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Parallels Desktop 11 for Mac
Parallels Desktop 11 for Mac
Price: £47.99

45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Still a subscription..., 15 Sept. 2015
Parallels 11 is a Virtual Machine that lets you run Windows applications within OS X. The software is easy to setup and use and has some good features such as the ability to run individual Windows applications in their own OS X window.

This product is sold as a standalone product which implies that the customer has control when it comes to deciding whether subsequent versions have additional features that justify the upgrade price. But this isn't the case with Parallels - it's a subscription service in disguise.

The last few years Apple have released an annual free upgrade for OS X and Mac users tend to upgrade to the latest version pretty quickly. Parallels also release a new version of their software every year and the pattern is always the same: Users of Parallels two versions back are informed in a curt email that their version of Parallels will not work with the upcoming release of OS X. There is no apology for this and no special discount offered for the inconvenience - you either have to upgrade Parallels or lose access to your Windows Virtual Machine.

When Mavericks came out Parallels 7 users were left in the wilderness, and Parallels 8 users suffered the same fate with the release of Yosemite. Now with El Capitan on the horizon, Parallels 9 users have received the same email. Parallels don't offer a technical explanation for this, mainly because there isn't one - it's merely a ploy by a company that wants to control when its customers upgrade rather than leave that choice with the consumer.

Some software companies such as Adobe offer subscription packages for their software, which can be controversial, but at least they are upfront about it and the consumer knows the score. Parallels are more cloak and dagger - you buy a standalone product, use it for a couple of years and then find you're going to have to pay up to continue using it.

My version of Parallels 9 is going to become unusable when El Capitan is released and when it does, my relationship with Parallels will end. The software is fine, but I don't want to hand my money to a company that has apparent contempt for its customers. I am already using Bootcamp instead (free software to partition your Mac hard drive), but there are alternative Virtual Machines available such as VMWare and the free VirtualBox from Oracle.

If you want to see the history of this I wrote similar reviews for Parallels Desktop 9.0 (Mac/PC) and Parallels Desktop 10 for Mac (both should be the first review when sorted by Most Helpful) and you'll see that nothing has changed.

The software is very good and if you do choose to buy Parallels at least now you know what the score is if you didn't before and won't be surprised two years down the line.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 29, 2016 11:40 AM GMT

Cocoa Programming for OS X: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide (Big Nerd Ranch Guides)
Cocoa Programming for OS X: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide (Big Nerd Ranch Guides)
by Aaron Hillegass
Edition: Paperback
Price: £21.55

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Introduction to OS X Development, 1 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Most people that wish to learn Cocoa programming are looking to program for the iOS mobile platform and material on developing specifically for the Mac OS X platform is scarce. I had made a couple of attempts to learn OS X programming in the past but found Objective C off-putting, but the arrival of Apple's new language Swift encouraged me to have another go.

It's worth noting that this book is not intended for complete programming beginners. The authors make it clear that the target audience is people with programming experience in other languages such as C++, Java and C# who want to learn how to develop for the OS X platform. It is also not intended to be a complete introduction to the Swift programming language. There is a primer chapter on Swift and this may be sufficient for experienced programmers to pick up the basics, but it's not a complete tutorial.

The book's main focus is developing Mac applications using Xcode 6 and it provides tuition in the form of a series of tutorials that the reader is intended to follow. This is not a reference book at all and you will probably only benefit from it by following along with the tutorials.

I was very impressed with the pace of the tutorials and also the order in which the concepts were presented. I really felt that I was making steady progress as I worked through the chapters. The topics covered are very well chosen and include some topics that are too frequently missing from similar publications, such as switching between Views.

There is also a very good supporting forum for the book with a separate area for each chapter. Here the authors answer questions that students might have as they follow along and also highlight errata. This could be particularly useful as new versions of Xcode and Swift are released and the publications falls out of date a little (which is inevitable).

Overall, I am very pleased with this purchase. The book isn't overly long and stops short of advanced topics but it is an excellent introduction to OS X programming in Swift. The core concepts are explained really well and it provides a solid foundation on which to build. I'm hoping they will release an update to their Advanced Cocoa Programming book and if they do I will definitely be purchasing that too.

Yoga Basics for Men: An Intro to Man Flow Yoga: All of the physical benefits, and none of the frills. Improve your physical fitness, reduce your risk of injury, and feel better overall.
Yoga Basics for Men: An Intro to Man Flow Yoga: All of the physical benefits, and none of the frills. Improve your physical fitness, reduce your risk of injury, and feel better overall.
Price: £5.27

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Little more than a list of exercises, 15 Feb. 2015
I have been thinking of getting into Yoga and specifically typed Yoga For Men into my Amazon search. This book naturally was near the top of the search so I read the reviews and watched the author's YouTube channel, which is useful. On his channel he describes this book as "everything he knows about Yoga" in one place, including 32 specially selected poses along with guidance on safe, effective practice and workouts. It seemed like just what I needed.

The book begins with a very brief introduction to Yoga . So brief in fact that if you download the Kindle sample, you're only a page or two short of getting the whole thing. While I was hoping for a "no nonsense" guide to Yoga, I do know that there's a good deal more to safely practicing Yoga than what is described here.

With the introduction complete you are provided with the 32 specially selected positions. These amount to a single photograph with a brief description of how to perform the actions, along with the odd tip.

There are a couple more short chapters at the end of the book, including one that advertises the author's own products (although I don't have a huge problem with that), but that's it. There's no real sense that this book is specifically suited to men, except the implication that the exercises the author has chosen are ideal for the male physique.

I paid over £5 for this book and I didn't think it represented good value for money at that price so I claimed a refund. In my opinion, there are better ways to get into Yoga than this. Ultimately I paid half the price of this book for an app which has classes for specific requirements and visual demonstrations of each position, which was much more useful.

This book isn't badly written nor does it appear to contain poor information - it just doesn't really have much information at all. It's far from being a complete introduction to Yoga for men but if you want a list of exercises that might suit the male physique or be useful for sports training, perhaps it could prove useful.

Parallels Desktop 10 for Mac
Parallels Desktop 10 for Mac
Price: £60.76

82 of 84 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great software but you're buying a subscription... still, 4 Sept. 2014
Parallels is a virtual machine for running Windows on your Mac, and it's a very good one. It's easy to set up and use and provides some great features which make Windows apps run within OSX almost seamlessly.

I wrote a review for Parallels 9 highlighting the upgrade policy that Parallels employ with their software. They sell Parallels as a standalone product which traditionally means that you decide if the newer versions have features you need before you upgrade. Unfortunately in practice it doesn't work that way.

Apple have been releasing a new version of OSX every year for a number of years and the upgrade is either very low cost or free. As a result Apple users tend to upgrade to the latest version. Parallels also release a new version of their Virtual Machine software every year and by a coincidence the version of Parallels from two years before is incompatible.

When Mavericks was released, version 9 of Parallels had just been released and users of version 7 were told in a rather terse email that they'd need to upgrade to run their Virtual Machines on Mavericks. Now that version 10 of Parallels has been released, users of version 8 are being informed that their version of Parallels won't run on Yosemite.

Parallels do not offer an explanation why their software becomes incompatible with releases of OSX. I have old software that runs fine on my Mac. They offer neither an apology nor a discount to the users who find themselves in a situation where they can't upgrade to the latest OSX version without rendering their Windows virtual machines completely useless.

Parallels 10 is excellent software but Parallels attitude towards their customers leaves much to be desired. If they want to employ this upgrade policy they should be up front about it and offer their software as a subscription which is what it effectively is.

If you want to use a virtual machine on your Mac but are not keen on their upgrade policy you could try VirtualBox which is free software provided by the Oracle corporation. It isn't as user friendly as Parallels but it doesn't cost you anything to try it. Alternatively you could try Bootcamp which is also free and allows you to set up Windows in a separate partition.

If you do choose Parallels you're unlikely to be disappointed with the software - you may feel less enamoured towards the company itself though.

UPDATE 30/07/2015: Apple will be releasing the latest version of OS X (El Capitan) later in the year and Parallels 9 users are now being forced to upgrade to Parellels 10 to run it. And so the trend continues.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 10, 2015 8:48 AM BST

Parallels Desktop 9.0 (Mac/PC)
Parallels Desktop 9.0 (Mac/PC)
Offered by Canal
Price: £21.90

86 of 89 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great software but you're buying a subscription, 3 Nov. 2013
Parallels is an excellent Windows Virtual Machine for the Mac and it's a five star product in terms of how well the software does what it's designed to do.

There is one thing that potential buyers should be aware of though. Parallels is sold as a stand-alone product. This implies that you can buy the product and it is a choice whether you decide to upgrade to the latest version or not.

However this is not the case with Parallels. If you do buy this product you should treat it as an initial upfront cost and then a yearly subscription of £34.99 - for reasons given below.

Parallels 7 was released in September 2011. It was the current version until September 2012 when it was superseded by Parallels 8. Parallels 9 was released a year later, continuing the yearly update pattern. There is nothing wrong with this model because people can still choose whether to upgrade right? Wrong!

In October 2013, Parallels sent a rather terse email to users of Parallels 7 users stating that they had to upgrade to Parallels 9 if they wanted to upgrade to Apple's latest Mavericks OS because Parallels 7 would not work in Mavericks. Users left with this choice were not offered a discount on Parallels nor any guidance... just hung out to dry, presumably with the expectation that people would be forced to pay up. Parallels have refused to respond to feedback on their forums over this.

If you are happy with a yearly payment for Parallels then it is an excellent piece of software. If you aren't happy with that, or you are wary of a company who treats existing users so poorly you will need to look elsewhere. Many people have already jumped ship to Oracle's FREE VirtualBox solution.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 2, 2014 11:29 AM BST

Ram memory upgrades 8GB kit (4GBx2) DDR3 PC3 10600 1333MHz for your Apple Macbook Pro and iMac
Ram memory upgrades 8GB kit (4GBx2) DDR3 PC3 10600 1333MHz for your Apple Macbook Pro and iMac
Offered by KOMPBAY
Price: £43.70

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb value for money, 9 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There are a few alternatives to buying RAM directly from Apple at their highly inflated prices, but I'm extremely pleased with this purchase from Crucial. Easy to install and works perfectly in my 2011 iMac.

Excellent product at a much more reasonable price. Highly recommended.

Big John Buscema: Comics & Drawings
Big John Buscema: Comics & Drawings
by Florentino Flórez
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £45.00

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great collection for a great artist, 9 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
John Buscema is one of my favourite artists. His figure drawing is simply superb and in my opinion only Neal Adams is comparable in the comic art world. Of course, this is a matter of opinion, but what is undeniable is that John Buscema is one of the legends of comic art history.

This collection is a catalogue of the artwork shown at an Exhibition of Buscema's work held in Palma in 2009. The book is really well presented and provides an excellent selection of Buscema's work throughout his career. It also provides a biography of John's career, in both English and Spanish which makes for interesting reading.

If you're a fan of John Buscema, or a comic art fan in general, this is an excellent addition to your library.

iOS Programming for .NET Developers
iOS Programming for .NET Developers
Price: £6.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A welcome release that falls short, 8 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As a professional .NET developer taking up IOS development as a sideline hobby, I was very interested in this title. Josh Smith has written a number of very good .NET articles over the last few years, particularly on MVVM with WPF. He also created MVVM Foundation which is an API to help develop MVVM applications on the .NET platform.

In the last couple of years Josh has moved onto the IOS platform and therefore been through the conversion from .NET developer to IOS developer. I'm sure there are plenty of .NET developers who are either making the same journey or thinking about it, and there is no doubt the learning curve is significant even for experienced developers. Therefore there's a market out there for a book like this, written by an experienced and respected (ex).NET developer.

Unfortunately I felt that this book didn't really meet expectations. While it does provide some insight into how .NET concepts are implemented in the IOS environment and where the differences lay, it all seems a bit too vague.

Far too often a concept is briefly introduced before we're told that a proper discussion on it is outside the scope of the book and then directed to a free online resource (often Apple's own documentation) that describes it all in full. While at times, this seems fair enough, at other times it doesn't. I didn't expect this to be an exhaustive guide to IOS development, but I did feel short-changed a number of times during the book.

There is no question that there is some value in the content of this book, but there is also a lot left out that could have been included, or explained in more detail. I have read a number of books on Mac/IOS development, and I would say this book is of less value than many of them, even though it should be ideal for .NET developers.

If you're a .NET developer I'd personally recommend getting hold of the Big Nerd Ranch books on the areas of interest to you. You'll soon work out the differences, similarities and alternatives between .NET development and IOS development for yourself and you'll have a much more comprehensive and useful guide to getting you started in IOS development.

Sorry Josh, I really wanted to like this, but I think it needs more work.

Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best Of Electric Light Orchestra
Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best Of Electric Light Orchestra
Price: £10.32

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Can one man be an orchestra?, 8 Oct. 2012
I'll be honest, when I heard that Jeff Lynne was going to re-record classic ELO tracks on his own, I didn't expect the outcome to be good. I have heard the new version of Mr Blue Sky on a number of film/TV/commercial soundtracks over the last few years and have cringed slightly at its inferiority to the original.

Having heard the tracks on this album, the result isn't as bad as I expected and Lynne has remained faithful to the originals for the most part. However, there is no getting away from the fact that these re-recordings are all inferior to the originals. There may be more production gloss, but modern production can't replace top performances and talent.

While it is admirable that Lynne has become a one-man band, the fact remains that he isn't a better drummer than Bev Bevan, he isn't a better bassist than Kelly Groucutt, he can't do better orchestral arrangement than Louis Clark and synthesizers cannot replace Mik Kaminski, Hugh McDowell and Melvyn Gayle (or an orchestra!).

So what is in it for the potential buyer? I guess long-term fans may have been open to fresh takes on their old favourites, but unfortunately this album isn't a fresh take. The songs are for the most part attempts at reproducing the originals, so they aren't `reboots' - they're inferior remakes.

And what about the newcomer? I suppose if these versions had been more modern in outlook they may have enticed a new generation of fans (while outraging the old guard), but these aren't modern versions. A person buying this album as an introduction to ELO would in all likelihood buy some of the back catalogue if they enjoyed what they heard. But that thought just leaves me hoping they'll buy Out of the Blue and enjoy the best introduction to ELO there is, before exploring the greatness of ELO in the 1970's.

I did wonder many years ago if Jeff Lynne had lost sight of what made ELO unique: the superb fusion of rock band and classical orchestra. It's been attempted by others but no-one else has come close. They were a unique band and they were a superb example of British rock music - it's just a shame that Jeff Lynne doesn't seem to realise this.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 28, 2012 4:19 PM GMT

iPad Mini Case, TeckNet® Slim Fit Smart Case PU Leather Cover With Stand For Apple iPad Mini 3, Min 2 and Mini 1, Included Screen Protector
iPad Mini Case, TeckNet® Slim Fit Smart Case PU Leather Cover With Stand For Apple iPad Mini 3, Min 2 and Mini 1, Included Screen Protector
Price: £19.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent... in the short term, 6 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this affordable case in December 2011. If I had written this review a few months later I would have given it 5 stars as many people have done. I own an iPad 2 and the case is perfect for it. The iPad fits snugly inside the case, all of the controls are easily accessible, the flip stand works well and the magnetic auto-sleep function does the job... for a while.

However, after around 6 months, the synthetic leather began to soften significantly along the spine. This has two major effects on the cover. First, the flip stand no longer holds the iPad up, it just topples over. Secondly, the magnetic auto-sleep function becomes much less effective. The softening of the spine often causes the magnet in the cover to misalign with the iPad and not switch it off.

My iPad does get a lot of use, so we're repeatedly opening and closing the iPad cover, but the cover wasn't put under any undue strain over the 6 months, just frequent but normal use.

So, while this cover is a great choice at first sight, you may find that it becomes much less useful over time. Of course the cover is still useful for protecting your iPad even if the spine does soften, but a couple of the core functions work less well or not at all.

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