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Are you interested in home video editing on your PC? Own a digital video camcorder? Want to output your creations to VHS tapes so all the family can look and laugh? If you own a decent specification PC then this is an affordable PCI video editing card that will turn your video footage into good quality home movies. Pinnacle have been around for quite some time and they produce many high-end professional video editing cards, and over the last few years have also produced some top quality home solutions at very reasonable prices, and the DV Plus is the top of their home video range. Installation The card itself is a PCI card and slots easily into any spare slot in your PC. It's then just a matter of connecting the small audio loop cable to your sound cards line-in, attach your digital video camcorder via the Firewire slot, and then connect the analogue out cables to your video machine using either s-video or composite. Once you are happy with this, install the supplied drivers and software (supplied with Pinnacle Studio 7) and away you go. Having installed this card in my mother-in-laws PC, I was impressed with the software installation, as it is very easy for the uninitiated, loading all the relevant drivers. It is recommended that you have a high-end system for video editing (900Mhz plus, 7200RPM hard disk as big as possible and loads of memory). Software The video software that is supplied is Pinnacle's Studio 7 which has been winning quite a few rave reviews from PC magazines due to it's ease of use, coupled with extensive feature set. When you load the software there are three tabs at the top of your screen - Capture,Edit and Make Movie. The tabs are pretty self explanatory. When you open the capture screen it queries the camera, and once satisfied you can then start to capture video, rewinding and fast forwarding via this screen, as the software also controls the camera via the firewire interface.
Once you have captured footage (it automatically detects scene changes) you then move onto the edit screen. This presents a storyline, where you drag and drop your captured footage into the storyline, adding any transistions, effects etc between the scenes. Once satisfied with your movie you the click the make movie tab and are presented with various options. You can save your movie back to your camera (if your camera allows recording via firewire) output to VHS, save as an MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 for burning onto CD, create Real movies and Windows Media movies for putting on websites. When you've made your choices, you leave it alone, go make a cuppa and return to your newly created masterpiece! Sounds too easy? Believe me it is that simple. even if you do have any problems the manual is very extensive and there is a tutorial on the CD to guide you through your first steps. In Use Having set it up for my mother-in-law and had half an hour messing around with it, I left her too it. Two days later she gave me a video tape which contained a half hour movie of my daughter (she's five) from birth, through first birthday etc. I was very impressed with the quality of both the picture and sound, bearing in mind it was on VHS. Fortunately she had saved the movie file onto her hard disk as MPEG-2 so I burnt it onto cd as a Super VCD and the quality was even better. For someone like my mother-in-law to be able to get to grips with the software and card in two days just shows how user friendly it is, as she had difficulty setting her DVD player up to her TV! Features The card has Firewire in/out, analogue video out via S-Video or composite and audio out. It can make VHS and DV tapes, create Video CDs and controls your camera via the Firewire cable. The software also comes with HollywoodFX transitions and effects as well as Title Deko for adding fancy titles to your movies. NOTE - It does not support anal
ogue video capturing. If you don't have a digital video camera then you will need the Pinnacle Studio DC10+. Value This card is currently selling for around £152 including VAT at dabs.com, which is an incredible price when you consider that the software is retailing for £79.99 on it's own without any hardware whatsoever. If you are looking for a good quality video editing solution but don't want to take out a second mortgage then this card should be top of your list. Summing Up A great card, user friendly software for a very reasonable price. With the cost of digital video cameras having halved in the last six months there's never really been a better time to create your own home video studio. With good product support via it's website and forums, Pinnacle have created what must be one of the best home video editing solutions. Cheers - Craig
I've read quite a few good opinions about Pitch Black, and from what I've read it sounded like a film I would enjoy, so when I was shopping for something new to watch I picked this, as I like sci-fi films quitw a lot. The nearest film to this that I can think of is the original Alien movie, and Pitch Black actually starts in a similar fashion. A ship with people in suspended animation is travelling through space ( with a voice over about the effects of being asleep ) when something starts blasting holes in it, killing the ship's captain. The docking pilot of the ship takes control and manages to 'land' the ship on a desert planet, which has three suns. The surviviors of the crash landing include a mercenary, a violent criminal, a female prospector, some religious pilgrims, an antiquities dealer, another male and the afore mentioned docking pilot who is also female,as well as a youngster. Further exploration of the planet which they find themselves upon reveals a mining station, that has been abandoned, for some reason. As the film progresses we discover that their are other inhabitants of the planet that are vicious killers, but that cannot stand light. On a planet with three suns this wouldn't be too much of a problem except that every twenty-two years there is an eclipse, which lets the beasties out to play. As I said it is very similar to the Alens movie, but the creatures are not as scary looking. What I liked most about this movie was the cinematography. There are only so many ways to film a desert, but by using the fact that this planet has three suns (one yellow, one red and one blue), the director manages to make the scenery that little bit more interesting by using different coloured filters according to which sun was in the ascendancy. It makes for a very realistic scene. The other thing that I really liked was the criminal from the space craft. He is an escaped murderer, t
hat was on his way back to prison, before they crash landed. The prison he escaped from was underground, and while there he had something done to his eyes to enable him to see in the dark. This makes his eyes look very weird ( sort of polished ) but once the eclipse sets in he is in his element. While not as good as Alien, Pitch Black does hold it's own in what is admittedly a limited genre. It's enjoyable, not too frightening and the special effects people did a good job with the creatures. The acting is in the most part first rate, which is especially surprising as there are no big names whatsoever, but the criminal (played by the strangely named Vin Diesel) will undoubtedly appear in other higher profile films. You get the usual extras on the DVD - commentaries, production notes, weblinks, and some trailers - but in all honesty I don't generally view the features, after all why would I want to watch the trailer when I've watched the whole movie? One thing to note is that there aren't any deleted scenes. Anyway, if you get the chance, watch this film. It's good but not brilliant, but also doesn't get bogged down with unnecessary scenes. The film plays very smoothly with the story enfolding a quite a good pace.
Well I upgraded my processor and my motherboard, and although the motherboard supports both flavours of ram (SDRAM & DDRRAM) I decided that some new memory might be in order as well so I decided to buy myself 256Mb of PC2100 DDR-RAM. Scouring my usual sources showed that it cost a bit more than PC133 SD-RAM at around £33 per stick. As I have some friends who run a computer shop (I'm actually building them a website...slowly) I was offered some at trade prices which I agreed to UNTIL I browsed to Crucial's website. Their prices for DDR memory was actually cheaper than my friends could buy it for through the trade channels (no guesses where they now buy their memory from LOL). As I knew exactly what I wanted, the ordering process was very quick and very easy, without the now usual log-in before you buy feature that many online shops seem to insist upon. One click added the product to the basket, and when I checked out I was then asked to create a password protected account for future visits. Very easy. I was then e-mailed confirmation, and the following day received another e-mail saying that the parcel had been shipped by Special Delivery. Lo and behold it arrived the next day. I ordered at around 6.30PM on the Thursday night and had my parcel by 9.30AM Saturday morning. The best thing about the delivery process is that standard shipping is by Royal Mail Special Delivery and is free! Obviously if you want it quicker then you can pay more, but in all honesty why bother? Lets dig into Crucial a little more shall we? For those that don't know Crucial is the retail arm of Micron technology, an American company who manufacture memory chips. Due to the downturn in technology sales, memory is at the cheapest that it has ever been, so there has never been a better time to buy. As I browse the tech sites quite a lot, Crucial and Micron are names that I've come across quite a lot, and all that I've read has been complimentary. They manufac
ture very high quality and very reliable memory. This dedication to quality has been transferred to their website, which is very clean, very quick loading and very user friendly. They also have offices around the world, and a website for each, in that countries language, including France, Japan, Germany as well as others. One of the things I like best about the Crucial website (although it's not something I use, as I know exactly what I need) is the ability to browse by system manufacturer, and also by motherboard manufacturer. This helps customers to pick the memory that they need for their system if they aren't sure. Micron/Crucial sell a lot of memory to system builders and in some cases manufacture very specific memory for those companies such as Compaq etc. Obviously putting different memory in systems like that could have bad effects so putting the info on their website BEFORE you buy is very helpful. I've already touched upon the other feature I like and that was the fact that they don't insist upon you creating an account before you buy something, preferring to add your account during the actual buying process. I personally loathe sites that insist upon registering before you shop, so this feature of Crucials site is very welcome to me. There is however one bad point, which is actually their Limited Lifetime Warranty, which states the the item is guaranteed for life from defects (arising through normal use obviously) EXCEPT when purchased with a credit card, when the warranty is only valid for twelve months. No explanation is given for this anomaly, and it's a bit of a kick in the teeth really, as most people that will buy through the website will use a credit card, so automatically lose the 'Lifetime Warranty'. I know that there will probably be people reading this opinion that will say Crucial's prices for other types of memory are higher than other sites, and in part they will be correct
EXCEPT that in the main the memory that is sold cheaply by other hardware sites is unbranded or generic memory. While they may use recognised manufacturers for the actual memory chips (such as Hynix, Samsung) the other parts that make up the memory stick will not be of such quality, so cannot be relied upon when running them at the very top end of their specifications. This means that memory sold as PC133 may only just be able to manage 133Mhz, which can lead to a few problems especially if you want to try and get a little more speed from your system by upping the front side bus speed on your motherboard to 135Mhz or higher. All in all, Crucial is a brand that I've learned to trust because of the sites that I visit recommending them. The sites that I like are dedicated to overclocking so when they say that they use Crucial/Micron memory in thier testing setups it shows a high level of trust. Coupled with very good prices, especially on DDR memory, and an easy on the eye website make Crucial one of the best sites to visit when shopping for memory, although you can buy through dabs.com as well.
I heard about this film, when it won four Oscars, and just about everyone seemed to be raving about it, so when I got the chance to pre-order the DVD from Blackstar I did. I settled down to watch it the afternoon of the day that it arrived ( and have watched it twice since) and cannot honestly see what the fuss was all about. If this film had been made in Hollywood it would have been panned and sunk into obscurity. The film stars Chow Yun Fat (Replacement Killers) and Michelle Yeoh (Tomorrow Never Dies) and supposedly centres around a sword called Green Destiny. While the sword is part of the plot, it doesn't make that much of an appearance (and seemed a little on the floppy side for a weapon). The whole story seems to be very dis-jointed, and in all honesty made very little sense. The sword is stolen and Michelle Yeoh chases the thief, floating across rooftops, jumping gaps that Jonathon Edwards would have had difficulty with and running up walls. This makes the whole film feel very surreal as it is quite obvious that they are attached to wires, by the way they move their legs. We find out the identity of the thief, and then the film takes a massive leap in a different direction and we end up in the desert, with the thief as a young girl being chased by a brigand. Confused? I was. The first time I watched it I got very bored here, and although I persevered the second time, still felt that the story lacked direction, and that the special affects were a little too over the top, and had none of the finesse of 'The Matrix'. The films only real redeeming features for me were the fight scenes, especially when they kept their feet on the floor. Choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping, who also did the fight scenes for 'The Matrix', they were simply sublime. I haven't seen nartial arts depicted as slickly as this, since Brandon Lee in Rapid Fire. They manage to portray grace, while demonstrating the
power very well. All in all, Crouching Tiger isn't a bad film, I just think that I may have understood it more if I had been Chinese. I don't think it translates very well, but if you are into martial arts then this film is worth watching just for the fight scenes, but suspend your disbelief for a while. Extras include a making of feature, commentary, trailers, weblinks, photo gallery and filmographies which add to the value a little.
A film based upon a computer game? Oh no. Is it as bad as Streetfighter? As poor as Mortal Kombat, as mediocre as Super Mario or as dire as Wing Commander? Do the movie studios never learn? Computer games don't make good films! Wrong! Tomb Raider has finally broken the mold. Finally a movie based on a computer game that lives up to what has gone before. Just in case there are some here who've never heard of Tomb Raider, here's a very brief description. Think Indiana Jones BUT with large breasts, a tiny waist and firm rear. Chuck in some historic locations such as temples and ruins, visit various locations including the Great Wall of China and Venice. Add bad guys, puzzles and guns. Mix it all together and there you are, all of the Tomb Raider games in a few sentences. The first game was seen as ground-breaking while the others just surfed the waves it created. The thing was that the games were mega popular, so a film was quite a natural step and happily they've made a good job of it. Angelina Jolie plays Lara Croft, the Tomb Raider of the title. She has all the attributes of the games heroine, including large breasts, pouty lips and a long pig-tail. She is assisted in her quest by her butler (played by Chris Barrie, but without the bloody annoying nasal twang, that seems to infect his characters) and a computer nerd whose name I forget. As is the wont for these sort of films, the whole world is at risk. A secret society called the Illuminati, who are seeking a triangle, that gives the holder the power over time. The trouble is the triangle was broken in two and hidden in different locations, which means a bit of...you guessed it 'tomb raiding'. So the bad guys want it, and Lara wants it (for personal reasons) which sets the scene for lots of action. Guns blasting and bullets screaming sort of stuff, as well as some pretty good motorcycle stunts. The whole movie is
one long action blast, with just a few moments respite. On the whole I found the film to be very enjoyable, and very entertaining which was what I went to the cinema for. I didn't go into watch this expecting some high brow, heart string pulling emotional roller coaster. I went to see an action movie and to be entertained, and I was. The only things that bugged me were - The ending, which seemed to be a little rushed as though the film was running out of money and had to be finished. Lara's breasts - maybe others who have seen this could help me. Didi it seem like the director included gratuitous shots of Jolie's chest, just for the hell of it? Nearly every scene seemed to linger on her chest. But then maybe it was just me, maybe I'm breast obsessed and that's all I saw. Summing up, I think Tomb Raider is great entertainment - the plot may be thin, the baddies a bit limp and some of the characters a bit superfluous - but if all you are after is escaping from the humdrum of every day life for a bit, then go and watch this. PS The title refers to the motion of her breasts as she runs along in slow motion at the end, a la Baywatch. It's like two polecats fighting in a Safeways bag. OOps looks like I am obsessed!
I own both Sixth Sense and Stir of Echoes on DVD, and the latter I bought because it was supposedly similar to Sixth Sense. Well the only similarity is that both have children in that can see ghosts, and the similarity ends there. Although Sixth Sense has a better ending, Stir of Echoes is a lot better overall. Stir of Echoes stars Kevin Bacon (of Footloose fame) who seems to be an ordinary, everyday working man, at least until he is hypnotised at a party. After this he keeps getting flashbacks (and in some cases portents) concerning a young girl and the house in which he is living. To his surprise he finds that his young son can also see the girl and communicate with her. Unfortunately for him these events happen at sporadic intervals and he begins to get obsessed with finding out what went on, and obviously to try and get all this stuff out of his head. When he finds out the girls name, he questions his neighbours, only to be stone walled and this makes him all the more determined to find the truth. His wife (Kathryn Erbe) feels more and more left out of the events unfolding around her, as she cannot sense any of what is going on and her sense of frustration comes across very well, although not as well as the mother of the boy in Sixth Sense, but the acting is still excellent. Thats the basic storyline. I'm not telling anymore as I don't like spoiling films. Kevin Bacon is absolutely superb in this movie, as the events being played out in his head, drive him into obsession. There are some genuinely chilling and spooky moments in the film, something that I felt was lacking in Sixth Sense, and Bacon portrays them brilliantly. The DVD is ok in the extra features department, containing a Director's commentary, TV spots (haven't watched them), a music video called 'Breathe' by Moist?, and a behind the scenes featurette. I can't really comment on how good the film has been transferred as I hav
en't seen it on any other medium, but it looks very crisp with little sign of compression artifacts. If you liked Sixth Sense, then watch this. Yes you'll probably guess the ending, but the acting by Kevin Bacon and his on-screen family is brilliant and worth getting the film for alone. There are some shocking scenes in it (a manual tooth extraction made me cringe) but they add to the atmosphere a lot.
I've been on the look out for a semi-decent, cheap digital camera and spotted this camera in my Index catalogue, so I ordered it and paid the extra for the video version. It arrived today, and because I was out the delivery driver hid the parcel behind the dustbin. Having used the camera for an hour, I wish I had left it there. The camera itself is very small (about the size of a cigarette packet) which is it's only redeeming feature. I took a few quick snaps in a well lit room both with and without flash. There is a short pause between snaps while the camera charges. I then loaded the camera's TWAIN drivers and used Paint Shop Pro to load the images to my PC. The camera's TWAIN software shows the photos as thumbnails, but it's difficult to distinguish anything in the thumbnails. Every photo that I loaded into my graphics software was awful. The flash photos were over exposed, and the non-flash photos were under exposed. I'm not the world's best photographer, but I'm not the worst either. This camera would make David Bailey look poor. I then loaded the software that came with the camera, so that I could test the video functions. The software is amateurish and low on functions. There are better freeware programs available. The video from the camera was dark and grainy, no matter how much I tweaked the settings, although it was a decent frame rate. Summing up, I have to say that even at £120 (for the video version), there is nothing of value in this package. Half the price of this will get an excellent web camera, while you have to pay at least £250 plus, for a decent digital camera. Save your money and get a decent mega-pixel camera (Kodak or Fuji).
I have had a Littlewoods Xtra catalogue for some time and generally have been quite happy with the service I receive, but one thing let's them down big time. Their website. While the website is quite pretty it is almost always non-functional. Three times over the last fortnight, I have tried to order another (and better) DVD player over the net, and three times have given up in total frustration. While navigating the site is quite easy (using a series of drop down menus) the time taken to get from one page to another is absolutely appalling. I have downloaded MP3's faster than I have browsed this site. It also doesn't seem to matter what time I try to access the site as it's still incredibly slow. I have tried at 9am, 4pm and 3.30am without success, showing that it isn't a network congestion problem so must be a server thing. Maybe the over-complication of the site is to blame (on a coding level). So I'll review the catalogue instead as the website is a total non-starter. The catalogue is laid out much like every other catalogue I've come across, with sections for Ladies, Gents, Kids, Sport etc and very easy to browse. New catalogues are published every six months (January and July) and this is where you hit problems. Because of such a long 'shelf-life' the prices can seem very ridiculous, with product sometimes 50% more than they can be bought on the high street (Sega Dreamcast being a prime example). Offsetting this is the ability to shop from home and easy credit terms (although the APR is very high). Unfortunately because of the internet home shopping now has a much different outlook. I can't see it being too long before an on;ine store does the same thing but better, and in all honesty I don't see what's stopping Littlewoods doing it. Imagine having a fixed credit limit account at an online version of such a catalogue with the ability to view products from differen
t angles, with more indepth information (another thing that lets down both the website and catalogue is poor information about the products). I think it would be a runaway success. So with poor prices ( due to being six months behind in some cases ), poor product information and a website that's absolutely dire why is it worth joining. Only the flexible account (even though the APR is over the top). If they didn't offer that then you can bet your bottom dollar that I wouldn't have an account at all.
Bit of an over the top title? Read on and then you tell me. ** Please note the use of the word 'bastard' in the title is not as a profanity. It refers to them being fatherless sons of... ** Desktop dollars for the uninformed is one of the few remaining 'get paid to surf' programs, most of the others having withdrawn from the race due to lack of advertising revenue. Basically you download a small program, that when installed creates a bar on your screen that flashes adverts at you. You are supposed to be paid a set amount for every hour that the bar is running, and you are surfing the net. I used it when it first launched but after earning only 50 cents for over thirty hours surfing, I ditched it. My friend who introduced me, however, did not. He has consistently used it and has yet to receive the minimum payout limit, earning around two dollars a month for having their advert bar on his screen for around forty hours a month. Recently, however, he has noticed some strange things happening on web pages that he views. This seemed to start when he installed the latest version of their viewbar. Certain words on webpages that my friend visited were underlined and flashed yellow, even if the word was not a hyper-link. Clicking on these words opened a little pop-up box that invited him to visit sites (shopping pointed to Ebay). I must stress that this was coming from his own PC as viewing the source of the web-pages revealed no link! A little digging on his machine uncovered a little program call EZULA, that seemingly installed, without permission!, when he installed the new desktop dollars bar. A quick search on Google shows that Ezula is a advertising site that is selling this technology to other companies. So how does it work? Well Ezula is pioneering something called HotText, which seems to be very much like the smart-tags feature that Microsoft are busy removing from Wi
ndows XP. Companies pay for their websites to be associated with certain words which are stored in the Ezula program. Then whenever the browser goes to a site that has the word on the page it will highlight and create a link. Hey that sounds ok you are thinking? Well consider a site like DooYoo. By using certain words (shopping, opinions, community, music etc) in the Ezula HotText program it would be possible to hijack the advertising revenue from DooYoo. DooYoo has a link to Blackstar. Well imagine if I bought the right to have DVD and Video built into my own version of Ezula HotText. Then if I could convince people to install my own version, whenever they visted DooYoo, and the words DVD or Video were present on the page, they would be highlighted and offer you the chance to visit "CJKAce's Movie Emporium". DooYoo would receive no money for this, and Blackstar wouldn't receive many visitors from the DooYoo site. As you have probably guessed, Desktop Dollars have indeed signed up their own version of HotText, and predictably offer it as a way for you to earn more money. As they don't seem to pay out anyway (or it takes so long to make it unviable) it's a bit of a moot point. The problem is that this software hi-jacks other sites advertising revenue, which means that many sites whose business relies on targetted advertising, like DooYoo, Ciao, IPoints etc, will start to lose their advertisers, which means they close down and ulimately WE lose. So yes, Ezula and Desktop Dollars are in my opinion the "Bastard sons of scum sucking weasels" (My apologies to any weasels that may be reading this, but I refer only to your scum-sucking brethren) ** Read more about Ezula at www.ezula.com **
Well I admit it. I got mugged. Suckered by the promotional material from Britannia that you find in just about every magazine and daily newspaper. "Buy 4 DVD's for the price of 1!!", "4 DVDs for only 3.99 each!!" So I went ahead and joined. What an idiot I am. Just in case some don't understand Britannia run various 'clubs' but in fact when you join one, you are automatically allowed to order from the others, so although this op is in the music section, by joining the music club you get access to their DVDs/Videos and vice versa. So how does it work? Well you order using their promotional offer and if approved get your order at a knockdown price. Then every month you receive a 'club' magazine listing the latest releases, special offers etc. There is also an 'Editor's Choice' selection every month, which unless you specifically request otherwise will be sent to you. You can opt out by telephone, posting a slip back or now on their website. You then have to purchase 6 full price titles to fulfil your membership obligations, before you can cancel. So what's so bad about Britannia? Why do I feel as though I've been mugged? 1 - Prices. They are far and way the most expensive place for DVDs that I have ever seen. Nearly all their DVDs are 19.99 (plus postage), which is over the top considering that high street stores are charging 16.99. They do offer special bonus prices along the lines of "buy 1 full price, get I bonus price item" but the prices of the bonus items is actually the same as the prices on the high street. 2 - Editor's Choice. I think this should be opt-in, not opt-out. If I want the editor's choice then there should be an option to specifically ask for it, not ask that it not be sent. I've so far received three 'Editor's choices' because I didn't request they not send them (my fault I admit, but I&
#39;ve been so busy). This has become easier now that I've found the link on their website. 3 - Returns If like me you receive something you don't want there should be an easy way to return them. Why can't a return slip be put in the envelope along with all the other crap? Why is there no link on the website to request a return slip? It seems that they make the returns process complicated so that some people don't return products. 4 - Customer Service Britannia must be unique when it comes to their customer service. It's actually quicker to e-mail than it is to telephone. Their members telephone service is so long winded that it's quite literally unbelievable. Press 1 for this, 2 for that etc, and when you press the corresponding button to try and talk to a human being, you get left hanging on the telephone for ages. Having been a member for approximately six weeks, I cannot in all honesty see any benefit to me of remaining a member. By the time I've fulfilled my membership obligation, I will have spent enough money that I won't have saved anything over shopping in the high street. In fact I reckon that I will still have paid, approximately 5% more by joining Britannia (taking post and package into account). As soon as I've bought six DVDs and fulfilled the obligation I will be dumping this 'club' faster than a flytipper on a country lane. Take my advice - steer clear of Britannia Music & Britannia Video
Having read quite a few opinions on this film, here at DooYoo (and Ciao), it was a film that I wanted to watch but was still a little wary about paying full price for on DVD. That was until I went into my local Woolies and found it on sale for only £9.99 (along with some others including Mission Impossible 2 which I also bought). I took my new purchases home and put Final Destination in the player, made a cuppa and sat down. I already knew the basic plot, having read the said ops on Ciao, but even so I was still engrossed and shocked by the movie. It is such an incredible premise for a movie (I can't recall another like it) and is brilliantly directed. The story is about a bunch of American school kids who are due to fly to Paris, but while on the plane, one of them (Alex) has a dream that the plane is going to blow up, and rushes off the plane dragging six others with him. The captain refuses to allow the to re-board and the plane takes off, subsequently blowing up. The six that have been spared because of Alex's actions, can't deal with the way it happened and refuse to even talk to him. However, as the film develops it becomes obvious that Death refuses to be cheated and starts to re-claim the lives that escaped the plane, picking them off one by one, presumably in the order that they should have died if they had remained on the plane. I'm not saying anymore about the story, but it is brilliantly told, with some of the deaths being very well shot. The way Alex deduces what is happening is also very good, and his efforts to cheat death from re-claiming the lives of his friends is excellent. The DVD contains the usual extras of deleted scenes (including an alernative ending), the trailer (I still don't understand why they include trailers! I've watched the film what could possibly interest me in the trailer), cast and crew interviews and a featurette on premonitions. It is one of th
e better horror/thriller films that I have watched over the last few years, and it's story is definitely one of the most original. Buy it from Woolies.
Kids is a movie that caused a storm in the United States when it was released due to it's content and the director's use of very young looking actors. This film tries to show the 'truth' about youth culture in the States, as opposed to other teen flick movies which try to be light hearted. The kids in this film range in age from approximately twelve onwards and the film portrays them as foul mouthed, sex craving drug users and if only 50% of the film is accurate then it is a very damning indication of our society. To try and give a true representation of the films content and so that you can make an informed choice on whether to watch it or not, I am going to have to spoil the story, by giving away most of the plot (if you can call it a plot) The story revolves around three central characters, and is told in a documentary style. Telly is a teenage boy who is obsessed with sex, but only sleeps with virgins, Casper is another boy, but he is obsessed with drugs and Jenny is an innocent who happened to sleep with Telly once, and is mighty pissed that he never spoke to her again. The film opens with Telly and a young girl (who barely looks fourteen) sat facing each other on a bed. Telly whispers sweet nothings and then has sex with her, before dashing downstairs to tell his friend Casper all about it, explaining how she was so sweet and tight, and how he didn't think she was a virgin 'cos she moaned so much. They then go to a friends house and smoke some drugs, before the conversation gets around to sex and AIDS. One boy reckons that there can't be any such thing as AIDS as he doesn't know anyone that has had it. The scene then changes to a group of girls talking in another house and this is where we first meet Jenny. She complains about the way Telly seduced then dumped her, and the girls all agree that all men are like that. The conversation then swings around to oral sex, with one girl c
ommenting that she didn't like the taste and the way the 'little sperm' get stuck to your teeth. AIDS rears it's ugly head here as well, and Jenny decides to accomapny a friend who is going to be tested. After the tests are completed we find out that Jenny is HIV positive, and as she has only ever had sex with Telly, he must be the one that gave it to her, so she sets off to tell him. Back to the boys now and we discover Telly and Casper at a local hangout where Casper gets stoned and messes around on his skateboard. A young black youth bumps into Casper, an argument ensues and the black youth gets beaten up by around twenty youths before Casper spits on him. The whole fight scene is very disturbing, especially as kids of all colours attack the black youth. Some of the boys then decide to go swimming (Telly and Casper among them) and they call around for a girl, before going to the local outdoor pool, climbing the fence and everyone strips to their underwear, including two of the girls. The boys prompt two of the girls to kiss, which they do and then things threaten to turn ugly as one of the boys wants a kiss, and the girl refuses. Fortunately nothing happens. Meantime Jenny (HIV positive remember) is still travelling to talk to Telly, stopping off at a club to get stoned, before arriving at a party wher she knows Telly is. Casper is also there, drunk and Telly is busy trying to get yet another girl to remove her clothes, by saying the same things that he said to the first girl and he succeeds. Jenny walks in while he is having sex (you can hear the girl begging him to stop because it hurts) and she leaves the room, in tears before slumping on a sofa and falling asleep. Morning comes around to find Casper waking up in the bathroom. He goes in to the kitchen, drinks the dregs from the bottles and goes into the living room where he sees Jenny unconscious on the sofa. Without going into too much detail
he then rapes her while she is asleep. Thats the whole movie (compressed anyway) and it is a very brutal look at what kids get up to, in their early teens. While the movie is told in a very frank style, there isn't any nudity, with most things being implied. If this is indeed what growing up is about then we are in for a very bleak future. Happily this isn't strictly speaking exactly the way society is going, but i remember seeing a documentary on television (Channle 4 or BBC 2) that was interviewing a load of kids in Liverpool, and that showed that a lot of what is in Kids IS happening. Overall this is a very frank and disturbing look at youth culture, that is very disturbing, but compelling viewing all the same, although obviously not everybody's cup of tea.
Google is, in my opinion, the absolute top search engine. You can find what you want with the minimum of fuss and without over the top advertising. It's speed, compared to some of the other search engines is blindingly fast and more importantly the results are relevant. Anyone that has used Altavista, will know how often the top 20 results contain references to the same site. Google cuts out this rubbish better than any other engine and has the added advantage of being multi-lingual. It also has the ability to translate pages, but this has a very limited use and doesn't seem particularly accurate. Search engines, not to be confused with web directories, use a piece of software called a robot (or spider) to go through websites, logging the pertinent details such as site title and content. In the past this was very easy to fool, but the software has improved and many of the old webmasters tricks no longer work. Google is also unique, I believe, in that it ranks sites according to how relevant and how many sites of a similar nature link to it. This is a feature that I believe will become more prevalent as the internet develops further, and it becomes more difficult to seperate the wheat from the chaff. Web directories on the other hand are more difficult to get listed on simply because the websites are reviewed by real people. This is how Yahoo first started, but the quality of the directory has gone down. Web directories usually use third party search engines, and Google is the official search engine for Yahoo among others. Google have also bought the usenet archives from Deja.com, and after a few teething troubles (notably that they changed the thread layout, so you'd only get half the messages), it is now almost as good as it was, with the ability to post newsgroup messages, making it a very decent free newsgroup service. If you are looking for the most relevant results to your search, and want it as fast
as possible the there is know other choice but GOOGLE.
Road trip is a homage to the teen rites of passage movie that was inspired by a scene from National Lampoon's Animal House, where some of the fraternity members were in trouble and decided that the timing was perfect for a 'road trip'. This film is based around Ithaca College, and the story is told as a narrative by a guy (Barry) who is showing prospective new students and their parents around the campus. Some of the people complain about his lack of knowledge about the campus and he informs them that Ithaca was the scene for one of the most incredible stories ever told. The story centres around the relationship between Josh and Tiffany who are studying at universities over 1800 miles apart, and communicate mainly by video tape and the telephone. Tiffany isn't answering Josh's calls, and he believes that maybe the relationship is over, so urged on by his friend EL, he has a date with Beth. Beth seduces Josh and records their subsequent love-making, but the tape accidently gets posted to Tiffany, just when Josh finds out that the real reason she hasn't been returning his calls because her grandfather had died. This prompts the Road Trip of the title as Josh, EL and Ruben enlist the services of Kyle (a weedy nerd type of guy) who happens to own a car. They then set-out to drive across the country and intercept the tape before Tiffany gets it. It's a very simple script but is very well told. Barry's rendition of the happenings come in for some criticism from the females in his tour group, and the movie does have some fairly gratuitous scenes of female nudity, because of the way Barry said things happen. The soundtrack is also quite good. The DVD is available in two formats, one un-cut and one cut obviously. The former is the one that I own and not having seen the movie at the cinemas I can't really comment on whether their are many changes, at least enough to warrant it's expl
icit 'what you didn't see at the cinema' sub heading on the box. The extras on the DVD include deleted scenes, a music video by the 'Eels', theatrical trailers but no commentary. Ultimtely although I enjoyed the film, I didn't find it as funny as either Animal House (which inspired it) or American Pie (on whose success this movie was released), but it's quite funny, with some very wry tongue in cheek comments on the way teen flicks are made. That said, I would still buy this movie but maybe some would be better served renting it first.
I've been using the internet since January 1999, and there have been quite a lot of changes in that time. In the early days, accessing the internet was through a local rate phone number but this was still expensive for anyone using the internet for more than 15 hours per week. Other, supposedly flat-rate 24/7, deals started to arrive in 2000 but all of these suffered problems, mainly due to the ISP's cost to British Telecom. Many of these early 24/7 services are no longer around (Lineone/Quip, Redhotant) and others have had to change there service (Libertysurf, Breathe) because users had the temerity to actually use the service. Then BT invented a special internet rate called Surftime which was supposed to make it cheaper for ISP's to offer 24/7 access, but again this was flawed. People who used the services for more than 4-5 hours per day were costing the ISp's money, so were kicked off of the service, even though they were only using a service for which they had paid. (Force 9) Finally BT, forced by AOL & OFTEL, offered a new rate for ISP's called FRIACO, which is what the new service from BTInternet is based upon. For £14.99 a month you get internet access with no call charges, 24 hours, 7 days a week. That's not to say that you will or should use it for 24 hours a day, but it makes access during the day a financial reality. The sign-up process is very quick and easy, although you do need a credit card to be able to sign-up for BTInternet Anytime. When you've finished the sign-up you are prompted to download a dialer, to access the internet through your new 0800 number, but despite what it says on the site, you don't need this special dialer. I set up my internet settings manually, simply because the dialer automatically logs into the BTInternet homepage, and I prefer to set my own homepage. At the moment the service is very good. Connection is invariably first time and the speed is always 49
,333. The connection speed is because I have a very 'clean' telephone line and an excellent external modem ( US Robotics 56k Voice Fax Modem). Download speeds are generally good and during this first month of use, I cannot honestly remember any problems whatsoever. I don't expect this to last, however, as all ISP's have problems. The difference between a good and a bad ISP is how they deal with said problems, so we'll see how BTInternet stack up to the rest. My ISP history. Dec/Jan 99 - Connectfree (despite what people believe, Freeserve was not the inventor of free internet access in the UK, Connectfree was. Freeserve, because of the Dixons group, was better advertised and distributed.) Feb99/Sept 99 - Offline due to moving house and not having a phone-line. Oct99/Mar00 - BTInternet free weekend access for £9.99 a month. This was a good service until they gave away evening access as well, then the service became impossible to connect to. Mar00/Jan01 - Lineone. First with the Quip deal, which fell apart after a couple of months then with Surftime. Generally a very good service but they're support team are idiots. Feb01 - BTInternet again, this time on their 24/7 service. Everything's good so far! They're has been a lot of change during the last twelve months, and hopefully we now finally have true fixed-rate access.