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J. Brady "big_bad_john" (Woking, Surrey)
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The Burning Answer: A User's Guide to the Solar Revolution
The Burning Answer: A User's Guide to the Solar Revolution
by Professor Keith Barnham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great, limited scope, significant faults, 7 Mar. 2016
Unfortunately I feel this book has too many faults to recommend it strongly. The text is well written and it covers the background over what solar energy is and how photovoltaic (PV) cells can convert this to electrical energy. But it is very one sided (PV or very little else) and there are no actual real world suggestions on how you can harness this yourself, other than the obvious one of putting PV onto your house roof. Other renewable energies are mentioned, but clearly the author thinks PV is the only winner amongst them all. If you wanted something to give you hard examples of things you could do, don't get this book. It is more theoretical and about how PV works to capture solar energy, and about why alternatives such as nuclear are not "safe".

The biggest single fault I have with this book is that there are NO diagrams whatsoever in its 300+ pages. For a book that attempts to describe how solar energy works by electrons jumping between energy bands within an atom this is an amazing omission. As a consequence the author has to devote more words and pages to attempting clear explanations of what goes on. And he does achieve this, to his credit, but it makes for long, continuous reading.

Likewise he refers to graphs of energy production published in various papers, but does not reproduce those graphs in this book. Why? Why make us look this up when it could have been printed in the book, in front of our own eyes for us to see, there and then?

The first part of the book was probably worth reading to fully understand how solar energy works, and some of the scientific history behind it, but the next two sections just did not do anything for me. They just reiterated why he believes that PV can deliver all the energy we will ever need, and how it can surpass all the alternatives. I'm not saying he is wrong, I'm just saying he takes a long time to say that, and not much more.

To spend 300+ pages without gaining any significant insight or hard action to follow up on, other than PV works, nuclear is dangerous, fossil fuels are finite and cause global warming, and install PV now, is a huge disappointment. In fact, that is pretty much a summary of the book there for you, in much, much less than 300 pages.


Hector and the Search for Happiness: Hector's Journeys 1
Hector and the Search for Happiness: Hector's Journeys 1
by François Lelord
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Extremely poor writing style, and not worth the effort, 17 Dec. 2015
There may be a germ of a good idea here somewhere, but the writing is so bad and so poor that it gets in the way completely. The end result is written in the vocabulary and sentence structure of a 7 year old, which makes for very laboured reading. There is no flow, no character description, no emotions, almost nothing of any interest. We know Hector is a psychiatrist with a girlfriend named Clara, and that's about it. A truly one dimensional character!

I don't know whether the translator is at fault, as it was originally written in French, but I would assume they kept the same "style" and "vocabulary" as the original, making it the author's fault. I would also have assumed that any good editor would have done some kind of rewrite to change the vocabulary and improve the overall style to make it readable at all. But again, nothing has been done about it.

It all boils down to Hector working out 20 rules that define different forms of Happiness. Just glance through a copy of the book and find the few pages where these rules are listed in italics. Read them in 30 seconds and it will save you a lot of time and effort working your way through a non-existent story and very poor writing.


JVC HA-RX700 Deep Bass Headphones
JVC HA-RX700 Deep Bass Headphones
Price: £32.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Great big headphones, 18 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I wanted something big to fit over my ears and keep the sound in, and these deliver. They are massive, but not heavy. I have a larger than average head and found these really comfortable. There is a band of material across the top which sits on your head and spreads the weight around, so they don't dig in anywhere. Comfortable ear pieces that fit around the ears not on them.

I like the sound, and I don't find they have too much bass or anything. I'm not an audiophile at all, just an average music listener.


Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life That is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich
Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life That is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich
by Duane Elgin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor, weak, vague, uninspiring, 18 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I don't get it. The book that is. I get Voluntary Simplicity and what its about, which is why I bought the book, wanting to learn more. Unfortunately this book doesn't actually tell you anything useful or interesting about it. He spends most of the book switching between telling us what is wrong with the world (climate change, peak oil, over population), defending voluntary simplicity from imagined critics (it does not mean poverty, it does not mean this, etc), or defining different variations on what "voluntary simplicity" means (compassionate, caring, connected to nature, low impact, being nice to everyone else, etc). But nothing I could find on actually living a life of voluntary simplicity. Lots of WHY VC is important (justifying it and defending it), but nothing on WHAT it really is or HOW to do it for real.

I ended up just skimming through all the chapters looking for anything of substance and finding nothing. It was all just too vague, padding, full of waffle, lots of repetition of the same themes and points, and nothing specific about how to live a life of voluntary simplicity. He quotes other writers quite a lot i.e. cut and paste of other people's material. At one point he just repeats the results of a third party survey on what people think of voluntary simplicity, running over several pages of quotes from random people covering every possible variation on what it might be.

Summary: Waste of my time and money, vague, nothing original, and nothing useful to act upon.


Winning Without Losing: 66 strategies for succeeding in business while living a happy and balanced life
Winning Without Losing: 66 strategies for succeeding in business while living a happy and balanced life
by Martin Bjergegaard
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars Okay but obvious, simple and entrepreneur focussed, 12 Feb. 2014
While I agree with the general principle - get more balance into your life - after the first few of the 66 suggestions I started to find it all a bit too obvious and too bland. Most of the suggestions don't run beyond 2 pages, so there is quite a bit of padding with empty spaces and full page photographs to bulk it out. The main thing that did get irritating though was the continuous emphasis that the suggestions were only for "entrepreneurs" (as opposed to normal people), and the constant references to the startup companies the authors had created and the multi-million dollar values they had sold them for.

The main impression I came away with is that this book is aimed solely at the special people who are entrepreneurs because they all have a work / life balance issue from being an entrepreneur that mere ordinary working people never have. And also that such entrepreneurs are totally focussed on growing startups in order to make large sums of money. That was the authors' main criteria for success - did the startup company succeed, and did it get sold for a lots of money.

Most of the suggestions are very obvious - take time out, surround yourself with good people, etc. Which begs the question on why entrepreneurs need to be told this stuff if they are all so much brighter or better than the rest of us.


Live the Life You Love at 50+: A Handbook for Career and Life Success
Live the Life You Love at 50+: A Handbook for Career and Life Success
by Keren Smedley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor and trite information, 19 Dec. 2013
Nothing substantial in this, just a lot of generic stuff with nothing concrete. I should have been suspicious when the author says she is a "Life Coach", which is something that never existed before the end of the twentieth century. She is of the school that "a little bit of positive thinking is all you need", "imagine what you want the future to be". Hence a lot of generic stuff but very little actual hard suggestions.

I wanted it for 2 main things - Career and 50+.

Careers is just one chapter from what I remember. Again nothing concrete on how to evaluate what you are good at, or how to switch careers, etc. Certainly nothing about careers has stuck in my memory from when I read it only last month, and there were no actions worth doing that I took away from it.

The ages of the people in the case studies are almost all 60+, which puts them very near retiring age. One or two people around 55, but all the others at 60 or more. She discussed issues about old age and lowering of incomes - something I am 10 years away from.

Most of the "exercises" are of the "Imagine if ..." and similar form. She states that one powerful tool is for the "coach" to repeat the same question six times in a row, no matter what the answer is each time. How one dimensional is this stuff?

Summary - generic, mainly waffle, unclear precisely what she is trying to achieve with this book, and nothing of any relevance or use. Clearly there is a market for this kind of information, but this does not deliver it.


Dr. Euler's Fabulous Formula: Cures Many Mathematical Ills
Dr. Euler's Fabulous Formula: Cures Many Mathematical Ills
by Paul J. Nahin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.39

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing. Full of formulas, 17 Jun. 2013
As another reviewer has pointed out this book is a long series of formulas and equations. I had hoped for more description and explanation along the way, but the author thinks that everyone will fully understand any formula he uses, so the book is little more than a long series of formulas one after the other. The various different topics covered are all lists of formulas as he transforms an initial formula into another one, and so on, showing that some "classic" formula or other is true.

I've read a number of other maths books for the ordinary person on e and pi and the golden ratio, and had no problems and enjoyed the discussions of how those numbers crop up in other aspects of life, and how they can be used in various ways. There is none of that here. I think in the Introduction he states something about the maths being enough in itself, so he does not need to add additional explanation or examples of practical uses.

The maths itself within the book may well be correct, but I could not be bothered trying to follow it all. And it is some pretty advanced stuff, though the author claims anyone who has done any advanced level maths courses would be okay. There is no introduction to any maths techniques he uses - he just dives in and gets on with it. I was shocked by the use of matrices early on within the first chapter, when he is supposed to be still discussing just "numbers". He throws in a lot of other maths stuff in that first chapter, which just made my head spin. If that was just the first chapter, then what would the others be like? Too much for me, that is certain.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 3, 2014 10:36 AM BST


Creative EP-630 Noise Isolating Earphones - Black
Creative EP-630 Noise Isolating Earphones - Black
Price: £19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good sound, poor connection, 25 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Sound from these is very good, and they have rubber tips which help them sit comfortably in the ear and reduce noise bleed in either direction. This is my second pair after a year, because the connections in the 3.5mm jack plug have broken loose and the sound was not coming out in both ear phones. A pity, because otherwise a very good product, only let down by compromising on the jack plug connection.


Google Nexus 7 Tablet Case - Black Carbon Fibre Print PropUp Stand Case Cover with integrated stand function and magnetic sleep sensors (Fits all Nexus 7 versions - 8GB, 16GB, 32GB Wi-Fi & HSPA+). With 2 x Screen Guards Included & BONUS: G-HUB ProPen Stylus
Google Nexus 7 Tablet Case - Black Carbon Fibre Print PropUp Stand Case Cover with integrated stand function and magnetic sleep sensors (Fits all Nexus 7 versions - 8GB, 16GB, 32GB Wi-Fi & HSPA+). With 2 x Screen Guards Included & BONUS: G-HUB ProPen Stylus
Offered by G-Hub
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Good slip case, with useful screen covers and touch pen., 17 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The case is good and fully encloses the Nexus. A bit of a tight fit initially (cover flap not fully closing and not quite meeting the edge), but it has started to loosen up after a couple of weeks and now closes well. The pen included is really good for touch screen, avoiding fingerprints and is more accurate for some actions e.g. virtual keyboard. Two screen covers was good, as I messed up putting the first one on. I do wish those things were easier to put on.

Overall it keeps the Nexus safely enclosed and is easily opened up when I want to use it.


The Dog Stars
The Dog Stars
by Peter Heller
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rambling, trite, drivel, not worth the effort of reading it, 21 Mar. 2013
This review is from: The Dog Stars (Hardcover)
To me a good book either needs good characters, good plot, or maybe just good writing. But something good of some form. This has none of those. The author has adopted a very, very sparse and broken way of writing. I couldn't work out if the author was doing this deliberately because it is meant to be written in the first person by the main character of Hig and is to show Hig's limitations, or because the author is not capable of writing proper paragraphs and sentences himself.

After the first 50 or so pages I could not follow the bad writing style, I did not care about either of the only two characters, and there was no plot or story developed yet. I rarely give up on a book, but for me this was just not worth the effort involved. There are better written books I could be reading instead.

The writing is infuriating. It is written in the first person as if by Hig. Every paragraph is separated from the next by a full blank line, there are no quotation marks around speech, and it has other bad punctuation as well. The flow jumps around all over the place - one moment Higs is taking about the now, then about a week ago, then now, then a year ago, then now again, then many years ago. You often don't know what he is talking about in any paragraph until you reach the end and some context is given.

The extra blank line between every paragraph means that you never know when there is a break of context. Almost every other book indents the first line of each paragraph, and uses a full blank line to indicate a change in context. The constant jumping around of when and context makes for an uneasy read - any flow I had was constantly broken by having to reread a paragraph to realise he was now talking about something completely unrelated to the previous paragraph.

I did not like either of the 2 main characters - Hig and Bangley. They both seem to hate each other, and nothing was shown that would make me like either of them. They are surviving in some post apocalyptic world, after some diseases have killed most of the population. Some survivors still carry those diseases and are slowly dying off over time. Rather than trying to find other healthy survivors and band together to build a new society and live together, they instead kill all people who come onto their land. Let me repeat that - they KILL EVERYONE who ever comes onto their land. Why am I supposed to like either of these 2 people? Why would I care about either of them? How can there be any plot development when they will kill everyone they ever come into contact with? They are completely isolated from the rest of the world.

We are supposed to like Hig more than Bangley I assume, because the book follows Hig and is told from his perspective. But Hig wants to kill all trespassers just as much as Bangley, and this is made clear in one scene early on. He is constantly apologising for things he did or did not do since the catastrophe happened. He doesn't really care about anything, other than maybe his old dog Jasper. So why should I care about him?

As I said, poor writing, really terrible layout with no punctuation or quotation marks, and every paragraph separated by a blank line. No real plot, characters I could not relate to in any way, and just the rambling collected memories of Hig. I don't know what all the fuss is about, or why it gets such high reviews. Even if there is "something" buried later on in the book, it is simply not worth forcing myself to read through such poor writing to get there. There are many other better books I could be reading instead.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 17, 2015 2:49 PM BST


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