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D. Stinton "DJS" (UK)

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Canon PIXMA MG5550 - multifunction printer ( colour )
Canon PIXMA MG5550 - multifunction printer ( colour )

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A step backwards for canon - waste of money - do not buy., 16 July 2015
This printer is poor. I have a Canon MP560 for years and years which suddenly stopped working so I went out and purchased this having been happy with the Canon brand. Canon how could you possibly develop a design from previous models and make it worse???!!!!

Bad points:
- Paper tray has to be open to hold multiple sheets (it was tucked away nicely on previous models)
- I have never heard so much of a palaver when doing anything. Print heads back and forth, winding noises, seemingly endlessly. Even at completely random times when its been on for a bit and i'm not printing anything
- Quite often wont connect (I know this can be a multitude of issues but I don't have this problem with anything else)
- Paper shoots out onto the floor unless you open another extending plastic piece easily broken off (unlike previous models)
- Messages of paper output tray closed, its easy once you know how, why doesn't this open automatically
- Suddenly started printing everything 3 times (not something I did)
- Ink hideously expensive - buy the cheap copies.
- Kept telling me I needed to update yet refused to update
- No USB port for printing direct (or even plugging a computer in direct when the wifi believes it isn't connected)
- So slow at printing, you almost can't believe it.
- I can't be bothered to waste my time writing more.

Good Points
- Print quality seems decent enough for a home printer

I cannot believe Canon have released this printer when the design features of a printer I bought from them in 2008/9 was SOOOO much better. This is definitely a step backwards and the printer is frustrating enough for me to never buy another Canon product.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 6, 2015 1:46 PM BST

Korg Volca-Beats Machine Analog Rhythm Drum Synthesizer
Korg Volca-Beats Machine Analog Rhythm Drum Synthesizer
Price: £100.10

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Analogue Drum Machine, 2 Nov. 2013
Korg are onto a winner here. A diminutive box with loads of flashing lights offering a 16-step analogue drum sequencer for £120. Christmas stocking alert! I've wanted one of these since I heard of them earlier in the year and it seems to have taken an age for them to actually arrive in the UK, and here they are.

Looks wise I think this looks great, a solid enough black plastic case with what seems like a black metal front plate. All buttons and dials are easily accessible - if you had to be picky then maybe the main dials are a little small, but it hasn't concerned me whilst using it. The keypad itself I am very impressed with a very reactive touch response which is great when live recording parts.

You get six analogue sounds and four PCM, all adjustable to varying degrees, the most editable being kick and snare as you'd expect. The kick sounds excellent, you will be surprised such a mighty boom can emanate from such a small box. In my opinion the rest of the sounds aren't so instantly likeable, but as you begin to mould them together into sequences they all come together with a really great vibe.

I stared at this for a few minutes at first wondering what I should be pressing, but once you get the hang of the eight buttons on the right hand side (and their second functions) you will be knocking out sequences in no time. There are three main recording modes; live (which quantises to the closest step), step record (each key you press takes you to the next one) and step mode (where you choose which instrument and click where you'd like it to play on the grid). They're all easy and intuitive to use. It's a very visual experience when sequences are playing with LEDs lighting up as each voice is triggered and more LEDs along the bottom to show you where you are in the sequence or which modes are active.
There are few cool functions; stutter, step jump and active step to bring further life to your patterns. The features seem really well thought through and I haven't yet been thinking "I wish this would do XXX".

Overall, this comes across as very useable, it definitely doesn't feel or sound like a "toy" and I'm sure it will be making an appearance in many home and potentially more professional recordings. I dreamed of having something like this when I was in my teens, and now quite a few years later its arrived in an affordable little box. Are we moving back in time with this resurgence of analogue?.... maybe.... but who cares... it sounds great. Nice one Korg!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 20, 2015 11:22 AM GMT

Twitch Rises
Twitch Rises
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Zombie-tastic, 8 Sept. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Twitch Rises (Kindle Edition)
An edge of your seat horror story that keeps you gripped all the way through - I read this in a few days as I couldn't put it down. This picks up the tale of Twitch and Lisa several years on and drops you straight into the beginning of a British apocalypse where some kind of infection begins spreading its way throughout the UK. In true horror fashion, the story flits between Twitch and Lisa and a separate group of characters during the same disaster at an Aston Villa game (serves them right some may say.....). The story unfolds into a full scale nightmare with nods throughout to classic horror/zombie movies. In true Stevens style the tale is warped by a human unaffected by the "virus" (Matt) who is on the verge of breakdown as you're pulled into his violent and sexual fantasies about his fellow survivors. This is descriptive writing at its best with some fantastic similies/metaphors and scenes bringing a whole fresh perspective on a classic story theme.

A thoroughly enjoyable read, made even better for me as its set in the Midlands so feels so much more relevant - we can only hope for more!

Behringer MIC200 Ultragain High End Vacuum Tube Preamplifier
Behringer MIC200 Ultragain High End Vacuum Tube Preamplifier
Price: £39.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Performance, 17 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this to hopefully improve the sound of my home recordings. I record into a Zoom R16 multitrack which already has its own preamps, but was sucked in by the potential "warmth" of tubes and additional modelling settings. I recorded the following, first through the Behringer and secondly, straight into the Zoom using the built in preamps: -

- Vocals through a Shure SM48
- Vocals through a Rode M3 (using phantom power)
- Electric piano at line level

All three tests (in my opinion) made the recorded sound worse. It brought in unwanted background noise, and both the vocals and piano sounded more tinny and less realistic when put through the MIC200. I did a "blind test" to pick out what sounded best and with all three recordings, me (and others) chose the cleaner, more natural sound - unfortunately this was without using this preamp.

Even though it was cheap, for me it was a complete waste of money to have an additional "box" that degrades the sound you're putting into it. If you don't own any preamps, then I suppose it will do the job of bringing up a microphone to line level, but even basic mixers have a channel or two that does this anyway. I heard absolutely no improvement (the opposite actually) in anything put through "the tube".

Add the £30 or so and spend it on a better mic instead.................

Korg KAOSSILATOR-2 Dynamic Phrase Synthesizer with Micro SD Card Slot - Black
Korg KAOSSILATOR-2 Dynamic Phrase Synthesizer with Micro SD Card Slot - Black

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice compact music creation, 3 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've owned the kaossilator 2 for a couple of weeks now. I'm learning piano/keyboard and am producing home recordings for fun, so thought this would supplement my other gear.

- Allows you to save recordings onto microSD (unlike the kaossilator 1!)
- Nice range of sounds, I like the basses in particular. Plenty there to come up with a variety of style loops
- Easy navigation and use. I've barely had to look at manual and discovered quite a few short cuts to speed up certain processes
- Nice wide range of features (changing scale, key, tempo, mix, no. of octaves and more)
- A really cool idea implemented well - you will have lots of fun with this.

- Undo feature would have been good
- I would also like a "mic-in" lock, and "loop-record" lock. I plugged in my keyboard to record a loop and had to balance the K2 on my knee, hold-down the mic-in with one finger, the loop-record with another finger, and then play keyboard with my other hand. Similarly, even when just playing the kaossilator itself i would like to "lock" the record button and play the pad with two hands (partly cos of accuracy noted below)
- I find it hard to accuractely play notes - it seems to work better if you just "play anything". I plugged into my computer sequencer where i wanted to play something relatively simple, but specific notes. You can hit the notes, but you only have to be a little bit out and you're playing the wrong one, esecially on a "slide" or a "jump" to other notes. You can change the range (i.e. 1 octave, 2 octave etc) to help accuracy but i still found it difficult even with one octave.
- Battery life seems quite short - dig out your recharchables!

So overall, I really like this. I'm not sure how compatible it is with the remainder of my kit due to the accuracy issue of playing specific phrases, so it makes composing quite difficult. To be fair though, i don't think thats really what its for, so i wont mark it harshly. Its a (relatively high-spec) toy that you can maybe get some quick ideas down and have a great bit of fun with - there's loads of sounds you'll recognise from professional releases. I will just have to wait and see about its longevity as a musical tool rather than a bit of fun.....
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 24, 2013 3:07 PM GMT

Hatred for the Hollow
Hatred for the Hollow
Price: £1.20

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is in this lift with me!?, 18 Aug. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Hatred for the Hollow grips you from the start and is pretty much a page turner throughout. Split into two (main) threads set in different decades the story gradually unfolds leaking just enough information to keep you guessing and hook you in.

Set in the present is the story of Heather, a hard working young lady who becomes the object of desire for the on-site security guard, Clive. Unlike the rest of the book, Clive's sections are cleverly written in the 1st person perspective drawing you in to his perverted fantasies.

The other thread of the tale, entitled 'then', covers a series of female murders. Here things become gruesome as you follow the killer and his body disposal methods.

There is also a filthy man reeking of cat urine desperate to obtain kittens - this section will keep you guessing till the end.

Hatred for the Hollow is a great example of the horror/thriller genre, two gripping tales filled with tension and suspense interwoven in the final chapters. Great stuff!

Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great twisted horror, 15 Aug. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Twitch (Kindle Edition)
There's a huge range of lower priced ebooks out there with a massive range of quality. This one doesn't disappoint. It sets out the tale of Twitch, a soon-to-become homeless teenager and Luke, a university student destined to create his own downfall. Thrown into the mix is The Butcher, who's passion for perfection soon becomes evident.

Needing an 18 certificate, this is not for the faint hearted as the story covers domestic abuse, drugs, sex, homelessness, murder and supernatural powers. Stevens describes scenes intricately with every action and (often horrific) thought process laid clear to draw you in to the grizzly world of the characters.

The various strands of the story are brought together to a shocking and bizarre climax.

Grab yourself a bargain at 77p! Bring on the next one!

Complete Keyboard Player: Omnibus Edition: Parts 1, 2 & 3 in One
Complete Keyboard Player: Omnibus Edition: Parts 1, 2 & 3 in One
by Kenneth Baker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.95

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not great for the beginner, but a useful resource after that, 27 Feb. 2012
I am a total beginner and think this approaches starting the keyboard in a difficult manner. For instance, you start off being told to set auto-start accompaniments, playing to specific tempos, being told all about single finger chords, then 2 pages later bringing in "proper" chords. For me the book starts too much on the features of a keyboard - why not just get playing some basic songs with a default piano sound - you can bring in keyboard features later.

It also doesn't really give guidance on what to do with your left hand - yes it gives you the chord for the bar, but as a total beginner, i'd really like some help. Am i meant to play and hold the chord at the start of the bar? Play it broken? Playing the notes of the chord in sequence? I now understand that you can do whatever you want, but i don't think a beginners guide should assume this and at least should give you some idea rather than just "G".

The CD examples are also not great for the beginner. Rather than clearly playing the piano part there's little flourishes, lots of background parts - its feels like its showing off. As a beginner you need to hear clear piano ONLY with maybe a simple drum part to keep time.

In my opinion a much better absolute beginner guide is "Progressive Keyboards for Adults". This explains exactly what you should be doing clearly and concisely, tells you what to do with your left hand and the CD is very good. I'm working through both books to expand my range, but without the "Progressive" book would be very much struggling with the just the "Complete".

If you're an absolute beginner I really wouldn't recommend you only use this, but if you already know the basics of chords and reading music then the wide range of songs included will be useful.

Incidentely I came across the book due to a friend giving it to me after struggling through the first few pages, causing them to give up keyboard completely.

Wish List (Donovan Creed series Book 5)
Wish List (Donovan Creed series Book 5)

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I wish i hadn't bothered., 14 May 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book actually started ok..... An interesting idea which soons descends into a much darker tale. Then, half way through (which isn't far), the perspective of the story changes to quite possibily the most ridiculous thing i have ever read. An ex-CIA agent with billions in the bank who has done everything and can do everything, with descriptions of ridiculous events happening in single sentances and then moving on swiftly to the next wildly unlikely occurence. Its almost like the author gave up and passed it on to someone else to write - i actually felt embarrased for them when reading the second half.

Previously i've always been selective about what i read, but now i have a kindle, there's a load of these 69p novels which you think may as well be worth a try. Hey, its only 69p. But its 69p worth of utter garbage. Its not funny, its not well written and it takes a particularly dire turn around the middle.

I'd just finished reading "The Stand" and went straight onto this. It was like driving around in a Rolls Royce and then suddenly being dropped into a Lada. I'm astonished anyone can rate this book as 5 stars.

I suppose that the issue with the kindle - you can't sell on or borrow books so many people want to read cheaply, but IMO its bringing the standard way down. Shame.

Portal 2 (Xbox 360)
Portal 2 (Xbox 360)
Offered by Online Entertainment Warehouse
Price: £21.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent creative gaming, 10 May 2011
This review is from: Portal 2 (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
I loved a large part of this game - it really is something different. Imaginative, great graphics, and really gets you thinking. The other reviewers have covered a great deal of positives, which I do agree with hence the high score, but I was held back from a full five stars because of the following:

1) Whilst I loved the test chambers themselves, some of the "in-between" parts I found either quite frustrating or dull - it just seemed to be "find the obscure place you can shoot a portal", which is simple enough but didn't give the same satisfaction as solving a test chamber. I found myself just wanting to rush through those parts and get to the next puzzle.

2) Compared to Portal 1, the chambers weren't as difficult. There were head-scratching moments but most levels seemed a fairly logical sequence of events that could be spotted fairly quickly by having a wander around. I felt more "guided" to complete the chambers as quite often there were only "Portal Walls" in specific places so it was fairly clear where you needed to direct your attention. Its subtle, but the first Portal had me racking my brains, whereas these chambers seemed to lay it out there in front of you. Someone who has played the previous portal will have a huge advantage on how the puzzles "work" which will reduce the playing time as you'll fly through at least the first half of the game.

3) It's a shame, but once you've played it though you'll never have that magic moment of arriving at a solution because you'll more than likely remember it (not much you could do about that, it's just the nature of the game)

All in all, a great innovative game, that is quite unlike anything you've probably played before (apart from Portal 1!)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 24, 2011 11:21 PM GMT

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