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Thanks to everyone for reading/rating my reviews - I will always reciprocate as soon as I can. For those interested, I am very much into Zen, and my Zen blog is at..

Reviews written

since 26/04/2005

95 21/05/2012

QVC... Entertaining Shopping Experience When it comes to QVC the shopping channel, it seems that each person views it differently. I have bought many things over the past 10 years or so from QVC, and I have been motivated to buy because I have tuned into the TV channel early on a Saturday or Sunday morning to be entertained more than anything else. It has always fascinated me how the presenters can find things to talk about just one product for so long, yet they usually do very well. In fact with some products slots, I often get inspiration of what to write about various products I own on Ciao. On an early weekend morning, I am usually watching gardening with Richard Jackson -you find some real character on that spot, or if it comes on, my favourite Hi-Tech Toys or Home Electrical programs. My wife usually watches programs about jewellry, fashion or home and leisure. QVC broadcasts 24 hours a day, so may be some easy-watching for insomniacs. QVC can be viewed on Freeview, Sky or Virgin TV and they also have a very good website, where you can view the live broadcast from their website, watch video demos of most products, get their full TV listings or view any one of a huge list of branded products. Links on the website include Beauty, Fashion, Shoes and Handbags and Jewellery. Home and Leisure, Electricals, Garden and DIY etc… I have found that QVC's products are extremely competitively priced, and I have often Googled a product that they have on screen to see if I can get a better deal, but nearly always, QVC has ...

ADVENT Computers Advent DT1411 08/05/2012

An Advent: A Plain Looker But Good Performer

ADVENT Computers Advent DT1411 My wife was complaining that her Acer computer was slowing down and making weird noises. I investigated and thought that the vents could do with a clean as they seemed somewhat clogged with dust, so I shut down the machine, disconnected everything and with the help of an air-duster (a can the expels air stronger than you can blow) and vacuum cleaner cleaned them all out nicely. The problem was that when I plugged the machine back in, there was a flash and burning smell and… nothing… I took the side of and saw a scorch mark on the mother-board. Time for a new computer, but as my wife wanted one there and then she hot-footed it to PC World. She was determined to get the highest spec that she could as she had used mine that was a custom built to edit videos and had been impressed with its performance. I was otherwise engaged and couldn't go with her. Phoning me from PC World, she said she was looking at an Advent DT1411 with an i5 - 2320 processor, 8GBs of RAM and a 1.5TB disk that had been reduced by £90. The next lowest spec was the same make, only £10 cheaper.. We both agreed that it would be better to go for the DT1411. The salesman seemed a little confused when she said she just wanted it to do her family history research, sort our her photos and word processing but didn't argue too much. Well, why would he? When she brought it home, I set it up for her and started feeling somewhat envious.. It was a quad Intel processor and was faster than my quad AMD that runs 2.90GHZ. ...

Black & Decker - 18v Cordless Hammer Drill 06/05/2012

An Orange Powerhouse

Black & Decker - 18v Cordless Hammer Drill I have always been a keen DIYer and have owned many electrical power drills over the years but up until now they have always been corded drills. I was always a bit dubious of purchasing a cordless one thinking that a rechargeable battery just wouldn't be up to the job of drilling into stone and brick walls. But, one day not longer after we moved into our new house, I happened to visit a friend who owns a small building firm and got on to the subject of drilling. He told me that he only ever used cordless drills and offered to lend me one of his Black and Decker 18V models that was fully charged I was in the process of putting up curtain curtains rails and pelmets and some venetian blinds in the front windows. That meant drilling into the concrete lintels that were very hard and challenging and at that time, I had only done one. I had my doubts about whether this cordless drill would be up to the job, but I couldn't have been more wrong. It was every bit as powerful as my electric corded drill and I got all the other 4 windows and a long patio door curtain rail up and there was still a lot of power left in the battery. As I had a lot of other work to do that required a drill, I went to B & Q and purchased the 18V Black and Decker model for myself. The kit I purchased was a hammer drill with two 2 batteries all fitted neatly into toughened plastic carry case which has been reduced in price to a few pennies under £80. The drill has reverse gears, that means you can drill ...

Ebac 2650 06/05/2012

Ebac Kept our Room Dry.

Ebac 2650 One of the last rooms we decided to decorate since moving into our new home was our bedroom and we had quite a shock when we moved our chest of drawers to find the wall behind it was covered in black mould that was also beginning to form on the back our the chest of drawers. Fortunately it has not done any damage other than to add a musty smell to the carpet in that corner and everything felt damp to the touch. The bottom of the Anaglypta wallpaper had absorbed moisture and was holding the smell of mould so I decided to strip it all away. Apart from a dark stain, the plastered walls underneath were in perfect condition without cracks, so I painted a base coat around the bottom of the walls with an external mould-resistant paint, and then standard silk emulsion as a top coat. Then we steam-cleaned the carpets and as added defence against further condensation, to save leaving the windows open in a north-facing bedroom in the depth of winter. The following day I happened to see my neighbour in his garden and asked him if he had had any problems in his house, and he said he had. He said that a builder had told me that is definitely wasn't rising damp but condensation because of where the bungalows were in a particularly misty and area and were also prone to condensation problems due to being detached. The cold outer walls in contrast to the centrally heated rooms caused vapour. He told me that he had a dehumidifier that seemed to work and suggested that I get one. So, we went out ...

Black&Decker GPC 1800 04/05/2012

Surgery For My Tall Trees In My Garden. But Use With Care!

Black&Decker GPC 1800 As you may know from my hedgecutter review, we have some very tall trees in our garden. When we first moved here in 2009, the hedge was a good 6ft (2mtrs) higher than it is now. The hedge is made up of 52 separate Leylandii trees that are planted around 2 feet apart and back in 2009 it made the garden and our bathroom that runs alongside this hedge very dark. Lowering the trees by 2mtrs, would need a saw, and the problem was that I could barely reach the centre of the wide hedge whilst balancing at the top of the ladder. I wondered if a Black and Decker pole saw, which is a sort of miniature chain saw on the end of an extended pole would do the trick. The thing that worried me, was that this machine was driven by an 18V battery that I believed may not be powerful enough for the job. But I was so wrong… Black & Decker’s GPC1800 18V Pole Pruner has an interchangeable 18 volt slide pack battery (Black and Decker A18 Slide Pack) giving a performance that felt as if it was plugged into the mains! The machine came with two extendable fibre-glass poles that slot easily into each other and are perfect for those branches that are a long reach away from you. It is very lightweight at around 6kgs and well balanced and I found very easy to use even whilst balancing at the top of a ladder. What was also handy was that the A18 Battery Slide Pack was exactly the same pack as I used on my Black and Decker cordless drill, and I already had two of those together with a charger. Another ...

Jeyes Fluid Freshbin Original 03/05/2012

Jeys Fluid A Powder for a Sweet Smelling Bin!

Jeyes Fluid Freshbin Original When I lived in the city, there were wheely-bins provided to put out our general household rubbish, but since we've move to a more rural area, this is not the case. Our council here insists on collecting our general household rubbish from the plastic black bin bags, to be left out the night before the early morning collection. Living in a coastal village, there are lots of seagulls and other animals like foxes who will rip open these bags at the mere whiff of anything edible. One day, I decided to place some domestic bleach in an empty plastic spray bottle and spray it on the inside and outside of the bag, but there were problems… I accidentally bleached my jeans and got some of the solution on to my hands, which was quite annoying, because I couldn't not wash the smell away at all and got unsurprisingly, quite a painful rash. I should have worn gloves I know, but for some reason, I had not even considered that. My wife said something like, "typical man!".. But… It did stop the birds and animals ripping the bags open though. Somebody once told me that birds don't have a sense of smell, or was it a sense of taste? Anyway, I don't somehow think that can be true.. But I digress… One day, I met a neighbour whilst putting my bag at the top of the drive. I think he had seen me sweeping up my refuse a few times so I asked him if he had ever had problems with his bags being ripped open, as mine had seemed to be the only target.. "Jey's Fluid," he said.. I replied that I would have to ...

Canon SELPHY ES20 29/04/2012

Fantastic Little Photo Printer.

Canon SELPHY ES20 About a year ago, my wife and I were talking about the problem of ink runs when photos from a bubblejet printer came into contact with any form of dampness from fingers or from drips that may occur whilst viewing them whilst drinking tea or coffee etc. I said that I was sure that there was a printer that produced water-proof prints but that they were very expensive. However, she told me that a colleague in work had told her that she had one and paid just over £100 for it. And so we did a search on line and came up with the Canon Selphy. Whilst we were restricted to printing postcard-size photos, where on my Canon IP4300 bubblejet I could go up to A4 size, the photos from the Selphy were indeed waterproof and of excellent quality. The Selphy uses a process called dye-sublimation that (I believe) prints using special heat-sensitive dyes onto special paper - but I am no technical expert on this. It uses special photo paper from a loaded cartridge of 50 or 100 sheets that slots easily into the side of machine through a small door on the side. To test the durability of one of our pictures, we actually dropped it into a bowl of water, took it back out, wiped it over and it remained perfect. Canon claims that prints from this machine will stay good for up to 100 years. The cartridges also contain all the inks and dyes, so there is never any need to worry about loading any inks or such the like. The printer is a very neat and compact stand-alone photo printer at a size of approx. ...

Practising the Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle 28/04/2012

Being Here Now.

Practising the Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle As a Zen practitioner and therapist for the past 30 years or so, I have come to realize that the only reality in life is in the here and now. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not yet, so that all we have is the here and now, and it is immediately gone, which is to say that reality cannot be contained. It is constantly in a state of flux, from one moment to the next. So is time an illusion? Merely asking that question with total intent can change one's awareness. I always liken this experience to that of a car that is changing gear. All this has to be realized and not just conceptualised, and one of the best ways to achieve such realization is through the practice of focusing one's mind on what is real. Questioning what is here, what is now. Right now. As you read through what I have written so far, you may (or may not) have found your mind glazing over. If so, this is usually because of the habit of not being present in the here and now, of allowing your thoughts to take you into a future or dwell on a past that you have decided is still real. A future that does not yet exist; a past that no longer exists. If we examine our minds, we will probably find that we are constantly either thinking of what was, or what will be. This is the way we have been conditioned to function and it means that our thoughts are mostly operating in an illusory state. Past of future, a state that is non-existent. And for some of us, this can be our only reality! If you are happy to be this way, then ...

Kung Fu - The Complete First Season (DVD) 27/04/2012

Kung Fu: A True Evergreen from the 1970s

Kung Fu - The Complete First Season (DVD) Kung Fu was very much a culture series that was screened on British TV back in the 1970s. I can well remember looking forward to settling down on a Saturday night to learn more about this mysterious Shaolin sect that existed in China. A few months ago going through what I can best describe as one of my nostalgic periods, a series on TV called Kung Fu, The Legend Continues got me thinking whether or not the original series was available on DVD. A search through Amazon soon produced series one and two that was available in the UK region 2 format. Series one that includes the pilot episode is the subject of this review. It was strange to find that the series were produced on double-sided DVD disks that I had never come across before. This made me feel as if I really had to handle them with care not to touch the surfaces, but they played very well. As I began watching, I felt that the magic this series had worked on my mind back in the 1970s, was soon re-established. Being a Zen practitioner, I find the peaceful Shaolin priest Kwai Chang Caine, played by David Carradine inspiring and relaxing. Whilst there is some displays of Kung Fu, in my mind that is not the main point of series as each episode is not certainly not full of violent displays of martial arts. When they are used they are used spiritually, suggestive of moving meditation or spiritual dance. Carradine adds further magic to the part with his gentle and soft speaking tones and ability to accept and engage with the ...

Bosch AHS 7000 Pro T Electric Hedge Trimmer 26/04/2012

Bosch - Powerful Electric Hedgecutter. Ideal For large, Tough Hedges

Bosch AHS 7000 Pro T Electric Hedge Trimmer The Bosch AHS 7000 Pro T electric hedgecutter has a powerful 700 watt motor, and in my opinion, it is the "Rolls Royce" of hedgecutters. It is quiet running and feels very comfortable in the hands. Why I Chose This MachineWhen we moved into our bungalow 3 years ago, we inherited a leylandii hedge that had grown to around 15 feet. I all but ruined my cheap £60 Black and Decker model as it just would not handle anything by the very tips of the branches. In fact I ended up taking 2 full weeks with a large pair of loppers and caused myself much muscle pain. The alternative was to pay £400 for a gardener to come and do it for me. The hedgecutter is no lightweight with it's blade that is 70cm long. It seemed very heavy when I first used it - so much so that I thought that I may have made a mistake in getting it, but I soon got used to the weight and was very pleased to find that it was making quick work of my hedge, which incidentally is around 37mtrs(121ft) long and around 3.5mtrs)(10ft) in height. I bought this machine from Screwfix on one of those pay-on-line, collect-in-store deals at a cost of £129.99. When the salesman handed it to me across the counter ,I must admit that I had a bit of a surprise at the size of it at an overall length 120cm in comparison to my old Black and Decker, and it felt like quite a hefty weight at 4.5kgs. The Hedgecutter in ActionBut it has a good length of cable of 12 metres and once I experienced the way it cut through my hedge without flinching, I ...

Corsodyl Mint Mouthwash 23/10/2011

Freedom From Mouth Pain - Like Winning the Lottery!

Corsodyl Mint Mouthwash Around 20 years ago I suffered from chronic mouth ulcers. I tried everything from over-the-counter gels, special diets to cortisone tablets but nothing would ever work. As soon as I got relief from one ulcer, another would form within days. In fact, I think I may have broken all records at having got relief from an ulcer at lunchtime, felt the pain of another forming around bedtime! Strangely enough, I never considered it to be a dental problem, but heard that it could be the fact that I had amalgam fillings, so I mentioned it to my dentist during a routine check. He said that he didn't think it was amalgam fillings, but that it might be a good idea to refer me to the dental hospital, which I accepted. It was from the professor there that I learned about Corsodyl mouthwash and given two bottles. I was instructed to use this after every meal after brushing my teeth, more than the twice a day that it said on the bottle. I followed these instructions and within two days I was free from mouth ulcers for the first time in about two years. To me it was just like winning the lottery and I think anyone who has ever suffered from chronic mouth ulcers would agree with me. My relief didn't come without "side effects" though. The first thing I noticed was that my taste buds got effected and everything started to taste the same. But in my opinion, that was a small price to pay. The other side effect was that my teeth quickly developed this brown staining and I found myself ...

Fujifilm FinePix S1500 23/10/2011

Great Bridge Camera...

Fujifilm FinePix S1500 The Fuji FinePix S1500 is not the latest model of the FinePix range of bridge cameras, but having been toying with the idea of getting something that offered a bit more than point and shoot, and not wanting to pay over £200 for it, I decided on this model after reading many good reviews from buyers on Amazon. There were many second-hand offers on Amazon, but I preferred the peace of mind of a brand new one, and picked it up for just under £180. This model is currently being offered on Amazon for £175. I received my camera two days after ordering it. The camera has a 12X optical zoom that I find that it is more than adequate for my needs and there is also a digital zoom. One thing I really like about this camera is that as well as having a LCD screen, it has an electronic view finder (EVF), that provides the same information as on the screen. I have never been able to get on even with the best of LCD screens in bright daylight and find myself mostly using the EVF when outdoors. The S1500 is not a small camera that you can take out and be unaware that you have it with you. It will only fit into the largest of pockets and is, in my opinion, too heavy to carry around in such a way. The actual size of the camera is 6.8 x 10.3 x 7.3 cm. I found that I had to retrieve my old 35mm camera case from the attic and it fits in there well, with room for spare AA batteries of which the camera takes 4. Another surprise I got was that one set of batteries seem to last forever - must ...

Sandisk Micro-SDHC Secure Digital 8192 MB 02/06/2011

SanDisk... Why Pay Double?

Sandisk Micro-SDHC Secure Digital 8192 MB When it comes to memory cards, I have found SanDisk to be a fast, economical and reliable product. I recently purchased an 8GB version for us in my Sony camcorder as the one that came with it was full and because these SD cards are so cheap nowadays, I thought I would just keeping getting new cards as each one filled up. The card that came with the camcorder was a 8GB Fujiflim SDHC which after a bit of searching around, I discovered I could replace for around £16.75 on Amazon, whereas the SanDisk comes in at £7.99 which was the cheapest I could find. I wasn't sure how good the SanDisk card would be because it was rated 'class 4' and the one already in the camera was 'class 6'. But the only difference I noted was a slightly longer delay after taking some video footage as the files were transferred across to the card. I have found that the 8GB card is more than adequate for my uses that involves taking some footage of my Clavinova Piano playing for Youtube from time to time and shots when I am out and about. SanDisk also produces a micro SD card that I use in my phone to store photographs. This card is tiny in comparison, I would say less than a quarter of the size of the standard size SD card. However, I have discovered that I could buy an adapter kit for £8.45 (Amazon) for the 8GB size (that includes one micro card and the adapter that looks like a full size card). I simply slide the micro disk into the adapter and I can then use this in my camcorder too and I find no ...

WD Elements Play WDBACC0010HBK 1 TB 21/02/2011

WD Multimedia Drive. A Great Solution.

WD Elements Play WDBACC0010HBK 1 TB I have been a bit of a photography and video buff over the last 30 years or so, and for the last few months, my attention has been drawn towards multi-media drives and the fact that they can be connected to my PC via the USB port, be loaded with videos, photos, music and other files and then connected to my TV, via the HDMI (high definition connection), or composite video/audio connections where it can be viewed and listened to in the comfort of my armchair. I was reading mixed reviews of the different types of multimedia drives on every review site Google could throw up. Some were giving the same product 5 star ratings and others 1 and 2 star ratings and saying that the box was a waste of money. According to my research the best product was the Western Digital - WD Elements Play WDBACC0010HBK 1 TB drive - TB meaning Terabyte which is 1000 gigabytes. More than enough memory for all my videos, pictures and music put together. I found the best deal on Amazon UK and because I have purchased from them many times before, I ordered my drive from them at a total cost of £96.08 which included VAT and delivery. Within three days I received my parcel. Inside the Box was the unit itself measuring a little more than most standard external hard drive (22.5cm X 15cms) and a tiny remote control at 11cms long. There was also a USB cable which at 45cms long I felt could have been longer but fortunately my computer has very conveniently placed USB ports, two on the front and two on the ...

Amazon Kindle Wi-Fi 6" E Ink Display 01/11/2010

Kindle.. Kind to my Eyes

Amazon Kindle Wi-Fi 6" E Ink Display For my birthday in October this year, my wife decided to buy me an Amazon Kindle. Mind you, I had been saying for months that I thought it would be an excellent idea and save me having to build more shelves at home to house my books. Anyway all that aside, I am very pleased with it and got far more than I expected on this little 8 by 5.5 inch gadget. I have read many e-books before on my computer screen but come late afternoon/early evening, particularly in the winter-time, I would have close my curtains to stop the sunlight shining on to my screen and I found it was quite tiring on the eyes. The claim with Kindle was that bright light would make no difference at all, as reading from its screen was no different to reading from the page of a conventional book made of paper. All I can say is that this is quite correct. The sun has shone on it, and whilst there is a very slight hint of reflection, it remains quite easy to read and there was same quality of crisp black and white print under my reading lamp as well. OK, I had to move it ever so slightly, but I've had to do that with conventional books. As well as being able to read books I purchase from Amazon in the Kindle format that Amazon calls, Whispersync, I can also load text files into my Kindle from my PC by connecting it to a USB port, which is immediately recognized by my Windows 7 O/S without having to load any extra software. I then simply select "View Files" from the window that pops up when I connect it, open ...
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