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For 2001, Tuesday nights at Amnesia mean one thing - GodsKitchen. And GodsKitchen means a bloody good night out! Amnesia is a large club located on the road leading to San Antonio, just down the road from Privilege. It has a very friendly, and mainly British crowd, who ensure that the dancefloor is always packed and the atmosphere is great. I went on July the 24th for a night of pan-European hard house from the likes of Fergie, Tiesto, and Mauro Picotto. Entry was a tad steep for my liking - 6500pts (about £25), and that was after a 1000pts flyer discount. However, if you want to see top name DJs like these boys, you're going to have to pay for the Privilege. And if like me, you're a bit fond of your pennies, for God's sake don't buy any drinks, the prices are predictably laughable. I managed to dance for about 4 hours nonstop before realising I would most likely faint if I didn't get a drink down me. I opted for a 33cl bottle of water, hoping it would be cheap, but alas it was 900pts (about £3.50), and the cheeky little barman even had the cheek to ask me for a tip. Believe it or not, I declined his offer. However if you're buying spirit based drinks, a good tip might be wise, as it is likely to get you a bigger measure from that barperson next time. The music was exceptionally good - Tiesto was highly impressive, he really got the crowd going, and I hope to catch him again sometime. Fergie on the other hand played what was probably one of the best sets I have ever heard, his technical skill, creativity, and superiority over his colleagues was clear for all to see. Amnesia also offers a second large room, which from my brief visit seemed to play more commercial music, and featured things like a fruit stall and a tattooist. The room was not quiet as lively as the hard house goings on next door, but seemed more chatty and friendly. I suspect this is the place to be if you are after a bit of fun with the oppo site sex. All in all, it was a top night out, and I'd recommend Amnesia to anyone who likes a bit of machinegun music, but Tuesday is definately the night to go. Oh, and one more thing - stay away from those disco biscuits!!
The Garbi Nightclub is located in the Playa den Bossa, a short busride south of Ibiza Town. Playa den Bossa, altough a lot smaller than the likes of San Antonio and Ibiza Town, does have a reasonable nightlife, and is a lot cleaner and less commercial. The main problem with the area though, is that it is FULL of Germans. Everywhere. Now, don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against Germans, some of the women are stunning, it's just that most of them don't talk English, and the ones that do aren't interested in talking to foreigners. The club itself is, if I remember correctly connected to the Garbi hotel, and is free entry with a flyer, but drinks are a bit pricier that you might expect for a fairly small club. It's interior style is very much that of a cheesey 70s disco, not really a club, and the music matches it well. You can expect to hear quality tracks by the likes of 'S Club 7', 'The Vengaboys', and so on. Oh, and don't go expecting the so called 'DJ' to mix the tracks, oh no. Once one song is finished you'll have to wait a moment for the next CD to be put on! The club does have a good, albeit rather foreign, atmosphere and the dancefloor is busy right from early on (although it is mainly populated by fat old ladies wearing leggings!). Personally, it wasn't really my cup of tea, and we moved on after a bit, but if you like cheesey disco stuff, then this is probably right up your alley.
Already known as "The Commercial Album", or better, the album where Radiohead would go back to some decent songwriting and the label 'guitar band' could be aptly used again. Two months before its official release, the complete album - of those songs, half were already known because they had been played at various concerts the previous summer, and as a result of whic decent quality copies were available online. What does the album sounds like then? As weird as "Kid A", absolutely not more (or less) commercial than that album. Probably the only reason that it was labelled that way is the mere fact that singles are going to be taken off it, not because the songs are in any way more radio-friendly than those on "Kid A". For example: compared to "The Pyramid Song", "Optimistic" could easily also be a single. "Amnesiac" has a lot in common with 'Kid A". Both start strangely; it takes a while for the first normal song to appear. Both albums contain lots of experimenting and still the original instruments Radiohead used to use (Guitars! Drums! Remember those?) are strikingly absent. Not only that, the very structure of the album, the sequencing of the tracks seem nigh on identical to "Kid A", with "Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Box" being "Amnesiac"'s "Everything In Its Right Place", "Pull/Pulk Revolving Doors" its "Kid A" etc. etc. Though it surprises at first, later on the album begins to dissapoint, albeit only slighty. There are more weak songs on this one than on "Kid A"; "Hunting Bears" is a fairly useless, short instrumental filler track (this record's "Treefingers", to ram the point home even further), "I Might Be Wrong" has a nice start but just goes on without really getting anywhere and "Dollars and Cents" - a meandering tune without much of a mel ody to it - could be described as a leftover from the "Pablo Honey" era, reminiscing such non-classics as "Lurgee" and "Ripcord". The, more esotoric, spacy, re-run of "Morning Bell" is nice, but better suited for a B-side. Remains 7 tracks, running from good to classic. The good tracks are the first single "Pyramid Song"; a quiet song, led by a piano; "Packed Like Sardines In A Crushd Box", is a nice, strange start of the album and even better is "Life In A Glass House" featuring trumpeteer Humphrey Lyttleton, Radiohead go all jazzy on us, with Thom Yorke's voice fitting in surprisingly well making an excellent end to the album. Highlights of the album are 4 songs, two of them 'normal' songs, two strange songs. "Like Spinning Plates" is the strangest song Radiohead ever recorded. Not since The Beatles made "Tomorrow Never Knows" has such a huge band recorded such a song, so good and so strange. "Pull/Pulk Revolving Doors" is not quiet as weird, nor as good, but still manages to come frighteningly close on both accounts. "You And Whose Army" and "Knives Out" are the opposite of these songs, the first being the Radiohead rendition of a 1920's song, or at least Thom Yorke's voice is. The remainder of the song sounding a lot like "The Bends" b-sides (which is really a compliment), especially "Bishop's Robes". The second one, "Knives Out" with its slighty jazzy overtones and its equally jazzy guitar motif is simply compelling. Question remains whether it was 'good' of Radiohead to release their material recorded a year ago - some 30 songs - this way. It has some positive sides, showing that they have guts, that they dare to experiment and dare to venture where most major bands never would; releasing two albums within the space of 9 months, the first one without a ny singles. On the other hand, the two albums are both weaker, or at least more precarious, than their predecessor "OK Computer" and if they would have liked to, they could have most likely released an album that would be equal to, if not better than, "OK Computer". To Sheep, the tracklisting of that album (let's call it "Kid Amnesiac") should have been: 1) Everything In Its Right Place 2) Packt Like Sardines In A Crushed Tin Box 3) The National Anthem 4) How To Disappear Completely 5) Pull Pulk Revolving Doors 6) You And Whose Army 7) Like Spinning Plates 8) Optimistic 9) In Limbo 10) Idioteque 11) Knives Out 12) Motion Picture Soundtrack (the acoustic version)
Firstly, I would like to recommend Orange as a mobile telecommunications network for its excellent customer service, network, and variety of tariffs. I have been with Orange for 18 months now, on the EveryDay 50 tariff. So what do you get with Everyday 50? You get 50 free minutes of phone calls every day off-peak, that is from 7pm to 7am weekdays and all day weekends and bank holidays are included too. So what's the cost? It is 50p a day. What happens if I exceed my 50 minutes in day? Well, providing your call is made during off-peak time you are only charged at 1p/min. (Otherwise, it is 35p/min during the day - but there is a way round this, as I'll explain later) How do you pay for this? You have to pay direct debit every month, at 50p/day, that works out around £15 pounds a month, no further line renatls costs etc. If you use your phone regularly, then paying by direct debit for is definitely cheaper than the "Pay as you go" sysytems which have very high call costs, not like 1p/min off peak, like this one. If you really need a mobile phone and can keep the 12 month contract, its worth it. Now down to the important stuff, like when you have a problem... So whats the customer service like? Its excellent. You are always greeted by friendly staff and during the first year of my contract I had 6 phone replacements, without a quibble from them, they just sent a courier round wherever I was and within 24 hours I had a replacement! Now, thats what I call service! If occasionally the network is problematic and you drop a call, they will automatically credity your account with a minute for each dropped call should it ever happen. As I mentioned earlier, peak rate calls are quite expensive, and so if you have to make calls during the day and cannot afford the 35p/min on this, you can divert your calls using a freephone 0800 phone company, there are plenty of them around and the cost varies from 3p/min to 6p/min. But if you do use 0800 access make sure you are not being surcharged by Orange for making this call, you will hear a message saying "You are calling a calling card company..." if you get such a message, hang up quick! If you were primarily making calls during the day (peak rate) then you should not chose this package/tariff as Everyday 50 is suitable for off peak usage. This Orange tariff should be availble at numerous outlets, some may give you a freephone, free connection etc, just shop around. Finally, before you buy check the coverage in your area. As far as I know Orange cover about 98.5% of the UK, but if you live in some remote areas i.e Shetland Islands, check coverage before buying. Also. please note Orange offer a 14-day money back system with their phones so if you do find the coverage/reception unacceptable you can return it within the 14 days. Overall, Orange is a great network, with excellent customer service, a good variety of tariffs, and excellent coverage. In comparison to some to it's rivals, Mr Orange comes out on top.
As a long term internet user, I have used a variety of search engines over the years. For a while, I split searches between Excite, Lycos, and Yahoo with the context of the search determining the engine chosen. Then I found Google. Simply put, Google is the best search engine available. When rating a search engine, a few factors come to mind: Effectiveness Face it, the only reason to use a search engine is to find information. Hopefully, you will find this information with as little wasted poking around as necessary. To anyone who hasn't tried Google, I will issue a challenge, pick a subject, any subject. You will be amazed at how relevant your initial results are. The reason Google is so effective is related to methodology. There are two methods that search engines use to index sites, humans entering data into databases, and automated programs called "spiders" that crawl the web and read meta-tags on webpages. Google uses spiders, but it also does something unique. It cross references data from links on the page it is searching to determine content matches. Using false subjects is a common way for web site operators to generate traffic. Using cross referencing defeats this tactic. This results in less hits for a given query, but surprising accurate results. This makes Google the most effective search engine available. And in keeping with the "cocky" age we are in, Google is also involved in a little boasting. It has a feature called I'm feeling lucky. This feature will automatically follow the first link in your search results. Interface Google is the mark of simplicity. When you first go to www.google.com, you will be greeted with a lone search box. That is about it. A small, Google logo, but not much else. (Absolutely no advertising!) I find that the most effective way to use google is to simply type words or phrases in the search box, but for those who desire categories, there is a Yahoo-derived directory ava ilable by clicking on a link. Speed I have a 56.6k connection to the internet, and truly appreciate Googles' minimalist approach to web page design. Not only do the uncluttered pages load quickly, and not only do you save time by getting relevant results, the search engine is very quick. And it's even quicker when you consider that it's searching through over 1.3 billion pages - Which, as far as I know, is the largest database of any search engine. In summary, try Google, you will be glad you did.
Firstly, I would like to recommend Orange as a mobile telecommunications network for its excellent customer service, network, and variety of tarifs. I have been with Orange for 18 months now, on a plan called EveryDay 50. So what do you get with Everyday 50? You get 50 free minutes of phone calls every day off-peak, that is from 7pm to 7am weekdays and all day weekends and bank holidays are included too. So what's the cost? It is 50p a day. What happens if I exceed my 50 minutes in day? Well, providing your call is made during off-peak time you are only charged at 1p/min. (Otherwise, it is 35p/min during the day - but there is a way round this, as I'll explain later) How do you pay for this? You have to pay direct debit every month, at 50p/day, that works out around £15 pounds a month, no further line renatls costs etc. If you use your phone regularly, then paying by direct debit for is definitely cheaper than the "Pay as you go" sysytems which have very high call costs, not like 1p/min off peak, like this one. If you really need a mobile phone and can keep the 12 month contract, its worth it. Now down to the important stuff, like when you have a problem... So whats the customer service like? Its excellent. You are always greeted by friendly staff and during the first year of my contract I had 6 phone replacements, without a quibble from them, they just sent a courier round wherever I was and within 24 hours I had a replacement! Now, thats what I call service! If occasionally the network is problematic and you drop a call, they will automatically credity your account with a minute for each dropped call should it ever happen. As I mentioned earlier, peak rate calls are quite expensive, and so if you have to make calls during the day and cannot afford the 35p/min on this, you can divert your calls using a freephone 0800 phone company, there are plenty of them around and the cost varies from 3p/min to 6p/min. But if you do use 0800 access make sure you are not being surcharged by Orange for making this call, you will hear a message saying "You are calling a calling card company..." if you get such a message, hang up quick! If you were primarily making calls during the day (peak rate) then you should not chose this package/tariff as Everyday 50 is suitable for off peak usage. This Orange tariff should be availble at numerous outlets, some may give you a freephone, free connection etc, just shop around. Finally, before you buy check the coverage in your area. As far as I know Orange cover about 98.5% of the UK, but if you live in some remote areas i.e Shetland Islands, check coverage before buying. Also. please note Orange offer a 14-day money back system with their phones so if you do find the coverage/reception unacceptable you can return it within the 14 days. Overall, Orange is a great network, with excellent customer service, a good variety of tariffs, and excellent coverage. In comparison to some to it's rivals, Mr Orange comes out on top.
QXL is either a great or a very bad auction site - It depends what you are using it for. If you have something to sell, it's a godsend. It has more users than any other European auction site, which means more potential bidders, which in turn means, more bids and more money! Fortunately for us sellers, half of the bidders would seem have no common sense at all, and seem to pressume that just because it is an auction they will get a bargain. I say this because every single item I have sold on QXL has sold for a lot more than it's Recommended Retail Price. It seens impulse buyers should be kept well away from QXL! If you're a bidder though, and it's a bargain you're after though - you'd be best advised to look elsewhere. Alhough it has more items than most sites, it also has more rival bidders. The best auction deals are found at places where there are fewer bidders, which means the less popular sites, although it can be harder to find specific items. QXL does have many good features, such as the ability to send SMS auction updates, and also has regular promotions giving away free software to new users. When I joined I received a free copy of Half-life.
Everytime I get talking about Richer Sounds people think I work there or have shares in them. I don't - they really are that good. First of all, I should just say that I HATE high-street shopping, can't stand it - the high prices, the rude, ignorant and dishonest commision based salesmen, the whole package. Shopping for electronics is usually the worst, high-street shops such as Dixons, Comet, PC World, et cetera, are probably the worst 'shops' I have ever visited. This is largely down to the salesmen, who have very little knowledge of the items they sell, lie about anything they don't know, and work on commision so always try and sell the you the most expensive items. Just over two years ago, when I was first looking for a portable minidisc recorder, I decided it was a Sharp 702 I was after, and set about looking for the cheapest price. I seem to remember Dixons selling it for £299, as where most places, then I saw told about an advert in the back of What Hi-Fi which said Richer Sounds were selling it for £159. When I went to the shop to buy it, I was simply amazed by the friendliness, knowledge, honesty, and genourosity of the salesman, in fact so much so that I can still to this day remember his name (Marcus). Not only did they honour this amazing price, but he threw in various other things in for free - a 3 year extended warranty (worth £29), ten blank MiniDiscs (at the time worth £25), an optical interconnect (worth £20), and a Richer Sounds mug! Since that day, I've not looked back, and I've spent more money at Richer Sounds than at any other shop. One of the nice things of about RS, is the friendly atmosphere created by the staff who all seem to be genuinley nice people, and complete Hi-Fi buffs. They also give out free tea, coffee, hot chocolate, water, lolly pops, sweets, ice lollies, and currently mince pies! They'll also give you a free umbrella if you are buying in the rain. I am constan tly amazed by the level of knowledge had by their staff who I have never seen be stumped by a question or give an incorrect answer. The aftersales service is also second to none, I have had several problems with items, and they have always been quickly replaced and easily. The only time I did have a problem was when my 702 was broken and they had none in stock to replace it with. A few days later, I received a letter straight from Julian Richer himself, appologising, giving me £20 of gift certificates, and telling me I could have a 722 instead - the next best model. Richer Sounds does have it's downsides though. In order to offer such great prices, they do have to cut some corners, this has resulted in having VERY small shops, in the cheaper areas of town, that are always completley packed, and usually understaffed (although this may well be more to do with Mr Richer's policy of employing only the best, than trying to save money), which often means waiting a very long time before seeing someone. They also seem to have quite low stock levels, and run out quickly when there's a good deal going. I wouldn't let any of this put you off though. There's no shop I'd rather let have my money.
First person shooters are, lets face it, common as much. So I entered into Unreal Tournament with a great deal of scepticism. I was a fanatic of Quake Team-Fortress and QuakeWorld. What I found within the confines of Unreal Tournament blew me away. The basics of the Unreal engine alone could prompt a whole review. I started playing on my 3Dfx Voodoo 3 2000 (those were the days..) and I was able to play the game using 1024x768 with little to no frame freeze with all my details set to high. The engine proves more configurablility than I was used to, and Unreal Tournament was the first game I had run into that provided an alternate fire mode for it's weapons. The graphics in the game sizzle with wonderful realism and attention to detail. The Skins that you can get for your player are impressive and varied. Game play was stunning. The online multiplayer server scanner was quick, efficient and seperated the games into catagories. You didn't have to download any mods to the game becuase it included all of them. I stick mostly to Capture the Flag. While the team based games are missing the Classes that TeamFortress has it does let you take up specific tasks easily. A well designed map has a weapon of most types in easy to reach places. I like nothing more than grabbing a sniper rifle and pecking off the opposition from on high while avoiding enemy snipers. Nothing makes me feel better than seeing a head go flying and words 'Head Shot' come out of my speakers. Perhaps I shouldn't admit that... The games flow very well. Frags are constant and hard. A good player can move through the game with a minimal of deaths, where players like me get killed frequently and can only hope to take the aggressor with him. But the initial maps shipped with Unreal were extremely well designed. In fact my favorite map is still the biggest one used in Capture the Flag, Facing Worlds, which was an original map with the game. It comes with a multitude of weapons and each has two fire modes. Power ups can be found with a little intelligence on a well designed map. The network engine for this game is one of the best I've seen. The ping system it uses doesn't mess around and keeps you refreshed constantly, and even on a slower connection can use 'assumptions' to let the game play smoother for you. Single player is excellent as well, as it gives you a tutorial then moves you through the 'Tournament' allowing you to progress in your standing, and moving to different types of tournaments. The Single player aspect makes this a well balanced game. Even if you don't have a reliable Net connection you can enjoy this game and feel good about killing others. Over all I feel this game is a superior First Person Shooter and would recommend it to anyone that likes to, or wants to play this type of game.
The Canon Powershot Pro 70 digital camera, like the much more expensive Nikon D1, has more in common with it's 35mm cousins than with it's digital brothers and sisters. The Pro 70 bears a strong family resemblance to the EOS cameras in both appearance and operation. For many traditional photographers the jump to digital imaging and equipment can be almost frightening, I mean you are an expert with lots of experience, and all of a sudden you are in unfamiliar territory, asking advice from people who are young enough to be your children. The Pro 70's controls and operation will feel familiar and comfortable to traditional photographers, this will insure a smooth and non-threatening switch to digital imaging and digital equipment. The feature list for the Pro 70 is very impressive. A 1/2 inch 1.68 million pixel CCD with resolution settings for 1536 x 1024 and 768 x 512 pixels. This Canon offers both a 2 inch TFT LCD screen viewfinder AND an optical viewfinder (very important to traditional photographers who want to see the "real" scene) the optical viewfinder is bright, contrasty, and offers a focus adjustment for those who wear glasses. A NiMH battery charger and battery are included and since digital cameras are known to go through batteries pretty darn quick, having the (optional) battery pack is a good thing. Additional good news is that up to 400 images can be made on one fully charged battery pack. Flash options for the Pro 70 are quite impressive, two Canon speedlites, the 220 EX and the 380 EX are available (advised) for this model. Flash is often a weak point in digital cameras, usually either no flash or an almost worthless "pop up" flash are the only options. Flash for the Pro 70 can be handled in much the same way it would be handled with a 35mm SLR camera. Another tremendous feature in this camera is the ability to hold, not one, but two compact flash cards, including one type II. Canon was the innovator he re, being first to offer this feature. You can either use the 8mb card that comes with the camera, or use two 80mb cards, this will allow shooting in CCD "raw mode" and switching back and forth between the two cards. Results for both auto and program modes are first rate. Low light situations are not a problem for the fast f2.0-2.4/28-70 (35mm equivalent) optical zoom lens. The Pro 70 comes complete with everything you need to get started, however replacing the included serial cable with a CF card reader would probably be a good idea. The software package bundled with the Pro 70 includes Adobe Photoshop LE, Ulead Photocompact, Photo Stitch, Time Tunnel, and Slide Show Maker. The digital revolution in photography can be very intimidating to traditional 35mm photographers. Most of these traditional photographers have anywhere from ten to thirty years of photographic experience, yet when it comes to "digital" they are "Newbies" and all that experience is very difficult to transfer to the new medium. Cameras like the Pro 70 will help traditional photographers make this transition more easily, by providing a familiar platform, logical controls, and traditional handling.
By the time the opening credits started to roll, Chicken Run already had my vote as the funniest movie of summer to date. A cross between Hogan’s Heroes and a picnic catered by Kentucky Fried Chicken, this full-length feature film from Aardman Studios (home of the Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit series) is slapstick animation at its finest. Co-directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park, the stop-motion clay animation story is cute enough for kids and smart enough for the over-five-foot crowd. Chicken Run opens with a moonlit view of Tweedy Chicken Farm, an austere operation out in the English countryside, surrounded by strands of barbed wire. It’s a dank place, a fowl* concentration camp straight out of all those Great Escape style movies (in fact, the main henhouse is Number 17 - as in Stalag 17). (* Please pardon the puns — this film is a virtual fount of inspiration to punmeisters everywhere) Out of the moonlight and shadows, an intrepid hen named Ginger (voiced by Julia Sawalha) digs her way under the fence with a tablespoon. She makes it out, but when her more portly hen friends try to escape, they’re caught in the act by Mr. Tweedy and his growling hounds. Ginger is thrown into the slammer (a coal bin), where she marks off her days of confinement with a piece of chalk. Then in a series of quick scenes, we see various other creative and wildly funny forms of escape — all of them unsuccessful, all landing Ginger back in the coal bin. And that’s just the first four minutes. We’re soon introduced to the inmates of the chicken farm, a diverse group of females (the one rooster is a gruff old colonel who constantly tells stories of the “glory days of the RAF, what, what”). The hens long to escape the farm and the axe of the villainous Mrs. Tweedy (Miranda Richardson). Except for Ginger, none of them are bright enough to figure out how to fly the coop. Enter Rocky (Mel Gibson), an all-American Rhode Island Red rooster who lands in the midst of the farm one night. He’s a real ladies’ man (er, hens’ rooster) — “I’ve got a way with the chicks,” he says — and convinces the gullible gals that he knows how to fly. Soon, Ginger and the rest of the hens are all a-flutter with plans to get away to greener pastures. Time ticks down for the chickens when they realize that Mrs. Tweedy has ordered a chicken-pie machine and she’s already starting to measure the ample girth of some of the hens. While there’s nothing technically dazzling about the animation (not like Dinosaur or either Fantasia), it’s good enough to make me forget I was watching modeled clay move around up on the screen. Thanks to the wonderful voice work by a great cast, these birds really take on character as the film develops. Chicken Run moves at a rapid clip, barely pausing to let the laughter die down before it smacks your ears with another punch line. It’s that rare breed of family film which, like Toy Story and The Iron Giant, the whole family will enjoy - although I suspect parents will have the edge on their kids. Some of the jokes may go over little heads (for instance, Mel’s very first line is “Freeeedom!”) and there are a couple of scary moments (an off-camera chicken beheading is subtle but may have some little-uns asking what happened with that nice hen, Mrs. Tweedy and the axe). Chicken Run builds to a conclusion that is full of inspiration, feather-raising action, romance and, above all, humor. If you’re being dragged into the cinema by your kids and you think it’s going to be another 85 minutes of U rated chickenfeed, don’t worry—you’ll laugh your beak off!
Millions of employees access the Web at work, and in many cases their every move is being monitored by their employer. Products known as Internet Monitoring software are designed to monitor web activity and many companies are using them to see what web sites their employees are accessing. The products offer employers detailed reports on how employees use the Internet including sites visited and files downloaded. Pretty scary, huh? Well, guess what? Because it’s the company’s equipment and employees are using and after all they are on company time --- it’s not an invasion of privacy. What is monitoring software? Some monitoring and filtering software comes equipped with colored bar graphs to show your employer how much time you spent downloading something as well as what it was that you were downloading. Others are designed with pie charts to show employers what employees have been bogarting the most bandwidth. Still others are specifically designed to tell your employer if you were playing games and which games you were playing. And if that isn’t enough to make your day, programs such as Antigame Plus will even delete the game. Oh! And if you’re worried about those employers who “know” their way around software, your worries are over. Changing the file name of the game won’t fool Antigame because the program does not use the file name to detect games. Instead, it looks inside the game files for a unique signature (or foot print). Ooops! Busted. For more information on Antigame Plus, visit their web site at http://www.anitgame.com. WizGuard 1.2 is an Internet filtering software that runs on individual user’s Windows 95/98 PCs. The software uses a content sensitive technology to detect and block sexually explicit and pornographic Web sites. According to the folks at Wizguard, the software works with both Netscape and Internet Explorer as well as all proxy servers. The software is password controlled and contains features such as customizable blocking, Web access logs and time management. WizGuard is downloadable free of charge for 14 days and if you like it it sells for $29.99 for family use and $59.99 for business use per single end-user license. For more information, visit the WizGuard web site at http://www.wizguard.com. Little Brother 3.0, designed by the folks at Kansmen Corporation, helps employers stop employee Internet misuse. The software displays who uses the Internet, what sites each user goes to, whether the site is productive or not, when the user is accessing the Internet, what the user does at each site, which users play games or spend time in chat rooms, etc. Little Brother is priced between $295 for a 10-user version to $10.50 per user for a 1,000 license agreement. Site licenses are available for even larger networks. For more information about Little Brother, visit the Kansmen Corporation Web site at http://www.kansmen.com. WinGuardian, by Webroot Software, Inc., is another monitoring utility and filtering alternative. The program basically monitors most everything a user does and even keeps track of what programs they use. It can log all text that a user enters into any program and it logs all Web sites they visit. Once the information is logged, a System Administrator views the logs and gets a big bowl of information on basically everything that an user did during a particular day. WinGuardian also provides the option to ”lock down” the Windows 95/98 environment so that users can only run programs that they are authorized to use. The lock down even prevents users from modifying system settings (including their wallpaper) or running unauthorized software. The program is free to try for 30 days. After 30 days of use you must either purchase WinGuardian or discontinue use. The program sells for $29.95. For more information, visit the Webroot Web site at http://www.webroot.com Bi g Brother IS watching According to many industry experts, most companies inform their employees that they are using Web monitoring software. This is not always true. The madness behind these programs, according to experts, is that if a user knows that their actions are being monitored they will be deterred from using inappropriate programs or viewing inappropriate Web sites. And, according to experts features like locking down the Windows environment (so user’s can’t change system settings -- not even their wall paper of screen saver -- is designed to help prevent viruses and intentional or unintentional operating system changes. The other feature - not allowing users to download executable files from the Internet -- supposedly prevents Internet-borne viruses from entering the workplace. Whatever the method behind the madness - the fact is that many employers are using Internet monitoring software, etc. and according to a spokesperson for a Philadelphia based Information Technology company, it does work and the fact that the employees know it’s there has prevented a lot of “down time” at the office.
Recently, Microsoft announced that they have developed a new audio compression format. The new format, dubbed MS Audio 4.0, is designed to compete directly with MP3. Most people who use the net with any regularity have probably heard of MP3. MP3 stands for Moving Pictures Expert Group Audio Layer 3. It is an audio compression format that allows someone to take a .wav file and compress it to about one tenth of original size, by removing the frequencies outside the human range of acoustics, thus theoretically resulting in minimal loss of sound quality. For more than three years, MP3 has been the standard format for sending music over the net. While MP3 has a wide range of legitimate uses, most MP3 files on the net are copyrighted songs by major artists. And for around two years or so, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has been doing everything they can to wipe out the illegal transfer of copyrighted music on the net. While most record companies are beginning to embrace the idea of online digital distribution, MP3, and it's lack of copy protection, has most of them quite worried. Like weeds sprouting up around a healthy bush, a number of new compression formats are threatening to choke MP3 out of existence. Among the early formats were Yamaha's proprietary VQF format, and the Liquid Audio format. Due to their technological inferiority to MP3, neither format has really caught on. More recently, AT&T introduced the a2b format. The a2b format has tried to address the shortcomings of MP3 by enabling copy protection. It too is not quite as capable as MP3, and has not been widely embraced by the music community. So ends 1998, with three competing formats, and yet none of those three has even put a dent in MP3's popularity. But the RIAA wants to have some sort of open standard developed for online distribution. Instead of providing them with an open standard, more companies are trying to push their own standard to the public. Within the last week, three new challenges to MP3's crown have emerged. First, AT&T announced a new second version of a2b, promising better sound quality, and smaller file size (faster downloads) than MP3. It will retain its original copy protection scheme. Following closely on the heels of AT&T's announcement, RealNetworks (creators of RealAudio), in conjunction with IBM announced their own, as yet unnamed secure audio format. This is also interesting considering that RealNetworks also just purchased Xing Technology, a major player in the MP3 software arena. And then of course there is Microsoft. MS Audio 4.0 is also promising better sound quality, smaller file size, and more security than MP3. But where does all this leave the consumer? Well, in my opinion, the only real challenge to MP3 is from Microsoft's MS Audio 4.0, and the new format from RealNetworks/IBM. The MS Audio 4.0 spec.'s strength lies in the installed base of Windows. With several million users, and MS's plans to make MS Audio 4.0 an add-on for the Windows Media Player, MS will potentially have a huge number of people using their software. The format from RealNetworks/IBM has the backing of many major record labels, including BMG, Sony Music, and Warner Music. But the real question is, can these formats really unseat MP3? MP3 has a huge following on the net, and more users are using it every day, due to the amount of press it's been receiving, and the new hardware devices such as the Diamond Rio, which make MP3 a more portable format. I really question the idea that these companies will just swoop in, and MP3 will just go away. What is more likely to happen is that the saturation of the online music scene will cause consumer confusion, and MP3 will be relegated to being used by music enthusiasts and pirates, instead of the mainstream use that it enjoys now. MP3, right now, is the best thing for sending music over the net. File sizes are reasonable, sound quality is quite good, and software for using it is available on virtually every platform. What really needs to be done is for someone to write a new format that is basically an extension to MP3, but also backward compatible. MP3 is really good as is, but some minor tweaking with the quality and compression, plus some security would make everyone happy. First, the MP3 software programmers could probably add the changes with minimal work. Second, MPEG is an open standards group; hence the enhanced MP3 could be an open standard. Third, users would benefit because MP3 would still be available, but the new version of it would work with the software they like to use. And finally, the new format would gain popularity fairly quickly, because of its association with standard MP3. Of course, it takes an open mind, and some ingenuity to implement this, and the suits at the major record and software companies aren't known for their flexibility and intelligence. They think too much about the money involved and not about what the people want. In the end, really, it's a question of whether they will give us what we want, or will they kill MP3 by shoving their own idea of online music down our throats? And will we let them? I know I won't. Even if MP3 is forced back beneath the rock that it crawled out from under, you can bet that if you pry that rock up, you'll find me... headphones glued to my ears, and a smile on my face.
The book that started the legacy. One man alone developed the story that was to be one of the most successful stories in cinema history. While The Godfather Part I is in my opinion by far the best part of the trilogy, the book eclipses even that. There are a countless number of reasons why. One of the greatest features of this book is the fact that, not only does it contain the excellent plot of the first movie, but it also includes the flashbacks to young Vito Corleone, which are found in The Godfather Part II. Mario Puzo develops the character of Vito much more fully in the book. Not only does he describe how Vito became "The Godfather," but also goes into the details of the earlier Mafia wars in New York City. Puzo develops many of the characters that have minor roles in the film version, such as Johnny Fontaine, who has a far larger role in the print version. The greatest feature of this masterpiece by Mario Puzo is his writing style. After only reading the book once, you will immediately know his distinct style. He effectively uses flashbacks in this book to keep the reader hooked and wanting to read more. It will be revealed that someone has died, and then it will, in the next chapter, explain exactly what happened. Never before had I seen a writer do this so effectively. Puzo does it just the right amount of times so that the reader does not become confused with the story line. This is easily one of the greatest books written in recent years, and I highly recommend anyone who is intrigued by this story to read the book.
About six months ago I applied online for holy grail of Internet access - the mythical pink CD. Legend has it that if you can get you can find one of these (they're believed to lie just next to the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow) and you are an NTL customer, you can have totally free Internet access 24/7 for no charges whatsoever. After about three months a pink package came through the postbox - the myth had became reality. Or so I thought... I installed the software on the CD, and tried to connect. Nothing. All I got was a disconnected dialtone comming out of my modem. Oh well, that PC never works, I'll try it on the other one. Again, no sucsess. Noticing the £1 a minute technical support line charge, I opted to email them about my problem, and again, and again, yup and again. They never replied. Right then, last resort - technical support line. I phoned up and spoke to some complete muppet who just checked if all my settings were right which they were, after that he was all out of ideas. £15 the poorer and I still couldn't connect. Anyway, I kept on emailing them, just incase their staff got bored and decided to actually do some work. After a couple of months I finally got a reply giving me a different phone number to try. I did this, and actually spoke to someone who, believe it or not, seemed to know what they were talking about. Then I was finally told why I couldn't connect, apparantly I could not use the service because although I am an NTL customer, I am an old Cable & Wireless customer (who NTL bought out) and therefore ineligable for the offer. Could have bloody told me earlier! This 'free' internet cost me £15 and God knows how much time, and I didn't get a single second online.