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Andy_The_Writer

Andy_The_Writer
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Member since: 24.02.2003

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      02.08.2003 22:00
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      ** This in actually for the DVD version of Ocean's Eleven but as there is no category for it then I am resorting to popping it in the VHS section ** Last week I went down to the local Woolworths and had a look in their big DVD sale. I was surprised to find Ocean's Eleven for £6.99 so snapped it up before anyone else could bag this bargain. I had heard great things about the film and decided it was time to find out for myself. What a treat it was, Ocean's Eleven is fast paced, sleek and cool, all you could want from an action/crime film. ** The Plot ** Danny Ocean (George Clooney) has just got out of prison, but no less than 24 hours into his probation he is already compiling a team with his old friend Russell (Brad Pitt) to rob three Las Vegas Casino's in one night. The Casino's are owned by Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), who is also dating Danny Ocean's ex wife Tess (Julia Roberts). Can Danny and his team of 10 pull it off? ** Main Characters ** Danny Ocean (Played by George Clooney) - the leading man, and the man with the plan. Throughout the film Clooney's character Danny is itching to succeed with his plan and reclaim his with from Benedict. This film has Clooney on top form, his acting is solid throughout and never once does he slip out of character. With many huge films under his belt his experience shines in this film even amongst the many other megastars present at the time. Russell (Played by Brad Pitt) - Pitt has proved his a great actor before this film, but as with Clooney his acting remains solid. Pitt plays a man with more humour than Clooney and seems to do a very good job of it as well. Playing a major role in the film Pitt couldn?t have done it any better; he seems so natural in his character, which is partially down to his acting skills, but also a good choice from the casting director. Linus (Played by Matt Damon) - Linus is one of the members of th
      e Ocean's Eleven, and his is actually a pickpocket. Danny asks Linus for help in the heist and of course he accepts. You would have thought that with all the stars around him slightly less famous Matt Damon would have paled in comparison to Clooney etc, but to his credit he doesn't. Damon produces some cracking bits of acting, and brings quite a lot of humour to the film on the whole. Possibly his best piece of acting to date. Tess (Played by Julia Roberts) - Danny's Ex wife and girlfriend to Benedict, Roberts plays the part of love object to both of them. Throughout the film you can see that she may still have feeling for Danny, but is trying not to show them as she is with Benedict now and Danny is a criminal. Roberts is not quite up to her usual high standards, but by no means puts in a bad performance, overall she plays the part well, and was definitely the right choice of actress. And Finally Terry Benedict (Played by Andy Garcia) - The supposed good guy of the film, the innocent casino owner and boyfriend of Tess. Garcia is obviously the intended victim of the film, which would class him as the good guy. But Garcia's acting leads you to feel that he is not as nice and friendly as he may appear. As Garcia's character develops and we find out more of his aggressive personality, Garcia himself develops as an actor and pulls out all the stops. By the end of the film he has done his job, he has made us, the audience; want the good guy to lose for once. ** What Makes This Film So Good ** The plot line may sound simple but this film does a great job of taking that simple plot and turning into an award winning film. The plan to rob the casinos is elaborate and well filmed, but not overly complex that you lose track of what is going on. This allows the film to flow from scene to scene without leaving you having to rack your brain to understand what has just happened. With all these
      huge stars in the film some critics were unsure as to whether the film would work, or whether all those starts would try to "out act" each other if you like. But they don't, they work together brilliantly and you don't notice one of them anymore than any of the smaller actors in the film (Such as Casey Affleck). All the actors are solid, and put in very good performances; this is one aspect of the film that turns the simple plot into a movie making masterpiece. Once the team has been assembled that's when this film really takes off. Soderbergh has created the perfect balance of making the audience wait for the action to start, but not kept them waiting to long that they go out of their mind with boredom. The end few scenes keep you on your toes, they keep you thinking about what might happen next, but I assure you this film is so very clever, guessing what will happen takes either a bit of luck, or being able to read the future. ** Quality of Audio and Visual ** As with any DVD you would expect a high standard in audio and visual quality. Ocean's Eleven does not disappoint. All the scenes are crystal clear, showing the best in clarity and colour. The music sounds great through any speakers whether it be the TV?s or a surround sound system. ** DVD Extras ** As with any DVD you would expect some extras. No, this isn't one of those pointless DVD?s with 9 discs of boring extras; Ocean's Eleven just has a selection of the usual. Running Commentary - watch the film with Matt Damon, Andy Garcia and Brad Pitt talking you through it, or watch the film with the director talking you through it. The choice lies with you; both are ok, but nothing special. I have never had the patience to sit and watch this whole film again listening to the commentary. Behind the Scenes - A fly on the wall view of the making of Ocean's Eleven. An interesting extra if this sort of thing
      interests yo u. Gives quite and in depth look at the cast and characters and some of the original ideas for the film. Interactive Menu's with Scene Selection - This is pretty standard on all DVD's, just allows you to select the scene you wish to start the film from. Great if you want to re-watch a certain scene, otherwise nothing particularly useful. Trailers - A few theatrical trailers for films that were released around the same time as Ocean's Eleven. Not much can be said about these except that they are trailers. Enhanced Features For Your PC - should your PC have a DVD Rom drive then whack this bad boy in and be treated to a whole host of more interactive extra's such as news from the director via the net, and a whole host of things about the film itself. ** Vital Statistics ** I have to include this in this review as I know some of you will be technical statistic fans so here it is: Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Aspect Ration 2.35:1 Widescreen/Colour Run Time: 112 mins Approx Languages: English, French and Spanish Hearing Impaired: English Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Arabic and Greek Dual Layer Format Certificate: 12 ** Conclusion ** Ocean's Eleven is a star studded masterpiece. If you are a fan of any of the actors in this film (which you undoubtedly will be) then this film may definitely be for you. Even if you feel this film wouldn't interest you, give it ago, this film will go down as a classic of our time. Thanks for reading

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        31.07.2003 14:44
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        Ratchet and Clank is without a doubt one of the most innovative and entertaining platform games to hit the shops on any format. When the game was released on the PS2 in 2002 it took the gaming world by a storm, and left many critics in awe of its quality and originality. Having now played through this game a few times I can honestly say that it has been one of the most enjoyable and entertaining gaming experiences I have had. The plot of the game is much like many other platformers, and that's not very in depth and serious. I may make this sound like a bad thing, but what this game loses in seriousness it more than gains in humour. Ratchet is a Lombax (furry animal thing) and has always dreamed of a space adventure. However, up until now Ratchet has remained on his home planet, Veldin. Meanwhile, in another part of the galaxy the evil Chairman Drek has polluted the planet where he lives and now intends on making a new one. However, the way he is going to create this new planet is as evil as his name suggests. Drek starts to create a robot army to destroy all life on the other planets, and then ultimately steal a part from each planet, joining them together to form his perfect new planet. During producing his robot army the machine goes wrong, and Clank is created, a tiny, but very intelligent robot. Clank escapes Drek's planet in an escape pod and crash lands on planet Veldin. He then joins up with Ratchet in an attempt to save the galaxy and fulfil Ratchets dream of a space adventure. Can Ratchet and Clank foil Drek's evil plan? Ratchet and Clanks has many strong points, the graphics are stunning, the concepts are original, and the levels are diverse. Firstly looking at the graphics, Ratchet and Clank can really not be faulted. From the opening cut scenes you can see this games quality graphics, and they are amongst the best seen for this type of game. Each of the 18 levels (each one taking pla
        ce on an entirely different planet) are entirely unique, none of them are similar. The graphics remain colourful and extremely detailed throughout, never once disappointing. The backdrops have been fantastically thought out, and contain many other elements all of which the player can interact with in some way or another. Anything you can see on the landscape can be destroyed (by one of Ratchets 30+ weapons and gadgets), and this adds a lot to the gameplay. With the extra power of the PS2 available, the Ratchet and Clank designers have gone all out. In some of the most action packed sections of the game there can easily be at least 50 or more objects moving on screen at any one time. This has never been done before, and adds to the originality of Ratchet and Clank. If graphics are a big part of games to you then Ratchet and Clank will not disappoint. Earlier I was talking about the concepts of the game being original. What I mean by that is never before has a platform game involved so many ways for the player to interact. The game contains a huge array of weapons and gadgets all which can be used for various tasks. Some examples of these weapons are the Suck Cannon, which sucks in smaller enemies who can then be fired back at some of the larger enemies, the Tesla Claw which fires bolts of electricity at the enemies and my favourite weapon, the Morph-O-Ray, which turns smaller enemies into chickens. I love this huge choice of weapons, as it allows the game to be less linear and grants the player more freedom to go about things in their own fashion. Some of the ideas brought to life by this game are entirely original and had never before been attempted in a game. That's what really makes this game something to write home about in my opinion. When looking at this game in terms of the challenge posed and the diversity of the challenges in the game, it comes up trumps. It's not as simple as going through the 18 l
        evels and that's it, this game has so much more. Platform games have been renowned for being as simple and repetitive as "jump from this bit to the next," however Ratchet and Clank chucks in a new challenge every level. For example in one level you're attempting to find an oxygen mask in an attempt to explore another planet that has poisonous atmosphere. The only way to get this oxygen mask is to pilot a space ship and help a tropical planet resort owner combat the intruders who are destroying his planets atmosphere and turning all the sea life into mutants. But then on the next planet you are bribing a body guard to meet someone who is well protected. In the same level you also enter a hoverboard race, and buy weapons from an alien gangster. That's just a small example of how diverse this game can be. You will never find yourself thinking that you have done something very similar to this in one of the previous levels. This for me makes the game a real gem, and shows that it raises the benchmark for future titles of the same genre. In many platform games (such as the old Super Mario games) the sound has been much over looked. Ratchet and Clank pulls out all the stops and tries to sound as good as it looks. It succeeds brilliantly; the music is catchy and does what it needs to do. The music changes from level to level and really helps to set the mood for the planet. Then there of cause the sound effects which in the past have also been overlooked. In this game however every enemy, item, weapon and gadget has its own great sound effects. I particularly like the sound effect from the "Pyrocitor" flame thrower style weapon, has a great roaring affect much as you would expect something of the sort to sound. In the games many cut scenes the characters all have great voice overs. Ratchet the main character has a hip, teenager with attitude style voice over, where as his side kick Cla
        nk (who is a robot) sounds very much as you would expect with a good electronic kind of sound. What more has this classic got to offer. It appeals to both the younger generation and the older and wiser generation. The kids love it because it's colourful and Ratchet is furry, and the older people love it because it has a lot of adult humour thrown in for good measure. The control system for this game is fantastic and very easy to pick up. As with most games the player can decided whether they wish to use the directional pad or the analog sticks to control the characters. Having this choice may seem like no big deal, but as an increasing number of games are turning analog only its a welcomed feature for me. The simplicity of the controls makes the game less frustrating for the player, especially when attempting to complete one of those "I'm going to break my controller in anger" sections of the game. Many games have made the mistake of making the controls far to sensitive to the touch, where Ratchet and Clank has found a system that works flawlessly. The game is Dual Shock compatible, which adds to the experience of playing and makes the action more enjoyable. When hit by an enemy or firing one of the larger weapons in the game the pad will be sure to be a rumblin'. Another great thing about the game is the way it rewards the players. Just like a DVD Ratchet and Clank is packed to the brim with extras, but unlike a DVD these can not just be accessed from the beginning. The player must unlock all the extras, and take my word they are worth it if the games humour appeals to you. These extras include a rather humorous look at all the stages in the design of Ratchet and Clank, from artwork to all the CGI (computer generated imagery) shots of all the main characters. They include humorous "TV commercials" from the company Gadgetron (the company which you purchase all your we
        apons and ammo from), such as an advert for their new gadget "The Hygeneorator." To put Ratchet and Clank in a nutshell, the games designers have created a sleek looking, innovative, original and nice sounding platform game, which raises the standards for future producers and dares them to make something better. What this game loses in a serious plot it goes all out on fun and humour. The challenge it poses should not be under estimated, if you're looking for 100% completion then you're going to have to work for it. First time through this game took me around 15 hours of play, but bear in mind I had not found all hidden extras until I went through a second time. You may do this at the end of every time you complete the game, you can go back to level one, but you get to keep all the weapons you obtain the first time round. Each time you then complete the game the little counter goes up, unlocking more extras, and proving that this game has nearly infinite replay value. With Ratchet and Clank going Platinum and joining some of the greatest hits on the PS2, with the soon to be £19.99 price tag there has never been a better time to treat you or the kids to one of the games of 2002. ** Vital Stats ** Produced by Insomniac Games. At least 355Kb of space needed on your memory card. 1 Player - there is no multiplayer options. ** End Vital Stats ** For more information on Ratchet and Clank check out this web site: www.ratchetandclank.com - official site Thanks for reading, Andy.

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        • JMC Air / Airline / 4 Readings / 58 Ratings
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          12.04.2003 19:05
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          What makes an airline service good? Is it comfort during the flight? Is it the friendliness of the cabin crew? Perhaps you even feel the in flight entertainment is the deciding factor? I am a firm believer of having to look at all these factors to get a more complete picture of the quality of an airlines service. Which brings me too JMC Airlines. Over the last three years I have been lucky enough to have flown out to Florida twice, each time using JMC. On both occasions the service was phenomenal, everything was perfect, I could pick no faults. The Planes JMC has only recently started to fly their own planes (as they were originally just a travel company), so all there planes were built from 2000 onwards. Within their fleet they have several A30 Airbuses, and a lot of the Boeing 74 range. For flights to Florida JMC use their A30 Airbus fleet to wing their passengers across the waters. The A30's may appear thin from the outside, but you should never judge a book by its cover. On the inside these planes are huge, and offer plenty of room for the 300+ passengers onboard. On a JMC A30 Airbus there are two types of seating, JMC Economy and JMC Plus. The Economy seats are the lower grade of seat (which take up the majority of the plane), and the Plus seats being the upper class seats (contained within a small section at the front of the plane). Over the two flights I have flown in both Economy and Plus, and both offered a fantastic amount of legroom (with Plus offering an extra 6 inches), which easily allowed for me to stretch my legs during the 9 hour flight. The Plus seats are great, apart from the benefit of having more leg room you can look forward to more padded seats, a foot rest and an adjustable head rest. The planes across all the fleets are constantly maintained and checks are done on a regular basis. Nothing has ever slightly gone wrong on the flights I have been on, and I felt very safe
          on those flights across the Atlantic. The planes have a generous amount of toilets which dramatically cuts the time you have to wait to use the toilet. Along with the generous number of toilets, is an equally generous number of exits (heaven forbid should anything go wrong). So no matter whether you are flying Economy or Plus, the seats are bound to be comfortable and spacious. Cost When considering the quality of the planes JMC is a cheap airline. I would love to give you an idea of the costs, but having only been to Florida with JMC, I know very little of how much it costs to travel elsewhere. When looking at other airlines first class prices, JMC makes them appear very costly. With a £50 increment on the Economy seating, you are treated to the lavish JMC plus seats (where you can be paying up to £1500 to travel first class on Virgin). Service The cabin crew on both of our flights have been fantastically friendly, polite, and helpful. Whatever you ask them for, whether it be a drink, or for a bag of KP nuts, they will do their level best to help you. The cabin crews on our flights have been a combination of young and old, and male and female, giving the crew more diversity. This leads me to another benefit of flying JMC Plus, you get your own cabin crew. The A30 Airbuses contain around 300 seats, 280 of which are Economy, leaving 20 Plus seats located at the (quieter) front of the plane. There is a crew of around 10 which serve the interest of those in Economy seating (dealing with 280 passengers), and a crew of around 6 serving those in the Plus seating (20 passengers). So as you can imagine service in the Plus section is flawless, fast, and friendly. Having said this, the cabin crew dealing with the Economy passengers do their job well, and just as good as those in Plus, it is just simply the fact they have a lot more passengers to deal with. When night time falls on
          your flight JMC account for the fact that people are going to want to sleep. So JMC have a lights out time, for approximately two hours, giving people plenty of time to rest up to lessen the effects of jet lag. Also if people wish to carry on reading they can do by simply popping on their own private reading light. So again JMC has considered all the options and delivered superbly. In terms of flights leaving on time JMC is up their with the best of them. We have never experienced a delay of over 5 minutes with them, and very often they will leave right on the dot. So you can be sure of a prompt time, and also a very fast crossing to you destination flying the smallest possible route. Food and Drink Whether your flying Economy or Plus the food is the same, but the difference lies in drinks. Firstly looking at the quality of food, it is basically your typical aeroplane food, apart from the fact that JMC seem to offer a bit more choice in meals than other airlines. On the A30's and on the journey to Florida they offered around three choices of a main meal, and a variety of vegetarian meals to accommodate for vegetarian guests. After pondering what to have I chose the Roast Chicken meal, and was pleasantly surprised at the quality, which in my opinion was better than other airlines. On any flight JMC have meals to account for Breakfast, Lunch or Tea, so you will never miss a meal on a JMC flight. JMC haven't simply devoted all their attention to meals either, offering a massive range of snack products (from crisps to chocolate and sweets), for really low prices. These snacks as with drinks can be purchased at any time throughout the duration of your flight. Great if you start to feel a little peckish. Secondly the drinks, a major advantage for flying with JMC. The range of drinks that JMC offer is massive. They have drinks to satisfy any preference you may have, whether it be flat juice drinks
          (such as Ribena or Robinson's), whether it be Alcoholic drinks (such as Teachers Whisky, Jack Daniel's, Vodka), or whether it be your main stream fizzy drinks (such as Pepsi, Tango, Coke), JMC can supply the goods. When travelling in Economy these drinks come at a price, however on selected flights travelling in Plus entitles you to free drinks, with the exception of alcoholic drinks. These free drinks are great, especially if he flight is long. In Flight Entertainment JMC really are on top of their game here offering a huge selection both TV channels and Radio stations to listen too. There are around 7 films to choose from at any one time, music channels and radio stations playing music of all genres, children?s channels much like the popular kids channel Nickelodeon and a few others. If you are seated in the Economy section of an A30 airbus then you will have a shared TV hanging somewhere in the aisle as with most other airlines, so there is a limit on the choice of what you can watch. Having said that JMC do their best to keep the mixture of what they show to be varied, so there is at least one program or film during the flight to suit your tastes. This is really where the main benefit of flying Plus comes into action. With your own (quite big) TV in the back of the seat in front you can choose what you want to watch when you want to watch it, giving you a massive freedom in your choice. I was extremely impressed with the selection on the flight to Florida. I watched Bend it Like Beckham, Spiderman, My Family, Mr Bean, Frank Skinner Show, The News, MTV, and a few other channels, so this shows what a great variety is available to Plus customers. Check In Although this is perhaps more to do with the company than the Airline itself thought I?d add a little about it here. The check in for JMC is quite a lot quicker than other companies I have flown with before (Britannia, Virg
          in etc), so don?t expect to have hours of waiting in line. Plus passengers have their own check in desk, and we queued for 5 minutes and then we were ready to be checked in. This service was great and worth the small extra cost of flying plus alone. The check in staff was very helpful, and polite, and went about their job quickly and efficiently, so I was very happy with their service. One other advantage of flying Plus Priority Baggage is another advantage of flying with JMC Plus. When we were told that if we went with the Plus service our bags would be first off at the other end, I was a little sceptical. However, when we arrived in Florida, to my surprise, our bags were amongst the first off, and JMC had delivered the goods again. Conclusion JMC offers a great all around service, with great staff both in flight and on the ground, a flexible costs system with so nice prices and deals, a great selection of snacks and drinks along with in flight entertainment, and a fantastic first class option at a very small cost. If you have never flown JMC before, give them a try, I?m sure you will not be disappointed.

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          • amazon.co.uk / Online Shop / 0 Readings / 52 Ratings
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            06.04.2003 01:12
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            Shopping, most men dread the thought of it and most women relish upon the word. This isn't me being simply stereotypical of modern society; it's just something I have noticed during my lifetime. However, thanks to the wonders of modern day technology, we have the internet and the marvel of online shopping. Amazon is one the biggest online shops, and was also one of the first to be established. It sells a massive range of products across a huge variety of categories from music, to books. Now even men can't resist the drawing temptation to browse this online superstore, and be tempted into actually buying something. It's just so easy. Amazon has changed my opinion of shopping, I used to think shopping was a hassle, a burden, but now I have realised that shopping can be easy as sitting in the comfort of your own home. Amazon is the best online store on the internet at the moment in my opinion, the range of products is fantastic. Products from all manufacturers and brands can be found on Amazon, ranging from books, CD's and DVD's, electronic goods, mobiles to name a few. With this massive diversity of products you can browse the site for hours, and you will be sure to find something that suits your tastes or requirements. So how easy is Amazon to use? Well the answer to that question is very easy. If you are a first time customer you must first set up your Amazon Online Account. A button on the homepage will take you directly to the registration form, in which you then fill in all your details (including your credit or debit card details) and submit the form. What if other people get hold of my credit card details through the internet? Of cause Amazon have taken this into account and are fully aware of possible hackings that sites such as theirs may come under. So Amazons website has the latest and greatest security devices and systems in place to give hackers looking for credit card details.
            Some online stores have been known to have below standard security systems in place, so this puts Amazon up amongst the best in my own opinion. Fraud has become a major problem over the internet, with hackers stealing credit card details and spending vast quantities of cash. Trust me, with Amazon being a very secure website it brings more than a little sense of security to its customers. Without this security Amazon simply would not be as popular as it is today. So what benefits does setting up an account give you? Well now that you're a member of Amazon you will find a lot of benefits. The main benefit is the options available to you to track your orders, and to receive an estimated delivery date. When an order is placed by simply following the links on the Amazon homepage (once you have logged in using the password you chose upon setting up your account), you can discover if the item/s you have ordered has been dispatched from the warehouse, and if so when to expect it at your door. So how reliable is the delivery of goods? This is why I feel that Amazon ranks up the top as the best online store on the web. Delivery times vary by product and by the delivery method you choose (free delivery or first class/next day delivery). I have always gone with the free delivery, which is said to take 3-5 business days for your goods to arrive after the order is placed. However, in my experience of the free delivery service the goods arrive very early (if the product is in stock of cause). Are there any other options you can have regarding deliveries? Yes, an option that I feel is a great idea, and what that I have not seen many companies use. That's the option to get your goods gift wrapped, which is perfect if they are for a present. What makes this option better is that it is free for all members. A big factor for many people when looking where they are going to buy their goods from is their cost. So yo
            u may ask, are Amazons prices low? My simple response to this would be yes. Giving you a few examples which I was particularly impressed by, firstly the new Harry Potter Book has an RRP of around £17, however if pre ordered through Amazon, they are offering the book at £8.49, and secondly their price on new CD's is outstanding, usually around £8.99 for any CD. What makes these low prices even greater is if you buy multiple items then Amazon will sometimes be offering a deal, making your expenditure even less, and leaving your wallet bulging just that little bit more. How easy is it to order items using Amazon? The answer to this is that Amazon could not make it any easier, as it already is as easy as (cue Michael Jackson) A...B.....C, 1....2....3 (Michael Jackson Off). You can simply search for the product you require from the Amazon homepage, or manually search for it by selecting the various categories on the side of the page. Once you have located the product you want/requires, here comes the easy part. Click on the button which says add to shopping basket and there you go. From here you can either carry on searching for and adding more items to your basket, or proceed to check out by following the convenient link. A summary of what is in your basket is displayed, and also the quantity of items ordered, to ensure that you have not added a product multiple times by accident. If everything is fine, click proceed, and a confirmation email will be sent to the address you selected on sign up, confirming your order, and linking you to the track your order page. I really love the simple interface which Amazon uses to allow people to make orders quickly and accurately. The layout is easily navigated, and it certainly will not leave you floundering around on the wrong page not knowing what to click, or what to do. All the above is enough for me to love Amazon, but as it is so good, there is of cause, more bonuses.
            What else can Amazon possibly offer? Well there is a section of Amazon known as the Market Place, which is basically Amazons version of the ever popular E-Bay. If you are familiar with E-Bay then you will know that it is a place in which you can buy and sell items of other people. Well Amazon has followed suit, and in my honest opinio n, created an easier to use, and easier to navigate online market place. If you want to sell a product simply click on the market place links, and fill in the details of your product, set the price, click submit and you're away. This is a great service, as a lot of people are sure to be interested in your items, as Amazon receives millions of customers every week. The market place can be very useful for picking up that "one in a million" bargain, all you have to do is keep your eyes out and check on a regular basis. But wait there's more, on each product Amazon supply all the technical information you could want, and also offer an Amazon review on the product, shown with a rating out of 5 stars (with 5 starts being 100% recommended and 0 starts being 0% recommended). Moreover, Amazon allows its members to write their own reviews on products. So much like a small version of dooyoo, you can read and rate other people's reviews (however there is no personal gain from writing reviews on Amazon, as there is on dooyoo). But with this feature in place it allows you to get a brief summary of what others think of the product, without having to leave the Amazon site. Another great feature offered by the wonderful runners of Amazon is your personal wish list and recommendations. When you are looking at products Amazon will keep a track of all the products you have visited allowing you to easily go back to them, if you decide to order them. When you order a product Amazon will show you what other people have bought in conjunction with your item, and more often than not
            , offer some kind of deal if you buy a recommended "partner" item. What if I am an internet and online shopping first timer and am not sure about these wonderful features? Well Amazon a remarkably simple and understandable help section, covering every topic from placing orders, changing and cancelling orders and many others. What kind of insurance coverage and item protection do I get from Amazon? Well firstly the products you buy from Amazon will be covered by the insurance of the manufacturer, and you will receive their standard guarantee or warranty. But within Amazon itself they offer you a 28 day money back option, which I'm sure you all known that if the goods are sent back within 28 days of arriving, with all their original packaging then Amazon will either replace them (if they are faulty) or credit the amount you paid back onto your credit card or into your debit account. Amazon is reliable and will take products back with no questions asked, and will always replace them if they find the goods to be faulty. One more thing to mention in terms of delivery and item protection is that if the goods are either damaged or have been opened upon arriving at your door, then again Amazon will either replace the items, or refund the costs. Does Amazon sell/accept gift vouchers? Yes, Amazon gift vouchers can be purchased off the site, and can make a good present for that arkward relative (who your never quite sure what to buy). Also be sure to look into the possibility of trading in your dooyoo miles for an Amazon voucher, its suprising what you can pick up from Amazon, even with very small vouchers (you have just got to keep a look out for bargains!) That's all you really need to know about the shopping side of Amazon, so in a nutshell, Amazon has definitely changed my opinion of shopping, as it makes it just that little bit easier than trawling round the shops. Amazon offers great delivery services
            using a variety of different couriers, all of which are reliable and offer a good quality service. One final thing to make note on is if you are a website owner. Amazon runs what is known as the Amazon Associates Group, in which if you join up and link people to Amazon through your website and they place and order, your are entitled to a cash payout from Amazon. No matter how big or small your website, or whether it's a .com, .co.uk etc or a free website such as Geocities or Tripod, you can become a part of Amazon Associates Group and make some extra money online. Having not had any first hand experience of this feature, I can't really speculate on the amount of money this can bring in for you. However the bigger your website (in terms of traffic flowing through your site, or the number of "hits" it recieves each day), the more money you will make from the scheme, as more people will get to Amazon from your site. If you, like me, loath the thought of shopping offline, then drop by to: www.amazon.co.uk Or www.amazon.com And discover just how easy shopping can be. Andy_The_Writer - Thanks for reading, comments welcome as usual!

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            • Siemens C45 / Mobile Phone / 1 Reading / 45 Ratings
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              25.03.2003 03:27
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              The Siemens C45 is small, functional and brilliantly durable, which in my opinion is why it is one of the best value mobiles available on the market. After trying phones from Motorola and Nokia in the past, neither of those two companies as come anywhere close to the quality of the Siemens C45. ~~~ Vital Statistics ~~~ Phone Band: Dual Antenna: Integrated (in built) Weight: 107 grams Dimensions (L x W x H): 109 x 46 x 23mm Exchangeable Covers: Yes Battery Nickel Battery Stand By Time: 60 - 200 hours Talk Time: 100 - 300 mins This phone is so small and light that you will hardly notice it when it's in your pocket. This phone is great for someone with an active lifestyle who doesn't need a big, heavy phone pulling them down more than necessary. With the antenna being inbuilt there will be no discomfort of it sticking into your leg like a pin when it?s in your pocket. I will mention more about the exchangeable covers later on, but now about the battery. For such a little phone, with an equally small battery, you would expect low battery life. However, the C45 shows that you should not judge a book by its cover, as this little battery can out live the majority of phones on the market. With a charge time of around 3 hours this phone is fantastic if you are on the go, and you need a quick charging phone. ~~~ Features ~~~ ++++ SMS and T9 Predictive Text ++++ This phone has a fantastically simple interface, and the text message screen is no exception. This phone makes typing those many text messages a breeze, with its great predictive text feature. You press the keys to place in the corresponding letters, if the word the phone comes up with is not your desired word; you simply press change using the simple button. However, a very small bad point about the predictive text is not every word you are going to use will be stored within the
              phones dictionary. Moreover, if during typing a message you accidentally press the red phone, the whole message is lost, and has to be re typed. If you have friends with a C45 then pictures can be sent between the two phones. Having said this the pictures are not the best, but to be honest, what more could you expect from a mobile phone? Delivery reports can be sent up with the C45, notifying you when a message has either not delivered, delivered or its validity has expired. ++++ Keypad Features ++++ The buttons on this phone take a little getting used t, but once you have got the hang of them, you will be sure to love them. The big green dial button, is obviously pressed when you wish to make a call, however it has another very useful feature. If you press the button when not wishing to make a call, you're most recent numbers dialled will appear. You can then simply select the person you wish to call, and press the big green button. By pressing the down key of the main key pad your 10 most recent missed calls will appear great if you have not heard your phone ring and have missed a few calls. Another great feature about this missed calls list is that each missed call has a time and date stamp, along with who called you, allowing you to quickly get in contact with the caller. The keys can either be placed on silent, so no noise is present when pressed (which is great when you wish to use your phone in somewhere quiet), or you can have a variety of annoying beeps every time you press the keys, the choices is yours. As with all mobile phones this keypad can be locked to prevent the pressing of keys, and possible accidental calling, whilst the phone is in your pocket. Something extra offered by the C45 which is great in my opinion is the addition of two features. Firstly, the phone book key, with one press of a button you can be into your phone book (with a 200 number capacity) in seconds, a
              nd ready to select a name to make a call. Secondly the star key, if held down for a second can completely put your mobile on silent, or back onto loud. This saves the hassle of having to go through all the various menus. ++++ Display ++++ The phone has a nice simple display, with no fancy images, functional rather than fashionable. The menus are incredibly simple to get to grips with, and navigation really couldn't be any simpler. This phone can send, receive and store operator logos, as seen across the Nokia range of mobile phones. These logos can not only replace your network title on the main screen, but they can also be used as a handy screen saver if your phone is inactive for a few minutes. The screen saver is a great feature for two reasons, firstly it saves battery life, which is always useful, and secondly you can place a security code onto the screen saver to prevent people from reading your private/dirty text messages. ++++ Reception and Speaker Quality ++++ This phone dispels the myth that all phones with an inbuilt aerial have poor sound quality, and reception. This phone delivers great clarity during voice calls no matter where you are. The speaker and microphone are also very high quality, allowing you to hear the caller, and them to hear you loud and clear in almost any situation. ++++ Call Features ++++ This mobile really shines with its call features, during a call you can divert the call to another number, start up a conference call with more than one other person, alter the volume of the speaker or the microphone, transfer data over the phone to the other caller and observe how long you have been on the phone, and more importantly how much credit it has taken. ++++ Fashion Features ++++ By fashion features I am referring to the likes of games, ringtones, logos, changeable covers etc, so here is a run down of what the C45 has to offer.
              ++ WAP ++ Yes the C45 is internet ready, but this may sound good but as with all mobile phones the internet service is very poor due to the small number of sites that are actually WAP compatible. The internet will quickly drain your phone of credit, and serves no real purpose to the average phone consumer, and I can only really see a use for emails etc if you are a business man/woman. The internet also has very poor security and no filtering features, meaning that porn and other adult content are easily found, so if you have kids with his phone just take this into consideration. The connection speed on all mobile internet is deathly slow, and I believe an old spectrum would be capable of loading the web pages faster. This isn't really a fault of the C45, rather of mobile internet itself. ++ Ringtones ++ Annoying as most of them prove to be, the C45 has not got a bad selection of ringtones. 24 stored within the phone and space for a further four of your own (which can be downloaded from the internet or bought from phone order companies). The ringtones in my opinion are quite good, and offer such classics as Green Sleeves and the Pink Panther Theme Tune, not as annoying as some of the Nokia ringtones for example. The downloadable ringtones are out in their numbers all over the internet, everything from modern pop songs, rock, down to television and movie theme tunes can be found. A great feature if you're a fan of cheesy ringtones. ++ Logo's ++ Mentioned earlier, so will just say that the number of logos available to Siemens users is huge, and the official Siemens website offers a few for free when you sign up. Make sure you choose a good one however, or you will soon be paying for more. ++ Games ++ The main reason I have a mobile phone is for sending text messages and making calls, however some people do like to see a selection of games (such as the massivel
              y popular Snake on Nokia's) on their phones. So Siemens have not left out the games in their phone. Having said this, the games this phone includes are boring, unimaginative, and none challenging. The phone includes the games Balloon Shooter (where you shoot balloons, and yes it is as boring as it sounds), stack attack (an attempt to recreate the tetrus style game on a mobile, and failing miserably), and lastly Battle Mail, which is a very poor fighting affair, which can be played against over C45 users for 20p a pop. So if games are your thing then this phone will not be for you. ++++ Changeable Covers ++++ The C45 has a huge range of covers now available from a lot of different retailers. I'm sure you have seen all these things before on Nokia's so no reason for me to go into any detail, apart from to mention that these C45 covers are surprisingly strong, and if bought from the right place, quite cheap as well. ~~~ Further Features ~~~ ++++ Dual Band ++++ This allows you to make calls to anyone whether they be on land line or mobile, from anywhere in the world with the exception of the USA, which requires a tri band phone. Perfect for those who are away in Europe a lot as an example. ++++ Diary and Reminder ++++ Never forget that Dentist appointment or someone's birthday again with Siemens handy organiser. A great little feature that has been cleverly implemented to sound an alarm a day before the reminder occurs, and then every few hours up till the reminder, or whatever it is you have stored in there. ++++ Vibrating Alert ++++ When the phone is placed on silent vibrating alert can be activated. Not as violent as many phones out there on the current market, so if your after cheap thrills then this phone is definitely not in your street. The vibration is a perfect strength, not so much that it hurts your body, but not too little that you si
              mply can?t tell that it is vibrating. ++++ Language Selection ++++ Only really useful if you are foreign as you can select your mother language so that all this phones displays are changed to show it. Also fun for getting som eone really annoyed by changing their phone into Dutch for example, then watching as they angrily try to navigate the menus to change it back to English. ++++ Alarm Clock ++++ A great feature that I have used quite a lot since owning this phone. Can be set for anytime any day, and the volume of the alarm can also be altered accordingly. However, the alarm sometimes can become quite annoying and very irritating, especially if the alarm is for waking you up in the morning. ++++ Fun with Faces ++++ For each entry in your phone book (so for example your mother in law), you can place a little picture that will appear when they call under their name. Be careful which picture you choose for certain people, for example there is a danger of having to try and convince your loved one that the dog that appears when they call is in fact "cute" like them and not"ugly" like them as it may imply. I have had quite a lot of fun with this feature and it just adds a degree of personalisation to your mobile phone, making it more unique, and more in keeping with your personality. ~~~ Durability ~~~ I have owned this phone for almost a year and half now, and believe me it has come under some heavy wear and tear over this time. It has been dropped down stairs, onto the pavement, into a cup of water, of my bike, and many more little accidents, and although falling to pieces each time, the phone has remarkably come away with nothing more than a few scratches. The phone has never let me down with any technological errors, and has always been as good as new in terms of functionality, although the appearance as you would expect with anything has deteri
              orated. The phone may appear flimsy and weak, but when put to the test this phone comes out a winner, and surprisingly can win many battles. ++++ Add Ons +++ An in car kit can be purchased for this phone allowing hands free mode, and in car charging. Great sounds clarity as usual. Additional batteries can be purchased should anything go wrong with yours. A data cable can be used to transfer text, and data both from and to the phone. The data cable includes software to allow connection to any PC, with any operating system. A simple interface will have you downloading and transferring data (such as ringtones, logos and emails) in no time. An official Siemens plastic case can be purchased to further protect this precious piece of equipment. ~~~ So in Summary......... ~~~ This phone is small, sleek, functional, fashionable, and great value for money. When you?re looking for a new phone look no further than C45 or any other Siemens model for that matter, as they are all under rated and great phones for people on a budget. Durable, long lasting battery and a variety of covers adds so much value to this phone, allows for personalisation and a great phone for an active lifestyle, due to a great resistance to rough and tumble it will inevitably be subjected to. Siemens are extremely underrated, and should deserve a closer look, and a little more attention. Go on, give the C45 a try, your missing out on a real gem! ~~~ Thanks ~~~ As always thanks for reading my opinion, any comments welcome, and hope to read you soon :O) Andy_The_Writer

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                15.03.2003 17:08
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                Florida, the sunshine state and a place that is renowned all over the world as a fun place for all the family. Those of you who have been to Florida and prefer the action packed kind of holiday over lazing on the beach will have undoubtedly visited Universal Studios. After Universal Studios doing so well, Universal decided it was time to expand in 1999 and add a second theme park and a handful of modern hotels. That expansion was what we now know as Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, and what an addition it was. This park boasts everything, breathtaking scenery and imaginative themes, rides suitable for children and those who enjoy the adrenaline rush of thrill rides, a massive selection of restaurants serving all kinds of cuisine, from traditional American, to Greek Luxuries and many shopping opportunities for those who like to shop till they drop. I'm going to structure this opinion by writing about each brilliantly themed land, talking about the rides, and shows, then mentioning the best place to eat. ~~~ Seuss Landing ~~~ An area designed with the kids in mind, and of cause, not forgetting all of you golden oldies, who really, when you're honest with yourself wish you were still young and innocent. Well now?s your big chance to be a child again, right here at Islands of Adventure. Seuss landing is themed around the Dr Seuss books, and contains all of your favourite, if not a little wacky, Seuss characters. Bright colours, Cat in the Hat, and other crazy adventures can be had here in Seuss landing, but what exactly does it have to offer. ~~ Rides ~~ Cat in the Hat - an indoor attraction which is suitable for everyone in your family. Take your seat in specially designed sofa, and ride around the children?s house and see what they get up to whilst mother is out. With the Cat in the Hat around expect some crazy things to occur during this few minute attraction. A must see if you have kids,
                and even if you don?t why miss out on anything. Average queue time: 10 minutes Rating: 7 out of 10 One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish - yes this is the name of a ride and not just me demonstrating my aptitude for rhyming random words. Again as with everything in Seuss landing, this is designed with the little ones in mind, however adults are sure to live this attraction to, well I know I do. What appeals to me most about this ride is the huge amounts of water involved, and you don't mind getting a soaking when the hot Florida sun is beating down on you like a drum. As the ride spins you round in your luxury two seater fish, be sure to watch out for those water cannons at the side, as you go up or down to avoid (or like me purposefully aim at) the water. Average queue time: 30 minutes Rating: 8 out of 10 Caroseussel - Not much can be said about this ride, it?s a carousel with a Seuss twist, crazy characters hanging onto the outside. You?re either a fan of these rides or your not, but don?t expect the traditional organ music pumping out of this one. Average queue time: 10 minutes Rating: 5 out of 10 So to summarise a land full of fun for all the family, and a few rides, which although are not the height of thrills, are sure to give you a laugh. Place to eat: Green Eggs and Ham ? Offers exactly what it says in the name, all the food from here is coloured green. Don?t worry though; it's not mould, just some harmless food colourings, looks quite peculiar though. Great for snacks, but look to one of the restaurants with seating for a meal, as this is just a takeaway. ~~~ Lost Continent ~~~ A land were mythology comes to life, and two dragons greet the brave adventurers who pass through the big stone gates of the Lost Continent. A place with thrill rides, family adventures, and a fantastic stunt show. Also contains with of the grandest restauran
                ts in the park, serving all kinds of Greek cuisine, the Mythos. ~~ Rides and Shows ~~ Duelling Dragons - A massive pair of duelling roller coasters that are sure to set your pulse racing. These two roller coasters are so closely entwined that they miss each other by merely a few feet, at crossing speeds of 120 -130mph. Each track has a unique layout, each with its own unique features. There is the ice dragon, which goes for tight and compact inversions, and sharp turns, then its enemy the fire dragon, which goes for long and smooth drops with lots of stomach wrenching air time. With each track going upside down seven times and the roller coaster being on the bottom of the track (like Nemesis at Alton Towers), it is sure to provide you with a massive buzz afterwards, well it did for me anyway. One other point worth mentioning is the queue line, which is themed inside a huge castle. I think the queue line is fantastic and really builds up the tension whilst you wait for your destiny. Average queue time: 5 Minutes (due to huge capacity) Rating: 9 out of 10 The Flying Unicorn - Universal don't ever forget the younger guests and this ride is definitely for them. A small roller coaster style ride in which the children sit in a unicorn train, and race round this little, but quite speedy track. This ride is pitched perfectly at the kids, with no inversions and good comfy seats to prevent injury. A must for any family with small children who are brave enough to ride. Average queue time: 5 minutes Rating: 7 out of 10 Poseidon?s Fury - A unique indoor theatre/adventure style ride. Confused? Thought so, allow me to try my best to explain. You are going on an expedition to discover the lost city of Atlantis, and after passing through a water vortex (which is an amazing experience, having hundreds of gallons of water flying round you in a big circle at 120mph hours is daunting) you find it.
                But upon reaching Atlantis, you are not going to be allowed to leave easily as the evil Poseidon, God of the ocean, intends on you staying there. Just as I thought all hope was lost Zeus comes to fight Poseidon, and what a great experience it is. Pyrotechnics, water effects, special cinema screen effects surround sound, and amazing realism puts you right in the centre of a battle between two Gods, and believe me it's not a clean fight. Will you make it out alive as I did? Average queue time: 20 minutes Rating: 8 out of 10 The Eighth Voyage Of Sinbad - An amazing show that simply must not be missed. Although one quick word of discretion, this show does contain lots of loud and sudden bangs which may startle the little ones. Anyway, why is this show so great then? Well let me tell you that this show has a bit of everything. The stunts will leave you breathless, as will the pre show jugglers, who juggle everything from skittles, to knifes. You really should watch this show, and you will certainly not be disappointed by its quality. Rating: 10 out of 10 In a nutshell, the Lost Continent is a dazzlingly themed area of the park, which maintains this parks astronomical standard. Place to eat: If you?re up for trying a little bit of Greek cuisine then head over to this place. Located inside a huge themed tree that makes up part of Lost Continents amazing scenery, you will find this delight of a restaurant. Great service, although some of the more extravagant dishes can be quite pricey, the rest of them are pleasantly affordable. Loads of seats, but at peak time be prepared to wait a little for a table, but it will not be a long wait. Great if you fancy a meal, that isn?t just junk food. ~~~ Jurassic Park ~~~ After watching the film I for one wished that this place existed, and thanks to Universal it does, and it does so in style. Those of you who have watched the J
                urassic Park film will have seen the huge stone gates, with the flame torches on, well Universal have recreated these gates as the entrance for Jurassic Park, and they have done a fantastic job. This is one of my favourite lands at the park, and contains so many trees it offers great shade from the hot, radiant sun. ~~ The Rides ~~ Jurassic Park River Adventure - Boasting one of the longest and steepest log flume style drops in the world, this ride is bound to impress those white knuckle fans amongst us. Taking your seat aboard one of the Jurassic Park River Tour rafts, your journey into the world of the past begins, taking you through various dinosaur enclosures, containing some fantastic animatronic robots that are extremely life like, and just like the dinosaurs in the film. But not long after the tour commences, problems start, and your raft ends up taking an emergency route out of the park, through the research building. Let's just say what happens inside is a well worthwhile experience and shows what they are capable of with robots today. Hold onto your hats, its going to be a wild finish, and I love absolutely love it. Average queue time: 20 minutes Rating: 10 out of 10 Triceratops Encounter ?-Not really a ride, but more of an interactive attraction. Meet and greet an enormous triceratops, which moves, breathes, and quite rudely, passes wind. A nice change from normal rides, adding a new dimension of fun to Jurassic Park, and showing what is possible with modern robotics. Simply astonishing realism will leave you admiring the skills the people who created it must have, whilst your children are all hyped about meeting a dinosaur. Average queue time: 10 minutes Rating: 8 out of 10 Ptrenadon Flyers ? This is a ride that is limited to children's use only and one of the parents or guardian, and if you are over a certain height you can not ride this attraction. It is a ride
                which offers a bird eyes view of the Jurassic Park area, as you sore with the birds in your two seater Ptrenadon. A great attraction and one which you will see the kids enjoying all the time. Average queue time: 30 minutes Rating: 7 out of 10 That?s all the rides that exist in Jurassic Park, but it does offer other delights. Starting with fun yet educational, Research Centre. Anyone who has seen the film will have seen the Jurassic Park Research Centre, and know that it contains all kinds of dinosaur exhibits, and this one is an exact replica of the film. Watch out for interactive game shows where you can play against an opponent, where you are asked all kinds of Dino trivia. Something that you shouldn?t miss, even though it is'?t an actual ride as such. Lastly, Jurassic Parks location to eat in my opinion, Thunder Falls Terrace. They sell everything from Rotisserie Chicken, Baby Back ribs, Chicken Wings, Roasted Corn, Salads, Sandwiches, and each meal comes with a soft drink, fries, and sweet corn (optional). The prices are high, but actually good value considering the amount of food you actually get. ~~~ Toon Lagoon ~~~ The home of comedy, water rides, and crazy characters from Popeye to Betty Boop. Take a walk down Comic Strip Alley, and see all your favourite characters walking, talking, and interacting with the guests. If you fancy getting wet Toon Lagoon is the place to be. ~~ The Rides ~~ Dudley Do Rights Ripsaw Falls - Some of you may have heard of old Dudley before, but perhaps some of you are not so sure what I?m talking about. Well Dudley is a Canadian Mountain Ranger, who is actually a hero and always having to save his Damsel from the evil little guy (I forget his name). Can you save Dudley?s girlfriend in this high speed log chase, which leads you three huge drops, which will leave you with one wet lap. When you are approaching the main drop you know its goin
                g to be a wet one (excuse me for that), and then once your at the bottom, a soaking will be sure to entail. A great ride that looks great, and has one of the steepest and fastest drops in the world. Average queue time: 15 minutes Rating: 10 out of 10 Popeye and Bluto?s Bilge Rat Barges - Now this one of my favourite rides in the park, and the one which will soak everyone who rides, guaranteed, that means you. This ride is great; can you save olive on your river raft before Bluto gets away? Be sure to hold on tight, even with your seat belt on this is a rocky ride, that will shake you from side to side. One of the only river rapid rides to include an actual drop. A fantastic experience, which will leave you soaked to the bone, and eligible to enter a wet T-shirt competition. Average queue time: 20 minutes Rating: 10 out of 10 Toon Lagoon is a fantastically set out land which maximises the fun and minimises the waiting in line. Do not miss this out, (not that you would miss it, but just be sure not to). Where to eat in Toon Lagoon, I would advise the Comic Strip Cafe. It is split up into various sections serving various foods, including Great Mexican, Chinese, American, Italian, and Salads and Sarnies. A great value for money cafe and one which won?t leave you feeling robbed of your holiday dollars. ~~~ Marvel Super Hero Island ~~~ The last land or maybe your first depending which way you walk around the park, and the home to all of the worlds greatest Superheroes and super villains. Greats such as Spiderman and the incredible Hulk make their home here, and those to in particular have their own rides. The land to go if you?re a family full of thrill seekers. ~~~ The Rides ~~~ The Incredible Hulk Coaster - voted number one coaster in the world as advertised at the park. What makes this ride different to all other roller coasters around is that it starts 120ft in
                the air, at 40 mph. After entering the green coloured train, and being securely strapped in, you start to slowly enter the tunnel. After getting half way up you are propelled to 40mph in just under two seconds, which is a great sensation. This ride takes you though seven inversions at speeds of 65-70mph, and has a massive amount of weightlessness moments. You simply can not miss this ride. Average queue time: 20 minutes Rating: 12 out of 10 Dr Dooms Fear Falls - Two towers, reaching dizzy heights of 250ft, two lifts, eight people per lift, looks menacing from anywhere in the park, is a fantastic experience. You have been selected fro Dr Doom's test of his new machine will suck the fear out of you. As he talks to you, and then disappears you sit anxiously waiting for it to go. Smoke fills the room, you can?t see anything, then all of a sudden, whoosh, 0 - 70 mph in a second straight up one of the towers, offering a great view of whichever way your facing. What goes up must come down, but this ride is a fantastic experience, one that all the white knucklers amongst you are bound to love. Average queue time: 20 minutes Rating: 11 out of 10 The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman - The worlds most technologically advanced and most expensive ride. I really won't go into any detail about this ride, but trust me it is one of the worlds greatest ride experiences, and be sure never to miss this 4D, fully moving ride. Great stuff. Average queue time: 45 minutes Rating: 100 out of 10 Place to eat: Captain America's Diner, is an all American Diner serving all American food, if you're a fan of burgers, fries and soft drinks this place may just be your heaven. Loads of selection and all of the meals are as big as you could want. A really great restaurant and one that has many seats, so waiting for a table will very rarely be a problem. ~~~ Staff ~~~ The staff are a very
                helpful bunch of people, and the cleaners do an oustanding job at keeping this park maintained to its very high standards of cleanliness. The staff wandering the parks grounds are always more than happy to guide you on your way or help you find a certain ride. The people who work actually on the ride will answer any concerns you may have about riding a particular attraction, and will also help you with the child swap scheme mentioned below. The staff in the cafes are friendly, smily, and fast. You really couldn't expect any better service than what the staff at Islands of Adventure offer you. ~~~ General Advice, Tips, and Other Bits of Assorted Information ~~~ To make the most out of your day at Islands of Adventure be sure to: Take everything you need, this may sound obvious, but you will be upset if you forget your camera for example. Make use of the free lockers provided at big attractions, and take the advice of not taking any loose articles on the larger rides. Pick up a map of the park, and a show times guide to make sure that you miss nothing. If shopping is your thing, head to the Port of Entry when you get the urge to spend, anything from across all the other shops in the park, can be bought here. Universal Offers an express pass service on busy rides, make use of this great system. You put your park ticket in an express machine, choose your ride, it will print a ticket, and when your designated time arrives you can skip right to the front of the line for your chosen attraction. Only one can be got at once however. For disabled or small guests you can pick up a free pram, or wheelchair upon entering the park, or just take your own. One the big rides, if you have a little child that is too small to ride, Universal offer the parent swap scheme. One of you rides first, whilst the other looks after the child, then after the first parent has rode, the second c
                an get straight on, and the first can look after the child. A fantastic scheme to ensure, that even if you have little kids, you can still do everything. Be sure to order your free Universal Orlando video of the TV to get even more of an insight into this great park, and more advice and tips on how to plan and make the most of your visit. ~~~ Thanks ~~~ Thanks for reading my fifth Dooyoo opinion, hope you have found it useful, and I hope to right more very soon. Andy_The_Writer :O)

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                  08.03.2003 22:10
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                  "The Shining," was my first novel by Stephen King, and after hearing all about what a great writer he is, I found out for myself after reading this book that he sensational. "The Shining" is probably one of Kings most famous stories, due to the film conversion by director Stanley Kubrik in 1980. "The Shining" had me hooked from reading the first few chapters, and built up the story extremely slow, leaving you wanting more, and sooner. If you have not already read this modern masterpiece by King, then I hope my opinion will convince you to give it a read. ~~~ The Plot ~~~ Jack Torrance has been hired by Stuart Ullman to look after The Overlook Hotel whilst it is closed during the winter period. In the recent years there have been many problems with Jack's marriage to his wife, Wendy. Their time at The Overlook Hotel, with their young son, Danny, is set to relieve all those strains and make them all happy again. Danny Torrance is what people like to call "A Shiner", he has special abilities that only a select few have. Some people do not even know they posses the "shine" as its known to those who have it. When Danny has premonitions that going to The Overlook will be a bad thing, he is worried about whether the premonitions will come true. Once the Torrance family have been snowed in at The Overlook, cut off from the outside world, its not only young Danny that starts to shine. The Overlook has many hidden, dark secrets, secrets that were now starting to be reborn, and secrets that were now coming back to haunt the Torrance family. ~~~ The Characters ~~~ If I went into too much detail here a lot of the books secrets, twists and suspense filled moments would be ruined. So I'll aim to keep each description to one that is informative, but also suggestive, to make you want to read the book. Jack Torrance A man who is hounded by his p
                  ast, with alcoholism being at the root of it all. Jack knows he has been a bad husband to Wendy, and a bad father to Danny, but with his time at The Overlook Jack had aimed to reform, and stay sober, for the sake of his marriage and child. After being fired from his previous job as a creative writing teacher at Stovington School, he has now only got The Overlook job to keep him and his family a float. Jack has been an avid writer in the past, having a few small works published and also a play. The alcoholism, however, had stunted Jack's creative streak and gave him serious, and an unshakeable writers block. Jack was planning on writing a play over the winter at the hotel, to try to get another publishing deal for the good of his family. Jack really deeply cares about his family; both his wife and son are special to him; however The Overlook Hotel takes Jack through many changes, playing on his mind, changing his mind, and to a degree, possessing him. Wendy Torrance Wendy loves her husband a great deal, which you may find strange after realising what she has been through with Jack. After the incident when Jack did something to Danny, Jack losing his good job at the school, Jack always coming in late in the morning, shouting, drunk, she still cares greatly for him. Her love for her son is huge; she cares for Danny so much. It is Wendy who is more intimidated by the way her son seems to know what people are thinking, or what is going to happen. Wendy spends a lot of time secretly considering divorce, only to find out that Danny "knew" all along, even though she had not uttered a word to him or Jack. Once the family have spent some time at The Overlook, things start to go right for Wendy, with her and Jack really getting on and getting back to normal. Wendy starts to feel great about herself and extremely proud of Jack who has managed to "stay dry" for such a long time. Although it is Wendy w
                  ho starts to notice the distinct changes in Jack's behaviour and personality, as time passes them at the hotel. Danny Torrance The "Shiner" of the Torrance family, and the phsycic focal point of the novel, Danny has a great relationship with his father, even after the incidents of the past. Danny posses an ability, a gift, that not many others posses. He has the power to see and feel how others around him are feeling, or what they are thinking, you could call it reading the future. Danny is scared about going to The Overlook after having a bad and recurring dream, which is warning him that if he and family do go to The Overlook, something terrible will happen to them. Not all of Danny's premonitions come true, and after a few weeks at the hotel, he starts to believe that this one is one of them. However after seeing something's at The Overlook that only "shiners" can see, Danny starts to think otherwise. Trying to hide his feelings from his parents, Danny carries on as normal, playing with his toys, and trying to be as happy as possible, but soon things start to get a little too much for Danny. After his experience in room 217 and the presidential suite, Danny realises it was only a matter of time until his premonition came true. Danny starts to discover that he is not the only one who can shine here at the hotel, and to his terror, there are a lot of things that can shine here. ~~~ What Do I Like About the Book ~~~ Apart from the plot being a good one, this book is full of things that I love, and I'm sure most of you who have read it, love it too. The main element that King uses to perfection throughout this novel, is suspense, the art of making readers wait. The first thing that King uses the art of suspense on, is the way he slowly builds up the characters in the novel. When we are first introduced to the three main characters I mentioned above, you obviously know
                  very little about them. Soon though, King allows you to see into their past, allows you to see into their life and personality, and most importantly allows you to see through their eyes. King gives the reader a massive sense of "knowing" the characters, and their motives, and why they are where they are in the novel. How else does King use suspense you may ask. Well the second way he uses suspense is even better at hooking you in than the way he builds the characters. The Overlook Hotel is a dark place, haunted by its old covered up secrets, stories, and its guests. King doesn't let us know too much about the hotel to start with and leaves things shrouded in mystery for almost the entire book, and even at the end something's about The Overlook are unclear. The Overlook has a supernatural side to it, because of all these secrets and tales of the past. Every time something strange goes on King goes into suspense mode, and makes you wait for it like a dog for a bone. This is a great skill for a writer to have and King definitely has got it. Right, onto the next thing that I think is fantastic about this book, the way King makes the book scary. This novel has reputation as one of King's best works, in terms of being a good scare. I was a bit unsure about that before reading it, as no other books I have read had scared me at all (having said that the books I read before this were the Harry Potter series). But this book was an exception, one at times, I was scared and I'll freely admit it. The incident in room 217, when Danny goes in there, even after being advised not to by "Mr Halloran", the way King builds you up for the big moment in the room is scary, and the sign of a truly great author. I love it how King has you shaking in your comfy chair, or lying on your bed, waiting to see what exactly is going to happen, magical stuff. The language used throughout this book is e
                  xquisite, and really sets the various scenes nicely. King uses such detail when describing rooms, people, outside scenes, that you can really picture these places in your head, and feel like you are there, a part of the story, immersed within the world of The Overlook. Having said this, the language within this book is really aimed at adults and late teens (I would suggest that someone from the age 16+ would be able to grasp this books most complex language). If someone below this age tries to read the book they will find themselves either lost, or just only having the basic idea of what is going on, taking away from the enjoyment of the book. If there was something I didn't like about this fantastic novel then I would have included a section detailing it. This book is so fantastic in my opinion, that there is no need for such a section. ~~~ How Is This Book Structured ~~~~ The book is split into four parts, named: Part One: Prefatory Matters Part Two: Closing Day Part Three: The Wasps Nest Part Four: Snowbound Part Five: Matters of Life and Death Each part of the story contains a lot of chapters, and leads the story on nicely and smoothly. With King incorporating parts into his book it makes the story easier to follow, makes the story flow better, and also leaves you wondering what the next part will contain and how the story will progress. Depending on how old your copy of the book is, either one that you own, or are intending to buy, the number of pages will be different. However in the most recent publication of this book, there are 58 chapters and 497 pages. So be sure to take regular breaks to rest your eyes, as the font is also quite small (although it has to be said that putting this book down is no easy task, as I have already mentioned you will certainly be hooked). ~~~ The Ending ~~~ ***(This section does not disclose the ending of the novel, ju
                  st summarises my opinion of it)*** At the end of the book King leaves you wanting more. The last few chapters in The Shining are quite intense, due to the fact that King has made you wait so long for all the parts of the book to culminate together and the ending to begin. The ending to the story will not disappoint you and it certainly lives up to the quality of the rest of this novel (which in case you have not gathered by now is very high). The ending will spark some emotions in you, due to the empathy you will have built up with characters during the book (I say empathy rather than sympathy as King builds the characters so well, you can see things from their point of view, and get a great feel of how they are feeling). At the end of the book you have the feeling that all the mysteries that are within the story have been explained, and this enhances your enjoyment of the book, leaving you thinking about it fro days after reading it. ~~~ A serious book with some comedy thrown in for good measures ~~~ Even though this novel is a horror novel that will scare you (if you admit to it), King has thrown in some comedy, to appeal to a wider range of readers. King does this through the use of secondary characters. In the book The Overlooks caretaker during the summer months is someone called Watson. When Jack and his family meet Watson I find it hilarious, as Watson?s language is foul, and he is calling everyone and everything. Also there is the manager of The Overlook, Stuart Ullman. Throughout the book Mr Ullman is abused in a terrifically funny fashion, with Jack being the main source of this abuse. You will laugh to the point of tears in your eyes with some of things that poor Mr Ullman gets called behind his back. The opening line of the book is mild abuse towards Ullman that gradually increases in intensity (and laughs) throughout the novel. "Jack Torrance thought: offi
                  cious little prick." ~~~ Praise For Stephen King ~~~ This section is not directly related to this novel, just though I would include it so you can see that I am not the only source telling you what a fantastic writer he is, and what a great novel this is. For King and the novel: "An incredibly gifted writer" - The Guardian "A writer of excellence, " - The Sunday Times "Splendid Entertainment, Stephen King is one of those natural storytellers, getting hooked is easy" - Francis Fyfield from The Express "A sophisticated literary craftsman" - The Observer "Obviously a masterpiece, probably the best supernatural novel in a hundred years" - Peter Straub ~~~ Product Information ~~~ Title: The Shining Author: Stephen King Pages: 497 (58 Chapters) Publisher: New English Library ISBN Code: 0-450-04018-6 Cost: UK £7.99 from WHSmiths (price may vary by region and retailer) Cover Illustration: Larry Rostant (again may vary depending on version of the book) Year First Published: 1977 ~~~ Final thanks and summary ~~~ After reading this book by King, and with it being my first, I can now honestly say that if the rest of king's novels are this good, I will be an avid fan of his in the future. If you have never had the experience of "The Shining" before I strongly suggest you do so. Whether you are a fan of horror, or more of a Mr Men kind of person, I am sure you will love this book, and be hooked from page one right through to age 497. This really is a masterpiece, and king deserves every bit of praise, recognition, and money that gets thrown in his direction. Fantastic. Thanks for reading. Andy

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                  • Monsters Inc. (DVD) / DVD / 0 Readings / 53 Ratings
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                    02.03.2003 01:59
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                    Please excuse the fact that this opinion is for the DVD version of Monsters Inc and there is no catergory for the DVD version of Monsters Inc, I have suggested it to dooyoo so they should hopefully add it soon. After watching Monsters Inc at the cinema, I knew that film would go down as one of my all time favourites. Some of you may think that this film is only for the children, well if you haven't watched it you're missing out, big time. I got this film at Christmas on DVD (courtesy of my lovely girlfriend Vicky), and it is fantastic. With DVD extras coming out of the ears, and the classy film to boot, this DVD is great beyond all imagination. If you have not already seen this film I hope that this opinion will convince you to do so. ~~~ The Plot ~~~ Being a Disney film you would not expect a bad plot, as most of the Disney films have had good plots, and Monsters Inc certainly doesn't disappoint. Monstropolis is the biggest city in the monster world, and Monsters Inc, the biggest company in the whole of Monstropolis. Monsters Inc is like the Powergen of our world, it supplies power to everything in Monstropolis. However unlike Powergen they generate the power very differently. Monsters Inc have got the bedroom door to every single kid in the world, all whirling round in an enormous machine, ready to be beckoned by someone down on the scare floor. The scare floor is where all the monsters who work at Monsters Inc enter the human world, and scare the kids whilst they are sleeping. By collecting their screams into scream containers, it can be used to generate power and supply the monster world. Top scarer, Sully and his assistant Mike, are top of the leader board for the highest quantity of human scream collected. A rather nasty monster called Randal is not far behind, and has been trying to boost his numbers, by working after the factory had closed. Randal leaves a door down on the scare floor befor
                    e going home, and it is discovered by Sully. This is where the fun starts, Sully accidentally allows a little girl to pass from her room into the monster world. Cue crazy misadventures as Mike and Sully try to get the little girl "boo," back into her own world and back into her own little bedroom. However, they must be cautious as all monsters believe that a kid's touch is toxic. The events which follow will make you laugh till your sides hurt and your cheeks feel stretched; and be sure to go toilet before watching this film, we don't want any accidents now do we. Also on a more serious note, if you are an emotional kind of person when watching films, then be warned this film could make you cry! ~~~ The Main Characters ~~~ James P Sullivan AKA Sully - The greatest scarer ever to grace the scare floors of Monsters Inc. Sully is the main character in the film, and is the one who names the little girl, Boo. His lifelong friend Mike, is Sully's assistant on the scare floor, and their friendship throughout out the film remains, with Mike doing something very touching for Sully later on in the film, (won't tell you, because it would ruin the experience). Sully's character is of a very caring nature, and everyone around Monsters Inc loves him, due to the fact he has been employee of the month nearly every single month he has been there. He is classed as somewhat royalty by everyone in the factory, and is a very likeable character for the audience. Throughout the film Sully has his funny moments but usually comes across as the more serious of the two main characters, and leaves the comedy to his little one eyed buddy Mike. Sully develops a close relationship with the little girl Boo, during the film, and one that is very believable even though the film is a 3D cartoon style film (same as the classic Toy Story), and the monsters are obviously not real (sorry to any firm believers in their
                    existence). In conclusion the voice over is fantastically carried out, his character is likeable and caring, and leaves the funny stuff to others. Mike - The comedy man of the film, and Sully's one eyed little green mate. This guy supplies the laughs throughout the film, from spraying his eye with a nasty disinfectant, to banging his balls on an iron bar. This guy will have you laughing to your sides hurt. Starts off being afraid of Boo as he shares the same opinion as all the other monsters in Monstropolis; that all kids are toxic and out to terminate all monsters. But after a while he starts to like Boo, never as much as his friend, Sully. Throughout the film we get to see Mike acting the fool and making jokes, but also displays a more serious and emotional side to his character, when his is with his girlfriend. Their relationship is obviously blossoming and his girlfriends is quite a looker (if the whole snakes on the head does it for you). Again Mikes voice over is carried out perfectly and it adds to his character. The voice provided for the character Mike really fits in with how he comes across to the viewer. In a nutshell the films funny guy. The Little Girl AKA Boo - Easily the one of the most loveable Disney characters of all time, from the moment you hear her childish mumblings you'll be in love with this adorable little character. From the minute she escapes from her world into that of the monsters you just know she will cause all sorts of mischief in her new surroundings. All the monsters are scared of kids so the scene at the sushi bar ensure a lot of laughs when little Boo shows the monsters just how cute she is, and how she got the name Boo in the first place. By the end of the film you will find yourself feeling like you know Boo and you can empathise with how she and the other characters are clearly feeling, (if I told you how they are feeling the film would agai
                    n be ruined). To sum up, you will simply love Boo and she does us humans proud out in the monster world. ~~~ What do I like about this film ~~~ You may think that this film is for kids only, as I have already mentioned. One of the things I love about this film (and also loved about the Toy Story series), is that they have managed to hide some adult humour behind some very child friendly scenes. The kids will love the film because it's just down their street and pitched to make them laugh and the older population will also snigger as the adult humour secretly transmits to your sex crazed minds. The graphics are simply superb, and if you have got a good TV as well then you will be amazed by the superb clarity that this Disney DVD has to offer. If only I had a 62 inch plasma screen to view it on. The story line although seems basic from what I have explained above in the plot, the film is full of little twists and un intended mishaps, which make it a thoroughly enjoyable experience. After a while you are never quite sure what exactly is going to happen to our two helpless characters. Without these twists the story would be a little bland and perhaps a little to basic, but luckily for Disney they had not failed to realise this and pulled out the stops, ensuring the story to be anything but bland and basic. There are other characters within the film, that do not play any major leading roles but that are funny none of the less. The film has all the characters it could need. The good guys (Sully and Mike), the bad guys (Randal and his assistant, amongst others, but don't want to ruin some of the twists), some undercover, and in disguise characters (I'll leave you guessing at that one) and of cause the loveable kind of character (taking the form of Boo). All these different types of characters mingle together perfectly, making the film never get boring, as they say variety is the spice of life. ~~~ Quality of Presentation/Sound ~~~ Being a DVD you would expect the best in both visual and audio quality. As with nearly every other DVD this film certainly doesn't fail. But with Monsters Inc you get even more for your money. Those of you who have seen Toy Story will have seen this style of graphics before. The film is made in luscious 3D graphics, which surpasses that of Toy Story. With a half decent television, this will be one of the most spectacular pictures your likely to see from a DVD. Also with the sound, the DVD does not disappoint. Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, which if connected to surround sounds speakers would give you the best sounds possible. Even played through your televisions speakers, or perhaps your stereos, this film sounds as good as it looks, which you will have to trust me, is amazing. There are no glitches in any scenes, which is feat in itself when a film is made entirely from 3D technology and a massive amount of pixels. No shuddering, jumping about or anything of the sort, a film that has been perfectly edited and produced to an extremely high standard. There is so much quality in the garphics on this film that you can even see the hairs on sully moving as he walks about. Even these finer details have amazing clarity and finish. ~~~ DVD Extras ~~~ One of the reasons for me wanting to do this opinion was tell let everyone know how good the extras for this film really are. This film has so many monster packed extras that you won't know where to start. The disk menu is very easy to use, bright and colourful obviously aimed with the younger generations in mind. But that's not the most important is the features, and here is a run down of what Monsters Inc DVD extra's have to offer. Mikes New Car A new short film made especially for the DVD release of Monsters Inc. This little film clip shows Mike bragging
                    about a new car to Sully, before excitedly asking Sully if would fancy a leisurely cruise around Monstropolis. As Mike sounds finds out, his car is perhaps a little to advanced for his liking, losing control and topping of this g reat little extra with a funny ending. Finding Nemo Trailer If like me you have become a fan of Disney's 3D efforts (Toy Story series and Monsters Inc), then this extra is definitely for you. Its shows you a five minute trailer of Disney next 3D cartoon, Finding Nemo. Without telling you too much what this film will be about, just trust me when I say that if you like Toy Story and Monsters Inc you are sure to love Finding Nemo. Hilarious Outtakes and the Company Play Yes I can see some of you wondering how you can have outtakes from a cartoon film; well the simple answer is I didn?t think you could either. However these scenes show that even when the film is a cartoon, things can still go wrong. The directors have had a lot of fun with some of the original scenes that made it to the final cut of the movie, and made it so it appears that the cartoon characters have either forgotten their lines, or bumped into something on the cartoon set. Some of them aren?t too funny but others will give you an extra tickle. Also throughout the film you may have heard Mike and Sully mention the company play, here you can see what happened after the films story had finished. It shows how Mike and Sully actually got round to writing an entire play they mentioned in the film, and here you are getting what is supposed to be the closing scene of the play. Great stuff and another extra rib tickler thrown in at then end of this great film. Disney Storyline Shows how the brains behind the films created the story, and how they came up with such inspirational characters such as Mike and Sully. This is great if there are any budding directors amongst you. It will show you how their m
                    ind works, and who knows, may inspire one of you to write your own film. Peek A Boo - Boo's Door Game Yes that's right this DVD has got everything, including a game. In this game you go through each door in turn, and it takes you to a kid's bedroom, once in the bedroom your aim is to find the piece of Boo's bedroom door. As you slowly find the pieces Boo's door slowly builds up like a jigsaw, and once complete you get a nice little film clip. A lovely idea, which is something that the kids will be bugging you to help them with, over and over again. For The Birds (2001) I have saved the best extra till last, and this will not fail to make you laugh. This small film won an academy award for being the best small film of 2001. It involves one big and rather stupid big bird, and lots of little bitchy birds, and an electricity line. I'll leave it at that, if anyone has seen this let me know how you liked it on a comment. These extras are really good and better than the average deleted scenes and music videos you tend to get as DVD extras. The children will love the games, and the adults will find the rest just as entertaining. ~~~ General Information ~~~ Just for you information freaks out there really. Made By: Disney/Pixar Languages: Dolby Digital 5.1 in English or German, and Dolby Digital 2.0 English Subtitles in: English, Italian, German, French, Spanish and English for the hearing impaired. Colour: PAL Running Time: 88 Minutes aprox Full Frame Format: 1.33.1 Certificate: U Price: £14.99+ ~~~ Final Thanks ~~~ Once again thanks for anyone who has read this opinion sorry it's another long one, but I'm sure you can cope with them. Bye for now, Andy. Or "Mr Writer" to Marandina :0)

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                    • More +
                      28.02.2003 20:21
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                      After seeing this topic in Speakers Corner, it seemed like it would be an interesting topic to talk about. Over the years (makes me sounds old when really I'm still young), I have studied eating disorders in both my Psychology lessons and Sociology lessons, so thought I would like to share what I know with you lovely people. Right so let's get straight to it. In Britain there is a list that contains all psychological abnormalities, (yes that's right folks; eating disorders are in fact psychological and not physiologically orientated disorders) and that list is called the DSM IV. The two main types of eating disorder identified on the list are Anorexia and Bulimia, so my opinion will be based upon those two. I thought it would be nice, even though this topic is about the causes of Anorexia and Bulimia, to include a brief section of what is involved in each of these disorders. So here goes nothing, each of the disorders has certain criteria that a person must satisfy in order to be diagnosed with them. Starting with Anorexia, I'm sure most of you know that a person's weight is very low. They believe themselves to be "overweight" and their actual weight is approximately 85% of their expected weight. Here is an example just to show you how it works, the individual may weight 10 stone, but they will believe that they weigh more in the region of 18 stone. Secondly, the individual will suffer from anxiety and have a very real fear of becoming "overweight". Thirdly, they will suffer from body-image distortion, in which they will exaggerate their weight, and not realise how under weight they are, and fail to understand the dangers of being such a weight. Finally, (sorry to get all technical here but it has to be done that way), if the individual is a woman then they may go through Amenorrhoea, which is where they miss three or more menstrual cycles. Now all that jargon is out of the wa
                      y let me give you some simple statistics that have been collected over the recent years, about the sufferers of Anorexia. In more than 90% of cases the individuals diagnosed with Anorexia are women (sorry ladies, but don't worry about it most, men tend to have a beer belly anyway, fortunately I'm too young to have one of them yet). Also people of the western world are far more likely to suffer from Anorexia. One final note is that Anorexia can bring death to around 5% of sufferers, so if you know anyone either suffering from, or heading towards Anorexia, act now and offer your support to them. Right moving swiftly on to Anorexia's ugly sister Bulimia, and then I can actually get down to the nitty gritty of the opinion the causes of eating disorders. Bulimia has five criteria that a person must show to be diagnosed with Bulimia. Firstly there is binging, this is where the individual eats massive quantities of food over a two hour period, much more than any non sufferer could or would consume. These occur in episodes, and are not usually a daily occurrence. Secondly, there is purging, which is defence mechanism of a binging episode. It is where the sufferer tries to remove the food they have just eaten, to prevent the gaining of weight. There are a few tactics that are widely used by sufferers. They range from self induced vomiting, excessive exercise, going without meals and relying on the binging episodes for food, and misuse of laxatives. Thirdly, there is the frequency that this binging and purging occurs. A bulimic will average at two times a week, and this number will increase after a three month period. Fourthly, the person will judge themselves excessively on their body shape and their weight, rather than other things such as sense of humour, or having a nice personality. Finally, the condition must be distinct, as many sufferers may be binging and purging only when going through episo
                      des of Anorexia. To finish of this first section a few more simple statistics on the sufferers of Bulimia (I know you all love statistics, who doesn't?). This time in 95% of cases the individual is again female. Bulimia also occurs most frequently out in the western world. Again one final note is that the purging techniques used by a Bulimic could cause some major damage. Firstly, self induced vomiting can erode the dental enamel on your teeth allowing all kinds of infection into to your gums and teeth, (sorry to be crude, has to be done). Also this purging can alter the levels of Sodium and Potassium in your body and these changes can prove life threatening. So again if you know anyone going through this, don't just sit around thinking it's a passing phase, seek help and advice sooner rather than later. ~~~ Causes of Eating Disorders ~~~ A word of warning before I guide you into the world of my mind is that this opinion could turn into something near the length of a novel. I have a lot to say about the causes and will hopefully put it across both clearly and concisely. So without further a due, here I go. I'll start with what I feel to be on of the most interesting theories of why people can become Anorexic or Bulimic, and it based on an old psychological theory. It is all to do with rewarding and reinforcement. Relating this to people with Anorexia, they will see that people who are thin are generally admired a lot more within our society (for example models, which I'll talk about later), so by them not eating much, they are rewarded by looking thin and people admiring then. Although with Anorexia the chances are the sufferers were perfectly fine anyway, but have now become to thin, due to distorted thoughts of their weight. This can also easily be applied to Bulimics as well. When they have eaten a lot of food (during binging) they will get rid of it all with a certain method (
                      purging). This purging prevents them from gaining weight, so is rewarding in the eyes of the sufferer, this reinforces the cycle of binging and purging to continue. A lot of the blame for why eating disorders exist could be placed on the media and how they portray models. Within our western society, there are many role models for woman, which supposedly show other woman how they should look to be "attractive" or "admired" by others. With these models being seen everyday, and women getting the idea from them that "thin" is beautiful, they will try to imitate their body shape, and identify with them. This can lead the individual to be in a constant struggle to lose weight, (to match their favourite model for example), and could easily lead to an eating disorder. Adolescent girls are one of the main groups who suffer from eating disorders, and there are two main reasons why. One reason is that most girls during puberty will want to start looking good for the boys from a very early age, and secondly, is that most of the weight gain a girl makes after puberty is in form of fat tissues. These tissues make it harder for these young girls to look their best, and match the figure of the models they see everyday. Some people place their belief in biological factors rather than psychological factors, even though eating disorders are at the end of the day a psychological abnormality. Some critics believe that some physical illnesses may lead to eating disorders. Some evidence has been found in a group of female Anorexia sufferers that glandular fever could have something to do with the onset of Anorexia, as the members of this group had all had it before their Anorexia started. Over the recent years where we have developed gene technology, this has become an argued factor of why people develop eating disorders. In this is day and age where human cloning is apparently in action (whether it is right or w
                      rong, and really quite strange, I'll leave that up to you guys), there has been a lot of evidence that it a parent or relative has got, or has suffered from Anorexia, before your birth, then you are four to five times more likely to develop the disorder. Various psychologists have also found a strong link between occurrences of eating disorders in genetically identical twins. The general pattern is that if one twin gets the disorder the other has a 50% chance of developing the same disorder. There are things we like to call biochemical factors also possibly involved in the developing of eating disorders, (sorry if you're not a fan of these large words!). Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and may be involved in eating disorders. This chemical has an active part in how we behave, whether we become aroused, aggressiveness and even sleeping (could be related to Insomnia sufferers). Some scientist found a link between the Anorexic behaviour and levels of Serotonin in the brain. If a large amount of food with lots of starch in is eaten then happiness levels may rise in the individual. Some more evidence to support this claim is the success of administering anti depressants to Anorexia sufferers, and helping them through it. This also points to levels of neurotransmitters in the brain being a factor of whether someone develops the disorder. This theory has come under a lot of criticism over the years since it was thought up in 1989. When trying to place this theory on people with bulimia, it is very hard, as they do not seem to eat only starchy foods when binging. So this points to the fact that it could be the disorders themselves causing the changes in neurotransmitter levels. Everyone goes through sexual development in puberty, and as one of the main groups of Anorexia sufferers are adolescent girls, some people link the onset of sexual development to Anorexia. Another theory is that what is known as s
                      exual fears may also be the cause of the Anorexia. Fears such as the fear of actually becoming pregnant, or even becoming pregnant through oral impregnation. If eating becomes linked to pregnancy then the sufferer will fear becoming pregnant and hence eat less than they normally would, to prevent the fear of pregnancy coming about. Another interesting theory is that young girls with Anorexia are scared of turning into full adult women, and wish to stay pre pubescent. By not eating they will not develop the figure associated with adult women. Thus allows them to keep the illusion that they are still children no matter what, (kind of like our musical friend Michael Jackson). Let me go back to looking at how people with eating disorders have distorted thoughts about how they look to everyone else if you will (not that you get a choice as its my opinion). These irrational thoughts are known as cognitive biases. Both Anorexics and Bulimics have distorted thoughts about how they appear to the world. The majority of the time this estimate is a lot higher than their actual body weight, so they eat less or purge what they eaten to not gain weight. If we look to evaluate this theory then we know that both sufferers of Anorexia and Bulimia with have strong cognitive biases, and will nearly always have a bad perception of their body weight and shape. People have never really been able to decide whether these thoughts come on before the onset of the disorder (suggesting a part in their development) or after their onset (suggesting they are a symptom of the disorders). Another theory (yes that's right only a few more to go, hope you have learnt something through my ramblings, or at least found it interesting!), is known as the Family Systems Theory, (I don't really believe in this next theory, although after reading you may believe it). Some have suggested that the family may play a key role in the development o
                      f Anorexia. The family of an Anorexic usually has no clear individual identity as everything is done together as a family. This can put massive constraints on a child, as they are not allowed to become and live as an independent person. Adolescence can be seen as the second stage of a child becoming independent, the first is when they became a toddler from being a baby. If a child lives in a kind of family as mentioned above they may be deprived of this initial individualisation, and may rebel against the family for example not eating, (kind of like what some prisoners do in prison, because they think it may get them freedom, which they are being deprived). Parents with an Anorexic child tend to have a lot of conflicts and there is a fair bit of evidence to support this, (surely all families have conflicts, and don't we all know it). The families of the Anorexic tend to be ambitious, and deny or ignore any conflicts that may arise in the family, and finally blame others for their problems (this is known as displacement, for example someone might call others ugly because they themselves feel ugly in comparison to them). The same can be said for families with a Bulimic child as well, and there is also far less interaction between family members, in a Bulimic family. As with any explanation they always have their problems and criticisms, this one is no exception. The families of Anorexics and Bulimics are said to have more conflicts, but are these conflicts the result of the disorder being present within the family, or are they the causes of the disorder within the individual who is a member of that family. Secondly, these conflicts between families have occurred throughout history, so they simply can not account for the rising in cases of Anorexia and Bulimia in the western world. This explanation also fails to shed light on the differences of the sex, age, and social c lass etc of the suff
                      erer. For example it fails to tell us why more girls than boys develop the disorders. ~~~ What Do I Agree With ~~~ After learning about all these various theories and explanations of why people develop eating disorders I was left unsure, as to which one was the right answer. So I feel that to get a true picture of why people develop such disorders, you have to look at a combination of theories. No theory above is entirely and right, but neither are any of them entirely wrong. I think with a combination of some of these theories, a fuller and more valid picture of what is happening could be going on. Im my opinion most of the blame has to lie with the media and the way in which they over emphasise models. This places tremendous strains and pressures on women too look good and be slim. These pressures in my opinion or mainly what causes these kinds of disorders. Perhaps if the media did not place so much empahsis on models, and didn't give them front page coverage when the looming war wath Iraq is still very important, then perhaps more women would be free from suffering these disorders. But we all know the media will never stop this kind of article on so and so having a boob job being on the front page. So these pressures will reamin on women, and probably increase as time goes on and we move into the future. I think that if perhaps our schools informed parents about Anorexia when their children are at a young age then the parents could look for the symptoms, the criteria, and seek advice for their children before any serious arises. Bullying may also be a cause of people developing eating disorders, by being called names. When young children get called names, they become deeply hurt by them, especially girls. If someone is bullied at school and called "fat" or something more nasty than that, then they very rarely go for help, or seek advice from older peo ple, such as te
                      achers and parents. Instead they often keep the feelings within themselves, and try to make their bodies different to prevent any further bullying going on. This could cause young children to worry about their body from a very young age, and lead to them quickly developing eating disorders, which will be very hard to shake off in their adult life. ~~~ Final Thanks and Comments ~~~ I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this opinion, and I hope that some of you have found it of use, and hopefully, just possibly, learnt something from it. I hope you have all enjoyed reading this opinion. Remember if you have a friend or family member who is suffering, or perhaps even yourself, seek advice there are so many people out there just waiting to help, go find them. Do yourself or your friends and family a favour; you won't regret asking for help. See you all around :O) Andy

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                        24.02.2003 20:48
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                        • "Missing out a part of the park by accident"

                        The flight across to Florida takes around eight or nine hours, and believe me, if you have not experienced this flight you will not understand how much it can take out of you. However, there is a place amongst the hustle and bustle of Orlando, where you can chill out, and if you're lucky feed and stroke a Dolphin. That place is Seaworld, and happens to be one of my favourite places. Seaworld provides something for the entire family, from thrill rides for white knuckle thrill seekers, right down to fantastic shows for all the family. Allow me to give you a taste of what Seaworld has to offer, along with some tips and advice making your visit the most enjoyable experience possible. ~~~ The Animals ~~~ Seaworld, unlike other theme parks, its main attraction is not the rides, but the animals. The range of marine animals here is huge, ranging from huge Polar Bears of the Arctic, down to small Stingrays, and Penguins. The animals receive great care from the trained staff, and their exhibits are more than spacious, and allow the animals a lot of comfort. Here is a selection of my favourite animal exhibits and what they have to offer. The Stingray Lagoon As the name suggests this is a specially built, shallow water lagoon in which around a hundred Stingrays make their home. The reason I love this exhibit so much is down to the fact that a various times throughout the day, Seaworld hold feeding times. During these times you can buy a small cone of fish, to feed to the Stingrays. The experience of feeding the Stingrays is one that I will never forget, and one of the reasons why a lot of return visits have been made. Even when there is no fish available, you are still allowed to touch and stroke the Stingrays. Penguin Encounter The Penguin Encounter is an indoor animal exhibit which contains all wide variety of species of Penguins, and closely related birds, such as Puffins. The thing about this exhibit, ap
                        art from watching the Penguins push each other off rocks, is the way it is made. As the exhibit is an indoor attraction, Seaworld has built an enclosure for the Penguins which simulates the Antarctic. The temperature is controlled, and kept as low as possible, and the lighting is also controlled to simulate the Arctic winters and summers. I can't get enough of the Penguins and make a few passes through this exhibit each time I visit. Dolphin Cove Finally and perhaps the favourite exhibit of nearly all of Seaworlds visitors, the Dolphins. The way Seaworld let the guests interact with the Dolphins is great, allowing you to get up close and personal. Like at the Stingray Lagoon, regular feeding times occur throughout the day, and wow do the Dolphins go mad for a bit of fish. Jumping up and down, splashing the guests, and if people are unfortunate getting their expensive video cameras wet. When the feeding times are not on, the keepers throw toys into the Dolphins, which they readily flick out to surrounding guests who then throw them back to the Dolphins. Such a fantastic experience and well worth the entrance fee itself. I could talk about all the exhibits at Seaworld Florida, but one that would make this opinion fantastically long, and two you will want to discover the rest of the magic yourself if you are planning a visit. ~~~ The Shows ~~~ Apart from the animals, the shows are what makes Seaworld such a great day out. Again rather than me waffle on for hours about all the shows I am going to select a few of my favourites, and share my experiences with you. Shamu Show Perhaps the most famous Seaworld show of them all, and with good reason, as it's also the best. Shamu, the mascot of all the Seaworld parks, is a huge 12 tonne killer whale. This 35 minute epic teaches you so much about these fantastic creatures, and shows you how their trainers have bonded with the animals. When sitt
                        ing down to enjoy the show be sure to take notice of any seats labelled splash zone, if you wish to avoid getting a lot of ice cold, salt water over you. The show demonstrates just what the creatures are capable of through some great tricks, such as the vertical jump. A fantastic pre show, where there is a kids verses adults question round, just hope you don't appear on the big screen on Shamu Vision. This show is amazing and my favourite of the entire park. Clyde and Seymour Take Pirate Island Who ever thought that Sea Lions could act, they can't can they? Nah, surely not? Think again, in this show they are the stars of the show, and they sure can act as well (perhaps better than some of the so called movie stars). Before talking about the actual show, I have just got to mention the brilliantly funny pre show. A pirate mime is sure to supply you with countless laughs as he follows behind guests and mimics them, without them knowing. Be sure to check behind you upon entering the stadium if you are bald for example. The show is based on an island where an explorer and his sidekick (Clyde the Sea lion) meet up with the crazy pirate crew (with Captain Seymour), for a fun filled 25 minute show,that is great for all the family. The show also contains Otters, Rats, a Walrus, and a Parrot on some shows. Be sure to check this one out, you'll be kicking yourself if you miss it. Cirque De La Mer A show at Seaworld, which unlike the others has human actors. As the name may suggest that show contains a few circus type acts, with some great laser effects throughout. The show contains fire juggling, two Chinese men who can bend and support each other in extreme ways, and more. The real highlight of the show for me though is the shows mime. Not only does he do the entire pre show similar to that of the one at Clyde and Seymour, he does all the scenes between the circus acts in the show. He is hilarious, any one w
                        ho has seen this guy will know he uses a whistle to communicate to his volunteers, and has them carry out all kinds of silly tasks, a great laugh, and one which makes this show even better. Possibly the most popular show at Seaworld with the exception of Shamu, be sure to read my tips at the end of this opinion to ensure you don't miss it. As with the animals mentioning all the shows would take a lot of opinion, so I'm going to leave it there, but trust me when I say, the other shows sure are worth a watch. The other shows include the funny sketch show, Animal Actors, the Key West Dolphin Show which is a great experience, and others. ~~~ The Rides ~~~ If Seaworld was just your average theme park you would expect this section to be full to the brim with rides, and information. However, being the chilled out place with outstanding exhibits and shows, Seaworld has simply added a few fantastic rides to satisfy the white knuckle fans, and a ride which suits all members of the family. Allow me to fill you in on Seaworlds three great rides. Kraken If you are a fan of rollercoasters then this one simply must not be missed. It is the tallest, fastest, longest ride in Florida. Kraken is a ride based on the mythological sea creature, The Kraken. The track can be seen from nearly every where in the park, and is aqua in colour. The ride just doesn't let up from start to finish, right from the initial stomach wrenching first drop, right to the last corkscrews before finishing up on the brakes. You will be sure to love this ride as you pass upside down seven times, dive through Krakens lair underground, and quickly emerge from the other side. Also be sure to check out your on ride photo, you will be surprised at your facial expression, nearly everyone has a funny expression. Average Queue Time: 15 Mins Journey to Atlantis Journey to Atlantis is a great experience, one that you more than
                        likely will not have had at any other theme park. The ride is a water rollercoaster, and combines elements of a log flume, and elements of the twisting and turning of rollercoasters. Can you escape from the evil sorceresses clutches and make your way to Atlantis. On the way there prepare your self for dazzling special effects, a huge, and very steep 95ft drop into a lot of water, and speeds to make your face ripple. Average Queue Time: 30 Mins Wild Arctic This ride is a motion simulator, and simulates you flying in a helicopter on a tour of the arctic, heading towards your destination, Base Station Wild Arctic. Everything is going great, you're slowly flying around observing the wildlife, until, you're chased by an avalanche, end up in a zero visibility snow storm, and narrowly avoid tumbling rocks form the edge of a snowy ravine. Don't let those near death experiences put you off, it's a great ride, and once the ride is over you really do arrive in Base Station Wild Arctic. In here there are loads more arctic animals from polar bears, beluga whales, white whales, and loads of educational sections as well. Great for anyone, especially if you're like me and have an interest in the animal world. Average Queue Time: 15 Mins Sea World Tower The centre piece to the entire park, and also this ride has a separate fee if you wish to ride it. If you go to Seaworld, but have never been before, then don't let the small cost put you off riding. The tower is the tallest structure in the park and stands at around 350ft. As the huge cabin goes up it also slowly rotates giving you a chance to see all of Orlando. You can see the sky scrapers of the city, the other theme parks, and lots of wildlife areas, of swamps and vast amounts of trees. The sights you will get from riding the tower more than make up that small extra cost in my opinion. Just be sure to have a camera with you and y
                        ou will definitely get some good shots of the surrounding area. Average Queue Time: Never is one If you're still with me, then congratulations, but there is a little more to go on this opinion. Shopping and Dining experiences at Seaworld are another one of the parks plus points. ~~~ The Staff ~~~ At every animal exhibit there is sure to be numerous members of staff standing around waiting to answer your questions. I found that whatever you asked about the animals, the staff were sure to answer, with an easily understandable answer. It just goes to show that Seaworld choose staff with a vast knowledge in the field marine animals. To summarise the staff at Seaworld are very approachable, friendly and always willing to answer any questions, such as, "Is that Dolphin talking to its friend? If so what about?" ~~~ The Shops ~~~ Here you can buy anything from Seaworld mugs, caps, t-shirts, and other assorted memorabilia. Obviously there are cuddly toys a plenty for the younger guests and some hefty educational books for the more mature and intellectual visitors. Prices throughout the shops are not all that bad, so go on, why not treat yourself to a massive Shamu toy, rather than trying to kidnap the real one. ~~~ The Food ~~~ The most important time of the day for me when I am out at a theme park, is the food, and the service you get. Seaworld does not fail to please me in this department. The dining experiences cover every taste bud that you may have in your unique mouth. You can go for the barbeque style foods of The Smoke House, or if chickens your thing then be sure to check out Chicken 'N Biscuit. A new dining experience in Seaworld is one where you can eat a massive array of tasty food, whilst being surrounded by Hammerhead Sharks, Electric Eels, and other quite nasty looking fish. Again the prices for food are not too hefty, and are great value for money.
                        ~~~ General Information ~~~ Seaworld has a free shuttle bus service which runs from the surrounding hotels and arrives at the park at around 9:00am, which is right on closing time. So if you haven't got a car, then this may be the easiets way of getting to the park. One other point of note, is that this free service also goes to Busch Gardens and leaves Seaworld at 9:00am, perfect if you haven't got a car. If you are renting a car it is $6 for a days parking, and each of the car parks are labelled with some kind of comedy character. One word of advice, whatever you do do not forget where your car is parked, or it will be a fun family game of find the car! ~~~ In a Nutshell ~~~ Seaworld offers the entire family, people of all ages, a fun, educational, relaxed day out. Relaxed due to the sheer size of the park, which can easily cope with the large number of visitors it receives each day. The whole atmosphere makes you feel welcome, and encourages you too ask questions of the highly trained staff; to further your knowledge of the animals you are no doubt having a great time watching. Great rides and shows add to the educational side of things to really bring home the fun. Great shops and restaurants which add a lot to the experience; with something for people of all tastes and preferences. In short, if you haven't been there already, get planning now, and believe me you will not be disappointed. ~~~ Andy's Official Tips ~~~ If you have either a baby or a disabled member in your party remember to ask an assistant upon entering the park and you will receive either a free pram, or wheelchair. The park also offers special reserved parking and seating in shows for disabled and small guests. Pick up a park map upon entering the park from the customer services desk, this will include all the show times, and a brief menu for each of Seaworlds dining experiences. Allo
                        wing you to keep more organised. Be sure to arrive within fifteen or twenty minutes prior to a show starting. This will ensure a good seat for the show, which is important if you have small children. Riding the rides either early in the morning or towards park closing time will guarantee small queues and instant action. Queues will build as the day progresses. At the start of the day have a quick look at the map and mark off what you definitely want to see or do, and stick to it, have some sort of order. Don't worry about having to take bags, cameras etc on the rides, as lockers are provided at the entrance to the ride. Also don't worry about having a small child to small to ride the rides, you can still enjoy the ride, with the parent swap system. You all go straight to the front of the line and one parent goes on first, then the second goes straight on after. Wear sun block to protect yourself and your family from burning, as a lot of Seaworlds attractions contain water, which can reflect the suns rays. Keep expensive cameras or other equipment away from the edge of the exhibits, as Dolphins especially have a tendency to get a little excited and throw large quantities of water at the spectators, which means you and your handheld camera. If in a show and the seating tier you choose has splash zone on it, take this seriously and if you do not wish to get very wet, then I suggest moving up a few rows to ensure dryness. Again important if you have expensive equipment, or small children. Stay for the fireworks display at 9pm, It is one of the best displays in all the Orlando parks, and will top off which, has undoubtedly been a fantastic day out. ~~~ Final Comments and Thanks ~~~ For more information be sure to check out www.seaworld.com, and click on the Orlando site. For information about park tickets, visit your local travel agents or again refer
                        to th e site. There are loads of various tickets you can get for Seaworld. Be sure to check them all to see which one is the best for you. I suggest looking at the Orlando 5 Park Flexi Ticket, which contains unlimited access to Seaworld, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Bush Gardens and Wet 'n Wild over a 21 day period. Thank you for reading my first dooyoo opinion and hope to get to know a lot of you very soon. Andy :)

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