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Kalense "Bufo bufo" (Brussels)

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Parrot Zik 2.0 by Philippe Starck Wireless Headphones - Black
Parrot Zik 2.0 by Philippe Starck Wireless Headphones - Black
Price: £249.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly good headphones, 14 Feb. 2015
By far the best headphones I've ever tried, and I've tried a lot. They put my Bose QuietComfort 25 headphones in the shade, though to be fair, they're also more expensive.

I was blown away by the personalisation - both its ease and the scale of the effect. The noise cancelling is the best I've experienced by quite a long shot.

I really like the bluetooth capacity - I can get up from my Photoshopping and go downstairs and make a coffee and go on listening to Shpongle...

I also appreciate the volume control - no fiddling to try to find a small dial, just slide your finger up or down the outside of the right earphone, and that's it.

With my custom settings they seem better adapted to rock and roll and metal than to classical music - but you can set various custom settings using the app that you can download for free.

The 'phones weigh 275g with the battery, so you definitely feel them on your head. The headband is more of a flat-bottomed U shape than it looks in the photos, which means that it touches the skull in a rather small area, and that gives rise to a bit of pressure after a while. They grip quite hard around the ears, and they get a little uncomfortable after a couple of hours, but there are very few headphones that don't.


Kosee Qi Smart Wireless Charging Cradle Stand for Samsung S6, S6 Edge, LG G2/G3, Moto X, Nexus 5/6, Blackberry Z30, Huawei, Nokia 1152, Nokia 928
Kosee Qi Smart Wireless Charging Cradle Stand for Samsung S6, S6 Edge, LG G2/G3, Moto X, Nexus 5/6, Blackberry Z30, Huawei, Nokia 1152, Nokia 928
Offered by Decrescent
Price: £39.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Cradle Will Rock, 30 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The picture shows the cradle exactly - a leaning-over L that does not fold up for packing. It feels solid. A green light on the shelf comes on when you plug the USB cable into the back of the device and into a computer or wall socket adaptor. The light turns mauve when you set the phone onto the cradle, to show that it is charging.

Unlike some other reviewers, I found the device accommodating with respect to how I place my phone (LG G3) on the cradle - the cradle charges the phone even when I place it significantly off-centre.

My phone charges much more slowly on the cradle than when plugged directly into the USB cable. The advantage is having the phone charging on the desk next to my computer as I work, with no need to plug and unplug the USB cable from the phone.

The reason I've given this thing only 3 stars is that on several occasions, the phone has sat on the cradle without charging at all. On these occasions the phone wakes up intermittently and squawks, and shows a big cartoon of a charging battery, but the amount of charge (say, 57%) remains the same hour after hour. The interval between wake-up moments seems to be erratic, but I haven't timed it. I tried moving the phone around on the cradle, but it made no difference.

You'll agree that for a device whose sole purpose in life is to charge a phone, spending forever causing a phone to bleep every now and again, without charging it, is somewhat sub-optimal.

I'm not completely convinced that the device is more than a gadget.


Van Veeteren Films Vol.2 [DVD]
Van Veeteren Films Vol.2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sven Wollter
Price: £9.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Goodies 3, Baddies 0, 3 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As you'll see from my review of the first volume, I'm not bowled over by Van Veeteren. The plotlines are ingenious enough, and there's tension enough, but I never found myself caring much for anyone. I don't think the script writers made enough of Moreno, who lands up in the episodes in this volume as little more than eye candy, while Münster droops about looking bewildered, and contributes little. Van Veeteren himself failed again to endear himself to me - I found myself disliking him more and more. Perhaps that's what the writers intended, but in that case it's hard to see why anyone would want to continue watching a film in which none of the characters appeal to anyone.

As before, Van Veeteren is still retired, Munster and Moreno still can't solve any case without him, VV offers beer to everyone, slurs his lines as if his tongue were anaesthetised, and all the baddies wind up dead. If they're shot, it's usually from a quick shot with a hand gun at great range, and through the heart. These invariable deus ex machina endings get a little old.

In the last episode Van Veeteren talks on the phone to the mother of his grandchild-to-be, in a scene that telegraphs that the writers will kill off our dear VV at the end of the episode. The ending, to me, felt very much as if they filmed two versions, one in which he dies the death of a dog, and the other in which everyone lives happily ever after. Which did they choose? Mmm. I'd have settled for the other.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 2, 2015 5:34 PM GMT


Van Veeteren Films: Vol. 1 [DVD]
Van Veeteren Films: Vol. 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sven Wollter
Price: £9.99

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't quite come up to scratch, 3 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Cards on the table: One: I'm a great fan of Krister Henriksson's Wallander. He is likeable and vulnerable, and if he is both grumpy and cynical, he is nevertheless charismatic, with a mind and methods of his own. Two: I haven't read the Van Veeteren books.

Van Veeteren, played by Sven Wollter, is a retired Detective Chief Inspector. Although he is supposed to be a kindly, grandfatherly and spritely old man, I find the character vaguely unpleasant and unappealing - shades of some rancid child molester. I think that much of my distaste stems from his slurred speech, which emanates from a mouth that is less repellent when closed. Part, though, comes from his inability to accept that he is, indeed, retired, and should leave police work to the police. I admit that this is an entirely personal perspective, but being myself retired, but yet a hippie, you have to let go, man, let go, roll with the flow, get with the vibe. The graveyards are full of indispensable people. Give someone else a go.

So; not specially likeable, then. He, like Wallander, is played as vulnerable, but since we hardly glimpse what he thinks or feels in his private life, we are left with a rather shallowly-drawn vulnerability, a kind of flaky veneer. Since he himself seems to have the empathy of a doorknob, it is difficult to engage with him. His reaction to any visitor is "have a beer", and to any emotional shock to stare meaningfully into the middle distance.

Since he is retired he has to be shoe-horned into each episode in one improbable way or another. This means that the series is really not "Van Veeteren", but "Moreno or Münster (and Van Veeteren)".

The stories involve particularly unpleasant crimes and deaths. The goodies turn out to be crack shots with hand-guns. Spoiler: all the baddies get shot in the penultimate scene, which saves the Swedish taxpayer money.

The series is OK, but set against other Nordic Noir, doesn't quite come up to scratch.


The God Species
The God Species
by Mark Lynas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.49

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The planet doesn't need saving. Humans do., 27 Sept. 2014
This review is from: The God Species (Paperback)
I wanted to read a book yesterday evening, and plucked "The God Species" from my friend's bookshelf.

I read as far as the 6th page of the introduction, on which I discovered that "the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence suggests that we are fast approaching the point where our interference in the planet's great bio-geochemical cycles is threatening to endanger the Earth system itself..." which caused a mental stutter, not just because the evidence is that we have past several important tipping points some time ago, but also because I have some conceptual problems with the "Earth system". But I read swiftly on, "...and hence our own survival as a species." As I understand it, this translates to "we have the tiger, or perhaps it is a dragon, or Godzilla, by the tail, and our future is uncertain".

But then the author goes on, "Nature no longer runs the Earth. We do. It is our choice what happens from here." So either the author has a different concept of "nature" from me, or he has not internalised the idea that "the planet's great bio-geochemical cycles" will go on blithely "running the Earth", altered or unaltered, humans or no humans, and that gumming up a coffee grinder by sticking your finger into it is not "running" the coffee grinder.

I read on to the next page, but my heart wasn't in it, and I was terminally discouraged when I found that the author thinks that Limits to Growth was about economic growth (it is about the growth of human impact on the planet) and that the planetary boundaries concept does not "necessarily mean ditching capitalism, the profit principle or the market". Profit requires debt, and debt requires that tomorrow is bigger than today. End of. Oh well.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 5, 2015 8:56 PM BST


Unit One: Season 3 [DVD]
Unit One: Season 3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mads Mikkelsen
Price: £15.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dastardly Danes Defeat Delinquency, 20 Sept. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Unit One: Season 3 [DVD] (DVD)
I've been mesmerised by this series ever since the first episode of the first season. The characters develop from episode to episode, and the viewer learns more and more about each of them as time goes on. The stories are drawn from real cases, though I don't suppose that a single team was responsible for solving the cases in real life, or that they unfolded in the way depicted in this series. The drama and tension is kept up from episode to episode without becoming formulaic.

Anyone who enjoys police procedurals will enjoy this.


Maxell 854949 DUAL Stick Drive
Maxell 854949 DUAL Stick Drive
Offered by Its New 2 You
Price: £12.08

1.0 out of 5 stars Plug and pray, 18 Sept. 2014
Amazon says the shipping weight is 3kg. Since the stick weighs 16g, the packaging apparently weighs 186 times as much as the device. Even for Amazon this seems like overkill.

I bought this stick to help me transfer data and images onto and off of my Android phone. The stick comes without instructions, and I have no idea how to get it to work with the phone. The stick has a mini-USB plug at one end that fits into the socket in the base of the phone, but there is no sign that the phone recognises the stick. I'm sure I'm doing something wrong, but it would help if the makers didn't just assume that everyone is up to speed technically. Since I'm not, I now have a USB stick that doesn't cut the mustard.

Samsung Galaxy S3 mini GT-I8190N
Android 4.1.2


Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion in America
Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion in America
by Mark Ames
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars hear one old man laugh, 11 July 2014
The first thing to say about this book is that it is much, much, much too long.

The author draws a parallel between the historical condition of slavery and the modern condition of wealth disparity. As the fat cats get all the while richer by driving us, the mice, into penury, they create the conditions for Muckers.

The book’s premise is that you are bred, and everybody has always been bred, subservient and prepared to put up with all kinds of shit from cradle to grave. Every now and then someone, it’s almost always a bloke, puts up with all kinds of shit until he doesn’t any more, and goes postal. And when he goes postal, he almost invariably fails, even if he tries, to enlist other berserkers to his cause. That’s sometimes because he is driven by voices in his head and hasn’t the charisma to rally others to his fantasies, more often because he’s the “quiet type, kept to himself”, the faintly ridiculous and despised butt of office jibes and pranks, or the victim of hierarchical bullying.

The author, Mark Ames, points out that the nutter’s fantasies, that the world might be different from the one he lives in, may become mainstream one day. Thus everyone thought slavery was normal a couple of hundred years ago, and few of us living in democracies think it’s normal today, so the nutter who topped his owner back then is seen from a different perspective today. This is one of many arguments Ames puts forward that fail on examination. As he himself points out, slaves don’t revolt because they want a better world. They do it because some minor injustice acts like a sand grain landing on a super-critical dune face, causing something to snap inside.

The author could have made a thought-provoking piece in a magazine article (Prospect, anyone?) or in a short series of blogs. Instead, we are treated to an apparently endless, chartless and repetitive ramble through rather tediously detailed case histories, interspersed with lectures (I almost said raving) from the pulpit. We get the point, we get the point – though admittedly it takes a long time for him to get to the point. We start with a berserk rampage through an office, and then, as if in another book entirely, a strange soliloquy on the superficial smile, followed by a further apparent non-sequitur in the shape of a long discourse on slavery. As he gradually builds his case we are treated to increasingly wild-eyed polemics about the political agenda of the fat cats – all of which the reader may perhaps sympathise with, but rather in the fashion of an onlooker sympathising with Charlie Chaplain in Modern Times.

My impression was of wading through a swamp; and like all the (mercifully few) swamps I’ve ever waded through, every time I thought I was getting somewhere it turned out to be indistinguishable from the bit I just left. Like swamps, there are some really very interesting bits, but it’s all rather an effort. After the first quarter of the book, I just wanted it to stop.

I'm not at all sure who this book is written for. Clearly some people like it - the other reviews demonstrate that. The book comes across to me as a random patchwork of well-researched case histories of slave rebellions and mass murders in the US. It might appeal to voyeuristic appetites for violence, but for the matrix of political polemic that will rub some people up the wrong way.

I'm also not convinced by Ames' central argument that perceived injustice in the workplace is a necessary and sufficient cause for some rather marginal people to go on the rampage. There are just too many counter-examples of people driven by other demons. Breivik and Ogwang are not Americans, but McLendon and Pough and many others are, and - unless I have misunderstood Ames' point - they just don't fit.

Oh. Muckers? Yes. Read John Brunner’s astonishing and inventive “Stand on Zanzibar”. From our distant past in 1968, Brunner presents a richer and more diverse smorgasbord of causes that drive people postal.


Kobo eReader Touch Edition 15.2 cm (6) 2GB black
Kobo eReader Touch Edition 15.2 cm (6) 2GB black
Offered by MACnificent
Price: £79.99

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How hard can it be?, 27 Jun. 2014
One star - because if you want an e-reader that can store thousands of books the very least you want is a way of structuring your library so that you can quickly select, say, a non-fiction book on the environment, or a science-fiction story in French. Good luck with that - this thing allows you to look at all of your books ordered by author, title, file size (how useful is that!) or file type (!). The interface shows 6 books, and my library contains 52 pages like that. How am I going to find anything, ever? You can't even use tags, let alone bookshelves.

One star - because I live in a country that happens to have three official languages that aren't English. There is no way to prevent the Kobo bookshop presenting books in all three languages (thus swamping by sheer volume the occasional ones in English) and no way to get it to propose books in a language that I actually would like to read.

One star - because of the dismal customer service.

How hard can it be to think about the user's needs and experience when they are using your product?


Spooks - BBC Series 1 (New Packaging) [DVD]
Spooks - BBC Series 1 (New Packaging) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Matthew MacFadyen
Price: £10.72

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Frisbee time, 23 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Presentation: Having the episodes numbered and not named is a stroke of genius. If the viewer really wants to remember where they are in the boxed set, they can always write it down or chisel it into the box or something. The alternative is to watch episodes at random – since they are all so similar and so forgettable, you probably won’t notice if you watch one over and over again. Until you find yourself lip-synching the dialogue.

Plot: I find it hard to pick an adjective to describe the plots; there are so many candidates. The words melodramatic, jejune, implausible, predictable, unbelievable, tedious and jingoistic all come to mind, but I think I’ll go with “boring”.

Casting: It’s amazing how wrong one can go with casting. If David Cameron were cast in the lead role he would be marginally more believable than the totally miscast Matthew MacFadyen. He’s supposed to be some hard-man world-wise manager of a counter-terrorism team, but the viewer winces as he ponces about, all stern and wooden faced, like some full-of-himself public-school prefect with a wet mop up his bum. Peter Firth can’t help his face, but he, too, is horribly miscast (a jelly baby pretending to be a sabre-toothed lion) but then, so are Keeley Hawes (more eye candy than I-spy) and David Oyelowo (terribly nice young man, terribly nice). The best-cast is Jenny Agutter, so they write her out of the script. But it’s not just the main characters, either. Not one of the supporting cast is believable in their role.

Acting: When it's not hammy, it's wooden.

Dialogue: clunky. Everyone keeps explaining everything to each other to make sure the viewer is following the plot. Only she isn’t; she’s comatose.

Direction: misguided. At one point one of the characters, a junior member of the team, is participating in a briefing from his boss's boss, and guess where he sits. Yes, not at, but on the table, with his foot on the chair. Nonchalant, you know, groovy, cool, man, like every civil servant in Whitehall. Cringe. And if you're going to bring the personal lives of the characters into the story, at least do so in a way that doesn't prompt the viewer to get up and get a cup of tea going.

Devices: the viewer is kept on the edge of their seat… oh, no, sorry, that’s another series entirely. The viewer is slumped nerveless in the depths of the sofa, watching numbly as microlites are about to get shot down by the RAF and the fate of the world hangs in the balance… will they shoot? Won’t they? Um, no, they won’t.

My recommendation: Watch Unit One instead. Now there’s good TV. Oh, wait... it's Danish. Not the done thing, not at all.


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