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dalcowan

dalcowan
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Member since: 23.01.2012

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      09.03.2012 12:09
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      Smart cats will exploit all of its weaknesses

      When we moved house a few years ago we were moving with a vibrant and happy cat that loved nothing more than to play outside all day. Now we have a cat that is constantly petrified, quivers in the bushes trying to rush through its 'business' and spending 95% of her day sleeping in the safety of our bedroom.

      Why? Mainly because the Staywell magnetic cat flap is rubbish.

      When we first moved to this house the back door was fitted with a basic flap and with our cat being the newbie in town it was unsurprising that other cats wanted to check her out and started to make their way into our house where to their delight they found delicious high quality cat food. At first all of this attention made our cat quite timid and the constant stream of intruders was not only upsetting our cat it was also upsetting us as they urinated in our house, left fur balls and scat everywhere and would come into our house at night to start a chorus or two.

      We invested in the Staywell cat-flap and for about 3 months things improved. Our cat became more confident again as she probably knew she could stand up for herself but could escape to the safety of her home if needed knowing the other cats couldn't get in. Then things started to go wrong. The magentic catch would be forced open with a strong wind and the magnetic 'key' on her collar started to split (the plastic casing) and the magnet fell out a number of times. We ordered replacements but the same thing kept happening because the little magnet would pick up metallic lint and would wear away at the plastic.

      Then the other cats got smart. They worked out that if they kept ramming their faces at the door they could get in. Sadly my wife and I are both deep sleepers so we didn't hear the cats forcing their way in at night and never saw them in the day as we were both at work. Then I started working from home and witnessed this in the act and started chasing the cats off. That stopped things for a few weeks but then they got smart again. They worked out that they could stick a claw under the flap and pull it open towards them and I have even seem them working in teams to do this. Bottom line this flap is useless.

      I would avoid this like the plague if you live in an area with a lot of cats.

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    • Natwest Bank / Bank / 7 Readings / 7 Ratings
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      24.01.2012 13:56
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      Great bank, excellent customer service, good features and easy to bank with.

      I've been banking with NatWest for 5 years as a joint customer and I can honestly say they are the best bank I've had.

      First of all their customer service team have all been really helpful and they are quick to credit my account with funds when they've made a mistake. The few times I've had any difficulties that were their fault or the customer service staff haven't been excellent I have complained and within 24 hours I've received credits ranging from £20 to £50!! Result!

      Their telephone and mobile banking (app) is great and quick and simple to set up and use.

      The online banking is nice and easy to use and I feel like my details are really secure despite it being so easy to do everything.

      The best thing for me is their Advantage Gold account. We pay £12.95 per month (£155 per annum) for the upgraded account and it is a real money saver. We have one simple fee leaving our account every month and we get loads of benefits that would cost so much more. The best ones for us are the Green Flag breakdown... not as good as the AA or RAC but they are reliable nonetheless and as we have a pretty reliable car (touch wood) we have hardly ever used a breakdown service despite spending hundreds of pounds for years on them. We get this for pittance when you consider that we also get travel insurance for us both that we used to pay £35 a year for. We also get mobile phone insurance for both of our phones which we used to pay £20 a month for. Already we are quids in and the insurance cover is actually higher than we used to pay more for!! We get loads of discounts in loads of places and slightly better rates on our savings although to be fair most banks offer pittance for savings so they aren't that great. We also get extended warranties on our appliances courtesy of NatWest.

      I've used a number of banks... HSBC being the worst and the most thieving and NatWest being the best and most honest.

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      • Zanussi ZUD9154 / Fridge / 4 Readings / 4 Ratings
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        24.01.2012 13:42

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        Worst appliance we've ever bought

        Do you want the short review? Don't buy this fridge and if you do make sure you have loads of patience for the hours you will spend trying to fix it/have it fixed.

        Technical specs include, Adjustable thermostat, Auto defrost function and Interior light amongst others.

        Adjustable thermostat: Between British summer (wet but moist) and Antarctic winter.
        This fridge is so temperamental that a slight adjustment will make the fridge so warm that butter will turn to slush and milk will curdle or so cold that anything inside it freezes solid.

        Auto defrost function: Doesn't work. The fridge is constantly engulfed in frost.

        Interior light: About the only thing that works.

        We had this fridge installed and it worked for a few weeks but then it started playing up, we tried adjusting the temperature but that just made things worse. We called out the engineers and they came and inspected and said it was fine and they couldn't see anything wrong with it (it was working that day can you believe it). A week later we called out the engineer again and they said it was a problem with the door not closing properly and refitted it. It was okay for a few days but then it went funny again. We called the engineer a third time and they refused to come out under warranty so we had to pay a call out charge. We tried claiming the money back but the manufacturer wasn't having any of it.

        We've had engineer after engineer look at it after managing to convince the manufacturer to give us unlimited call outs as their fridge was obviously playing up. They tested it, refitted it and even replaced it. Nothing has worked and we are now looking into getting a new fridge.

        My reviews are based on personal experience and as such will generally only include technical data as if explained to a non technical person. My reviews contain my personal thoughts and experiences with the items I am reviewing and aim to give a view of how something works (or doesn't) in everyday use rather than a list of features. I hope this helps.

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      • Blackberry Curve 9300 / Smartphone / 2 Readings / 1 Rating
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        24.01.2012 13:25
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        An excellent smartphone

        I bought this as a Christmas present for the wife as her sisters and her mum all have BlackBerry's and she wanted to BBM them etc. I wanted to get her a phone that would still work and look good in a year or so as she only changes her phone every 2-3 years!! (Unlike me).

        I bought this BlackBerry on a 24 month contract with Orange and I do not regret this purchase at all.

        Having played with it myself getting it all set up for the missus I have found the phone to be user friendly and after the installation process and adjusting the tones etc I quickly picked up how the phone works and so did the wife. One drawback to this phone is that the keys are quite small so anyone with big thumbs will make plenty of mistakes in emails/texts but they might get used to it.

        The device has a very long standby time and there are many apps to download (free and paid) to your phone to customise it.

        It is a nice light feeling phone and has plenty of features including email, calendar, reminders, games and music.

        Overall it is a great phone and completely changed my view on BlackBerry's (it wasn't good before) and would be a phone I would use personally if it was not for the small buttons.

        My reviews are based on personal experience and as such will generally only include technical data as if explained to a non technical person. My reviews contain my personal thoughts and experiences with the items I am reviewing and aim to give a view of how something works (or doesn't) in everyday use rather than a list of features. I hope this helps.

        A list of technical features can be found on the nav bar next to reviews.

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      • The Inbetweeners Movie (DVD) / DVD / 3 Readings / 2 Ratings
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        24.01.2012 12:57

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        Good fun and a right giggle.

        I missed the first two series because I kept confusing it with the IT crowd which I didn't find funny at all. Luckily I was turned on to this great programme by some friends and have since watched all three series on DVD.

        I was really excited about the film and in most respects it did not fail to deliver. It seemed very much like three ordinary episodes of the series meshed together with a few moments of boredom. There was as much humour in the film as there would be in three episodes which is about 64 minutes total so the other 20-25 minutes were a bit dull and the story line was very easy to guess although that doesn't stop you laughing out loud at the excellent execution.

        As a standalone film I think it would have struggled to gain an audience at the cinema or on DVD if it was not for the series preceding it so I suggest you watch some episodes before trying the film. The genre has been covered so many times with the likes of American Pie and Kevin & Perry Go Large but I think this film brings a little something new because of the accuracy of the portrayal of teenage life in ordinary suburbia whereas American Pie was very US toilet humour based and Kevin & Perry was obviously written and performed by middle aged people playing on teenage stereotypes.

        All in all a good watch.

        **Synopsis**
        Four teenage boys - Will, Simon, Jay and Neil - have finished their A-levels and are about to go on holiday together and Neil books them on a trip to a Greek island complete with matching 'pussy patrol' t-shirts.
        Their accommodation is awful (as you'd expect) and they get bothered a bit by a weirdo who went on holiday alone. On their first night they get enticed into an empty bar but soon after four girls (who feature heavily in the film) walk in and the boys decide to chat them up which leads to the funniest scene in the film.
        Later that night Will sees his long term obsession (who he has tried to forget about by going on holiday not realising he has come to the same place) and goes to talk to her. She is popular with some older lads who take the micky out of Will. He decides that he will try to get with his dream girl at an exclusive boat party on the last day that she is attended and lies and says he has tickets.

        The remainder of the film is spent mostly with some funny and some not so funny antics all with the sole aim of getting Will onto the boat party which they eventually do.

        Once on the boat..... well, you'll have to watch the film to see =)

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      • Baumatic BR181SL / Fridge / 1 Reading / 1 Rating
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        24.01.2012 12:36

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        Excellent fridge freezer for a couple or small family.

        We've had our fridge freezer for a while now and it is a reliable and useful appliance.

        We have the fridge freezer in the garage and a built in fridge in the kitchen. The one in the kitchen is a nightmare. It is either too cold (icy) or too hot (melts the butter) but I'll leave that for another review.

        This model is fantastic for us. It is easy to clean, easy to adjust and has a surprising amount of freezer space and unlike other models we've had the freezer NEVER needs defrosting and never freezes up or plays up if we 'overfill' the freezer.

        There is plenty of space in the fridge, both on the shelves and in the door. It is extremely energy efficient, costing us approximately 3p per day to run which is less than it costs every time we boil the kettle. I was surprised at how energy efficient this fridge is when I tested it but it really is a economical little thing.

        In our old house it was in the kitchen and looked very stylish and I thought that might mean it would be temperamental when we moved to the new house and relocated it to the garage but it has withstood 35+ degree heats in the garage which seems to exacerbate any temperature and still worked perfectly with no change in internal temperature or increase in running cost and has also withstood -10 degree coldness a winter or so ago and worked perfectly. It has never needed anything replacing and looks and works just as good as the day we bought it. A great fridge for a couple or a small family. I think it would be a little small for a large family.

        My reviews are based on personal experience and as such will generally include technical data as if explained to a non technical person. My reviews contain my personal thoughts and experiences with the items I am reviewing and aim to give a view of how something works (or doesn't) in everyday use rather than a list of features. I hope this helps.

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      • More +
        23.01.2012 14:46
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        Cheap to run, long lasting, great results - Top machine

        We bought the Hotpoint Aqualtis about 5 years ago purely because we'd seen an advert on telly and it looked good in the shop.

        The wife and I aren't really impulse buyers and really do our research before hand but the machine we went to buy that day (a Miele) had sold out and we didn't want the display model (even at 40% discount) because it wasn't the right colour. We were after silver or something with a silver trim as that matched all of our other appliances and the display model was white and grubby looking, alas I digress. We had planned to order one in but we were sick of using the laundrette and didn't want to wait any more so we had a look around the shop. We both were drawn by how great the Aqualtis looked, as washing machines go, and decided to look at its specs further.

        It seemed to meet our needs (and then some) and was just slightly out of our price range. We managed to get the machine on discount and took it home in the car the same day. What is important about that is that at the time we had a small vauxhall corsa hatchback and this is quite a powerful machine that can take very large loads so we were surprised at how easily it fit in the back of the car with the seats down.

        It was very simple to hook up at home and within 45 minutes we had a wash on. We watched pretty much the whole cycle!

        We were surprised at how easily it washed a load 1.5 times the size our last washing machine would have struggled with. It is extremely powerful and allows you to be economical with the washing powder.

        We've not had one single problem with this machine in over 5 years except for the plastic/rubber rim/sealer on the drum being stained in the folds with black spots but they have no affect on washing so it's more cosmetic and aesthetic. The machine is very quiet as washing machines go and the sound of the machine is usually drowned out by the gurgling noises the sink makes, it's that quiet!!!

        It has an increased drum for larger loads and can handle a large duvet no problem. The clever people at Hotpoint angled the drum so the machine is no deeper than your average machine although they couldn't stop it being just a tad wider than most machines so I'd measure your hole before buying it but it hardly vibrates or moves whilst in use so a very very snug fit isn't a problem. We had ours with a 2mm gap either side in our kitchen before the utility room was built.

        It has a great energy rating and it's increase load capacity has allowed us to cut down on our water, electricity and washing powder bills.

        It is very economical to run, looks great, gives great results and is extremely reliable with no issues in 5+ years with an average use of 4 loads per week.

        In short... a great buy and a worthy addition to any household from the one-load-a-week-ers to the two-loads-a-day-busy-mum types.

        Tech specs....
        In regards to this machine. The temperature goes up to 60 degrees but it gives fantastic washes at 30 and under. Overall cleaning performance is excellent, even with less than the recommended dose of powder which saves us money as washing powder is getting more and more expensive.
        It has various settings controlled by a digital/analogue control panel. It is digital display but you turn the analogue knob to the right setting. I'm not great with washing machines but this one is nice and easy to use. I put in the items I want washing, choose a setting from colours, whites, darks, towels, bedding etc, adjust the temperature with the temp button and spin speed with the spin button, choose when I want the machine to start (immediately or delayed up to 24 hours) and press start.

        Cleans very well at 30 and 40. I have never used it above or below that personally.

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        • Samsung ES28 / Digital Camera / 12 Readings / 9 Ratings
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          23.01.2012 14:25

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          A great camera for all occasions.

          I gave this camera as a Christmas present to my wife and as it is so easy to use she started taking pictures immediately.

          The default settings had fantastic image quality, pictures were really clear and crisp and it only got better once she had played with the settings.

          The buttons are quite easy to use and the manual quickly gives you all the information you need to use the camera and it's advanced features. It was a nice simple to read manual that could quite easily teach someone with no technical knowledge at all how to take awesome pictures.

          I chose this camera as it has a nice weight to it. It is not too heavy but is weighty enough for her to feel it in her bag as previous cameras had been nabbed whilst on holiday. The zoom function was very smooth and not at all jerky which helped her to capture some fantastic images. The editing software that comes with it is simple to use and has some lovely functionality which has allowed her to take some fantastic images. As an amateur photographer she wanted something powerful but not too flashy, something she could put in her handbag and whip out when she saw an opportunity. This camera has been everything she wanted and she has uploaded many of her images to stock photo sites and makes a few quid a month from it.

          All in all this is a great little camera and worthy of any situation from family holidays, to gatherings, parties, girls nights out (if you buy the pink one like I did) and for quick snaps of moments in life that we'd all love to capture. A recommended buy.

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        • Toshiba 46ZF575DG / LCD TV / 3 Readings / 2 Ratings
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          23.01.2012 13:32

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          Great TV with a great price tag

          This TV has everything. Plenty of ports to hook up all of your gadgets and systems and a display that simply kicks butt.

          One of the best features is the fact that the quality of picture does not change based on where you are sitting so no more fights about who gets the best seat because they are all the best seat.

          The quality of picture is far better than the quality of picture at my local cinema. The display is so good that I am certain that the quality of non-HD images being displayed through this TV either through DVD or a regular TV channel is enhanced.

          It is extremely slim and light so fits well on walls, including stud walls and any TV stand that can handle a screen this large.

          The sound quality from the built in speakers is fantastic and often means I save electricity on turning on my surround sound. This TV has plenty of scart, HMDI and sound ports and can be upgraded with cards.

          I've been so impressed with this TV and everyone who comes to our house immediately gravitates towards this excellent piece of viewing technology. Hands down beats most other competitors for its sheer range of features and highly competitive pricing.

          If you are thinking of buying a TV don't buy this one because I have it and I don't want anyone else to have something this good. It makes me feel special.

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        • More +
          23.01.2012 13:23

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          Doesn't work so don't waste your money

          Sadly this is probably the worst Nokia phone I have come across and displays the fundamental reasons why the once leader of the mobile world is struggling to stop the meteoric decline in market share that plagues them.

          This 'phone' is the single most infuriating piece of hardware I have ever bought. It doesn't play music very well, the sound is awful although the radio is okay. The touch screen is unresponsive and temperamental.

          About 5 times a week the phone will turn itself off and refuse to turn back on for a few minutes. About once a week it will say the battery is about to die but then refuse to charge up saying that the battery is charged and then you guessed it, die. More often than not, so about 8 times a day, the screen will freeze and will not reset until you take out the battery.

          The last straw for me was when the phone for three nights running set alarms to wake me up despite me not setting an alarm at 3.18am and wouldn't shut up until I took the battery out because you guessed it, the screen froze and I couldn't turn it off.

          I was offered £6 by a trade in your phone company for it and I took the cheque before they could change their minds! As far as smart phones go this is the village idiot. I'd suggest getting a cheapo makes calls and texts phone and getting a separate MP3/MP4 player.

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        • Toshiba Satellite C660-155 / Laptop / 7 Readings / 5 Ratings
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          23.01.2012 13:09

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          Good middle of the road laptop

          This laptop is a fantastic purchase if you are looking for a middle of the road laptop. It works very well if you use mainly browser based application for work and browser based games. As it comes pre-installed with many Toshiba applications that are difficult to consider removing unless you are an advanced PC/Windows user it can be very slow if you have to install software onto your laptop to work or play.

          I am actually writing this review on this actual laptop and I have about 30 browser based processes running in the background and at least 10 open applications and it is working at a reasonable speed although the fan is a little noisy as you will find out is the case as the laptop ages.

          The laptop keyboard is responsive and nice to type on which is nice as most laptop keyboards are too sensitive to people with a naturally heavy touch and don't have the key space that this laptop boasts allowing the larger fingered of us to type without too many fat-finger forced mistakes.

          The processor allows for a decent amount of applications to be used without impacting on speed however I would suggest that if you are playing graphic heavy games that you close all applications and use the task manager to shut down background tasks whilst you play your game.

          The wireless adaptor is quite strong and will maintain good to excellent connection up to 100 metres away even with a poor wireless router. The laptop comes with many ports and is easily upgradable so it should last a good few years.

          As far as affordable yet powerful for day to day use laptops go this hasn't many competitors and it is reasonably light and portable. The only downside to this laptop is that the battery isn't great and even on the lowest settings possible you will be lucky to get three hours of internet browsing but you can get up to 5 hours word processing.

          If you are looking for a work from home laptop then this is trumps. If you want a hard-core gaming laptop then this will need a lot of upgrading.

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