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Every so often I suffer from fairly powerful migraines, and normally have some painkillers to hand to deal with the symptoms. However, a few months ago I was hit by a migraine late in the evening and had run out of painkillers, and so my girlfriend went out the next morning to buy me some tablets to ease the pain. She decided to buy these tablets due to the price (45p for 16 tablets, significantly cheaper than premium brand painkillers at around £2.40), which now come in a half white, half navy blue box with white writing instead of the picture displayed.
The packaging claims that the tablets (caplets) are capable of easing the pain of a variety of things including: headaches and migraines, sore throats, muscle pain, cold and flu symptoms and tooth pain. They contain aspirin, caffeine, paracetamol and sorbitol.
I took two of these caplets with water, and although they did help with some of the symptoms, they took a long time to kick in, which is why I tend to prefer the faster acting premium brand painkillers. The caplets look like slightly elongated pills with rounded edges, and do not have the powdery texture common to some tablets and pills, nor do they leave any after-taste when taken.
Recently my girlfriend also came down with a severe headache, and took one of these caplets after some persuasion, as she does not normally like taking tablets. According to her the tablet kicked in after around 20 minutes and the headache went completely away shortly after this.
In my opinion these caplets do not live up to their claim of being super-powered, although given the price they are reasonable enough painkillers.
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The Platypus Hoser is a plastic water bladder with a short plastic hose attachment capped with a flexible silicone bite cap. It comes in 3 sizes, 1L, 2L and 3L and is designed to fit easily into a rucksack. In fact, many modern rucksacks come with a specially designed section for water bladders or at least a hook in the main section to attach the bladder to. The Platypus Hoser is designed to allow for easy access to water while hiking, biking or climbing without the need to stop and extract a water bottle from your rucksack.
It is easy to use, simply remove the hose, fill with water or other liquid, reattach the hose and then place top down into the rucksack and attach the hose the one of the arm straps. While walking you can then simply bite down on the silicone cap and drink the water. In my experience the Hoser does not add any plasticy taste to the water, and the bite cap has a very inoffensive taste.
Depending on the length of my hiking trip, I will take a 2L Hoser, and either 1 or 2 1L Platypus bladders with sports bottle caps tucked into side pouches of my rucksack filled with fruit squash to drink when I break for lunch, when cooking in the evening or if the main bladder runs out of water.
If you are planning on using them in very cold environments (for instance while ice climbing or winter mountaineering), you may find that the exposed sections of the hose may freeze, however it possible to purchase insulation tubing designed for water bladder hoses in outdoor shops which will reduce the chances of the hose freezing.
I have been using my current set of Platypus water bladders for the past 3 years, and have never had reason to complain about the quality of the materials or design, and have never had any real problems while using them on trips. I bought these water bladders from the Cotswold Outdoors shop in Nottingham 3 years ago, and paid around 15 pound for the 2L bladder and 10 pounds each for the 1L bladder.
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A few weeks ago I got a really bad migraine and had barely any painkillers in the house, so had to suffer through the night. In the morning my girlfriend went down to Sainsburys to pick up some painkillers, and came across a box of these cooling strips. A small box of 4 of these strips was selling for around £2.89 at the time.
Packaging is fairly minimal, a basic card box around 3"x5"x1", containing two resealable packets, each of which contains two of the cooling strips. To use, you remove the thin transparent layer of plastic over the gel, and apply to the area who wish to relieve pain from. The box recommends applying the strips to either the forehead or the back of the neck. The strips themselves are approximately 1.5"x4" and the box suggests they are good for up to 8 hours of use.
The box also recommends the strips for use with high temperatures, hot flushes and sprains as well as headaches, and because the gel contains no medication, you can safely combine their use with normal pain relief tablets, and they do not require any refrigeration before use. In addition the strips can be cut to size if required.
The strips are very easy to use, simply remove the plastic film and apply to the area, and the cooling effect sets on almost instantly. The strips do not leave any sticky residue after removal, and in my opinion the cooling effect from the gel lasts between 6 and 8 hours of use. Combined with painkillers they were reasonably effective at relieving most of the pain from the headache, although I think if I had had them when the initial symptoms kicked in they would probably have been much more effective. I ended up using 2 or 3 of these strips before the migraine let up a few days later.
Since then I have purchased another box of these strips and have found them to be also useful for relieving aching neck and shoulder muscles, and have luckily not had to use them to treat any more headaches yet.
I would recommend these strips to other people who suffer from migraines and severe headaches, although they are in no way a miracle cure, and so normal medication should probably be used in combination if your headaches are really bad.
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My girlfriend had a white pair of these headphones lying around in a drawer for quite some time, and so when my recent pair of headphones died, I borrowed her pair. I tend to go through sets of headphones fairly quickly, but given their age, this set still lasted a reasonable amount of time.
Unlike some other in-ear headphones, these are made of a slightly flexible material and so are generally more comfortable, although the flexible earpiece made it possible to pop the plastic cover and the speaker device out of the housing without too much effort. The sound quality was reasonable, and the wiring held up to a fair amount of stress, unlike some pairs of headphones I have had where the wire has separated from the earpieces after a few weeks of use.
However, the headphones did eventually reach the stage of only working in one ear unless the wire was held at a specific angle and position. All in all, they probably lasted through 3 months of fairly frequent use before beginning to fail, and another 1-2 months before giving up entirely.
These headphones are currently available for £5.49 on Amazon, and come in Black, White, Pink, Blue, Red and Orange. For that price, I think the quality and lifespan of the headphones was fairly reasonable, and would probably buy another set when my current headphones need replacing.
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Warning, this is a long review.
Warhammer 40,000 (or Warhammer 40k as it is know to may of the people who play the game) is one of Games Workshop's three main product lines (the others being Warhammer Fantasy Battle and the Lord of the Rings). Warhammer 40k has existed for 23 years and is currently in its 5th rules edition (published in 2008)
It is sent in the 41st millennium within our own galaxy. The game history spans approximately 10,000 years since the founding of the Imperium of Man, and the Horus Heresy, in the 31st millennium. The Imperium of Man is spread across the vast majority of the Milky Way, and is ruled from Terra (the name given to Earth in Warhammer 40k) by a massive bureaucratic government on behalf of the Immortal Emperor of Mankind (also known as the God-Emperor or the Master of Mankind). The Imperium exists in a state of perpetual war both with internal cults and with a variety of alien races.
The races you can control are as follows: The Imperial Guard (the army of the Imperium), Space Marines (superhuman shock troops created by the Emperor at the foundation of the Imperium), The Inquisition and its allies (The Inquisition is the secret police of the Imperium, divided into three Ordos (Hereticus, Malleus and Xenos) which are tasked (respectively) with hunting down witches and traitors, Daemons and the forces of Chaos, and Aliens), the Eldar (a dying race of aliens dwelling on massive spacecraft known as Craftworlds - essentially space elves), Dark Eldar (evil, often piratical, space elves), Tyranids (think Alien), Orks (a highly warlike race of greenskinned aliens) , Necrons (think Terminator with a slightly Egyptian theme), the Tau (a recently emerged caste based alien empire, following the principle of the Greater Good) and the forces of Chaos (Daemons and Chaos Space Marines).
Outside of reality exists the Warp (or the Immaterium) which is a dimension of psychic energy considered to be a dark reflection of the material universe formed by the actions and emotions of sentient beings. It is is the home of the Chaos Gods and their daemonic minions, and is also the means for faster-than-light travel and communication in the 40k universe. It is also the source of the psychic powers and sorcery used by various units within the 40k game. Daemons are creatures made purely of Warp energy, but with the right preparations, they can be summoned into the mortal universe by the followers of chaos to provide powerful additions to their forces
The Emperor created 20 superhuman warriors from his own DNA. These warriors were known as the Primarchs and were to lead the 20 Space Marine Legions. Each legion was created from the genetic material of their Primarch. Before the Primarchs were fully grown, the Chaos Gods stole them and spread them across the galaxy. Each Primarch therefore grew up on a different world, and so their beliefs, perceptions and tactics were altered by the world they grew up on, and this then affected the chapter they eventually came to control.
According to the history of the game, the Emperor is the most powerful psychic (or psyker in 40k terminology) in recorded human history, and led a great crusade to reunite all planets under human control that had been lost during the so-called Age of Strife when Warp Storms prevented travel and communication between systems, and also to rediscover the Primarchs that had been stolen from him.
The Four Chaos Gods are the greatest opponents of mankind, existing to corrupt and destroy humanity. They are known as Khorne (the Blood God, god of war and fury), Slaanesh (the Dark Prince of Pleasure, god of desire and hedonism), Tzeentch (the Changer of Ways, god of magic and change) and Nurgle (the Great Unclean One, god of decay and disease).
During the 31st millennium, they were able to tempt nearly half of the Space Marine Legions into betraying the Imperium, causing a civil war which became known as the Horus Heresy (after Horus, the leader of the Chaos Space Marines, who was previously the most favoured son of the Emperor). In a final confrontation, on the bridge of Horus' ship in orbit above Terra itself (for the war eventually resulted in a siege upon the Palace of Terra), the Emperor killed Horus, but not before being mortally wounded. In order to remain alive, the Emperor was placed in a device known as the Golden Throne, which was able to keep his body sufficiently alive for the Emperor's mind, and great psychic power, to survive. It is only through the Emperor, and the psychic beacon known as the Astronomicon (which he projects through the Throne) that humankind can transmit messages, and safely navigate, through the Warp.
After the Heresy, it was decided that the Legions were too powerful, and so were divided down into Chapters of 1000 Space Marines. Each chapter had its own tactics, home worlds and uniform colours, although they were frequently similar in certain respects to the Legion they were founded from. In the years since the Heresy, many more chapters were founded, using the gene-seed of one of the founding legions, and now there are at least 244 Loyal Chapters that have been named, leaving approximately 756, give or take, unnamed. This allows players to design their own chapter if one of the existing chapters does not appeal to them, and also allows Games Workshop to introduce new chapters (as they did with the Blood Ravens who were the iconic chapter in the Dawn of War computer game series).
This has remained the situation for the 10,000 years of game history, as the government of the Imperium stagnated centuries ago, bogged down in the immense task of governing billions of people across millions of worlds. Even the scientists of the Imperium (known as the Tech-Priests of the Machine God), do not invent technology any more, believing that knowledge and technology from the Age of Technology are sacred, and thus seek to discover more of the secrets of ancient technology (which was all lost during the Age of Strife which preceded the foundation of the Imperium), and are forbidden from inventing new technology as it is seen as blasphemy.
Each army has a range of units and independent heroes sculpted in plastic or metal by Games Workshop's expert team of miniature designers, as well as books detailing the history and rules of the army. These books are known as Codexes, and also include a hobby section, with suggestions for painting schemes and conversion ideas. Warhammer 40k miniatures are designed at a 28mm scale, and come unassembled and unpainted, allowing players to customise them as they wish. Many people often choose to convert certain models (using components from different sets within their own army, or even from other army ranges) in order to give their army a unique flavour. I particularly enjoy this aspect of the hobby and have a great many conversions (some simple, others more complex) within my collection.
In recent years Games Workshop has begun using advanced computer aided design programs and top of the range machinery resulting in much more detailed miniatures and more components on the individual plastic sprue than they were previously capable of making using their old machinery.
I have been collecting Warhammer 40,000 for the past 13 or so years, and have a number of different armies, although my first and still favourite army is the Dark Angels Chapter of the Space Marines due to the unique style of the army, and their detailed history. The Dark Angels were one of the original legions, and for the most part remained loyal, although one third turned to chaos during the Horus Heresy, and became known as the Fallen Angels. The Dark Angels believe that they must locate every one of these fallen, and convince to repent, before they can truly be accepted by the Emperor again, and so their armies are designed towards rapid and decisive strikes, involving elite units of bikers (known as the Ravenwing) and heavily armoured units of Space Marines wearing Tactical Dreadnought(or Terminator) armour (known as the Deathwing). These specialist units have their own distinct colour schemes, with the Ravenwing wearing black armour, and the Deathwing wearing bone-white armour, while the rest of the chapter wears dark green. The chapter has a somewhat monastic feel, with their veteran troops and their senior commanders wearing bone-white robes over their armour. This makes them very interesting to paint, and results in a striking appearance of the army on a tabletop.
Warhammer 40k games are played between at least two people, but can involve groups of players. The games go from skirmishes between two armies consisting of two man units and a hero, (taking perhaps an hour or two to play) to massive conflicts consisting of hundreds or thousands of models and large groups of players (which might take all weekend).
Through the hobby I have met many good friends, and very much enjoy painting and assembling the models, and also playing massive battles with people both in the local Games Workshop stores and in my university gaming club. I think that the Games Workshop hobby is a way to meet new people, and encourage children and young people to take part in a creative and social activity.
However, the prices of Games Workshop models has steadily increased over the years, and granted some of this is due to the increase in price of the materials and the recent purchase of more advanced manufacturing machinery, but desire for increased profits also is involved somewhat.
Despite this, I still enjoy the hobby, and probably will for many more years, and would encourage anyone reading this to wander down to your local GW store and ask for a free taster game.
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Warhammer World (located in Lenton, Nottingham) is Games Workshop's international Headquarters. The site includes the expected company areas (such as HR) and the manufacturing and dispatch areas, but also includes a number of sections that are open to the general public.
These include a fully licensed dwarven themed bar (known as Bugman's Bar), a miniatures hall containing examples of the various Games Workshop product ranges (including some historical models that they now no longer produce), all painted to a very high standard by the 'Eavy Metal team, which is Games Workshop's team of professional model painters who among other things prepare models for inclusion in Games Workshop's various print publications (including their monthly hobby magazine White Dwarf).
Also at Warhammer World is a large gaming hall full of themed battlefields for customers to use to play games of Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000 and the other Games Workshop games. The gaming hall frequently plays host to a variety of Games Workshop tournaments and events including visits from stores around the country (my own first introduction to Warhammer World was on a trip from the Eastbourne store when around 6-8 years ago, and it was very enjoyable),
Finally, there is also a Games Workshop store, located just off the main gaming hall. In addition to the standard products available in any Games Workshop store, the Warhammer store offers a select range of Forge World products (Forge World is an offshoot company of Games Workshop - also based at Warhammer World - that produces highly detailed resin miniatures to extend the various ranges that Games Workshop produce), and same day Mail Order delivery (provided that you order early enough in the day - currently 1pm for a 3pm delivery I believe).
Bugman's serves a wide range of drinks including their own ale, and a number of fruit smoothies, as well as good quality food. Also available at Bugman's are a variety of board games (some of which are based in the Games Workshop universe), which are free to play, and a variety of Bugman's merchandise including hoodies and pendants.
The staff, both in the store and in the bar are very friendly, and I would recommend a visit if you are into the hobby, or are in Nottingham and thinking about starting the hobby.
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I bought one of these Maxtor BlackArmor external hard drives last summer as I was working away from home and wanted a more portable external drive that did not require mains power to function. This drive is the perfect size to carry round tucked into a laptop bag or small rucksack pocket, being only 3"x5"x0.5" in size and weighing approximately 200g. The drive comes with a short (approx 18") USB cable (the drive uses a USB 2.0 interface). I mainly use this drive on my Windows Vista Laptop, but have had no problems using it on other windows machines. Advertised at 320GB, after formatting the available space is closer to 298GB.
The first time you use the hard drive, it will load a read-only partition with the setup software. the software will initialise the hard drive and you will then be asked to set the decryption password (which must be between 6 and 32 characters), which you be asked for in future when you plug the drive into your computer. In addition to this password, you can set the reminder hint. I cannot stress enough how important it is to remember the password (or set a hint that makes sense to you without being obvious), as there is no way to reset the password should you forget it, and without the password, your data is inaccessible. The entire initialisation process takes no more than a minute to complete, and then the drive can be used on any machine with no software installation required.
When the drive is plugged in to a computer (after it has been initialised), it first acts a virtual CD drive, running the BlackArmor Manager program. This program gives you the option of testing that the drive is functioning correctly (which does not require a password and does not affect the data on the drive), changing the password, changing or removing the password hint or unlocking the drive. Selecting the option to unlock the drive will prompt for the decryption password, and if correctly entered will stop the virtual CD drive and allow access to the main hard drive.
I bought this drive from Ebuyer.com for around £60, but since Seagate and Maxtor merged, it has become difficult to track down this specific model, however Seagate have released a new version BlackArmor range, including a 500GB version of this drive.
I have had no problems with this drive and carry it around with me most of the time, particularly when I'm at university or on the train. If you want a portable, fully encrypted and reliable hard drive, you can't go wrong with a BlackArmor drive.
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