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eawheeler

eawheeler
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Member since: 05.04.2006

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    • Sony Ericsson K770i / Mobile Phone / 42 Readings / 36 Ratings
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      13.02.2008 13:55
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      A nice phone. Just not for me.

      For the last ten years I have used Nokia handsets. I'm very comfortable with their simplicity and design. My Nokia 6680 had been a great phone for two and a half years, but it began losing charge very quickly and began losing signal a lot. It was time to think about a new phone. I spent the last few months looking into deals and phone models and rather fancied the fairly basic Nokia 6300. Unfortunately, without warning, my mum kindly bought me a new phone. I admit to being a little disappointed when I found out it was a Sony Ericsson. I'm very loyal to the Nokia brand and didn't like the idea of having to get used to a different style of phone. However, I accepted the phone and put it to use right away.

      I am not someone who buys a phone for all the fabulous features, I don't really care about video calling, games, email or music; I just want a phone that efficiently sends text messages, makes and receives phone calls and can take photos now and then. The Sony Ericsson K770i Cyber-Shot phone seems to be a little too complex for my liking.

      This is a great looking phone with smooth edges and a distinctive look. It is slim and lightweight, weighing only 95g and measuring 105mm tall, 47mm wide and 14.5mm deep. My phone is a 'truffle' brown but it is available in four other colours; Sandy Beige, Ultra Violet, Henna Bronze and Soft Black. It feels and looks high quality and has an impressive 3.2 megapixel camera with an integrated lens cover that sits flush with the back of the phone. I have had problems with the cameras covers on older phones that quite often would slide open when I would put them in my pocket or bag and take photos without me realizing it, leading to a drained battery or a folder full of photos of my wallet and keys! When you slide back the lens cover, the phone automatically starts up the camera mode for fast picture taking which is great. There is also a button on right hand side of the phone at keypad level that also starts up the camera mode immediately. I find the location of this button very frustrating as I'll be attempting to write out a text message and accidentally put pressure on this button; the text will vanish and I'll be in camera mode. I then have to dig out the text I was writing in the drafts folder. Despite this, it's a nice camera with an auto focus and flash so you can get some OK pictures but unfortunately you are unable to zoom while taking a photo which I would have expected to be standard in a camera phone today. Connecting your phone to a computer allows you to transfer photos and music to and from your handset. This is good to do as it frees up the phones memory without losing the files you want to keep. There does seem to be a problem though. I was waiting for a call on my mobile a few weeks ago and thought that while I was waiting I'd move my camera photos onto my computer, I connected the handset to the computer and it synchronised quite happily. About 15 minutes later, the landline phone rang and when I answered I was questioned why I had my mobile switched off. Without knowing it, the phone had switched itself off while being connected to the computer even though it looked like it is still on. Not ideal.

      When making and taking calls the sound is clear and the volume levels seem adequate. The address book can easily be searched via a shortcut button or via the recent calls log which is found in the same way. However, I do not like the text messaging function on this phone. On the standard setting it is slow as it is on any handset but the predictive text messaging is needlessly complicated. When you begin writing a word it does not recognise, a big screen comes up for about two seconds stating 'word not in dictionary!' Although this doesn't sound like a long time, when you're a fast texter, two seconds is an unnecessary hindrance. You hit the 'Spell' option at this stage and you find yourself on a screen where the word you tried to spell remains in full but it is obviously nothing like the word you actually want to write. For example, if I wanted to spell 'Toblerone' (the Swiss chocolate bar!) for the first time, it would go as far as to write 'uncle' before telling me that the word I want to spell is not in the phones dictionary. On the spell screen, 'uncle' would remain and needs to be deleted so more time is taken to hit the cancel button five times to clear the screen so that the full word 'Toblerone' can be entered manually. I am used to the Nokia system where if you try to spell a word it doesn't recognise, it highlights the wrong word so you can delete the whole thing or part of it with ease before entering manually. This saves so much time. There are no warning screens or awkward menus to go through in the nokia system because there is just no need for it. Anyone who is loyal to the Sony Ericsson brand will probably not find a problem with the text messaging feature; I am just very set in my ways and believe that the Nokia system works so much better.

      The phone allows access to the internet which can come to great use when looking for cinema times on the move or when trying to find the address of a business you need to get to in a hurry. Connecting to the web takes no time at all but the content on the screen is very small so anyone without near perfect vision might have a hard time with this. The K770i also has Bluetooth which is great for sending pictures and other media between friends at no cost and for use with a hands free headset. In addition the phone features a radio which is both easy to use and produces a clear sound. This is such a nice feature to have when you are stuck on a stuffy train or bus! My only problem with the radio is that it requires you to use the headphones provided and I constantly forget to take them with me when I go out. The phone comes programmed with six pre-installed demo games. This sounds great but they allow you only 60 seconds play time! There are no other games and it is impossible to delete these demos from the phone because they are 'protected files'. This is extremely irritating. I do have my contract with Vodafone so this might be something to do with them and might not happen with other contracts.

      In addition to these main features there is a calendar, a handy calculator, a basic light which has an option of flashing SOS (I like this although I can't think of a situation where I would need it), Google maps, a good music player and fun applications like 'Face Warp' where you take a picture of someone and then stretch them into various poses. There are probably more features that I haven't come across yet! The more you use the applications like the camera, games and music player, the more it impacts your battery life but with general use the phone can go days without charging.


      Overall this is a nice handset. To be honest, it doesn't suit me and I am certain my next phone will be a Nokia. I would still recommend this phone but I think it would be more suitable for someone who would appreciate all of its many features.

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      • Feliway Diffuser / Cat Accessory / 38 Readings / 37 Ratings
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        13.09.2007 15:08
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        Happy cat = Happy Owner!

        I share my home with two tom cats, Ivan and Murphy, who we acquired a little over three years ago as kittens. We currently live on a very busy road in the center of a small town in Aberdeenshire so both Ivan and Murphy are indoor cats at present as I don’t feel it’s safe to let them roam just yet.

        Ivan is the fatter, lazier cat and he has never really shown any interest in the great outdoors. I think if the back door was wide open he'd still stay indoors with his catnip mice and comfy bedding! Murphy, a much smaller and more agile feline, is becoming increasingly intolerant of our small two bed home. Sometimes, he sits by the door and howls and he spends a lot of time by the kitchen window looking out on to the bird table. He claws at the glass and growls at all the little sparrows; I hate to think what he'd do to them if he was given the chance!

        About four months ago, he was crying a lot and spending long periods of time in his litter tray, straining to pass urine. After a few trips, he managed to relieve himself but I noticed he'd passed a little blood. Any cat owner will tell you how serious urinary tract problems are to cats, especially in males, as death can occur in as little as 48 hours if treatment isn't sought after immediately. I was understandably very concerned and called the vet who asked us to bring him straight in to the surgery.

        He gave us antibiotics and told us that it was probably a common infection. Murphy was back to his old perky self in one day. However, the same thing happened again another two times at monthly intervals, and each time it was becoming more severe. I had to leave my unhappy cat at the vet for tests and when I picked him up ten hours after leaving him I anxiously waited for the results. The vet explained that he was suffering from Feline Idiopathic Cystitis, a condition that causes inflammation of the urinary bladder in a very small percentage of the cat population. He continued to explain that despite research the cause of FIC has still not been determined but that quite often stress and confinement to a strictly indoor environment can lead to the condition.

        The vet gave us a Feliway plug in diffuser as part of the treatment. It is about the same size as any plug-in air freshener, maybe a little bigger, and the liquid inside is colorless and odorless so it isn't intrusive to the human environment. When cats rub their faces against the corners of furniture or whatever they come across, they leave behind deposits of facial pheromones which help convey a sense of security and well-being. Apparently, the Feliway device reproduces certain properties of these pheromones and helps to calm a stressed cat. I admit, I was skeptical at first but I was willing to give it a try. The vet also suggested we sprinkle chamomile tea leaves in Murphy’s food to relax him but that seemed a bit ‘out there’ to me!

        Since using the plug in, Murphy hasn’t suffered from cystitis once and has seemed far more relaxed and happy. Of course, it could be a coincidence but I feel confident that the diffuser has helped him. It’s not cheap to buy but it is worth the expense if it keeps my little cat content. You can buy the product online and prices seem to vary but I order it from vetuk.com as it is far cheaper than buying it direct from the vet. The diffuser unit and one 48ml vial costs just under £15.00 but you can buy refills separately from around £12.00. With continual use, one vial will last one month and Feliway is also known to help prevent scratching of furniture, urine marking and to help ease stress in cats who are experiencing a change in environment like when you are decorating or moving to a new house. For transporting cats, there is a spray available that costs around £12.00 which you can spray inside the carry case to help relax them. I haven’t yet used the spray but I have just ordered some as we are moving house in about one month, I just hope it works as well as the diffuser has.

        I am very happy with Feliway as it seems to have worked wonders for Murphy. Once we move to our bigger house near Edinburgh, situated in a quiet estate, I’ll finally be able to let my two cats out to explore the outdoors and hopefully I’ll no longer have to use the diffuser.

        I have felt so guilty keeping him indoors so it’ll be great seeing him out in the sunshine chasing butterflies!

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        • More +
          10.08.2007 12:46
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          Don't let the great brand name fool you.

          When my basic cheap kettle finally gave up the ghost about six months ago, I was secretly pleased. For a long time I had my eye on the beautiful Le creuset range of kettles and I was eager to buy one despite the high price tag.

          I went along to the Ironmonger and had a look at the range. All three kettles offered by Le Creuset are stove top and feature a whistle. The 1.6L 'Kone' Kettle comes in the largest range of colour choices and costs around £40. The 1.6L 'Ogive' Kettle is only available in a kiwi green and costs around £45. The 2.1L 'Traditional' kettle is available in the most popular colours of the brand and costs around £45. I decided to buy the largest of the three in a lovely granite gray for £40 and couldn't wait to get it home to my kitchen.

          Using the kettle for the first time took some getting used to. It is made of enamel-coated carbon steel and it is very heavy so pouring water can be quite a strain on your arm. It is also important that the kettle is filled only to a third of its capacity because adding anymore means that as soon as the water reaches boiling point, it violently spits out water. I was a little disappointed after its first use but managing the weight is something that becomes easier with practice and the volume of water I could boil at one time was enough for my purposes. I thought that these two small problems where acceptable because it really is such a beautiful kettle and looks wonderful amongst the other Le Creuset products in my kitchen.

          After about six weeks of use more problems started occurring. I put on water to boil for tea which takes about 8 minutes from cold. After about 9 minutes I could see that the kitchen windows where beginning to steam up so I went over to the boiling kettle and removed it from the heat. When the kettle reaches boiling point there is usually a very clear whistling but it hadn't made a squeak. Once it had cooled a little I tried to seek out the source of the problem. The whistle was missing from the top of the spout and had fallen inside the kettle. Easily, the whistle can be pushed back into place but unfortunately just as easily it falls out again.

          The worst problem found by far is the rusting. Little brown specks could be seen at the bottom of tea cups and floating in the water. The inside of the kettle has taken and orange-brown colour and small rust bubbles are forming in a few places. Le Creuset suggest that after each use the kettle should be emptied to prevent deterioration but I hardly see this as realistic if you want it to be used for making tea or coffee during the day.

          I intend to hold on to the kettle for a few months until we move house and then I'll buy a different brand. I will probably clean it up and use it for decorative purposes as it seems a shame to throw it away. I love Le Creuset but feel very let down with this product and would warn anyone with a desire to buy this kettle to walk away. I had such a loyalty to the brand that I assumed they would provide a very reliable and well designed product and did not think to search for reviews before buying. Big mistake!

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          • Nokia 6680 / Mobile Phone / 14 Readings / 11 Ratings
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            12.10.2006 14:58
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            A highly recommended Nokia handset.

            I have used the Nokia 6680 for almost a year now and I have been very impressed with its performance from the day I unpacked it from the box.

            I am not someone who is phone obsessed - I know that once I have owned a phone for a week, I will be using it for the most important functions; making and receiving phone calls and text messaging - and very little else will matter to me. That said, it is nice to know that I can use its other functions when I need to.

            When making calls the sound is clear and the volume is easy to adjust mid conversation should you need to by using the large central button. Numbers can be easily and quickly found using the address book or through the recent calls log which I find very useful. Text messaging is also quick and easy with predictive text messaging and a well laid out key pad.

            The phone also has a large, high resolution colour screen and two integrated digital cameras one in the front and one in the back. The quality of the photos I have taken are suprisingly good and transferring them to a computer is easy. The phone also features a video clip recorder but you need a steady hand to operate this as the quality isn't great. Despite this, if you have good light and stick to filming slow or stationary objects this can be a fun and handy feature to have.

            There is access to the internet which can be very useful when looking for cinema times on the move or an answer to a pub quiz question. Connecting to the web takes just a few seconds but I have found one problem with this feature. It is impossible to tell if you are still connected to wap if you have cleared the internet pages as there is no icon on the phone menu screen to say whether you are still browsing or not. I sometimes turn my phone off completely to be absolutely sure I am disconnected.

            Aside from these main features, there is a clear calendar, a calculator and a converter which I would now hate to be without. When in a supermarket in France, working out the price of wine is very easy - no maths involved at all!

            Overall this is a fantastic handset. It is quite large and bulky but this suits me just fine as it is easy to find in the bottom of my handbag and it is in near perfect condition after a years hard use - just a few scratches on the back panel and not one can be found on the screen. If you wanted to get more from the video camera and music player, you would have to invest in a larger media card as the card issued with the phone has very small capacity and limits what the phone can do.

            Without a doubt, the best Nokia handset I have used.

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            • ASDA Stores / Employment / 56 Readings / 41 Ratings
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              11.09.2006 20:43
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              For the reasons outlined here, I have an all new respect for people working in retail.

              I recently moved to a small town in the North East when my boyfriend took a job in Banff just before Christmas. I had just finished university, had little money and no car so I had to look for a job close by. New stores TESCO and ASDA were announced and I applied for both superstores. ASDA asked me to come for a group interview, then for an interview with a manager shortly after which they offered me a part time job in the kiosk (16hrs). I spent a few weeks in another store training while the new store in my town was being built, and enjoyed working there.

              When I started work at the new store, I realised that the customer service desk and the kiosk were in the same place even though they are actually two separate departments. Over the next few weeks I was being pushed by management to learn the customer service role as well as continuing with the kiosk work. This includes recording complaints, making and receiving internal and external phone calls, dealing with returns and exchanges, making tannoy announcements... When I explained to my line manager that I wasn't comfortable taking on the customer service role she told me that she didn't care, and that I had to do it. For a long time I tried to avoid it.

              I now struggle to balance both roles as I am now the only person in the kiosk/customer service booth from Monday to Wednesday. I have to sell lottery tickets, check lottery tickets, sell tobacco, inform departments of price errors and write them up, record complains, answer the phone (often all calls come down to me when the reception upstairs divert calls for the afternoon), make embarrassing public announcements, etc. I have a customer service till, two standard tills and a lottery machine - only refunds and exchanges can go through the CS till, so I have to constantly sign off one and on to another. That's three tills for one person to operate. On Wednesday, lottery day, I have several queues to manage and customers get angry with me for not getting to them fast enough or simply walk out.

              I get paid the same as those people stacking shelves or sitting at a till, and the pay is appalling. The management haven't once said anything supportive or offered to help out; they seem to spend all their time 'in a meeting'. When out of their meeting they might come downstairs to inform me that the tills as down, or that I should have answered the phone when they called earlier - well, I would answer the phone if I could and as for the tills being down, it's hardly surprising as I must make mistakes all the time with all the pressure I'm put under. A manager came up to me a few months ago after hearing an alarm and told me that I must stop anyone leaving the shop if an alarm goes off again. For some reason, our store doesn't have a security guard or ‘greeter’. So, I'm supposed to be a security guard too! Often I don’t feel safe being behind the desk on my own, especially if I work an evening, as it is located next to the main door and is extremely vulnerable .

              On Sundays, I work with someone else and actually enjoy myself. We're sometimes still busy but we help each other out and fewer mistakes are made. It's a job for two or more people - one person should be on the kiosk tills and another should be on the customer service tills. It's obvious to the customers too; they often ask me why I'm on my own. It just proves that the service could be so much better but the management simply don’t see it.

              For me the work/life balance is ok... I only work 16 hrs (sometimes more with overtime). However, when I asked for 12 working days off this summer, my line manager was very unpleasant. I gave her 16 days warning but she wanted to know why I hadn't asked sooner, and that I couldn't have the exact days I wanted. This made no sense to me as I know for a fact that if I want to leave the company for good, I only have to give 1 weeks notice! She was just annoyed that I made extra work for her.

              I don't believe ASDA to be the worst company to work for, but this store is poor if you are a colleague working behind the customer service tills, I can't fairly speak for any other department. The store opened in May, and they have had time to sort these problems out. I'm tired of not being heard. Despite all this, there are positives - the 10% discount card you receive after 12 weeks is a good perk (unfortunately I really resent shopping at ASDA and always go to TESCO!), and I think if you want a job in management you can follow the 'stepping stones' programme after you have worked for the company for a year. My co-workers are mostly very pleasant, intelligent and helpful people, with the odd exception - mainly the runners who think they are something very special and love to boss you about and put you down. Generally, the customers seem to like the store and often tell me that they prefer it to TESCO (Why? I'm not sure).

              I took this job for some experience, a little money and for a reference. I have certainly learnt a great deal - I now know how to work a till at supersonic speed, I'm now confident to make tannoy announcements and I am now more aware of what makes a bad manager. Still, I don't think this job is worth the grief. I come home drained, angry, often very upset. I won't stay with the company for much longer and will hopefully find something else soon.

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