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Barry Kelly (London, UK)

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The Fresh Olive Co Balsamic No.8 250 ml
The Fresh Olive Co Balsamic No.8 250 ml
Price: £21.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Better than most things you'll find in the average supermarket, 10 Dec. 2014
For a non-aged balsamic, it's decent enough. Better than most things you'll find in the average supermarket; I got my bottle at a weekend market stall. But it still tastes like vinegar cut with must; the harsh edge of the vinegar comes through, making it a little bit unpleasant on things like ice cream when you focus on the taste. It has a distinct two-tone flavour profile.

Having just bought a 25 year aged balsamic (about 10x the price per volume), the difference is night and day. People who say this is the best balsamic they've tasted: I question if they've ever even tasted an aged balsamic.

Garmin zumo 350LM 4.3" Motorbike Sat Nav with UK and Full Europe Maps, Free Lifetime Map Updates and Bluetooth
Garmin zumo 350LM 4.3" Motorbike Sat Nav with UK and Full Europe Maps, Free Lifetime Map Updates and Bluetooth

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Map overhead view infuriating to use and ad-hoc route changes are far harder than 550, 9 Mar. 2014
I used to own a Zumo 550. Not long ago, it tumbled out of its mount and got squished under a car. I put about 35k on its odometer, in both Europe and the US, so I knew it well.

The 350 is wider but shallower than the 550, and about the same weight, perhaps slightly lighter. The battery is not removable, but it does last longer, and the voice synthesis works without hardwired power.

The mount is a bit better, I will tentatively say. I went through 3 mounts for the 550; on one, the pins on the locking piece snapped from vibration wear, and on another, water got into it and fried the circuitry inside it - probably because the RAM mounting bracket was bolted on slightly too tightly, so the plastic eventually cracked.

The new mount's locking lever is off to the side and around the back of the device, so it's less likely to be popped open by a cuff when reaching past the device - the cause of death of my 550.

The new mount has no electronics, just two power pins (actually on the power cable) connecting to two copper discs on the back of the 350. The 350 takes 5v power, and the transformer for this is embedded in the power cable itself - it converts 10v..30v to 5v. This also means extra cables for extra bikes is more expensive.

The way the cable locks into the mount has changed too. The cable needs to be threaded through the mount before the RAM bracket is bolted to the back of the mount, and so detaching the cable needs a spanner and screwdriver. Since the cable is normally routed along the frame all the way to the battery with cable ties etc., this means the mount cannot be removed from the bike easily if you're using hard-wired power. I plan to snip the cable and use a superseal connector to make the mount portable, as I believe leaving a GPS mount attached to my scooter parked up in the city is going to prompt thieves to break into my seat / topbox looking for the corresponding device. This should also save me having to buy multiple mounts, and multiple RAM brackets, one for each bike.

On to the software. The UI is a bit different than the 550, the speed is a little smaller, but the dashboard is configurable and something acceptable is reasonably easy to choose. Changing things like the screen brightness is a bit dangerous on the move, whereas I could do it blindly on the 550 with its hardware buttons. The lane assist / junction view is a nice addition for the rare times I'm on motorways going through complex chain of junctions, where it can save a lot of time should you take a wrong turning. The speed limit indicators are more often wrong than right in Essex, where many NSL roads have been changed to 50 and 40, and some 40s have become 30s. But the passive navigation UI is generally fine.

Now, routing. I generally used my 550 in three ways: navigation to known addresses, preplanned routes and ad-hoc routes. Navigation to known addresses works perfectly fine, little different than the 550 or indeed any phone app or cheap GPS. If this is all you need a GPS for, the Zumo is overkill and probably not worth it.

Preplanned routes were generally done in Tyre because it has easy export to both Garmin and TomTom - my GF has a TT Rider 2. Preplanned routes work just about as well as the 550, though they are slightly more involed to get to, you need to tap through 'Apps', then 'Trip Planner', before you can access the route - it's not on the same screen as 'Go To', and it took me a few dozen Google searches to find it.

Ad-hoc routing is significantly worse than the 550 for my use pattern, though. The way I'd do it on the 550 is:

choose a final destination
let the device plot the route
examine the route in the overhead north-up view
are any bendy roads visible parallel to route?
if not, stop fiddling with GPS and ride
otherwise, add a via point to force navigation to choose that road
go to step 2

On the 350, there are problems with steps 3 (north up view of route) and 6 (adding a via point). On the 550, tapping the map would transfer from 3D view (the default) to north-up overhead view. Then the physical + / - buttons could be used to zoom, tap and drag to pan, tap to place a marker, and Go to add as a via point.

On the 350, tapping the map transfers to a slightly zoomed out 3D view, and needs an extra tap on a soft button to go to north-up overhead view. There are no physical buttons other than the power button, and the soft + / - zoom buttons fade out after a delay of about 2 seconds, often less than the redraw time of the map. Tapping the map to get the buttons back also selects a point, and a second new behaviour, auto-centering, pans the map to the location of the selected point. This means that zooming in or out often means randomly panning around the map, and makes zooming in on a small narrow area an exercise in frustration. And when panning around the map, it's advisable to leave your finger on the screen a bit longer than necessary, otherwise it might interpret the swipe as a point selection and pan somewhere else entirely.

Further problems arise when trying to add a via point. Instead of the device figuring out the optimal navigation order to insert the new point, it dumps you in the route point ordering dialog, and you need to sort it yourself manually, tediously dragging it into place in a list where you can only see 3 other points at a time. And since the intermediate points are typically chosen because of their locations on bendy roads, you have no idea where to insert the new point - the list is full of addresses you don't recognize.

So ad-hoc route planning is a bit of a disaster on the new device, to the point that doing it efficiently requires a pen and paper to keep track of which via points go where. The route can be reordered optimally, but that requires going all the way to the top-level menu, then down through Apps / Trip Planner / Active Route / Edit / Optimal Reorder, then all the way back up to the top-level menu and back into the map view, then back into north-up overhead view, then zoom out until you can see the whole route again - way, way too many steps to be efficient for an interactive loop.

I suspect the people at Garmin who designed the software have never actually used it on a bike. They are completely obsessed with addresses and points, whereas people who ride bikes are far more concerned with roads and routes. I'd like to see a feature where you could upload thousands or tens of thousands of routes ("recommended rides") into the device, and have the device have an interactive dialog for stringing together these routes when navigating.

There are a few new features that I appreciate though. Breadcrumbs - the route you've ridden since the GPS was turned on, roughly speaking - can be turned into a route. So if you get lost and find some good roads, you can more easily turn it into a route, rather than having to remember to plug the device into a PC, load the trip, and convert it into a route there. Similarly, the Active Route can now be saved. So if you can cope with the hassle of designing a semi-decent ad-hoc route, you can now save it and ride it again much more easily.

Overall it's a very mixed bag. For the same price I paid (300 GBP), I would have been happy with a box-fresh Zumo 550, but I was not willing to buy a second-hand one for the asking prices on ebay (200..250 GBP), even though I had all the accessories and bikes pre-wired. I plan on keeping the 350 until the successor to the 660 comes out - it's a bit long in the tooth now - and then possibly sell it and upgrade in the hope that my spamming of Garmin's suggestion box has borne fruit.

SodaStream My Water Flavour Essence - Mix case of 3 flavours: Lemon Lime, Orange, Berry
SodaStream My Water Flavour Essence - Mix case of 3 flavours: Lemon Lime, Orange, Berry

5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing unsweetened flavours for adults, 19 Jun. 2012
These flavours - the lemon and lime in particular - are the only flavourings sold by SodaStream that I can stand. Their normal flavour bottles are sickeningly sweet, whether with artificial sweetener or sugar. Chalk it up to British addiction to sugar.

With the lemon-lime flavour (one capful, i.e. about 0.5ml, per litre), I can reproduce a product that I can normally only get in when I'm in France - Volvic sparkling water with hint of lemon and lime. The equivalent product sold in the UK has aspartame in it, and it's disgusting. What you want is cool fizzy water with just a refreshing citrus hint on top, and zero sweetness. Between myself and my girlfriend, we drink about two litres a day in these (tepid, not very dry) summer months; in this small quantity, a little goes a long way. I don't recommend adding more; the flavour is not much more intense, and intense flavour shouldn't be what you're after with this product.

These flavours are the way to go. Only reason I'm on here on Amazon is because they're out of stock on the SodaStream website (but they're out of stock here too...)

Komputerbay 32GB Class 10 SDHC Ultra High Speed Memory Card - Read 20MB/s Write 15MB/s with USB Reader
Komputerbay 32GB Class 10 SDHC Ultra High Speed Memory Card - Read 20MB/s Write 15MB/s with USB Reader
Offered by KOMPBAY
Price: £11.00

4.0 out of 5 stars OK Card, dodgy USB card reader, 20 Mar. 2012
I bought two cards, both with readers (since they were cheap), for use with my new Drift 170 camera. The cards appear to work fine; but the reader is another matter. It crapped out while I was copying a 2.5GB video from it onto my PC - the light on it even went out. I switched the card to a different reader, and found that the directory structure had been corrupted.

I threw the card readers away. Not worth the risk of using them.

I've only had the card and readers for a few hours, so can't say much about the cards themselves yet.

Tassimo T-Discs Carte Noire Crème Brûlée (16 T-Discs)
Tassimo T-Discs Carte Noire Crème Brûlée (16 T-Discs)

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Insipid, watery and mercifully small, 10 Feb. 2011
The 16-disc pack makes 8 drinks, using 1 each of a sweetened creamer disc (used by both Creme Brulee and Tiramisu) and a liquid flavoured instant coffee disc. It makes a 120ml drink; that will just about half-fill a cup which is the perfect size for a bog-standard Latte Macchiato. It looks even more miserly than usual, in other words.

It has a strong aroma of Creme Brulee, but tastes largely like a 50/50 mix of skimmed milk and hot water with maybe three spoons of sugar, and a suggestion of coffee. The smell of it reminds one of a creme brulee, but that's the extent of the resemblance. What little creaminess imparted by the little bit of foam on top is quickly diluted by the tepid sugar-water below.

It would be poor value at the normal supermarket price of 3.20 GBP or so for most 16-disc packs. After my first cup (which I wasn't willing to finish), I can't see making another one. Perhaps I'll use the Brulee discs to flavour lattes made in a larger cup, just to use them up.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 12, 2012 3:16 PM BST

Transcend TS16GUSDHC6 MicroSDHC Flash Memory Card Class 6 with Adapter - 16 GB
Transcend TS16GUSDHC6 MicroSDHC Flash Memory Card Class 6 with Adapter - 16 GB
Offered by Wiziwoo Limited
Price: £14.21

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but be aware that Class 6 is not a relative speed measure, 13 Feb. 2010
I bought this Transcend card to replace the 4GB Class 2 card (SanDisk brand) that was in my Nexus One phone. This original card has a write speed in a card reader attached to my PC (rather than via the phone) of about 6.5MB/sec.

I also bought a card reader and adapter combo that came with a Kingston 4GB Class 4 card (it was about 6.50 GBP altogether). The Kingston card has a write speed of about 8.5MB/sec.

So one might expect the most expensive card, at 10 times the price of the 4GB Class 4, and a whole two classes up, to have an even faster write speed, right? Wrong. Write speed with this card is the slowest of the lot, barely creeping above 5.3MB/sec.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 15, 2011 3:53 AM GMT

Crysis Warhead (PC DVD)
Crysis Warhead (PC DVD)
Offered by scaddingk
Price: £4.95

46 of 55 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I have purchased, but SecuROM prevents me from playing, 30 Sept. 2008
This review is from: Crysis Warhead (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
I have purchased this game, but SecuROM is *preventing* me from playing it *at* *all*.

Specifically, I run Process Explorer, but SecuROM has black-listed it. I'm a professional software engineer and I work from home, so I use Process Explorer on the same PC that I run games from.

Rebooting is not an option; I have too many applications open and windows arranged "just so" across multiple monitors, for me to go through the pain of setting everything back up whenever I want to let off some steam at the end of the day. As it is, I have an average uptime of 30 days, often longer, until I succumb to the patch Tuesday automatic update nags.

This requirement to not have Process Explorer running is akin to asking people to remove all the furniture in their room every time they want to pick up reading a book where they left off. Contemplating the effort, it just isn't worth it; I still haven't played the game yet.

I am *deeply* annoyed by this, and am strongly considering never buying another game with with SecuROM built-in.

If I can't run the software, there's little point buying it.

Townsend Toulouse 20" Frame 18 Speed Mens Bike
Townsend Toulouse 20" Frame 18 Speed Mens Bike

4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of adjustments needed, but solid enough, 19 Sept. 2008
I bought this bike from Amazon. It arrived in a big flat box, with the handlebars, wheels, frame, pedals and saddle all separated, but brake and gear cables routed from handlebars to frame, so it was a little difficult to get out. You'll need generic tools to put things together - at least a selection of Allen keys, an adjustable spanner or two, and a narrow-profile spanner (ideally a pedal spanner) for tightening the pedals.

The gear cables for both front and back derailleurs were already appropriately adjusted and correct for the markings on the twist-grip shifts (not my favourite mechanism). The trickiest thing was probably making sure that the handlebars were attached tightly enough to the fork - these need plenty of torque on a snugly fitting allen key, probably best done by applying the extra leverage of a wrench to the key.

After attaching all the bits, adjusting the brake cable tension and balance, and going over every tightenable nut and screw, it was ready for a test-ride.

It's not bad at all, well worth the money, in my opinion - so long as you have the tools and bike lore to put things together. The only real downsides are the weight, the grip-shift gear mechanism, and the chainguard flange not being very effective. Also, the wheels weren't quite true out of the box; making them perfect is tedious, but getting the slight wobbles out (only really noticeable from occasional rubbing of brake pads) don't take too long. If you grew up maintaining bikes on not much money like I did, you shouldn't find it a hassle. The price is hard to beat.

Effective Executive (Drucker series)
Effective Executive (Drucker series)
by Peter F. Drucker
Edition: Paperback

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just a comment about typesetting, 4 July 2006
I bought this book six months ago here from Amazon UK but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet because the typesetting was so poor - it instantly put me off. The book type clearly hasn't been set from digitized text; it's been scanned from some source, cleaned up and printed on the page as an image. The individual characters are thick and blobby. The font weight is so heavy that sometimes top loop of an 'e' is completely filled in. The weight of the font varies throughout the book - in my copy, the font in the starting third and final third looks bolder than the font of the middle third.

Despite this, the text is still very legible - it's like a good photocopy. However, it isn't nearly as good as a modern book, newspaper or laser print.

I fully expect it to be the classic it's been since it was first published. Unfortunately, this print, as an object unto itself, can only get a 4 from me.

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