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andycharger

andycharger
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Member since: 08.08.2000

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    • Hitachi 42PD7200 / Plasma TV / 50 Readings / 41 Ratings
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      24.02.2006 12:44
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      Simply the best TV!

      If you are thinking about purchasing a Plasma TV in the next few months for home.STOP! I need to tell you about what I think is one of the best TVs around for the money. Thats right. Anycharger has once again popped back to DOOYOO to share his thoughts on one of his prize possessions. His TV. TV plays a big part in our lives at home. Sad really when you think about it. However, it is essential to make one of your biggest pastimes as enjoyable as possible and it does not come much better than 42 inches of Plasma screen. I had not really thought about one of these silly GIANT tellys before. A waste of money I exclaimed, pointing out the lifespan of the screen (about 60,000 hours max) and the rediculously huge price tag. That was until I visited a friends house. He too has a small house so space is at a premium. I was therefore shocked at how much bigger his lounge looked with his new 37 inch Plasma TV on the wall. Thats right. On the Wall. So there was my first selling point. Space saving. Gone would be your TV stand and all the extras that go with it. It could fit directly on the wall. Turn it on and i was pleasantly suprised. Pictures were much sharper than I first imagined. After all it is a massive picture to magnify some of the poor quality Digital TV we recieve. And looks? Fantastic! I was sold. I ventured off to Richer Sounds as they seem to be the cheapest for Massive Plasma TVs. Interested? go to www.richersounds.co.uk. My TV is on there. Price tag for my TV? Lets get the sore point out of the way first. £1,299.95!!! So 5p change out of 1300 quid. Sounds a lot but a normal decent widescreen 32 inch standard telly is £800 and you are getting an extra 10 inches. Most women would pay the extra for 10 inches so im told........ So once I explained to the guys in the shop I wanted a 42 inch TV, It must be Silver (wife's request) and it must sit on the wall, I was pointed towards the Hitachi 42PD. With a flick of the switch, we were in business. A beautifully sharp and crisp picture greeted me which was a pleasant suprise. After all it was 5 inches bigger than my friends TV and I think the picture is even better. His is a Panasonic screen which is supposedly the best for its money but im not sold after seeing mine. After a brief discussion about the connections, I was again quite happy it would suit our needs. It does however only have one scart input so if you need more, you will need a switcher box (about £30) While on the subject of connections, perhaps I should explain some of the other options you have. There are 2 sets of Component RGB connections to use. This is used for a better quality picture on some devices such as Games Consoles and DVD players. There are also 2 sets of Composite connections which you can use to connect your Playstation 2 to the TV. Composite is not as clear as the Component connection which is why I want to use it! I have my brand spanking new XBOX 360 hooked up to the component sockets and the picture quality and gameplay is simply out of this world. Its like being at the arcade! You can also connect to it via a normal Analogue aerial. God knows why you would want to but you can. The other options are S-Video so you can connect your Video Recorder or Laptop to the screen or SVGA connection which is basically the same as hooking up your TV to be your computer monitor! I have tried the laptop and while it is a way to connect it to look at the screen, the clarity is not that sharp. OK, so lets talk about installation. What these places dont tell you when you are looking at the TV's is that you will need a special bracket to mount it on the wall and you DO NEED this special bracket. there is no hoooking it up with some screws and nails! The brackets vary in price from £100 to £300 and mine cost £100 and does the job. You will also need a good sturdy wall to attach it to. No Plasterboard Wall plugs guys! These things are HEAVY! For those of you that want to take the chance, it is supplied with a table stand. If you have Children, there are also retaining eyes supplied so you can cable it to a wall on steel supporting wires to prevent it being pushed over. However, the table stand defeats the object of space saving so we put ours on the wall. TV Remote? Read the instruction manual for this! It is quite complicated and there are lots of functions to get your head around. It took about 30 mins to work out the basics from the Manual which is very indepth and useful. In fact, it comes in a few languages so you can near enough cope wherever you are from! The remote opens you up to a world of extra features. You can control other devices using the remote too. Simply press a combination of buttons to get it to control certain brand makes of DVD and Surround Sound. Its quite a bulky remote though but does come with 2 AA batteries to power it. Extra features? One of my favourites on the TV is Picture in Picture. Now I can play the Playsatation on one side of the screen and the wife can watch Emmerdale on her side at the same time! only down side is that only one of you gets sound and this only works if you are connecting your devices through different connections. So you could not watch 2 Sky Channels at the same time or anything like that! It has Fast text for those of you that rely on Teletext for finding out the goings on in the world. Its quick and has a good memory store so going back to your page is easy. you can also set the TV to turn itself off with the timer function as well as Panel Life saving settings so you can get more life out of your plasma! Speakers? Yes it does have them but NO i dont have them fitted. I think the TV looks better without them as it looks more like a pure panel that way. They clip on the side and are supplied with the TV but we chose not to have them on and rely on the Surround sound instead. We have tried them out though and they do sound great. 10 out of 10 for traditional TV sound. Downsides? Other than the Price, it does generate a hell of a lot of heat. Far too much for my liking. This makes our little lounge very hot sometimes! It is also very heavy so make sure you are making a strong connection to the wall if you are choosing to wall mount. Upsides? Shear picture size, quality and reproduction. It simply cannot be beaten for its money. I like the fact there are so many choice of connection (which are all built in) and you do not have to pay extra for a Video board. Its also very aestetically pleasing. Overall? I would definitely recommend this TV to anyone who is thinking about buying one. The TV is not fully HD ready but just requires a small card to be purchased to make it 100% HD!

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      • dooyoo Crowns / Discussion / 54 Readings / 52 Ratings
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        31.07.2004 03:57
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        Hello and goodbye to all my friends, I felt perhaps my last, or penultimate opinion on Dooyoo should be to do with the site itself. Or at least one of the elements of Dooyoo. So it is Crowns I am going to vent my anger at. Yes, since the very first announcement that "Crowns" were going to be awarded for stellar writing, I have felt there maybe something underhand or biased in the process of choosing suitable opinions. I have not been dissappointed! Yep, it is perhaps one of the most contraversial areas of the site. Here are my thoughts on the subject. (please not th euse of Question Marks....These are therefore questions and not statements so are not libelous. Covered my own ass thank you very much) Firstly, Crowns should be decided on by Dooyoo Staff, NOT category assistants. I know the category assistants have some influence in the decision which i think is wrong? Why? Well they are members for crying out loud! They will have some form of bias to friends or writing styles they like which would go some way in backing up the claims of "repeat" winners being the same people? If the Category assistant like a style, they will nominate that opinion? Secondly, this stretches to Dooyoo staff as well in my opinion? Yep, I know they are on good terms with some of the writers here and you see the same names on the list? OK, Im not Noel Coward but my opinions in the past have been a lot better than some of the drivel winning awards yet they go unnoticed? Thirdly, I feel that crowns are sometimes used as an incentive to woo you back to the site. If you write as much as I used to, you are taken for granted. If you are a regular contributor, they tend to not worry about you as you are "always there". However, start waning your writing (one a month or something) and suddenly I won a crown for an opinion I wrote some time back! Strange......... Anyway, crowns are a contentious point which can be debated by all sides and frankly, im not interested in it anymore. It has driven me to the point of leaving the site. I must be either 1st,2nd or 3rd on the all time number of opinios list yet my views to the site go unheard. They just toss my views aside. All of the new members who write the bare minimum word limit dont have the dooyoo concept.While ner members are always welcome, it takes some time to establish a writing style. However the majority of opinions on the daily list are now only 8 to 10 lines long with mot much useful information. How things change.... All the good people have left because they are fed up with the politics involved here which has also forced me out too. Not because they have been nasty to me. Its because my requests fall on deaf ears. They neglect the older established members and therefore will not waste my time writing here. There are better sites who are more appreciative out there such as Ciao. Its time write there and only there. So to all my great friends I have made over the year, Its a big Good bye. Thanks to Kenjohn,Buzzplane,Lookaroundcafe2,Ashford,Jillmurphy,vinodgm,Karenuk,Grinchgirl,Mr sCanada for always reading and lots lots more I cant fit in the opinion. Some guys who are not here but were great in the early days are GR-Design and Wampyrii. 2 great writers who used to have a good laugh! You can always reach me at my email address of andy_charger@hotmail.com. So once again, thanks for everytihng and make sure you all get me up to the last 96 pence I need to get me to £55 so I can get my money out of them! 32 reads please! I love you all and thanks for 4 years of fun! Andy (andycharger)

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        • HP Laserjet 2300 / Laser Printer / 0 Readings / 14 Ratings
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          26.07.2004 17:40
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          With old age affecting its performance, it was time to send the old HP Laserjet 2100 to the graveyard. True it was jamming with a frequency of 1 page in 4 and had not had a maintenance kit stuck in it for years but it was still struggling for life in the corner of one of our offices. However, customers documents cannot be sacrificed any longer and it was time to find a replacement. With the unrealistic budget of £150, I had to find a networkable Laser Printer. With a visit to the MD with a catalogue and a heavy dose of cost reality, he stretched his purse strings to the full asking price of £458 for the 2300. How did I persuade him? Well, I told him how essential reliability,performance and quality is. Something the 2300 delivers. Firstly, what is it? Its a Network Laser printer. About the size of the old Laserjet 4s. Square in shape and about 40cm on all axis. Made is Milky-beige, it blends nicely with most office hardware. Made from hard plastic, it has a rugged feel that matches its predecessors. It is also a Monochrome printer so it only prints in Black. No colour here but its not a colour printer price! Networkability? Yes. Thankfully it follows on from its parents by having a Network Interface unit. This is not part of the actual printer. Instead the "Jet Direct" unit is a bolt on extra. This is what costs the extra money when you buy the networkable version. A cost difference of nearly £160! The Interface allows a typical Network Connection with an RJ45 connector (little square plastic clip a bit like a modem lead) that most modern networks use. If you dont have a network and want to connect directly to a PC, there is also the traditional Parallel socket too as well as USB connectivity. Paper Capacity? It comes with a built in Paper Drawer capable of handling 250 sheets. You can also buy additional drawers that clip on to the bottom of the printer to handle different paper requ irements such as headed paper,etc. These can hold up to 500 sheets and cost up to £250 extra. There is also the "flap down" front which comes with an envelope feeder and paper holder. Printing Properties? Fantastic. It reckons it can churn out up to 24 Pages a minute but I would say its nearer 10 in the real world. That is if you want anywhere near a decent quality print level. It is capable of printing up to 1200DPI as well so sharpness and clarity of text is superb. Its typical monthly estimate of performance is roughly 50,000 pages so it is built for a steady workflow and demand printing. Toner? Replacement toners can be purchased for as little as £56 for a Black HP branded replacement. They claim to output up to 8,000 prints but experience would say far less. They do need a good shake now and again. High yield cartridges are available for similar money but are unbranded and not recommended. We tried one in our printer and it reported an "unsupported Toner" error. Perhaps HP are wising up to after market toners. Display? A nice clear LCD display means that errors,status and lots of other messages can now be read. Unfortunately the older 2100 relied on a series of blinking lights in a particular sequence to inform you of problems. Now you have a massive menu with lots of commands to help you with issues as well as monitor the printing, jobs and performance. Typical Application? I have a team of 8 staff using this printer on the network and it copes very well. They are high users of the printer and it is quite capable of performing all that is asked of it. Overall? A great printer at an affordable price. This is a great solution for small businesses. Misco have this printer on a great deal right now. www.misco.co.uk

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          • Lucy Pearl - Lucy Pearl / Music Album / 2 Readings / 22 Ratings
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            19.07.2004 03:26
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            When it comes to light, easy listening funky tunes, very few people make better music than my band! However, one band that beats us hands down is Lucy Pearl. This Album, the self titled Lucy Pearl, is a great collection of many different types of music coming together and forming a great blend of funk, R&B,hip hop, dance and guitar music. If you look at the lineup for the band, you will see how this came about. Firstly, is vocalist, Dawn Robinson. You would recognise her from all girl 90's Soul act, "En Vogue". She was obviously the talent of that band with her her powerful voice. This really gives this album some "balls" when she delivers the songs. Next up is Raphael Saadiq, who was a member of 90's funk - soul band "Tony, Toni, Tone". His musical genius gives the melodies and flavas that make the songs what they are. Add into this blend, Ali Shaheed Muhammad of " A Tribe Called Quest" fame and you have the underground hip hop style that adds the dance groove to the band. Another great thing you realise from listening to this album is that they have used some excellent individuals on the instruments to provide a full and rich sound that never sounds too busy and detractive from the vocal element. It simply is a great collection of musicans, producers and artists to make an all time classic. Tracks? 15 of them and all are superb! So here are some of the songs and what they sound like. "Dont Mess with my man" Well, this is an all time classic track that gets better with every listen. The soft repetitive chords seem to appear to be very different once Dawn Robinson applies her strong screeching lyric to the song. You certainly would not "mess with her man" if she spoke to you like she sings it. Although the instrumentation is simple, it blows your socks off with the catchiness and tap along factor that will have you humming it for weeks! "Dance tonight" A soft mellow ballad that allows more than just robinson to step up to the microphone. The gentle string section overdub gives it a sexiness and subtlety that will have you smooching to in your living room! "Everyday" Another duet that makes great usage of both vocalists. Again we here the excellent funky chords of a brilliant guitarist and and the gingling rythmn of a fantastic percussion section. "I cant stand your mother" Can be applied to many walks of life but here is is a strong expressive song that brings another chance for Robinson to deliver a powerful attacing vocal to the track and show you exactly what she can do. "Hollywood" Again Robinson screeches the powerful vocla but this is complimented with a overdriven guitar part that makes a crossover into an unknown Rock genre for the band. I feel if anything its a little out of plce on the album as most is funky R&B styled tunes. Overall? A fantastic album that can give your great music for dinner parties as background music as well as easy listening for any occasion. I have it in the car for when I need to forget my rrroubles and listen to some great artists delivering their best work to date. The only bad point is that it is a 5 year old album now and they are yet to follow it up with a second.

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            • Huggies / Baby Care / 5 Readings / 22 Ratings
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              16.06.2004 19:41
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              When Kami was first born, we were a little undecided with Nappies and who to go for. The entire Pampers Vs Huggies debate still rolls on to this day but I am tending to fall more in the Huggies Camp now. Why is this? Lots of factors really. A combination of various reasons. When it comes to nappies, you may easily by swayed by one factor. Price. If this is your reason for buying, then I think you will be firmly in the Huggies Camp. At Asda, a 38 Pack of Size 3 Pampers is around £5.37 and the equivalent Huggies is £4.95. Does not sound a lot but if you work it out to pence per nappy, it is a penny a poo more for Pampers! However, most of us don't buy on price alone. No way. At the end of the day, it is baby's comfort and dryness that is top of our priorities. So looking at Huggies, I think this is a true winner. With the Size 3s, Kami tends to feel much drier when I change her. I guess this means the nappy is locking the moisture further away from her skin. This gives you a happier baby. When you feel the weight of the nappy, it feels as heavy as the pampers so It is containing as much moisture, just keeping it away from her skin. You can tell it is doing its job as her skin feels less wrinky in the huggies. Im not saying the pampers makes her bottom look like your hands do in the bath after 4 hours but there is a difference between the brands! The fit around Kami's legs also means the Huggies are more comfortable. Whereas the Pampers Size 2's we were using started to look like they may rub as she was getting to the top end of the fitting, the equally tight Huggies looked more forgiving around the tops of her legs. This may be because the huggies tend to have softer velcro tabs than the Pampers. The huggies and Pampers come joint when it comes to doing them up. Neither comes undone and both seem to stay in place. The design of the pattern on the nappies varies quite a bit . While Pampers have opted for the "dinosaurs" and cartoon type designs, Huggies have gone for the teddy bears look. This means both a boy or a girl look equally suited in the Huggies while the pampers, I feel, look more boy orientated. The Feel of the napies is completely different too. I think the Pampers feel very Shiny and rigid. Like cheap traving paper toilet rolls while the huggies feel much softer on the outside. Perhaps this is just my imagination but they feel much softer which must reflect in the wearer! Sizes? Like I said, Huggies come in various sizes, as do Pampers. They start right down at Newborns, then go from 1 through to Size 6 for babies as they grow. They also do a range of Pull ups for when the toddler is toilet training. Deals? Hmmm...We have some coupons through from Pampers offering us £2 a pack off one purchase and a further £1 off 2 more purchases. However, on this but the huggies are not to be outdone. If you log onto www.huggiesforfree.com right now, you can claim 4 free nappies of your choice! You cant say fairer than that. I hope you use this promotion. Free nappies are good for everyone!

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                02.06.2004 18:31
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                Now as some of you know, I tend to change my car quite often. However, the latest change was somewhat forced upon me. My beloved R reg 1.6 Si Primera finally bit the dust when it had an argument with the rear end of a large lorry. Gone but not forgotten, the primera is no more. However.... After making such an impact on me, I felt it only fair that I stick to the brand that has faired so well with me and delivered faultless and effortless motoring to my family at a more than fair price. So when the opportunity to buy a 2 litre Primera Sport + came along, I could hardly resist it. The Company. For those of you that dont know, Nissan is a major Japanese motoring manufacturer that actually produce some of their cars in the UK. The plant at Sunderland produces Almeras, Micras and my Primera written about here. My Car. THE BODY ********* If you know the primera shape you may not even know that there was a subtle body change in the model in 1999. Some corners were smoothed out, some surfaces were "modernised" and on the whole, the vehicle was given a facelift. However, the majority of the internals,engines and even wing mirrors appeared to be carried over. Being a driver of one for some time, I notice these changes greatly. The bonnet looks much more modern with a bulging radiator intake at the front, more trendy teardrop headlamps and a nicer looking back end. As with all Primeras and all Nissans, the bodywork is faultless. Paintwork is immaculate and these cars simply do not rust. However, i have noticed that the bodywork steel is quite soft and prone to easy denting. Be careful when cleaning and polishing it. Dont press too hard! My Primera is actually the top of the range "flagship" model. The Sport + has colour coded everything which really makes a difference. The Silver paint looks great all over the car which includes the wing mirrors, bumpers, side sills and doorhandles. It also sits on 16 inch 8 spoke wheels which, when clean, look the absolute business. However, cleaning them can be quite laborious with lots of nooks and crannies to get into. The rubber for the wheels is quite low profile and wide in width (205-55-16 for those that know) so they are an expensive part to replace. Dont go wheelspinning these! Going back to the front, you will notice the headlamps are very clear looking. This is because they are powered by Xenon bulbs which give high power beams. These are great for night driving and giveout a "blue" hue rather than the yellowish light of normal headlights. Keeeping them clean are high powered washers. There are no wipers on the lights and im unsure about how much use these high powered washers are but they look quite posey! Adding some extra vision in bad conditions are the low level Front fog lamps. These look very cool and nestle nicely in the front spoiler which is also colour coded. THE INTERIOR ************ Getting into the car is like a previous car flash back for me. Its like my old car has come back again with some little tweaks. Again the dashboard layout, centre console and door cards look identical, even down to the switches. However, the door cards are dressed with a different fabric and this is reflected in the seats. Saying this, the seats have come on leaps and bounds. They are much more comfortable and appear to give more lateral support than the predecessors. Also, being the Sport + model, the seats are finished in Half Leather. This gives a more executive feel to an otherwise very bland and plastic lokoing interior. Also the internal door handles have been finished in Chrome look plastic that detracts from the look. Apart from the looks inside, there are some very handy extras that I will tell you about. The Sport + comes with the following:- Air conditioning and Climate control. Handy for keeping th e car at a constant temperature. However te buttons are quite clumsy on this dashboard for the A/C. Electric Sunroof. Fully retractable and also tilts to the front. A great bonus when you cant be bothered with the blowing wind of A/C. There is a handy pop up lip that also removes the wind "buffeting" that plague so many sliding sunroofs. Electric windows on front and back doors. Not had this before. It can prove a little annoying when driving. Many times I have gone to open the Drivers window only to find the rear one has gone down instead! The buttons are a bit too close together and lead to the wrong window being opened! There is a handy window "disable" button for when little people in the back discover what the switch on the door does! Fuel/Trip Computer. Excellent gadget and very accurate. It tells you how far you have travelled, how long it has taken, average speed, MPG, miles of fuel left! Fantastic. Map lights, Sun Visor lights and interior lights. Excellent for all occasions. Sun visor particularly good for when the wife needs to touch up the make up in transit. Variable speed intermitent wipers. Good when its raining just enough to mess with your vision but not enough to prevent that awful screech the wipers make on a half dry screen. Boot release switch. For lazy people who dont want to get out and open their boots. Boot CD Multi Changer. Hmm... Im not sold on this. Firstly it mounts vertical and not horizontal and skips a lot. Secondly it does not play copied CDs! Thumbs down im afraid. THE PERFORMANCE ************************** Its packing a punchy 2 Litre Double overhead cam 16 valve engine which delivers about 150 BHP. Translated into english, it does shift when you want it to. I notice it mostly in the motorway. Give it a little squeeze when you need to overtake something and it replies. Its quite happy cruising along at high speed and this is where 5 th gear and fuel economy seems to be best. However, be prepared for it to drink petrol in urban driving and traffic jams. Acceleration from nothing is not amazing but it has bags of mid range torque and does not complain even when carrying loads of weight and luggage. The ride is a bit harder than my old Primera but this can be forgiven when it comes to corners. It does not matter how you throw the car into a roundabout or bends, it goes round them flat. No body roll at all. Just level driving at all times. This is great as you can get the power down much earlier! Cabin noise is non existant. It seems to be very smooth and silent driving from inside. The power steering is a big plus as the car does feel very heavy and stiff. I imagine it would be a nightmare to drive without. Stopping? well, this car surely does stop. This is thanks to disc brakes all round. The ABS has not been tested to the max yet but it has kicked in a couple of times in the wet. A true life saver. One thing that does seem to plague the Primeras is lumpy Gearboxes. I dont know it they are traditionally soft but when i bought my old primera at 12 months old it needed a new gearbox. My wife complained that it was always difficult to get in gear and the new one can also be difficult at times to engage reverse. THE MAINTENANCE ************************ Primeras are notorious for providing cheap trouble free motoring and this reflects in the maintenance costs. Taking it to the dealership as I always do will cost you about £120 for a basic service and rising to £200 for a major overhaul. This can be lived with. Things that do wear are tyres due to the power steering. Im yet to go through a set of tyres in the traditional way of wearing across the tread. They normally become bald on the edges. Not a good thing to do as tyres cost well in excess of £110 each. Brakes too wear out and these would not be cheap with discs all round. < br> THE OVE RALL RATING **************************** Fantastic! One word to describe it. The car drives well, looks great and will give me plenty of trouble free motoring I hope. Not only this but they are tremendously underpriced for what you get. My B reg car cost me £5500 from a dealership about 6 months ago. One I would recommend picking up to anyone.

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                • Samsung SGH-V200 / Mobile Phone / 1 Reading / 15 Ratings
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                  25.05.2004 20:56
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                  • "Awkward Camera Bezel"

                  I have to say, when it comes to mobile phones, it grieves me to purchase a new handset. However, im quite fortunate. I have a brother who is phone mad so I get his "almost new" cast offs. This benefits both me (as I get a new Phone) and you, the consumer as you get the wisdom of 2 users for the price of one! SO when Chris came along with the latest phone for me to have, I imediately jumped at the chance of owning a camera phone. Yes, this little jem has a built in camera as well as many other gadgets which I will gladly tell you about. Firstly, lets look at the phone and get some background. Looks/Feel. The phone is quite small. Very compact is probably a better way to describe it. This is due to the fact that it is a "flip top" phone so the main screen, buttons,etc are all protected away when the phone is shut. A great idea that! To the top of the phone is the camera that is on a rotating bezel. Handy having a moveable camera as the lens can be twisted backwards so that it is fully protected from scrapes and scuffs in your pocket( if you remember) However, the phone is over a year old now and this is becoming more and more stiff. Perhaps a problem with age? It is also very fiddly to turn the camera around as the control is very small. However the clarity and resolution of the camera is very good indeed. Also on the top of the phone is the largely uneccessary aerial. Im sure they could make this inside the phone like a nokia handset but instead it protrudes and makes me a bit sore in my pocket! On the top of the flip top part of the phone is a small LCD screen that displays who is calling, text message alert, the time andhow much battery you have remaing. This saves springing the screen open everytime you need to check for texts and phone calls. However this is just a standard green/grey screen and not full colour. In fact it looks more at home on a nokia. On the newer mod els, this has been replaced altogether with a rotating "flip top" with one main screen. It up to you if you have the screen on the inside or out. You also have all of the connections for Power, hands free and a handy volume control on the outside. Opening the phone up, reveals many more goodies. The Keypad is very flat which could pose a problem for big fingers or clumsy hands. The buttons do not press very well either. The menu control is nicely laid out and simple to use. Much better than the "nipple" design of the Sony Ericsson phones. The camera button at the top is also quite prominent with one press. You have access to al lof the camera features. The main screen is something out of this world! It is very large with bright colours and crystal clear pictures. This is the easiest way to navigate the menus with clear instructions given via the screen. It has a handy power save mode that dims the screen if there is no action for a few seconds. While we are talking about Battery power, this phone is excellent. For average use, I can almost go 1 whole week without needing to plug it in. This gives me great standby and talk time. Some of the handy features on this phone include: Infa Red Connectivity. This is great for sending files,messages and even pictures to another wireless device. The phone comes with a CD called EASY GPRS which has an installation of software to enable your computer to send and recieve files from the phone if it is operating wireless itself. Luckily my laptop is so I can take pictures with my phone and send them to people via the computer. This can be a bit awkward sometimes as the infa red connection can play up. You have to make sure you line the infa red sensors on both devices up exactly too. Picture Messaging. You can send pictures via the MMS system that this phone supports. However, make sure your provider supports this too. I am wi th Virgin Pay as you Go and they do not allow media Messaging, hence why I send pictures via email! Tri Band Technology. No longer do I require an additional Phone to use in USA. This phone has pretty much worldwide coverage. So no matter where I go in the world, I can always phone home. Texting? Hmm...I end up pulling my hair out with this one. It has predictive text and this can cause a problem. I have not found a way to add custom words to the dictionary and trying to get in and out of multitap or Predictive can prove a nightmare sometimes. Prepare to text SLOWWWWWWWWLLLLLYYYYYY Signal Strength? Very good. It seems to have a good range for finding a signal. The coverage is quite good anyway with Virgin but this phone tends to work in areas my Sony used to have problems. Audio? Fantastic. Crystal Clear sounds and the microphone is very sensitive and accurate. Robustness Well, I have to say, if fails slightly here. This phone had a habit of turning itself off for no reason before we sent it back to Samsung. However it is now fixed and we have not had a proble with it since. The casing itself is very easy to scuff and it does look like it has been through the wars a bit. Overall. A good phone on the whole. OK, it has gone back for repair once but it is 18 months old now! It is still working, the battery is still amazing and the screen and phone quality is great. I would recommend picking one up to anyone as long as they have patience while texting. A great phone though.

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                • Netgear 24 port Switch / Switch / 0 Readings / 11 Ratings
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                  10.05.2004 19:06
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                  After writing about my "Emergency Switch" last week, I feel it only fair that I tell you about my workhorses" that sit in my server cupboard here at work. Yes, again we have gone the "netgear" route because their equipment is highly regarded in the networking world and competitively priced. It is also well supported throughout the world by a well educated helpdesk team who have always solved my problems in the past ( look at the Modem Router solution I wrote about for Netgear). Now before I go any further, let me explain a bit about a switch for those of you that are now thinking im writing about something that turns lights on and off! If you have more than 2 computers connected together, you basically have a network of computers. These computers need to have a central location like a set of traffic lights so information can flow between one computer to another. A hub and a switch basically perform the functions of a set of traffic lights on your network. A switch is normally used in a larger office and connected directly to your servers via an uplink cable. Then all of the desktop users are plugged into the switch itself to access the server resources. Clearer? Good! So when it came time to install our new network early last year, the Netgear catalogue was the first and only place I was going to look. Reason being? For our network requirements, Netgear was going to provide everything we needed. Reliability, 100mbps network support, good price and easy to understand and install. There are others on the market such as Cisco but these were more than double the price as they are tailored more towards companies requiring high volume networks with managed switches. D-Link are another company offering a range of switches but are again pricey and not as reliable. So to keep our network as uniform as possible, we opted originally for 5 of these switches. < br>Installation is simple. Opening the box reveals 2 handy brackets, complete with tiny screws. If anything, these are the worst and best parts about the Netgear system. Having detachable brackets means that this switch is just at home sitting on a desktop somewhere as it is in a Switch Cabinet. The brackets allow you to mount the switch inside a cabinet with relative ease. However, I do emphasise the word TINY when talking about the screws. The black phillips headed screws are quite difficult to do up and its easy to cross thread them due to their size. Careful you dont do this or it may prove difficult to get it to sit tidy in the cabinet. Once the headache of putting it in the switch cabinet is out of the way, its plain sailing. However, remember to plug in the mains cable to the rear of the switch BEFORE you bolt it in. Its difficult to reach to the back unless you have a cabinet that opens on all sides or if like us, the back faces a wall! All of the network sockets and connections are located on the front of this switch so it means no further fiddling around the back once it is installed. Handy if you need to make any networking changes to the configuration. On the older models (pre last summer) there was a button located on the Right hand side that allowed users to select between Uplink and normal perfomance on the 24th port. This means that the last port can be used for linking to the main server if needed. However, this has all become autmated on the post summer 2003 models as they are all now "auto uplink" capable. The switch itself is a very clever bit of equipment. It operates its own internally sensing for all of the 24 ports and works out the loads and connections speeds on a per port basis. This means it is not something you as the user needs to worry about and makes managing the system much easier. In fact you could not want for an easier set up. There is no software to install. There are no drivers to install. You simply add the switch to your network by plugging it into the server. Simple. If you do get stuck, Netgear are only too eager to help. We have had issues in the past with other hardware and they resolved these for us. This was for hardware that had drivers so even this is not likely to affect you. Stability? Fantastic. I have no packet collisions which basically means no data flying around getting lost or preventing other information getting through. Pricing? Well thanks to the next generation in connection speed (gigabit) which is 10 times faster, these have dropped in price. In fact, you can now get these for under £100 online from places such as Kelkoo and dabs. Overall? Fantastic value and easy to use. The brackets can be fun to install and its not utilising the next generation of connection (fibre and gigabit) but for a current office with current technology, it is a great solution to try.

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                  06.04.2004 19:24
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                  In modern business, as with newspapers in the last 15 years, Colour is creeping more and more into our printed documents. No longer will Black Ink on a white page suffice. Now it is expected that printing sould be multicolour or your print outs will look dated. It was with this in mind that my department were set the task of finding a suitable Colour Laser printer that was great quality, affordable and reliable. With this brief in mind, It was the Epson AcuLaser C4100 that we settled on. However, it still has good and bad points as I will discuss. Firstly, lets look at....... It is big! that is one thing that will strike you and heavy too! It will need a good sturdy desk to support its weight. Most office printers nowadays with additional Paper bins are big but this one is massive! We also have monochrome Lexmarks in the office and this is much wider, deeper and heavier than these and it does not have an additional paper tray yet! Connectivity is good. It has built in LAN support so you can just clip it into your network via a network cable. You can also run it from a standalone PC as it has a Parallel connection too. Setting it up on either the network or PC is very simple as it includes all set up CDs and simple instructions. It is supplied with 1 built in paper tray and of course a flip down paper feed. This allows manual feeds such as photo paper to be used. Great for "one off" jobs. With an additional paper tray, it has the capacity to take up to 1600 sheets of A4. It also has a handy gadget inside the paper tray for printing on A5! Very userful for smaller documents and photos! The display and menu facilities on the machine are great. The small but easy to use LCD screen is very informative and the instructions supplied explain all you would need to know with set up. Performance? Well, Im absolutely astounded by this! It prints as quick as a monochrome laser printer! It trul y does! For example, I printed out a picture from a web page. No sooner had I pressed print than it was in action. I thought to myself....."Ah it must be warming up or getting ready." Then the page appeared! All within about 10 seconds! I could not believe it! I figured maybe there was an error. But no. It worked beautifully. The speed of the machine is down to the lasers inside. Apparently, it runs on 4 individual lasers, 1 for each colour. This increases the speed by 4 times over individual laser machines. The quality? Well, that matches the speed! Superb. The resolution of the print is fantastic. No blurs...No fades.... Just grat colours. Photographs come out on this machine like they have come straight from Boots! Its a welcome addition to any office where colour printing is essential such as marketing. The machine has a couple of nice features added in too. One of these is the ability to duplex print. This means printing on both sides of one sheet of paper. The built in technology makes this possible and also prevents you having to send the paper through twice manually. Having separate Black Toners to the colours means you can use this as a Black and White printer in the office without the need for a second printer. The Black toners that is uses are no more expensive than monochrome printer toners as they are the same thing. The Colour toners however are more expensive. This printer has 3 colour toners. They are MAGENTA, CYAN and YELLOW. These retail for £175 on line at www.theconsumablesdepot.com. Extras? Well, this is where it gets expensive. True, £175 is a lot for a Toner cartridge, particularly when you are buying 3 of them at once. At least having them individual you can replace one colour at a time and not waste 2 if they have some left. The Paper Trays that clip onto the bottom of the machine are very expensive. They start at £500 and go up to over £1000! This de pend s on the capacity of the paper needed. In some environments, more than one tray is needed (headed paper in one, plain in another) so this makes it an expensive option. To avoid this, we have headed paper in a monochrome printer and just plain in our C4100! Purchase Price for the printer? Well, its not cheap. We paid £1,150 for our printer. Overall, it is a great printer. It does a great job and quickly.It may be expensive for consumables and additional paper trays but this can be overlooked thanks to its great performance. A winner in my office!

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                  • Mr Deeds (DVD) / DVD / 1 Reading / 13 Ratings
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                    05.04.2004 07:05
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                    So, do you like romantic comedies? The one where boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back again? If so then I have a sort of "funny film" for you... Well, it sort of follows that pattern. Yes,im talking about Mr Deeds. A slapstick romantic comedy featuring Adam Sandler and Winona Ryder. yes, a comedy that can work with Winona in it! Believe it or not. I wont ruin any plots here but basically it involves a big inheritance, greedy jealous gold diggers, sneaky butlers and even more sneaky reporters! The film is set in New York and a small hillbillie town which is home to the main character, Longfellow Deeds. Dont ask me what type of name that is! Anyway, it turns out Deeds has a long lost uncle who has died leaving him a $40 Billion fortune. He then has to fly to New York to sort out the money and along the way experiences many of the underhand and tricky people involved in such a big fortune. This involves a butler that sneaks around and appears in strange places, a corrupt company director and an investigative journalist played by Winona Ryder. All looking at enhancing their own lives in some form from the fortune. The comedy in this film is very tongue in cheek and suffers from some bad stereotyping. If you beleive this film, everyone in a small town is a simpleton and every journalist will do anything to better their careers. Im sure both of these arent the case but the exaggeration helps lend itself to more obvious gags and humour. It is a very slow starter as far as films are concerned. I know they need to set the scene but you really dont need the background level it inflicts. However, there is worse to come. Yep, the big problem with this film is its predictability. You can see the romance part blossoming even before Winona Ryder enters th efilm. Right from the point you find out Deeds has never had a girlfriend you know the inevitable will ha ppen. Soundtrack is quite good on this film using some great tunes and even a couple from english bands such as coldplay! A good use of the music that actually stands out as I remembered the songs! I liken the acting of sandler to all his other roles. Very rigid and talks like he does in all films. Will we ever see him play a different role? I mean, This film, Waterboy, Big Daddy, Wedding singer? Memorable moments? Anything the butler does. He actually added a different twist to the film and plays a great supporting role to the comedy of Sandler. The violent temper of Sandler against the Quarterback and other people is quite funny. You dont expect people with simple lives to fight like that! The man himself, Steve Buscemi, makes this entire film for me. Playing "Crazy Eyes" he could not get a more apt name. The very last scene of the film is perhaps one of the funniest and I will leave it for you to watch to see what I mean. Poor Moments? Anything with Ryder in it. I find her a bad actress and her perfomance in this goes with her lacklustre career. Al lof the cliches in this film really do spoil it. The patronising of the "village Idiot" type gags, The love story, the twist at the end, the acting of Winona and the slapstick humour really does not work after so many similar films with sandler. The joke is wearing thin now. Sony even stil lhave a website for the film at : http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/mrdeeds/ However, its one to watch if you need a feelgood fix or you are a Sandler fan. No other reason to inflict it on you.

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                    • Fiat Seicento Sporting 3dr / Car / 4 Readings / 13 Ratings
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                      03.04.2004 09:04
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                      Quite frankly im lost. Yes, for the last 2 months I have been rattling around in a Fiat Seicento Sporting and by now I know every small inch of the car. That is mainly because it is so small, I take up most of the room in it. But while I have had a good run in the car, Im still lost as to where Fiat have cleverly hidden the "Sporting" part that its name suggests!!! So let me explain why. Firstly, it is dog slow. Sitting under the bonnet is a noisy and somewhat underpowered 1.1 litre engine. Saying that, what do you expect from an engine that would be more at home powering 2 wheeled transport rather than 4! The engine is very noisy and at higher speeds, you can almost see it bouncing out from under the bonnet. So listening to the noise, we can move inside the cabin. Bad soundproofing all round. The engine is so audible that conversation at high speeds is raised to shouting. Add to this the whistling Wind noise coming from the badly fitting doors and window seals and you have a convertible with a hard roof! Space inside this car is at a premium. The seats are allegedly sports seats. Not sure what sort of sport you play in cars but these are about as good at holding you as a clumsy, grease covered man with no arms. Forget it. You are thrown around like a rag doll if you try and drive it hard. The dashboard looks like something that has escaped from a 1960's mini. The rev counter in the middle is very retro.However, it is not needed. You can tell how many revs you are doing in it. Its always too many for the car to cope with and you can hear them loud enough! For a Sporting model, there is no creature comforts. No CD Player. No ABS. No Air Con. Oh you do get fron fog lights and electric windows though!!! You also get central locking as standard but its not remote. Get in the back seat, if you dare. Right now cut your legs off.....What? You dont want to? OK then, you might as well get out and walk as there is no legroom in the rear. OK, if you decided against cutting your legs off, please also do the following: Sell your golf clubs Sell your Pushchair or buggy Never go food shopping ever again. If you do all of the above you could just about live with the totally rediculous boot space in this car. Space is not a word to describe it. I suggest carrying a matchbox in your back pocket instead to carry things as it has more room. Looking at it, well its pretty ugly. It borrows heavily from the cinquecento body styling of yesteryear. This means it looks like a cross between a 3 piece cut and shut vehicle with the middle section missing and Postman Pats Van. Unfortunately the one im driving is Red so it only needs the PAT 1 numberplate. But it is fully colour coded! It even has small but perfectly formed Alloys! They are a bugger to clean though as they have too many nooks and crannies! So how does it drive? Very slowly. Very Uncomfortably. Need I say more? If you go around the corner, it leans worse than the famous tower in its homeland. Pisa has nothing on this car. Soft Suspension? do me a favour...... Apparently, I heard that someone else who borrowed the car once overtook someone while driving it. Im too scared to try this delicate manouvre myself for fear of my own life. Slow is not the word. Now for the good points. Its dirt cheap to insure making it an attractive proposition for students, new drivers or anyone with high insurance prices. Group 4 for the sporting model. Its cheap as chips to fill up. £20 will give you 260 miles. £20 literally does fill it up too! Only a small fuel tank. Servicing. A very simple engine means you can service it yourself very cheaply. Fiat are not too expensive either. Failures? Since I have been driving it, It has needed a new exhaust system (£200) and a new set of shocks on the back as the suspe nsion collapsed on the rear right hand corner. (£140). All in 2 months on a 5 year old car with only 25,000 on the clock! Would I buy one if I had the chance? No. However I am thankful that work let me borrow it while mine was off the road. Retail value? Well I had it valued at under a grand (£950) and this car is a V reg (1999) so it is basically very cheap to buy. Do yourself a favour. Dont buy one.

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                      • Lexmark X6150 / Fax Machine / Copier / 0 Readings / 9 Ratings
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                        24.03.2004 02:31
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                        Here in the office, we are blessed with copiers, faxes, printers and scanners. However, in the office we are blessed with lots of space to store all of these items. All of these devices take up space. Now consider people working from home. Something I have to do quite often. I don?t have the room for all of the above devices and imp sure my company don?t want to shell out for 4 or 5 £150 separates like this. So the best alternative to the remote user, one man band, home worker, small business is the multi function device. Being a Lexmark based company, I opted for one of their competitively priced devices. The X6150. Retailing at £150, it?s not going to put a huge dent into anyone's wallet. Particularly not when it?s the price of a single printer, copier or fax. For this money, you are getting an all in one Colour printer, Copier, Fax Machine and Scanner. All of this is fully compatible with your PC. So lets look at the device from an aesthetic point of view. It comes in a rather cheap looking shiny Silver and Black plastic. A bit like the Logitech mouse family are now being produced in. This really lets it down as it does not fit with any of the other parts of the office set up. It looks more at home sitting in your Home HI FI or TV set up! However, it is small and compact and takes up very little space. What does it look like? Well, I think it looks like my Gas Barbeque! The large oval sided base looks like it is holding a load of coals and the silver bowed lid is hiding some tasty sausages underneath! Alas, lifting the lid to see the flatbed scanner reveals just a piece of glass! So enough of the barbeque look. Lets find out what it performs like. Hmmm..... Yet again the big downfall of multi function devices strikes the Lexmark. Yes it does all of the jobs of 5 separate devices but it does none of them particularly well. The scanner does beat a lot of other ones in the market place by having a flat bed scanning facility. Most have a slot to feed through which prevents things such as books and delicate items to be scanned. This scanner can also enlarge images and scans up to 4 times original but it does lose a lot of resolution and items become very "blocky and grainy". The scan area is also quite big for a flatbed in a multifunction. It can easily handle A4 which I tend to do. The Printer does perform quite well. For an inkjet, it produces quite sharp images without any smudging or blocking nozzles. Something that I found wrong with the Canon equivalent. One thing I will warn you about though is something that applies throughout the Lexmark range......The Consumables are not cheap! The printers are very cheap to buy but you will end up paying a fortune in consumables. They are more expensive than most competitors. This is worth considering with this device as it is very ink hungry, particularly on the Black jet. They are separate carts to the Colours though so you wont have to waste loads of Colour ink every time. Faxing and fax software is very simple. It can either be done direct from your PC in electronic format or manually with a paper document. However, the dialing keypad is very small and difficult to use. Please also no there is no handset with this device. This means no conversations on this one! If you need a handset, consider a Canon model. The functions available on the device are mainly operated from buttons on the front. These are quite difficult to press as they are very small. I also find the Display screen of 1 line of text very poor and not east to understand or set up. The manual supplied is very detailed and very long! There is a "quick start" guide for you impatient ones like me! Installation is very simple. It plugs directly into your computer via a USB port. The cable is supplied with this unit. However, this is the only option to conne ct the device so make sure you have the capability for USB. It is fully compatible with Windows 98/ME, 2000 and XP, It does not work with NT4 though. IT comes with an entire range of software on a CD as well as the drivers for the device. Speed again is an issue. It does take a while to get the Scanner warmed up to perform. It claims it is all instant and does not even need the computer on but I find that all operations take some time, particularly printing and copying. Faxing is pretty instant. Pricing? Like I said it is roughly £150 which stands it in a good competitive market. Most devices are more expensive than this but the consumables are expensive. Overall.... Well, Its not the best printer, scanner, fax machine or copier on the market but it one of the best priced multifunctions around and does do the job it was intended to do. Save you space, save you money and perform a load of operations. Well done Lexmark....Now make your cartridges a lot cheaper!!!!

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                          10.03.2004 06:19
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                          For the majority of you out there, the name Ben Harper will probably nt mean an awful lot. That is because he is one of the most underrated and under played artists around. Ben Harper can only be described as someone spreading the world of folk music to the masses by funking it up and adding his own unique blend of soul and blues into the mix. So on the whole, Ben's act is one with something for everyone. But its not just Ben. His Band are called the Innocent Criminals!!! Work that one out! Artists to liken him to are a softer Lenny Kravitz with a touch of Bob Marley thrown in for good measure. Im sure if you know his work, you will agree this is a good description. So onto the Album. What does it look like and how appealing is it? Quite appealing. The cover features the guys dressed up like something out of the American Civil war with some American Indians thrown in for good measure. All very powerful stuff as the 4 of them strut towards you from a White background. The back of the case is the guys walking away from you in a silhouette, heading towards either a sunrise or sunset. This along with the Track listing gives it some great depth. Open the case and you are greeted by a snake coiled up in the shape of a CD. This is hidden und the actual CD itself which has a bright Red snake to mirror the background of the inlay. On to the music! Here is a break down of selected songs on the album. Track 1. Alone. Not my favourite and played to a Waltz beat! Not many songs around today played in 3/4 time!! It also relies to heavily on synthesised sounds which lose the entire effect that the album portrays. Track 2. Woman in You. Again a moody track but one that works well. I think the lyrics sound quite Kravitz like while the guitar riff in the background brings memorys of Hendix on suxh tracks as "Wind Cries Mary". One for the purist and definitely a good album tra ck. Track 4. Two hands of a prayer. This sounds almost reminiscent of protest songs from the late 60's. Perhaps more at home on a Viet Nam film soundtrack. However I think its a moving song while not being to overpowering in sound. A soft spoken lyric makes this track. Track 5. Please Bleed. This starts off sounding like an extra from an Austin Powers film. Very 60's and then goes and lets itself by breaking down into a typical american "grunge" sounding song. Very unlike other songs on the album. Track 7. Steal My Kisses. This song makes the entire album for me. The simple but effective Funky riff added to the beat boxing effect over the song makes it a great song to hum along to which you will end up doing. It gets stuck in your head and you end up singing lines from it all day long at work! Perhaps Ben's best work to date and the most appealing across all genres of music. Everyone likes this song. This sounds a bit like "Glamour Boys" by Living Colour if you remember them!!! track 10. Forgiven. Soft Lyrics again combine well if a strong Bassline and soft guitar riff to make a well structured folk song. This would not sound out of place on an american teen film like American Pie! Overall? Well, it is not everyones cup of tea but definitely worth a listen for the lyric content alone. You will love it or hate it but luckily I love it. True there are a couple of weaker tracks mixed in but track 7 easily forgives all others on the album. Price? You can pick this up on Amazon and such sites for around £8 and about £10.99 in the shops in the high street. "Always have to steal my kisses from you......." ARGH!!!!!!!

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                          • Monster's Ball (DVD) / DVD / 3 Readings / 10 Ratings
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                            01.03.2004 05:04
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                            Well, there are not many films out there that leave me thinking "are they actually doing it?" but this is one of them!!! Hang on, what am I talking about? Im talking about a very moody and morbid film set in a very small minded southern town in the United States. Small minded because the elements of racism still provident in both White and Black people that come through in the film. Without giving away too much of the plot, it basically evolves around the lives of 2 main characters whose lives seem to be intertwined along several lines of fate and circumstance. Firstly, we have Hank (played by Billy Bob Thornton). Hank is a prison officer on Death Row. Hank works with his son, Sonny (played by Heath Ledger). One of their inmates is played by Sean "Puffy" Coombes more famous for his music and being involved with J-Lo. He is married in the film to Letitia(played by Halle Berry). Circumstances throw both Hank and Letitia together and both seem to have their own issues going on in their lives which reflect in the lives of the other character. Both have so much in common with regard to their sons and unhappiness with their situation. This film demonstrates how inter family relationships seem to repeat thiert patterns throughout with Hank living with his father and his son and it appears that each has the same relationship with his respective father. All have done the same job. All seem to have the same problems with Women and even their views on Black people. But possibly the most contraversial parts of the film is a steamy love making scene involving Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton. I have not seen such sex scenes in a film on general release before. You make of this what you want but just think that seem to have no clothes on at all and there seems to be some "up close" action going on!!! The overall acting in this film is excellent. However the characters involved dont s eem to have long to be involved in the action before dissappearing out of the storyline in one way or another. You have a high calibre cast with Billy Bob, Heath Ledger, Sean Coombes and of course Oscar Winning Halle Berry for her portrayal of the hard done by wife of executed prisoner Sean Coombes. The cinematography is also excellent. Great camera work can be highlighted with Focusing in one scene through a window with a reflection on one side while fading out to theaction inside so both characters can be seen interacting. This is also apparent when a vehicle has 2 people in it and it pans in and out of focus between the 2. The overview of the film is one of little dialogue. This can make it difficult to follow what is going on with the plot unless you watch and listen carefully. It is definitely one film to watch closely. In fact, it is a very quiet film. My wife kept asking me to turn it up and when we eventually turned over after the film had finished, it nearly blew our eardrums out! The dialogue that is in the film does raise a few eyebrows at times. This showing the mind of some older generation people such as Thorntons father is something that makes you think, "How did people get away with that type of attitiude?" Soundtrack is non existant. So dont turn this on looking for a floor filling undertone attached. Overall, its a good film to watch if a bit steamy and a bit moody at the same time. However, the ending is not quite what I would have thought or one that ends without some questions left unanswered.

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                            • Supermicro SC750/760 / System Cabinet / 0 Readings / 9 Ratings
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                              29.02.2004 07:26
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                              Supermicro are not someone you are going to come across at PC World. In fact, unless you are into building your hardware, its unlikely you have heard of them. While their product is faultless in reliability and quality, I would highly recommend going elsewhere for the average "joe bloggs" PC Tinker person. We will get onto that later. Firstly, lets review this case. With the advent of our new bespoke software system being built, I need to put together some high quality servers at an affordable price while maintaining the professional consistency present in our other hardware. So, rather than buy something off the shelf like a Dell or Compaq, Im building them in house. Before you go to the trouble of finding all of the bits that go into the server, lets get a nice big case with plenty of space, easily maintainable and accessible to put our product inside. I therefore turn to Supermicro. A big name in supplying the trade with DIY parts to build servers. Here we pause to discuss customer service. Be prepared to be baffled by science if you ring these guys. True they are very knowledgable but they try to inflict the tech talk on you and confuse you. Not a good start. Apart from that, their only product guide is on their US based site. The UK site, www.supermicro.co.uk is simply a contact page with little information. Even the phone number I dialled forwarded me on to their US based helpdesk. As they are not the retailer, they will fob you off with a promised call back which I never got. In the end I chased the local retailer as I know who they are. So 0/10 for support and customer service. Now, on to the case. Its an upright tower design of case with 4 X 5.25 inch drive bays. Sounds a lot but once you have a tape drive, CD drive, etc filling them up, you soon realise it was well worth have the room for expansion. There are untold spaces for various sized cards to fit in the re ar of the case. These all come with easily replaceable blanking plates. This also allows various shaped and sized motherboards to sit quite happily inside the case. With the huge expanse of space, you can get to work with filling this with the various storage media you want to use. AS we are running a RAID 5 system, we have 7 hard disks inside this box and there is still room for more. There are also 2 Power supplies inside the case which allows for a great redundancy set up. Be careful with the inside of these cases. I find them to be not finished in a great way so there are plenty of rough and sharp edges to slice your fingers on! There is a handy divider shelf on the inside of this case. This can be set to different levels within the case to provide a good partition should you require it. Cooling is handled by 2 large case mounted fans but there are a further 2 vents for additional cooling should you require it. Due to its much larger size to your High St PC Case, expect to pay a bit more for this case but it is worthwhile with the extra room. It retails at £139. A good case with lots of room but it lacks the customer support element to make it a sensible buy unless you know what you are doing and require very little help.

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