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Profile for Dr. Michael Heron > Reviews

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Content by Dr. Michael Heron
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Reviews Written by
Dr. Michael Heron (Brechin)
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The Big Cheese Ultra Power Pest Repeller (Scientifically Tested and Proven, Ultrasonic Rodent Pest Deterrent, Repels Rats and Mice from the Home, Covers up to 60 sq m)
The Big Cheese Ultra Power Pest Repeller (Scientifically Tested and Proven, Ultrasonic Rodent Pest Deterrent, Repels Rats and Mice from the Home, Covers up to 60 sq m)
Offered by EasihomeCookshop
Price: £16.99

4.0 out of 5 stars It might work!, 12 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's really hard to be realistic about how effective this is - I *can* say that we haven't encountered any mice since it was plugged in, but that's after a spate of mice incidents that we dealt with via humane traps. I don't know if there were any mice left to repel, especially since we now have metal wool and the like blocking points of ingress. I have in the past tried switching similar devices on and off while observing a captured mouse for signs that it even noticed, and it always reacted more strongly to the sound of the switch than the device itself.

So, all I can really say is - I can provide no evidence that it *doesn't* work, which isn't really very strong praise but given the difficulty of proving a negative it's about all that I can manage. It's nice being mice-free though, so I'd err on the side of giving it a chance.


Igenix DF0037 Digital Tower Fan with 8H Timer and Remote Control, 35-Inch, White
Igenix DF0037 Digital Tower Fan with 8H Timer and Remote Control, 35-Inch, White
Price: £69.29

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm a fan of this fan, 12 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My study has no access to outside ventilation, and tends to warm up considerably during the summer. Desktop fans don't offer quite the coverage that would help with that, so this was an ideal thing to try out.

Igenix products have had a tendency to be rather bland in the design stakes - the kind of things that are useful, but never particularly nice to look at. The DF0037 fan breaks with that tradition - it actually looks really elegant, with a colour and design scheme that's vaguely reminiscent of something you might have seen in Valve's Portal game series. It has a good angle of rotation, flexible controls and settings, and a nice LED setting that shows the temperature of the room. It comes with a remote control, and even has a setting designed to vary fan speeds to 'simulate a comfortable sleeping breeze'.

There's nothing to dislike about it, and plenty to like - thoroughly recommended.


GreenPan, Venice, Ceramic Non-Stick Shallow Casserole, 26cm, 3.6L
GreenPan, Venice, Ceramic Non-Stick Shallow Casserole, 26cm, 3.6L
Price: £52.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great pan, 4 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There's very little to complain about here - it's very sturdy with excellent build quality. It's very capacious, giving you plenty of room for even larger family meals. The non-stick surface makes cleaning a breeze, and the snug design ensures maximum heating with minimal loss of temperature. However, it has metal handles which really bug me - this thing is going to get *hot*, and covered, non-conductive handles add so much to the convenience of cooking that this seems like a baffling oversight.

Otherwise I'd be happy to recommend this.


Sony FDR-AX53 Ultra HD 4K Compact Camcorder (HD 5-Axis Balanced Optical SteadyShot, 20x Optical Zoom, Wi-Fi and NFC)
Sony FDR-AX53 Ultra HD 4K Compact Camcorder (HD 5-Axis Balanced Optical SteadyShot, 20x Optical Zoom, Wi-Fi and NFC)
Price: £729.00

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely excellent, 4 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a tremendously good video camera, combining a lightweight frame with a tremendous amount of visual punch and clarity. I've owned the FDR-AX100EB for a couple of years now. That one has an eye-watering price-point, but this one manages to pack much the same high quality into a more affordable package - and what a package it is. The quality of the footage is absolutely excellent, although obviously raw 4K footage will eaty up storage space incredibly quickly. The sound is a little reedy, but if you're serious about this kind of thing you'll invest in a decent external microphone anyway. The on-board stabilisation software is absolutely excellent, and when combined with a half-way reasonable tripod you'll get rock-solid smooth motion with minimal effort. It deals well with low-light situations, managing to record excellent footage of a 'spooky' seance-related gaming session I had - it's certainly been better than some more expensive camcorders have been able to manage.

The onboard software has improved over the past couple of years too, and the flip-out LCD screen gives you a lot of control over the precise settings you want to make use of - the manual control options are fantastic. You can rely on the auto to work in almost all situations but if you want to change your focus, iso, shutter speed or balance you can do all of that. I would have liked to have had that more easily handled via the shell of the recorder itself, but at least you've got the option. If you need to do regular, ongoing changing of these settings you'll definitely find it annoying.

I also love the fact you can hook it up to a network and control it remotely with nothing more than a phone app - that opens up a world of flexibility that really adds a cherry on top of the cake.

I say it's affordable - it's still not exactly *cheap*, but as a mid-level ultra high definition camcorder you get an awful lot for your money.


Return to Cold War
Return to Cold War
by Robert Legvold
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile read, 15 May 2016
This review is from: Return to Cold War (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I found this book fascinating. I think in the West we are often insulated from the context of Russian activities, and many of us are carrying a lot of psychological baggage from the Cold War. That's given some of us a set of common assumptions, and counter-assumptions, that are instrumental in creating the environment into which commentators must project current happenings. This is a great book for blowing some of those cultural perceptions aside and letting some fresh air in. Scholarly written, insightfully delivered, and offers a useful lens for non-specialists to appreciate the wider implications of Western and Russian relations.


Data Management for Researchers (Research skills)
Data Management for Researchers (Research skills)
by Kristin Briney
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm not sure who this book is for, 15 May 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I think the problem with this book is it's poorly pitched. This isn't really 'for researchers', because most of us are already thinking and talking about these issues as part of the wider strategic data management plans of our institutions. To be fair, we're not thinking *well* or talking *often*, but we are at least aware of the issues and the complexities of doing it well. The problem is that this is an issue beyond the level of an individual researcher to do properly. At best, I can say that this is a nice book to make available for those that are starting their career as data-centric researchers, but likely they've already come to their own conclusions about the topic as a simple necessity of personal data management.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2016 8:21 PM BST


BISSELL ProHeat 2X Revolution Full-Size Carpet Cleaner, Machine Only
BISSELL ProHeat 2X Revolution Full-Size Carpet Cleaner, Machine Only
Price: £279.99

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First rate, 7 May 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an absolutely fantastic carpet cleaner that I can't recommend highly enough. It's comes in a number of easy to assemble sections, although I slotted it together without reference to the instructions and found that if you do it in the wrong order it won't work at all. So, you know - don't do that.

As to the cleaner itself, the performance is excellent - the dark, swirling water that was left in the tank after a pass of our carpets was an eye-opening experience. The only real flaw in the cleaner is how often the tank needs to be refilled - that may have been just the sorry state of what we were working with, but I only managed to get through half of the carpet before needing to replace the water. Luckily, that's a breeze to do - it all works quickly and easily, and I guess the lightness of the tank is the trade-off you make for the capacity.

So yes - very reasonably priced, very maneuverable, easy to assemble, easy to disassemble, and will make you despair of the cleanliness of your home when you use it. First rate.


TP-Link AC3200 Tri-Band Wireless Gigabit Cable Gaming Router, 1 GHz Dual-Core CPU, 3 Co-Processors, USB 3.0, 2.0 Ports, Beamforming Technology, UK Plug (Archer C3200)
TP-Link AC3200 Tri-Band Wireless Gigabit Cable Gaming Router, 1 GHz Dual-Core CPU, 3 Co-Processors, USB 3.0, 2.0 Ports, Beamforming Technology, UK Plug (Archer C3200)
Price: £149.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's like Cthulhu and the Dark Goddess Lloth had a baby, 27 April 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There's a lot of router here for the price, although you do have to put up with having a router than looks like a cross between an alien probe and an ancient Cthulhian artifact that does not conform to Euclidian geometry. Look at those antenna and tell me they're not tentacles.

Setup is tremendously easy - it hooks in without fuss, and offers up a configuration page that is brimming over with high end features. Performance is fantastic, with a configurability that is flexible enough to set up multiple redundant networks for each different category of wireless as well as a guest account that is separated out from the main networks. Stability is first rate, and the speed is excellent. It's also set up to serve as a file-server and print-server, if you hook up the appropriate peripherals. It can serve as the hub of your entire network with ease.

The only complaint I have is that given how great the rest of it is, it's a shame it only has four ports - it's a little ungenerous. You can jury-rig your own network of networks of course, but had it offered just a little more in terms of support it would have easily hit five stars. It is though the only flaw on an otherwise first-rate device.


The Prospect of Global History
The Prospect of Global History
by James Belich
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £28.65

3.0 out of 5 stars Has a very inflated sense of its own promise., 27 April 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Like many books comprised primarily of academic essays, it's a mixed bag - there are a couple of essays that are genuinely fascinating, scholarly works of considered contemplation. There are also a couple that are borderline incomprehensible bowls of word salad. It's also bizarrely pompous about a premise it can't even effectively articulate - '... takes a new approach to the study of global history, seeking to apply it, rather than advocate it'.

What? That is a content free statement.

It all sounds very grandiose, but in the end all it is is a book of relatively run-of-the-mill chapters. The best ones manage to genuinely inflect the topic with a globalised perpsective that is refreshing. The worst offer no new insights, or critical perspectives, remotely commensurate with the claims of the premise.


The Prefect (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
The Prefect (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
by Alastair Reynolds
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Stands alone, but also stands out., 27 April 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Revelation Space series has been pretty uneven, full of lethargic starts followed by thrilling conclusions, and vice versa. However, the story it tells is full of sweeping grandeur and majesty, with an oncoming galactic apocalypse as the backdrop for a fundamentally human story about perseverance against the cosmic inevitability of our eventual irrelevence. The Prefect is set in that universe, but before all of the events of the previous books. As such, I wasn't 100% thrilled about the prospect - I worried it would lose almost everything I had enjoyed about the setting.

It turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong in my initial assumptions - it's easily the best of the Revelation Space books, and perhaps my favourite Alistair Reynolds book of the lot. It stands alone, but it also stands out. While it is in many respects riddled with cliches, that's because it's largely an affectionate and extremely effective homage to the grizzled detective tales of the noir era - The Prefect is noir in space, which is about as noir as it's possible to get.

It begins well, avoiding the common Reynolds failing of spending too much of an early story world-building. It builds momentum with every page, widening the scope of the initial crime with every new revelation, eventually unfolding into a vast, chilling conspiracy that is triggered and unfolds with the dread chill of irrevocablity. It builds to a crescendo that is as much about the morality of justice as it is about the conclusion of a plot. And then it finally ends with a sense of perfect closure, whilst still setting the series up for a sequel.

You can read this book without having read the others - it has only scant relevance to the other titles in the series. If you have read others though, especially Chasm City, it's fascinating to see a world that is so dark and so hopeless in the days before its decline into plague-induced madness. It also makes much of the earlier series more intensely melancholic - we finally get to understand the sense of loss and longing that underpins the desperate state of life for those in the earlier books. It deepens our appreciate of the earlier books, but it doesn't depend on them.

I loved every page of this, and I have no hesitation in recommending it wholeheartedly.


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