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..because ITV Digital are a lot in trouble. I must admit, ITV Digital has had a rocky ride in my time. At first, I thought it was a complete rip-off of NTL Digital and Sky Digital, offering less channels for a greater premium price. However, I was extremely desperate for digital TV, but encountered some problems with the rival companies. Firstly Sky Digital offered a satellite service, satellites that aren't allowed in my area of 'culture' (I hate Shakespeare!). Secondly, NTL Digital didn't offer the digital service in my area, even though they spent pretty much the whole of the previous year digging up trenches outside my house. After a visit into my local Dixons, my views were changed when I saw a pre-pay package where you pay upfront for a whole year's worth of subscription for 6 'primary channels' which included the likes of E4 and MTV. As we also had a 15% off discount card at Dixons, this worked out to be something like £5 a month for the said channels. For the first few months, everything was OK, reception was pretty good, I had 6 extra primary channels on top of the free-to-view channels. However, the gimmick soon wore off. 6 channels to be fair is not a lot, and a lot of the features on the ITV Digital interface either don't work, or are too slow. The TV-to-TV channel where you can play games against other TV viewers was taken off the air soon after I joined ITV Digital. The interactive TV guide is absolutely shoddy compared to the Sky and NTL systems (which are uncannily similar to each other). It is slow as well as uninformative (it only shows the current and next program whereas the rivals offer up to 1 week advance of programs). One way round this is to go to the dedicated TV guide channel, which is rediculously slow and works intermitantly. Another niggle is that the reception is becoming poor, with the picture freezing more often that not (without hyperbole, at least twice a day). The icing
on the cake for my hatred towards ITV Digital is that I'm a keen Reading FC fan, and the retraction of the huge football TV rights has/will severely dent the finances of many football clubs, especially in the lower divisions (although Reading FC won't be in the lower divisions for long!). This was on top of a fixture change that ITV Digital insensitively implemented. The fixture was changed with less than 2 weeks noticed, changed from a Saturday to a Thursday, completely oblivious to people's originally organised plans. The Thursday also happened to be February 14th, so many were faced with the choice of either Reading FC or their loved one (for many those are the same thing!). Yeah so in conclusion, don't get ITV Digital, NTL and SKY are the way!
I'd read many reviews about it, I'd compared it to many reviews about many other mice, and then I stepped into the exotic world of Optical Mice. Was it a good move? Yeah! I ordered the Microsoft Intellimouse Optical mouse online as it was considerably cheaper than at high street stores. The mouse handilly came with a USB to PS/2 converter for those still without the ever useful USB ports. Also included was the software CD with the latest version of Intellipoint - the tool to tweak around with the settings to your mouse. I just couldn't wait to install the software and hot-plugged the mouse into the computer and wow, the red light came from beneath the mouse and I had the power! The movement of the cursor to my hand movements was so true and so gone are the times when I have to bang the mouse to stop sticking! The little lens at the bottom of the mouse actually works! The mouse also features a scroll wheel which you can customize (especially useful in games such as Max Payne), and I especially love the two extra buttons on the side of the mouse which are ergonomically placed so that you can click away with two extra customisable buttons. I currently use them for Forward and Backward in Explorer (the default settings), but you can easily change these to a range of functions such as Copy, Paste, Close Window, etc. It's just so versatile. It was also for a bargain price! Buy this mouse straight away, my orders! Of course, we're not just buying this little gizmo for the flashing lights now, are we?! ****** UPDATE ****** Ok I got this mouse for around £22 + P&P online at Jungle.com. This was compared to: Dixons: £34.99 Currys: £34.99 PC World: £29.99 (Some sort of special offer with £5 off) All identical models.
Being 17 years of age and being the first academic school year to try out the new AS-Level system, I can honestly say that the system is a shocker. Just a bit of background information though, the system was introduced so that it would broaden the education of pupils in the 6th form by allowing them to take 4 AS-Levels in the first year, and then in the following year, for the pupil to drop one of the 4 AS-Level subjects and carrying on the remaining 3 subjects to an A2-Level. This compares with the old system where pupils were to take on 3 subjects from the beginning of their 6th form and carry them through until the end of the 2-year course, and then hopefully qualify with 3 full A-Levels. Many have agreed that the idea is absolutely right, that pupils' education must be broadened at this stage so that there is a more open mind whilst choosing for the all-important University courses. In theory, this is great. However, in practice, a completely different story is told. An AS-Level is comprised of 3 seperate modules of which the percentage accounts for 50% (in most cases), of the final A2-Level percentage if the pupil were to carry on that subject. These modules can be taken at 3 certain times during the year: January, March or June. If you're unlucky enough to have under-achieved in a taking of a module, you are only allowed one re-sit of the module whereas before you were entitled to as many re-sits as you felt desirable. The AS-Level contents for each subject is supposedly meant to be roughly half the syllabus of an original A-Level (under the old system), and assessed at a lower level. Although this may be the case, as the modules can only be taken as late as June, teachers are struggling to fit the whole 3 modules into the alloted time due to the situation virtually being half an A-Level being taught in two-thirds of the time. This is because the exams are taken shortly into the 3 term whereas previously, exams were taken at the end
of the two years so teachers were not really pushed for time. You may be thinking that maybe it would be easier to take modules in January to ease the pressure for the July set of exams, where to bulk of the exams are bound to be taken. However, in January, many schools entered their top maths students for the Pure 1 Mathematics module to no doubt ease the pressure of exams in June for them, and yet the national average in January for that module was a grade 'U'. Shocked? So were we. Everyone knows that a student's favourite companion to studying is a text book. Due to the new AS-Level syllabus for each subject, new text books were needed by all who were taking modules. Taking the Pure 1 Mathematics module as an example again, the text book for the exam board I was taking (AQA), was released in March, 4 months late of it's scheduled November publishing date. Now, as I took the module in June, this doesn't seem to be a problem. It wasn't, but it was for the other 5 Mathematics modules that I took in June! The Pure Mathematics 2 text book was due to be released in January, well in advance of the June exam and I'm disappointed to say that we didn't manage to receive the text book in time for our exam. I hear the latest release date now for that text book is in August! Our saviour turned out to be the syllabus itself and we had to scoot around various text books to find the relevant information for each topic. This was no easy task. Many pupils in a situation similar to mine no doubt feel exactly the same when I say, this new system absolutely stinks. Some pupils have said that they feel used by the government, gineau pigs if you may, to test out this new system. Some universities have objected to this system so much that they are going to disregard AS-Level grades and mainly base their offers on GCSE grades and teacher assesments. This may be the only just way of judging pupils of my age due to the injust
AS-Level farce. This is all assuming that all the exam papers get marked! With the massive increase in manuscripts to mark (I myself took a total of 14 modules, well 13 and my final one is tomorrow...ARGH!), exam boards are struggling to find enough people to mark the papers. It may be the case that we have our papers marked by people who have little or no experience in the given subject due to the desperate nature of the situation. On top of this, there seems to be an all-round lack of motivation from the pupils and teachers alike. With more learning/teaching to be done in a shorter time scale, things are looking glum. The latest news is that the Education Minister is ordering a full investigation into the whole AS-Level system, not to eradicate the system as such, but to improve it. Shame the coffin's had its final nails. Just the results to come now... *************** Ok update now that I have just received my results: C in Economics B in Electronics A in Physics A in Music A in Further Maths A in Maths Well, I'm telling you that I was totally surprised with my results...I did far better than expected which makes me suspect that the marks were raised so that the original percentage of students received an A grade. However, do you hear me complaining?!
Just more than 6 years ago, 85 minutes into the 1st Division Playoff Final at Wembley saw Reading leading Bolton 2-1. The 86th minute was a heartbreaker. Bolton drew level to take the tie into extra-time and from there on, there was only going to be one winner. 4-3 was the final score, with Reading scoring a very late 119th minute consolation goal. 6 years on, and the stage is set! Facing Wigan Atheletic in the Semi-Finals of the playoffs, the climax of Reading scoring 2 late goals in the 86th and 93rd minute at The Madejski Stadium to take the tie 2-1 on aggregate. We're now faced with the daunting task of Walsall in the play-off finals. Having lost away to Walsall, and draw 2-2 at home (having thrown away a 2-0 lead), things aren't looking to good for the final at the Cardiff Millenium Stadium. Yet after all these statistics, the Bookmakers are still backing Reading as favourties to take the win. However, disregarding the two previous meetings between the two clubs, Reading thoroughly deserve to be promoted into the 1st division, and many would agree. Although we started off terribly, the last few weeks saw an intense battle between Milwall, Rotherham and Reading, with literally nothing to seperate the three clubs from this 3-horse race for the 2 places of automatic promotion. Unfortunately, Reading petered out in the final 3 matches and ended up finishing 3rd, although still 5 points above 4th placed team, Walsall. Alas, Sunday 27th May will be on the minds of many Loyal Royals. The 72,500 capacity seating at Cardiff, 40,000 seats have been allocated to Reading fans, hopefully to be filled to capacity! I am starting to have my doubts though. There are several cocky Reading fans who feel it necessary to invade the Walsall website and laden their message boards with abusive language and such. I have a bad feeling these supporters will be taught a lesson and ruin it for all the other 39,995 geniuine Reading supportes
at Cardiff. Well before I sign-off, I'd like to commend the organisers of the match very highly, ensuring there are enough travel facilities for both sets of fans (First Great Western issuing an extra number of trains, Horseman Coaches for arranging 50+ coaches, etc.). I'm really looking forward to Sunday's match and with players such as Rougier with his strength, Butler with his eye for goal, this match is certainly one to look forward to! If you're unlucky enough to not get tickets for this match, be sure to watch it on Sky and see me in the crowd! Probably crying though...we'll see! Come on you ROYALS! ******************** Ok so now after the match, it seems that the cruel twist of fate has struck once again. Having taken the game into extra time at 1-1, one minute in, we score...YAY! However, with 10 minutes of extra time left before a promotion for the Royals, Walsall score twice in one minute! It seems the heavens are against us and we are condemned to yet another season in the 2nd division. We will strike back...
Well I got the book Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years for christmas, unsuspecting that a televesion series was set to be releasd a few months later. So when I'd finished the book, I was utterly thrilled with it! A fantastic follow-up to all the other Adrian Mole diaries where Adrian is now a 30 year-old with a child and his career as a chef and would-be writer looks bleak. His return to Ashby-de-la-Zouch near Leicester sets off the first episode of this T.V. series. When I first heard that the T.V. series was to be released early this year, I was eagerly anticipating this as I thoroughly enjoyed ALL the books and was disappointed to hear that I missed the T.V. series of the first diary of his (hopefully some person from the B.B.C. will read this and maybe re-run the series.......please?!). Ok, so the characters....well Adrian is exactly what i expected.....a would-be intellectual living in the past, with a certain geeky aspect to himself. However, I was thoroughly disappointed with Rosie in the series. The acting seems somewhat fake, if not unconvincing. Pandoro is just a babe! Played by Helen Blaxendale, I think they hit the nail right on the head.....mmmmm.....ANYWAY! So, well......the B.B.C. only supply this series in short 30-minute chunks and as I've read the book, I would love to prefer maybe a 1-hour slot so that I can really get into the episode and thus enjoy it more...it seems a bit dis-jointed with 30-minute episodes, just a minor point though. Overall, I think this series is based on an absolutely BRILLIANT book but I feel that the short T.V. episodes do ruin the effect of a spontaneous diary. The story line saves this from complete disaster.
I actually have the lower model than this (the MF-PD100) but the only differences are that it comes in a sexier blue colour and that the hand remote is an optional extra cost. I got one of these for Christmas and was astounded at the size of the player! I mean, I am technologically minded but you have to hold one of these marvels to realise the ingenuity in the product. Running on 1AA battery lasting for about 7 hours (although uploading songs drains the battery quite a bit). The AA battery has an clip-on compartment to add to the side of the player, making it look a bit more bulky, but yet again, for another extra but of money, you can buy the internal chargeable battery (the charger in itself another extra!) and the battery slots neatly inside the square frame. Now onto the memory! The 32mb supplied on my player seemed a bit stingy, but for under £100 for the whole package, I wasn't complaining! The only other problem is that, as the manufacturers of the memory cards is MMC (Multimedia Cards), they are more uncommonly known than the more well know Smart Media cards. However, no problem. A few clicks on the internet and I found a 32mb MMC card for £40. The card sizes go up to 64mb making the player have a potential 128mb of song space using 2x64mb cards! Pretty impressive! Now for the rest! The headphones are brilliant stereo earphones with a volume control built-in...and the player is generally well-built. The optional controller unfortunately has all the Equalising effects controls, playback control, etc. so it is worth investing in! My overall opinion of this player is that, it is extremely good value for money, sleek, sexy and worth it! However, the extras are extremely tempting so be prepared to spend another £50 ish (that's on my lowly model!). Enjoy!
Well, having looked at my local branch in action, the staff are extremely friendly and queues are very short (due to the copious numbers of staff on hand to help). Whatever you say about the unfriendliness of the Lloyds TSB staff just isn't true for my local branch, and others are likely to agree. The merging of Lloyds and TSB have not inconvenienced the customers at all and the customers themselves should realise that the systems have been updated now so that interaction between the two partitions is seamless. The friendliness of the staff was one of the main factors in my opening of a current account at that branch. Many branches across the country are undergoing heavy refurbishment which customers will no doubt find an improvement for the good. Lloyds TSB offer xcellent customer services. They offer many attractive packages for the different individual and also offer the choice of internet banking, being able to manage your account online, a very useful, innovative and easy way of saving a trip to the bank! Banking mad! Here's some interesting figures: Loans: £10,000+ = 8.00% £5,000+ = 10.7% £1,000+ = 13.7% Savings: £25,000+ = 6.00% £10,000+ = 5.50% £2,500+ = 5.25% £250+ = 5.00% (these are rates for the Platinum account and rates correct as at time written) For more up-to-date rates, visit: www.lloydstsb.co.uk
Ok, I know many will disagree with me here, but I have very strong opinions about this! I think that the England mangerial position should be taken up by an English, or at least British manager/person. I know there isn't some clause to say this, but the England team being coached by Arsene Wenger? Now that does sound strange! Ok, the Australian team had Terry Venables (known as T.V. from now), but at least they (the team and T.V.), both had the same 1st language!!! Just think about it: how can you have a foreigner coaching a national side?! I don't believe this is right! There should be some rule saying that the manager must be the nationality of the national side he is coaching. It's a national side for crying out loud! What you all must agree with though is that we need a manger soon! We just drew 0-0 with Finland! WHAT! I hear you say! My thoughts exactly! Just an opinion anyway!
Well, now that the majority of protests have ceased and fuel is starting to be distributed among the community, the nations won't be back on it's feet for another 3 weeks (xsupposedly). The protestors have shown what they can do amd now Mr Blair should acknowledge this and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! It's all very well him saying that the price on petrol increased with inflation at 3%, but wasn't this the same inflation in the health sector but at 1%? Something isn't right here! With the tax on petrol at something like 615% at the moment (thanks Mr Rennie!), it must go down! Saying this is all very well, but 'Where can the government compensate for this drop in petrol?' I hear you say. Well, the price of petrol can drop a further 8p without it affecting the budget of the government, AND, shouldn't the tax be on commodities that aren't essential like tobacco (no prejudice to the smokers), etc.? Also, the government are taking advantage of the situation by taxing really high. Who else can we get the petrol from? Personally, I think that, even if the government DO give in and lower the tax on petrol, the drop will be so insignificant (3p drop or something), that the protestors won't know what to do! On one hand, they got their drop in tax, on the other, it was very small (comparitively). I would like to see petrol prices at about 60p/gallon, but hey, welcome to the real world.
Ok, news how off the press today (Tuesday 5th September), is that the Millenium Dome is to receive yet ANOTHER £47 million to keep it open until the end of the year. now this is getting desperate!!! However, that is the financial side of the matter. What really counts is, what the Dome really is like. Well, before you even go into the Dome, you must marvel at it's sheer size, the amazing architectural skill gone into designing/building this. Not all of the features of the Dome are inside you know! Ok, so the first outdoor feature I encountered was the Sky Digital Centre where you can try your hands out on the latest Sky Digital receivers. Not only the that, being proabably the highlight of this area, the interactive news reading booth, where you sit in the newscasters chair and read the news! The whole thing gets taped and you get the video (compliments of Sky), given to you on the spot. So, inside the Dome then. Well, since I was told by EVERYONE that the Body was the attraction to see, I eagerly made my way to the said attraction. Having queued for about 20 minutes, the whole walk-through-the-body was done at a leisurely pace in about 10 minutes!!! It was a MASSIVE anti-climax. Having experienced this bad fortune, I decided that the Millenium Show (performing in the main centre stage), was a safer bet. I wasn't far off! Nasocally, the show was very well co-ordinated and the depth to the show, with so much going on at the same time, there wasn't time to get bored! This is when I realised that the Dome wasn't as empty as I anticipated it to be. The main stage could seat about 10,000 people, and I didn't really see an empty seat (I saw some foldaway chairs needed to be distribured). The atmosphere was electrifying. Moving on, Money was nearby and so Money it was. The zone took my liking straight-away by displaying £1 million £50 notes behind (unfortunately), tunnels of glass whi
ch you could walk through. Rest was a very relaxing (as suggested), zone and I would have spent a lot more time there except that that WOULD have been a waste of money! Basically, a mixed bundle of entertainment under one roof (which reminds me, when you go inside the Dome, you don't get the impterssion that building has quite finished yet, with all the white spaces looking like constructions areas. Just a point). Could be good value for money if you are open-minded and have a yearn for interests. Easily accesible and excellent idea of enforcing a no public traffic radius around the Dome. Go there if you've got a mind of your own? I think so.
Ok, so Claire replaced Nick who 'supposedly' got chucked out for breaking the rules (I personally think it was set up to draw in more viewers, like myself!!!). I've only recently started to watch what all the fuss was about. Did anyone really think she would win? Ok, if you did, imagine Claire had just won, what would we, the public say? There would absolute UPROAR!!! For a start, she didn't even start from the beginning so she hasn't had to 'endure' what the others have (much). She has also had an outsiders point of view of the people inside (I think), and so she has already made opinions of everyone there. Her cooking didn't help at all. Stir-fry didn't help things much, with the 'enthusiastic' 'ummms' and 'this is quite good', you could feel the tension. Also, you should have seen the faces of the other two girls when Claire came in for the first time. It was a look of: Oh my gosh, it's another girl, how do we keep the boys to ourselves? Don't argue with that point cause it was BLATANTLY OBVIOUS!!! Anyway, Claire was just a number filler, and she played her part, now she must let the show go on.
Ok, so the BBC are now trying to compete with the likes of Who Wants to be a Millionaire and co. This is the result. You can see the ties between the two programmes (the same style music, coinciding with the descending lights, etc.). We've seen it before? Well, not really. Why? That's because this quiz show is COMPLETELY unfair!!! The 'weakest link' is meant to be eliminated after each round, but the weakest link is 'voted out' by the other contestants. Basically, the smartest, most knowledgable person may not even win (these tactics were employed in the last episode I saw where one of the contestants excuse for elimiminating another was that she 'felt that he would provide a tougher opposition' in the next round. This is a FARCE!!! Also, the prize money is ABSOLUTELY RUBBISH!!! You work your socks off through 8 intensive rounds of questions (whilst enduring the glare of Anne Robinson), and in the end, you'll walk away with about £1750!!! Talking of Anne Robinson, what can I say? She was dubbed by one contestant as being 'the worst ever teacher you'll come across'. I couldn't agree more. She will put you down at every oppurtunity. She NEVER smiles, and the infamous 'goodbye' after the supposedly 'weakest link' leaves REALLY annoys me!!! So, a quiz show with the ideas of it's peers, but not the finance! The weakest link? Very appropriate to describe the winner.
The Citizen ST-655 is a neat little feature. This handheld TV has one telescopic antenna that incorporates the CSM (Citizen Super Matrix), technology, a system that upgrades picture quality, which compliments the 2.2IN with 62,400 pixels. The TV reception is very good on the move (The Simpsons is a good example of an excellent picture). This does however depend on your position according to TV antennae and boosters?amplifiers. So, if you are in a car and the terrain is not even, you may find trying to maintain a reasonable picture quite difficult. However, if you are stationary, finding the perfect picture is not hard and the quality is exceptional. The sound is surprisingly crisp and speech is easily recognisable (similar to TV standards). Just remember to take earphones with you if you are watching in the car as the volume will not exceed the sound coming from your engine (WHATEVER car you have!!!). Let's go to the technical side of things. The battery life-span is excellent. Provided with 4 AA batteries, one set lasted me for about 5 hours at least (longer than the projected 3 hours as stated on the package). There is also the option of an AC adaptor and/or a car adaptor which connects to the cigarette lighter. These are all at additional costs. Unfortunately, no A.V. input for camcorder playback although the later models provide this feature for a couple more bucks! So, for the record: Screen Size: 2.2IN. / 5.6cm (33.6mm x 44.6mm) No. of Pixels: 62,400 (130 x 480) Power Supply: AA battery x 4 Dimensions: 82 (W) x 128 (H) x 34.5 (D)(all measurements shown in mm) Weight: 220gr without batteries
You've probably read my op. on Charlotte Church. You saw how she was slated. That was because I believe she can't sing properly. Filipa on the other hand can. A very mature yet pure voice. A rare combination, I assure you. Also, her repertoire extends far beyond the show pieces (*ahem* Charlotte Church). She performs pieces that require a lot of musicianship. An understanding of the piece is needed, a sign of great musical maturity. Her most recent album has cemeted this fact. Not just show pieces like Jerusalem. Unfortunately, she is not as well known as Charlotte Church which is a shame is she is so good. Looks like people are going for age rather than quality. Shame really.
I recently subscribed to this service after hefty advertising campaigns finally got the better of me. What happend is, I pay BT £5.99 a month and, being a Freeserve member, Freeserve credit my BT account with £1, so I pay £4.99 a month in the end. What does this give me? Well, I get unlimited Off-Peak calls which means 6pm - 8am on weekdays and the whole of the weekend. This is extremely good value for money as I do use the internet a lot and as I go to school, I don't use the internet then. However, if you do use the internet at Peak times, I would pay 1p/minute due to being part of BT Together (yet another great service). Calls without this service would cost about 4p/minute (not including Friends and Family discounts). You get two seperate 'phone nos (Off-Peak/Peak), to call depending on the time of day. It is very simple to change which one to phone (I am a complete novice in computing and yet I can do it!). The engaged tone doesn't happen a lot to me but it still does happen! The connection speed is consistently fast. The website is full of goodies (latest sport, share indexes, etc.). I have no idea what the technical support is like 'cause I didn't need it!!! Top service!