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Kenaomi
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Member since: 18.08.2007

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    • Sony Ericsson K530i / Mobile Phone / 19 Readings / 19 Ratings
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      09.12.2008 13:36
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      A fairly good quality phone with many features. This may be the best phone available at this price.

      I have never been a great fan of mobile phones but I recently decided that it was time for my slightly bulky Siemens C45 to retire. I still have it of course, but it could only save ten text messages at one time, was very slow and was a bit unpredictable with receiving calls.

      But that's enough about my old phone!

      I said that I have never been a great fan of mobile phones, but I have also never been a great fan of mobile phones with loads of features unrelated to its use as a phone. So I started looking at the entry level phones. There was an LG for ten pounds and a Samsung for a similar price, but the reviews for them were not at all favourable.

      Then I came across the W200i which I pretty much set my heart on, but found out it was only available from Orange (which I didn't want). This and reviews of many different Sony Ericsson phones made me decide I wanted a phone by this manufacturer.

      However, in all the reviews of Sony Ericsson phones, one problem stood out: the joystick was very weak and was soon rendered useless. Needless to say, my initial budget of around ten pounds was pushed right up to sixty pounds and I bought the joystickless Sony Ericsson K530i with favourable reviews.

      This phone has many features so it would be best if one were to view them on Sony Ericsson's own website, but I will mention some of them here.

      Despite its many features, first and foremost this is a phone, so this is what I should be describing. I haven't made many phone calls with this as I'm not a great user of phones, be they mobile or otherwise, so my description may not be very accurate, but so far the sound has been of a good qaulity and the volume can be turned up loudly enough to hear clearly in noisy surroundings. Calls seem to take a while to be connected, but that is probably more to do with Three, the network provider, rather than the phone.

      The calls list has a big disadvantage; the numbers don't stay on the list for as long as I'd want them to - they disappear after a few days.

      The phone has a 3g internet connection which doesn't have brilliant reception, but, again, that will be more to do with Three than the phone itself. The phone comes with a browser in order to use the internet but it isn't very good and disappears if you open anything else. I suggest downloading another browser such as Opera Mini. This is an excellent little browser and although it has some faults of its own, it can be used, if you wish, with a little cursor like on a standard computer.

      It also comes with a mobile version of Windows Live Messanger which, at the time of writing, is free to use on Three (subject to fair use policy). This is a nice little application but can be a bit faulty (flickering, going back to the contact list at odd times, requiring a password every time it goes out of range and you choose for it to be reconnected).

      The text message system is nice and easy to use and requires no description on my part.

      The address book is annoying. It looks nice, but it does not have enough space on each line of the address section, so you have to abbreviate people's addresses if they have long or a lot of words in it. Also, to view a whole address or email address you must select 'edit contact' from the menu which, I'm sure you'll agree is badly designed and silly.

      The phone has a nice calendar feature which allows you enter a fair amount of detail per appointment.

      The camera is sort of useful for when you don't have your camera with you and something is better than nothing, but as an amateur photographer I am dissatisfied with the picture quality - it makes photos look like thy have been edited to look a bit like paintings. One must also press the 'back' button every time one wants to take another picture. There is also no zoom in the high quality/large size settings.

      I can usually work out how to use electronic devices, only referring to the instruction manuals when there is some complicated feature unique to the device. It was so in this case too, but unfortunately the instruction manual was hopeless. It contained the most obvious instructions for the easiest things and did not explain features such as what he different settings do. I don't believe it even mentions how to increase the volume for during a phone call. I eventually worked things out, but it took some time. If you are not technically minded, make sure you know someone who is and who is willing to help you!

      I won't review the other minor features of the phone (and I haven't even used the music player). For details of these, please refer to Sony Ericsson's website.

      The physical aspects of this phone are nice and standard with nothing too fancy. The camera lens on the back is unprotected which isn't very wise - one's fingers touch it while holding the phone and it will also become easily scratched in this state. I had a few problems with the buttons shortly after I bought it - some grit had found its way under there and jammed a button. Due to the spaces between and under the keys this can happen easily. The keys also feel a bit weak and flimsy. When bought from Three, the button which should be for launching the web browser is instead a dedicated button for Three's Music Store which I will almost certainly never use. This button is therefore redundant in my case and it cannot be reassigned to anything else.

      The battery life of this phone isn't very good at all, but then I am comparing it to my old Siemens C45 which could last for weeks, even months without needing to be charged.

      Finally, before buying this phone, if you wish to do so, make sure you really want Three's tariff of 12p per minute and 12p per text. It's a nice simple tariff, but do you really want to spend that much?

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        06.10.2007 16:26
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        Good value for money, but they used to be better.

        After having tried the dark chocolate bar in the same range and enjoying it, I decided to try the mint creme bar, as I have always been quite a fan of mint confectionery.

        The packaging is simple but attractive, with the colours reflecting the filling.

        The packaging includes a picture of the product within which is both helpful and enticing. In the top right hand corner can be found Sainsbury's 'wheel of health' traffic light system to help you make calories, fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar comparisons with other similar products. You need to aim for green and amber and as few reds as possible!

        Upon opening the wrapper, the smell is quite strong and enticing and it looks as any chocolate should do - dark, smooth, slightly shiny and...chocolatey (one would hope!).

        The chocolate is quite easy to break and usually breaks evenly, so your fingers don't become too sticky!

        The product is tasty, but as with all cheaper chocolate which uses more sugar and fat compared with the cocoa and milk contents, the chocolate is less satisfying and awfully moreish, leading to far too much being consumed in one go!

        The mint flavour is very strong and it leaves a bit of an aftertaste which isn't too unpleasant, but isn't that nice either.

        This range of chocolate bars used to come wrapped in thin foil with a paper outer, which was nicer and more convenient as this packaging won't stay rolled up and when it unrolls from around a mint creme bar in a bag after it has been knocked about a bit...well, you can imagine the problems caused!

        Recently Sainsbury's has changed the wrappers over to a cheaper, less attractive style which wouldn't worry me so much, but the ingredients have changed too - something which would be easy to miss. I think the price has dropped too, which clearly indicates they're using lesser quality ingredients. If you compare the 'wheel of health' symbols of the new and old bars, it can be seen that the bar now contains more sugar and more fat, which I am not happy about, even though I'm not at all any sort of health freak.

        If you visit Sainsbury's now, you may see the new and the old on the shelves. If you do, compare them for yourselves. It would be interesting to compare the new and old bars to see if there really is much of a taste difference.

        It's a shame, anyway.

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        • Sainsbury's Caramel Bar / Other Food / 34 Readings / 33 Ratings
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          04.10.2007 21:22
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          Good value for money, but they used to be better.

          After having tried the mint creme bar in the same range and enjoying it, I decided to try the soft caramel bar.

          The packaging is simple but attractive, with the colours reflecting the filling.

          The packaging includes a picture of the product within which is both helpful and enticing. In the top right hand corner can be found Sainsbury's 'wheel of health' traffic light system to help you make calories, fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar comparisons with other similar products. You need to aim for green and amber and as few reds as possible!

          Upon opening the wrapper, the smell is not particularly apparent, but it looks as any chocolate should do - smooth, slightly shiny and...chocolatey (one would hope!).

          The chocolate is quite easy to break, but often doesn't break evenly, leaving you with very sticky fingers as the caramel oozes out all over them!

          The product is tasty, but as with all cheaper chocolate which uses more sugar and fat compared with the cocoa and milk contents, the chocolate is less satisfying and awfully moreish, leading to far too much being consumed in one go!

          This range of chocolate bars used to come wrapped in thin foil with a paper outer, which was nicer and more convenient as this packaging won't stay rolled up and when it unrolls from around a caramel bar in a bag...well, you can imagine the problems caused!

          Recently Sainsbury's has changed the wrappers over to a cheaper, less attractive style which wouldn't worry me so much, but the ingredients have changed too - something which would be easy to miss. I think the price has dropped too, which clearly indicates they're using lesser quality ingredients. If you compare the 'wheel of health' symbols of the new and old bars, it can be seen that the bar now contains more sugar and more fat, which I am not happy about, even though I'm not at all any sort of health freak.

          If you visit Sainsbury's now, you may see the new and the old on the shelves. If you do, compare them for yourselves. It would be interesting to compare the new and old bars to see if there really is much of a taste difference.

          It's a shame, anyway.

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          • Lexmark X1130 / Inkjet Printer / 30 Readings / 28 Ratings
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            04.10.2007 18:16
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            A nice printer with some irksome quirks!

            We acquired this second-hand but almost new a few years ago from one of my dad's colleagues.

            She said she couldn't get it to work and handed it over to us to see if we could do anything with it.

            It seemed to work fine, even though later we discovered it had some sort of plastic clip in it which had been dropped in! We kept the printer when we were told by the original owner that a replacement had been sought and bought.

            So, how good is it?

            It's okay overall, but its biggest problem is its recurring inability to take the paper through, resulting in numerous pressings of the paper feed button. It isn't just mine that does this - I used one on a number of occasions at work, with much the same result.

            The one thing I do like about it is it's amazing ability to stop printing when you tell it to! Sounds strange I know, but this is the best printer for doing this that I've owned. You click on 'cancel printing' and voila! It stops mid-page if necessary.

            Having said that, the software is rather crumby. Lexmark's 'All In One Center' interface is a bit awkward and when scanning, it always saves your scan to 'My Pictures' whether you want it to or not, resulting in loss of privacy and disk space on a shared computer (if you forget to delete the files) and a waste of time (if you delete the files).

            The scanner has a large bed area and scans at a moderate speed (though naturally its speed varies according to resolution).

            After changing the ink cartidges, it asks which you have changed, so rather than assuming both have been changed together, you can state which is old and which is new which is useful, because not all printers do that and it throws the estimations out completely.

            Aligning the print heads is easy, with lines and arrows to examine, and clear instructions to follow, but cleaning the print heads entails printing out solid lines of colour, making the paper soggy and using up more than is necessary.

            The stupidest thing about this printer is that if you choose 'double sided' as I did twice by mistake, it doesn't print on both sides of the paper, it simply prints the odd pages, then on the next available piece of paper, prints a huge arrow with the writing 'turn paper round to print on other side' or something to that effect which is a senseless waste of both paper and ink.

            However, don't let me put you off this scanner/printer entirely. Overall this is a nice printer with nice results, it just has some irksome quirks!

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            • More +
              02.10.2007 19:33
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              A good classic

              This classic thriller or 'shocker' by John Buchan is famous for its action packed plot and gripping cliff hangers.

              There are surprises around every corner as our hero, Richard Hannay flees to Scotland to escape a conviction for a murder he did not commit.

              The murder victim is Scudder; a secret agent who dug a little too deeply and found he couldn't hide well enough from the Prussian agents in hot pursuit.

              The agents will stop at nothing to accomplish their mission...unless Richard Hannay can outwit them and blow their cover.

              Hannay's travels take him into the Highlands, desperately trying to stay hidden from the Police and the agents until he can gather enough evidence needed to prove his innocence and foil the agents.

              Through skill and sheer luck against all odds, he manages for a time. But how long can he keep it up?

              The scenarios in this book are varied and always intriguing and exciting. They are well narrated with plenty of description, but not so much as to detract from the plot.

              The characters are three-dimensional and believable with their strengths, weaknesses and common human faults.

              The vocabulary and style of wirting is slightly old fashioned because it was first published in 1915, but I find it a refreshing change to the short, sharp sentences of modern literature. This might be off-putting for some though, so if you like reading modern style literature, don't attempt this.

              However, I personally recommend this to anyone who enjoys good classic works, especially those with plot twists and cliff hangers.

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              • The Phantom of the Opera (DVD) / DVD / 35 Readings / 32 Ratings
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                28.09.2007 21:28
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                Brilliantly stylised, yet somehow believable

                Brilliantly stylised, yet somehow believable, this musical is powerful stuff. It's one of those special films that make you want to see it again even as the credits roll.

                Based on the (somewhat confusing, so I'm told) novel by Gaston Leroux, Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical is brought to life once again as you've never seen it before.

                Set in the Opéra Populaire in 1870's France, the film focuses on talented young soprano Christine Daaé, the Opéra Populaire's new patron le Vicomte Raoul de Changy and the mysterious Phantom.

                Also important is the Prima Donna Carlotta who throws a tantrum at the smallest hint of not getting her own way. The Phantom seems intent on ridding the Opéra Populaire of the screeching singer and Carlotta refuses to perform after another of the Phantom's 'hints'.

                The Opéra Populaire's new managers, Andre and Firmin, start panicking about who will sing in the show, and up steps a shy, nightingale-voiced Christine from the crowd, whereupon she amazes them with her vocal talent which had been helped along by lessons from the Phantom.

                Raoul, a new-comer to the Opéra Populaire recognises Christine as his childhood sweetheart and is moved by her evening's performance. They fall in love with each other, but the Phantom is never far behind and he's yearning for the human compassion which has long been denied to him.

                This is a breathtaking, utterly captivating film. The sumptious sets and diverse costumes go far to ensnare you in the plot.

                The actors are very well chosen - it was evidently worth the apparently lengthy auditions and screen tests.

                Emmy Rossum is perfect as the innocent, naïve, talented Christine, while Gerard Butler's voice lends a harsh edge to match the character of the Phantom. I have heard people criticising him for simply belts out the words, but I feel that he does it just enough to be in keeping with the character.

                Patrick Wilson is equally good in his role as the well-meaning but slightly hopeless Raoul.

                The two disc set has the film on the first disc, while disc two contains interesting behind the scenes footage and footage of Michael Crawford performing as the Phantom on stage.

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                • Mars Bar / Chocolate / 47 Readings / 43 Ratings
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                  30.08.2007 20:07
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                  Delicious but addictive!

                  Past the gorgeous Crunchies, past the simple by delicious Flakes, past the soft, gooey Milky Ways, flicking past the Galaxies and the Caramels...

                  ...straight to the Mars bar. Your eye is always drawn to it. It doesn't tell you to eat it, it doesn't have a big 'eat me' sign on it, but it may as well, because you know that once that mars bar is yours, the next few minutes will be pure bliss.

                  Until you see the weighing scales and the dentist's bill of course--

                  Mars's packaging is simple but its familiar wrapper can be easily distinguished from the rest of the bars - with their packaging all silently shouting at you to buy them...eat them.

                  But I digress! Mars's packaging is simple and easily recognisable. The wrapper is black with red letters outlined with gold.

                  Mars. Those four letters tell you that a treat is in store.

                  As with most chocolates - or at least the ones worth bothering about - the smell of the product can be smelt soon after the packaging is broken into and Mars never fails to kick those taste buds into action!

                  The confectionery is composed of a sort of sticky, truffle sort of bottom, much like a Milky Way, topped with soft (but not runny) caramel and enrobed in milk chocolate.

                  The bar is chunky and is an edible sensation and you sink your teeth in and experience all the flavours as they stand out from each other and then mingle together, creating a highly addictive experience.

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                  • The Magic Bubble (DVD) / DVD / 27 Readings / 26 Ratings
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                    28.08.2007 11:55
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                    A sickening film which falls at every fence

                    I watched this some years ago - and wished I hadn't.

                    The idea of a woman blowing bubbles and making wishes doesn't exactly fill me with a sense of fun, or indeed a sense of anything but utter boredom (and disbelief).

                    The plot - if indeed there was one - the acting and the direction all mixed together to make one very rancid concoction, not quite the magical effect they were hoping for. The plot is so thin, they could have put one out of one's misery and made it ten minutes long.

                    This film (other title: Unbecoming Age) left me wondering if I had just spent the past ninety minutes in some strange half-coma. I couldn't believe anyone could produce such nonsense.

                    The direction is hopeless and confusing, leaving the audience wonding why George Clooney and the woman suddenly meet on a hillside somewhere (if I am remembering this correctly) and there are other times when the scenes jump around all over the place with no coherant join.

                    The embarassment of a grown woman dancing around like a child because she has forgotten how old she is (due to her wish) might possibly make you feel quite nauseous.

                    Put simply, this film's not worth the plastic it's written on.

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                    • More +
                      28.08.2007 11:36

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                      Thorough documentation of dog breeds and more

                      Without trying to sound too clichéd, I have to say this book is a true must for anyone interested in Man's Best Friend!

                      It is an interesting and accurate book with more dog breeds than most books make room for. Similar but different breeds such as the Norfolk and Norwich terriers and the King Charles and Cavalier King Charles spaniels are allowed their own separate entries and a handful of dogs are featured in full page photographs.

                      Each breen entry has information on the dog's appearance, characteristics, history, country of origin, size and coat colour, along with a diagram showing its size relative to the average human.

                      Fascinating information and useful facts are presented in a simple but unpatronising form in true Dorling Kindersley style.

                      Information on canine history, anatomy and life cycles is available in the front of the book. Useful facts about choosing, feeding, training and generally looking after a dog can be found at the back. The book has a contents page and a good index.

                      Use it for reference or for simply drooling over those gorgeous dogs (!) it's suitable for both.

                      Excellent for children and adults and thoroughly recommended.

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                      28.08.2007 11:27
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                      Four discs of varied enjoyment

                      The music of John Barry is somewhat overlooked. Give me the choice between the revered John Williams and John Barry, and the latter would win hands down.

                      John Barry's music is varied in style; from the flighty The Dove to the haunting Mary Queen of Scots, from the familiar theme from the 1970s cult series The Persuaders to the mysterious The Deep, not forgetting the numerous James Bond themes and the powerful music from The Black Hole, there's something to please everyone.

                      This four disc set is great value for money and the music spans twenty years of John Barry's musical career. It comes with an information booklet telling the listener a little about John Barry and his music, along with some small details about each track.

                      I'm usually quite picky about what music I listen to, and certainly very discerning about what CDs I buy, but I didn't regret my purchase for a moment, and the music is just as enjoyable the second time round.

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                        27.08.2007 17:24
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                        Starts off as a promising and captivating series, only to completely fall apart at the end.

                        The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin was a hugely popular television series, first broadcast in 1976.

                        The series starred Leonard Rossiter as Reginald Perrin, a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown, driven by the boredom of his office job at Sunshine Desserts to fake his own suicide by leaving his clothes on a beach and assuming a new identity.

                        John Barron plays the part of Reggie's boss, CJ, who is a formidable, overbearing character, full of useless mixed-metaphors and business clichés. His favourite phrase to use is 'I didn't get where I am today...' (insert part of previous conversation spoken by another character). For example, when Reggie makes a mistake due to his increasing level of insanity, CJ replies with, 'I didn't get where I am today by saying "earwig" instead of "thank you".'

                        It's hilarious stuff, and often you can feel Reggie's embarrassment and tension as you will him to do the right thing and not to make yet another daft mistake.

                        Reggie's colleagues, Tony Webster and David Harris-Jones, have their own quirks: whenever Tony says 'great,' David has a nervous habit of following it up with 'super'.

                        Reggie's secretary, Joan, proves to be a bit more than a minor distraction to Reggie - every time he tries to dictate a letter for her to type up, he drifts off into his daydreams involving Joan...

                        And there's family to put up with too. Reggie becomes exceedingly irked by his boringly predictable wife Elizabeth, his regimental brother-in-law Jimmy, and his boring, slightly hippyish, disgusting-wine-making son-in-law Tom.

                        Everything's boring - he walks the same way to the station each day, the train's always eleven minutes late, the same college always forgets to take a handkerchief on the train for his hay fever, he can never seem to please his boss...

                        Eventually things become too much for him and after causing the 'world's first loganberry slick', he drives to the beach and fakes his death.

                        Without giving too much away, series two is almost as funny as the first, but the heavy reliance on catchphrases becomes wearing and you half wish they had called it a day after series one.

                        By series two, you realise that if the catchphrases weren't there, you'd have pretty much no plot at all. What started off as a fun, compelling sitcom turned into a dull, repetitive, yelled battle of the catchphrases.

                        This is funny to start with, but after the fiftieth 'I didn't get where I am today...' from CJ and yet another 'bit of a cock-up on the catering front' from Jimmy, you realise how much of its original sparkle and charm the show has lost since the intriguing episode one.

                        Every catchphrase is worn out, every character has been played to its maximum and every ear drum has been worn thin by Reginald's recurrent shouting and exclamations of despair and false optimism to a point where it actually has a stale feel.

                        Even the newly-introduced character McBlane fails to provide anything fresh to the show. A smelly, unclean, incomprehensible Scotsman who half-threatens Reggie with a knife is funny for the first time, and the second--and possibly the third. But when the same routine is done several times over, it's still funny - but for all the wrong reasons as the audience laughs in pained disbelief and starts wondering if their DVD player is going round in circles.

                        This is a very good idea stretched too far. I would advise watching just the first two series, but unfortunately, that does not complete the story. Ideally, you need to watch the third series too, before you embark on the final episode.

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                        • The 39 Steps [1978] (DVD) / DVD / 25 Readings / 23 Ratings
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                          27.08.2007 11:58
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                          The closest to the book out of the three films made. Well worth watching.

                          It's 1914 and Richard Hannay has just returned to Britain for a short visit from South Africa where he has worked as a mining engineer.

                          He hasn't been in Britain long before a neighbour, Colonel Scudder, appears at his apartment door, pushes his way in, threatens him with a gun and tells him that Carolides - the Greek Prime Minister - is to be assassinated by Prussian agents. If this were to happen, World War would immediately break out.

                          Scudder uses Hannay's apartment to hide for a day or two while he finishes his work. Unfortunately for Scudder and Hannay, Scudder is murdered and Hannay is the immediate suspect, with very little hope of being able to clear his name. To avoid being hung for murder and treason, he escapes to Scotland where he is hounded by the Police and the foreign agents.

                          Here he tries to work out the details of the planned assassination to attempt to prevent it and prove his innocence.

                          There have been three films made of this story, written by John Buchann and first published in 1915 by William Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh.

                          The book is a gripping read, and this film, made in 1978 and starring Robert Powell, is not far off.

                          This film is the closer to the original than the other two, who both use a music hall scene with a Memory Man to find out the truth behind the thirty nine steps.

                          That isn't to say this version is completely loyal - there are some obvious changes and omissions, but it is enthralling all the same.

                          At first, Robert Powell seems a bit distant from his character (Richard Hannay), but gives a better and better performance as the film progresses. His acting in the hospital scene was incredible and I felt myself being affected by the drug I hadn't been given.

                          His performance is outstanding and it was odd for me to see him in a serious role (after watching him act alongside Jasper Carrot in The Detectives).

                          John Mills also gives a brilliant - if shortlived - performance as Colonel Scudder.

                          I was glad to see the woman (Alex Mackenzie, played by Karen Dotrice) wasn't portrayed as some useless bimbo for once! She was quick-witted, brave and very helpful.

                          As for the soundtrack, I found it extremely enjoyable and relevant. It worked really well as is the sort of thing I like.

                          This is one very exciting, enjoyable film which is very well made. I will definitely be watching it again!

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                          • Hipp Baby Food / Baby Food / 21 Readings / 19 Ratings
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                            26.08.2007 19:22
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                            Next: wine tasting! (Of which I have absolutely no knowledge...)

                            I am eighteen and do not have any experience with babies, but I have eaten this (because I was curious as to what it tasted like), so I can still comment on it, but I can't tell you what it's like for babies, because I don't know! You never know - some adults might like eating this...

                            * * *

                            It tasted nice.

                            Okay, so it was a weird thing to do, but I was curious!

                            It was organic apple and pear (with rice).

                            Here's my verdict:

                            The food had a dull, pale green appearance with a hint of yellow and had the consistency of overstirred stewed apple.

                            The aroma was slight but moderately pleasing and fruity while the flavour was remarkably bland, although not altogether unpleasant. It was not as sweet as I had expected. Apple was the predominating flavour, but the pear could also be detected, addding undercurrents of flavour to the relative monotony of the food in its entirety.

                            It leaves a trace of an aftertaste in the mouth after consumption, but it is not wholly displeasing and does not feel sugary like many foods nowadays.

                            Altogether a simple, yet pleasing mixture contained in an appropriately-sized jar.

                            I would probably personally give it a score of 7/20, but then I'm not the baby.

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                            • Zanussi ZWF1437 / Washing Machine / 26 Readings / 24 Ratings
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                              24.08.2007 09:50
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                              Beeeeeeep, beeeeeeeep, beeeeeeeeeep. GRR!

                              We bought this a few months ago when our old Zanussi packed up.

                              Being a second (it had a dent on one side) it was discounted, and I can't remember how much it cost. We bought it from the man who came to repair the old one but couldn't (or so he said!).

                              Personally, I think at 7kg maximum load, this was too big even for a family of four. All too often we have put a load in, only to find it only fills half the maximum, making us feel guilty about wasting electricity and water for half a load.

                              This washing machine heats its own water, whereas our previous model drew on our hot water supply, leaving little for anything else while it was on. The new model is welcome in that it doesn't do that.

                              The washing machine door is hinged on the left and has a large release button on the back of the large handle.

                              At the side, near the top, it has a powder/softener drawer on the left, numerous buttons along the middle and a small LED screen on the right along with a set of small lights. For each setting, one button is used. Each time the button is pressed, the LEDs next to the settings light up in turn until you select the correct setting and stop pressing the button.

                              Before setting the machine up to go, you need to press the on/off button. An irritating high-pitched beeping sound can be heard which will sonn stop. It will stop even sooner if you start to press the buttons, although every time you press a button, it beeps.

                              The first settings button is labelled with different fabrics (cotton daily, cottons, synthetics, delicate, wool/handwash) which limits which settings you can use on the next button; this determines the temperature.

                              Basically, the first settings act merely as a guide for the second settings. So if you have synthetics, you can still set the first settings to 'cottons', but that will enable the use of all the temperature buttons, some of which will be too hot for the synthetics. The available temperature settings are 95, 60, 50, 40 and 30 degrees centigrade (celsius).

                              Once you have chosen the fabric and the correct temperature, you can choose, with the button, the spin speed (1400, 900, 700, 500 or rinse hold). We always keep it on 1400 and I don't know what rinse hold is.

                              The next settings are prewash, intensive and extra quick, although you can deselect all of these. I am not familiar with the former two settings, but 'extra quick', as its name quite clearly states, shortens the length of the entire wash cycle to save on water and electricity. We usually always select this setting to keep the cycle time down to just over an hour. I would imagine intensive is the opposite of this, but we just deselect 'extra quick' instead.

                              The next button has only two settings: super rinse and 40° AA. 'Super rinse' is self-explanatory, and I have no idea what 40°AA is (I don't think any of us know!).

                              Which brings us to the start/pause button. When the washing has been put in with the door closed, and the correct amount of powder and fabric softener has been put into the drawer and you are satisfied with the settings, you can press the startpause button to start the cycle.

                              You should have noticed by now that whenever a setting is changed, the LED screen on the far right displays the estimated cycle time, given the chosen settings. This is a very approximate time, but isn't too far off.

                              Next to this screen are five other LEDs with a word next to each one: prewash, wash, rinses, spin, drain. As each setting is chosen, these change to show the stages the washing machine will go through during its cycle. So if you select 'prewash', the 'prewash' light will be illuminated on the right. I'm not sure which setting causes the 'drain' light to come on. Usually only the middle three lights will be lit up. Once the start/pause button is pressed, all but the first of these lights ('prewash' if you've selected 'prewash', otherwise 'wash') will go out. As the cycle progresses to different stages, the next light will come on, then the next etc., thereby showing you whereabouts in the cycle it is.

                              You can choose to skip one of these stages by pressing the 'skip' button.

                              The entire cycle can be paused which is useful if you've forgotten something (although if the machine is full of water, I don't hink you can open it).

                              This washing machine seems to take a very long time per cycle compared with our old model, but that's probably because it's bigger, thus it needs more water, which therefore takes longer to heat up.

                              The most annoying thing about this washing machine is the incessant beeping. When it has finished altogether, it beeps intermittantly to let you know that it has finished. This cannot be turned off and drives me absolutely mad! This thing on its own means that if I had the choice between this and a not-as-good, but non-beeping model, I would choose the non-beeping model without hesitation! It annoys me that much!

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                              • ibootsale.co.uk / Internet Site / 38 Readings / 33 Ratings
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                                22.08.2007 16:00
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                                It's on its way up (I hope)!

                                iBootSale is a new online car boot sale site.

                                As well as being free to join, it is currently also free to claim a pitch, due to the fact that the site is in its infancy and is still trying to get off the ground.

                                Like a car boot sale, you hire a pitch for a certain length of time (ninety days in the case of iBootSale, unless you upgrade) and sell products for a fixed amount, while giving buyers an option to haggle, if they so wish (this can be enabled or disabled on each item as you see fit).

                                As with a real car boot, there is a limited amount of space per pitch - twenty five - but this can be upgraded once you reach that amount.

                                When you first enter the site, you will see the heading along with five tabs (Home, MyBootSale, Search, Register, Help). Down the left hand side is a serch box, a link syaing 'Browse by Pitch', a list of categories and three links: Quick Start Guide; Tips and Tricks and Fees and Charges.

                                Down the middle can be found brief details on how to use the site, buy, sell and register, on the right of which is a scrolling marquee of pitch pictures showing featured pitches.

                                Down the right hand side are user log in boxes, latest items and latest pitches.

                                Registering is easy and you receive no spam from doing so. The information you need is: username, password, email address, full name and address with option of entering your PayPal email address if you wish to buy or sell using PayPal.

                                When you view a pitch, you will see the pitch title, a picture of some of the products, seller information (username, feedback score, positive feedback percentage, date joined, location (town, county), pitch expiry date), pitch description, and a list of items (pictures, item title, price, postage cost, and haggle yes/no).

                                If you click on 'member profile', you can see a more detailed feedback profile. This is like eBay's feedback system where buyers and sellers can leave positive, negative or neutral feedback, although on iBootSale it doesn't show up in the list as a green, red or grey spot, instead it is shown as a star rating (one, two or three stars).

                                If you click on an item, it goes to that item's listing, with a picture, which category it belongs to, page views, date added, price, pricing type (set price/open to offers), postage cost, postage notes (e.g. what service will be used), haggle (if the seller allows hagging on that item), accepted payment types (PayPal, cheque, postal order, cash on collection, bank transfer), payment notes (e.g. cheque must clear before item is dispatched) and of course the product description.

                                Underneath the product is a buy now and/or make offer button (depending on the seller's options). Clicking on 'buy now' takes you to a page asking for confirmation of commitment to the purchase.

                                Clicking on 'make offer' takes you to a page asking for your amount to be entered. However, if you click on this and then close the window or click your browser's back button or back out in any way, it thinks you've made an offer on the item and will not allow you to make another one.

                                Listing an item is very easy. To list an item, click on 'MyPitch', click on 'add/edit items', then click on 'add an item'. This will take you to a form to fill in.

                                Here you select a category from the drop-down list, enter the item title and description, upload an image (optional but advisable), set a price, select whether you want it to be a set price or open to offer, choose whether or not you want to allow haggling on the item (not available with 'open to offer'), select postage type (postage, buyer collects or both), enter postage notes (optional), select payment type (PayPal, cheque, postal order, cash on collection, bank transfer) and enter payment notes (optional).

                                After doing all that you click on 'submit item' and it's done!

                                As it's not an auction site, you can change any aspect of your listings whenever and as often as you want.

                                Then you sit back and wait...and wait...and wait for someone to even notice the site exists. That's the only problem you see - the site is so new that most people have never even heard of the site. When people do eventually find the site, most people have made no sales so they have zero feedback which of course makes it a bit risky. Some people have made sales though, and the site is slowly - very slowly - on its way up.

                                As previously stated, because the site is new, there are currently no fees, but when there are, members will have to pay for a pitch (not per item or a final listing fee) and for pitch upgrades (e.g. adding more than 25 items, not item updates) How much this is going to be is not yet clear.

                                Once this gets off the ground I can see this being a good site to use - if you have enough to sell, it doesn't seem as greedy as eBay with their fees.

                                I have seven items listed on iBootSale as I speak. If I manage to sell any of them, I'll let you know.

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