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ILoveJackDaniels

ILoveJackDaniels
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Member since: 18.06.2001

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    • American Psycho 2 (DVD) / DVD / 1 Reading / 32 Ratings
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      06.12.2002 17:42
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      According to Scream 2, a sequel (to a great movie) that lacked almost all of the things that made its predecessor great, "Sequels Suck". The film makes a lot of fun of itself, not least when the lovable Randy points out The Rules. There are three Rules to making a successful sequel. The body count must always be higher. The death scenes are always more elaborate. And never assume the killer is dead. American Psycho 2 follows these rules to the letter. Following in great Hollywood tradition, American Psycho 2 is not as good as its predecessor. American Psycho was a superb movie - a great tale based on a brilliant book, and one of the few movies I don't think anyone should be without a copy of in their video collection. It is obvious that the sequel has been made exclusively to make money of the back of American Psycho's success. On the positive side, unlike most sequels, it does not attempt to match its inspiration. Liking American Psycho is no guarantee that you will like this sequel, for whereas the story of Patrick Bateman was a satyrical and violent movie, number 2 is more of a teen-horror flick, reminiscent of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, though a touch darker than both. The movie is not terribly gory as horror movies go, and sticks to a fairly standard theme. A young (and extremely beautiful) student, Rachel Newman, obsessed with serial killers, is single-mindedly determined to become an F.B.I. agent for just that reason. Her goal leads her to college, where her tuition is at the hands of the F.B.I.'s top former profiler, Dr. Bobby Starkman. A job as his assistant would virtually guarantee her a place at the Quantico training facility, and from there to the ranks of the F.B.I.. Though predictable, the movie is nevertheless very entertaining, and Mila Kunis's performance as Rachel is superb. Rachel seems an emotionless, calculating and quick-witted young woman, normal except for an obvious inabi
      lity to differentiate between right and wrong. She has very clear goals to attain, and any obstacle to those goals will be removed with the utmost precision and the coldest of methods. The plot is deeper than I would have expected, though I felt that Rachel's obsession and history with Patrick Bateman could have been explored further. Much of the film is slower paced than necessary, and there are moments when things could become slightly confusing. Overall though, the plot certainly does its job, providing plenty of victims for Rachel and plenty of moments for her to show just how sociopathic she has become. Mila Kunis was excellent - a real pleasure to watch as much for her brilliant performance as her stunning looks. William Shatner's performance as Bobby Starkman was lacking, though, giving the impression more that he was an average teacher than the F.B.I.'s top former profiler. Unfortunately, the other characters in the film all seem to be a little too two-dimensional, which is a shame as many of them could have given much more to the film, had the script allowed. I would highly reccomend watching this if you fancy a fun movie with little substance, and do not watch it expecting a sequel to American Psycho - this has more merit in its own right than as a continuation of the Patrick Bateman saga. CAST Mila Kunis (That 70's Show, Gia) William Shatner (Do I really need to say..?) Geraint Wyn Davies (The Stepmother) Robin Dunne (Cruel Intentions 2, The Skulls 2) Lindy Booth (The Skulls 2, Relic Hunter) RATING UK - 18 US - R TRIVIA The entire movie was shot in just 20 days, and for the low, low cost of just 3 million dollars! TAGLINES "Angrier. Deadlier. Sexier." "A Girl's Gotta Do What A Girl's Gotta Do."

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        04.11.2002 19:02
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        Ahhh, technophobia. It's a wonderful thing, really. It makes my life much easier than it could be. You see, I'm a web designer. Now, while that might sound like a job that entails little technical support, for many of my clients I am the only person they know who knows their way around a PC. So if they go deleting their registry, who is their first phone call to? Yours truly, of course. It's amazing listening to so many competent, intelligent people who have been taken to the brink of insanity by a little box that sits by their desk that they use every day. Computers are great. It's surprisingly difficult designing websites without them, and you only need to spend a little time using them to see just how useful they can be. Sadly though, most people fail to make use of the infernal grey box, afraid it will not take kindly to their inexpert probings and will react badly, erasing that book you've been working on and emailing the contents of your porn directory to your new boss. This fear is not without basis - computers are complicated machines, and there are many things you should not mess with unless you know what you are doing. Many is the time I've had to deal with a client who had in their defense only something like this to say: "But I wanted to tidy up my hard disk, and I only deleted the windows directory - what can that do?". Now that I've scared you into a quivering heap, let's move on. Just because computers are complicated, doesn't mean you shouldn't do *anything* to them - it just means that you should not play with parts of it you don't understand. Don't fiddle with system files, and you'll be just peachy. There's plenty you can do, though, without needing to go playing with parts you hav no business playing with, and that's what this (hideously long) guide is for. It is a collection of pieces of software that you can use, most of which are
        very cheap or free, to make your computing experience a better one. There is a great deal of bias against Microsoft here, but I don't want to start on the reasons behind it. There is a rather good article at http://www.euronet.nl/users/frankvw/IhateMS.html which gives a fairly good account of just how bad they are for computing in general, and when you have a spare few hours, I suggest you read it. There are, however, a good number of alternatives to Microsoft software below. The software below is also divided into two sections. The first is general software that everyone should have, and the second is more specific to web designers, amateur or professional. Finally, all of this software is software that I use regularly, on a reasonably fast machine (1Ghz), with a reasonable amount of RAM (256Mb) and Windows 2000 Professional. Just so you know - most of these programs also have minimum specifications on their websites too, so you can check whether your PC can handle them. General Software +++ Windows Windows is the bane of computing. Now, don't get me wrong - it's the program that made computers accessible to the average person, but any program that crashes so often that people start to think it's normal for a computer to crash can't be a good thing. Still, it is improving slowly. If you are brave enough, I suggest you try Linux as an alternative to Windows, but if not, I suggest you use Windows 2000. It is the most stable and secure version of Windows yet. For those people using more advanced versions of Windows, there are basic steps you should take to ensure security - make you you change the default administrator password in Windows 2000, for example, or anybody can access your computer, whether or not you have a firewall. It is important to keep Windows up to date as well. Service Packs and Critical Updates are extremely important, as they will en
        sure that your PC stays secure, above all. http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/ is the official Microsoft Windows update site, and will determine automatically if you are up to date with your version of Windows. Of course, it only works with Internet Explorer, because if you use Opera or Navigator, Microsoft hates you. +++ ZoneAlarm - www.zonelabs.com/ ZoneAlarm is extremely important. You must have a firewall installed on your PC, especially if you have a broadband connection. A firewall is a program (or sometimes a piece of hardware) that stops unwanted people or programs accessing your computer remotely. ZoneAlarm just sits in your system tray and handles this for you - no bother. You can run it for free or cough up $50 for the pro version, which includes support. Personally, I stick with the free version, which does all I need it to. +++ Ad-Aware - www.lavasoft.de/ If you haven't heard of spyware, you must have been hiding under a virtual rock, because it is the hot topic of this year so far. Spyware is software that sits on your pc and watches what you do. Some is bad, some isn't, but whichever way you look at it, you can live without it. Ad-Aware is a free program that you should run around once a month to clear out any little bugs you may have picked up while surfing that month. +++ Norton - www.symantec.com/nav/nav_9xnt/ Norton is an anti-virus program. Everyone has their favourite, and everyone swears by a different program. I will say this - there are a very limited number of *good* virus protection programs. Check reviews of a virus protector before you buy it, and make sure it has real time scanning, and email scanning. If it doesn't have these, forget it. I would heartily recommend Norton, McAfee or Pc-cillin. A great online scanner can be found at http://housecall.trendmicro.com/housecall/start_corp.asp - which is free as well. Always a bonus. +++ Trillian - www.trillian.cc/ Most people these days use an instant messaging program like MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ, AIM or IRC. Most people use 2 or 3 of these, and have all of these programs running at once, all the time. Trillian allows you to use all five networks in one program, as though they were all the same program. And will not slow down your PC nearly as much as having 2 or 3 seperate programs at once. It is also skinnable, meaning you can download a little file that makes trillian look much cooler than the default, and could even match your shoes. +++ Winamp - www.winamp.com/ Winamp is skinnable as well (see above), and plays your music files for you, be they MP3s or a CD. It's the most popular MP3 player on the planet, and for good reason - it rocks. Nuff said. +++ 602Pro PC Suite - www.software602.com/ or OpenOffice.org - www.openoffice.org/ Ahhh, Microsoft Office. Pure evil. Seriously. Do you know why you need to keep updating Microsoft Office? Microsoft keep changing the file formats to force you to, so they get more money. It's that simple. It's a bloated, slow, rubbish Office suite. Fortunately there are alternatives! Both of these programs contain all the basics of an office package - word processing, databases and more. Neither have an annoying paperclip. Both are also free. Yup, free. They can read Microsoft file formats as wel, so any documents you already have in Word can be transferred over easily. I prefer 602Pro to OpenOffice.org, personally, as I find it faster, with the emphasis on functionality rather than loads of options. Both are very capable programs though, and well worth exploring further. +++ Munite - www.munite.com/ Everyone knows Outlook Express, and that's one of two major problems with the program. Virus writers know just how many people use OE, and OE is so full of security holes that it is easy
        for people to write viruses to infiltrate machines, knowing that the sheer volume of OE users will perpetuate the spread of viruses around the world. You may not be aware that (theoretically, though nobody has written a virus to take advantage of this yet) you don't even have to read a message in Outlook Express to get a virus - downloading it from a server is enough. The other, less major, problem is that Microsoft do not want you to change from their software. They want you to upgrade to Outlook as soon as possible, so they get more money. Which means that they make it as difficult as possible to change to another email client. Munite, though, is a serious breath of fresh air. It is very cheap ($30), and as so few people use it, and it is so secure, it is virtually immune to viruses. It will allow you to import all of your messages from Outlook Express (or Eudora, PocoMail - whatever you are currently using), so is nice and easy to set up. It is a little customisable too, allowing you to change a few colours. Its best feature, though, by a very very long way, is the ability to have message threaded. That means that when an email arrives, it goes in your inbox (or whatever folder you choose). When you reply, your reply goes just under the original message. When that person replies to your reply, their message goes under your reply - so you can literally just browse email conversations! It is a truly innovative feature, and worth the $30 alone, let alone the security benfits. The search feature rocks too, by the way :) +++ Opera - www.opera.com/ Internet Explorer ... what fun. I really could go on and on about IE, and the good and bad it has done the internet. It is a slow program though, and insecure, and that alone is reason anough to seek an alternative. Opera rocks - it is extremely fast, can be used free (or you can pay a small fee to have an ad removed), and extremely capable. It also block
        s popups by default, and is skinnable. Keep a copy of IE on your machine though - some sites (most notably Microsoft run ones) do not work well with Opera, and occasionally you will need to bring the behemoth out of retirement. For day to day surfing though, it makes a world of difference, and the speed at which it runs cannot be described - you just have to try it. +++ Right Start Menu - www.backtec.com/free.htm I use a whole load of programs all the time, and access various hard drives on my PC and my network, as well as many folders very regularly. I like to keep things organised, and Right Start Menu is a smal freeware program that places a little icon in my system tray. When I click the icon, a list I have created of my most frequently used programs, drives and folders comes up. It is a great little utility, and saves me hunting through my start menu or hard drives every time I need to find something. You can change the icon it uses, too, which is good, because the default one is rubbish. +++ Cookiewall and Pow! - www.analogx.com AnalogX software is essential if you want to continue to run Internet Explorer. Both of these programs are freeware too. Cookiewall, well, allows you to choose whether or not you want to accept a cookie. And Pow! is a popup-killer - IE is hell to use without it. Both sit in the system tray and run without clogging up your computer. Both are also very easy to use, literrally being just point and click pieces of software with very little to learn. +++ Webtime - www.gregorybraun.com/ Lastly for this section is webtime - a tiny tiny application that will check your PC clock has the right time whenever you ask it to. Simple, really, and a very cool little gadget. Web Design Software +++ EditPlus2 - www.editplus.com/ EditPlus2 is essential for any web designers who use languages like PHP. It features automatic code h
        ighlighting, making it much easier to read and write web applications. It's very cheap too, which is a definite advantage! +++ 1st Page - www.evrsoft.com/ Essentially, 1st Page is the same as EditPlus2, only much better code highlighting for HTML. I use both this and EditPlus2 for different tasks, and find both help my eyes to survive a day - gone are the says of squinting at 2000 lines of black and white code in Notepad. 1st Page is freeware. +++ XaraX - www.xara.com/ It's amazing just how many people honestly believe that Photoshop is the only piece of software a web designer could use for graphics. What rubbish, there's always a choice. Xara started out as a Corel product, and is now seperate from them. It is a vector graphics program that interfaces with things like Flash and Dreamweaver, making web graphics a piece of cake to create in seconds, and then manipulate in Flash, if you want. All rounf, you wil find it very hard to find a better graphics program than this, though it is not all tht cheap. $149 will get you a brand spanking new copy of this program - and it is well worth it. +++ Capture - www.analogx.com/ Another AnalogX program, Capture sits in your system tray and takes snapshots of the screen whenever you hit a shortcut button that you assign it. It is a useful little program to have, in case you should ever need to take screenshots. Free, of course, as well. +++ SmartFTP - www.smartftp.com/ SmartFTP is the best FTP client available on the web today, and is another piece of freeware. It is an invaluable, reliable program that puts other FTP clients to shame. If you spend all day transferring files to and from the web, you will find this program makes the whole process very very easy. It has a nice, intuitive interface, and plenty of customisable options, as well as the ability to bookmark ftp sites for future use. I hope these programs prove useful to you. As I said at the very start, I use them all, all the time, and would not be without them. With any luck, I have inspired you to do a little more with your grey box than just sit on the Microsoft bandwagon. If you try and of these programs, please do let me know how it goes! Finally, good luck!

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        • More +
          28.09.2002 17:28
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          I love the internet. I've been using it for donkey's years, and even create little bits of it for a living. Best of all though, because of my job, I can spend hours sitting around looking at anything and everything I want. So where do I spend my time? Read on... 10) Coming in at the bottom of the list is no bad thing, for there are literally thousands of sites I could have picked from (number 11 would have to be uselessknowledge.com, the source of all my Opinion titles). This site, though, is somewhere I pop every single day. It is a selection of my favourite comic strips! Now don't worry if you don't share my tastes - everyone can create and bookmark their own comics page, created from a selection of your favourites. My comics page includes Garfield, Spiderman, Dilbert, Phantom and Hagar the Horrible. http://www.chron.com/content/chronicle/comics/archive/buildcp.hts?v=3.0&page=1 &quality=high&cpp=6&c=74&c=16&c=114&c=123&c=130 9) Rinkwords and b3ta.com are what I would consider to be very similar sites, so they can be equal 9th. They are both set up, not for money, but for the love of the internet. They both have a great selection of weird and wonderful things to amuse you, and you could waste months at either if you so wished. b3ta is host to the superb flash video showing just how twisted and sick someone can get once they have the idea in their head that Stephen Hawking and Davros would make a good couple. And Rinkworks has the excellent Movie-a-minute, a selection of extraordinarily short, but very funny, reviews of well known movies. http://www.rinkworks.com/ http://www.b3ta.com/ 8) I make no secret of the fact that my chosen career is a fragile one. Being self-employed is risky enough, but add to that the sheer volatility and uncertainty of the internet and no person in his right mind should do what I do. I love it though, and that's what keeps me going. It's important, thou
          gh, that I keep my finger on the pulse, as it were. That I know what's going on around me, and that I hear quickly about new developments or problems - the things that affect me. The Register is a UK based news site for technical folk, and is a very regular port of call. It's an entertaining site, packed with humour and news, and very well written. A must-see for any technically minded folk. http://www.theregister.co.uk 7) Computers are hideously overpriced. One look at Dell's range will show you just how bad things can get - ridiculously high prices for very mediocre products. Often, the cheapest way to get hold of a PC or to upgrade your own is to do it yourself. Parts can be expensive, though, which is why I always keep my eyes open for a deal. Scan are a UK company that have a very unique feature to their site, a daily-changing list of products on offer. And the offers are superb - rock bottom prices for some great computer parts. And if they don't have what you are looking for, wait a few days! It will show up eventually. http://www.scan.co.uk/todayonly/ 6) Miscellaneous Debris is an unusual name, I will grant you, but this primarily US forum has as part of its small membership some of the most intelligent and entertaining people I have met online. It is one of those forums that is almost the perfect size - just enough members that you get to know everyone, and so the forum doesn't stall, and just enough different topics to keep anyone and everyone amused. http://www.geminione.com/forum/default.asp 5) QDB Quote Database is a collection of funny quotes taken from chat rooms on the IRC network, and with over 7000 quotes available, is one of many sites where you could literally just not notice time going by as you read through. Some quotes are quite sick, some just purely hysterical. Here's my favourite: <erno> hm. I've lost a machine.. literally _lost_. it
          responds to ping, it works completely, I just can't figure out where in my apartment it is. http://www.bash.org/ 4) Gord is great. Gord is a King among mere men. Gord is a guy who runs a game store in Canada, and Acts of Gord is a huge collection of his stories. From tales of sheer stupidity to stories that will make you cringe, Acts of Gord is an amazing insight into just how moronic some people can be - and what should happen to them when they are. http://www.actsofgord.com/ 3) MyVoice is a UK site that pays you for your opinion. No, not reviews - but to fill out surveys. Since joining around a year ago, I've earned close to £25 by popping by on the odd occasion and joining surveys I am invited to - not bad going considering the time I've put in. On requesting payment, I found it arrived virtually instantly too, which is a great sign, especially given the time it takes some dotcoms to pay up! If you can spare the time, and want to make a tiny bit of extra cash, it's worth a look. http://www.myvoice.co.uk/ 2) Framley, a small village twinned with Beiden Schleissgarden, Germany, in September 1943, and home to the only cycle lane in the UK that is smaller than a cycle, has one thing that makes it stand out above all of the undeniably similar villages and towns in the UK. It has a paper, called the Framley Examiner. And that paper is online for all to see. It is an incredibly good read too, which is surprising for such a small town publication. The classifieds are great as well, with some superb deals to be had - well worth a look. http://www.framleyexaminer.com/pages/frontpage.html 1) My favourite site of all time, and possible the most original thing I have seen in a very very long time, Filmwise's 'invisibles' are, too say the very least, an unusual feature of the web. They post eight photos per week on the site, each with all flesh removed using
          Photoshop (a graphics program). The object is to identify the movies from what remains - and you can literally waste days here, trying to do just that. They provide answers as well, to all but the current week's invisibles, so if you get too frustrated by a movie you are sure you know, you can always take a peek to see what it is. http://www.filmwise.com/invisibles/index.shtml

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          • The dooyoo Redesign / Discussion / 0 Readings / 53 Ratings
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            01.09.2002 21:21
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            It is difficult for me to imagine, in any World or under any circumstances, just how it would be possible for a web-design professional to launch an incomplete site. It's bad enough when people do that for their own home pages, and cover their little areas of the web in "Under Construction" signs and pictures of their cat, but when the people responsible for a company website put an incomplete site on the web, you know there is something amiss. Before I start ranting about what I think of the relaunch, I should probably establish my credentials as a web site critic. I have been designing web sites for around 10 years, and professionally for about 4 of those, of which 2 years have been for my own company. I have had the pleasure of launching and running a large range of sites, some large in their own right, and have helped to run countless others. I have seen the rise and fall of many of them, and helped along the way. I'm one of those lucky people whose hobby is also his job. I even own snowboarding shorts :). The 'new' dooyoo is, on the face of it, quite cool. I like a lot of the features they have included, and that they have said will come later. The site is obviously much more consumer oriented, and they have removed many of the things that made it feel like a community site, to help them achieve this goal, though they seem to have been rather over-enthusiastic with the cutting scissors. I am a touch confused as to why they call their new navigation 'incredible' and 'shrinking', when it seems to be very much a basic navigation system than many other people achieve without the need to reload a page every time you click. A good idea though, and that's what I like about it. Maybe a little more thought could have gone into it - for example, pop-up menus (check out msn.com's black menus if you don't know what I mean by that) could easily have achieved the same thing, without t
            he need for so much page reloading. The overall layout is a little blander than the previous version of the site, though not without its strengths. I like that the search box has been moved (and now works considerably faster). I hate that they have removed the log in box on every page, along with the current miles and reads totals - both excellent ideas that should have been retained. And that peach is possibly the most horrible thing I have ever seen next to green, though by itself it probably looks rather good. I am disturbed by the lack of thought and obvious lack of testing that has gone into the new look. Every web designer I have ever met, when dealing with a large project, starts work on paper. Planning is imperative if you want to ensure a site is successfully designed, and to make sure you foresee all small problems. A to-do list is also essential. It is a common occurrence to be in the middle of writing some super-script to take over the World, that you realise you have forgotten to put a title on a different page. You can't just stop doing the script, especially if you are in the middle of it - so you write down 'title needs changing on such-and-such page', and do it later. Before you launch your site, you go through that list and make sure every single thing on it has been done. If they aren't done, you launch later. The same goes for testing - large sites need it, and cannot get away without it. It is obvious when a company skimps on testing to save themselves some cash by just launching anyway and hoping to wing it. This is one area where I am confused. Dooyoo has a large, very dedicated membership, a large number of whom would have been happy to test the site for them - yet didn't use them... Within one hour of using the site, I had a list of bugs as long as my arm, and sent them to dooyoo. One hour. If they didn't want to use members to test the site behind the scenes, why did one or two of
            them not spend a day on the site writing down problems? They could have posted test ops, rated them, left comments and more. They could have logged in - and each of these would have highlighted problems with the basic functionality of the site, that should have been fixed BEFORE TESTING, let along before launch. There are other rules to good web design. Basic ones. Sites should load fast. According to research carried out over the last few years, your average web user will wait 30 seconds for a page to load, and the average user is getting more impatient too. A 150k website takes about 30 seconds to load on a 56k modem (the average). Webmasters will VERY rarely leave a site with a 30 second download time, few of them being happy with anything above 12 seconds (60k). To put this in perspective - dooyoo's front page (remember the significance of this - FRONT PAGE - and this is a consumer resource) is around 111k, and uses 7 server connections - bringing the load time for the front page of the site to almost exactly 30 seconds to load - very slow, by most standards, and pushing to the limit of time people will wait for just one page. A second major rule is what we refer to a cross-browser compatibility. You are currently using a browser to read this review - but you may not be aware that there are a huge number of programs out there that people use to browse. There are three main ones, however, that any good web designer will try and cater for - Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator and Opera (Note: AOL is based on Internet Explorer, just with the colour settings messed up). Now, a website relies on visitors. The more visitors, the better - you never know which one of your visitors will be the next one to buy from one of your affiliates and make you some cash - so you have to cater to everyone. If you have 4 visitors a week, don't worry about cross-browser compatibility, but if you have around 200,000, you need to pay attention t
            o it. Microsoft and Netscape have a share of 99% of the browser market. Opera has about 0.5% share of the browser market. But dooyoo are not supporting Opera. Their site does not work properly in Opera. Yet Opera users could easily account for 1,000 users every week. By not supporting Opera, and failing to follow a basic rule of web design, they could be just ignoring 52,000 (maybe more) people every year, that could be earning them extra revenue with banner clicks, affiliate purchases and content contributions. [EDIT: The following appears to be fixed] Security is another issue that concerns me - you may not be aware of it, but when you now log in, your username AND password are transmitted in a URL (page address) to dooyoo. This does not sound too bad, except that the password is unencrypted. You are probably safe, but if any malicious cracker-type is watching what you are doing online, they could find out your username and password. Some sites use JavaScript to find the last 10 pages you visited too, and store this information - and if that address happens to be in that list, your password becomes available once again. [Note: It is not my intention to make people panic, but I suggest if you are one of those people who use the same password for everything, you change it as soon as possible so that if someone does get it, all they can do is access your dooyoo account]. [EDIT: The above appears to be fixed] I have covered a few of the more serious bugs. Checking on a simple HTML validator has shown a plethora of simple coding bugs and glitches. Reading the site for a few minutes reveals countless more mistakes and problems, many of which are to do with the basic functionality of the site - things like the "Cash in My Miles" link, the latest opinions lists for each category (http://www.hotshotsdesigns.co.uk/tooyoo/latest.html if you want to access them) and the "Suggest an Item" link have all disap
            peared - all essential parts of the site. You can even get 'into' the old design by clicking on a fe w select links. [Note: I had to download and install a new browser so I could post this op - those of you who can't post, try Opera (the browser they are not supporting, yes)]. The only reason I can think, for any of this, is pressure. No web designer would have been able to put this site online as it was. Most of the professionals I have met would rather have quit than launch a site to a huge community of dedicated users that replaced what they were used to with something that was inferior to its predecessor. However, the investors in any company can carry some serious weight - and could easily have been the ones forcing a launch. If they were responsible, then they are fools. They have annoyed the community that provides the site's content, by using them, without warning, as site testers. There has been little feedback (apart from that provided by Katie, who, as ever, has been an absolute diamond), and very little in the way of change. There is no page saying what has been identified, what is being fixed and when it will be fixed. If dooyoo had no choice but to launch, then I suggest that they do several small things, to keep their community intact and remotely happy. 1. Suggestions - there is a backlog, and it's probably about time the managers helped out, so next week add all of them. Everyone in your office, bar the tech guys, should be adding these as soon as possible. It may help to keep the flow of content going, and will certainly keep the users happy to see something being done. 2. Up the payments per read for the next few weeks. Maybe a month. Again, keep your site testers happy and using the site - because if they stop, it will remain untested and incomplete, and a little more cash will serve as both a thankyou, an incentive to help, and to ensure that those people who post now
            are not harmed by the lack of users - and so continue to post. 3. Set up a page listing the bugs already found, to save your users reporting things already being fixed, and to save Katie having to mail people time and again about the same thing. Keep progress reports for each bug beside it - a big tick for when it is solved would help too - a red one. I like big red ticks on websites. Give people dates by which each bug will be fixed - and don't ever miss one of those deadlines. Give yourself an extra day for each bug, if you have to, but restoring confidence will be trickier if you constantly fail to do what you promise. If they had a choice of date to launch, and how to launch, I wonder why they chose to do it so under-handedly and badly tested? They surely gain nothing, bar testing of a system they already know to be faulty. And you have to wonder why the UK site has been used as the guinea pig, when dooyoo.de, the German version, remains unchanged. You have to wonder why the German version of the site has had over 150 products added since the 29th of August, and the UK site has had just one - this category. You have to wonder what the future holds for dooyoo.co.uk, when the people in charge seem to care so little for what happens to it and it's dedicated community of contributors....

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            • SpamNet - Cloudmark / Utility / 1 Reading / 47 Ratings
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              19.07.2002 00:11
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              It's amazing what people will do on the internet to try and make a quick buck. Thousands and thousands of people are doing their level best every day, using every means at their disposal, to get you to visit their site. And not just you, the millions of other net users whose every action earns the webmaster another fraction of a penny are targetted - all of us. Some of these people are perfectly reasonable. They rely on their content, combined with a degree of moderate, fairly inoffensive adverts, to entice you to their site and make you stay. Others are not so scrupulous, utilising everything from javascripts that popup windows when you leave a site to the visual basic script used by passthison.com (DO NOT visit this site), amongst others, to change your homepage and prevent you from ever changing it back. These are the people whose sites rarely have worthwhile or memorable content, and rely on force to drag enough visitors in to ensure they make money from the huge amounts of advertising they invariably contain. This group includes the insidious and irritating scum we know as spammers. Spam is a difficult thing to define, as everyone has their own opinion of what constitutes it. The main descriptions you will hear on the net describe spam as Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE) and Unsolicited Bulk Email (UBE). In my opinion, spam is that collection of 100 or so emails I had to filter out every morning before I could see what real mail I had received. The messages offering to increase my bust size, telling me I'd won competitions I've never entered, that I can earn millions working from home now, and even offering to sell me a CD with millions of email addresses on that I can spam myself are a few examples of the type of thing you will all have seen. It is a problem, and an increasing one. At the moment, the average net user receives something like 700 spam emails a year, or 2 a day on average. Internet users like myse
              lf, with over 30 addresses and several websites, can easily average 40,000 spam messages a year, with others even higher that that! According to Jupiter Media Metrix, the amount of Spam we receive will continue to go up, and will account for about 43% of ALL email by 2006. The average net user will be getting 1400 messages a year on average by then. The worst part of it all is the cost. It takes time to filter this rubbish, and that's time you're wasting every day. Time you could be spending being more productive at work, or playing even more Half-Life. If you are on a dial-up modem, it takes time to download this junk, and who pays for that? You do, of course. If you're not on dial-up, you still foot the bill for a portion of this advertising you didn't ask for and don't want, to cover your ISP's costs for the bandwidth used to deliver them. And the spammer? He pays the same. Unless he's just using AOL's one month free offer or something similar, in which case he pays nothing. So what is there to do about it? Is there a solution? Well, yes, there are options. Some people simply send the messages to the abuse and postmaster addresses of the ISP allowing the spammer to access the net and send the email. Some people use filters that detect certain words or addresses and delete messages from those addresses. Some use programs like mailwasher, that bounce mail sent my spammers to give the impression an email address is invalid and hopefully it will then be removed from the spam lists. There are problems with these systems. ISPs normally will disconnect a spammer once they have been informed of their actions, however it is normally too late by then to do anything, as the messages are sent, and the vermin normally then go on to use another dial-up account (very easy to come by and use) to continue their irritation. Filters are inaccurate, normally, missing a lot of spam and filtering out authentic messages. Spamme
              rs quickly change their messages to avoid these filters too. Programs like mailwasher are great, except that it is very rare that a spammer would bother to remove an address from a list. Clicking a 'remove me from this list' link in a spam mail is also a very bad idea, as all that normally does is confirm that the address is a valid one, and the quantity of spam you get is likely to increase. It all seems pretty bleak for us poor netizens. ISPs are getting lazier - the spammers are after all paying for their service, and nobody wants to lose a paying customer in these harsh times. Spammers are getting more creative. If only there was some way to harness the power and anger of the masses who are beleaguered day after day by the mountains of crap building up in the email boxes. If only someone would come up with such a system.... Enter Napster. Napster, as I'm sure you are all aware, ran as a peer to peer program, meaning that through a central server, one computer could share information with any other computer connected to the same network. Napster's co-founder, John Ritter, together with Vipul Ved Prakash, creator of the open source Razor network spam filter, have come up with the bright idea of combining the technology behind Napster and Razor and the frustration of the net users to create an extremely innovative and effective anti-spam tool, SpamNet. It really is rather simple. All you have to do to use it is ensure first you are using Microsoft Outlook (Not Outlook Express, though a version is on the way for that and other email clients may be included later). Visit the website at http://www.cloudmark.com, download a small plugin, run it (very quick and easy), and you are done. Simple. It changes Outlook around a little for you. First and foremost you will notice 2 new buttons at the top of Outlook saying 'Block' and 'Unblock'. You will also see a Spam folder on the left of your screen. Going in
              to the options menu you will also see a new SpamNet tab, allowing you to set a few simple options and see the current statistics for SpamNet. Whenever you receive an email, it will be scanned by the program. SpamNet will determine whether or not it is spam, and if it is it will be moved to the Spam folder. If not, it will be left alone. If you receive a spam message that is not filtered out, select it and click on block. If a message is accidentally filtered out that should not have been, select it and click on unblock, and it will be added to a local (as in, on you computer) white list, meaning any more messages from the same source will be allowed through. When you click on Block is when it gets really clever. It sends a message to Cloudmark's central server identifying that unique message as spam. If enough users click on Block, then that message will automatically be filtered out by SpamNet from then on. It means that however creative the spammers get, their newest spams will soon be identified and blocked. As the network of users grows, so will the effectiveness of the software, with newer spam being identified faster, and less spam received on average by each member of the network. With 25,000+ people already involved, and still growing fast, SpamNet is looking like it could be the ray of light we've all been hoping for. Whatever the spammers do, they can't avoid it, and they will soon go out of business. The tide could be turning, ladies and gentlemen, and it is down to the bright idea of a select few people - the lovely folk at Cloudmark. As with everything else, there are certain downsides. It isn't perfect, yet. As with all spam filters, it does miss the occasional message and filter out the occasional authentic one. The percentages are much better than with other filters though. I tested it out (straight after getting it) on a folder filled with spam (my Deleted Items folder, as it happens), and it filt
              ered out all but 12 of about 210 messages. It is also only available for Outlook at the moment, which is another gripe I have. I much prefer Outlook Express, as do many others, and there is no version for Outlook Express available yet. Other email clients may well be supported later, but unfortunately users of Hotmail, AOL, Eudora et al will have to wait a while longer, if they ever release versions for these platforms at all (If you use Outlook Express, I recommend you visit the site anyway and join the mailing list - you'll then be notified when they release an Outlook Express compatible version). Overall this has to be by far and away the most effective Spam filter I have ever seen, and I have tried a fair few. All of them, actually, as far as I know. It is ridiculously easy to install and use, and makes virtually no difference to my system performance or the speed of Outlook. It's a great idea, and I hope if you use Outlook you will adopt it. Goodbye, "Free Award Confirmation", "Instant Quotes", "Best Loan" and "Play with me" emails. I'd love to say I'll miss you, but that would be a lie.

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              • Jack Daniels No 7 / Spirits / 1 Reading / 50 Ratings
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                11.07.2002 18:38
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                Believe it or not, I'm quite partial to the odd drop of Jack Daniels No. 7 from time to time, whether neat, on the rocks, or even (though very rarely) with coke. There's something addictive about this drink, that I can't quite put my finger on, though that may be because while trying to put my finger on what is so great about this drink, I'm normally drinking the stuff and incapable of rational thought. Of course, JD has its downsides. As with all drinks, the possibility of stupidity setting in after a few glasses is always strong, and at 40% alcohol by volume, JD has been responsible for many an embarrassing situation. Top of the list has to be the "quiet drink" on a Saturday afternoon last summer that turned into several drinking contests, and what can only be described as the mother of all drinking sessions. My memory is hazy, to say the least, however waking up in the morning I found myself in a house I don't know, with people who I don't remember meeting, different clothes and about 10p to my name. I was also about 80 miles from home. I had to get my mum to pick me up, and have never been so red-faced in my life. I also got fired as a result - I'd woken up after work had finished...... Anyway, back to the whiskey. Dripped slowly through ten feet of charcoal, Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey is still brewed using the original recipe concocted by Jasper 'Jack' Daniel himself, way back in 1866. It is a combination of this unusual and unchanged process, combined with the spring water from the caves of Lynchberg, that give JD its unique, smooth flavour, and that has made it a worldwide favourite. You may have noticed that I have referred to Jack Daniels as a whiskey (Whisky or Whiskey - both spellings are fine, in case you were wondering). It is a common misconception that JD is a bourbon, rather than a whiskey, however that is all it is, a misconception. Bourbon is a name for a specific type of
                whiskey, brewed in Kentucky, however Jack Daniels is a Tennessee sour mash Whiskey - a different beast entirely. There are about a million ways to drink JD, though I prefer it straight (no ice, mixers or anything else), and it is apparently great to cook with too, though I would never waste good whiskey on a meal. If you normally dislike whiskey, the chances are that JD is not for you. If, on the other hand, you are partial to the occasional drop of malt, I suggest you try JD, if you haven't already. Describing the taste of a whiskey is a tricky business, but I'll try my best. The charcoal brewing process and oak barrels both have a very obvious effect on the drink. It has a subtle smokey flavour to it, and the vaguest hint of orange and oak. It is crisp, almost - a refreshing, warming drink as much as anything, and certainly lacks the bitter aftertaste that puts many off whiskeys. I Love Jack Daniels, susprisingly. Everyone has a drink they can sup till the cows come home, and this is mine. It is unique, and that is as much a part of its appeal as its fantastic flavour. I'll leave you with the words of Vivan Stanshal: "If I had all the money I've spent on drink, I'd go out and spend it on drink." and W.C. Fields: "I never drink water- look at the way it rusts pipes.", both of which always bring a big smile to my lips - the same as my favourite drink. UPDATE: WOOHOO! It's my birthday today, and just after writing this my flatmate's given me a bottle of Jack Daniels. WOOOOOOOHOOOOOO! "Jill Murphy asked me to write about one of my favorite things to help her celebrate her fourth anniversary of cancer-free living and to remind ourselves of all the nice things in the world. It takes more muscles to make a frown than a smile you know. If you'd like to join in, whether you've only just joined dooyoo, or you
                've been here ages, you're more than welcome. Just write about one of YOUR favorite things, make your title "A Favorite Thing: [your choice]" and include this paragraph at the foot of your opinion. And post before Friday, 9th August."

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                • American History X (DVD) / DVD / 0 Readings / 46 Ratings
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                  04.07.2002 18:17
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                  It takes a brave set of people to tackle an issue as fierce as racism in any medium, let alone cinema. It takes an amazing set of people to tackle it quite as head on as it is in American History X. Centred on the lives of Derek and Danny Vinyard, it is undoubtedly a vicious and merciless tragedy, intended as much to shock the viewer as to educate them. Edward Norton is Derek, an intelligent young skinhead and leader of a group of wannabe-Nazis, convicted of murder after executing two young black men for trying to steal his car in one of the single most memorable, sickening and twisted scenes in Cinema, ever. Danny, his younger, impressionable brother (played by Edward Furlong) starts to follow in his footsteps, being sucked into the same traps and groups. The film is shot in both black and white and colour, the black and white scenes being those in the past, most notably Derek's early life, and the colour scenes being the current events as they unfold. Derek's first love, maybe his only one, if for his family. His chronically ill mother has been left to look after the family alone, after Derek's father, a fireman, was shot and killed by a gang of black crack addicts while fighting fire in a notoriously bad area of town. It is this that fuelled Derek's original hatred for anyone who wasn't white, viewing them as parasites, leeching off America, taking the jobs he believed were rightfully those of his and his peers. His hatred, combined with his talent for motivational speaking and the support of the manipulative and older neo-Nazi Cameron start him on a rocky road, that ultimately ends in his conviction and imprisonment. The prison scenes themselves are perhaps the best of the film, starting with Derek joining the gang of fellow skinheads already inside. Over time, however, working with starts to have an effect as he begins to realise that maybe he has made some bad choices based on the actions of a rotten
                  few people. Once released he starts to try to save his younger brother from following too far in his footsteps, before it is too late. This is also where Sweeney (Avery Brooks, Derek and Danny's history teacher) shines through, playing Derek's voice of reason and helping him to see the error of his ways. The acting in the film is amazing, with Edward Norton putting in a spectacular performance, and ultimately he carries the movie. There are few films where hatred is in such abundance, and Norton will be able to chill your blood throughout. Edward Furlong, too, surprised me with a performance that could not be any further from his acting as John Connor in Terminator 2. It is surprising, also, that this film has few big names. Faces you may recognise include Avery Brooks (of Deep Space Nine fame), who puts in a sterling performance as Derek's mentor, and one of the teachers at the school that both Derek and Danny attended, and Beveraly D'Angelo as Derek and Danny's mother. The film is very easy to keep track of, unlike other films that jump from past to present and back quite so frequently, though this is not particularly surprising given the way they distinguish the two so clearly. The soundtrack is barely worth a mention, save to say that it does little more than the standard job of helping set the mood, though that may be the most we should expect from it, bearing in mind that this is a thoughtful movie, not a vehicle for publicity of the latest Limp Bizkit release. Though I thought it was brilliant, there is little doubt that the film could have been even better. There are parts to it that just don't fit, on occasion, and it does seem that certain parts have been added simply for the sake of having more violence. Though these do serve to help really hammer the point home, sometimes they seem to have been added at the expense of other parts of the movie. For example, it would have been nice to see more of Derek&
                  #39;s younger days, and more of the things that made him who he is, or more of the affect it has on Derek and Danny's family. Overall, this is certainly worth watching, though without a doubt not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. Be prepared to be sickened, and at the same time, expect to find the film very thought-provoking. This is certainly not a film to watch on a romantic night in, and neither is it the kind of movie you simply pop on in the background on a Saturday night with a few friends round. In actual fact, I have no idea when would be a good time to watch this movie - I'll leave that up to you to decide for yourself. CAST Edward Norton (Fight Club, The People Vs. Larry Flynt) Edward Furlong (Terminator 2, Pecker) Beverly D'Angelo (Hair, Vegas Vacation) Avery Brooks (Deep Space Nine (TV), Taxi Driver) Jennifer Lien (SLC Punk, Star Trek: Voyager (TV)) Ethan Suplee (Mallrats, Remember the Titans) Fairuza Balk (Thing to do in Denver when you're Dead, The Waterboy) Elliott Gould (Ocean's Eleven, Friends (TV)) Stacy Keach (Escape from L.A., Raw Justice) RATING UK - 18 US - R TRIVIA Director Tony Kaye wanted his credit to read "Humpty Dumpty" according to Entertainment Weekly. The punk band Anti-Heroes sued New Line Cinema over a character's tattoo featuring the band. The band did not want to be associated with Nazis, even fictional ones, in any way. The band went on to record a song called "NLC" that debases the film studio. Norton, Edward gained 30 pounds of muscle for his role. QUOTES "Has anything you've done, made your life better?" - Bob Sweeney "We're so hung up on this notion that we have some obligation to help the struggling black man, you know. Cut him som
                  e slack until he can overcome these historical injustices. It's crap. I mean, Christ, Lincoln freed the slaves, like, what? 130 years ago. How long does it take to get your act together?" - Derek Vinyard "Hate is baggage. Life's too short to be pissed off all the time." - Danny Vinyard

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                  • More +
                    13.06.2002 20:19
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                    The chances are that when you think of Spiderman, you pop yourself into one of three groups. First are those who think comics and cartoons are for kids, and that you really don't want to waste your time with such childish rubbish. The second group are those of you who loved Spiderman as a kid, along with plenty of other superheroes and comics (Hulk movie next year, Silver Surfer movie in 2-3 years - woohoo!), but don't really read them anymore, but wish in some ways you'd never stopped. The third main group are the die-hard fans - the ones who buy Spiderman comics whenever possible, and loved the first Spiderman movie even though the effects were rubbish. Spiderman is probably not what you will be expecting. It is the was Batman should have been - a dark, broody film, which focuses more on Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and his development into the most famous of superheroes, and the effect it has on him. There is little hero worship here - as they say in the film, being Spiderman is both Peter's blessing, and his curse. The film starts by introducing Peter, still at school and living with his aunt and uncle, with dreams of being a photographer. While out on a school field trip (taking pictures for the school paper, naturally) Peter is bitten by a new species of spider, and his transformation begins. The changes are rapid, and soon he begins to discover his powers. I mean that not in the sense that he suddenly realises he has them (though obviously that is a part of it) but in the sense that he begins to develop his control over them, experimenting with them, finding his limits and uses for them. A crush on the love of his life (Mary-Jane, played by the delectable Kirsten Dunst), and the desire to impress her with a new car, soon find him pitted against Bonesaw (played by Macho Man Randy Savage), in a fight with $3000 to be won if he can last 3 minutes. This match in a cage gives a great opportunity to see some of Spiderman&#
                    39;s powers in action, and our hero knocks out his opponent in just 2 minutes - little realising that this would lead to the death of his beloved uncle. And so Spiderman the hero is born. The rest of the film sees him fighting crime, Superman-style, and taking on the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) in some amazing sequences. It is when fighting the Green Goblin throughout the film that the realisation dawns on Peter that being Spiderman is a curse - the people he cares about will always be at risk as long as he is Spiderman. This has to be one of things I loved most about this movie - the comics always focussed on this side of Spiderman, the fact that with his power came responsibility and risk to his friends and family, and I was worried that the movie would overlook this in favour of putting a typical Hollywood hero angle to the film. Sam Raimi has done a great job of capturing the feel of the comics though, from Peter's typical adolescent fears and foibles to the dark side of actually being Spiderman. The special effects are superb, complimenting the film perfectly, though I wish the Green Goblin were more like his comic book inspiration and less like a Power Rangers extra. Spiderman swinging through the streets is one of the best special effects scenes I have yet seen, especially as throughout the film you can actually see him get more used to swinging, and actually getting better with his web shooters. The soundtrack is worth a mention, with not only the likes of Alien Ant Farm, the Strokes and the Hives, but also the original Spiderman theme from the 60s cartoons! Macy Gray also puts in a live performance on stage, which is the scene in which if you keep your eyes open you will also catch a quick glimpse of Spiderman's co-creator, Stan Lee (we're not worthy, grovel grovel etc). The cast all put in a superb performance. Tobey Maguire shines through as Peter Parker/Spiderman, putting in a superb performance wh
                    ether with Mary Jane (read unrequited love scenes) or taking on the bad guys. Kirsten Dunst has to do little more than look stunning, and does it superbly, but is brilliant whenever she does have a scene. Willem Dafoe is also excellent both as Norman Osborne and the Green Goblin, his voice as the Goblin being one of the most memorable parts of the film. So how would the three groups at the beginning feel about the film? The first group - the over-serious boring lot - would probably enjoy it, if they could suppress for a minute the thought that they were watching a movie based on a comic book character. The second lot will love it. How do I know? I'm in that second group. I haven't bought comics in ages, but am determined to get back into it now, especially with a Silver Surfer movie in the making. If you read any comics as a kid, or even liked those Superhero Top Trumps, you will love this movie. The third group will be the hardest to please, as being avid fans they will see and hate every single diversion from the original comics. Even so, I think they will enjoy the way it has kept the same dark feel as the comics, and stuck closely to Stan Lee's original idea of the character. Overall, this has to be one of the most entertaining and enthralling movies of the year so far. I would be suprised if I saw better in the next few months. You will be kicking yourself if you miss this one on the big screen, so don't! CAST Tobey Maguire (Cats and Dogs, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) Willem Dafoe (Platoon, Shadow of the Vampire) Cliff Robertson (Escape from L.A., Mach 2) J.K. Simmons (The Gift, The Mexican) Kirsten Dunst (Small Soldiers, Crazy/Beautiful) James Franco (At Any Cost, James Dean) Rosemary Harris (Sunshine, Holocaust) Bruce Campbell (every Sam Raimi movie, most famously the Evil Dead trilogy) Randy Savage (Ready to Rumble, most other movies with a wrestl
                    er in them) RATING US - PG 13 UK - 12 TRIVIA In the original movie, the editor of the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson, was played by David White - of Bewitched fame (Darrin's boss). Cameos in this film include Stan Lee as a souvenir salesman and Bruce Campbell as a ring announcer, who along with a 1973 Dodge Oldsmobile, have appeared in almost all of Sam Raimi's films, including Darkman, Evil Dead, Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness.

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                    • Xara X / Photo Editing Software / 1 Reading / 41 Ratings
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                      30.04.2002 01:52
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                      Since the tender age of about 13, I've been designing websites pretty constantly, starting as so many people do, with hobby sites. Again, as many other amateur designers did at that time, I used software like paint and Corel Draw to do any graphics I needed, if I couldn't find ones that fit the bill on the net. It wasn't long before I was then introduced to Xara, a graphics program from Corel. Xara was a new experience for me - a simple, fast and complete graphics package. Even as a professional website and graphics designer over the last two years, it has been my software of choice. Compared to other popular packages, like Adobe's Photoshop and Macromedia's Fireworks, Xara is easy to use, and though old and therefore lacking in a few of the more modern graphics formats, I would not defect and use any other software, save to do those things that Xara just did not know how to do. It's also amazing sometimes what little surprises life has in store. My newest PC has been nothing but trouble since I bought it, and for ages simply crashed whenever I tried to do complicated things like open Notepad. And then one day it decided it had had enough. It just refused to start Windows. On the advice of a few people, I installed a new operating system, Windows 2000 Professional, and then installed all of the other little bits and pieces of software I have grown to love over the last few years (have a look for Trillian and Mailwasher - both great). Unfortunately, Xara would not work. 2000 is built on an NT platform, which basically meant I'd lost the only decent graphics package I'd ever found. All was not lost. A quick potter around with google turned up a program called Xara X. No longer a Corel product, it claimed to be "the best value vector graphics app you'll find". Having used and loved Corel Xara, I downloaded the demo and started playing. Within about 10 minutes I had returned to the site to cough up
                      the fee for the full version. Down to the nitty-gritty then. Xara X is a cheap program for a start - $149 is a great price (for a graphics package), and I would have been happy to pay more than double that. The software was very easy to install, and I had no problems along the way. It is compatible with Windows 95, 98, Millenium, NT and 2000 (a search round various sites has not indicated whether or not it is compatible with XP, so probably worth mailing Xara themselves if you are interested). The program is very simple to use and the interface intuitive. The program starts with a basic rectangular blank canvas. Along the left is the toolbar, and along the bottom is the colour selector. The toolbar is clearly labelled, and offers buttons for selection, lines (freehand and straight), all types of shapes, text, transparency and shape-filling options, bevelling, contours, blending, moulding and more. The tools are extremely easy to use - simply point and click to perform whichever action you choose. Shapes, once drawn, can be editted and filled with whichever colour you wish. The borders to shapes can also be coloured and set to different thinknesses. The fillings to the shapes can be editted dramatically as well, allowing you to use other graphics as backgrounds to shapes, and make them transparent if you wish. I could literally write a 20,000 word review of all the options themselves, and get extremely technical with it, but suffice it to say that everything in XaraX is easy to use and very very fast. For webmasters, it is especially useful. It is built with internet design in mind, with the ability not only to export graphics in PNG, JPEG and conventional GIF formats, but also in the new form of GIF, GIF89a (don't worry if none of that made sense - technical jargon), which allows transparent images to be exported; as well as exporting straight to Dreamweaver and Flash. Flash designers will appreciate this, as it means that t
                      he images can then be manipulated in flash, as they retain their vector form. The exporting options also allow you to keep your images nice and small (file size), which means that your web pages will load fast - always an important factor with websites. XaraX is equally good for inexperienced graphic designers and veterans equally, allowing those new to graphics to play with functions at their own pace and gradually get to grips with everything at their own pace, and veterans to perform all of the functions they expect from a graphics package quickly and easily. Their is, as with everything, one fault with XaraX, though a minor one. Adobe's Photoshop has the ability to import filters, that allow you to apply, with the click of a button, specific effects to an image. XaraX has no feature to allow you to do such effects so easily. They are possible, but take a little longer, and it would be nice to have a range of filters available to use with the program, though it is no great loss. I would reccomend XaraX to anybody who ever does, or is considering doing, graphic design. Even Photoshop veterans will like its classy, fast and intuitive interface, as well as its speed and versatility. I would have to agree with Xara themselves, it is the best value - actually, just make that the best - vector graphics app I've found.

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                      • Gone in Sixty Seconds (DVD) / DVD / 0 Readings / 45 Ratings
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                        27.04.2002 21:36
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                        I like dooyoo. dooyoo gives me the chance to read what normal people honestly think of things that I am contemplating using. I especially like this where film reviews are concerned. There is nothing more irritating than reading the drivelly claptrap most film critics spout off in newspapers about films because they find small faults with things that are very entertaining. And that, in my opinion, is what films are for - entertainment. Gone in 60 Seconds is a prime example of a fun film, slated by the critics for being badly made and wasting a superb cast. They seem to have viewed the fact that the film focuses on fast, beautiful, fast, expensive (did I mention fast?) cars as a bad thing, and whinged about just every aspect of the film they possible could. What they seem to have overlooked is that this film is not intended to be an incisive look at political theology, or a love story littered with pretty prose and delicate dialog. What it is intended to be is an action-packed, fast-paced, edge-of-the-seat two-hour action movie, nothing more. (Jerry) Bruckheimer has stuck to his usual (very successful) format, though working with director Dominic Sena (of Swordfish fame) for the first time. The film will remind you very closely of The Rock, Con Air and many of Bruckheimer's other movies, and this is no bad thing, with Bruckheimer sticking to a formula that he knows and that has worked time and time again. The plot is certainly not an essential part of the film, nevertheless it is more than adequate - bearing in mind all it needs to do is provide excuses to show fast cars moving fast. Randall "Memphis" Raines (Nicholas Cage) is a retired car thief forced to return to doing what he does best (that's stealing cars in case you hadn't guessed) to save his kid brother Kip (Giovanni Ribisi) from the clutches of the deeply evil Raymond "The Carpenter" Calitri (Christopher Eccleston). You see, after Memphis left town,
                        Kip followed big brother down the fast lane. He had to steal fifty cars for Calitri, but the police interfered, leaving Memphis with a choice - steal the cars for Calitri or Kip dies. Once Memphis has been subtly convinced to take the job, and assembles his crack team of car thieves, Sena gets to spend plenty of time making sure we stay firmly on the edge of our seats, ooh-ing and aah-ing at the sheer magnificence of the cars that fill the rest of the movie. The crack team, incidentally, is beautifully formed. It combines Memphis' old-skool crowd, with their eccentric rituals and years of practice, with Kip's team of technologically adept yet highly inexperienced youths. Sphinx (Vinnie Jones, mostly silent) and Sway (Angelina Jolie, entirely sexy) are two of the most entertaining characters. Sphinx is a typical Vinny Jones character, tough yet intelligent, and entirely ruthless when needed. Bruckheimer's movies always require comic relief, and it is Sphinx with, to a lesser degree, Donny Astricky (Chi McBride) that provide this. Sway, on the other hand, is the irresistible love interest: Memphis' ex-girlfriend and also a retired car thief. The cars themselves are as much a part of the cast as the actors themselves. Given ladies' names to confuse any police who may be eavesdropping on communications, the ladies are a mammoth selection of the most beautiful and powerful cars you will ever see in a movie. Ferraris, Porsches, Mercedes and the elusive Eleanor, a 1967 Shelby GT 500, are but a small selection of the beauties that spend time racing along narrow streets, through puddles and generally evading the ridiculously out-classed police with ease. Many have said that this movie delivers every cliché imaginable, and from the stereotypical psychotic European villain to the red-blooded adrenaline junkie car thieves themselves, those people are spot on. But that is the beauty of the film. You know what is going to ha
                        ppen, and you know how. It is predictable, and it isn't especially clever, but it is packed with fast cars and action, and that is good enough for me. Do no watch this movie expecting to appreciate the script. Do not watch it expecting any surprises. Watch it with a bucket of popcorn, a few beers and some loud mates on a Saturday night, with the volume up as loud as you can. Whatever you do though, do not drive home afterwards - at least until you've managed to calm down enough to avoid taking corners at 90 after swapping your clapped-out old banger for the nearest sleek sports convertible. CAST Nicholas Cage (The Rock, Con Air, Face Off, 8mm) Angelina Jolie (Tomb Raider; Girl, Interrupted) Robert Duvall (Apocalypse Now, Bullitt, Falling Down) Christopher Eccleston (eXistenZ, The Others, Shallow Grave) Delroy Lindo (Broken Arrow, Ransom) Vinnie Jones (Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, Swordfish) Giovanni Ribisi (Friends, The Gift) Scott Caan (Ocean's Eleven, Enemy of the State) Chi McBride (Mercury Rising, The Frighteners) Willian Lee Scott (Gattaca) RATING UK - 15 US - R INTERESTING TRIVIA Seven Eleanors were made for the movie, of which only two survived. Nicholas Cage and Jerry Bruckheimer kept them, and Bruckheimer is apparently afraid to drive his. The cars were all given ladies' names, and a list of which cars were on the list and what they were called can be found here: http://tcotrel.tripod.com/gone/goneladies.html MY FAVOURITE QUOTES Sway: "I've got two jobs. I've discovered that you have to work twice as hard when it's honest." Raymond Calitri: "They threw us out of England, they threw us out of France, so here we are. Flourishing, really, except for the minor inconvenience of despising everything about your country.&quo
                        t; Sway: "So, what do you think is more exciting? Having sex or boosting cars?"

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                        • More +
                          05.04.2002 22:29
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                          Even at the tender age of eight, I was addicted to reading about magical fantasy worlds, populated by mythical creatures, witches and occasionally the odd barbarian. I had the standard introduction to this kind of fiction - The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings series, Dune and The Hitchhiker's Guide all spring to mind as prime examples of the kind of Worlds and writing that interested me. Over years, I assumed, I would grow out of reading fantasy type books and settle into a sort of Wilbur Smith/Tom Clancy old person reading hobby. I was wrong. I distinctly remember in my teenage years a friend of mine asking me if I'd heard of Terry Pratchett. I hadn't, and borrowed a book on his recommendation. Fortunately for me, it was the first in the Discworld series - The Colour of Magic. Since then, I have been addicted to these books, and haven't missed one yet. Now you should probably be aware that this review is going to be very long, so I highly recommend you make a cup of tea, or get yourself another beer before you get into the opinion itself... ##### Introduction ##### Terry Pratchett's Discworld series is a loosely connected set of books set on, predictably, the Discworld. A flat world, carried through space on the back of 4 great elephants, in turn supported by a giant turtle (Great A'Tuin), it is a world in which quite literally anything can happen. Many of the stories focus on one particular area of the Disc itself - Ankh Morpork - a city whose river is less liquid than an ashtray and whose ruler's philosophy is that if you make everything legal, you get less crime. There is a cast of characters, to a certain extent, that appear frequently throughout the series, though each book can be read as a unique piece. As with every series of books, it is always better to read a book and be able to understand the in-jokes and references to earlier books, but in this case it is by no means essential. Each book has its own little idiosyncrasies and is amusing in its own way. Death riding a horse called 'Binky', Cut-me-own-throat Dibbler's dubious 'sausage-ina-bun's, Granny Weatherwax's attitude (reminds me of Margaret Thatcher) and a Librarian who is actually an Orang-utan only capable of saying 'Oooook!', but managing to convey every possible emotion with just that word, are all symbolic of the style Terry Pratchett uses, and all make me laugh constantly. I'm actually chuckling to myself while writing this, just through thinking about the Librarian! The books are not all focussed by any means on any one area of the disk. As well as Ankh Morpork, there are books set around Witches in the Ramtop mountains and Exquisitors with a tortoise in Ephebe to name just a couple of examples. Terry Pratchett has a superb ability to make each reader feel emotions for every character, and the look of each is easy to imagine. His style is descriptive enough to allow the reader to visualise their own image of each character, while on the other hand making sure that the character still fits with the story. ##### The Books ##### There are simply too many books to review each to any useful degree, so instead of writing about each in no detail, I have decided to focus on a selection of the very best of them, and write enough to actually give you an idea of what they are like! Opinions on each book in the series may well follow in the coming months. --- The Colour of Magic The first in the series, The Colour of Magic focuses on Rincewind, an incompetent wizard and utter coward; Twoflower, a tourist from a strange continent where gold is as common as, well, muck; and the luggage - a ferocious but loyal walking suitcase. Sound strange? It is. Aside from introducing the Discworld itself, and telling the reader about this strange place and its various quirks and charms, the book g
                          ives potential Pratchett fans their first taste of Rincewind the Wizzard (intentional spelling), who has one of the eight great spells of the disc embedded in his brain, and is consequently unable to memorise a single other spell. Magic might not be his strong point, but cowardice certainly is, his ability to run from the slightest hazard being well documented and envied by the fastest sprinters. The book itself is divided into four distinct stories, each following on from the previous one, and each unique in it's own right. The first of these, The Colour of Magic, introduces Ankh Morpork, Rincewind and Twoflower, as they meet and set off on their grand adventure. The Sending of Eight allows us to meet the indomitable Hrun the Barbarian, and gives us our first taste of demons, in the form of Bel-Shamharoth. The Lure of the Wyrm is up next, and is very reminiscent of the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey, being full of dragons, dragonriders and cities in the sky. Finally, we have Close to the Edge, where out anti-heroes reach the Circumference, the edge of the disc itself. It is a superb tale, both memorable and a touch surreal, and the writing style is pure Pratchett - distinctive, ironic and funny all at the same time. There are a huge number of fantasy clichés that are played on and toyed with by the author, and they improve the story, making it unpredictable and amusing. Very highly recommended. --- Mort Death is a strange character, while always being entertaining. Unfortunately, he has gone a little strange, and has hired himself an apprentice. As Death becomes more and more unlike the Usherer of Souls, he finds himself becoming more and more intrigued by humans and their culture, even trying a curry! His apprentice, on the other hand, with Death missing, is left to perform the Duty, and takes it on himself to save a young maiden who was due to pass on. Reality starts to unravel, with strange an
                          d amusing consequences. A shorter book that most of the rest, Mort is a great read. It is a tongue-in-cheek look at Life and Death, and best of all, it is almost an entire book about Death himself, who is one of the funniest members of the Discworld cast. --- Soul Music Soul Music could be described to a certain extent as a sequel to Mort, with Death's granddaughter being orphaned by an accident, and discovering who Grandfather really is. It is focussed less on Death than on Susan (the granddaughter) and Music with Rocks In, a new breed of music. Imp Y Celyn (translates as Bud of the Holly), along with a horn-blowing dwarf and a rock-bashing troll, have started a band. Little do they know that their unique brand of music is more than just a good beat - it's alive, and it's here to stay. I feel Soul Music is a touch slower paced than other Discworld books, but that certainly doesn't stop it being a damn fine read. It spends a lot of time with the faculty of the Unseen University (the magic university), a bizarre group whose antics are some of my favourite, and I always enjoy reading about. --- Guards! Guards! & Men at Arms I have included these together because they include the same selection of characters and more or less follow on from each other. The night watch of Ankh Morpork is a strange collection of individuals: Nobby, disqualified from the human race for shoving; Sergeant Colon, born to be just that and destined to never rise in the ranks; Corporal Carrot, a man brought up by dwarves, who can dwarf most men; Captain Vimes, an alcoholic but with a good heart; and Angua, a well developed young lady and part time werewolf. Guards! Guards! tells of dire times in Ankh Morpork, a huge dragon summoned by a small, deranged and lately very crispy cult takes over Ankh Morpork, and it's up to the night watch to save the say. As with all of Pratchett's novels, it is entertai
                          ning and very memorable, and beaten only by Men at Arms. Men at Arms introduces a few new members to the night watch - Lance Constables Cuddy (a dwarf) and Detritus (a troll). Dwarves and Trolls hate each other with vengeance, and for good reason. Dwarves spend most of their time mining rocks for diamonds, and trolls are, by their very make-up, big rocks containing diamonds. The dwarves and Trolls of Ankh Morpork are on the verge of all out war, a mysterious string of murders connected to each other only by a small card with the with 'Gonne' written on it, a talking dog called Gaspode and the talking Gargoyles are only a small portion of what the watch must face in their attempt to clean up the city. Men at Arms is a fast-paced, action-packed, tongue in cheek tale of heroism and courage, of love, friendship and corruption, and is quite simply the very beat of all of the Discworld books, bar none. People say books can be "un-put-down-able", but rarely mean it. This is, without a shadow of doubt, just that. I have not yet read it in 2 or more sittings, and have no doubt that next time I read it, I will finish it in one sitting and be late for work the next day, as usual. ##### Conclusion ##### If you enjoy reading fantasy fiction books, have a half-decent sense of humour and irony, and love good writing, then the Discworld series is for you. Although I recommend starting with The Colour of Magic and working your way through the series one book at a time, starting your Discworld journey with any of the books I've mentioned above that grab your attention would not hurt, and anything that can get you reading this superb selection is a good thing! I will carry on reading Discworld books for years to come, simply because I love them. I've never known a series of books of which I can say so certainly that I like every single one of them, with the exception of the Discworld books. As usual,
                          I'll leave you with a few quotes - some that I found while looking for a title and some from the books themselves. (Title quote by Sir Francis Bacon) "Never read a book that is not a year old." - Ralph Emerson "One always tends to overpraise a long book because one has got through it." - E. M. Forster "If you want to read about love and marriage you've got to buy two separate books." - Alan King "She was a witch. That was quite acceptable in the Ramtops, and no one had a bad word to say about witches. At least, not if he wanted to wake up in the morning the same shape as he went to bed." - Equal Rites "'Luck is my middle name,' said Rincewind, indistinctly. 'Mind you, my first name is Bad.'" - Interesting Times "Somehow, trying to get Granny Weatherwax and 'panty raid' into the same sentence is beyond me." - Terry Pratchett, alt.fan.pratchett "Nanny Ogg looked under her bed in case there was a man there. Well, you never knew your luck." - Lords and Ladies "Death thought about it. 'CATS,' he said eventually, 'CATS ARE NICE.'" - Sourcery (Note: Death always talks LIKE THIS) "Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the yard and shot it." - Truman Capote "The river Ankh is probably the only river in the universe on which the investigators can chalk the outline of the corpse." - Men at Arms

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                          • Pitch Black (DVD) / DVD / 0 Readings / 49 Ratings
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                            03.04.2002 00:30
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                            With the popularity of films like Aliens, Starship Troopers and Lost in Space, it is hardly surprising that we have a chance to see yet another group of strangely mis-matched companions thrown together by misfortune, fighting for their lives against an unbeatable enemy. Strange then, and a touch surprising, that this film was not only superbly watchable and very entertaining, but actually felt original, despite the obvious parallels with other space-based horror films. Pitch Black is a Sci-Fi B-movie, a low-budget special effects extravanganza, and from the outset, you will be sure that you already know the plot: boy meets girl, girl falls for boy, incidental red-shirted extras get eaten by huge monsters with funny shaped heads, boy saves girl from funny-headed monsters, boy and girl ride off into the sunset. Again though, a pleasant surprise that the script, though predictable at times, actually did take some interesting twists and turns. Various revelations and unexpected deaths keep you on the edge of your seat, and give you the distinct impression that nothing is ever quite what it seems. The film kicks off with standard introductory matter - a spaceship in trouble makes a crash-landing on a desert planet, crew members and passengers dying like flies during the violent descent, leaving a handful of survivors on the surface of the planet. One of these survivors is Riddick, a convicted murderer who has escaped his shackles and poses a huge threat to the group. With three suns beating down on them and no water, they quickly split up - one group heading in search of water, the other staying at the landing site, looking out for Riddick. The group quickly discover that they have more to worry about than Riddick, as the planet's native inhabitants make their presence felt. These vicious creatures live underground and are actually hurt by the light. The group quickly realise that all they have to do to avoid beaing eaten is stay in the lig
                            ht - and on a desert planet with three suns and no night-time, that should be an easy task. Except that the planet is due to start its next, 22-yearly, and this time permanent, eclipse. Total eclipse. Darkness. Pitch Black. With this, out come the aliens, in their masses, and as the group is thinned out, we learn more and more about the people we are watching. The film is at this point a fight for survival, and stays that way until the very end. From the outset, the film is saturated with superb imagery. The daytime desert scenes look almost bleached, they are so blindingly bright. In contrast, when night falls, it is obscenely dark, the flickering lights just about illuminating the metallic ship and its frightened crew. The aliens are rarely seen with any clarity, the director preferring to show them in number and give only glipses of the creatures for most of the film. The space scenes are just as breathtaking and magnificent, in great contract to the harsh reality of the planet surface. Vin Diesel plays the self-serving Riddick, and plays him brilliantly, making the character mysterious, chilling and threatening while at the same time being a kind of highly intelligent anti-hero. Riddick is a superbly written character, with astonishing eyes (surgically altered to allow him to see better in the dark) and a selection of lines that leave you wondering whether it would be better to face the aliens or Riddick himself. Radha Mitchell plays the only member of the crew to survive the oringinal crash, and puts in an excellent performance as the unwilling impromptu Captain figure, Carolyn Fry. Despite her occasionally fragile appearance and demeanour, she becomes very believable as the group's protector and an object of curiosity for Riddick. Her confidence grows through the film as she accepts the reality of the situation they have been placed in, and gains faith in her ability to lead the group, and it is a pleasure to see her al
                            most evolve through the movie. Cole Hauser put in an excellent performance as Riddick's guard for the trip, William Johns, a cocky character with a heathly respect for Riddick's reputation and deadly abilities, though I felt that more could have been made of his character, the focus being less on him than on Riddick and Fry through the film. I have to say that I am a huge fan of Pitch Black. It is a beautifully created film, best suited to a Saturday night with a few beers, a few friends and a big bag of popcorn - especially with the lights off. It is the epitomy of good Sci-Fi horror, and though it pays obvious homage to the Aliens films, it is still one of the most original and entertaining films of recent years. CAST Vin Diesel (Fast and the Furious, Saving Private Ryan) Radha Mitchell (Nobody's Baby, Emma, Neighbours) Cole Hauser (Tigerland, Gang Boyz) Claudia Black (Farscape) Keith David (Armageddon, Platoon, Volcano) Lewis Fitzgerald (The Four Minute Mile) John Moore (Deadly) RATING UK - 15 US - R INTERESTING TRIVIA A prequel, The Chronicles of Riddick, is due to begin filming in August. The desert scenes were shot in the same location as Mad Max. MY FAVOURITE QUOTES Carolyn Fry: "Is he really that dangerous?" Johns: "Only around humans." Riddick: "You're not afraid of the dark are you?" Riddick: "Did NOT know who it was f***ing with!" (After massacring one of the aliens)

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                            • The Prophecy (DVD) / DVD / 1 Reading / 43 Ratings
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                              21.03.2002 04:40
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                              Christopher Walken has a very busy few years in the early 1990s, releasing no fewer than six movies in 1995 alone, of which five saw him doing what he does best - playing the villain. One of those movies, as you have no doubt guessed by now, was The Prophecy, written and directed by Gregory Widen (The Highlander, Backdraft), and though filmed on a modest budget, is one of the most entertaining black comedy/horror movies in recent years. War in Heaven provides the plot, with the Archangel Gabriel (Christopher Walken) leading half of Heaven's Angels against the other (loyal) half in a war that has killed millions and millions on Angels both sides, with humanity at the center of it all. When God gave man a soul, he raised him above all other of his creations, including the Angels. Since that time, the Angels have been locked in conflict, neither side able to gain the upper hand over the other. That is, until now. The 23rd chapter of Revelations (fictional) tells of this second war in Heaven, and tells of a man born with the darkest, blackest of all souls. It predicts that this dark soul will lead the rebel Angels to victory over the loyal Angels. Gabriel has sent one of his rebel Angels, Uziel (Jeff Cadiente, best known as Brandon Lee's stunt double), to find the dark soul, and a loyal Angel, Simon (Eric Stoltz), has been sent to prevent the rebel Angels from taking the soul. When they fight early in the film, Simon defeats and kills Uziel, and that is when we meet Thomas Daggett (Elias Koteas). Thomas used to have faith, until one day, God showed him just a little too much. A vision he had of the second war in Heaven turned him from the cloth many years ago; he has since become a cop, and when police discover the body of Uziel, with a copy of a book written by Thomas in his days as a priest at the scene of the crime, he is called on to investigate. Simon was seriously injured during the fight with Uziel, and so hides the dark soul in
                              the body of a small girl, Mary (Mariah Morning Dove Snyder), at which point Gabriel himself descends to Earth to find the soul. I won't give any more away about the main plot, for to do that would spoil parts of the film, save to say that it is not lacking at any point. The small touches are what make this film truly entertaining. The movie has been described as both dark comedy (Gabriel having to enlist the help of the just-dead as zombies because he can't drive is just one example of the frequent dark comedy touches) and horror (hearts being ripped out, the Devil himself putting in an appearance, corpses and violence aplenty), and truly is a combination of both. The special effects are not awesome - they are small touches and additions, and as such, serve their purpose perfectly. The sight of the various Angels perched like Gargoyles high above the humans at various points in the film is an image that stays with you long after the film has finished, and the short glimpses of the war in Heaven, though perhaps not as grandiose as Gregory Widen would have liked, are savage and even more memorable. Christopher Walken is brilliant, as ever, showing utter contempt for humans ("Talking Monkeys") at every moment and delivering some equally brilliantly funny and evil lines throughout the film. His almost distracted, self-amused performance works in his, and the film's favour, allowing the viewer to not take the film too seriously. The dialogue is brilliantly written, a combination of biblical rantings, dark humour and violent references, though I felt that the human characters could have used a little more fleshing out. Even so, all of the cast put in a fine performance, especially Virginia Madsden as a schoolteacher, Catherine. Also worth a note, though whether he was playing a human character or not is very much up to the viewer to decide (undead springs to mind), was Adam Goldberg (that guy who played Mad Eddie
                              in Friends), as Jerry, Gabriel's chauffeur. One of the most notable performances, albeit a short one, was put in by Viggo Mortensen as Lucifer, with some superbly chilling and memorable lines ("I can lay you out and fill your mouth with your mother's faeces; or, we can talk.", "I'm always open, even on Christmas." and "Little Tommy Daggett. How I loved listening to your sweet prayers. Then you would hop into bed, afraid that I was hiding under it. And I was!"). He plays the character superbly, and for weeks afterwards you may well find yourself quoting him, to the dismay of any sensitive friends within earshot. Overall, I believe that The Prophesy could have been better. Had he had a bigger budget to work with, Gregory Widen may have been able to show us the war of the Angels he had imagined, and the film may have been slightly longer (it currently runs at a trim 97 minutes), however with a limited budget, he has truly assembled a brilliant cast and created a memorable and entertaining movie. I would happily admit that this film is not for everybody, however ask me to name three flicks I'd be happy to take with me to a desert island, and this would be one of them. CAST Christopher Walken (Pulp Fiction, Things to do in Denver when you're dead, Sleepy Hollow, Antz) Elias Koteas (Fallen, Lost Souls, Almost an Angel) Eric Stoltz (Pulp Fiction, Jerry Maguire) Virginia Madsden (Candyman, Highlander 2) Viggo Mortensen (Carlito's Way, Crimson Tide) Amanda Plummer (Pulp Fiction, Needful Things) Adam Goldberg (Friends) RATING UK - 18 US - R INTERESTING TRIVIA "Christopher Walken told a source that he prepared for his part as an angel in 'The Prophecy' by doing 'a lot of perching and walking around like a chicken.'" - Daily News, New York, 21/8/1995 <
                              br> The film was also released under the name "God's Army". MY FAVOURITE QUOTES Simon - "I remember the First War. The way the sky burned, the faces of the Angels destroyed. I saw a third of Heaven's legion banished and the creation of Hell. I stood with my brothers and watched Lucifer's Fall, but now my brothers are not brothers, and we have come here where we are mortal to steal the Dark Soul, not yet Lucifer's, to serve our Cause. I have always obeyed, but I never thought that War would happen again." Lucifer - "Little Tommy Daggett. How I loved listening to your sweet prayers. Then you would hop into bed, afraid that I was hiding under it. And I was!" Gabriel - "I'm an Angel. I kill newborns while their mamas watch. I turn cities into salt. And occasionally, when I feel like it, I tear little girls apart. And from now till kingdom come... the only thing you can count on... in your existence... is never understanding why." Gabriel - "I'm getting so fed up with you." Catherine - "Go to Hell!" Gabriel - "Heaven, darling, Heaven. At least get the zip code right." Catherine - "It's all the same to you, isn't it?" Gabriel - "No, in Heaven we believe in love." Catherine - "What do you love Gabriel?" Gabriel - "Cracking your skull."

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                              • KaZaA / Communication / 0 Readings / 35 Ratings
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                                23.02.2002 05:36
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                                • Spyware

                                The internet ... ahh how we all love it. Since its inception it has become both a gargantuan library of every piece of knowledge imaginable, and a communication device the likes of which has never before been seen. There are, of course, many faces to the internet, and many users who utilise it each in their own unique way. Part of the power of the internet is its lack of a hierarchy. There is no all-controlling entity and no system of regulation with any power to change any one part of it. Peer to peer file sharing is one of the many results of this lack of control. A huge number of people regularly swap media files (MP3s, movies, software, games etc), many illegally, using programs like Audiogalaxy, Limewire, WinMX and, until the loss of their court case, Napster. Kazaa (see footnote) is currently the most popular of the file sharing programs. It has been downloaded, according to the makers, over 38 million times. Napster is peanuts by comparison. People have been drawn to it for a number of reasons, the latest of which is simply that it is well known. However, it did not become well known without having a few edges over its rivals. The first of these is simply the ease with which one can use it. Downloading the software (under 2 minutes), installation and signup are all quick and easy affairs, and before you can say "Unreal Tournament isn't as good as Deus Ex", you are ready to go. Searching is just as simple. Enter a few choice keywords in the search field, choose the category you wish to search (eg music, video etc) and click on search. A list of files will appear to the right of the search box, complete with estimated download time. Double-click on the file and it will then appear in your downloads section, along with the filename and current status of download (eg queued, connecting, searching etc). When the files are finished, you can run them from a shared folder area within Kazaa (though there is an option t
                                o change the directory to which they are saved - very useful for advanced users). This is one of the places is scores very highly over the competition. Many pieces of peer to peer file sharing software rely on the user connecting to servers themselves, and this can often be a slow and lengthy process, especially for newer users. Kazaa handles all connections for you automatically, meaning that one server being overloaded will not necessarily slow down your downloads. Other pros include its ability to resume downloads. If the user you are downloading a file from suddenly goes offline, it will not affect your download, as long as they are not the only user with that file. The ability to download from serveral people at once is also very helpful in ensuring that your downloads stay reasonably fast. Next up on the list of pros is the stability of the program. I don't mean that in a "Will it crash my computer?" way (though it runs without hitches), but in the way it cannot be shut down. Bear with me here. Napster was closed down, and instantly the software became useless, because without Napster's central server, nobody could exchange files. Kazaa operates without a central server, so even if they are suddenly ordered to cease operation, it won't make any difference to the file sharing community, who probably woulnd't even notice. They could keep swapping files as easily as ever. Finally, due to the vast number of users on Kazaa, finding rare and unreleased material is a piece of cake. Live tracks from bands that have never been released, unofficial software patches and even videos of gigs can be found easily. This is why its popularity continues to grow at such an astounding rate. There are, however, a number of cons to mention as well as the pros. First on this list is pretty major, depending on which way you look at it. You may or may not have heard of spyware. Spyware is simply software t
                                hat resides on your computer and delivers information to the people that wrote it. In most cases, it is harmless, does little to slow down your pc or your internet connection and collects no personal information. However, that is in most cases. Some software is bundled with spyware, and no mention of it can be found in the documentation with the software. This is thankfully not the case with Kazaa - it does use spyware, namely fron Cydoor technologies, but this is pretty much harmless. I simply object to having anything on my PC that I consider to be invasive, and this is one of those programs. The other major problem with Kazaa is very recent news. The company that originally created Kazaa have been ordered by a Dutch court to stop distribution of the software. However, they completed a sale of the entire package days before the ruling, to a company in New Zealand. Thus, the ruling of the Dutch court is pretty much worthless. However, this means a new version of the software has had to be realeased, and this seems to have thinned out the number of users considerably. Thus, there seem to be less files available, making it much harder to find those rare gems. Overall, it is still a good piece of software for file sharing. It is by no means the worst, and probably not the best, but can't be beaten for popularity. It has an attractive interface, and is very easy for newer users to get to grips with, but lacks some features that more experienced net folk may enjoy. I hesistantly reccomend it, but with the advice that new users look to other programs and get to grips with those if possible, as Kazaa's future looks anything but certain. You can download the program from www.kazaa.com or www.download.com, and it is, of course, free (well, adware). *** Footnote *** Kazaa and Morpheus (www.musiccity.com) are essentially the same program. They look a little different, but they use the same network (hence have the same
                                users and same files available), with the only notable difference being that Morpheus includes no spyware at all.

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                                • Philips Magic / Telephone / 0 Readings / 22 Ratings
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                                  06.01.2002 04:47
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                                  Here's hoping you are looking for a fax machine/answerphone type thing, and not just reading this out of boredom. Try as I will, I cannot guarantee that an opinion on the Philips Magic2Voice 6-in-1 Fax gizmo will attach you firmly to the edge of your site. I make my apologies in advance... I would love to say that this machine is a lifesaver and a Godsend, but it is neither. It is no work of genius, and once you pass the 'oooh, isn't it a fun new toy' phase, you will find faults with it. In it's favour, to start with, it is very easy to use. It is very simple to assemble, and plugs into the wall perfectly normally. If you have extensions (eg computers or other phones), all you need to do is plug this beast in as near to the outside world as you can, and everything will run just fine. Once it's put together, plugged in and you have a dialling tone, setting the rest up is a piece of cake. They have an easy-install feature that prints a sheet of paper with instructions and guides you through installation very quickly and easily. Once it's all set up, it runs just as easily. It can store 200 phone numbers, and you can have 10 quick dial numbers as well. The volume of the conversation can be changed when using the built in speakerphone, which is great if you're talking to quiet people. Faxing is easy, and there isn't much I can say about this. The quality can be changed, as well as lightness and darkness, and the rest is simply a matter of putting the paper into the thing and pressing Start. A few of the more innovative extras they have built into this are the ability to set different volumes of calls for different times of day (no more loud faxes or calls late at night). The scanner used in the fax machine is removable, just in case you can't fit something in the scanner or need to scan something that you can't bend. It does have it's down points too. For examp
                                  le, the phone lead is obscenely short, but this can be fixed easily enough - it's a standard phone lead so longer ones are very cheap. Or you can use the speakerphone. The other gripe I have is that mine came with these hideous blue stickers on, but no matter - they peel off. The cost varies, especially with this being the season of sales, but the average seems to be £200. Hunting around now will most likely enable you to find a great deal on one of these. Overall, I thought this was a great little gadget, but could be improved. I have no major gripes with it, though doubtless over time, I will regret not getting one with a better ringtone. For £200, you will be quite hard pushed to find another machine that does all of the things this does - fax, phone, answerphone, scanner etc - but others are available. I would reccomend this machine, and happily say it's good, but I find it hard to believe that there are none better. I just couldn't help adding this last bit in, to cheer you up a bit - reading about fax machines is hardly everyone's idea of a good time... I love using quotes as titles, and unfortunately this one from the Grinch movie was too long, otherwise I would have used it without a second thought: "If you utter so much as one syllable, I'LL HUNT YOU DOWN AND GUT YOU LIKE A FISH! If you want to fax me, press the star key."

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