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puddingmancan

puddingmancan
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Member since: 07.10.2009

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      26.09.2010 18:39
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      Add some magic yourself and it's a treat

      I have to say I am a great lover of that great circular food that is pizza and have experimented with both branded and supermarket own. Whilst in Tesco a while back, feeling in a particularly lazy mood, I decided to save myself some hassle and buy a pizza. However, when looking at what was available to me, my heart sank.... all that was there was Tesco own cheese and tomato or thin crust Hawaiian. I have a distrust of fruit on a pizza, so I opted for the other.

      When I got it home, the first thing I discovered was that they seemed to have forgotten to put any cheese on my pizza. I was disappointed, but not defeated, as I had cheese in the fridge and could finish the job for them. Once I added the cheese, I thought I might as well add whatever else I could find in the fridge that could possibly go on a pizza.

      Once cooked the pizza was surprisingly good!

      The credit to its niceness, however, does land squarely with the added extras! I have since had another Tesco cheese and tomato pizza (still they forgot the cheese!!) and not added anything. The pizza on its own is eatable, but nothing to get too excited about. The base is nice, but a bit to doughy (even after cooking thoroughly it was still a tad too soft), and there is a plentiful amount of tomato paste throughout. However, it is still simple, a bit bland and leaves you longing for some cheese! In my opinion, the Tesco cheese and tomato pizza is little more than a pizza base. As a stand alone pizza, it's a bit boring.

      That said, if you don't mind adding a little culinary magic, it's well worth the effort and much cheaper than anything out there (£1 for the 480G, easily large enough for 2), even with the added cost of extra ingredients.

      One-third of a pizza (160g) contains:
      Energy - 1838kJ (436kcal)
      Protein - 19.0g
      Carbohydrate - 64.0g
      Sugars - 11.0g
      Fat - 11.5g
      Saturates - 5.6g
      Fibre - 3.0g

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        07.12.2009 18:39
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        A fascinating read

        Kamran Nazeer (pseudonym of Emran Mian) was born in Glasgow and spent his childhood in the US and Scotland. He studied Law at Glasgow University, before completing a PhD at Cambridge and is now a policy advisor in the
        Whitehall...he is also autistic.

        Between the ages of four and seven Nazeer attended a private school in New York dedicated to educating children with autism. Now as an adult, Nazeer wants to find out what has become of some of his classmates; how they have coped with their autism, what they have overcome and what they still feel is missing.

        The people that we meet throughout the book are fascinating and Nazeer makes you feel that you are there with him when he's talking to them. By the end of the book, you feel a real emotional attachment to them and Nazeer himself.

        In the book, Nazeer meets up with four of his old classmates; a musically gifted pianist, who has succumb to depression; a computer engineer, who struggles to communicate without the use of his ventriloquist dummy; a speech writer, who can't make eye contact; and a bicycle courier, who has difficulty with a boyfriend who treats him as a misunderstood genius.

        When Nazeer speaks of his friends/classmates he gives away much about himself and an insight into how he thinks and acts. You see the constant disparity of, on one hand, a seemingly confident, well educated man who is more than at home with a well planned logical discussion and on the other hand, of someone deeply uncomfortable with open ended conversations and meeting strangers, who avoids answering the phone and never goes out without a crocodile clip.

        The book talks openly and in depth about the inner effort required by Nazeer and the school friends that he meets to lead outwardly normal lives, detailing methods they use to cope with or avoid potentially difficult times and what happens if it doesn't work.

        This is truly inspired reading. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who wants to open their mind and have the chance to see the world through the eyes of someone with autism.

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          17.11.2009 20:06
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          The fifth Discworld novel

          In the Discworld, the eighth son of an eighth son becomes a Wizard. He then goes off into a life of chastity and doing Wizardy things and that is where the story should end....

          This however is where this story starts, as the eighth son of an eighth son has eight sons....the eighth of which is a Wizard squared....a sorcerer.

          Sourcery sees the return of the much loved / pitied Rincewind, the cowardly accidental hero of Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, who appears to be the only one to save the world, yet again.

          Many of Pratchett's books are thought provoking as well as funny (especially in his latter books). Sourcery is not one of these and although it is not particularly thought provoking, it is still hilariously funny and, to my mind, one of the most exciting Discworld books to date.

          Sourcery is a very addictive book, and if you've read any of my other Discworld reviews I always talk about how un-put-downable they are........well this is that squared!!! The book is so filled with action that you can't wait to find out what happens next. It is also filled with wit and slapstick, painting a beautiful mental picture of this fantasy world as you go.

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            14.11.2009 20:04
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            A great cheesy treat

            I don't know what inspired me to buy Doritos for the first time. It might have been the shinny orange packaging (I like shinny things!), it might have been the idea of a triangular crisp or it might simply have been the fact I was hungry and they were there! Whatever it was, it was a pivotal day in my crispy, snack eating life, as from the first time that triangle of cheesy joy hit my taste buds I knew I was hooked.

            Doritos are corn based crisps cooked, supposedly, in the traditional Mexican way, and are somewhat more a Tortilla than a crisp. This gives them a nice hard and crunchy texture that is one of the pivotal ingredients to their addictiveness, the other is that strong cheesy flavour.

            Doritos are covered in this cheese powder that gives them a powerful, and somewhat unpleasant, aroma. Don't let this put you off though, as it'll be gone in about 20 seconds, once the bag has been finished. Without the strength of the cheese, they would not be the wonderful crisp that they are and once you have devoured the bag, you are left to suck the remnants of the cheesiness off your fingers.

            Doritos are no more or less bad for you than any other crisp, but still pretty bad, containing in a 50g bag:
            Calories 250
            Total Fat 13g
            Saturated Fat 3g
            Sodium 310mg
            Total Carbohydrate 30g
            Sugars 2g
            Protein 4g

            So make sure you don't eat too many bags in one sitting!

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            • onepoll.co.uk / Internet Site / 104 Readings / 103 Ratings
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              14.11.2009 10:53
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              Probably die trying

              I am a member of quite a few different survey sites and One Poll is by far my favourite. That is not saying that it's the best or even the most well paid, it is however to my mind, the best laid out, least time consuming and easiest to use.

              Signing up is simple and you receive £2.50 just for the privilege, which is always nice!! Once signed up you can go into your account and the screen is laid out in an easily understandable way, which is easy to navigate (although you don't ever really need to go anywhere other than 'Surveys').

              When you go to the survey screen to see what is available, it tells you the survey title, how much money you receive for it and also it tells you who they want to participate in the survey. This last point is by far my favourite as I feel like I have given far too much of my life to other survey sites, spending 5 minutes answering questions, just to find out I don't qualify.

              The surveys themselves are always pretty short, usually taking me roughly 2-4 minutes. The surveys are also just on one page with I think is great as you can see exactly how long the survey is right away. Plus the fact there's only one page means you never have to wait ages for the next page to load, only for it to crash.

              There is also a nice little feature on One Poll, whereby if the surveys from the site have been used in a news stories, you can click on a link and they show you the story. This is cool as you get to see close up how your opinions have been skewed to fit whatever it is the survey wanted to prove (no cynicism here!)

              The problem with One Poll however, is how much you get per survey. If you want to get rich you will die trying (of old age). You usually get 5p or 10p per survey and I tend to make 50p to £1 a week filling them out. Couple this with a high payout threshold (£40), means that you're going to take a long time to get your first cheque.

              When you compare that to other survey sites, you get nearly as much for just one, all be it for a much longer survey. You also don't get email alerts, so you have to sign into One Poll to see if there are any surveys, not that that's much of an effort.

              So in summery One Poll is a good site if you don't mind giving up 10 minutes every day for a couple of extra pounds. If you want to make some quick, easy money though, this isn't the site for you.

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              • Joby Gorillapod / Tripod / 85 Readings / 82 Ratings
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                11.11.2009 19:56
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                Damn you to hell bleary photo

                Like many other people there are 2 situations that really annoy me when I'm taking photos.

                The first is when you want a photo of yourself or you and a friend / partner, and there's no one else there to take the photo. How do we usually get round this? Either hold the camera at arms length, usually ending up with half a face and no scenery or balance the camera somewhere on timer and hope for the best!!

                The second is that of night time (scenery) photos. I like to think that I have quite a steady hand, but if my night time photography is anything to go by, I shake like I've gone cold turkey!!! Forever am I left with bleary streaks of light and there never seems to be anything to balance the camera on at the time or it is not flat enough if there is!

                So with these annoyances in mind I decided to buy a mini tripod to finally add another string to my photographic bow. After looking at a few normal ridged tripods I came across the Gorillapod and decided it was the one for me.

                The Gorillapod (compact) is relatively small ( 15 x 3 x 3cm) with 3 flexible tripod legs. These legs feature over two dozen flexible leg joints that bend and rotate, because of this design it makes the legs exceptionally good at gripping on to....well pretty much anything!

                Once receiving my Gorillapod I was amazed at quite how many places I could wrap it to in order to get a photo, using things such as door handles, tree branches and railings. That is on top of just being able to use it as a normal tripod.

                The size of the Gorillapod means that is easy to carry around, I just stick mine in an over the shoulder bag that all my other stuff lives in when I take my camera out. This means I can now happily take group photos and actually be part of the group and my night photos are now coming along brilliantly.

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                  05.11.2009 22:42
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                  A great place to go in China

                  Xi'an is the capital of the Shaanxi province and one of China's major cities (being the country's capital at one point). It's an old city which hasn't developed quite as quickly as many other major cities.

                  There is plenty to do in Xi'an and you're unlikely to find a day with nothing to do. I have given a list of some of the major attractions, but there are many more to be found; just by exploring.

                  City Wall
                  Xi'an is one of the few cities in China to still have a complete city wall and is the most complete surviving city wall in China. The wall is 8.5 miles long and you can walk round the wall (taking roughly 2 hours) or for far more fun you can hire a bike (or Tandem) and cycle round. The wall is full of pot holes so be careful if you cycle.

                  Muslim Quarter
                  The Muslim Quarter is a great little tourist trap. Located by the Drum Tower is a maze of street venders selling everything from tacky tourist merchandise to authentic Chinese handicraft. Be warned however, if you're not Chinese their going to try and over charge you and you need to haggle hard (usually try an opening gambit of 60% less than asking). This surrounds the Great Mosque, which is a beautiful place to visit. There is lots of street food available, but you've got to be brave as you probably won't have a clue what you're eating.

                  Bell & Drum Tower
                  At the heart of the city you'll find the Bell and the Drum Towers (located about 10 minutes from each other). It's reasonably cheap to go in and have a look around. For a little extra cash you can even have a go on one of the bells/drums. If you only have time (or the interest) to go into one of them I would probably recommend the Drum Tower as there is a little more to see. Both towers are illuminated at night and look beautiful. The Bell Tower looks especially amazing as it is in the middle of a massive roundabout. This just gives a great feel of the mixture of ancient serene beauty and organized chaos that I feel exemplifies this country.

                  Pagoda
                  The Golden Goose pagoda is a little way out from the centre, but definitely worth a visit. In the evening, there is a fountain display to music outside. This is really pretty and my advice would be to go there in the afternoon, have dinner nearby and then go to see the display when its dark.

                  Food
                  In the main tourist district you will find a plethora of restaurants selling delicious Chinese cuisine, with most of these places having menus with English translations. Outside the tourist areas and also by the Pagoda, you might not be so lucky with English translations and just have to go on the pictures in the menu. You are very unlikely to find an English speaking waiter/waitress, so bear this in mind whenever you go out. If you're craving Western food however, you will always find a Pizza Hut, McDonalds or KFC somewhere.

                  Shopping
                  Xi'an has pretty much anything you could ever want or need.....it's just a matter of finding it!! There are many shopping malls around the centre of the city, with more specific shopping centre's and markets dotted all over the place. So if your looking for something specific (electronics, shoes, toys, DVDs etc) then its best to ask for advice at your hotel/hostel as they'll know where the best places are (don't forget to get them to write it down!).

                  Sites nearby
                  Xi'an also has bus links, outside the train station. A couple of must sees include: The Terracotta Worriers (half an hour away) and Ha Shan Mountain. I'm sure that the Terracotta Worriers need no introduction and if they do you can find reviews of them on Dooyoo. Ha Shan is one of China's 5 sacred mountains and a perfect place to watch the sun rise. You will need to spend the night there (there are hostels available halfway up the mountain) and get up at silly o'clock to get to the summit for the sunrise.

                  My verdict
                  Xi'an is by no way as an advanced skycraperfest or as multicultural as many other of China's major cities and that to me is one of the best things about it. You will not see as many Westerners in Xi'an as other cities and you won't see a lot of English. If you don't speak any Chinese you'll do a lot of pointing and miming! You get a real feel for life in China in this city and are totally immersed in the culture. It is a wonderful place to visit and a must see if you're in China.

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                    28.10.2009 08:34
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                    Good for ardent Pratchett fans or those new to him

                    Wyrd Sister is the sixth novel in the Discworld series and is once again a masterpiece of storytelling, satire and fast paced humour. The book appears to be a hilarious parody of Shakespeare's Macbeth, but there is much more to it than a simple spin off. There is no need to know anything of Macbeth to enjoy the book as it is a fantastic story in its own right. The use of Macbeth as a base story seems more to show Prattchett's love of taking something familiar and reinterpreting it through this fantasy world, not of just simply trying to make a serious story funny.

                    The reader is reintroduced to Granny Weatherwax (Equal Rites) and a host of new characters. The reader is treated to the genius interplay between Granny Weatherwax, Magrat, Nanny Ogg (the three witches). This interplay shows best by the fact that the conversations between the three witches flow so sublimely that you have read 10 pages without noticing.

                    This is a sublime page turner, in my opinion, ever more so than Pratchett's earlier Discworld novels, and within 15 minutes of putting it down you find yourself picking it back up and reading some more.

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                    • Tesco / Highstreet Shopping / 69 Readings / 67 Ratings
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                      27.10.2009 19:08
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                      You save money, but loss a little of your soul

                      I'm sure you can not be bothered to read about the history of Tescos as if you're really interested in that, you could Wiki it. What I will say is my view of Tescos, what Tescos provides and what I think of them.
                      I remember when a Tesco supermarket opened in my home town when I was a small child and how happy my mum was at how much money we could save as a family by shopping there. Tescos provided, and still does, a large 'Value' range, which is a much cheaper version on brand items. At the time they were of nearly the same quality as the branded item, if not better.
                      Today however, I feel they have started to fall short of a lot of their Value range and have lost what I believe was their original ethos of providing low price, good quality food to the masses. That said, they have now introduced the 'Tesco Finest' range which is back to their earlier high quality and is still usually cheaper that the branded items. Or else there is Tesco own brand, which is more like the old Value range. When I am shopping I do tend to go mostly for the foods that are Tesco own brand as it reduces my shopping bill and I don't have to suffer a loss of quality. The Value range has however fallen along the way side offering poorly made low quality knock offs that I would generally avoid. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule, with a lot of there biscuit items being pretty good.
                      The supermarkets are pretty much what you'd expect in any other chain, they all seem to follow the same format and what I find in one, I generally find in the same place in ASDA, Morrison, etc. My bug to bear in Tescos supermarkets though is their stupid self service checkouts. Fine if you're just getting a few things or you're not reusing a bag. Whenever I use one, I have to either scan it all, pay, then pack my bag (much to the annoyance of customers behind me) or try and scan and pack my bag whilst suffering the infernal machine telling me 'there's an unexpected item in the baggage area'!!
                      Tescos have now branched out of just being a supermarket, with Tesco Express taking the place of the local shop, selling things that you generally need to get more of in the week. It's a little bit more expensive than the supermarkets but still cheaper than your local shop. Tesco Direct, where you can get clothes, electricals, household stuff....pretty much everything you need to buy that you can't get in the Tesco supermarkets. Tesco are now also slowly moving into insurance, banking, telephone, broadband and a range of other things, until soon you will be able to get pretty much anything you need with Tesco; Tesco airlines, Tesco funeral services, Tesco doctors surgeries..........

                      Unfortunately, the expansion has to hurt someone and that someone is the small retailer. Tescos price and convenience means a massive drop in the small retailer's sales with a large amount going under.....it's alright though because Tescos will buy up that closed shop and put a Tescos there. I do fear that Tescos will one day take over the world, where I will live in a big white house, with a blue stripe across the top and 'House' written in big blue letters on the roof and I'll leave everyday to go to work at one of the ministry of Tesco.

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                      • V for Vendetta (DVD) / DVD / 72 Readings / 70 Ratings
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                        26.10.2009 19:12
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                        Remember, remember the 5th of November

                        After going through a mad DVD buying (and obviously subsequently watching) session, I happened upon V for Vendetta. On first glance I must admit this is not a film I would usually go for, and started watching it with the mindset that it was going to be another poor conversion of a good graphic novel with more action than content. I was, however, surprised to find it an absolutely amazing film that is now rated as one of my all time favourites.

                        I will say to any reader expecting an in-depth plot synopsis, you will not find one here. I fear that will detract from the story if you do choose to watch the film. Instead I will tell you a little about the film and more about what I think of it.

                        The film is set in the future, not in a sci-fi way, but as an illustration of what the future could hold and the future of our fair isles is not looking to good. The world in which it is set is very similar to Orwell's totalitarian dystopia in 1984, with England being run under "big brother" Chancellor Adam Sutler (John Hurt) whose party uses force and fear to run the nation, keeping the subject under control through the use of a government controlled media.

                        The film centres around Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman), who one night is rescued by the masked hero/villain, V (Hugo Weaving) and is dragged into his plans of revolution.

                        Hardcore fans may be unhappy by how true to the original graphic novel the film is, indeed Moore himself has dismissed the film. After reading the graphic novel however I disagree, as although the novel is good, a direct translation to film would not have worked as it would be inaccessible to the average few not familiar of Moore's work (as I believe Watchmen to be, another of Moore's graphic novels) and also not terribly relevant to today's society.

                        The changes the film makes, to my mind, enhance the story, for example the nation is controlled more by spin and deception in the film than by the intimidation and violence of the graphic novel. I believe this to be far more relevant to today's world as we have all seen how the media and politicians try to alter or beliefs to fit their agenda.

                        What we end up with is an adaptation of the original concept with some of the plot points rearranged and characters redrawn, which better explore the intricacies of this fascist police state.

                        The film assertion that radical and drastic events often need to occur in order to shake people out of their state of indifference in order to bring about real change is what makes the film such a triumph. Although there are better action films out there and to be honest better films that make us question ourselves and the society we live in, but few manage to draw you into the story so well and mix the two genres without compromising either.

                        Viva la revolution

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                        • Virgin Atlantic / Airline / 48 Readings / 47 Ratings
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                          20.10.2009 20:49
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                          An excellent airline

                          Over the last couple of years I have flown with a variety of different airlines, with a mixture of success and failure, with airlines I'd definitely fly with again to ones I'd avoid at all costs. So, when planning my holiday to Hong Kong this year I was looking forward to trying out Virgin Atlantic. I have always been a fan of the Virgin brand and think that for the most part they provide an excellent service, so I was eager to see if this same level of service was provided in Virgin Atlantic....and I was not let down.

                          The Website
                          The website is brilliantly designed and is easy to navigate. When searching my chosen departure and arrival destination with planned dates, the output gave a selection of differing prices with arrival and return dates over a 6 day period. Using this it was easy to see that money could be saved just by changing the return date by one day (in my case nearly £100). The booking procedure was easy and secure. The online account management was also second to none that I have used before. You could choose your seat straight away, not the usual 24 hour before, and all the other features of online management were available.

                          The Staff
                          All the staff, from the checking desk to cabin crew, were courteous, friendly and helpful. More than that they seemed to actually enjoy their job, which is something that I have not seen, or at least have not been noticeable on most other airlines I have flown with.

                          The flight
                          On the flight I opted for a window seat on economy. The seats were sufficiently large with decant leg room (I'm 6ft and could sit comfortably without knees in my chin). You could not only recline the seat, but could also change the firmness of the back rest. The in-flight entertainment was also fantastic. There was a great choice of films, TV shows, documentaries, cartoons and radio shows; more than enough to satisfy anybody's tastes. On the flight you were provided with complimentary blanket, eye mask, socks, pen (for all the pesky arrival forms), pillow, headphones, toothbrush and toothpaste.

                          Food
                          I can honestly say the evening meal I had on the flight there and back (chicken and rice and chicken and mash), were the best I've ever had on an aeroplane. The meat was nicely cooked, not to tough and both the rice and mash tasted delicious. They also came with salad (tasted fresh), bread roll and desert. If you have any dietary requirement you can request particular meals on your online account before flying. My flights were overnight and I found that there was always water, juice and snacks readily available. The breakfast was a bit of a letdown however, with some questionable baked beans in the English breakfast option.

                          Summery
                          In conclusion I found Virgin Atlantic to be an excellent airline. It was friendly and provided excellent quality for a low price. I would definitely fly with them again and have recommended them to my friends and family.

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                          19.10.2009 08:28
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                          Worth a read if you a Ross fan

                          When in Waterstones a couple of months ago I was in the book purchasing mood and trying to take advantage of their 3 for 2 offer. There were 2 books that jumped straight out at me, but I was at a loss to find a 3rd. Then I saw Jonathon Ross: Why do I say these things. I have always liked Rossy and enjoy his radio show so I though a book about his life could be interesting.

                          I thought it was going to be an autobiography, however it was more like small segments of his life in no particular order. Each chapter is interesting and does give some insight into his life. This is done in an anecdotal way, somewhat more akin to talking to someone at a party.

                          The book will not appeal to everyone as it does not have the usual appeal of an autobiography where you can pick it up (whoever it is) and read away, finding out facts about their life and what has made them who they are. This is more a book for fans of Ross, who have followed him throughout his career and want to hear some funny stories that have happened to him.

                          The books biggest flaw is what I see as somewhat lazy editing. Many times I would start a new chapter only to be told something that I had already read in a previous chapter. This sort of duplication happened throughout the book and there were some things that I read 3 or 4 times, each time written as if it was new.

                          Although the duplication did let the book down for me, I still think it was a good read with some very funny stories. If you're a fan or Ross I'd give it a go, but if you're not a fan it's probably worth avoiding.

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                          • facebook.com / Internet Site / 82 Readings / 78 Ratings
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                            17.10.2009 11:09
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                            Facebook will take you over!!!

                            This, I'm quite sure, is going to be quite an unpopular review as I feel I need to air my uncompromising hatred for Facebook.

                            Before you think me one of those annoying people (ala Archbishop Vincent Nichols) who has a hatred / dislike of something that they have never used, this is not the case with me. I was in fact a fully fledgy member of the Facebook community for some 4 years. I had a dignified 100 odd friends and enjoyed nothing more than playing on applications and reading about what my 'friends' had done with their day. If I'm honest, I probably somewhat neglected my real flesh and blood friends throughout this period!!

                            So what prompted this almightily turnaround from love to hate I hear you cry? Well it has been a long winded process for me to see the light, and I'll guide you through it in stages.

                            Travellers
                            Last year I went travelling. It was great, so many different cultures and exciting things to do and after a day of excitement you'd return to your hostel or go to an internet café to plan out the next day or book flights, tours, etc. However, you wouldn't be able to use a computer, because everyone was on Facebook updating their status with pointless trivialities instead of actually doing things. There were days when I'd get up in the morning - see people on Facebook, come back to get stuff - same people on Facebook, get back from a day out - again same people on Facebook, then go out and hear people talking about Facebook!!

                            Mobile Updates
                            Introduction of mobile updates was an evil, evil idea. Now those people that like telling everyone about nothing in their life can do it on the move as well. The first time I realised things had gone too far was when one of my friends had a mobile update of "Ben wishes his food would arrive". He was out for dinner, with girlfriend and family and actually felt he needed to tell the Facebook community that he was waiting for his dinner. There have been countless other examples of this, the favourite being "whoever...is having such a great night". I don't need to know! Have a great night; tell me about it tomorrow, you don't need to tell people who don't care how good your night is! You wouldn't walk up to strangers and say it and then walk off, so don't Facebook it!!

                            People who take photos of everything
                            Facebook has taught me that there are people in the world who seem to have a camera on them constantly. Forever was I logging on to see that there were friends, who were not just content on telling everyone every aspect of their life, but they would have photos to go with it!! And a wacky comment to go with each photo.

                            The mass lack of privacy
                            Now you've got to both love and hate Facebook for the skill in which they have made you give up all privacy, You give them your age, date of birth, phone number, email, let them know what you like, give them loads of photos and all your opinions. Who else would you give all this to? No one! If someone asked you for all of that you'd probably smash them in the face or call the police as some fraudsters about.

                            Now I'm definitely not going to side with the pre mentioned Archbishop Vincent Nichols and the belief that Facebook is ruining community values, but I will say that Facebook can suck you in and eat away at all your free time if you're not careful.

                            I know this is more a review (if you can call my rant that) of the people that use Facebook that the site itself. I feel this is justified however, as Facebook seems to turn ordinarily normal and sociable people into Facebook nutters.

                            Sorry for the rant, but I await the day of the death of the Social Network Site.

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                              16.10.2009 09:03
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                              A great bag for travelling

                              Before I start my review I should point out that I am a man reviewing a woman's backpack. This is for 2 reasons
                              1 - I have the larger men's (75 lt) version of the same backpack
                              2 - Whilst away with my girlfriend (who does own this backpack) I have ended up carrying it more than her, so feel qualified to comment.
                              The bag itself is well made and durable. It has a 2nd smaller backpack that is zipped to the front. This is very handy, as you can always detach it and use it for hand luggage on flights, or as a rucksack for daily use.

                              The main backpack is front opening, which in my opinion, is far better than the top loading backpacks as you can open it up and get to pretty much everything in your bag rather than having to take everything out if you need something at the bottom. It also has a smaller section at the bottom, which is an ideal size for putting a sleeping bag. The backpack is roomy and definitely has more than enough room to fit all your belongings.

                              The backpack also has an outer flap and zip that means you can zip up the shoulder straps, which I really like. I have been at many airports watching people trying to tie up their straps so that they don't catch on things, whilst all you have to do with this backpack is zip them up. Easy!

                              The main reason me and my other half bought this range of backpack was the fact that it comes with wheels, meaning you can drag your backpack like normal luggage. We did this quite a lot. Although, I would say that there are drawbacks in its design. The main one being that you just use the handle at the top of the bag, there is no extension to it. This means unless you are quite short, which neither my girlfriend nor I are, you have to lean over whilst pulling the bag which can be quite uncomfortable.

                              When on the back, the backpack is comfortable, although it can be a bit of a chore getting all the strap lengths right so that it fits you best and you don't notice the added weight of the wheels. However, be careful what you put in the lower compartment as it can unbalance you and put extra strain on your shoulders.

                              I would definitely recommend this bag to men and women alike.

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                                15.10.2009 18:54
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                                Good place to start your night

                                JD Wetherspoons was set up in 1979 and seemed to go below the radar for most people for many years. However, in the last decade Wetherspoons bars have been cropping up all over the place, with one or more in nearly every town / city centre.

                                Wetherspoons made its name selling cheap drinks. One of the ways it did this was by not paying out on an entertainment licence (meaning no music). Today Wetherspoons have kept to the no music policy, even though premises laws have changed and they'd no longer have to pay and, therefore, would not need to compromise on their food/drink prices.

                                Drinks
                                The drinks in Wetherspoons tend to be the cheapest around, undercutting the competition from a couple of pennies to a pound cheaper. For this, they do not differ in quality.

                                Food
                                The food situation is the same as most of it competitors. It's not good food, but it is cheap! Most of the food is pretty much microwave dinners, but what do you expect when you can get a main meal for ₤2.99. The burgers, steaks and salads seem fresher, so I tend to stick to them. I'd say the food is good enough to line your stomach before a night out, or for a quick cheap lunch, but I'd never go out for dinner and even contemplate Wetherspoons unless a big drink up was on the cards.

                                Atmosphere
                                As previously mentioned there's no music in Wetherspoons and this does affect the atmosphere. You can't just sit down and chill out with some tunes in the background, its either talk to who your with or sit in silence. It's even worse on a busy night where theres just the ambient noise of everyone talking and you end up having to shout to be heard by your friends.

                                Conclusion
                                At the end of the day Wetherspoons is a great place to go for cheap drink and food, but not much else. Its main reason for being seems to be for starting a night out as it's not really an enjoyable place to be. You're probably not going to have a great night out if you just stay there. Unfortunately, most of the places where people used to start their night, such as the local pub, are going under as a result of not being able to compete with the prices found at Wetherspoons.

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