Monday, 20 February 2012


Dyson DC38 Multi Floor Lightweight Dyson Ball Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner
As I've mentioned before, I'm a member of Amazon Vine where selected regular Amazon reviewers get the chance to pick up to four freebies a month from a selected list. It's mostly books but sometimes you get offered something special. Mind you have to be quick because there aren't many of the special items available. I got the last one of these which cost £299.99.

Title: Dyson does it again. Rating 5*
This is the second Dyson I've owned -the previous being (and still is) an upright- and only serves to confirm my opinion that if you want a vacuum cleaner then Dyson is the best. You can see all the specs above so I'll skip them and get right down to basics.

Opening the box. This requires a little effort, though that isn't a criticism just an observation. At least it's secure.

Unpacking. Needless to say it's in several pieces, each wrapped separately with all but one being in plastic wrap, the other in card. There's no fiddly tape, you just pull the plastic out one end and slide it off the part. Nice and easy.

Fitting it together. Resisting the temptation of thinking it looks easy, I looked at the operating manual which consists of several diagrams but no words. I confess I'm a word person and like to see things next to a diagram like: Slot tube A into socket B. Hmm. I stared at the diagram and stared at the various parts as I worked out which was which and made a start.I have to confess it was quite easy. I got briefly stuck trying to press a button which didn't seem accessible until realised I had to press a different button release a catch which separated the ball from the drum. This isn't Dyson's fault, it's mine for being thick. For anyone used to working from diagrams it's a doddle. Everything you need to know is there, it just takes some of us (well, me) a little longer to work out than others. The various accompanying tools are fitted onto a separate unit which clips neatly onto the main hard plastic tube (or whatever it's called). Replacing the suction heads (or...) is again easy and effortless.

There are some helpful instructions -in words!- on how to use it safely. Like don't try to suck up anything that's on fire and, similarly, don't try and suck up water, etc. Got it!

Using it. Well it rolls around okay with virtually no effort required. Switch it on and the first thing you notice is how relatively quiet it is compared to any other vacuum cleaner you've ever used including an upright Dyson, though it was loud enough to still scare the crap out of my cats. It's great for getting under chairs and couches as long as the legs raise them a few inches off the ground and it glides over carpets, mats and hard floors. I tried in on the stairs and it was better than the upright and had a longer reach. Press the button to rewind the flex (after switching it off first) it goes in smoothly and easily without whipping round and hitting your knuckles, though Dyson do recommend holding it as a precaution.

What more can I say? This is an extremely well designed piece of equipment that does everything Dyson claim for it and does it well. If you want this type of vacuum cleaner I really don't think you can do better and I'm delighted to have one. 

 Title: For fans of electric guitar everywhere. Rating 4*
While steeped in the desert blues style, it's easily accessible to western audiences. Mostly it's a relatively subdued flowing album. Indeed you can just let it flow over you like warm water, relaxing in the ambience and this is a perfectly valid way of listening to it. But if you do you'll miss out on much. There's a delicate interweaving of two electric guitars as well as Bombino's own solos. The understated drumming enhances it well -the band is a three piece, augmented for this album by bass and rhythm guitars and percussion. Bombino's voice is smooth with just enough of an edge.

But there is also a western influence which makes itself intermittently known. The opening repetitive riff to Tenere could be a country blues from the 1930s. On the next and for me the standout track, Iyat Idounia Ayasahen, the band sounds like a Tuareg version of the Grateful Dead as the band get rocking for 9 minutes and Bombino sounds like he's channeling the spirit of Jerry Garcia. Apart from some brief applause you can't tell the difference between the studio and live tracks.

Well worth risking a few quid on. 

Daredevil vol.1 by Mark Waid
Title: Grin Not  Grim. Rating: 4*
After years of bleakness, noir, depression, alienation, and lots of other negatives, Mark Waid (noted for taking different tacks when chronicling well known heroes) has taken a different tack with Daredevil. It's probably the only one he could take if he wanted to make it different from everything else that's happened to the character in the last few years. He's made DD fun again.

Matt Murdock, who contrary to popular opinion insists that he isn't Daredevil, has decided to lighten up. No more angst and gloom and depression. He wants to have fun again and proves it by showing he has a sense of humour. He also has a slightly different way of showing how DD 'sees' the world though it isn't overdone if only stop the artist having a nervous breakdown. It's a nice fresh likable approach. Waid also throws in some new characters including an interesting potential girlfriend for Matt. I do think it's been overpraised by critics but it's still one of Marvel's better titles and I've already pre-ordered the next in the series.  

Title: Minimalism is the new black. Rating: 5*
In an era when men's watches must have a multiplicity of functions requiring a manual comparable to that of a computer and a thickness to match, this one is refreshingly minimalist. Here's a list of all its functions-

It tells the time.

That's it.

And it tells it using Arabic numerals from 1-12. No guessing what XXXV to X11 means or trying to figure out the time from a blank face with raised bits. Nope, when the big hand is (looks at watch) on 4 and the little hand is on 11 then it's twenty past eleven. Though you do have to figure out whether it's morning or afternoon which could be difficult in either mid-winter or mid-summer in Norway but the rest of us should have no problem. It doesn't light up either.

It's also very slim and the strap fits snugly around your wrist. All you have to do is wind it to the correct time, put it on your wrist and forget about it until it's needed.

Brilliant idea. Wonder who thought of it.

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