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I was given this mobile phone while I was in San Diego over the past couple of weeks for business. The Ericsson T65 is something special that becomes obvious from the first instant I laid my eyes at it. The manufacturer seems to drastically abandon the tenacities of the past 9including the numerous mistakes), plotting a new course. Modern, practical and extremely functional, this new phone from Ericsson is equipped with features, which surprised me and allowed for my communication with all of my business contacts when I needed it. Unquestionably, this device makes up one of the best alternatives I could find in its class. Among its advantages, what was indeed the main one was the GPRS support, the large display of five lines of text, the EMS support, the Mobile chat, its unique ease of use and a lot more that will be presented as this opinion continues. Forget what you thought of Ericsson, I surely did so! The T65 does not share many characteristics the older phones of this Swedish manufacturer had. The antenna is no longer protruding from the device, losing precious space and making its transfer difficult, as it has now been implemented to the interior. The little protective door has vanished, something that finds me completely in favour of as I always questioned its existence and functionality. The display takes up a third of the front area, while it can display 5 lines of text in 4 different shades of grey. The side sliding button is replaced by two separate buttons, which are not less practical or useful. In the specialist buttons of this device, I found except for the default YES, NO and C buttons, a new central multi-functional button of four directions. On top of that, there is another button that allows access to certain features. The smart aesthetic intervention, the intense colours and the modern design, just reminded me that this device was not one from the mid-range of the market, but one of the h-end that probably targeted those us ers who are demanding of their phone and of young age. Another great detail is the incorporation of the battery in the phone, on the back of a screwing, protective cover, on its back side. The SIM card is inserted in a separate, sliding receptor, which is found on top of the device. By opening this receptor, the phone turns off automatically and will turn on again, while displaying a prompt for the user to insert the SIM. What follows, is the classic start-up show with the successive presentation of certain images and the Ericsson’s logo, followed by the characteristic melody of the company. However, the unique capabilities of the phone’s display are best shown in standby mode, when the selected “background” will be presented with 4 shades of grey, occupying a big part of the screen. Sufficient space, though, will remain for the different meters of network signal/GPRS and battery, the icons and the name of the network with which the user did connect to. The lines of text, which can be shown at the same time, depend on the selected font size, which can be large, normal or small. By choosing the small font size, 5 lines of text were shown simultaneously, where an extra line was kept for displaying info for the selection function. It must be noted that the T65 also offers the screen protection feature, which brings the display in standby mode after a period of inactivity. What is very thoughtful is that the status line remains visible allowing the user to see the time for example. This way, I actually noticed an increase to the autonomy of the phone. The lighting, as in most of Ericsson’s devices, is in EL backlit with the characteristic diffused green. The central multi-function button of four directions made my life a lot easier as it allowed me to quickly and easily find the menu I was after. This kind of joypad is surrounded by the classic YES and NO (accept and end calls, commands of positive and negative character), the C and a light blue button, which promises instant access to the Internet after it’s pressed. What is also obvious is that the area of each of the 12 alphanumerical buttons has been decreased significantly. Personally, I didn’t find that too difficult to get used to while texting or indeed anything I had to do. The structure of the menu is not so different when compared to the rest of Ericsson’s phones. The desired function is selected with the horizontal movement arrows buttons. The menus of T65 have been structured in 7 main categories: phone directory, messages, information, settings, tools, wap and shortcuts. Entering n e of the categories can be done either by pressing the YES button or the down button of the joypad. The whole process was a bit unclear at first to me. As I did not have the manual for my phone, I was glad to see that after a few seconds a help menu appeared at the centre of the screen. To faster select any option from the menu, the user can also use the numbers to get to the targeted menu as long as the exact sequence is remembered. I remember well, the direct background selection was reached after pressing 4, 5, 3 and 2. The new users, including me, will find the seventh menu category “shortcuts” most useful. Here I could save up to 10 different features that are likely to be used often. For me, the text editor, the phonebook and the voicemail access were all I needed and these three shortcuts made my day. It is most likely you won’t need more that 10 shortcuts ever. For that matter, not a lot of us use their mobile phone for more that calling or texting someone. The phonebook can accept, except for the SIM entries, an extra 300 entries that are stored in the memory. Every contact can be composed by name, first name, phone numbers (work, home, mobile) and e-mail. What was very funny was that the user can attach an image to each contact as well as a mel ody. Just imagine the possibilities in that! The only limitation is that the only pictures available are the ones used for EMS. The T65 also surprised me by its management of voice functions. Every such function is found at the menu 4, 9! Very useful don’t you think? In order for your voice to be recognised, you should either keep the YES pressed while on standby or say the “key word”, which will activate the voice activated functions. In order to set a voice etiquette you only have to add the “key word” after the characteristic tone. The recorded sound will then be heard and you will only be needed to verify its storage. As it’s already mentioned, the T65 is above all a GPRS device. Thus, uninterrupted and fast access to the Internet is possible in combination with the implemented WAP 1.2.1 browser. What is also interesting about this mobile is that it has a lot of applications that allow me, you, everybody(!), to keep in contact with our appointments with the opposite sex. The diary of the T65 will allow for its user to review the daily, weekly and monthly schedule, allowing for input of your appointments. There are also 4 fun games (biorhythms, game, e-maze, Tetris) just to help you keep awake while on the tube Monday morning. This device is the first (and only) one that fully supports the advantages of the EMS (Enhanced Messaging Service). By this, the user can, among else, attach to his text messages one or more pictures or melodies. On top of that, the T65 will allow for text formatting (well not exactly as Word), but the user can make a part of text bold, underlined or even justified to the left, right or centre! This phone’s database holds tens of images, suitable for every occasion. In the unlikely case u can’t find something to your liking, there’s always the Picture Editor. Hold on to your hats!… Here you can draw whatever you like. Yes, itR 17;s Draw in a mobile phone. “What is next”, I hear you say… Not a lot as my opinion reaches its end. A final characteristic that will make the millions of texts we send every year even faster is the T9 predictive text support. I needed a bit of getting used to it, but eventually I couldn’t do without it. To sum things up, my impression of the T65 is more than a positive one. It is surely one of the most complete presently in the market. However, there would always be something missing from the perfect phone. In this case, the memory can only store one personal background and there is no infrared port, which would greatly help us computer users synchronise our data with our computer at home. I would suggest this mobile to you, according to your needs. However, as I pointed out in my previous op, this will not be the one for me as I have already made my mind for the Siemens S45.
After the lush SL45, Siemens turned to the GPRS capable devices market presenting their latest mobile S45. This phone is mainly targeted to the demanding customer who desires the direct and fast connection to the Internet or in corporate intranets. The main characteristics of S45 is the capability of allocating the available memory to the different applications that interest its holder most of all, its compatibility with the specs of the new WAP version 1.2 and the included system of open conference. The first GPRS device of Siemens externally adopts the characteristics and feel of the SL45. Its very well looked after design and small size put it in the hi-end class of mobile phones. The implementation of the antenna in its interior contributes greatly to its small volume, which is only 69cc. The weight of S45, after putting the battery that comes with it, weighs in at only 93 grams. [This is about three ounces! for the imperial die hards!] *** THX 4 the comment (andanny)*** On top of that the device boasts a full matrix screen/display where mobile graphics and characters of changing size can be represented. It can display a maximum of 7 lines of text, which admittedly are enough for your browsing through text messages or information from the Net. The colour of the screen is expected to be green; though the one I came across was red and not a very good shade of it. The phone will be sold in two metallic colours: silver and blue. Undoubtedly, the support of GPRS services is the most important advantage of this phone. The owner of S45 can download date from the Net much faster than an average phone. So fast that a friend of mine abroad is using it to connect its home computer to the Internet! If you try it yourselves, expect speeds similar to your 56K noden, if not better (signal strength must be 5/5). The included browser, which is WAP 1.2 compatible, allows the direct access to necessary information and can b e used for the secure dealing with electronic transactions! As far as connectivity is concerned, this phone has an infrared port, while the software that comes as part of the package allows for data synchronisation with Outlook. The device as already mentioned offers the feature of open conference plus voice dial, voice commands and voice memo with a duration of enough time for a number of calls! Finally, it is equipped with lithium ions (Li-Ion) battery of 850mAh that allows for up to 300 hours of standby and 6 hours of continuous talking time. Very useful is the charging time, which comes to under 2 hours for 100% charge. Probably, my next mobile.
[UPDATED - see end of op] I have to say that I do enjoy a visit at my local supermarket whenever I have the time to pickup my groceries and just to add to my daily exercise. As it is quite close, you see, I go on foot. Unfortunately, after a recent change to my working schedule, it seems that I did not have any time to go shopping. Really, the only time I end up being at home is quite a while after the closing time of the nearby store. It was therefore with great satisfaction that I learned I could have my groceries delivered to my door step. ********** Is your house within the delivery area serviced by Tesco? In order for anyone interested to check if the delivery service is available in their area, they can do that at the tesco.com website. Just enter your postcode and after registration you can order on-line given your areas is serviceable by Tesco. ********** Finding and ordering your groceries After logging in the on-line store the user interface is quite easy to figure out. On the left you can check the general category you?re after (i.e. baker, magazines). If you cannot find what you want exactly, it is possible to search for it using the appropriate box provided. This is particularly helpful as several things are not quite where you would expect them to be categorised. Having found what you?re after, selecting it is very much a simple process of clicking on the plus (+) or minus (-) signs at the right of the product to add or subtract a product respectively. What I found very useful are two options that are available for each separate product. First of all, provided there is an ?options? button available, the user can click on a product in order to view its details whether these are its picture or its ingredients. Secondly, the user has the opportunity to write a small note/reminder for the person that actually puts together the order for him! As far as this is concerned I would adv ise you to keep it short. If you?re in doubt if what you?ve written fits, amend your order and go back to preview it. Click the yellow paper (reminder note) at the left of the product you want and what you?ve written should be still there. If it is not, try to shorten the note. Unfortunately, what you can write is limited to some 20 odd characters, which is not much to write a comment in. So try to remember the way you write your text messages! ********** Placing your order After you are happy with your order just click the checkout button. You are then presented with a page that shows your final bill including the service charge of £5. Payment is acceptable using your Visa/MasterCard credit card. Having done that, you are the presented with a weekly timetable of all the delivery 2 hour slots showing which of them is still available. Note that deliveries are not done on weekends. Another interesting feature is that you can have your groceries delivered at a friend/neighbour, as long you have arranged it with them! :-) Of course your order qualifies for your loyalty card poitns with the TESCO CLUBCARD. ********** Tesco.com home delivery experience My overall experience was very positive. The delivery van was about an hour and a half late after the end of the 2 hour slot. However, I got a call about 20 minutes before the end of the 2 hours that advised me of the delay and gave me a new estimate as to when I would have my delivery done. Most of us cannot just wait for long, I was in my lunch break, so I decided to arrange for a next day delivery slot. Well done Tesco for providing us with this! The next day the delivery done in the first half hour of the selected slot! The delivery man was very polite and I got a list with my order prior to having the goods brought. The list has the receipt and a print-out of all your goods. Note that some products that we re < br>not available were clearly shown and that in some cases, where a similar product has been selected, you can simply choose to return it if it not to your liking. All of the goods were put very tactfully in the bags according to which section of the store they came from. ********** Final thought I would positively recommend the home delivery of Tesco to everyone. There are though some thoughts I have to put down. 1) Two of the ordered products that were shown as delivered were indeed not. Unfortunately, I was not aware of that at the time of the delivery (how could I?). I left it uncommented , though on second thought, I will be writing to Tesco about it. 2) It is much easier to decide purchasing something on-line without actually wanting/needing it. So you better have a shopping list prepared before you go on-line. 3) On first try out, it takes quite a while for you to complete your order. However, a very useful feature is present at Tesco.com. Your favorite products list. It is found at the left frame of the on-line store central page. Admit it, it is more likely you will buy something already tried out previously than something completely new. Oh well, most of times... 4) While doing a short visit to my local store, prior to using the home delivery service, I noticed an offer of having your first home delivery for free making it quite an incentive. Again this was not the case as far as I am concerned. To sum things up, the Tesco home delivery gets the tick from me. Nonetheless, it is in no way faultless. Small details need still to be taken care of. AND PLEASE TESCO TRY TO USE LESS PLASTIC BAGS NEXT TIME!... **************************** [21/10/02] Lately I have not been receiving all of the items I order. I guess Tesco's site is not 100% up-to-date...
Nokia’s Communicator sets new standards to the sort of applications consumers should expect in the very near future from their mobile phones. The Nokia 9210 is not a mobile phone that can easily be described. This is simply due to the fact that it offers quite a few heterogeneous characteristics. Despite being a big mobile phone (it’s dimensions are indeed “monstrous”), it offers a huge colour screen (640x200 pixel) with 4096 colours, full keyboard and not forgetting applications such as word processor, spreadsheet and presentation software. It must be noted that the latter are fully compatible with Microsoft’s Office! However, it can not be purely considered as a mobile-PDA, since its screen does not recognise your writing. By all means, its characterisation is not what is most important, simply because its potential is so great that it sets a new category of electronic gadgets for users that are all day on the move. Contrary to what many users believe, it can never replace a portable computer (i.e. notebook). It does however allow its user to perform basic tasks, valuable to those that live an intense professional life. Surely a lot might wonder who is going to need such a mobile phone. The answer is not a simple one, but one might suppose that it will bridge the gap between a mobile phone and a filofax. Indeed, the 9210 is placed somewhere in that position as far as practicality is concerned, allowing its buyers to do things of such importance that will not think twice before handing around £850 to the cashier. So, someone really busy will be able to read his e-mails, access the Internet, fax something, or even view photos or videos at the colour screen of the device. A very positive detail is that the Nokia 9210 comes inclusive of a 16MB MMC card where the user can store contacts, documents, presentations. For those that are after more memory, extra cards can be added, which can increase the total memory to 128MB . The whole packet of services is fairly well worked, but it must not be omitted that GPRS is yet to be supported (only HSCSD @ 43.2Kbps), which is something negative in the image it will have to the “power user”. Because of the large size (thankfully the antenna can be folded) and its increased weight, the 9210 probably fails in the portability sector. However, one such device is most probable to be residing in your briefcase. Very encouraging was its autonomy that reaches 280 minutes of continuous talking. The usability is very high, but the lapse of a touch-sensitive screen spoils the overall feel. Very few functions are also performed from the external keyboard, as most of them are performed through the operating system’s (EPOC 6) menus, giving a clear view of what is we have selected. Overall, the new Nokia is a unique proposition for its kind, which targets a quite small part of the market that will, though, indeed appreciate its capabilities. Unfortunately, its high price of purchase is not helpful to its public. Despite that it can easily be excused as what it has to offer is not even closely comparable with any other similar device. -------------------------------- Just the other day I was having a discussion with a colleague from Tokyo. Curiously enough I asked her about the appeal such devices have in Japan. The answer I got was quite surprising. She told me that in Tokyo a person that goes to work needs an average of two and a half hours to get there. No wonder similar devices to the Nokia 9210 have been utilised more and more. People spend a lot of time on the move and quite rightly make good use of it. They pay their bills, buy their groceries etc. Do you think something similar could happen over here? I doubt it. Another thing I would like to make clear is the price of the handset. I found it: -£849.99 as a handset only, -£399.99 as a pay monthly phone with Vodafone & BT Ce llnet and -£434.99 as an upgrade with the same two networks. IF YOU ARE ACTUALLY INTERESTED IN BUYING THIS MAGNIFICENT PHONE, I WOULD ADVISE YOU TO WAIT FOR THE X-MAS OFFERS!
“Eleftherios Venizelos” Athens international airport is quite a … mouthful! However, for me it was a pleasant surprise when I firstly landed there. It is a brand new project for Greece, made in cooperation with a foreign consortium of constructors (I think German) specialised in similar projects. For you that have flown to Greece before early March, I only have one thing to say: Unlucky! This is because you have not yet been in an airport that compared to the old “Ellinikon” is some ages ahead. Well that is for Greece of course and despite some little problems still to be encountered, the new airport seems like nothing the locals or even you must have seen before. Don’t get me wrong but having in mind the old airport, I have to say there is a huge difference. Upon arrival the first thing that the airway reminded me of Amsterdam Schiphol airport. Covering a large area of the eastern part of Attica, next to the town of Rafina, it will take some time for your aircraft to get to the terminal. There you will see for the first time in a Greek airport corridors being used in order to exit the aircraft. Unfortunately, I did quite agree with the air-hostess who commented on that: “Isn’t there an equivalent of the driving licence for this?…” You see the airport being quite new has some people working the corridors who are not completely familiarised with the whole process. Things, however, are improving as I hear… Well, that’s out of the way. You have arrived at the airport. What’s next? It has to be said that the exit from the corridor is sometimes misleading you to the departures lounge! This happened the first time I arrived in the airport to some passengers in front. My advice is: do not open any doors and, if in doubt, ask someone! That is if anyone is there when you arrive. Especially in early morning or late evening flights you kind of get the feeling that you are airport alone (like home alone, get it?)… Another area that is continuously improving. Let’s go on now to what is very important: baggage reclaim. I have to say that it is quite a prompt service and you will get hold of your luggage in no time. This proves very useful especially when you have to change flight. Just make sure to do the logical thing: check-in quite late. One thing I found most unacceptable is that you have to pay to get a trolley for your luggage. These are found directly in front of the conveyor belt. Although they cost just around 55p or 300 drachma, I found it quite strange being charged for using a trolley in an airport! Enough about that. You have taken your luggage. Just after the terminal, there is usually a great number of taxis waiting for you or alternatively, there is an express bus directly to Athens. You see the new airport is nowhere near the distance the old airport had from the city centre of Athens. It will take a bit more. The good thing is that the is a brilliant motorway serving the access to and from the airport and you will get to your destination in non time. Just beware of some taxi fares. Normally the taxi fare for central Athens is around £9-11 or 4500-5500 drachma depending on traffic. There is a number of dodgy meters though, so be careful to have a clear view of the taxi meter and keep a close eye at it! Of course the airport also offers all of the services one would expect to get at a modern airport. There are three available parking areas available giving the visitor no problem in finding a parking space. There is also quite a good provision for disabled people with some ramps and elevators available to them. Typically as you would expect there are travel agents, ATMs, a hotel, car rental, bank, currency exchange and a post office on the premises. If you want to get more information as far as everything concerning the new airport go to: http://www.aia.gr/en/index .shtm One more thing is that on the way there while I was having a discussion with another passenger I heard that she was expecting to use the train to get to Athens. Despite the fact that the construction of a train line to and from Athens is a reality, it is not yet operational. So if you don't opt for the taxi, bus, you better rent a car.
Terry Wogan did it again! I have to say that over the last 20 odd years that I’ve been following the Eurovision song contest, he is still THE man to listen to during all of the performances. It is not only the fact that some time after the party has started he has had a few and the words keep outing his mouth in a faster pace (if you know what I mean), but his remarks about everything are just remarkable! Whether it is the mutual exchange of douze points amongst neighbouring countries or the language in which the song is performed, Terry’s stinging remarks hit he spot! The has been a big difference this year, albeit an improvement in Mr. Wogan’s attitude. I remember throughout the previous years that the remarks he did were sometimes a bit over the top and BBC got a number of letters complaining about that. Fortunately, this years Terry has behaved himself and, thus, all went well. Now as far as the 23 songs that were performed I guess that a lot of us feared the disqualification of the UK. Of course, there is an underlining rule that specifically states that the UK, Germany and France (I think), whichever position the have after the end of the voting, they will never be displaced from next year’s competition. You see money talks… The final result has to be said that came to a surprise to a lot of the fans including myself. Estonia was the outright winner satisfying the punters that backed them at around 25/1. Not a bad choice. If you were one of them, congrats to you and may you spend your winnings well! Less than 10 pints at the local will not be ON… I has to say that I was expecting Greece to come through this year. I had heard a lot of praises from a lot of my friends from Sweden about Antique and this year’s “I will die for you”. After hearing it, I was pleasantly impressed just because of the fact that they were (ref: Antique) among the few that h eld a part in their song that was interpreted in their own language. A lot of the countries sang in English, which is quite convenient for us. However, it is not in the spirit of Eurovision to eventually have 23 songs in English. Of course, this was tried before and, in the eyes of the so called specialists, failed. Even the French had some lyrics in English. Eurovision is so unpredictable. You can never know who is going to win it or what each competition will leave us to think about next year. What has this one left us for next year? I have to admit that one of the highlights of the night was the “Friends” band from Sweden. Don’t ask me why. Those of you that watched the competition, I think you will agree with me…
For those among you that have not heard of this car before, it is a fairly recently introduced eco-friendly family car from Toyota. Personally, I hadn’t heard of it before up until the time I entered one of a Japanese colleague. I have to say that from the outside it doesn’t make much of an impression. I normally wouldn’t go for a car like this, but after hearing about it, I went to my local dealer and took a prospectus and I am actually considering its purchase. What changed me? You have to see the dashboard of this car. It reminds me of some kind of home entertainment system. The hi-tech dashboard features a multi-information display, centrally positioned for easy of viewing. Honestly, I can’t imagine looking at the centre to see if I have any petrol left in the tank. However, my friend quickly persuaded me that it is all a matter of getting used to. Anyways what’s so spectacular isn’t that the display provides the normal information (audio system’s status, outside temperature), but that it also gives all the details about the workings of the hybrid system and fuel consumption screen. Really that did it for me. A hybrid car and in this case a combination of a 33kW electric motor and a 1.5litre petrol engine can be employed either separately or in combination, to produce the most efficient performance. At start-up, you see, the Prius is powered solely by the electric motor – meaning that there are no emissions whatsoever. As speed picks up, the petrol engine not only takes over, it also generates electricity to power the electric motor that drives the wheels and to charge the battery pack. In specific circumstances, like when full acceleration or when climbing a hill, the electric motor provides extra power, thereby saving fuel and further reducing emissions. Now, it is known that not a lot of people would opt to buy such a car. With a top speed of 99mph and 0-62mph in 13.4sec it hardly is a “meaty”, full of grunt vehicle. Despite that, with the price of petrol rising constantly – no matter what everyone promises before the forthcoming elections – and when considering that Toyota boasts that Prius returns 61.4 miles per gallon on the urban cycle, I’d say I am all for it. My philosophy is that a car is something that takes you from A to B, where you cannot use the public transport to take you there. I am not interested in doing 130mph in the M25 (that’s a joke!) or fearing for the insurance costs. If you also require a nature “friendly” car with it also being economical then you might want to consider Prius as an option. ********* Just after finishing this opinion, I remembered that I had seen a hybrid car test on Top Gear where there was a comparison between the Prius and a similar hybrid vehicle from Honda albeit that was a 2-seater. Whoever is interested in eco-friendly cars should look at that. Another detail I just remembered is the boot space. I seem to recall previously launched electric cars whose boot was used to place the batteries. As far as the hybrid cars that are mentioned above this could not be more untrue. The batteries, not being the only form of power used, are much smaller and do not particularly limits the boot space. I reckon that Prius being a saloon car would easily allow for 3-4 bags to be place in the back. Finally I had heard that there would be a new tax directly related to the emissions generated by cars. I am not sure if this is presently put under its paces, but that will be another blow for the motorists. EACH ONE OF US COULD MAKE A LOT OF DIFFERENCE IF WE WOULD LEAVE OURS CARS AT HOME. PUBLIC TRANSPORT CAN GET US THERE JUST AS WELL IN MOST CASES.
I thought of writing this opinion about the difficulties (mainly) that a person can come across when wiring some money to another bank in Europe. From the last years, it is well known that in order to transfer money to a bank abroad there is a charge, which varies depending on the case. Usually it is around £20-£30 as far as I am aware, which makes the whole deal not a cheap one except when you are wiring a quite sizable amount of cash. Now why should there be a need to wire money when a lot of banks in the UK offer their clients cards that give them the opportunity to withdraw directly money from their UK account (Cirrus)? Well after some research into the exchange rates that banks use for international transactions, I seem to have figured out ? hear hear! - that the only part of the transaction, which gets the worst deal is you! Even with the strong pound when going abroad it is expected that each country ?backs? its currency. Thus, you get less money for your pounds when using the ATMs directly when abroad. This is purely the reason I looked into exchanging pounds into the currency I want in the UK and sending them in a bank abroad (ideally in another branch of the bank I used originally in the UK). From that point onwards, problems started emerging. Throughout the last months I had heard of the ?on-line? system to be used internationally by banks. Well, I went to my bank over here to query about its usage and how will this help me transfer money abroad. The answer I got was reassuring that there would be no cost when sending money abroad, as far as it is in a branch of the same bank. Reassured I had that in mind for the next time I would need it prior to going abroad. After about three months from my previous visit to my bank and after frequent phone calls to get any updates as far as the service was involved, I had to travel abroad and especially to France, Greece and Italy. I went to my local branch and I went to the exch ange desk to send my French francs (FF), Italian lira (IL) and Greek drachma (GD). The answer I got was mind-blowing! I was given the impression that the ?on-line? system only worked in France! In Italy and in Greece I learnt that there was no ?on-line? facility to any existing bank and that there would be a normal charge for transferring my money. I thought of asking what happens if I transferred my money to another branch of the bank in those countries. Right there and then I was puzzled by the answer I got. ?Those branches are not part of our bank!?? I cannot quite imagine how it is that branches of the bank in question are not part of the bank? Don?t get me wrong this was exactly the case in France but in Italy and Greece obviously that was not the case. I left the bank without making any transaction and I went to the central branch of my bank locally. I got the same answer there and asked to see the customer services manager. After about an hour I got to see her and I explained the whole situation. She answered me that certain branches of the bank abroad have changed hands, meaning that they are managed by someone else and you can not consider them as going to your bank in the UK. To sum things up, you ought to check everything when considering transferring your money abroad. Never be sure about anything. Ask and ask again. Be sure prior to handing your cash. At the end of the day and because I was not going to stay for a long time in those countries I exchanged my money in the UK and took everything with me. When going abroad I realised that I got a better deal of about 5.4%. This might not seem much but when transferring a lot of money it can add up to thousands. Hope you found this opinion useful for your future transactions with your bank, especially now when we get closer to our summer vacations.
[UPDATED - see end of op] Let's face it. You get what you pay for. In most of the times, I would add... Thus, having decided to register with another ISP after being disconnected from 24-7 freecall (you can have a look at my previous opinion), except for the usual needs of a user like: - speed - throughput - small server latency I started doing my research having something extra in my mind. The belief that my selection would still be around after some time. Having this, primarily, in my mind I opted for the relatively 24/7 scheme that BT offers and that costs £14.99 per month. What do you get for it? You can access the net 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year with no extra monthly cost than if you ate 1.56 Mars bars in a daily basis. 'A real bargain', I said and considered registering. Doing a lot of business on-line and being with no connection at home is a problem for me. On the other hand, I was looking for something to be reliable and not to be unable to connect for days. I started looking in on-line forums at work (do not mention it to my employer!) and after about 2 weeks I decided to opt, eventually, for this BT Anytime scheme. I have to say that the two most important reasons for my decision were: - the fact that I could do with 1.56 Mars bars less a day and - that BT is a company that as far as I am concerned did never invest in something that would not be reliable, or at least well organised. After going to the [www.btinternet.com] site I chose the Anytime connection option and proceeded. I have to site that their site is quite understandable and I did not find any problems finding what I wanted. While registering I was asked my credit card details, name and what you would expect in this kind of registration. Now what follows that step shows that you are dealing with an ISP that has done this before. The user has the option of having the browser he is using automatically or manually. A lot of ISPs that I have used before have had this option but none so analytically and not in a way that makes the user be afraid that someone will access his computer and make a mess of it. Personally, I am accustomed to such tasks and I did it manually. However, having a reliable automatic option always helps in case of formatting yours computer and you don't have the time or are in a mood to spend some time adjusting your ISP's dial-up connection properties. The only negative thing so far was that there was no easy way out of registering to BT Anytime in another computer than the one you will be using to connect to the Internet. What is the need for that? Some people might not have a backup ISP installed in their computer and might go to an Internet café or a friend to register. In any case, having followed all of the guidelines from the BT Internet site and after double-checking everything in the connection icon for Anytime, I clicked on it. I did connect without any problems. That was what it supposed to happen but whenever something is tried for the first time in your computer a lot of things can go wrong. I have to say that the speed is not as great as in my previous Internet connection with 24/7freecall, but it is quite reliable even during the peak hours. Or so I thought... ( as it will be seen later on). My advice to those between you that are users or thinking to register with BT Anytime is that it is faster during the following hours: - 10:00 - 11:30 and - 13:30 - 18:00. Not bad at all considering the number of subscribers. Here, it must be noted that you would never be disconnected from the... other end. The only detail that might be expected by a lot of you is that after 18:00 the speed of the Internet, and not only your connection, goes right down. You see all the users that have off-peak Internet surfing schemes start logging-in and the result is as such. Hav ing realised all of the above I was a happy Internet user and quite assured by my new ISP. Unfortunately this only lasted for ONE DAY(!) believe it or not... When I tried to connect next day in the morning, I got a DNS problem. After trying all I had come across previously to encounter this situation, I did not manage to get a result. I then thought ringing BT customer support. WHAT A MISTAKE! ALL BT ANYTIME USERS BE AWARE! If you have a problem connecting to the Internet, avoid phoning customer support straight away. There is a free phone number [0800 731 7777] that you can ring and hear a pre-recorded message about the status of the servers that connect you to the Internet. I have to say that this is a brilliant idea from the part of BT and I applaud it by all means for its originality and customer information. It must be noted that the customer support line costs 50p per minute but through my experience I would say that you will never need it if you were connected another ISP previously. That is because you would have come across some of the rare problems that do come up when connecting to the Internet. To sum things up, BT Anytime is a very good deal for those among you that are after a 24/7 Internet connection and is most importantly cheap! Incidentally the problem I told you I encountered with my connection was indeed due to a problem with the BT servers and lasted about a day. On top of that, it must be remembered that the day this happened was Saturday and that some ISPs also serve their members in the weekends! ********** [UPDATE - 6/11/01] What is mentioned above about your connections not being disconnected at any time is not valid any more. Since early September your connection is terminated just before you reach the two hours connection time. Indeed some times your connection just freezes not sending/receiving any data. Unfortunately, I can no longer listen to whole football matches when on-line as they last around two hours… I am thinking of opting for an ADSL connection. However, as I am still doing my research concerning the available ISPs, I will be informing you about my choice towards the end on November, when if everything goes to plan, I will be getting on-line with my new ADSL line. Stay tuned…
This is one of the many ISPs that offer free Internet connection with no extra telephone charges that require the user to pay a monthly fee for their services. Currently the cost for a 56K dial-up or 64K ISDN connection stands at £19.99 per month. However, those that would like to register today will find it impossible. You see 24-7freecall tried to guarantee a quality of service to its subscribers. This meant they could not accept more than a number of subscribers without having calls about engaged lines or similar dial-up problems. I have been a subscriber with this ISP for the last 6 months and I must admit that I am quite impressed with this 24/7 ISP’s services. From what was mentioned above, it is easily understood that I never had to click my “Connect” button twice in order to login. What is also impressive is that the throughput of data from their server(s) was quite simply impressive. Most of the times I managed to connect at around 41000bps with a few also at 57600bps! In the majority of cases, the download speeds reached an impressive 3.5-4.5KB/s, which is what anyone would expect at those speeds. The difference this ISP makes is that the latency data are sent to your workstation is negligible. Thus, you will have the impression that you are working in an ISDN line, seeing the dial-up icon’s green screens never to go off (well this seems a bit over the top…)! Now, the only bad thing is that on the 27th of March my subscription was cancelled. I can hear a lot among you going: “There’s another heavy user gone!”… That was what I thought at first. However, after phoning the company I was told that they are simply closing down in order to upgrade their network suitably for it to be able to support their two new future ventures: - a 24/7 connection for modem (56K)/ISDN (64K) users that will cost a fiver less (£14.99) and - an ADSL (512K) connection w ith no more details published yet. I hope that their Internet services will launch soon and I will be one of the first to re-subscribe.
It must be said that throughout the last seven years that I have been using the Internet, I never came round to buy any books from the Internet. I have done so, in a number of times, always though purchased other products. I have had a lot of people I know telling me about their experiences when buying books over the Internet. Some of them were positive and some were negative. In general, it must be understood that in the UK there are maybe two or three sites that have beaten the competition and still operate with the public’s support. Amazon, Bol and WHSmith have to be the sites that at least I know of being the ones mostly preferred by the UK public. Of course, they are not the only ones. There are a number of alternatives available to the web, but the three mentioned above are the top ones in the UK. Recently, I was looking for a couple of books I needed for my jobs. Generally, I am not a loyal user of any online shop. I just look for the best price. This can be done by visiting: - www.shopsmart.com (under Books) or - www.addall.com -currently not working (if you are not bothered if you receive your order more that 2-4 weeks afterwards). After reviewing the results I got, I chose to go for the WHSmith choice. Users must take under consideration that their site does require registration. After doing that, you are ready to place your order. The only drawback(?) is that WHSmith charge you for delivery. Being a smart shopper, you must be able to do your market research correctly and unbiased. That is because in a lot of cases consumers opt directly for sited that offer free delivery. What is the point, if the total you will have to pay is more? In my case, I bought a couple of books saving 16% over the best prices I found over the Internet. That was including the fees for delivery(!) Now, is that good value or what? After placing your order, you have the option of tracing your or der online. This is quite convenient as I found out the next working day when I only received one of the two books I had ordered. The missing book was not available and was already ordered from its publisher. To sum things up, my first experience with online book buying was a pleasant one. I got what I wanted (well, after a week because of the 2nd book not being available), I saved 16% on the best price available elsewhere and I was a jolly happy consumer! Above all, isn’t this what we are looking for?…
A fairly newly introduced product in the UK market is Listerine Tartar Control antiseptic mouthwash. A bit of a mouthful, but one that serves the health of your mouth and teeth right. I started using and still am Listerine some years ago, and have been kept satisfied with it. Sincerely, I wouldn't say or I wouldn't know if it actually has any differences when compared with other mouthwashes found in the market. What I can easily say is that after some years of use and in conjunction with daily brushing, I have not yet experienced much of toothaches so far. It does give you a fresh breath also, which can go a long way especially in the mornings. Of course it is not a miracle potion! It won't make much of a difference in your teeth hygiene unless combined with a daily teeth-cleaning routine that should last at least 4-7 minutes. On top of the above, I find it be reasonably priced at £2.66 for the bottle of 500ml.
I have to say that I didn't give much notice to this cheese, because of the fact that in the back of mind I had an idea that it was only for diets, healthy eating etc. However, since I tasted it and I started buying it in a regular basis, I have to say that it seems much more enjoyable to me in contrast to what may seem to people at first glance... It is a yellow cheese produced in the central cantons of Switzerland. It is a traditional, unpasteurised, hard cheese made from cow's milk. Its hard thin rind is covered by paper with the name of the producer on it. Allegedly, it is considered by a lot of people as an non-interesting cheese as far as both the flavour and look are concerned. In fact if mild cheddar is to your liking, then you wouldn't find a lot of differences at emmental. The aroma is sweet with tones of fresh-cut hay. The flavour is very fruity, not without a tone of acidity. Emmental has walnut-sized holes. It is considered to be one of the most difficult cheeses to be produced because of it's complicated hole-forming fermentation process. On top of everything mentioned above, it can also be said that it is quite suitable for people on a diet. Obviously, as a yellow cheese, it has less fat than white cheeses. Except from that, it has a low content of salt that helps cheese lovers that do worry about their kidneys. It must be said that it is one of the very few cheeses that I have ever tried in my life, which is best eaten raw. With my compliments to whoever will give it a try, I would suggest having emmental with a glass of wine, for example Jura Blanc or Vin de Savoie Givry rully Mercurey.
Feta is the very well known cheese that is mainly produced in Greece. It is made using ewe and goat milk with a consistency of about 65-35%. It is also produced in France and Germany, but the original taste can only be found in the Greek feta cheese. Once across it, you will be amased by its whiteness! I do not know why but that was the first thing that struck me. As far as its texture, you should close your eyes and try to taste or feel the munchiness and crumblessness (is there such a word!) of this cheese. I have found it in a lot of supermarkets in the UK. As an example I have found it to be selling at £9.95/kgr, which I reckon isn't so expensive for such a delicacy. If you have visited or have friends that have visited Greece, the first thing that you will hear from them is greek salad. Well, surprise surprise, feta cheese is one of the main ingredients of this kind of salad. There a lot of other ways to cook with it. What must be taken under consideration, is that feta cheese is quite a salty cheese containing around 50% of fat. This varies a lot if bought in Greece depending on the region (it can reach up to 75%), so check prior to purchase. Now, what good is it to buy a more expensive cheese than your usual cheddar, if you do not where to use it for cooking? Some ideas are shown below. Good luck with them! Greek salad: the original consists of tomatoes, sliced onions, peppers, olives and feta cheese with a drip of olive oil - "alternative" -> feta cheese with olive oil in a bed of lettuce leaves Stuffed peppers: thinly slice some tomatoes and mix them with feta cheese (according to your taste) until made to a mix. Then cut the top of the peppers (prefer the green ones for a variety of colour of the end meal) and place the mix in them. Place them in the oven (150C) until the pepper is soft. Take care not to burn them. You will see that the feta cheese when melt, it has a magnificent texture that will surprise you. All in all feta cheese is a good solution when your cooking contains some kind of cheese. In most of those cases, you can replace whatever cheese you are using with feta. It also tastes nice on top of past! Just try it! ************************* Here's a quicky recepie needing only extra virgin olive oil, some pasta (preferably spagetti and some feta cheese). Boil the pasta to your liking and dress them with the olive oil. For about 200g of pasta you should dress them in about 1.5 teaspoons of olive oil. Use good quality olive oil in order not to be left with a "greasy" taste. After coating the pasta crumble some feta cheese on top and voila! C'est pres!
The PR2 bus goes from Park Royal to Wembley park. A great line that could be made a lot better with some alterations. It has to be said that it provides a great service for people in Park Royal, Neasden and the Stonebridge Park areas. This is mainly due to the fact that there aren't any tube connections between those areas. However, there are a lot of problems with this bus line. First of all, the bus is running evry half an hour(!), which sometimes seems a lot longer. Sure, you gan always get hold of its timetable. The problem is that it is almost never on time! I am not being critical, but if there were 2 more buses in this line, people would not have to wait for hours(!)... some times! What is more is the quality of the buses used. During the last year I haven't seen any, but one, good quality bus. I am not being extreme, buses that are dirty and with bits "moving" here and there, should not be road worthy. One other thing that must be considered is the number of people that use it in an everyday basis. Having this in mind, one can imagine what is the problem that occurs on Sundays when the service is not running. People should put things into perspective and weight the different situations that would occur with a more frequent service. Hopefully things will improve... Hopefully...