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The Celeron has been around for a while now and, due to the fact that it is a cut-down version of the Pentium 3 that runs at a slower bus speed (66MHz for the Celeron compared to 100 MHz for the P3), with a little TLC and a lot of cooling, it can often be made to run at speeds far greater than the advertised values. In this respect, it is not as good as AMD's Duron processor (see my review of that for details), but for owners of BX boards, this can be a cheap upgrade (see your motherboard manufacturer's website for details of whether it will run Celerons), as all that is required is the CPU and a *decent* heatsink & fan, rather than a new processor and motherboard. For example, one of my machines currently has a celeron 600 (this runs a multiplier of 9 at the bus speed of 66MHz) running at 900 MHz (9 * 100MHz). This is a huge performance increase, not only in the fact that it is 300MHz faster, but that fact that it is running at a higher bus speed to do this which benefits performance immensely (eg a P3 800EB at 6 * 133MHz bus speed will out-perform a P3 at 8 * 100 MHz bus speed). Anyway, as I said, you will need good cooling to do this, as it often requires raising the default voltage supplied to the CPU, which increases the amount of heat produced. Go to one of the overclocking websites (www.overclockingstore.co.uk is the one I normally use) and pay 15 quid or so for a decent cooler. Then simply plug everything in and increase the bus speed and voltage (modern boards can do this using the BIOS setup screen) gradually until all is stable. You may find that your CPU will not get to 9*100MHz, but it might work fine at 9*90MHz. This is normal - not all CPU's are good overclockers - see the CPU page at www.overclockers.com for examples.
Well, this the thinnest scanner I have ever seen. I bought 2 of these over the christmas period as presents (thank you buy.com and your coupons) and both recipients have been very happy with them. It is easy to set up and use - the software is aceptable for the money you spend on the scanner, but investing in better software (eg paint shopp pro, omnipage etc) could bring better results in terms of ease of use and facilities available for image manipulation. The image quality is not the best, but then that should not be expected from a forty pound product - if it is needed for business or professional use, get something else, but for the everyday family and their modest needs, it is perfect as an introduction into scanning. Overall, I was very happy with the build quality and ease of use - even a novice PC user had this installed and scanning within 15 minutes !
I had a Velo500 for a few days before getting rid of it and returning to my Palm III. There was nothing wrong with it, it's just that it didn't suit my needs at the time. It's a fairly standard sort of size and weight as far as CE handhelds go, the battery life is a day or so and it comes with a docking station that is very easy to install on your PC (I used it in both NT and Win98 and was happy with both, although the Win98 install was a bit simpler). The CE2 OS is fairly easy to get to grips with, with only a couple of minor differences to the 'grown-up' version of Windows that it resembles. But to anyone who is used to using something like a Palm Pilot that doies things instantly, the sight of an hourglass symbol rotating while the handheld has a think about what to do next is a little disconcerting.
When I have to buy a decent laser printer for one of the groups in my department, Lexmark is always the brand I go for. The are reliable, built to last and give excellent product. The page throughput is excellent (after warming up for the first page obviously) with about 10 pages per minute or so in real life situations. the print quality is excellent - text is spot on and photographs / images look like they should (albeit in monochrome). They can be easily networked with an additional internal card and when given an IP address, their status can be checked over an Intranet or the Internet. Additional paper trays can be very easily installed beneath, the only hassle is lifting the thing - they're not light. They are not cheap, but in this case, you do get what you pay for with a printer that, apart from changing the toner every 16 / 17000 pages or so and maintenance every 100000 pages can be left alone and not need much support, which is exactly the sort of product that an IT support person needs !
I have been using HP deskjets for many years now, and the 930 is one of the best I have used so far, getting on for the quality of the 970 cxi, which is the best of their printers that I have personally used. The colour reproduction is excellent - photographs approach what they should look like, especially on decent quality photo paper. Normal printing of text etc is very good - not up to laserjet quality obviously - but nothing that you would be ashamed to give to another person. It is reasonably fast in normal mode, printing a page in less than 10 seconds, and doing so very quietly compared to some of the clunky printers I've used previously. The cartridges are reasonably priced, with the average price for the colour one being a bit over 20 quid and slightly less for thre black one.
The V3 3000 is a good graphics card. It will cope well with all the games you throw at it, and it even outputs them to a TV screen with decent quality for larger sized gaming if this is what you want. Even though it has been superceded, most notably by the NVidia GEForce2 range which are magnicifent cards, this is still a very respectable card if you just want to play games, not boast about frame rates. 3Dfx, the manufacturers, have now gone out of business, but this shouldn't worry you about buying the card, as the years warranty you get with it is from the retailer, not the manufacturer, (and don't let the shop tell you otherwise). It can be found at reasonable prices, nad if it's cheap enough get one, but if you have the money spend a bit more (120 quid or so) and get a DDR GeForce2 MX (don't bother with the SDR models, as they're not as good).
The Stadium of Light is (in my opinion) currently the nicest football stadium in the country. I am a season-ticket holder and have been supporting The Lads for the last 15 years or so since I was old enough to go to Roker Park and see Lawrie Mackemenemy drag us down to the third division. But how times have changed. At the half-way point in the Premiership this year, we are in third place, one place above where we were this time last year. The stadium is an imposing sight that gets better the closer you get to it. In winter when it's dark and the lights are on, it takes your breath away. The noise inside from 48000 Sunderland supporters in tremendous and now we have a building to suit us. And in years to come, the capacity will be extended to a maximum of 66000, putting us on a par with the best in Europe, perhaps not for sheer size but for a combination of size quality and atmosphere. The only gripe I have is with the toilets (or lack of them), but this is common to all events and places where there are many thousands of spectators.
It appears that the magic has worn off from the senile pensioner and the second largest team in the North East. Has Bobby lost the plot ? Well, I suppose so. He almost wet himself after the loss against Suprs on 2nd Jan. And with the ageing talisman, Anal Shearer out for 3 months, supporters have a right to be worried. After all, losses to Charlton, Everton and Derby are hardly the results that supporters might expect from one of the larger North East teams. And when the 18th November rolled round and again the toon lost 2-1 and are currently 8 points (3/1/01) behind Sunderland, NUFC fans were forced to acknowledge that they are just second-rate.
Well, almost. This mobile looks lovely (mine is in the dark blue colour, which to me looks less cheap and plasticcy than the paler colours) and everyone who has seen it has wanted one, especially girls. I have had more offers to buy this phone from people that any of the other 8 or 9 mobiles I have (and still do) own over the last couple of years. I got mine on a Cellnet contract for 50 quid. And I am almost tempted to sell it. The construction of the phone is acceptable - it can stand up to being dropped from short distances (not something I would recommend however), the screen is excellent - this is in my opinion the best thing about the phone - battery life is reasonable with 3 days or so achieved with some talktime and SMS messaging done. Recharging takes 3 hours or so, not overnight - the person who said this might have a defective battery. The menu system is typical Motorola (having used C520, M3688 and owned L7089) - there is the customisable quick acess button, but it is not as good as Nokia menus. There is a paucity of ringtones, but to me this is an excellent feature, as I hate tunes on mobiles, and the vibrate is just about strong enough to be felt in your trouser pocket. There are no games - if you want games, buy a Gameboy. There is no WAP (no great loss) and the main area of disappointment is that there is no infra-red port, as the phone is a perfect size to be carried round with a PDA for Internet browsing. So overall, cute, small, light, not feature-packed but a reasonable phone.
I've just bought one of these as a present for my girlfriend from Virgin. 30 quid including the connection pack with a fivers worth of calls, which I consider to be an excellent price. Now I have to state that the phone will not be used on the Virgin (One2One) network, so I can't really comment on that, as it was bought with the express intention of using as an upgrade to her old Nokia 402 on Orange. So if anyone is thinking of doing this, I can recommend it. You have to write off to Virgin (address is i the box) and tell them the details about the phone - they then send you the codes to unlock it. This took (over the busy Christmas period) less than 2 weeks to get back to me. Once unlocked, it can then be used on any network. Anyway, about the phone itself. The menus to me seem slightly less than user-friendly - you actually have to read the manual to get to grips with them, unlike Nokias for example. The screen is small compared to most modern phones - this makes reading SMS messages slightly more difficult than necesary. But the handsfree kit that comes with it is good, the desktop charger is lovely and the speakerphone function is very good. The battery life seems to be reasonable and the size of the phone is acceptable - not massive, but not in the Motorola 3690 category. Overall I would recommend this to anyone who wants a cheap phone that works well.
Well, I feel experienced enough to writer this report, having had OnDigital since it first started over 2 years ago (yes, I was one of the first people who paid 200 quid for their box). Overall, I am happy, as I feel I have had reasonable value for money from OnD - their subscription prices are not excessive, the choice of programmes, limited though it is compared to Sky Digital, has something for me to watch almost every hour of the day - I have no need for an extra 300+ channels of rubbish. They are slowly improving their channel lineup with the addition of an extra couple of channels at the start of this month (Paramount Comedy and a kids cartoon one) but they do need a couple more - I would like to suggest The Discovery Channel as one that would make their lineup far better. They have 2 subscription porn channels, which to me is a waste of bandwidth that could be better used for decent channels. As for picture quality, no it's not as good as a decent analogue aerial, but then neither is Sky Digital and when the analogue transmitters are switched off in the future, there will be more bandwidth available for better quality and more channels. I have had no major problems, apart from when I first got it I couldn't get a signal, but they gave me a free aerial upgrade (don't know if this offer is still on) which cured the problem. So overall I am happy, but a couple more channels would be nice.
I like BBC Choice. This puts me in a minority (of only 14,000 out of the 58 million of us sometimes), but it has the programmes I like to watch, and in the daytime the kids choice is fantastic. My personal viewing favourite has to be Liquid News, with the wonderfully acerbic Christopher Price and various 'celebrity' guests. But there's so many other great programmes (admittedly a lot are repeated), but the proportion of new material is increasing and most of it is of a quality to rival programmes on the main 2 BBC channels. So overall, well done BBC - keep up the good work.
Did you know that if you have the right motherboard, you can run that Duron 700 / 800 (or whatever speed) you just bought at far greater speeds ? How about 900 MHz or 1GHz ? Sound good ? Well, the important overclocking tool you need is probably in your office or kitchen. A pencil. But to start from the beginning. Your motherboard needs to have selectable multiplier options (ie as the processor runs at a front side bus of 100MHz, you tell it what multiple of this to run at, ie you can tell a Duron 800 MHZ to run at 1GHz). The best ones are the Asus A7V and the Abit KT7. If it does not have multiplier options, you are stuck. You will also need a decent cooling system comprising a fan and heatsink (try www.overclockers.co.uk or www.theoverclockingstore.co.uk for these) costing from 15 quid upwards as the processor will be running at more than its recommended speed and will generate more heat as a result. Then take your pencil. You will need to draw on the CPU to close little gaps between 4 sets of very small pins (see halfway down http://www.dansdata.com/socketas.htm for details and pictures). Then slap it in your board, apply heatsink and fan and tell the BIOS of your machine how fast you want it to go ! And that's it. A far faster machine for just a few pounds invested. Yes, the motherboard is expensive, but you can be running a GHz machine for less than 200 quid, compared to over 300 for the Athlon equivalent and more for a P3 machine. Disclaimer and advice - don't try this if you have no familiarity with overclocking or taking machines apart, as it is possible to do permanent irretrievable damage to the expensive piece of hardware you own. And do remember to grtound yourself before touching *anything* in the case, as static electricity happliy kills components.
Now, I have to say that I have been a reader of the NotW for several years, and normally I find it a bit of fun and a no-brain read on Sundays to find out the last weeks scandal and gossip. But I think they've gone much too far with their latest 'For Sarah' campaign with the naming of convicted paedophiles. I have no sympathy for child abusers, and believe they should be locked away until they will not re-offend, but they should be dealt with by the forces of law, not by angry mobs turning up and beating them / burning down their houses. The paper have issued statements saying that this was not their intention and that they do not encourage vigilante action, but surely they must have known that this was going to be the result of such an emotive campaign ? Did they not think that innocent people could be brought into this by accident, just because they resemble on of the photographs that were printed in the paper ? And what about the people that do these disgusting deeds ? They are going to go into hiding, where the police can't keep an eye on them. As far as I am concerned, enough is enough. if they persist with this campaign, I will stop paying my money and reading the paper and will encourage all others to do the same.
Endsleigh target themselves squarely at students. Which is not really surprising, as they are linked with the NUS. But I would advise anyone considering taking out insurance to get quotes from a range of other companies and comapre the prices, not to get pushed into taking out Endsleigh's insurance without checking. You may be surprised at the range of different prices you get for a year's insurance and the amounts that they are prepared to insure you for, with Endsleigh being very highly priced and offering low amounts, especially for students living in large cities, eg Leeds, Manchester.