fixes:-

XP machine: said it was "Validating identity" but didn't get any further than this and didn't connect me. This required me to Google "Validating identity" and the answer was in the first hit (on the eHow site)- I had to disable this function by unchecking a box entitled "Enable IEEE 802.1x authentication for this network" which can be found in Properties for the wireless network to which I was connecting (in the Authentication tab).

Vista machine: I had to switch off my machine's firewall, connect to the network, and then switch it on again.

I'm still waiting for the day when connecting any new piece of IT kit doesnt require infinite patience or advanced technical qualifications but pending that day, this Sitecom range extender is as good a piece of kit as I have come across in the category.

Ordinary Heroes
Ordinary Heroes
by Scott Turow
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent holiday read, 26 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Ordinary Heroes (Paperback)
I bought this book ages ago, thinking that it would make a good holiday read. Consequently, I took it with me on a number of trips but somehow never got round to reading it. It was a dog-eared veteran by the time it came to the top of the pile. I should have read it sooner- it would certainly have improved last year's rainy fortnight in the West Country. After a slightly slow start (I was, bizarrely, irritated by the typeface...until I realised that it was there to differentiate between the present and the past) I was soon drawn in to the life of David Dubin and his interractions with the other principal characters in the book. I dont want to give the game away, but suffice it to say that there are plenty of emotionally charged moments and some visceral descriptions of the grim realities of war. This is an unusual book, war seen through the eyes of an army prosecuting lawyer, but it hits the mark- passion, adventure, emotion and personal discovery. Not a literary great, maybe, but a really entertaining read. This book will not let you down.

The Farmers' Friend
The Farmers' Friend
by Harry Shutkever
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful rural memoir, 19 Nov. 2006
This review is from: The Farmers' Friend (Paperback)
In this amusing and informative memoir Harry Shutkever, Midlands farmer (still running his farm at the age of 79), meat trader, classical guitarist and champion hedgelayer, takes his readers back to a time when the British countryside provided a living to a huge range of the sort of characters who are now sadly lacking in this age of lowest unit cost, supermarket-dominated mass food production.

It is fascinating to read Mr Shutkever's recollections of the people and places who made up this lost world, from the long re-developed Midlands cattle markets to the farmers whose labours created so much of our precious rural heritage.

But this book is not just a glance back in rose tinted spectacles. We are introduced to Mr Shutkever's ever-demanding father, a Russian Jewish emigré, for whom a minute's silence was observed after his death at all the cattle markets of the Midlands. He also offers us a warts and all view of the life and times of the long-defunct Birmingham wholesale meat market (not to be confused with the glorified supermarket which now occupies the site).

Mr Shutkever's great love of the countryside and the people who populate it is obvious. The fact that the book is written with wit and charm is a real bonus. It is a must for anybody who cares for this crucial but so often ignored part of the British economy.

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