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After spending an evening at a friends house, I wanted to grab some breakfast on the walk home. My usual choice of supermarket is the very convenient Sainsburys which is a stones throw away from my flat. However, in a rather lazy act, I opted to go for Somerfield, as I was passing it anyway and would've involved about 2 minutes less walking
As I wandered round the store, I picked up some very nicely priced sausages, and genuinely struggled to find anything else I didn't think of as expensive. At one stage, I was considering returning the sausages to their shelf and just making that extra walk over to Sainsburys. With the exception of the freezer aisle, there are almost no decent offers within the store, and in this day and age, I found this to be completely unacceptable. Even items without offers seemed expensive for what they would be priced in other stores, eg. £1,79 for a 2 litre bottle of Pepsi Max, when currently on offer in Sainsburys for £1 is just outrageous
Reaching the freezer aisle was a breath of fresh air. There is actually a sectioned off 'offers' cabinet, and to be honest, the offers were ok. Nothing spectacular but in comparison to the rest of the store, it was definitely something to shout about
When I reached the till, I was greeted by a friendly smile and a young lady who proceeded to do her thing, bagged my items for me (I was especially pleased as this was before 9am). Another older member of staff came and started to talk to this lady and drew her attention away from me. This is a big no-no in my eyes. The customer should never be made to wait unless theres someone choking on the produce, and this didn't seem to be the case. However, this older lady was charming, funny and was actually telling a story of how she'd fallen over and bruised her bum. For some reason, I found this quite amusing and it put a smile on my face. No doubt, this is likely to be an isolated incident but I felt better about the morning after that experience, which can only be a good thing
Overall, i'm not going to make Somerfield my number 1 supermarket. As amusing as the scenario became, at the end of the day, I want value for money and Somerfield misses the mark by some way. However, should I be passing by and feel that laziness again, I may nip in for the odd item, knowing i'm in for a positive customer experience
After a shoddy broadband service with Virgin (off-net) and a diabolical customer service from Orange, a colleague recommended I try O2 broadband. The words 'efficient' were mentioned and after asking a few other people, that same word popped up again and again
I have now had O2 Broadband for only 2 days and I wholeheartedly agree with them
Firstly, the sign up was simple, done online, referred by a friend and we both have £20 worth of Amazon vouchers on the way to us for it. Secondly, is the communication levels. At every step, I was kept up to date. The following is a list of things O2 sent to me by both mail, text and also updated within my account on their website
Delivery Date of equipment
Activation Date of service
Direct Debit confirmation of set up
Direct Debit confirmation of activation
Every step I have been kept up to speed. In relation to Delivery Date of equipment and Activation Date of service, these were actually delivered 2 days ahead of schedule.
A couple of instant comparisons also come to mind between Virgin and O2. Firstly, Virgin 'traffic shape' their customers. In simplistic terms, its a form of capping but only capping certain programs (those suspected to be peer to peer). If Virgin are incorrect, theres no challenging their decision to traffic shape, its just tough. The limitations of the service mean that instead of downloading at approx 8mb, the service was reduced to 150k for those programs. How is that possibly acceptable? O2 have no such policy
Secondly is the speed itself. Every broadband supplier I spoke to told me i'd get between 6.5mb and 8mb. O2 claimed 14mb, and they have been relatively close. I get 10mb at peak times, which I am more than happy with when you consider the alternatives.
Overall, I have found my start to O2 to be simple, efficient, and an absolute joy to be a customer of. If they keep this up, I foresee a long and happy relationship with my broadband provider
5 months ago, I decided to quit my extremely unhealthy diet of a ridiculously large amount of Pepsi Max and switch to water. After several weeks of nothing but water, it got boring and I decided to opt for a more flavourful drink. However, with a strict diet to follow, I couldn't just switch to anything. A friend of mine recommended Robinsons No Added Sugar and for the past 4 months, I've made it my primary beverage of choice. I've always enjoyed apple and blackcurrant drinks and this is no exception. However, if I had one criticism, it would be that the drink is distinctly more blackcurranty than appley (ok, I know they're not real words but you get the idea. I'd even go as far as to say we're probably 75% blackcurrant. However, with that in mind, it is a truly delicious alternative to water
From a price perspective, it's a reasonable price. The juice to water ratio is extremely good so it lasts quite a while. I've saved a fortune in comparison to fizzy drinks. It prices between £1 and £1.50 and I've seen several offers in Sainsburys for 2 for £2 so its extremely good value for money.
Oh and along with a healthier diet, and a little exercise, I've lost over a stone and a half and still going, so for all you people out there looking to lose a bit of weight, ditch the fizzy drinks and spend a pound on this. Your stomach and your wallet will both thank you
Its hard to know what to expect when you look at the album cover. If I hadn't been a big fan of Tim Minchin for some time, i'd think this was a heavy metal album. Quite to the contrary, this is an album of pure comedy genius. It was always going to be hard to follow up on the massive success that was So F**king Rock but here we are with an album straight out of the top drawer. There have been some adaptations with the re-use of Canvas Bags and Darkside on this album but for the most part, its all new stuff. Particularly highlights have to be 'Confessions', the absolutely hilarious 'Song for Phil Daoust' and the absolutely beautiful 'White Wine in the Sun'. I've heard several variations to 'White Wine in the Sun' but the album version is particularly special with the string accompaniment. Another particular favourite of mine is the 9 minute beat poem 'Storm', which tells of a story of Tim and his wife at a friends evening meal, in which Tim gets in an argument with a spiritualist. I'd hate to ruin it for you but lets just say, Tim goes on one of his 'rare but fun rants'.
I love this album, its brought freshness to an already fantastic artist and I for one will be buying tickets on his return to Manchester
It took me quite some time to decide to upgrade from the Playstation 2 to the Playstation 3 and if i'm completely honest, the decision would have taken longer if not for the fact my PS2 died a death after years of glorious loyalty.
The decision then lay, which console is the right one for me? The XBOX 360, the Nintendo Wii, or the console i've stuck with, Playstation
Between the 360 and the PS3, I don't really have the eye that would allow me to distinguish any significant difference graphically so that led me to make a decision based on features, and there was one feature that clinched the deal for me. The PS3 allows both wired and wireless streaming, allowing me to watch programs from my PC on my 46" TV using the aid of my PS3. Whilst this is by no means the primary function of the PS3, it is certainly a much welcome add-on and something I start to wonder how I coped without before
Referring to its primary function of gaming, I was quite sceptical about the wireless functionality. Yes, we live in a world where Bluetooth and wi-fi reign supreme but a console requires a constant connection and any interruption to that connection can cause serious impact to the enjoyment of any game. Imagine you're through on goal, you're about to score the winner in the World Cup Final, and your joypad fails. Instead of lifting the glorious World Cup, you find yourself throwing the pad at the tv and stamping around like a 4 year old whos been told 'no more sweeties'. To this end, I was actually pleasantly surprised by the wireless capabilities and also its reliability, i've never had an interrupted connection through anything other than battery failure, and thats my own fault really
On the subject of the battery, one nifty little feature which I think Sony should have advertised more, is that you can charge the pad using your PC. Same wire, different source. I find this feature particularly impressive as I dont wish to sit too close to such a big TV and my PC on the other side of the room is ideal
I spent just over £300 on my console with a couple of games I wanted (as opposed to what came with it) and I consider it money well spent.
For the record, the XBOX does have wireless streaming capabilities but only if you spend an additional £100 on a wireless dongle. Theres no functionality for plugging an ethernet cable into it. If you had a wireless router like mine, you'd know why that was important
It seems everyone knows the story about how Reggae Reggae Sauce came exploding into our supermarkets and into most of our cupboards these days. Since his appearance on Dragons Den, Levi Roots (aka Keith) has shot to fame. Despite making drastic errors in the Den, Levi secured an investment from Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh. Peter Jones put in a call to Sainsburys and before you knew it, the sauce had moved from the Notting Hill Carnival into one of the countries biggest supermarket chains
So what does it taste like? Its described as a Jamaican Jerk Barbecue Sauce, and combines sweet flavours with a spicy kick. The beauty of this sauce is that it can be used as an accompaniment to other dishes, or as the main sauce within the dish.
To give you a few examples, I have coated it around burgers and cooked it into the meat, yet also just placed it as a nice blob on top of the burger. I've used it to cook chicken, i've added it to curries, to bolognese sauce, and more recently (and quite ingeniously) as a pizza base.
As a man whos not used to food experimentation, its amazing the doors that one bottle of very well priced sauce (RRP £1.49 although I tend to find many stores have offers on it), can bring.
This is possibly the Dragons biggest and best success
Flicking through the TV channels on a bored afternoon, I stumble across FX and find theres a TV show about a man called Dexter. Had this been any other name, I wouldn't have even give it a second glance. Only Dexter is my online handle, and it got me curious. That curiosity has since brought me to a point where I can genuinely call this my favourite TV show
Dexter Morgan is a blood spatter analyst working for the Miami Metro Police Department. A very meticulous man, and very good at his job, he is well respected in his chosen profession. However, all is not as he seems, as Dexter spends his evenings taking care of the criminals who 'beat' the justice system.
When Dexter was young, something happened to him that caused him to have no feelings, no hurt, no anger, no pain... no emotion. However, his father, Harry, instilled a very strong imprint of right and wrong in Dexter. It is this imprint that Dexter uses to decide whether someone is so bad that they deserve to die, and this is where Dexter takes the law into his own hands.
This seems to be routine to Dexter until one day, he seems to be being challenged by the latest serial killer to hit Miami. Dexter takes on this challenge from a man who clearly knows all about Dexters deepest darkest secrets
Throughout the series, we see Dexters character unravel, but also grow with him. Although this is a man who is killing and getting away with it and lying to his girlfriend and work colleagues, the character is very likable. This is in a large part down to the writing, but has to be massively credited to the performance of Michael C. Hall.
I do believe that the first episode is very much the pilot and lays the groundwork for the rest of the season. This can be misconstrued as a slow start to the season but it is essential this groundwork is laid or the season risks itself of collapse. I mention this only to implore you to give it more than one episode. By the end of the second, you'll be begging for more!
When I first heard about Glee, I thought Fox were trying to cash in on the mania that was High School Musical. From an outsiders point of view, it would appear to be a TV adaptation of the popular teen sensation. However, after spending the last 2 days watching all 13 broadcasted episodes, it seems to be something different. The concept of a TV show musical may seem odd, but mix in the quite complex story lines of teen pregnancy, teen crushes, teen popularity contents (sense a theme here) with the extremely amusing battle of wits (and lets face it outright war) between lead character Will and head of the 'Cheerios' cheerleaders Sue, and you've got quite the potent concoction.
The show does bring that annoying 'morale story' which High School Musical brought but rather than having to wait 1.5/2 hours to see the story unfold into an all singing, all dancing happy climax, the show does allow for heartbreak, which makes it all more grown up than I expected.
The music is also very well done, and speaking as a 27 year old whos always loved more classic music, I was extremely pleased to see the covers of Alone by Heart, and Sweet Caroline were used. One criticism I would have is that whilst it may be the actors actually singing on the soundtrack, it is painfully obvious that the actors are miming whilst on screen.
I was, however, very interested to find that Chris Colfers character, Kurt Hummel, was only written into the show as the producers were so impressed with Colfers audition. Theres also a storyline written in about Kurt auditioning for a female lead (hes gay, on and off the show) and being rejected for being male. This actually happened to Colfer!
Overall, Fox should be proud of not trying to simply bring High School Musical to the small screen, but by trying to take it in somewhat of a different direction
I for one will be looking forward to the continuation of the series in April and am extremely pleased to see that Fox have commissioned a second season
Zynga seem to have got onto a winner with their affiliation with social networking giant Facebook. From a personal perspective, i'd never heard of them prior to Farmville, but since then, it seems they've started to expand their repertoire.
Cafeworld is a relatively simplistic concept. You are the chef. You start off in a small cafe, with 1 cooker and can cook a limited number of dishes. Each dish takes x amount of minutes to cook and costs x coins. Once the dish is cooked, it is served up onto a counter and customers flock to enjoy the culinary delights on offer. There is also the option of decorating your cafe to how you would want it to look. The further into the game you get, the more items you unlock, such as new dishes, more cookers/counters and what would seem to be endless amounts of decorations.
However, all is not happy in Cafeworld. Leave your dishes too long on the cooker and they will spoil, and have to be thrown away. The concept is relatively simple to understand. If it takes 1 hour to cook, then once cooked, it'll take 1 hour to spoil. If it takes 20 minutes to cook, then it'll take 20 minutes to spoil. I think 2 examples is enough.
All dishes can be bought with coins, as can most items. However, Zynga are no charitable organisation and theres also the choice of 'purchasing' Cafe Cash'. A limited number of Cafe Cash are supplied to start with and the people at Zynga were nice enough to give 1 Cafe Cash per day over the Christmas period, but all-in-all, to obtain more, you have to purchase it. From a personal level, i've never spent a penny purchasing Cafe Cash. I just use the coins I earn through my marvelous business and culinary skills. However, should it be your inclination to do so, the option is there. With every dish you cook or serve, you receive experience points. The more points you get, the more items/dishes you unlock. Whilst this is a relatively simple concept, it does become quite engrossing at the prospect of what the next 'level-up' may bring
During the holiday periods, new dishes and items relating to that period will become available and allow you to give your Cafe that festive feel.
The music/sound effects are annoying but thats ok, because there is the facility to turn them off
Neighbours are a big part of the game, as they will send you gifts to help you out, if they're nice that is. Zynga have also introduced the Spice Rack in which you must collect items to create a Spice Rack, although im not sure to what end yet as this is a relatively new feature. My hope is that this reduces cooking time, or increases cost per dish.
Uptime is generally good for the game, although it does require the latest flash and if you have a laptop/PC more than 5 years old, its probably best you bypass this one as playability can sometimes be slow, slower or just crash your browser window.
Overall, I like CafeWorld, and I tend to find I play as and when I have a spare 5 minutes. If I know im not going to be home for another 24 hours, i'll put a 24 hour dish on. If i'm home all day, I could quite happily pop on every couple of hours to create a new dish. Theres a wide range of dishes that take a variant number of minutes/hours.
I stumbled across this whilst watching BBC2 after a drunken night at karaoke, and i've been addicted to Dave Gorman ever since. I waited 7 years for this to be released on DVD and i've not been disappointed since I got it.
Its amazing where a drunken bet can take you, and no i'm not talking about my karaoke evening. I'm referring to the bet Danny Wallace challenged Dave Gorman to. "I bet you can't find 54 other people called Dave Gorman". The challenge was on!
Only a crazy man would take this bet, but then again, only a crazy man would have the insanity to follow it through to its conclusion. You might expect him to scour the UK searching for his namesakes, but where would his limits lie? Ireland? Holland? the US? Israel? Well i'm not going to tell you that, as that it would take all the fun out of watching it. You won't be disappointed though
Dave himself is a master story teller and accompanied with his flat mate Danny, a camera, and his little book of Dave Gormans (where he stores all the pictures of the Daves he meets), he embarks on a whirlwind adventure (in one stage, literally 'a whirlwind'), which is enough to leave you sat on the edge of your seat waiting to see what exciting new characteristics the next Dave will bring
For all the love in the world, I couldn't give this a bad review if I tried. Moving on from the infamous 'Are You Dave Gorman' aka 'The Dave Gorman Collection', and the lesser known but equally as good 'Dave Gormans Important Astrology Experiment', the man in question embarks on another adventure which all started with a very different plan.
At age 31, Dave decides that its time he put his childish ways behind him and embarks on lifes journey called 'being a grown-up'. To achieve this goal, he speaks with his agent who sets up a meeting with a publisher and the three of them agree that now is the time for Dave to write a novel.
Now at this stage, you can't imagine this is going to fill nearly 2 hours of DVD space but ever true to the Dave Gorman way, things don't quite go to plan. After an obscure email from an Aussie bloke named Stevo, telling him he is a Googlewhack, he then spends all his time finding Googlewhacks online, and going to meet the creators of their websites, in the hope they will find him a Googlewhack so he can then continue his journey in an attempt to meet 10 in a row.
The story itself is a work of genius, but Gormans story telling is really what brings the adventure to life. His comic timing is absolutely spot-on and without doubt this is one of the funniest adventures you'll ever hear. It was on the back of this performance, that I went and bought the book, which I loved even more!
I tend not to rely too much on DVD extras as I always find them to be quite the anti-climax in relation to the main show. However, with the exception of the 'music video', which I found pretty rubbish, the extras are quite good. There is an option to watch the DVD through again, except every now and again, a little bearded Dave will appear. Pressing the OK button when he appears, and the DVD will pause and you'll get extra detail around the current discussed section. A lot of this is covered in the book, but if you're not a big reader, its definitely a nifty little feature. Theres also a Q&A session on the extras as well which is nice to see
Quite frankly this is an amazing piece of work from an immensely talented performer
For years, i've switched between touch screen phone and the more simplistic key reliant phones. 3 months ago, I found myself at the end of a contract and largely frustrated by a HTC phone with a poor battery life, and a frustrating QWERTY keypad. After looking around, I opted for the W995, and 3 months on, i've yet to regret my decision
Well the W995 is first and foremost a phone designed to be a phone. Too many phones these days concentrate on the additional features and forget the basic fundamental. The sound quality is fantastic and the volume is excellent. Text messaging is simple and offers a display option of the old fashioned 'Inbox' or the very slick 'Conversations' feature which allows received and sent items to be displayed as continuous speech bubbles to show the flow of a conversation without the need to jump in and out of screens. Predictive text is what you would expect, theres not much too special here. The W995 remembers sentence patterns from previous texts sent and offers the same words in an attempt to help with the flow, however, i'm completely indifferent to this feature, and don't see it as a positive or a negative.
Moving onto the better functions of it, (and the reason I opted for this phone over the many others available), the W995 offers Sony Ericssons HID functionality. For those of you not familiar with this, it enables the user to control their PC/Laptop with the phone. This connects via Bluetooth so a Bluetooth dongle is required for your PC/Laptop. The options remain the same as on the w810 and earlier models and offers quick functions such as Media Player, Presenter and Desktop. My favourite of the 3 has to be the Media Player as this offers me the opportunity skip tracks on my pc, whilst i'm sat on my couch, playing FIFA10 on my PS3. Honestly, its a function that promotes laziness but thats what phones seem to offer these days, and I like it.
There is also the opportunity to control the phone with your PC/Laptop. Whilst I find the interface quite basic, and the Bluetooth sometimes a little slow to respond, it is an extremely handy feature to be able to control my text messages (including send and receive) via an on screen feature on my PC. It also comes with a data cable but i've yet to achieve any level of success using it with the software
The phone also comes with wi-fi functionality which is pretty straightforward, easy to set up, easy to use. Exactly what you'd want from a wi-fi feature
There are pre-loaded games on the phone but sadly these are all demos and are limited to 5 plays each before you're asked for £5 for each one should you wish to continue playing. Furthermore, you can't delete these games off the phone to save memory space. There are a few games available for free online but the fact you have to go looking for them is a bit frustrating.
Orange Maps comes as a standard feature, but this incurs a charge and doesn't appear to be any better than the free to download Google Maps.
The camera is an 8.1mp camera is decent, although if I had to be picky, i'd say the lighting in the picture can sometimes leave a little to be desired. The flash is either 'auto' or 'off', with no option to permanently turn it on.
Email is easy to set up and well laid out. Internet is a feature I use a fair bit, and I particularly like the 'Smart-fit' option which condenses the content on the screen down in a nice compact, well laid out manner.
The phone itself comes with a little kick-stand for propping the phone up. Effectively, its a small fold out piece of slightly rounded metal, but it is a neat little feature, especially for office workers who leave the phone on their desk throughout the day. However, don't try and press any buttons without picking it up, as its a little flimsy under pressure.
Sony Ericssons infamous Walkman technology is available on this and the w995 doesn't disappoint. I'm not sure the Media option is any better than simply choosing the file, but thats a personal preference, and I tend not to search Windows Media Player when i'm selecting my music on my PC either. The choice is yours. The sound quality is fantastic, and the phone is accompanied with headphones with excellent sound quality (which also double up as a hands free kit), and a quite nifty clip on speaker, which takes a few attempts to balance but is handed if you want to play the music amongst friends. Also accompanying the form is an 8gb MicroSD card which is a nice add-on to have
Battery life is good. I use my phone quite heavily throughout the day and the battery lasts approximately 3 days. For lighter users, you're probably looking at closer to a week without a recharge. Charging takes approximately 2 hours for a full charge and can be done either from a socket or via the PC attachment.
All in all, the good things are great and the bad things are minor. Easily one of the best phones i've had as it does everything you need from a phone and it does them well