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Well travelled grumpy old man

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International Market Research

225 Reviews by K

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The Virtual Piano

The Virtual Piano

11/4/11

Virtual Piano on Your Computer!

If you or your kids are trying to learn to play the piano, this is a good free website to visit.

It turns your computer keyboard into a piano and offers sample music, backing tracks (plus of course the option to buy the featured songs from iTunes).

If you're stuck in your office cubicle and really fancy a quick tune, go to:

http://www.thevirtualpiano.com/

Have fun!

Hypercities.com

Hypercities

11/3/11

Hypercities Geo-historical mapping of major world cities. Follow the developments of major cities through time by means of sequential maps and re-scaled overlays.

Excellent geographical and historical tool. Will be great for teachers.

London, Paris, Berlin, Shanghai, Tehran, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and quite a few more. If you are interested in researching the developments of a particular community or want details of what a city looked like 50, 100 or 300 years ago this is the site for you.

Very good idea but it is still in Beta stage, so it can be quite slow to load some of the images.

Well done to those clever folk at UCLA but I hope they can speed things up!

http://hypercities.com/

Nihongo e na

Nihongo e na

10/21/11

Learning Japanese? Visiting Japan? Japanese Language Portal - Just What You Need!

Eons ago, I had to go to Japan on business. I hate being in a country without an element of 'survival language' (greetings, counting, shopping, directions, eating, where is the bathroom, etc) so out came the books and cassette tapes (yes, I'm THAT old).

Things are so much better nowadays and there is a ton of free stuff available on the net it's more fun, less boring and much more effective

I spotted this site on a poster at a local college recommended by their Japanese teacher.

I had a quick look, and thought it was well worth passing on. The site acts as a portal through which you can connect to many other Japanese language teaching sites, some free, some with subscriptions.

Hunt around and whether you want basic survival spoken Japanese or to go deep into the language and learn the various written forms for academic research, you'll find something here that will help you.

http://nihongo-e-na.com

Four stars

Innsofcourt.org

Innsofcourt.org

10/20/11

Was the American Declaration of Independence illegal?

The Temple American Inn of Court debates with a British legal team as to whether the American declaration of Independence was legal or not

A news story on this debate at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15381076

The American team won, but the Brits claim it was a home match for them with a biased jury!

Maybe the verdict should go to appeal? This debate could run and run

http://www.innsofcourt.org/

P.S. If you do eventually decide to come back under the Crown, (given some of your politicians I really wouldn't blame you for turning your backs on them), I believe you owe us quite a lot in back taxes...(!)

Coolsmartphone

Coolsmartphone

10/19/11

Lots of information, tips, reviews and industry reports all about smartphones.

If you are interested in what's selling, what's available and what's coming in the smart phone market, take a look at this website.

It's based in the UK, but the technical data and comparisons are generally relevant anywhere although the occasional feature or app might vary country to country.

Set up and run by Leigh Geary - a man with a mission to educate the world about smart phones. Not my choice of career, but I'm glad there are people like that out there they do the leg work for us normal folks who just need the information once every so often when we upgrade our phones.

Thanks, Leigh good job!

http://www.coolsmartphone.com

Nikonusa.com

Nikonusa

10/18/11

Photography, Cameras, Spare parts, Accessories, Tips, Workshops, Courses, Photo Galleries, News, Events and more.

Large web site from Nikon, maker of top class professional and amateur cameras.

The website is well laid out, and while they are obviously keen to sell you more Nikon photographic kit or sign you up to one of their photography courses, there is a lot of free information available. Their photography tips section is good:

http://www.nikonusa.com/Learn-And-Explore/Photography-Tips/index.page

and

http://www.nikonusa.com/Learn-And-Explore/Photography-Techniques/index.page

If you are interested in improving your photography, it's well worth a look.

Four Stars from me. And no, you don't need a Nikon camera to benefit from the site!

http://www.nikonusa.com

Tate

Tate

10/17/11

Tate / Tate Britain - Major London Art Gallery - Art from 1500 to the present day.

The Tate Gallery bills itself as the home of British art from 1500 to the present day. The original gallery at Millbank on the north bank of the Thames in London is now known as 'Tate Britain'

If your taste is for classic British painters such as Hogarth, Turner, Blake and Constable, or you prefer 20th Century offerings from Bacon, Spencer, Moore and Hepworth, Tate Britain is the destination for you.

'Young British Artists' (YBAs) from the 1990s Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Cornelia Parker are also well represented whether their work should even be classed as 'art' provokes many discussions!

Top rank works from Picasso, Klimpt, Dali, Warhol, Rothko, Degas, Pollock, Braque, Magritte, head up the international offerings.

In short, there is a stunning and wide collection of artistic work on display Tate Britain is a gallery which will manage to please nearly all visitors.

The website is extensive, and most artists and collections can be searched. It will give you up to date information on current and future exhibitions, tell you how to reach the gallery and provide information on the sister galleries of Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St. Ives.

If you're interested in art, the website is well worth a visit:

http://tate.org.uk/

Of course, images on computer screens are not the same as the real thing if you are visiting London and like art, Tate Britain is 'must see' for your list.

If you can't manage a visit, one of their latest developments is a good second best a rolling slideshow of some of their best works:

http://beta.tate.org.uk/art/slideshow/standalone?wi=1&tc=1&q=

Still in beta version, it will no doubt be improved, but even in beta it has some great images. Enjoy!

Upchucky.org

Upchucky.org

10/16/11

Music playlists streamed direct to you. Free!

Great selection of music play lists. Just make a selection of anything from 1940s hits of the year to current play lists of different musical genres, and bingo, you've got a 'best of' selection streaming to your computer.

Hundreds of play lists, (year / artist / type, etc.) a little advertising and works well.

Just hope it's legal. So far, I'm happy !

www.upchucky.org

Conjugation FR

Conjugation FR

10/15/11

Studying French? Verb conjugations a pain in the rear? Check this out!

Nice and simple site to help you with French verb conjugations.

Just tap in the verb, up comes all the information you need indicative, subjunctive, conditional, imperative, infinitive and participle and all forms in all tenses.

Brilliant!

http://www.conjugation-fr.com/

Tresbienfrench

Tresbienfrench

10/15/11

Excellent Basic French Language Training

There are quite a few free lessons on the webiste, but for the princely sum of $10 you get access to their whole language learning website French, German, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew. Not a bad deal!

The lessons are well planned, well laid out and user friendly. It is designed for beginners through to what I'd guess is high school / secondary school level.

Complete the course and you will be able to survive fairly comfortably in French speaking countries, buy tickets, go shopping, visit restaurants, ask directions, book hotel rooms, and have basic simple conversations with the locals.

If you want to conduct complex business, study literature or read heavyweight newspapers, you will need something more advanced.

For brushing up on basic schoolboy / schoolgirl French or supporting your kids if they find their teacher's language teaching skills less than convincing, it's ideal.

Très bien. Five stars from me!

http://www.tresbienfrench.com/

Learning And Teaching French

Learning And Teaching French

10/15/11

Learning French or just brushing up language skills? Check out the about.com learning French section as a decent reference site.

There are a huge number of language resources available on the net. Having trawled among them for a while, I'm going to point out a few that I think are most useful:

http://french.about.com

This is a pretty comprehensive site and can help if you are trying to work out some grammar point. It's a little like reading a grammar textbook at times a little dry and not everybody's favourite pastime. There is a lot of information on the site, but the layout is not particularly friendly and you may need to trawl around for a while to find the section you need.

Once you find the appropriate page, there's a lot of good stuff but you will need quite a lot of self-discipline to learn French from scratch on this site. The audio links are pretty clunky and take you to a separate page which is annoying, as you then have to click back to the page you were on most of the sites just run audio samples in a small on-page box or a direct click-to-hear link, which is a lot easier.

It is, however, a good reference site and worth bookmarking in your French language folder.

It also offers links to daily lessons, word of the day, phrases, etc., to help your self-improvement campaign.

WiTricity

WiTricity

10/13/11

Wireless electricity supply for home, industry and transport. Throw away all those ugly cables!

The principles of induction coils have been understood for more than a hundred years and form the basis of all voltage transformers. The physicist and electronics genius, Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), the man responsible for some of the key inventions behind alternating current electrical power supplies, also experimented with the concept of wireless supplies of electricity.

Tesla only managed to make electro-magnetic induction work effectively over very short distances. His vision of great 'power-towers' supplying free energy were not shared by investors (including J. Pierpont-Morgan), who were horrified by the thought of giving anything away for free whatever the benefits.

Nearly a hundred years on, some of the problems of longer distance induction power transmission have been solved. The solution, apparently, is in 'highly coupled magnetic resonance'.

Witricity is one of the companies working to build systems that will eventually mean no power cords on household and office electrical products and automatic wireless charging of devices. If you are in range of an induction power source you won't need batteries. That alone would make a huge impact on battery disposal problems and save some of the huge amounts of money and precious resources go into throw away and rechargeable batteries.

Witricity is also working on wireless power solutions for industry and transportation. Very interesting and a technology that seems a very solid bet for future uptake.

So, can you throw away all those ugly cable and rip out your unsightly power sockets? Well, not yet, but soon, quite soon

http://witricity.com

Good Economist article / AV link on Witricity:

http://www.economist.com/audiovideo?fr_story=061f098a65c9f1854a11d3568753eb7becbfb43f&rf=bm%3ffsrc=nlw|pub|10-12-11|publishers_newsletter

Global Military

Global Military

10/12/11

Military Equipment Recognition Defence Information Database

For frontline serving men and women in the armed forces recognition of enemy equipment as well as friendly kit is an essential skill are those enemy vehicles (if so, what type, what armament, how many, what direction) or are they 'friendly'? Correct identification and reporting can save lives yours and those of 'friendly' units.

During the first Gulf War gung-ho American A10 pilots managed to kill 11 US Marines and and 9 British soldiers in two separate 'blue on blue / friendly fire' incidents. Sadly, similar incidents have continued to occur in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite improved IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) electronics and communication networks. Better basic recognition skills might have helped prevent all these tragedies.

www.armyrecognition.com offers an extensive database of all the main NATO, Russian / Soviet and Chinese kit that most armed forces personnel are likely to come across. There are data sheets and descriptions on each piece of equipment, and a good selection of photos.

The website covers recent defence equipment news, trade shows and has up to date information on the defence forces and equipment of most countries. A lot of the African information is in French, but the NATO codes are usually standard and it is fairly easy to decipher even if your French isn't fluent.

Good for recognition training purposes and for information briefings.

Interesting website if you need this sort of stuff.

http://www.armyrecognition.com

MilitaryHeritage

MilitaryHeritage

10/11/11

18th and 19th Century military equipment and replicas.

Their home page strapline is "Home of the Discriminating General." I doubt if very many real life generals visit the site, but for people who are involved in re-enactments, theatre groups, getting costumes and equipment for films, teaching military history, or who just have a burning desire to find out the actual French commands to load and fire a musket at the battle of Waterloo, this is the place to go. No doubt some people just like dressing up in the privacy of their own rooms ('Not tonight, Josephine'), but we won't go there.

For your musket, fife and drum, check out www.militaryheritage.com

If you really ARE interested in French musket drill (!) go to:

http://www.militaryheritage.com/loading1777frenchmusket.htm

They will even sell you the musket for a mere $499 (bayonets extra). Equipping a new Imperial army for another march on Moscow will be a pricey enterprise.

Cyberkinetics.com

Cyberkinetics

10/10/11

Short cuts to Jedi Training?

This company is working on 'Braingate' devices that sense and 'translate' brain waves to control electronics and machines. OK, it's not quite Jedi mind control, but it's a leap forward in sending signals from your mind to machines.

Devices for the disabled are high on the list of potential products - mobility, transport, communication, home help, etc. Computer gamers and the defence industries (inevitably) are other targets. Maybe you rremember the novel / movie 'Firefox' with 'thought launched' weapons systems? It seems that once again, science fiction is becoming science fact

http://www.cyberkinetics.com/

There is a good article on the subject at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15200386

IBM is a big player, and the article includes links to other companies involved in brainwave control developments.

20 Things I Learned

20 Things I Learned

10/10/11

Introduction to the Internet

20 mini chapters for non-techies as an introduction to the internet, browsers, cloud computing, web apps, browser plug-ins, HTML, Java, cookies, security, etc., etc.

Written and supported by the Google Chrome team it is obviously biased to Chrome, but covers other browser choices as well.

It's a quick read, clear and informative as a basic introduction for non-geeks. It won't help everybody my 87 year father still thinks 'cookies' is a rather odd American word meaning 'biscuits'

Justseaweed.co.uk

Justseaweed.co.uk

10/7/11

In the Western world, with the exception of a few Celtic and Norse communities, most of us have neglected the culinary delights of plants harvested from the sea shore. Seaweed is fairly mainstream in Japanese and oriental cuisine sushi wraps, flavourings, thickeners, etc.

Scientific tests show seaweeds are chock full of good things and, barring any concerns about ocean pollution, would make a healthy and tasty addition to people's diets.

The website www.justseaweed.co.uk will help you identify different seaweeds if you are foraging for yourself or sell you packets of the stuff if you can't make it to the sea shore. Seaweed generally stores well (the dried stuff for around two years) and tastes great, adds interesting textures to food and no, it doesn't taste fishy!

Seaweeds are also used in beauty spas for fancy baths why pay $100 for a spa bath when you can get some baldderwrack from the beach, or buy some for $10 and indulge yourself at home? (Haven't tried this myself as I am well beyond any benefit from beauty treatments, but the wife and daughters might have fun)

They supply top Michelin star restaurants, celebrity chefs and private customers from the business on the Isle of Bute off the spectacular west coast of Scotland.

Worth a visit even if you don't want to eat the seaweed!

PostScript

PostScript

5/24/11

UK Book Club Remainders / Bargains

If you are addicted to books, you've probably subscribed to various book clubs at some point in your life. They hook you in with a great deal and then you have to spend the next several years choosing at least one book a month or one book a quarter from a list that soon starts to get less and less appetising. Eventually, you summon up the energy to write and cancel your account, but they then pursue you until you die with junk mail letters trying to suck you back in - argh!

PSBooks (aka Post Script Books) has no contract. They simply sell overstocked books and remainders. Most of their prices are pretty good and you pay just one shipping charge of £2.95 per order (in the UK). They also ship worldwide but charge a per volume rate.

Sometimes you can equal their prices for new books on Amazon, but that usually means multiple shipping charges from different booksellers, so PSBooks is often the cheapest solution if you are buying more than one title. That's dependent of course, of you wanting to buy the titles on their list.

They obviously cannot compete with the fabulous prices you can get on Amazon for second hand books in good condition.

Their list is wide and eclectic history, art, music, natural history, science, travel, reference, crafts, hobbies, religion usually something of interest at a price that is tempting.

www.psbooks.co.uk

Worth a look.

HankyPanky

HankyPanky

5/13/11

Lingerie - Underwear and Nightwear for Ladies

Well, as reviewer TN said she liked this company, I thought, purely in the interests of objective reporting, of course, that I should take a peek.

As a man, I'm all in favour of 'Hankypanky after midnight', but at the wrong side of 30 I'm also quite keen on the 'before midnight' option. A bloke works better with eight hours sleep, after all.

Lingerie does seem to be a good business the less that is on sale, the higher the prices. As a business school model, in all products apart from electronics and optics, usually the more materials used in the product, the higher the price. Not so here. Odd, eh?

Anyway, this website is definitely educational. I had no idea that there was such a choice in thong design. If asked what a 'low rise thong' was I would have probably guessed it was something to do with trailer parks As for a 'V-kini', well, possibly a coc*tail?

Anyway, ladies, if TN likes the site, you can be sure that it delivers what you order and won't rip you off. The products may get ripped off you, however, if your significant other gets too excited by your purchases.

As to my own tastes, as I've said before, my favourite nightwear for ladies is that chosen by the late Marilyn Monroe a little Chanel

http://hankypanky.com/

BirdForum.net

BirdForum.net

5/12/11

Birder / Birdwatcher / Twitcher / Ornithologist / Nature Lover?

Birdforum says it is the world's largest online bird forum. I can't verify that, but it is certainly extensive and well put together. There are thousands of photographs, identification tips, recordings of bird calls, video clips, equipment reviews, encyclopaedia information and details on bird watching sites and sightings from all around the world.

Whatever the level of your interest or wherever your bird watching takes place, there'll be something on this website that you'll enjoy.

Lots of good links. Registration is free.

www.birdforum.net

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