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Underneath the TV in my living room I have a computer that is used purely to store movies to watch on my TV, and until recently, this was the motherboard that powered it all. I'll go through all of the different things that you can do with it, the reasons why I went for this model in the first place and then why you might want to choose something else.
So this motherboard supports AMD chips (the other big player being Intel) and as such, if you are going for this board you'll need to get an AMD CPU (more specifically one with an AM3 connector. I went for a medium powered Athlon, it's not the most powerful chip - but is does the job for playing media.
So this board takes DDR3 RAM, and I only had a small 2GB installed. It can go up to 8GB though so if you want to use it for more powerful stuff then its perfectly fine.
Rather straight forward this one - it comes with 2 PCI ports, I use one of these for a TV card and the other one for a sound card - it means that I can record TV through it the sound that it produces is of a higher quality. It also has one PCIexpress and one PCIexpress2 ports but I dont use either of these for anything.
This is where the motherboard comes into its own...it has a total of 6 SATA ports, which is a HUGE number! With this number the motherboard would easily be able to handle at least 10TB of drive space without breaking a sweat (just remmeber to get a power supply that thinks the same!)
In terms of external ports, this motherboard is all pretty much of a muchness with anything else that you would find, it has 4 USB ports, PS/2 ports for mice and keyboard and VGA and DVI ports for monitors (I used the VGA and managed to get 1920x1080 resolution from it)
--So why this motherboard?--
The main reason that I got this board was because, at the time, it was a very very low price - and it was also when AMD processors were SLIGHTLY cheaper than their Intel equivalents...making it a better option. On top of this, the 6 SATA ports really stood out as a plus - yes, I was only using 4 when it was 'retired' but it was still good to have the option of another 2 hard drives. Also, the form factor for this board (micro ATX) is very well supported, and even older computer cases will have predrilled holes that you can use for it (mines did!)
--Why Might you not want to get it?--
Maybe it's me - but AMD still is seen as 'second best' in the computer world - they generally dont have as good quality builds as Intel, so that might put you off - but that is more about the processor than the motherboard. Issues that you might have with the motherboard are that it does not have an HDMI output, something that is very useful nowadays as it is just 1 cable for both sound and audio. Also, the onboard graphics only has a heatsink on top of it and no fan...this could be a bit problematic as it will get very very hot and may cause damage to the board later on.
So if you're after a cheap motherboard for a new build, then this is a pretty good choice. I was pleased with it and it lasted me a long time. I eventually got rid of it for a different one that had a HDMI port, but that was purely for ease of use with my new TV. It has more than the average amount of ports for devices on the inside (which is nice) so is pretty upgradable for its size. The only problems that you may have with it in the future is trying to keep the whole thing cool.
This year my parents decided to go on holiday for a month and leave me looking after their rather fussy cat. I'd been told that its pretty hard to find him anything that he will eat and when I saw that this was on offer in Tesco, I thought that I would give it a go. Amazingly, my mums cat loved it and ate it up straight away, something that hasn't happend in a long time - he's 18 years old, on 2 different types of medication and uselessly fussy!
So once my parents got back I thought that I would give this a go for my own cat - if its good enough for the fussiest cat in the world, then a 1 year old kitten should love it. So after a quick trick to Tesco, a few pots bought to see if Mylo would like it and lets see what happens!
I have never seen my cat more excited before in my life! As soon as I put the food down his face was right in there - its the most piece and quiet that I've ever had with him!
--Description and Taste--
So this cat food comes in quite small tins, but its a decent size for a single portion - the lid has a ringpull on it so you dont need to use a can opener to get into it - quite useful for when cats see it and go mental! Its really easy to get the food out of the tin as well - I just use a fork and it can all come out in a few seconds (and its gone as quickly!). So the big question is how it tastes...now I'm no expert in cat food so I'll hand over to Mylo for this one..."meow meow meow, meow, meow meow". Unfortunately I dont speak fluent cat so take that as best you can!
Now this isn't a cheap cat food - infact, it is probably one of the most expensive that you can buy, but its really worth it - my cat seems to love it! When I last bought it, it was 6 tins for £2. At that price, i costs about £10 a week to feed your cat purely this, but if you just want to give them one tin of this a day the price goes down a lot.
I'm really glad that I got my cat on this food, he seems to really love it and never stops pestering me for it now. Its a good sized tin for a single portion and as you can see from above - it tastes nice as well! Yes it's not the cheapest cat food out there, but the convenience of having a single portion in one pot combined with how much cats love it makes it a great product!
When Im in work there are always 4 things you will be guaranteed to find on my desk, a computer, a phone, a wallet and a bottle of lucozade. I dont know what it is...but I love the stuff!
After doing a bit of research on the stuff (cough cough...wikipedia) I found out that it is made by GSK, one of the big pharmaceutical companies, and was originally launched as a cold/flu remedy - who would have thought it! After a while it was rebranded as the lucozade that we all know and love today.
--Its all about the Bottle--
So I always go for the 1 litre bottle - it tends to last a lot longer than the 330ml bottle (some might even say it lasts 3 times as long) and this tends to keep me fuelled up all day. I don't really tend to drink a lot of coffee at work, so the added energy boost from all of the sugar really helps. The bottle has a nice, slightly hourglass shape, creating a nice hold point in the middle for your hand and is a nice bright red colour.
--Health Facts and Misleading Colouring--
The one thing that I always laugh at however, is the information on the back of the bottle - the bit at the top which lucozade want you to read is yellow and stands out from far away, but all of the information telling you how bad it is, is written in black...hiding all of the nasty information. I don't really want to spout out all of the ingredients, or how much of your GDA is taken up by each thing, but there is one downside to all of the sugar in one drink - if you have a whole bottle, thats your sugar GDA for the day! It says on the bottle that 'each 250ml serving contains...' but remember - its a litre bottle, so suddenly that 24% of sugar shoots up!
In terms of taste, its a very sharp flavour - kind of a lemon/lime mix but a lot more sour than sprite or 7 up. A lot of people think that the taste is a bit too much, but I really really like it. Its something that a lot of people will have already tried and if you havent - its only £1.59 for a big bottle so theres no reason not to!
I got this TV to replace my old Goodmans 32" TV that I have had for about 3 years, but it now doesnt have enough inputs for me to connect up all of my other 'gadgets' so I had to get rid of it. After some searching online, I found this one reduced on amazon from £850 down to £400 - a brilliant buy! I'll go through some of the features of the TV and then speak about some of the cooler things that it can do.
--Tech Specs and Design
The TV has a very clean design, with a nice sturdy base that screws to the main TV unit. The TV is surrounded by a nice sized black border and this is topped off with a thin glass border round this - it even comes with a small cloth for you to clean this with!
In terms of ports to connect things to, the TV comes with a total of 4 HDMI ports which is an excellent number, this is suitable for XBox, PS3, Sky Box and Media Server (you can tell why I needed to upgrade TV!). It also comes with a composite connector (I use this for a Wii), 2 USB Ports (so you can stream media from Pen Drives) and the icing on the cake...a ethernet network port.
--A Networked TV--
In my flat I have a media PC, a gaming PC, a macbook, a standard laptop and an iPhone - my TV told me this. The network port on the back of the TV lets it connect to your home network and share any media that you have on laptops. Even better than that, it can be controlled through your iPhone - so if you want to put the sound up from another room in the house then this is done very easily.
--High Def Content--
So this TV is a 40" LCD, 1080p TV with freeview HD so you can watch BBCHD, ITVHD and C4HD...enough acronyms to make anyone dizzy! Simply put - this is the highest resolution that you can currently get on a TV, and the built in freeview tuner lets you pick up some high definition channels so you can watch better (image) quality programs. This is a really nice feature and isn't something that you would normally come across in standard high-def TVs, especially not ones of this price. On top of all of the visual high def content, the audio is also high def. There is a button on the remote that activates a sort of virtual surround sound which is unbelievable! Now I'm not really a big believer in virtual surround - I'd rather go for the proper 5.1 setup - but this works so so well, I couldn't believe how well it manages to do...whatever it does!
I am more than impressed with this TV, and if I'd known how good it was I would have bought it a lot sooner! It looks amazing and the image quality is excellent. I would recommend it to anyone that is after a new TV and doesn't want to spend a fortune. You're spending a little bit more than non-named brands, but a lot less than you should for something of this quality!
Brewdog sometimes get in trouble for the advertising that goes along with their beer..and this collaborative brew between themselves and Three Floyds is no different. On their website the beer is described as "I am a collaborative brew. I am a messed up, idiosyncratic, schizophrenic son of a b*tch. I would blame my parents." - summing up the hardcore nature of this one pretty much perfectly.
So I was one of the very lucky people that got to taste this one before it had even been released, at a beer tasting where the bottles didn't even have labels on them yet (this cunningly hid the 11.5% ABV...) and it is one of the most amazing beers that I have ever tasted! It is filled with 7 different malts including some peated malts, giving it an amazing smoky flavour similar to that of whiskys from Islay (Laphroaig, Talisker etc.). Also added is shortbread and toffee to give it a nice sweet 'scottish' flavour. Apparently, some of it is just dry hopped and some is aged in whisky casks to give it an even stronger flavour.
Like most brewdog beers, b*tch please is on the strong side, but again - you wouldn't be able to tell this. It is a very rich flavoured beer, and the use of peated malts really shines through. You would probably want to share a single bottle between two people, it isn't the type of thing that you can drink a bottle to yourself, plus firing this into a stemmed glass will just add to the smoky aroma that you will get from it.
This is actually one of the first beers that I have tasted that really changes when your drinking it - when you first take a sip you can really taste all of the toffee that has been added and its a very nice sweet finish, this is quickly followed by all of the peaty smoky action created by the malts and the whisky casks giving it a really nice and interesting taste.
The one bad thing about this beer is that chances are it will never be made again, it's still on sale just now - but because it was a collaboration between two different breweries, once its gone...its gone. Defiantly worth a taste though - the £3.99 price tag might put some people off, but remember that it is meant for two, so you can probably justify this.
I love products that have been made and have a story behind them - and this is one of the best...
Brewdog, the company that made this, brought out a beer called 'Tactical Nuclear Penguin' which was a very healthy 32% ABV. This was then topped by a German beer called 'Schorschbock 40' which was an even healthier 40% ABV. Not wanting to be beaten, Brewdog perfected their freeze filter method and managed to create the worlds 'strongest' beer at 42% ABV (since then, Brewdog did a limited edition 55% ABV beer called 'The End of History')
The first thing about this beer that stands out is the sheer amount of alcohol present - this one bottle has the same amount as over 8 bottles of a standard beer. This might put some people off but this isn't the type of drink that you would sit down and have a whole bottle, it should be treated like a liquore and only taken in small amounts. Luckly, the bottle comes with a reusable stopper so it is easy enough to store it for a later date.
Now this is an IPA (indian pale ale) beer so its very light in colour. First tasting of it really hides how much alcohol is in it, you can taste that its there, but nowhere near the 42% mark. Its a sweet beer to taste, quite fruity as well at some points. Its a very smooth beer to drink (maybe a little bit too easy) and is a lot nicer than some other strong percentage beers that exist.
Overall, I would say that this isn't the type of beer that you would buy just to have lying about the house, it is something that you might get for a special occasion either for yourself or a beer lover that wants to try something new. It's a really great beer and the first time I tried it was at a beer tasting session and I fell in love with it straight away.
For those of you that arn't familiar with Brewdog, they are a small craft/micro brewery just outside Aberdeen that have a number of high quality beers available. I'll be trying to review as many of them as I can, giving some tasting notes and more information about the beers themselves.
Name: Hardcore IPA
This beer was one of the first ones that I ever tried from Brewdog, and it started a slight obsession with them (and also beer craft in general!). It is described on the bottle as being "hopped to hell" and this couldn't be more wrong! It contains:
-Centennial: An american hop used in a large amount of their beers
-Columbus: Again, american but can produce a bitter taste
-Simcone: Yes...another american one - but normally added later on in the brewing process
These three hops are added both as normal hops and also dry hopped to give an even bigger bitterness to the flavour.
This is a very very strong beer (9.2%) so it isn't one that you would have more than one bottle at a time, and even then its better sharing a bottle with someone else. I always try to serve this in stemmed beer glasses - helps enhance the flavour and also makes it look a lot nicer.
Now I don't know the best way to describe a beer's taste, I wont sit here and say it tastes of pine cones and autumn mornings...but I do know it does taste really really good - its insanely bitter but with a nice citrus finish.
This beer is generally only available through Brewdog themselves, being available in all of their pubs and also their online store in 330ml bottles. Apparently you can get it on tap in some places but I've never seen this.
The big surprise is that it has recently become available in tesco for the stupidly low price of £1.99 a bottle, but under a different name. In tesco it is called "America Finest Double IPA - By Brewdog". Now I haven't seen anything official saying that this is the same beer - but its got the same hops, made by the same brewery and has the same ABV - just a lower price!
I bought this camera about six months ago, second hand from e-bay with an 18-55mm lens for £220, a pretty good deal - and the camera has been amazing! It has been used at least once a week for various activities ranging from University Graduations to Apartment Demolitions (don't worry - I didn't demolish the apartments with my camera!!) I'll try and talk about as much of the different modes on the camera as I can, the physical design, and how well the software works.
Firstly, this is a 10MP camera - but if you're buying a DSLR and want to comare it to a standard digital with the same resolution - it'll blow it out of the water every time. The camera is built really well, lenses attach to it easily with a simple twist and click lock, the flash button positioning is amazing - your index finger immediately sits on it when you're holding onto the lens.
In terms of the positioning of all buttons to do with organising settings, again - very well positioned. The mode of the camera is set by a twisty knob on the top right and any other options that want to be changed are done by single click buttons underneath.
The viewscreen on the back is mainly used to show the settings that you have configured, it can show the current shutter speed, aperture, ISO number, camera mode, white balance, focusing zone, picture type, memory space...the list goes on and on...but again it is done in a really nice and simple way so that you can see exactly what is going on.
For viewing pictures, I have mine set up so that you get a small thumbnail of the picture along with a histogram of how the image turns out - this is really helpful as with the camera in manual, you can adjust all the settings pretty quickly by simply looking at this and fixing little bits. The other option for viewing pictures is as a whole image taking up the screen - really good if you want to do a closer inspection of how the image looks.
The camera has 12 different modes, I'll go through each of them and the different options that are available for each of them.
--Auto Depth of Field
This mode is really easy to use, all that you have to play with is the ISO setting, after that the camera does the rest - focuses on what it thinks is the best thing and then takes everything else out of focus, really good for both macro shots and nice portraits.
Does what it says on the tin this one - you control everything, shutter speed, ISO, aperture - not for the feint hearted but can produce some really nice pictures if you know what your doing
This mode is mainly for if you want to set your aperture - the camera then takes care of the shutter speed. This one is really good for everyday use (I prefer using this one over auto) and it can come up with some cracking shots - especially outside.
So this one is basically the oposite of aperture priority, it gives you control over the shutter speed but not the aperture.
This mode automatically sets the aperture and shutter speed but leaves everything else open for you to play about with - this is the most like auto, but giving you the opportunity to play with some other things on the camera.
Again, does what it says on the tin...point and shoot - the camera does the rest
--Portrait, Landscape, Close Up (macro), Sport, Night and No-Flash
These settings are all ones that you would find on standard digital cameras and have pretty standard settings. Portrait is good for taking pictures of people and not focusing on the background, landscape shoves the aperture up letting you focus on as much as possible, macro is really good for close ups, sport will raise the shutter speed to really quick, night will try and enhance the flash so you get more detail and no flash...doesn't really need an explanation.
I have to say that when I first spent £220 on a camera, I thought that I would play with it for a week and then send it back having spent way too much on it - but after using it for this long, I feel I should have spent more! Its so easy to use, and the pictures that you get from it are just amazing! It's defiantly started another hobby for me and is going to be a camera that I will continue using until either it brakes or I can afford the model up!
When I first got broadband in my flat, I bought a BT Voyager 2100 router to deal with all of my network (wireless and wired) and up until about 9 months ago this did the trick quite well. However, with the large amount of media streaming that I now do, I had to find a cheap solution that could 'boost' my network - meet the 'Zyxel Dimension GS-105B'
--What this is...--
This is a WIRED gigabit switch, it connects to your existing network through an ethernet port and extends it by supplying 4 extra ports at gigabit speed.
--What this isn't--
This does not have wireless, so you wont speed up any wireless connections that you have in your house. Also, it is not a 'managed' switch, so you cant do any really geeky things with it, its just a simple plug and play thing. Finally - it is not a modem - it doesn't connect to your phone line or cable to give you internet at all.
So this is a gigabit switch - meaning that you can plug it into your existing network system and it will extend it by giving you more gigabit ethernet ports to play with (in this case the number is 4). It is a very small box, and is very straight forward to set up, connect up the power, fire a CAT5 cable between it and your existing network and then any more into anything else that you need hooked up. There are 5 lights on the front of the box that light up dependant on what are connected that make it easy to tell what is hooked up.
So firstly, I have the gigabit switch connected up to my existing broadband router through one of the ethernet ports. The switch is then connected to a media server (which hosts all of my tv shows/movies), a gaming PC (in a different room but used sometimes for watching movies), an XBox (used to watch a lot of movies) and finally a network printer (this could probably be done on the megabit part of the network, but just incase of big files I used the gigabit.
This may seem a bit complicated for a setup, but if you are wanting to stream any sort of high bandwidth media content throughout your house then this type of setup is really what you need. For me, the change from megabit ethernet to gigabit ethernet was huge and really made a difference to what I could do with all my computers.
So I got this laptop four years ago and it is now slowly going into retirement as it has been replaced with a new (and more shiny) macbook pro, but it still gets used fairly often as a mid-spec gaming rig because of the stupid amount of power that it punches out! I'll go through some of the features that it has and then look at some of the good and bad things that have happened to it over the years of (ab)use that its had.
2Ghz Core 2 Duo T7300
-At the time of its launch this was a fairly good processor to have, the 2x2 combo was always one that I had wanted to get in a laptop and it works really well in this situation
512MB NVidea 8600M Graphics Card
This is what really makes it shine as a laptop - the graphics card has a really powerful punch behind it, making the laptop capable of playing pretty much most games that I can throw at it (L4D1&2, TF2 etc.)
Again, at the time this was pretty standard amount of RAM to get, nowadays you would expect around 4GB, but its easily upgradable
250GB Hard Drive
Same as above - pretty standard at the time but now you would want to get something about 500GB-1TB minimum
14.8V 4800mAh Battery
When I first got the laptop the battery could top out at 6 hours (if you knew what you were doing) but nowadays it just sits attached to the power cable as the battery only lasts about 1 hour
All of the different components work really well together, and according to the 'Windows 7 Computer Performance' it gets a base score of 4.5/7.9 with all of its base components and a max score of 5.2 - a pretty decent score for a laptop that is 4 years old.
This laptop is lovely to look at, the black front looks like the acer logo is just hovering in it, making it gorgeous to look at. The lid is open by what I can only describe as a 'car handle' that you pull on to open up the case. Built into this handle on the other side is a webcam, another nice addition to the package, making things like skype really easy.
The keyboard has a really nice feel to it, on mine all of the buttons still work and none of the lights have stopped working that tell me what everything is doing. On the left hand side of the keyboard is a touch sensitive control pad for your music, all with a lovely blue light illuminating them, so its really easy to play, pause tracks. On the other side of the keyboard are shortcut buttons for the wireless, internet browser, mail program and bluetooth - all of which are accompanied by onscreen messages when they are pressed.
Above they keyboard is one of my favourite parts - the soundbar! So instead of getting a left and right speaker - there is just one bar with a fair amount of directional speakers underneath it, this gives a nice impression of surround sound (there is also a subwoofer on the bottom for another added oomph!)
Acer really went all out when they put ports on the side of this thing - theres a fair amount kicking about...
USB2 Ports - 4
This is a great number of USB ports, your never going to run out - although one of them is right beside the DVD drive so if you put something in it the drive wont open
VGA Port & HDMI Port
This is what you would use to connect up to another monitor or a TV...both are good in their own way, but HDMI is now the new media standard
You probably wont use this one but its for data transfer between older hard-drives, cameras etc.
Combined media card Slot
Great for taking your card out of a camera and just firing it in.
Its a gigabit port, which means if you need to hardware into a network it should work pretty well.
--Inside the Case--
So this is where it gets really techie (sorry!). As you would expect, a laptop that has this much power, inside the case is a bit cramped, the hard drive is quite tightly put in the corner, but there is a plastic strap to pull it out. The RAM is VERY close to the wireless card - so be careful if you ever want to remove this. Processor is covered by its heatsink leading to a fan in the back corner - this is the most problematic part, as the fan will get clogged and this can cause big issues - I had a temp sensor on the processor and it gets up to 94C regularly now as the fan just cant cope any more.
I havent tried to focus on the OS that you get with this laptop, as it is the one thing that you are most likely to change, I've had this one on Win XP, Vista, 7, ubuntu and a fair few other linux distros over the time and it manages to cope will with all of them. The laptop is really well built together and as a whole a solid piece of kit. It has lasted me a good 4 years of service with no real problems at all and there is virtually nothing wrong with it. The only bad points that do exist are the USB port that stops you using the DVD drive and the amount of heat that the thing can produce.
It's really hard to try and describe this whisky to anyone that isn't familiar with any of the other Laphroaigs, and one of the best names that me and a few friends came up with one night was 'Laphtoaig GTi'. Let me explain...
If you are familiar with any of the Islay Whiskies then you will know that they are an acquired taste- really peaty, really smoky and not for the faint hearted. Now the quarter cask takes this idea of big bold flavours and then takes it up a few steps, creating something that is even more peaty and has an even bigger smokey flavour.
Now this is all managed by reducing the size of the cask that the whisky is left in, reducing the size of the cask means that the ratio of whisky to barrel is greater and more of the oaky flavours can be absorbed to enhance the flavourings. Apparently 1/4 size casks are also greater at 'breathing' in air from its surroundings, so no doubt the boys up at the distillery knew this and played to their advantage by finding some of the best spots to let this sit.
Packaging wise, this is very similar to any other Laphroaig whisky, it comes in a very nicely presented round box and the bottle fits very snuggly inside of it. It also comes with a little leaflet telling you all about the history of the brand - don't throw this out, inside of it is actually a little code that if you register online you get to 'own' a small plot of land in their grounds and if you ever get to go up there you can claim your 'rent' as a wee dram of whisky (a really nice touch!).
In terms of price, this is a little more expensive than the standard 10 year bottle (£30) but a LOT cheaper than the geourgous 18 year old bottle (£70). It comes in at a very modest £32, and for what you are getting, this is an absolute steal!
I would recommend this to anyone that is a fan of BIG flavour whiskies that wants to try something a bit new or even someone that wants to give Islay whiskies a try for the first time - you wont be dissapointed
I can't even remember how long ago I bought this game, but it has recently become available on the Apple 'App Store' - so while it is downloading. I thought I would reminisce on how much fun it is to play!
--OBJECT OF GAME--
The idea behind this game is that you are one of 4 airlines operating out of an airport of your choice from around the world, and in campaign mode - the aim is to create an airline that can launch passengers to the moon over the space of all of the missions. Alternatively you can play an 'endless' game and this continues until you get bored (for me this happens once I buy over all the other airlines and own a large fleet of aircraft)
You can make money for your airline by three different methods...
-Charter Flights, this is the easiest method and relies on your character going to a board and committing to fly X amount of people from country Y to country Z
-Freight, same as above but with freight instead of passengers
-Buy Routes, eventually you will be able to buy routes between different countries and can fly your own flights, hoping they will be popular to turn a profit.
There are many aspects to the game that make it quite complicated to understand, I wont go into all of these but they include:
-Aircraft upgrades to make passengers more comfortable
-Aircraft upgrades to make aircraft safer
-Sabotage on other airlines to make them less popular
-Sabotage on other players to make their computer break (now in my version of this, it resulted in the game crashing however hopefully this is just a bug in the game)
-Buy oil to save on petrol at later points
-Buy shares in other aircraft companies to try and buy them out
-Buy new aircraft from either a seller or a museum to increase your fleet
Now all of these are really good features, but the one that I spent most time playing with is the 'Create Your Own Aircraft' feature - with this you could decide on the body, wings, engine, cockpit and tail of an aircraft to create your own models. This is a really nice feature of the game and one that really makes it stand apart from other Airline Sims that are out there
--Is it worth buying?--
Well, yes and no - it is currently available on Amazon for under £5 and any game that is that price is really good value for money, and because it is a pretty old game - it will run on most modern computers (you will need to select compatibility mode though). It is also available on the mac AppStore, but here it costs £14 - but if you manage to get hold of the demo and really like it then of course its worth it.
The only reasons that you might not want to buy it are that firstly, a second game is apparently coming out in October so it might be worth waiting for that. Secondly, with the PC version - the validation to make sure you are not pirating the game is one of the 'what is the 3rd word in the 5th paragraph on page 34 of the instruction book' type of things, which can be a bit annoying if you lose the instruction book
I've spend a useless amount of time playing this game in the past, and now that it is out again in the AppStore, I've got a feeling that it will take up even more of my time now - defiantly worth getting if you like this type of sim game - you wont be disappointed
So this is one of the many Mini-ITX motherboards that I have in the house, having played about with a fair few making various small computers for different rooms. This one is a little bit different that most, as you don't need to by an a processor for it - that's included on the motherboard itself. I'll go through all of the different ports available on it and then speak about the type of system that it would be good for.
So again, the first thing with this board is that you don't need to get a processor, benifit to this is that it will save you some money, however it does mean that you also cannot replace it if you want to upgrade in the future. Memory wise, there are two slots and the board can handle a maximum of 4GB of RAM (processor is only 32 bit)- decent enough for most modern computers. There is also 1 PCI slot on the board if you want to extend it further by adding in something like a TV card (I'm saying this because it will really only be a LITE media center that this will be able to handle). In terms of attaching hard drives, there are 2 SATA ports which you should probably use to have one small fast one for your main hard drive (OS etc.) and another one for storing media on.
For such a small board, this one packs a massive punch in terms of external ports that are available for use. There are 2 PS/2 ports for your keyboard and mouse, a built in gigabit ethernet port, VGA and PARALLEL ports and the now standard stereo/line in/microphone ports for audio. On top of this there are also 4 USB2 ports on the back of the board with the possibility of adding in at least another two more in the front of whatever case you put this in.
The main problem with trying to decide whether you would get this board or not, is really looking at what you see yourself using it for. My initial thought when I got it was that it would be great as a media center PC, however, as there is only 1 VGA port on the back, this was ruled out (you would want something with an HDMI). Also, the built in processor limits what you would do as well - yes, it is a 1.8Ghz dual core - but its still a low power Atom, so it isn't going to be able to cope with anything too strenuous. It runs Windows 7 perfectly fine and manages to cope with Office 2010 as well (all done with 3GB RAM) so as a basic 'work' computer it is pretty good. The other use that I am planning on trying out over the next few months with it, is to place it in my kitchen with a small touch screen monitor and use it as a 'kitchen system' that can display recipes and let me watch TV shows while cooking it will handle all of this pretty well and a 802.11 wireless PCI card should make sure that it stays connected to a home network pretty well.
One last note - the processor doesn't have a fan on it - so if you do get it, make sure that your case has both an intake and an exhale fan and proper ventilation all around the box.
We used to use these projectors when I was in university and I have to say that I have had a very mixed experience with them. However, this is probably down to the newness of the technology and the lack of people willing to invest (a portable projector like this is a very small market). I'll give a quick explanation of the product itself, then go into a bit more detail about the different things that it could be used for and also where it would be out of its depth.
This projector doesn't have the same standard video inputs that you would expect to find on a standard projector (VGA, composite, scart...) for one simple reason - they would make the device FAR to big - so this one uses a USB connector - infact - it has two, a standard USB connector and what some people would call a 'printer' connecter (the little square one). It also has what looks like a headphone jack that can accept a video input. It also (amazingly) has a small built in speaker that can play sound, although dont expect much from this - it is a projector that costs less than £150!
In terms of operation, it is fairly easy, plug it into the wall and then plug a USB into your computer. I've tried this on a number of operating systems, details are below on my success
WINDOWS 7 - Works out the box, drivers are found by OS
VISTA - Works out the box, drivers found by OS
XP - You will need to tell it where the drivers are (either on the disk or online)
I was pleasantly surprised with the image quality, the projector manages to pump out a nice 1280x800 resolution, which is about the same as most standard laptops nowadays - note, this resolution is somewhere just above 720p but WAY below 1080p if you are wanting to watch movies. The only downside with the image quality (predictably) is that is really isn't bright at all - the lens can only manage 70 lumens (standard projectors are around the 2000+ mark).
So with this type of projector, its really good for keeping next to your laptop if you ever want to show holiday snaps to a lot of people at once, just make sure that you are able to turn the lighting in the room down a little bit. Its also good if want to set up projector to game on (nothing beats a bit of left for dead in the dark on a big screen!). Situations that it wouldn't be any use are generally where the lighting is quite high (outdoors, well lit rooms etc), you wont be able to see anything at all.
Overall, this is a really good projector if you can find a use for it. The low price point helps a lot in trying to sell it but it really is one of these things that you're only going to get if you have a lot of disposable income but dont want to invest in a standard projector.
I got this monitor a few months ago to act as a second monitor to my iMac, and was looking for something that would be around the same monitor shape so that I could get a dual 1920x1080 display setup. This monitor fitted the bill perfectly and fits in really nicely sitting beside the existing iMac.
Its a very nice looking monitor which is black/brown in colour, the base station is a very nice shape and supports the monitor really well. It is also very easy to attach, firstly clipping into place and then securely screwing together.
It is packaged very well, with clear plastic over the entire thing, and also a large amount of polystyrene to protect it during transport.
Connectivity-wise, it isn't the best - but if you know exactly what it is that you are going to use it for then this wont be a problem. This particular model only comes with a DVI port, however there are other models that come with either VGA or HDMI (and also a model that comes with all of them). In my case, a single DVI port was perfect as this allows the full 1920x1080 resolution to be used by both my iMac and MacBook Pro.
The menu system for the monitor is very indepth and lets you change the standard brightness/contrast etc. however, it also come with several 'eco' features that like to adjust brightness dependant on what you tell it you are doing. This may be handy for people that want to be energy conscious with their computer, however - as I was using this as a second monitor, I wanted it to look as close to the original display as possible so don't really play with these additional features.
The model that I received also came with a DVI cable which was a nice surprise as these normally have to be bought separately. A further nice addition was the inclusion of a small cleaning cloth, I didn't think that I would use this as much as I do, but after realising that I have a tendency to touch monitor screens when I am working - it is another very welcome addition.
Overall, I was very happy with this purchase, the 1920x1080 resolution looks really nice on this size of monitor - anything bigger and the pixels begin to look too large. The display is always very crisp and so far (touch wood) no dead pixels have appeared on it at all (amazing considering that there are over 2 million of them in total!). I would recommend this to anyone that is either looking for a replacement monitor for their existing setup or a second monitor to complement what they already have.