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caustin10

caustin10
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Member since: 25.08.2010

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      18.01.2011 15:21
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      very handy to have

      This was one of those products I bought in desperation. I had left my mains charger for my Nokia at my parents house, the phone was about to die and I was about to set off on a long journey. I picked up this universal car charger for £6 at Argos. The fact that it fits 6 different types of phone (LG, Nokia, Sony, Samsung and mini and micro USB) was a real bonus as friends and family can use it whenever they are in the car. It is simply a case of pulling off the current attachment and pushing on the attachment that suits your phone. It is all very simple to do and the charger has a red LED on it to indicate when it is charging.

      There are a couple of things to be wary of...I use it with my Nokia N95 and find that while it will charge the phone it is somewhat slower than charging from the mains. If I am running the sat nav software on my phone and talking (using the blue tooth headset) at the same time, then the charger cannot charge the phone faster than I am using up the power and the battery will die. Also the connector is quite loose when you put it in the phone. This is fine when you lie down the phone but it can be difficult to charge it and hold it to your ear at the same time as the lead will keep dropping out (given that it is a car charger and you aren't supposed to talk and drive at the same time this should not be too much of a problem). Another minor annoyance is that the main section of charger is wider than other other devices that go into your car cigarette lighter. This is not a problem in my car but in some cars it makes it very difficult to plug it in.

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        14.01.2011 16:10
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        it's rubbish

        Aagghh the dreaded Belkin mouse pad!! No cheap computer desk is complete without one.

        I probably have owned, been given or thrown away about 20 of these. At one stage they seemed to be everywhere - every office I went to had them as did every home and every building housing a computer. Nowadays you can pick them up for £2 or so online, but seriously don't bother. Just look down the back of any drawer where you keep your old computer kit and you are bound to find one.

        This was 'the' bog standard mouse pad. Measuring around 25cm by 20cm by 0.5cm it was average sized and had no special features of any note. The back was made from foam which I suppose was meant to stop the pad from slipping around too much on the desk but it was not very effective as I would often move the mouse and take the pad with it. The 0.5cm thickness meant that you were offered limited cushioning - in fact in the end I just gave up with them and put the mouse direct onto the desk instead.

        The main benefit of the mouse pad was that it was covered in a plain coloured fabric which had been glued onto the foam base. This made it ideal to use with optical mice. When using an optical mouse on more colourful mouse pad the mouse could interpret the change in colour as a movement which meant that your pointer was sent flying off to all corners of the screen. Other plus points?.....hmmm not a lot. The main problem for me was that the mat just didn't last very long. After a few months of use the fabric in the bottom corners would start to come away from the base. You turn the pad around and a few weeks later the other corners would start to go as well. Also it was not very easy to clean. The plasticy mouse pads just need a quick wipe but these ones were rubbish. The fabric soaked up any spilt drinks, took ages to dry out and after a few months of use would look tired and dusty and you could never clean it well enough to get it looking like new.

        All in all, I'm not convinced this product offered any value whatsoever.

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      • Google Mouse Pad / Input Accessory / 31 Readings / 30 Ratings
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        14.01.2011 12:35
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        get a plain mousemat instead

        I have owned this Google mousemat for many years now having inherited it when I moved desks at work. There is not much to get excited about (is there ever with a mousemat?!) it is standard size with a foam underside that both stops the mat sliding around the desk and gives you some cushioning when you rest your hand on it.

        Topside you have the plastic like coating that shows you the google image with those 4 balls that are shown in the picture. I much prefer mats with the plastic coating to the ones that come with a bit of coloured fabric glued to the base. The problem with fabric ones is that they are difficult to clean and over time the fabric will start to come away from the base and roll up at the corners. This Google model though looks as good as new after several years use. The plastic is covered in tiny ridges that improve the grip of the mouse and stop it and your hand from sliding around. Cleaning it is also very easy - I just use a damp cloth and then dry it off with a towel.

        Having said all that I have to admit that I haven't used this mousemat for a long time. When I used the old style of mouse with a ball in the bottom it worked perfectly but with optical mice it is a waste of time. The red light in the bottom of the mouse that usually picks up movement will misinterpet the picture on the mousemat and will think you are moving your mouse even when you aren't. The end result is that your mouse pointer will suddenly fly off to the edge of the screen. You take control again and a short while later the same thing happens again. I still use the same style of mat but make do with one that is a plain cover....which I think is a pity because it used to be nice to show a bit of individualism at work by having a nice colourful mousemat like this one!

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        13.01.2011 16:32
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        the best running shoes I have owned

        When the bottom fell off my last pair of Reebok running shoes I decided to go back to the tried and trusted brand of Adidas and picked up this pair for £50 from JJB sports. There is a small selection of trim colours that you can go for but I opted for the blue.

        I tried on several different pairs that day but eventually opted for these are they are so much lighter than any other pair I have tried and have a wonderful sole that takes a lot of the shock out of running. These factors make the trainers very comfortable to wear and give you a 'walking on air' like feeling.

        Fashion wise the trainers look great, I'm happy to wear them out running and in the days when they were still clean I would wear them with jeans. The sole is black and have an Adidas log at the front just in front of your toes. This sole is somewhat thicker than on my previous running shoes which probably explains the effective shock absorbtion. The grips do not look like they will be especially effective but in this case the looks are deceiving. The Reebok shoes had been rubbish on anything other than dry conditions, on the other hand these kep me nice and stable, giving me the confidence to go out running on days where I wouldn't have bothered with my last trainers. Those soles also meant that the impact on my knees was greatly reduced meaning that the very first time I wore them I could easily run further than I had done for a long time.

        The main part of the shoe is white with the traditional Adidas 3 stripes down either side. Just for good measure there is another Adidas logo on the tongue and another at the back. This whole area is made out of a thin mesh that is wonderful at keeping your feet cool on hot days or long(ish) runs.

        It's worth mentioning a couple of downsides. Firstly that white mesh that will quickly turn to grey/black with mud and dust when running outdoors and it is very difficult to clean it well enough to return it to anything like its original colour. Equally this mesh offers great ventilation but it also means it's ineffective at keeping the water out when running in the wet. Lastly, and I may be being picky here, the design of the sole includes a circular hole in the heel section. I think this is supposed to help with shock absorbtion but when you are running on country paths it is a magnet for large stones and you may find yourself stopping every few minutes to pull them out.

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          12.01.2011 21:14
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          in its day it was an amazingly useful piece of kit

          Nowadays the flipdisk is looking a bit dated and is easily surpassed by smaller and cheaper models, but in its day this was a fantastic device to own.

          Back in 2003 I worked in the IT department at a pharmaceutical company and having initially tried out the 20gb version we ordered ten of these for the sales reps. They weren't cheap - coming in at around £200, if memory serves, but they did a fantastic job and were robust enough to withstand a good battering (our sales reps weren't know for being the gentlest with their IT equipment!).

          The beauty of the flipdisk was that it was very easy to use. You simply plugged it into the USB port of the computer (it was both USB 1 and 2 compatible) whereupon it would be recognised as another harddrive. This allowed you to view it in Windows Explorer where you could drag and drop files between your computer's harddrive and the flipdisk. Also, because it contained a laptop harddrive it was very easy to strip down and connect a higher capacity harddrive to it if one became available. Equally if your laptop harddrive wouldn't boot up you can connect the drive to the flipdisk, plug it into the USB port of another computer and in many cases still be able to access and recover the files on the harddrive.

          The flipdisk measured around 15cm by 10cm by 2cm and was connected at one end to a detachable cable that plugged straight into your USB port. This allowed it to be put away within its case but this was so bulky that most people didn't bother with it. There was a socket at one end for a power adaptor but frustratingly the adaptor was not included. In many cases you could get away with powering the device straight from the USB port but on at least half the machines I tried it on you could hear it trying to start up but would then give up the ghost. We never did get hold of a separate power adaptor but I really think this would have solved the problem.

          As I mentioned nowadays you can get a pen drive of a similar capacity for much less money, but I suppose the one advantage the flipdisk still has over these is that it because of its size you are much less likely to lose it!

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          11.01.2011 14:14
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          well worth the money

          This is one of those products that you are going to love or hate.
          I are firmly in the 1st camp but my girlfriend, sister, mum and just about every other female I have spoken to about it can't stand the thing. Basically, if you are looking for a big fluffy towel to wrap yourself in after a long hot bath then this is not for you. If on the other hand you are looking for something practical that dries you quickly and won't take up 2/3 of your bag then I cannot recommend this towel highly enough.

          I bought a large Lifeventure towel for £24 from an outdoor pursuits shop around 6 years ago (Nowadays you can buy them for £15.37 at Amazon). I was due to go on a 4 week backpacking tour and despite my initial reservations about the price I really didn't have room in my backpack for all my things plus a large towel. The big selling point for me was that this towel weighs next to nothing and once folded into its bag measures around 20cm by 8cm by 3cm. Unfolded the size is just about large enough to be wrapped around my waist - although it certainly isnt big enough to cover all your body at the same time.

          Use
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          The first time I used the towel I was completely amazed. It is very thin (even thinner than an average facecloth) but I just needed the towel to touch my arm and the water would be absorbed. I was therefore able to dry myself much more quickly and with less effort than with a standard towel. Over the years the effect has become less dramatic but it still does an excellent job. Also because the towel is so thin it is much quicker to dry. With a standard towel it may take a few hours on the radiator for it to dry off - with this one 30 minutes or so and you are done. If you are struggling for time you can just shove the towel in its bag and put it inside your main bag, safe in the knowledge that it is not going to get your other belongings wet.

          One word of warning: make sure that you wash it regularly as if you use it 4 or 5 times in a row it is going to start to smell and the smell is hard to get rid of.

          Summary
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          For me this is an essential part of my sports bag and suitcase. It goes with me every time I go to the gym, every time I go camping and every time I go on holiday. I really cannot recommend it highly enough

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          • Kia Rio / Car / 37 Readings / 35 Ratings
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            04.01.2011 16:03
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            a bit of a grandads car

            Sometimes it's hard to know how best to write a review. Do I go for a 1 star rating and concentrate my speel on how basic this car is and how it has ignored all technical advancements of the last fifteen years or do I give it a higher rating and concentrate on it's good points e.g price and reliability.

            If you are in your teens or twenties then you will probably not look twice at this car. It has nothing to impress members of the opposite sex, the interior is dreary, the exterior shape boring and the acceleration from a standing start is at best sluggish. On the other hand if you are a bit older or don't care about such things then as an A to B car the Kia Rio is worth considering.

            Description
            -----------------
            We picked up an 18 month old hatchback Kia Rio 1.5 CRDI for around £7k and have been happily using it for the past 2 years without any problems. For us it ticked all the right boxes: a smallish car (slightly larger than the Ford Fiesta) with decent boot space for a fairly decent price. Looks from the outside won't get anybody excited but that means it won't stand out from the crowd and you don't have to worry about someone taking a shine to it if you park it in a less than perfect area.

            Inside is even more plain. The dashboard is light grey, the stereo basic and the display next to the speedo is limited to mileage and odometer. Having the indicator on the right took a bit of getting used to but aside from that everything is where you would expect it to be and there are plenty of holes and pockets to store your belongings.

            There is also plenty of space for the passengers: on occasion we have had 5 adults in the car and all were able to sit in comfort. Leg room is fine and even with a full load of passengers and full boot we do not really notice much of a difference in how the car drives

            The rear seat folds forward in two sections to allow you to slide larger items in via the boot. I did read a review that said this was awkward to do but I have had no such problems.

            Performance
            --------------------
            Performance wise we have been fairly pleased. Sure it's never going to beat a sports car in a drag race but for taking the kids to school, going to the shops and the occasional motorway drive it will do the job. The 0 to 10 speed feels slow but once motoring along past that it does accelerate well and more than holds it own.

            You will find the suspension is fairly soft which makes it great for going over potholes but less effective when cornering at speed (there is a bit of a lean but you do have to be really tanking it through the corners for it to ever be a problem on normal roads). On the motorways the car is really good. Road noise is bit higher than I would have liked but the car is otherwise comfortable.


            Any faults?
            ---------------
            There are a couple of gripes that it's worth mentioning. Both rear windows are wind down rather than electric. That is not a problem in itself but both of them have a habit of falling down a centimetre or so while driving. Also the brake pedal does not feel positive enough, and is far too spongy for my liking. Similarly the gear changes are a bit spongy and at first I had to keep checking whether I was properly in gear.

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              20.12.2010 15:54
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              I haven't seen it open for a while....hopefully it's closed for good

              As I have a Polish partner I was looking forward to trying out the new Polish restaurant on Lincoln High Street. At the time of our visit it had been open for around 2 months. Even though friends had told us the service was abysmal during their visit a few weeks earlier we thought this was probably down to teething problems and booked ourselves a table.

              First Impressions
              --------------------------
              The restaurant looks very much like a traditional pub both outside and in. Once you enter via the front door you have a seated area for drinkers immediately in front of you, the bar is ahead on the left with a couple of tables for eaters next to it. The main eating area is towards the back where there are around ten other tables.We were in there around 6pm on a Saturday but despite it's good location it was surprising to see how few people were in there: just one table of drinkers and one other couple eating

              It did not take us long to see the service problems that we had been warned about. We took our seats close to the bar and a waitress came to take our drinks order. The drinks were then poured and left on the bar. After ten minutes of waiting I got up and collected them myself. What is worse was that in that time the barman had kept his back to us while he tried to get the CD player working and was swearing loudly in Polish while he did this.

              The menu looked pretty good and was full of all the usual traditional Polish foods i.e. lots of pork, potatoes, vegetables and beetroot or wild mushroom soups. Unfortunately they did not offer a children's menu and their choices of drinks was limited.

              We had a long wait before our order was 'semi' taken. I say semi because when we were midway through ordering a bell rang in the kitchen to inform the waitress that food was ready for another other table. The 2nd waiter was obviously far too busy straightening knives and forks on the empty tables so rather than disturb him in his important work she walked off and left us...

              The Food...
              ----------------
              One of my party had ordered a starter which took over 30 minutes to arrive. Once she had finished it then took nearly an hour before the main courses appeared.....by now everyone was tired, hungry and grumpy. I had ordered a steak which turned out to be a big mistake. Although cooked and presented well it cost around £14 for a thin slice (£6 would have been a fairer price) and when I put my fork in the cuttlery was so cheap that it bent back on itself! The other people with me had a similar experience: overpriced food and small portions. None of the staff bothered to check if the food was ok and despite the empty glasses on our table we were not offered drinks again

              I've had enough, can we go now?!
              -----------------------------------------------
              At the end of the meal we turned down the chance of coffee (I couldn't wait to get out by that stage) and asked for the bill. I couldn't believe it when it cost me £70 for 3 people to have one round of drinks, one starter and a main course each. To rub salt into the wound I was charged extra for paying by card. At this point we complained about the service, the swearing barman and the long wait for food. We were told it was all because they weren't used to being this busy. I looked around and there was still only one other table eating....it says it all really

              A few months later friends of ours heard our stories and decided to go along for a laugh. Well the bill was just the same as was the service and the wait. They didn't laugh much after that

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                29.11.2010 15:58
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                bog standard

                If you really aren't bothered about getting a snazzy feature filled keyboard then this model from Microsoft is for you - it is both cheap and about as bog standard as you get.

                There is nothing on this keyboard to get you excited. No special ergonomic design, buttons to control volume, open the internet or go to your home page. But what you get is a cheap (£6 - £10 depending on where you shop), reliable keyboard that does the basics. As with most keyboards I have seen since the 1980's (and no doubt well before that as well) the numeric keypad is on the right, qwerty lettering on the left, cursor keys, insert/delete etc in the middle and F keys along the top.

                Setting up is incredibly easy, you just plug the keyboard directly into a usb port on your computer (the cable is around 2m long) where it will work straightaway with no install required. You then use the legs on the underside to either tilt it or leave it flat.

                The keys are great to use - you don't need to hit them hard for them to work but I am slightly disappointed that over the year or so that I have owned it the lettering has started to wear off quite badly in places. Another minor gripe is that the keyboard does not extend far below the spacebar. I much prefer keyboards that have an extended section you can use as a wrist rest.

                Without any special features to worry about cleaning is a doddle. You simply turn the keyboard upside down, bang the underside and mop up all the crumbs. Equally you don't need to worry around liquids - our 4 year old has spilt many a drink over it but we simply stick it in the airing cupboard to leave it to dry and then pick up as normal.

                And basically that is that. A budget keyboard that has all the buttons you would expect and errrrr...not a lot more

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                • Disklok / Car Steering Lock / 20 Readings / 19 Ratings
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                  29.11.2010 14:46
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                  excellent steering lock

                  Having forked out quite a lot of money for my last car I didn't want to take any chances that someone was going to pinch it. There were various types of steering wheel locks I could have gone for but after hearing stories of thieves simply cutting through the steering wheel to slide off standard locks I decided that I needed something sturdier.

                  Disklok seemed to be the best option as it is the only lock that covers the entire steering wheel and is Thatcham approved. Unfortunately it is also quite expensive: I bought mine for £60 five years ago but nowadays they tend to be on sale for £75 - £90. The device is solid metal and is available in either bright yellow or silver. It is also very heavy and bulky - in my case I owned a two seater car and found it a bit of a pain to store when not using it. Without getting out of the car and opening the boot, the only place in the car was the passengers footwell but this then stopped the passenger having anywhere to put their feet! On the other hand if it was not built this way then I am sure that it would be a lot easier for a thief to take off. You only need to spend a couple of minutes on the Disklok website to see all the accreditations before you understand just how effective this lock is. Maybe a determined thief with enough time on their hands could get the lock off but Disklok say this will take them a minimum of five minutes. In any case, hop when any potential thief sees the lock in place they will hopefully be sufficiently deterred to go and find an easier target.

                  Attaching the disklok is tricky at first but does become easier and quicker with practice. There is a hinge on the outer rim of the lock which allows it to split open into two halves. You then place the lock over the steering wheel, close the halves together, pull the lever down and lock it. When you get to this point you will then wonder how you are going to get your key out....until you work out that you have to turn the key a couple of turns the other way before it will release. Once in place, if someone does try to drive off in your car they will find that the disklok will turn but the steering wheel won't. Also they will not be able to turn it very far before their legs get in the way of the lever.

                  On the whole this is a very well made device and I highly recommend it. Sure you can criticise it for being heavy and bulky but if it was not made that way then it would not be as effective at protecting your car.

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                  • Lenovo Thinkpad T61 7660 / Laptop / 35 Readings / 35 Ratings
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                    26.11.2010 11:49
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                    Buy something else

                    If I had the choice I wouldn't have looked twice at this laptop as it is a bit of an ugly beast and I'm not all that familiar with the Lenovo brand. As it was, this is the standard laptop given out at work and I have used it for just over a year.

                    The laptop is plain looking but is certainly robust. Everything about its looks suggests this is for people who choose functionality over style. It has taken some batterings in the time I have owned it but the black casing seems to be scratch proof. It is not the lightest laptop I have seen (2.4kg) but it is certainly thin and as such is easy to carry around.

                    To give you some facts and figures, the laptop comes with a 100gb hard drive. That's quite small by todays standards but is more than enough for a business machine was access to network drives. The intel Processor speed is 2GHz and the combination of that plus 1gb of RAM means that your applications will load up nice and quickly and can run alongside one another without everything grinding to a halt. Battery life is pretty good - initially it lasted over 4 hours from full to flat but 35 to 40 hours use every week has meant that this has reduced to 2.5 hours. Other features include bluetooth connectivity and wireless LAN and stereo speakers. Unfortunately the 1st two of these are locked down on my work machine and the last one is not really practical to use in an office setting so I will just have to take the manufacturers word for it.

                    On the right side of the laptop you will find a combined DVD reader and CD read/writer whereas the left has a pcmcia slot (who uses these any more??) a network port, modem port, vga video port and two usb slots. This really is not enough - if like me you want to plug the laptop into an external monitor then by the time you have plugged in an external mouse and keyboard into the usb slots you have nowhere left to plug in anything else. Also the usb slots are so close together that if you plug in a pen drive the body of it will overlap the adjacent usb slot making it impossible to use. Seeing that there are only headphone and microphone sockets on the front you would have thought they could have squeezed an additional couple of usb slots in.

                    When using the laptop in standalone mode i.e. not plugged into external monitors and keyboards etc you will find that the 15 inch screen gives a nice clear picture quality, although it is a bit of a dust magnet and is not all that great at dealing with glare. The keyboard is excellent, probably the best I have come across as it is soft to touch and only needs a light touch to respond. You will find a mouse joystick in the centre of the keyboard with the two mouse buttons for it just below the space bar. If you prefer to use the touch pad then this is immediately beneath those mouse buttons and it in turn has its own mouse buttons just beneath it. I prefer to use the keyboard mouse as the touchpad is a bit too small to be practical. That said the combination of the two sets of mouse buttons and the touch pad means that the base of the laptop extends well below the bottom of the keys, giving you a nice spot to rest your hands when typing.

                    If you want to buy the T61 it will set you back around £850. That's quite a sizeable chunk of cash - especially when you compare it to my Samsung netbook that delivers similar performance but only cost £280. Sure the screen is a decent size and the applications load up quickly can I see what the extra money will buy me? In a word, no.

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                    25.11.2010 15:33
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                    The best curry restaurant I know

                    Let me start by saying that I absolutely love this restaurant and have been going there with my mum and dad for years and years without ever having cause for complaint. I do enjoy my curries and like to try different restaurants around the country but each time I find myself coming back to the Akash.

                    There isn't any one reason why the restaurant is so good, it's more of a case of them paying attention to the small things and doing everything well. In all the years we have been going to the Akash the staff have always been excellent and are consistently friendlier and better than those of their rival restaurants in the rest of Darwen's "curry mile".

                    Each of the waiters seems to be given the time to have a chat with the customers at the table but unlike other places I have been to the conversation never seems forced. In recent years I have started going there with my own small child and have found it such a nice change to be somewhere where they are happy to have children and the staff will both speak to them, and make a fuss of them (its also nice that you can order a half sized portion). I really find that I can relax and stop worrying about the odd bit of food dropped on the floor. In too many other places I have felt that while they accept children they don't really like the noise and mess they make and it is hard for parents to relax.

                    Restaurant design
                    ------------------------
                    There are two main entrances - one from Blackburn road which enters in the bar area and one from the back near the main seating area. Near to the bar they have a few small tables that they just tend to use on weekdays - the waiter explained that because it is a quieter time they can see all the customers from the bar and serve them with less staff. This really does work well and waiting times are kept to a minimum.

                    Round the back the main seating area accommodates tables up to around 20 people. Even when they have a couple of large parties like this the other tables never struggle to find a waiter and the wait for food does not seem to be any longer.

                    Over the years they have improved the décor - it's still not exactly 5 star hotel standard but it is pleasant and inoffensive

                    The Food
                    ------------
                    Ten out of ten from me for the food. The only times I haven't enjoyed a meal have been because I chose something I didn't like rather than it being prepared badly. Most people will start off with the popadoms and you will not be disappointed. Other places have chutney, lime pickle and one or two other sauces. Here you have 6 to choose from.

                    We don't tend to bother with the starters as the mains are so filling but on the odd occasion that we try one they have been well cooked and presented. The next courses are rattled out quickly but the waiter will always check if you are ready or want to wait a few minutes. The result is that you never feel rushed.

                    The main courses are the real reason you will go there and the main reason you will keep coming back. There is a wide choice in the menu, portion sizes are generous and the staff are knowledgeable enough to suggest something to your liking. It is nice to be able to keep everyone happy - our four year happy with a mild dish while others can go for something much spicier

                    Post meal service
                    ----------------------
                    I have not seen this done as well elsewhere. When you are finished they will bring over slices of orange and some hot towels. A nice touch is that when you ask for the bill you are offered a complimentary drink. The bill itself is in the 'as expected' range - typically I guess around £45 for 4 of us with popadoms, mains, rice, breads and drinks. After you have paid comes my dads favourite part of the trip.....vimto lollies on the way out! :-)

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                      25.11.2010 14:39
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                      Not good enough

                      I don't really get this airport. It's supposed to be an international hub - mostly for use by Qatar Airways - but it just doesn't seem to be setup right and is far too small.

                      I went through Doha airport on each leg of my Manchester - Abu Dhabi trip, staying for around 2 hours each time and if it wasn't for the free wireless internet I would have been bored out of my mind.

                      On arrival everyone is herded into the security check area. There are only 3 or 4 baggage check machines to deal with all the arriving flights and the queue is only really managed for the last few metres. You end up with a mass of people all pushing their way to go to the waiting lane. You then have another longish wait to get to the front of the queue and be called forward. The staff are unfriendly and in my experience inept. The security guard was only bothered that I take my belt off; he wasn't interested when I showed my mobile phone so I walked through the metal detector with it in my hand and unsurprisingly the alarm went off. Nobody confronted me about it so I got my bag and moved on. I still don't understand the need for this security check - if everyone has just got off a flight, why do they need to have their bags scanned again? I have not had it in other countries I have been to.

                      Once you are in the waiting area things don't get a lot better. The airport seems old and small and on both occasions was overcrowded. After using the toilets on the outward journey I learnt my lesson and made sure to use the facilities on the plane instead! Basically as with the rest of the airport the toilets are old, not particularly clean and overcrowded - if you compared it to trying to go to the gents in a football stadium at half time you would not be far wrong.

                      There are a few shops that you can go to on the lower floor they are overpriced and not that good. The top floor has the gates, toilets, a sleeping area and a mosque. To be fair there are plenty of seats I really appreciated the free wireless. The connection is a bit hit and miss but I did manage to get a valuable five minute Skype chat to home.

                      We were grateful to be called forward to go on the plane early and this meant that we had to take a bus ride to the plane. |I was surprised to find the journey took at least fifteen minutes as we had to go right round the end of the runway - seems like a poor design to me.

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                    • Qatar Airways / Airline / 13 Readings / 12 Ratings
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                      25.11.2010 14:12
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                      Disadvantages

                      I should have flown Emirates

                      I have just got back from a week in Abu Dhabi having flown there with Qatar Airlines. This involved a flight from Manchester to Doha and then a 1 hour flight from Doha to Abu Dhabi. As such I was able to see both the long haul and the short haul service that they offer. On the whole they were pretty good, got me there and back in one piece (despite having to suddenly pull up in Doha when we were 10m from the ground because another plane had not cleared the runway!) and my only real disappointment was simply that they are not as good as Emirates.

                      Booking
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                      I didn't book directly with them as I had found some nice online vouchers for Opodo and saved myself £35/person as a result. Once booked though the communications were very good. We bought our flights many months in advance and were kept up to date via email of any schedule changes - in the end it was only a matter of our flights changing by 5 minutes but it was nice to be kept informed

                      Online Check In
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                      You can just turn up on the day but it saves a lot of queuing time if you book in online, print off your own boarding passes and use the Qatar Airways quick baggage drop off lane at the airport. We used their website to do this and found everything straightforward and were even allowed to choose our seats at no extra cost. My one slight annoyance was that it was only possible to check in 36 hours in advance. This was fine when travelling out but it is not always easy to get access to a PC and printer when you are abroad so sorting ourselves out for the return journey was a little difficult

                      Flights
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                      On each of the 4 flights we took we found that we were boarded onto the plane much earlier than I am used to - in most cases around 1 hour before the flight left. This meant that the earlier passengers could get sorted out on the plane without having a load of people waiting to brush past them. Equally the late arrivers had clear aisles and could get to their seats quickly.

                      The staff were well presented and friendly and the pilot kept us well updated with how we were getting on.

                      The meals onboard are of a decent standard in comparison to other airlines I have used and likewise the TV screens offered a good choice of films, programmes, games and music.

                      Overall though Emirates are just that little bit better - they have more modern planes and plenty of staff walking the aisles, on hand to provide refreshments if asked. With both legs of the long haul flights there was just one lady stood near the toilet area handing out drinks. This meant that the queues for the toilets and the drinks blended into one with the result that you had to wait a long time for either facility.

                      The change in Doha was a bit chaotic and for that reason I would not rush to use Qatar airlines again. As we arrived everyone had to go through security check in again and there were only 3 baggage check machines open for all arriving flights which meant there were long queues. I really don't know why they do this, everyone has just got off a plane, they will have been checked at their initial airport, so what is this additional check going to achieve? Also the security guard only seemed bothered that I took my belt off. When both myself and a friend went through the metal scanner and the alarm went off nobody came over to check.

                      On the short haul flight from Doha to Abu Dhabi the service was similar but I found it a bit strange that they again had the TV screens with the full choice of films etc but did not have any headphones aboard (unfortunately they are bespoke headphones and your usual ones won't work).

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                    • Dell Ultrasharp 1707FP / LCD Monitor / 27 Readings / 26 Ratings
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                      24.11.2010 14:37
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                      • Reliability

                      Disadvantages

                      very good but pricey monitor

                      I was given this screen at work and as with most IT things they give me it is always a bit of shock to find out how much the standard price is. A quick search on Google shopping reveals that these still sell for £220 - £240. In my opinion that is far too much, especially when you consider it is a 17 inch monitor and I only paid £180 for my own 22 inch Acer monitor.

                      Looks
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                      The screen has a matt black or silver border depending on the version that you buy. There are five buttons on the bottom right of the screen: these are power, menu, select and a couple of buttons to go up or down the menu. The button on the back of the screen allows you to rotate the screen from a landscape to a portrait view and there are two usb ports on the left hand side.

                      The stand is silver and can be adjusted in height by pressing the button at the back and then pushing the screen. I find though that even on the maximum setting the screen is not at the ideal height and I have to use props to raise it another 4 inches or so. The connection between the stand and the screen allows you to tilt the screen to your liking. There is an impressively wide range of movement here although it is does not allow you to move the screen from left to right....I have seen this feature on other models but it does not add much value as it is hardly a difficult job to just move the entire monitor.

                      Setting it up
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                      This is simply a case of using the kettle lead to connect the monitor to the mains and then using either the DVI-D or VGA sockets to connect it to your pc. I have only tried the VGA connection and had no difficulties. No software installation was required and the monitor started up straightaway. If you wish to you can then use the aforementioned menu buttons to adjust brightness, colour, contrast and positioning. Very occasionally I have plugged another laptop into the monitor and found that the positioning was slightly out e.g. I could not see the extreme left of the image on screen. It is of course possible to adjust this with the positioning button or, if you just want to be lazy, go for the Auto Adjust option which has never failed me.

                      Use
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                      As I mentioned this is a work monitor so I have not tried it with games or high definition video. However having used it with various applications - mostly MS Office, internet explorer and occasionally Windows Media player - I have found the image to be very sharp with no flicker and next to no glare. I use the monitor for around 7 or 8 hours per day and rarely have tired eyes as a result. There are several hundred of these monitors on site and I have never heard of anyone having a problem with them so that does suggest they are reliable.....I just hope that the company got a bulk discount because aside from the price this is a very impressive piece of kit.

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