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ecolier

ecolier
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Member since: 03.10.2009

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      16.06.2012 23:26
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      Excellent bit of kit that really sucks!

      When it comes to vacuum cleaners the one thing that matter is whether it sucks. In this respect Vax vacuum cleaners seem to always do the job. These days vacuum cleaners do not last too long, and I have used about 3 or 4 vacuum cleaners in the last decade. So is the Power7 up to the job? Read on...

      --- the BASICS ---

      The Vax Power7 is a bagless cylinder vacuum cleaner, which basically means it sits down rather than stands up. When I first received the box it was a bit bigger than I expected, and the weight was heavier than what I had in mind too. However I believe this adds to the perception of "Power" that the machine can deliver, which means the increased weight is no bad thing (unless there are stairs in your house, which I do!).

      The specifications of the vacuum cleaner are also up there with the best, at 2200W converting to 380 air watts [An air watt is a standard measuring the power of vacuum cleaners. The electric or "raw" wattage of a vacuum cleaner is, in comparison, a less reliable measure. Clearly the higher the "raw" wattage the more powerful it is (or more power it consumes), but the output of a vacuum cleaner is still best measured in terms of the air watt. In addition, air watts are calculated by an immensely complicated formula, so it must be more accurate.]. In comparison, a £300 Dyson DC39 Multifloor Bagless Cylinder rated at 1900W produces 290 air watts, so this Vax Power7 is by no means a weakling!

      To complement the high power of the vacuum cleaner, a HEPA 12 (High Efficiency Particulate Arresting) filter is fitted. This high-end feature is usually standard in more expensive cleaners, meaning all small particles are removed from the air. Other useful implementations are a 4 litre capacity dust bin and a variable power switch (more on that later).

      --- the MACHINE ---

      They said you can't judge a book by its cover, but who doesn't rely on first impressions? The Vax Power7 vacuum cleaner looks the part, from the minute the box is opened. The transparent orange buttons on the machine gives it a much higher-class look, even though it is bordering on a toy-ish appearance. Three switches are found on the back of the cleaner - a cord retraction switch, a round circular dial, and the power button. The 1st and 3rd buttons need no explanation, but the round circular dial does need some introduction. In simple terms, it is the analogue control to the power of the machine. This feature comes into play many times during the vacuuming process and I will explain in further details later.

      The accessories are many and varied, but are also found on similar machines. This includes a 2.5 metre long hose, a metal piece to connect to the floor head.

      --- the POWER ---

      What can I say, the power is immense, and it certain blew me away (!). By default the power switch is set to the "Minimum" setting, which I think it about 40-50% of the full power. Even at this level, the vacuum cleaner is perfectly workable; the floor head glides effortlessly over my dirty and long-overdue-a-vacuuming carpet. Dial the switch to "Maximum", however, is when the Power7 really sucks. The floor head becomes at one with the carpet and literally is stuck to it. Luckily I do have the strength of a bull and managed to move the floor head against the (by this time, less dirty and less overdue-a-vacuuming) carpet. If one removes the floor head and uses just the hose, however, the power is there to be appreciated.

      I tried the oldest trick in the vacuum cleaning book, the "sucking my hand" trick. It did work - and boy was it painful, the vacuum cleaner sucking my skin as hard as it could, struggling against the powerful motor. I then switched my attention to the cobwebs attached to the four corners of the ceiling - and proved once again the 380 air watts Vax quoted was indeed very high. An arm length was all that was required for the spiders' home to enter the oblivion of the 4-litre dust bin of the machine. Sorry spiders.

      --- MAINTENANCE ---

      So it is powerful, very powerful. But how is it maintained, you ask? Well it doesn't require you to hire a team of engineers and cleaners. After about 2 hours' usage the dustbin was about a quarter full and I decided to call it a day. The bin was easily removed at the touch of a button on the top of the machine (again orange colour). Instructions were easy to read (found on the bin), and emptying it was easy and painless.
      Maintenance-wise there was little to be done - a cloth-like filter (pre-motor filter?) and a plastic filter were the only things that need to be washed. Again simple instructions were stickered on the machine - 40C water, soak for some time, leave out to dry for 24 hours, and Bob's your uncle.

      --- CONCLUSION ---

      Is my house tidy yet? Not by a country mile. Is it free of dust? Absolutely not. However the Vax Power7 has enabled me to make that small step towards the holy grail of an allergy-proof clean glistening house by sucking in every particle that is larger than 0.3 microns thanks to its HEPA 12 filter, and more importantly the 380 air watts, 2200 watts motor. It may look like a child's plaything, but believe me, once you pressed that big orange button and dialled that round switch to the "Maximum" setting, it is anything but!

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      • Samsung i9000 Galaxy S / Smartphone / 57 Readings / 50 Ratings
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        22.09.2010 11:52
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        An excellent phone that is nicely priced (compared to iPhone) with numerous features.

        The Samsung Galaxy S is Samsung's answer to the popular iPhone. With its Galaxy range of gadgets (note: Galaxy Tab vs iPad) Samsung has embarked on a crusade against Apple, and the Galaxy S is the first step. Is it up to the mark? Read on...

        --- the BASICS ---

        The Samsung Galaxy S (SGS) is an Android-powered smartphone. Android is an operating system (made for mobile devices) similar to Apple's iOS or Nokia's symbian. The SGS has a 4" AMOLED (active matrix organic light emitting diode) screen, Samsung A8 1Ghz CPU, 5MP camera (no flash) also capable of capturing 720p HD video, GPS, Wifi etc - basically all the features you would expect for a top-of-the-range smartphone these days.


        --- USABILITY ---

        (Introduction)
        The SGS is one of the best smartphones around for now, no question. It includes a high-end CPU which allows heavy multi-tasking, lots of on-board storage (choose from 8Gb or 16Gb built-in, plus a microSD card slot) to install apps on, and runs on Android - the emerging mobile OS. It is quick to run and very responsive. Furthermore it is not as expensive as the iPhone - if you shop around.

        (Sound and Multimedia)
        The headphones that the SGS comes with are in-ear and outputs very good quality sounds. The music player is excellent with multiple options and equaliser settings, it can be on-par with the iPod in terms of customisation. A speaker on the back of the phone provides adequate sound and the ringtone is loud enough to hear in your bag.

        Multimedia-wise, it beats its main competitors hands-down. With a 4" screen the SGS is made for video viewing. Coupled with native DivX support most movies will run smoothly on the SGS with no problems. With flash enabled the phone would be an excellent choice for watching TV on the go.

        (Internet and Messaging)
        The SGS supports Wifi (b/g/n) and runs on HSDPA, 3G, Edge mobile networks. As a result it is fairly easy for the SGS to grab onto a signal and for the user to browse the internet while on the go. In addition with Android one can expect Flash contents on websites fully displayed - in the SGS you buy now there is FlashLite 3.1 which supports some Flash contents, and when the SGS gets the update to Android 2.2 Flash Player 10.1 comes built-in so there is no more worries about Flash contents not supported - basically you view websites 100% as they are meant to be viewed.
        The Swype typing system is pre-installed on the SGS. It completely revolutionises typing on a touchscreen phone - one now just drags around a QWERTY on-screen keyboard and the system gets what you want to type. It is even used to beat the world record at typing a text message - just google it! Anyway even if you don't like Swype - which is unlikely, or Swype doesn't get what you are typing, inputting words traditionally with the on-screen keyboard is still very quick and easy and the screen is very accurate at what it does. In terms of messaging the phone supports displays the message in "conversations" - so you get an at-a-glance view of what was said between you and the person you are sending the message to. Google Mail is also built-in the phone, together with a standard Email programme which are both nice additions.

        (Screen and Camera)
        The screen is definitely the best feature of the phone. With AMOLED technology the screen brings colour to life. Despite a resolution of 800x480 the phone manages to display texts clearly. Because 800x480 is now a "standard" resolution many games and apps will easily run on the SGS. Outdoor performance is equally excellent - I have already had the phone for nearly 3 months (since it came out in July) and I still marvel how the screen can be so easily read on the brightest day outdoors. A 3.5" TV out cable is supported (not included) and a mini-USB to HDMI output is planned by Samsung.

        The camera is one of the most important aspects of any mobile phone today and in the SGS there is a 5MP module, which is slightly disappointing considering that Samsung have produced top-of-the-range phones in the past with 8MP or 12MP cameras. Megapixels are not the determination of photo quality - and there are now many examples of (especially in mobile phones) how a camera with a lower MP count produces better quality pictures than one with a higher count. In addition there is no LED flash to speak of. Nevertheless what the SGS misses in quantity it makes up in the customisation. There are lots of options to enhance your photo taking experience including image stabilisation, various shooting modes (single shot, self portrait, beauty, smile detection, continuous shoots, panorama, vintage, action, cartoon mode), various scene modes (e.g. night mode), autofocus, timer for self portraits, white balance (normal, B&W, negative, sepia), ISO settings, metering, auto contrast and blink detection etc.
        The camera also supports 720p HD video recording at 30 frames per second. This is comparable to the iPhone 4 and is better than other competitors which claims 720p HD recording as they are usually shot at fewer frames per second (around 20-25fps). The video quality is good and flow is smooth. The on-board storage of 8Gb or 16Gb is definitely needed for such intensive memory-eating exercises.

        (Apps and GPS)
        With Android and its huge apps base in the Android Market there is no end to what apps you may find. It may still be smaller than Apple's App Store but it is constantly growing and it is widely expected that the Android Market will outgrow App Store in the near future. The SGS supports most apps in the Android Market and with a top-of-the-range GPU it runs 3D games with ease - I believe currently it has the best GPU and gaming performance out of any android operated phone.

        Google Maps Navigation beta is the GPS app in Android. There is no such equivalent in Apple. This app allows the user to turn their android operated phone (with a GPS) into a satnav and guide them to any destination. Its features are numerous but it is still in beta and there are many problems (including force-close) - not the sort of thing you would want while driving 70mph down a motorway. The GPS in the SGS also has problems to speak of itself - there is a problem fixing your location and the A-GPS (which relies on the internet to get an approximate location) is fairly quick to get a rough idea but that's it. This problem is reportedly fixed in Samsung's next update.

        (Call quality and battery life)
        After all that we seemed to have forgotten that the SGS is a phone. However it does excel even at this aspect - the calls are loud and clear and there are no antenna problems to speak of (even gripping the phone hard - as it doesn't rely on a pretty metal exterior antenna).

        The SGS comes with a 1500mAH battery which is enough really for about 1 day's use. Otherwise as the battery is swappable one can get an additional battery at about £8 - £10. The phone is chargeable from the miniUSB slot.

        --- COMPARISON with other phones ---

        The major competitors with the SGS are the iPhone 4 and the HTC Desire. All the phones have comparable specifications, in that they all have 3.5"+ touchscreens, 5MP camera, 720p HD (HTC Desire with Froyo 2.2 is now capable of taking 720p video), GPS, Wifi etc. Therefore the only differences are build quality, shape, screen and operating system.

        In terms of build quality, I would have the say that the SGS loses out here. Its back is made of plastic and virtually all major review websites criticise this. This however, makes the SGS very light at just 117 grams (seeing as it sports the largest screen out of the 3 phones).

        The shape of SGS bears more than remarkable similarity with the last generation iPhone, the iPhone 3GS. It has a metal rim around the phone and looks very slick. However the iPhone 4 with its metal antenna (which enables to phone to drop every call every time you hold it) looks much better and wins in this category in my opinion.

        However, once the phones are switched on there is only one winner in the screen category - it's the SGS. Its gorgeous 4" AMOLED screen, despite a resolution of 800x480 and by no means a "retinal screen", displays colour in its most vivid sense. The LED technology makes it very easy to read outdoors and the brightness (even at the lowest) is good enough for normal viewing at most ambient light levels.

        The everlasting debate of Android vs iOS will go on forever, but the manufacturer customised version of Android (Samsung uses TouchWiz, HTC uses HTC Sense) can sometimes prove to be the distinguisher between an excellent phone and an outstanding phone. I would have to say that HTC Sense wins here, but only marginally - since we do not yet know about the updates Samsung will bring us when Froyo comes out.

        Conclusion of the comparison: with the iPhone 4 and its huge costs, and the Desire and its forthcoming successor (which sports an even bigger screen than the SGS at 4.3"), if you want a phone now that is sensible and reasonable in costs the SGS is the one to get.

        --- CONCLUSION ---

        The SGS is most definitely one of the top phones of 2010. With its numerous features and an excellent screen it beats most competitors hands down bar a few handsets (which are themselves excellent and is probably on the same class as the SGS). There are only a few non-significant downsides to the SGS which will not deter most buyers and the pros certainly over-rules the cons. With Android 2.2 update expected shortly (Samsung UK said earlier in September it will be available 23rd) the SGS will be expected to get even faster with more features (e.g. turning the SGS into a Wifi hotspot). I can absolutely recommend the SGS over its competitors and I am sure you wouldn't regret getting one!

        Box contents:
        SGS phone
        In-ear headphones set
        Travel charger
        Computer cable, CD-ROM

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          17.07.2010 13:59
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          An excellent buy at such a price and this is a must buy in my opinion!

          Having used the Wii Fit (original) and now the Wii Fit Plus for nearly 2 months I feel I can now give a review of the successor to the original fitness software. And the bottom line is: it's good.

          --- the BASICS ---

          I will keep the facts to a minimum. The Wii Fit is a software for the Wii console. It comes bundles with a Wii Balance Board (a scale with balance sensors) allowing the player to perform daily "body tests" (basically keeping track of your weight), balance games and aerobic exercises (including yoga and stretching exercises). The original is good enough [see my previous review on Wii Fit] but there are still a few shortcomings. The successor to the Wii Fit, the Wii Fit Plus (WFP), was released in October 2009. It addresses many of these missing elements and adds more to the overall experience.

          --- what I THOUGHT ---

          From the moment one inserts the WFP disc the transition from WF to WFP was painlessly easy. The game seamlessly integrates the old information and a new channel can be added to the Wii Menu. The old channel can then be deleted, saving space on your Wii. On the first load up, an immediately noticeable difference is a rotating 9 grid square on the top right as the game loads - a nice addition for users to know it's loading. There are now more selections in the main screen - including a quick 2 button entrance into a "Simple Test" mode - a watered down quick-fire way of doing the daily body test, without doing the age checks and a routine setter - allowing the player to plan their workout goals by selecting their daily exercises. Other new additions hidden more inside the game includes the new MET system. This new inclusion calculates the calorific value of the individual games hence the player knows how much calories was spent playing a game. I felt this was a very useful addition to the game. The associated calorific value checker (allowing users to compare how much calories they have burnt with how much calories is in some everyday foods) is scary (e.g. a 1/2 jogging exercise is worth a pack of cashew nuts, apparently) but welcome inclusion. New games are also well received and this WFP comes with several. The popular games were renewed, e.g. table tilt, and now come with additional levels; while many new games were also added e.g. snowball fight. I have to say just the snowball fight kept me playing for hours! It was also very entertaining indeed. There were also 3 new yoga modes and 3 new aerobic exercises. Another notable improvement was the new daily tests which now includes a "physical" (basically all the Wii Fit ones) and 4 new "mental" tests (all very interesting, easy to learn but hard to master).

          --- CONCLUSION ---

          Overall I felt that the WFP is a very welcome addition to the Wii Fit. There were many new features, all thought out from the point of the users. Nintendo have done it again with another excellent release. With the price tag at £19.99 (can now be easily found at sub-£15 prices) this is a must buy for Wii Balance Board users. I can't recommend it enough!

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          • Shutter Island (DVD) / DVD / 42 Readings / 40 Ratings
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            30.05.2010 20:45
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            Definitely a movie worth seeing!

            Imagine a film with some high profile actors, a nicely written script and an eerie setting. That's essentially what Shutter Island is like. I watched this film on a long haul flight recently and found myself actually talking about it to friends afterwards - now not a lot of movies can do that. So I can say I have enjoyed it.

            == the BASICS ==

            The film is a psychological thriller set in the 1950s. The protagonist is essentially Leonardo DiCaprio. It was adapted from a novel written in 2003.

            == the PLOT ==

            A US Marshall and his new partner are dispatched to a psychiatric facility to investigate a missing person's case. (That's it! No more details or I'll reveal the whole film!)

            == what I THOUGHT == (!! possible SPOILERS !!))

            I really liked this film, all the way from start to finish. The movie kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. The cast was well recruited with some excellent effects. The whole environment was very creepy - in keeping with the tone of the film. The plot was nice with few if any flaws. DiCaprio's acting was excellent with his portrayal of a US Marshall and later on in the movie as well. The ending was not very nice - a sad one but an unexpected twist nevertheless (well actually I was expecting it - but it was nicely revealed). All in all I thought it was definitely a film worth seeing and a DVD worth buying!

            == CONCLUSION ==

            Shutter Island was written as a novel and then made into a film. Lots of movies these days are adapted from fiction but many did not live up to these paper counterparts. Shutter Island was not one of them. I haven't read the book yet but I will be trying to get hold of one after seeing this excellent movie. I certainly recommend this film and will hope to try and hunt down one of the DVDs when released!

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              29.03.2010 12:59
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              A good buy and certainly belongs to the bookshelf but just not as good as Brown's previous novel.

              After waiting several years for a sequel to the Da Vinci code, we finally get one in the form of the hardback. Naturally we will have high hopes for a follow up of a book that captured the heart of millions worldwide. So after having read the book and researched at the agencies and parties involved is it worth the wait? Read on...

              == the BASICS ==

              For those of you who hadn't read any Dan Brown novels, the theme of his books generally evolves around conspiracies involving various secretive or supreme government agencies. This book is no exception. Despite being called a "sequel" to the Da Vinci code, there are no obligations for one to read that book first. The only relations to the DVC are the names of the character and the occasional mention of what the lead character (Robert Langdon) has encountered during his past experiences.

              == the PLOT ==

              Robert Langdon is involved in a duel with a "madman" who seemed he will stop at nothing to sabotage and destroy some mystical form of science - which apparently proves God exists and that spiritual dimensions are accessible and indeed reproducible. Is it really plausible?

              == what I THOUGHT ==

              Similar to previous Dan Brown novels, the book keeps the reader on the edge of their seats. There were many scenes where the reader is kept guessing what will happen next. It is excellently written as usual, however I believe it was not as good as the DVC and Angels and Demons. Despite a hugely unpredictable twist at the end, which in my opinion has definitely "trumped" the twist in DVC, I do not buy into the mystical sciences that is mentioned in the book. The DVC was written to sensationalise, and the Lost Symbol simply was not. The DVC has angered the Church, and the Lost Symbol may have angered the scientists. The book in itself was very entertaining, probably on par with his other books - but I just can't make sense of the premise of the book.

              == CONCLUSION ==

              The Lost Symbol is great read for your spare time. It is truly a thriller and certainly is a great page turner. However compared to previous Dan Brown novels, I will have to say it is slightly disappointing. Nevertheless for around / less than a tenner this book is well worth the money.

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                01.11.2009 14:42
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                Don't buy it - just google 7200.11 and see the people complaining!

                The Seagate 7200.11 is probably is worst hard disk there is. I have only had it for 9 months and it's broken. I will keep myself to be subjective when writing this review though - so there's no need to worry!

                = the BASICS ==

                The Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 was released in 2008. It was the 11th generation of the Barracuda line of hard drives. It comes in 160Gb, 320Gb, 500Gb (mine), 640Gb, 750Gb, 1TB and 1.5TB. It runs on 3 disk platters and can be subjected to forces of 350Gs when not operating.

                =my EXPERIENCE ==

                The hard drive was working well, compared to my previous (Western Digital 250Gb) which at times doesn't work and clicks occasionally, displaying error 51 in Event Viewer. 9 months down the line of first buying it one day the computer does not boot up at all. Going into BIOS and the hard drive is not recognised! So I looked online and found this problem: the BSY (busy) problems where the hard drive goes into a sort of a busy mode because of a firmware problem. Seagate has apparently released a fix for it but who ever (except system administrators of course) updates their hard drive firmware? Once the hard drive breaks down there is no way of updating the firmware, so I am now stuck with a bricked drive. Apparently there is a fix for it - requiring soldering and many hocus pocus which I am not at all comfortable with so the data on the drive is gone! Lucky the drive isn't anyway bigger or I would have lost even more data.
                The worst thing is, the drive spins and so should work - and the fault is a software issue. There is absolutely no way of recovering the data (without paying a data recovery company) even though the data is still in there somewhere!

                == CONCLUSION ==

                As I sat here typing looking at the drive on my desk I am angry and sad at how the hard drive can just suddenly give up. Apparently it's all a matter of luck when each one breaks. The moral of this story is - get your hard drive updated and don't buy the Barracuda 7200.11 drives!

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                  01.11.2009 14:13
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                  Get yourself an Octopus card and get on the train!

                  The MTR, or Mass Transit Railway, is the equivalent of the London Tube and Overground system. It provides the railway services in Hong Kong and is the main mode of public transport when one visits the territory.
                  (For those of you not familiar with Hong Kong: It is divided into 3 parts - (1) Hong Kong Island, (2) Kowloon peninsula which is attached to (3) New Territories (itself is a part of Mainland China, separated only by a narrow river). HK Island is the earliest to be developed in the 1840s, shortly followed by Kowloon as they are only separated by the Victoria Harbour - crossed by the Star Ferry. The New Territories, despite being a large area of Hong Kong, is relatively unpopulated. It comprises of several outlying islands and the area north of Kowloon. Since the 1970s when the government started finding themselves running out of land for building more high rise flats several "new towns" were developed in the New Territories - today many people live in the NT and have to travel to Kowloon / Hong Kong where the business hub is.)

                  == the BASICS ==

                  The MTR was established in 1979, after the colonial government decided it was no longer feasible to provide public transport with buses alone. It has since moved on leaps and bounds and today incorporates over 200km of tracks and 150 stations.

                  Prior to 2007, the MTR was an underground system only with 6 suburban lines serving the city. In December that year however the MTR and the other railway provider in the territory, the KCR (Kowloon Canton Railway) was merged creating one single huge rapid transit company.

                  == a very brief HISTORY ==

                  The MTR started off in 1979 with only 1 line connecting 2 areas in Kowloon. In the next 10 years it gradually extended its tracks to include 2 cross harbour lines - making a total of 3 lines:
                  Island line = serving Hong Kong Island only: from Sheung Wan to Chai Wan
                  Tsuen Wan line = cross harbour service: from Central, the Central Business District to Tsuen Wan, one of the suburbs
                  Kwun Tong line = cross harbour service: from Yau Ma Tei, the main shopping area in Kowloon, to Quarry Bay, a suburb on Hong Kong Island

                  The next major chapter in the history of MTR was in 1998 was when the new airport opened. The tender to operate the new railroad was awarded to MTR instead of KCR. 2 new lines were built to connect the airport and an accompanying new town which were on one of the outlying islands to Central on Hong Kong Island:
                  Tung Chung line = crossing the Tsing Ma bridge: from Central to Tung Chung
                  Airport Express = special airport service: from Central to Airport

                  Another MTR line was built in 2002 which added 1 urban line to the existing 3. The Kwun Tong line was shortened and now does not cross the harbour. This role was taken over by the new line built to serve another new suburb:
                  Tseung Kwan O line = cross - harbour service: from Po Lam to North Point (on Hong Kong Island, extended from Quarry Bay)
                  Disneyland Resort line = special Disneyland service: from Sunny Bay to Disneyland Resort

                  In 2007 the corporation merged with KCR its major rival (not strictly competitors as they serve different areas) to create a super railway company with more than 15 lines and 200 stations.
                  East Rail line (built 1910 by KCRC) = connecting Kowloon with China: from Hung Hom, Kowloon to Lo Wu (adjoining Chinese border)
                  West Rail line (built 2003 by KCRC) = connecting Kowloon with North Western districts: from Nam Cheong to Tuen Mun
                  Ma On Shan spur line (built 2004 by KCRC) = a spur of the East Rail line serving another suburb
                  Light Rail lines (built 1988 by KCRC) = series of tram / light rail services in the North Western districts

                  == the LINES ==

                  (Urban / Underground lines)

                  Island line serves the northern part of Hong Kong Island. It runs from Sheung Wan in the Western part of the island to Chai Wan, the Eastern part. It allows tourists to travel in many of the important touristic parts of Island e.g. Central and Causeway Bay (shopping paradise) while also provides local residents of the important link to the MTR network e.g. Heng Fa Tseun. A major part of this line is also served by the famous (cheap) Hong Kong Tram, and so most of the passengers travelling on the (underground) Island line will be wanted to save time (the train travels between one end to the other in a mere 25 minutes - where the tram will probably not even have travelled 2 MTR stations). Bear in mind that the tram costs HK$2 (£0.16 at today's exchange rate) for any length of journey compared to $7.5 (still cheap at £0.59 but nearly 4 times the price) for the MTR from Sheung Wan to Shau Kei Wan, the terminus of the tram.

                  Tsuen Wan line is arguably MTR's busiest urban line. It connects Central to Tsuen Wan which is on the border between the New Territories and Kowloon. The reason it is busy is twofold: one because it is a cross harbour line meaning that passengers save a lot of time compared to using the ferries or taking the bus via the tunnel (which is always congested), and the second being the area it serves - it literally runs under Nathan Road, HK's favourite shopping street. From Tsim Sha Tsui (the posh shopping area), through Jordan, Yau Ma Tei, Mong Kok (where HK is really famous for its shops) to Sham Shui Po (the computer arcades), every station is literally packed with passengers trying to get on or off. Even the suburban stations are crowded. The time it takes to travel the whole length (30 minutes) and the fare (HK$11.5 = £0.90) compares favourably with other modes of transport like buses.

                  Kwun Tong line was the least important line for tourists. Its line from Yau Ma Tei to Tiu Keng Leng means it connects suburbs to suburbs and not crossing any harbours. But there is not so anymore - with new shopping malls like APM (Kwun Tong) or Megabox (Kowloon Bay) built along the stations this line is not just for residents anymore. Furthermore tourists may find themselves wanting to visit Sai Kung (the famous fishing and seafood restaurants) or Clear Water Bay (exactly as it says on the tin!) - one will need to change for buses at Diamond Hill MTR station as they are (rightly) not served by trains.

                  Tseung Kwan O line is the latest urban line to be built. It is mainly for residents only but there are a few shopping malls along the stations (again primarily for people living there). Tourists may find themselves changing trains at Lam Tin station for crossing the harbour from Kwun Tong line.

                  (Suburban lines)

                  East Rail line is the oldest line there is. Built in 1910 it was designed to connect HK to China. Along the route there are few things geared for tourists perhaps except the odd temple (Tai Wai) or railway museum (Tai Po). Tourists who want to visit China may consider travelling via this route but it can get expensive (relatively by HK standards) at about HK$43.5 (£3.40) - there is surcharge for travelling to the border stations. The Ma On Shan line is primarily for residents and not really for tourists.

                  West Rail line, in contrast, may afford a different view of HK. In travelling to the North Western areas, one can look at HK from the ecological point of view and escape from the hustle and bustle from the towns and cities. Despite the fact that this line is built to connect the new towns (again lots of high rise buildings) to the city there are still plenty of nature available to see (e.g Wetland Park - served by Light Rail). Get yourself a West Rail freedom pass - at HK$20 (£1.50) this allows 1 day unlimited travel on the West Rail line, the Light Rail services and its connecting buses (starting with K). Travel to Lau Fau Shan for its famous lobsters or the Gold Coast Resort near Tuen Mun. It's well worth the money and honestly one day is not enough.

                  Tung Chung line is another suburban line serving the New Territories. It runs parallel to the Airport express and connects the new town just next to the airport to Central on HK Island. With the completion of the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, tourists can visit the Big Buddha if they alight at Tung Chung station and change. Similarly the HK Disneyland is accessible by the Tung Chung line - alight at Sunny Bay station to change for the Disneyland Resort line.

                  The Airport Express connects the Airport (and AsiaWorld Expo, an exhibition centre built right next to the Airport) to Central. It is relatively expensive at $100 a pop (£7.82) but still no way near the extortionate prices charged by the likes of Heathrow Express. For the budget traveller, in order to save a few quid they can choose the E buses to travel to town from the airport. It takes longer but travels around affording good views of the city. To save money AND be quick, take the S1 bus (HK$3.5) from the airport to Tung Chung (about 15 minutes) and take the Tung Chung line to town ($20.5), the total price of HK$24 saving yourself HK$76 for other things with only about 10 - 20 minutes delay.

                  == the TICKETS ==

                  The MTR offers lots of ticket options. I have already mentioned above about the West Rail freedom pass, valid only for the West Rail line (and Light Rail). Most residents (or probably tourists should) have an Octopus card - similar to Oyster in London. It is a no-touch stored value card accepted universally in HK for anything - MTR, buses, star ferry, vending machines, convenience stores, restaurants etc. MTR fares are cheaper with the Octopus card.

                  There is also a tourist option - not as flexible as offerings from European towns and cities and there are only 2 choices. The touristic pass is HK$55 (£4.30) and allows unlimited travel on all trains except Airport Express, First Class on East Rail, travel to Chinese border stations; while the Airport Express pass is HK$220 / HK$300 (£17.18 / £23.43) and allows 1 or 2 journeys on the AE and 3 days' unlimited train travel. Please bear in mind that this does not include buses (and may work out even more expensive London's Underground) - so getting an Octopus may be better.

                  == CONCLUSION ==

                  The MTR has its pros and cons. It is cheap and frequent (one train in 2 minutes) but it can be very crowded and you lose out on the views (especially on the urban lines). However it is indeed very convenient and I would recommend lots of travelling on the MTR when you travel to HK. You would definitely travel on other modes of transport too but the MTR is an essential. Even the locals think so - property prices in HK (notoriously expensive) is literally based on how far your flat is from the MTR station!

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                  • Idiocracy (DVD) / DVD / 53 Readings / 52 Ratings
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                    30.10.2009 13:12
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                    Excellent film. Watch it!

                    Idiocracy is a film of a different kind. You can say it's a science fiction, fantasy or comedy. It doesn't really fit into any one of these categories nicely and perhaps that's for the best. But one thing's for sure - this film (or at least its concept) is truly excellent.

                    == the BASICS ==

                    Idiocracy presents a future where instead of human beings super clever and safe-improving, they all have some kind of learning difficulties and have a low IQ. The director is Mike Judge, and the film stars Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph as the main characters.

                    == the PLOT ==

                    Corporal Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson) had absolutely median IQ (100), height and weight. He had no family and was thus considered disposable by the US Army. At the start of the film he was working at the Army library but was forcibly enrolled into a research programme where he had to enter hibernation for one year. Rita (Maya Rudolph) was prostitute who "volunteered" after the government promised her pimp that all his criminal charges will be withdrawn if she undergoes this military experiment.

                    We were then presented with a series of cut scenes and an interesting narration. First the general responsible for the experiment gets sacked because of a sex scandal. Everyone "forgot" about the 2 volunteers and the hibernation pods. Meanwhile, with normal / low IQ people reproducing while people with high IQ / professionals simply do not have enough time to produce babies, the population IQ falls. With every generation everyone becomes less and less clever, brilliantly illustrated by the restaurant (which is now situated right next to the original experimental site) name changing from Fuddruckers to Butt******s. Eventually Joe and Rita woke from their long sleep during the Great Rubbish Avalanche of 2505, exactly 500 years after they first dozed off. So what will happen in their little adventure? Has humanity discovered a way to travel through time and allow Joe and Rita to go back to 2005? Just watch the film to find out!

                    == the THEORY == (!! SPOILERS !!)

                    (Decreasing IQ) It is indeed plausible and can now be witnessed in the US where people there literally think Britain is in the Middle East. This will only get worse but I cannot see it overwhelming the population. There will always be a need for clever people and while the number of high IQ people may well reduce with the introduction of welfare states, I believe Idiocracy should be more accurately represented with an elite group of high IQ manipulating the low. Furthermore, an IQ of 30 (which is what the film represents) would mean that even basic functioning like continence is not present. But we are shown time and again that the future population sometimes show great insight into things.
                    We have to remember that evolution did not happen in one day and will certainly not result in significant change in just 500 years.

                    (Self-maintaining machines) Since the last great scientists left there are no more people who can service the machines - and indeed it is presented in the movie where a huge clock outside a building flashes 12:00 (not set properly) and a robotic vacuum cleaner (like a Roomba) is malfunctioning. However there are much more elaborate machines which are not breaking - is it possible that there are aids to repair these machines - it may just be but bear in mind that even these "repair robots" will go wrong some day.

                    == what I THOUGHT == (!! SPOILERS !!)

                    The concept raised by the film is intriguing. I really liked the comedy aspects of the film (e.g. when Joe was jailed by mistake). The ending of the film is very cheesy but I didn't like Luke Wilson falling for Maya Rudolph - I would much prefer Anna Faris to act as this role. There are also parts that need explaining - like how the country is run and where are all the other people (the Asians / Africans?). However a movie is a movie and we simply cannot explain it to make sense in all angles - so just enjoy it!

                    == CONCLUSION ==

                    Idiocracy has a great idea and the filming was great. The plot is plausible and the characters are likeable (except Rita - I somehow just cannot understand how a prostitute fits into this film). However for a direct-to-DVD / very limited theatrical release film this has to be one of the best out there. I would really recommend this film, see it once and you'll be hooked!

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                    • Trick 'R Treat (DVD) / DVD / 31 Readings / 29 Ratings
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                      30.10.2009 12:09
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                      Another gore feast I don't like - maybe I just don't like this genre.

                      It's that time of the year again when we are once again bombarded with gore feasts and horror movies. 2009 is no different with the likes of Saw VI and others. Trick r Treat is one of these movies.

                      == the BASICS ==

                      TrT is in the horror genre. It is split up into 4 stories that occur on the same night, the Halloween. The director of this film is Michael Dougherty and there are many actors and actresses involved in the film (as there are 4 different stories). They all link with each other, however. The stories occur at different timeframes so one needs to be clear in their mind what actually happens during what time.

                      == the PLOT ==

                      The introduction to the movie is a short one. A couple arrived home from a Halloween parade and took off their costumes. The wife insisted on blowing out the jack-o-lantern but the husband complained that it is against tradition - the wife promptly ignored him and threw the lantern away. Later on that night as the woman started packing away the decorations on their porch she was attacked and killed. The husband was in the house and did not notice her cries for help. He only discovered the corpse after a nap when he went out to look for his wife. It was gory alright...

                      The first story involved the principal and his student - this time it is the headteacher who takes breaking Halloween tradition into his own hands.

                      The second story is about a bunch of teenagers visiting an abandoned quarry in the hope of finding a school bus carrying children with learning difficulties that apparently was crashed on purpose by a driver who the parents paid for him to put them out of their misery. It was all a plot to scare one of the girls - as expected it went wrong, horribly.

                      The third story told starred a 22 year old "virgin" looking for her first target. It turns out all is not what she (and her mates) seemed.

                      The last story which sort of tied all the stories together told of an old man who was attacked by a mysterious person. Who was the old man? And who is the perpetuator behind all these murders - you are supposed to find out after watching this film.

                      == what I THOUGHT == (!! SPOILERS !!))

                      I didn't like this film. But that's just my opinion. I simply do not agree with the principle that not agreeing with Halloween rules means the person / people should be killed. There are also lots of flaws in the movie in my opinion. For example after the girl was cruelly tricked by her "friends", her glasses were broken and yet she can still see very clearly - and she moved as though she was possessed. I read somewhere that since she was a victim she was spared - but surely the others (bullies) should not be subjected to the ultimate penalty. In another part of the movie we were told that there were some children with learning difficulties were killed when a bus driver drove them into the lake - it turned out the driver was actually the old man at the last story, and he was promptly killed by the "zombies" that were the children 30 years ago. But why only kill him now? Why not 30 / 20 / 10 years earlier? It makes no sense why everything occurs not - perhaps a sequel (which is actually already announced) will make it clearer. Finally the main villain of the film is not even a human - but a hybrid pumpkin and an alien (from Predator), so there is no twist in the tale. Or you can say there is - and that may explain similar Halloween films and why the villain is never killed.

                      == CONCLUSION ==

                      There is a reason why this movie was released straight to DVD. The directors simply believed it would not be successful. I have seen many direct-to-DVD films and many are excellent but I am afraid I would not this one as one of the successes. There is a cult following of this film I have to admit and on IMDB it rates a massive 7.4 - better than my favourite, though slightly different genre, Frequency. I am sure this movie will suit many people's taste - just not mine.

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                    • DeLonghi HS20/2 / Heater / 29 Readings / 28 Ratings
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                      29.10.2009 18:32
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                      I would recommend this heater.

                      With the winter drawing in I decided to buy one of these heaters to save myself some money over the escalating gas prices by not using central heating. For about £25 one can choose between a mid-range fan heater, a low-range convection heater, or a very-very-low-range oil filled heater. So I choose the Delonghi HS20/2 - a convection heater and I am not disappointed. I will be analysing the advantages and disadvantages of each of the above later on.

                      == BASICS ==

                      The HS20/2 is a convection heater. This means that it works by having a coil in the centre which heats up. As the air is heated it gets less weight and rises, sucking in colder air from below. This results in a convection flow (if you remember your GCSCE physics!). The theoretical advantages are that these heaters starts warming up very quickly, and they will be very quiet as no fan is involved. A fan heater, on the other hand, has a heating coil too but relies on a fan to circulate the hot air around. This means it will be noisy and the room tends to be very dry. An oil filled heater is another alternative but those can be very expensive, the cheap ones are usually not powerful enough.

                      The HS20/2 has a rated 2kW power, which means that it outputs 2000W. Based on the current electricity prices (where I live) of around 20p/kWh this equates to £0.40/hour of use, or around 6.7p/minute of use - more expensive than national rate telephone! There is a thermostat on the side of the heater and that's about it - the only control of the heater. It has a dial with the numbers 1 - 6 on it with a frost icon for "switch off".

                      == PERFORMANCE ==

                      I expect convection heaters to be quick starting and I was not proved wrong. Once the heater is switched on the heater comes on immediately - even though there is a bit of a burning smell which is acceptable. The thermostat works well but for most everyday uses one will keep it on 1 or 2 or between 1 and 2. Keeping it above 2 means it is on virtually all day and below 1 means it doesn't switch on at all. Bear in mind that it will cost 40p/hour to operate and there is no option to switch to a lower power (unlike its more expensive siblings).

                      The heater warms up a moderately sized room in about 3-5 minutes, and if the user is cold they can of course stand over the heater and receive an instant stream of warm air.

                      For a similar fan heater I would expect it to warm quickly too, but I would also worry about my lips cracking within 20 minutes. It would also be unbearably noisy and I just don't want that. Equally annoyingly an oil filled heater will take some time to heat up, even though it will be quiet.

                      == EASE OF USE ==

                      Since there is only 1 dial on the heater it is very easy to use. Taking off the plug when not in use is optional as the "frost" icon means it is switched off. I find that the thermostat is a bit scary - it produces a spark when it switched off / on - so don't look down the grille!

                      == NOISE ==

                      As stated above there is virtually no noise apart from a very unnoticeable hum when the thermostat is on - absolutely inaudible unless one is centimetres away from the heater. No problems here.

                      == SAFETY ==

                      As for many heaters safety is definitely one of the most important aspects. Convection heaters are probably one of the safest heaters there are, especially since this one has an overheat automatic override meaning if it does overheat it will stop. The case of the heater does get hot though, so one shouldn't put this around children who may bump into it. Similarly an oil filled heater and a fan heater will also get hot on the outside.

                      As for tilting the device - since it is tall there is a risk of tipping it over. Again convection heaters are the safest since the air intake is at the bottom protected by 2 stands, and the overheating safe trap means the devices switches itself off if it is too hot. A fan heater tilted over may overheat easily since the air vents may be blocked while a oil filled heater may lead to a spillage.

                      == VALUE FOR MONEY ==

                      At £25 one cannot expect anything more than a heater that works. So far I am very satisfied with it. The build quality is good and the heater delivers instant heat - that's what matters.

                      == DURABILITY ==

                      I cannot comment on that at the moment since I have only had it for 3 weeks!

                      == CONCLUSION ==

                      The Delonghi HS20/2 is a good convection heater. It makes a slight smell on start but I can't fault it otherwise. At a relatively cheap price it does what is expected to a good standard. I would recommend it to other people who wants to save a few pennies during this winter - provided you only want 1 room heated!

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                    • Ryanair / Airline / 37 Readings / 37 Ratings
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                      12.10.2009 17:32
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                      Don't be tempted into booking or buying anything extra and you'll be OK!

                      Ryanair is a low budget airline you either love or hate. They were established in 1985 but is completely different from the company since Michael O'Leary started managing the company in 1991.

                      --- the BASICS ---

                      Ryanair is a budget airline. This, for those of you who have lived under a rock for the last 10 years, means that air fares are cheap but passengers must endure lots of optional extras like food. In terms of Ryanair their charges are truly extreme (I am supposed to be impartial in the BASICS bit but I am sure most people would agree it is extreme), literally anything optional and not-so-optional can be charged in their book. I will list some below.

                      Their headquarters are based in Dublin, Ireland. However they also fly to lots of destinations from the UK. My local airport is East Midlands - which Ryanair serves. I have travelled with them for about 5 times so I can make a bit of a comment on their service - see below.

                      --- CHARGES ----

                      So Ryanair is infamous for their unreasonable optional extras. So what actually do they charge for? Lets take an example.

                      I want to travel from East Midlands to Dublin and am willing to spend within reason (i.e. I will not excessively book luggage or check in at the airport). I looked on Ryanair and hey presto - it's £5 outbound and £5 return. Surely you can't beat that, literally cheaper than car parking or the bus fare - but here comes the charges.

                      - Online check in fee (£5 single) x 2 = £10 return
                      [This is an unavoidable charge - Ryanair stopped all airport check in and all passengers are now forced to check in online. Airport check in is still possible at the desk but will cost up to £40]

                      - Taxes (£28.63 + £31.87) = £60.5 return
                      [Obviously this is unavoidable as well - but we have to be fair and say this is a charge even Ryanair's competitor charges]

                      So I pressed "Select and Continue" and I am already expected to pay at least £80.48. And as I move on to the next page, I decided to do something avid budget travellers would never consider - checking in a bag and boarding first! I have also decided for convenience I will buy travel insurance here too!

                      - Checked bag (£15 single) x2 = £30 return
                      [Most budget airlines charge this]

                      - Priority boarding (£3 single) x2 = £6 return
                      [Another optional extra]

                      - Platinum travel insurance (£9.05) = £9.05
                      [Remember to read the T&Cs before buying!]

                      - Wanting a text message confirmation (£1) = £1
                      [Can't really fault them for charging]

                      When you thought that's the end of the charges - here comes the most criticised one on the next page

                      - Credit card / Debit card booking here (£5 single) x 2 = £10
                      [Literally this cannot be avoided - I mean how many people use Visa Electron, the only card that's free. This is the charge I am most critical of - most other charges above are avoidable]

                      So, that's it - a total of £136.53. That's not so cheap any more is it?

                      --- flying EXPERIENCE ---

                      Having travelled with Ryanair for about 5 times I can honestly say it's not that bad. As long as you brought your own food and drink they will allow you (at least for now) to consume it onboard. The flying experience is just like any other airline - you get on the plane (obviously after those who paid £3 to board first), find a seat (not reserved) and sit down. The plane taxis, takes off, flies for a bit and lands. During the middle bit you may occasionally be bothered by advertisements (e.g. food / drink announcements) or lottery ticket sales but these aren't too bad. At the moment at least there is no charge for using the toilets so make sure of them while you can!

                      --- my THOUGHTS ---

                      I have never really hated Ryanair. Perhaps that's because I am used to not having optional things and really - I am never a person to buy food off trolleys on the trains so I will not be tempted to pay over the odds for the on-plane catering. As long as it gets me from A to B cheaply - I don't care!

                      (How to get a really cheap flight)
                      Subscribe to their email system. Book early. Don't check in any bags. Don't board early. Don't buy insurance off them. Don't ask for text message confirmation. Do book using a Visa Electron card. And voila! You may have actually got a flight for 2p return!

                      --- CONCLUSION ---

                      At the end of the day, Ryanair is here to provide a service. Whether one chooses to pay and take up that service is up to them. Sometimes I feel for them when there are criticised - they are not a charity but a business. There may be a "cheating" or an "lying" element by lowering your prices just to bump them up by charging on other things but what's the difference between this and charging really expensively in the first place (e.g. like BA). But I can completely understand where other people have come from. At the end of the day I am only interested in the price and if I can get a flight cheaply then I will!

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                      • Die Hard (DVD) / DVD / 31 Readings / 28 Ratings
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                        12.10.2009 14:03
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                        Watch it! You will not regret this.

                        Die Hard is one of the best action films and definitely one of the top 80s movie. It made Bruce Willis' career and the Die Hard series spawned 4 more movies - culminating to Die Hard 4 release in 2007.

                        --- the BASICS ---

                        Die Hard is an action thriller film released in 1988. It starred Bruce Willis as John McClane - an eventual household fictional name. The film is directed by John McTiernan. The plot is actually based on the novel "Nothing Lasts Forever" published in 1979 written by Roderick Thorp. The DVD was released in 2007 nearly 20 years after the film was made.

                        --- the PLOT ---

                        A New York cop arrived on Christmas Eve to her wife's party in Nakatomi Plaza, a tall skyscraper in LA in order to reconcile with her. When he arrived everything seemed calm so he disappeared off to the loo - guess what happened. Terrorists after wealth raided the building with high tech equipment and hostages were taken - the party guests. As McClane was in the toilet he was spared and went on a cat-and-mouse chase through the building. With only one gun and lots of brain power can he himself outmanoeuvre the terrorists? Will he receive the help he needs from the LA police department? Can he rescue his wife and end up with her again? Watch the film and see!

                        --- what I THOUGHT --- (!!SPOILERS!!)

                        The Die Hard series and many other action movies suffer from one thing - the main character is invincible. McClane took millions of bullets but is never killed - just mildly wounded (see Last Action Hero - an excellent spoof). Other than this Die Hard is anything but just another action movie. Its excellent plot, edge-of-the-seat action and clever moves leave its viewers guessing what will happen next. You always know McClane will save the day - but how he does it is the question. There are some unbelievable bits - like at the end of the movie how one of the terrorist escaped from certain death by hanging off an iron chain will never be known. But the believable aspects overrule most of them - especially when the LAPD decided not to co-operate with McClane and start ruining his plans. I think the movie is gory enough to attract attention and is not excessively violent.

                        --- CONCLUSION ---

                        The Die Hard series started with an excellent film. The second one would (in my opinion) surpassed it and became the best in the series but this one is definitely on par with that. I would gladly spend an evening watching a re-run of this film and I have indeed bought the DVD - not a lot of extra features just the standard (subtitle, commentary, trailers etc). The film itself is the defining of action movies and has become a benchmark for other producers to look up to since.

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                        • More +
                          12.10.2009 13:37
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                          Good film, an expected sequel which was never produced.

                          Back to the Future Part III is an good ending to the trilogy. It was made in 1990, 4 years after the first one and immediately after the second one. The movie is mainly about tying up loose ends but included an interesting storyline on its own.

                          --- the BASICS ---

                          Back to the Future Part III is a science fiction film about time travelling, starring Michael Fox (Marty) and Christopher Lloyd (Doc) as the 2 main lead characters and directed by Robert Zemeckis. The first film was about the invention of the time machine and Marty travelling by mistake to the year 1955 changing history, while the second one was about Marty and Doc travelling to 2015 to change future history, got their time machine stolen so 1985 was changed when they came back, and they had to travel to 1955 to prevent this alternative 1985 from materialising. At the end of the second film Doc was about to take Marty back "home" to 1985 when he was struck by lightning, sending Doc and the Delorean back to 1885.

                          --- the PLOT ---

                          Everything went well in Doc and Marty's little adventure in 1955. They got the book, burnt it and the future (i.e. 1985) is made normal again (at least normal for Marty - not so much for the antagonist Biff!). When there were about to go back however Doc's Delorean was struck by lightning (remember Part I?) and was sent to the past. Luckily since it was sent to the past and not the future it means the Delorean will be in existence somewhere by 1955. When a Western Union man arrived at Marty's exact location when the Delorean was struck down and delivered him a letter stored for 80 years, he knew that Doc was "still alive" (or at least alive in time - if that makes sense). Marty will now need to find the 1955 Doc, get him to work the Delorean that's stored in a mine for the last 80 years and get back to 1985 (leaving the 1985 Doc in 1885 - confusing enough?). But - while they were excavating the Delorean they discovered Doc was murdered 1 week after writing that letter (in 1885)! Marty is determined to save him and go through 1 more time travel (they now realise that each time journey has severe repercussions) back to 1885. Will he succeed in saving Doc? What happens in 1885? How will they get back to 1985? Just enjoy the last film in the trilogy and find out!

                          --- the THEORY --- (!!SPOILERS!!)

                          (Leaving stuff for the future)
                          Lots of time travel films use this concept - and it is possible to leave stuff. But there must be so many uncertainty involved. For example the Delorean that's stored in the mines - if the mine has collapsed the Delorean could be gone. Obviously Doc will known it has not collapsed (after all he has future knowledge) but he may have changed the future just by putting it there!

                          (Meeting yourself)
                          Would this really lead to the destruction of the universe? I doubt it - but the shock and surprise could well make anyone faint.

                          (A locomotive powered car)
                          Very much possible - just not in the 1880s. There is no way a train in the late 19th century have the power to go up to 80mph - let alone pushing a car in front of it. Furthermore the tracks are not designed for this speed - so even if the science explained in the film is true (i.e. steep slope, long straight line, fire as hot as hell) it still wouldn't work.

                          --- what I THOUGHT --- (!!SPOILERS!!)

                          I liked this film - it puts a completely different perspective in the BTTF series. The film has an ending feel to it and throughout the film one knows when they are back to 1985 that's it. It proved true when the Delorean was destroyed by a modern train in the end. The film itself was good with a simple-ish plot. I don't really like the bit at the end though, with Doc travelling by a steam-powered time machine that's shaped in a locomotive. What's that supposed to mean - possible sequel? It's just a way for the moral lecture - "the future isn't shaped yet". And yet you can travel to it? It just doesn't make sense.

                          --- CONCLUSION ---

                          BTTF3 is a very good film. It cannot match its previous 2 movies but it is still up there with the best films. It has a good storyline and interaction between the characters. I am disappointed most of the movie took part in one time though - given a time machine I would expect them to travel to more time periods (like BTTF2). I have always wanted a sequel to the trilogy and throughout the years rumours have sprung and quashed by various people that there would be a BTTF4. But I feel that a trilogy is probably the best way and adding a BTTF4 may well dilute the series.

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                        • Frequency (DVD) / DVD / 31 Readings / 27 Ratings
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                          11.10.2009 14:45
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                          One of the best films of the 2000s!

                          The concept of going back in time to put thing right is not a new idea in novels or in movie. However, I think the best one during the last decade is the film "Frequency". It was a science fiction about a cross time radio communication between a father and son across 30 years.

                          --- the BASICS ---

                          Frequency is a science fiction film released in 2000. It starred Dennis Quaid as Frank Sullivan and James Caviezel as John Sullivan, Frank's son. The film revolved around a CB radio which was able to transmit and receive radio waves between father and son during solar flares in the years 1969 and 1999.

                          --- the PLOT --- (!!SPOILERS!!)

                          Frank and Julie Sullivan were a happy couple living with 7 year old son John. Frank was a fireman, loving father and caring husband. He was a tough in appearance but loved his son and provided the best to him. He played baseball with him, taught him how to ride bikes and told him stories. Unfortunately the good life only lasted for a short time as Frank lost his life when fighting a fire in a factory.
                          30 years later, we saw that John has become a police officer but was still living in the same house. The son of Gordo, a neighbor who grew up a good friend with him, found an old radio in John's storeroom one night when solar flare was strong. While trying to fix the radio, John started chatting to a man with the same frequency and call sign as his. John talked with him casually at first and later found that the man at the other end called his son "little chief", the name his father Frank called him in his childhood. An initial mixed feeling of disbelief and emotion turned to panic as John frantically tried to warn Frank that the fire next day (30 years earlier) would take his life and "if only he chose the other way", he would be saved. Frank felt threatened that someone would know every detail of him and his son and left the conversation. The next day there was indeed a fire breaking out in the Buxton warehouse, the exact name of the factory John had warned him the previous night. Frank was anxious and confused during the course of rescuing victims from the factory. It transpired that there were indeed two exits - one covered with smoke and the other with fire. As a fireman, he instinctively felt he should escape through the smoke but suddenly remembered John's words. He decided to go through the exit that was covered with fire and found there was a slide out of the factory into the river outside, but had he chose the other way (with smoke) there would have been a big explosion killing both himself and the child. After Frank was saved from the river, he felt so happy and shouted loudly "little chief...."
                          The scene was so touching that I was emotional and believed I was not alone in shedding a tear. The story continued with John discovering that his father eventually died with lung cancer but he "saved his life" again by persuading him to quit smoking. However, the reality was suddenly changed (similar to Butterfly Effect) when John realized that his mother was murdered by a serial killer long ago. John had to compete with time to save his mother before the solar flare weakens. Can he do it? What will he encounter on the way? Enjoy this excellent film and you will see!

                          --- what I THOUGHT ---

                          This film was not only just fast paced thriller but the plot was filled with bits that touch the audience's heart. I watched it more times than I can remember and still think it is such a good film which is regrettably so underrated on imdb. The film is mixed with time travelling and crime - a mixture used often but never to such a good effect. It is truly excellent in combining the 2 genres.

                          --- CONCLUSION ---

                          Frequency is truly a great film. It is a shame that not a lot of people have heard of it and is not one of the top films. I definitely rate it myself as one of my top 10 and hope when you watch it you'll find it heart warming and regard it as one of your top movies too.

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                          • UK Petrol Prices / Discussion / 41 Readings / 36 Ratings
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                            10.10.2009 00:02
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                            I see the point of fuel tax but it's simply too much.

                            The British are indeed being robbed. Our country is amongst the most expensive (I think Hong Kong is more expensive at the moment - but they just copied us!) for petrol but it doesn't have to be this way! Most of the price of petrol is simply tax to fund road users who decide not to pay their road tax or for foreign truckers to enjoy our nice roads and motorways.

                            --- the BASICS ---

                            British petrol prices are one of the most expensive in the world. At the time of writing the standard supermarket petrol is 101.9p / litre and the diesel is 102.9p / litre. Most mainstream petroleum companies (e.g. Shell, Total, Jet, Texaco) will follow that price provided they are close to the supermarket. If not as a rule of thumb - the further they are from a supermarket the more expensive it will be. Another general rule is that petrol is more expensive at motorway and major A-roads service stations. Just another way to rob us Brits.

                            --- why I am ANGRY ---

                            Considering the rise of the crude oil prices last year, one would be hard to fault the petroleum companies - but that's last year. When crude oil prices stood at an all time high of US$147, the price at the pumps (or at least the supermarkets) were 119.9p / litre. Today, as the crude oil market closes at around US$70 (more than half of $147) the price at the pumps is 101.9p / litre just days after a 1p / litre drop in price. So what sense does it make? If crude oil was to jump up to US$120 tomorrow will the price increase by 20p / litre - probably. There are lots of criticism directed to these companies - they are acting as a sort of a monopoly as they all raise or drop prices at the same time and consumers have no choice.

                            In addition the rise in crude oil prices seems to be much much much quicker in being reflected in the petrol prices than a drop. A recent drop of crude oil prices from US$75 to US$63 (a drop of more than 10%) resulted in a 1p / litre drop 3 weeks after the crude oil prices came down. However when the crude slowly trickled up I have spotted some sneaky petrol stations increasing the prices within a few days.

                            One more thing is the government. As if the price of petrol is not expensive enough they keep increasing the fuel tax year after year. It is not only a burden for the haulage industries but for the average motorists too. The public transport outside of London is simply not up to scratch and is definitely not fit for commuting for 10% of the country's workforce. I would recommend with every rise in fuel tax a similar amount should be invested in public transport or at least an alternative to driving.

                            --- what we can DO ---

                            Boycotting is no longer an option. We would all want to do it but in a world of time and money it is simply not viable. The thing left for us to do is probably drive more economically - don't accelerate harshly, inflate the tyres to a suitable pressure and make sure you don't carry any unnecessary loads. Also make sure you are filling in petrol in the cheapest pump in your area - lots of websites help with this. Remember supermarkets may not always be the cheapest - look around. But also remember that driving around for petrol costs money in petrol too!

                            --- CONCLUSION ---

                            The petrol prices is unlikely to return to their 2003/4 levels of 69.9p / litre. With crude oil seeming to be fixed around the US$60 - $80 mark it looks like the 90p - 110p / litre is more realistic. I believe the 70% or more tax is simply unreasonable and I would also like to see the money being spent on public transport and making sure is up to scratch. I am looking forward to a day when people can ditch their cars and gladly take their local on-time, not crowded and cheap trains!!

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