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shamis4

shamis4
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Member since: 09.07.2008

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      28.05.2012 22:47
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      One of the best games out there on the app store!

      Introduction:

      Fruit Ninja is a game designed for use on the Ipad or Iphone (or Ipad touch). It is also available to download on Android phones. I own both an Ipad and Iphone, and this game has been one of my favourite apps I have ever purchased!
      The app was designed by HalfBrick and since its release it has become a huge hit with app users and has consequently expanded on to other platforms such as facebook and Xbox and there have also been different versions created as a result of the successful nature of the original game.


      Concept:

      Essentially the whole point of this game is to slice as much fruit as you can as quickly as possible. Now I know that sounds rather stupid and pointless, you can easily do that in your own kitchen! Well it turns out that the game is actually very addictive, and of course they have stretched this concept to cover a variety of different modes and there are several achievements for you to focus on and many unlockables to work towards gaining!
      In practice if we were to try and act this game out in our kitchen it would be rather costly and messy... imagine just throwing around a few hundred peaches, apples and bananas (as well as the odd pineapple now and again) and slicing them to bits...firstly waving that knife around is certainly dangerous, and the mess would take a while to clean up, as well as making the floor very slippery. So, there you have it, the only way to safely slice up fruit is by buying this game! Oh and of course, you get to pretend to be a Ninja... which is not easily to act out in the kitchen!


      How to play:

      The game is very easy to play, for all ages! All you have to do is swipe using the touchscreen and the fruit will be cut in the exact way you swipe. It's as easy as that. All the menus are very easy to navigate too, just using the same swiping motion to select your game mode. On the aspect of menus, they are very simplistic and cover 4 main areas: New Game (which includes all the modes), Dojo (where you can choose your blade and background, which will become unlocked as you play more and complete certain achievements), extras and game center (where you can see your achievements and scores compared to your friends or the rest of the world!).


      Game Modes:

      As I have already stated, the game does have some point and there are a variety of game modes:

      Classic
      This is the original mode and the simplest to get the hand off. All you have to do is slice as much fruit as you can, and avoid slice the bombs, which will explode! You get three lives, and you will lose a life every time you slice a bomb or miss a piece of fruit. Simple.

      Zen Mode
      This mode is a quick play mode of just 90 seconds...slice as much fruit as you can, but this time there are no bombs and no lives. Here it is all about getting combos - slicing more than one piece of fruit in one slice!

      Arcade Mode
      This is my personal favourite. This mode is the most complex version where you have 1 minute to get as many points as possible, again no lives, but the bombs are back this time. However there are several special banannas thrown into the mix: a freeze which slows down time, a double points one, and a frenzy one which sends in loads of fruit from either side (this is the time to build up massive combos!)
      I love playing this mode, and am currently having a bit of a competition with some friends as to who can get the best score, mine is currently 1016...which I have struggled to get close to since, yet I am still losing to two of my friends!

      Multiplayer (online and offline on Ipad)
      The multiplayer mode is a chance for you to show off your skills against friends or random opponents online. It's just a 60 second mode where you have to slice you're fruit, but lose points if you slice theirs (indicated by blue and red halos surrounding the fruit). On the Ipad HD version there is also the possibility to play multiplayer offline in a few different modes, which again add an extra reason to purchase this on the Ipad if you happen to own one.
      I would say that future updates should maybe include more multiplayer options and allow all game modes to be somehow converted to more than single player options.


      Dojo:

      The Dojo is an area to access some other features in the game, as well as being apple to link straight to the Fruit Ninja website.

      Sensei's Swag
      This is where you can check up on all your unlockable which include a variety of different blades to slice fruit with, and a whole horde of different backgrounds for you to customize your screen while plying. I'm currently using the piano blade, and the Yin Yang background. There are about 20 unlockables in total.

      Gutsu's Cart
      This a recently added feature in the game. An update in the last few weeks gave all gamers 1000 starfruit, which can be used to purchase in-game 'powerups': bomb deflects, berry blasts, and peachy times. These should hopefully help you to increase your highscores, whilst adding a further dimension to the game. Extra starfruit can also be purchased (this is of course an extra cost, so make sure you're kids don't end up draining your bank account by purchasing a few million starfruit!).


      Extras:

      The final area in the menu is the extras section. This includes some information about the game and the creators, another link to the game center and finally links to more games - which will send you to the app store. On the note of other games I would also recommend trying out JetPack JoyRide which is also created by Halfbrick and will bring hours of fun (and is free!).


      Sounds:

      The music in the game, and in the menus are suitable for the way it is themed (Ninja Style!), whilst the in-game sound effects are very amusing and just make it that bit more entertaining and encourage you to slice even more fruit!

      Price:

      For the Iphone version, this game is a staggering 69p!! So it is a must buy.
      The HD version on the Ipad is only about £1.49, so again a great price for such a great game.


      So...is this just one of those games that you'll play once for about 10 minutes and then forget about?
      NO, for me this is one of the best games available out there for the Iphone, Ipad or android phones. It is a great game to just pick up and play while on the train, or in the office...although be warned you may get a few strange looks if you start slicing too vigorously! The diverse range of modes and unlockables encourages you to play it regularly and will become quite addictive! I would recommend it for all ages and the multiplayer function on the Ipad makes it a really fun game to play at home and the kids will certainly love it (especially as it is so colourful and easy to get the hand of...although I'm sure the kids will probably get all the highscores anyway!)


      Other games?

      Well, as I mentioned earlier, there are now a few other versions of this game now available. One is Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots, which is in essence the same game, but includes a whole range of small challenges and mini games, of course all involving slicing lots and lots of fruit! There is also a version available on Xbox 360 which uses the new Kinect feature, as well as frenzy version now available through Facebook.


      I hope you enjoyed this review and I may have persuaded you to now go and buy this app...and if you already own it then fell free to let me know your highscores, I'm ready for more challengers!

      Happy Slicing!

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        26.05.2012 22:36
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        A super product with so many uses!

        Ipad Review:

        Introduction:

        The Ipad is one of many products on offer by the giant consumer electronics firm: Apple. Before having purchased my Ipad, I was already an owner of a Macbook Pro and an Iphone. Now initially I wasn't really keen on the concept of the Ipad, I saw it as being quite gimmicky and rather pointless. I saw it as exploiting a gap in the market: between a phone and a laptop, that didn't really need to be exploited.
        Last year, whilst at university, I broke my wrist in an American football game and was thus unable to make any notes in my lectures, but wasn't keen on having to lug my Macbook around everywhere (not that it's that heavy!). As a result, and with my 21st birthday looming, I decided it would be worthwhile to have an Ipad for use in my lectures...this proved to be a great purchase and was extremely useful in allowing me to have lecture notes on my Ipad, annotate them on screen, and even play some games when the lecture became a bit dull! I have now owned my Ipad for a good 6 months now and in this time I have truly been able to put it to so many great uses and in this review I will be talking about the many great functions and uses it has.


        Looks:

        Of course the most important thing about any product is its looks and whether or not the product is attractive and sticks out in your memory. For me, I am a strong fan of Apple products and in particular am a fan of their sleek, neat look. The Ipad itself comes in two colours around the screen: black and white. I own the black version, but think they are both equally nice. Although I would be keen for Apple to introduce a wider range of colours in the future at some point. The back of it is always silver with the Apple logo in the centre.
        I would also recommend purchasing a magnetic clip screen, which can be purchased from any Apple store (or many other websites) for around £30, or nearer to £60 for leather ones. These are great protection for the screen itself, as well as having an extra function of being used as a small stand. Being magnetic they simply clip on to the side and will automatically turn the screen on or off when opened and closed.

        Here are some details on the Ipad specifications:

        ◦ Height: 9.50 inches (241.2 mm)
        ◦ Width: 7.31 inches (185.7 mm)
        ◦ Depth: 0.34 inch (8.8 mm)
        ◦ Weight: 1.33 pounds (601 g) or 1.35 pounds for 3G version.


        Basic Functions:

        On the Ipad there are many different Apps that can be purchased in a whole variety of different categories and for many uses. However, the Ipad when first purchased comes with a selection of basic apps that are fairly essential. These include: Messages, Music, Calendar, Settings, Contacts, Camera, Photos, Videos, YouTube, Itunes, Maps, Notes, Reminders, Newstand, Facetime, Mail, Safari. (I don't think I missed any there!)
        These are all key functions of the Ipad and most are fairly self-explanatory. The Ipad can be used for surfing the Internet, checking your emails. making notes and setting reminders.
        It can also be used as music system where you can plug in speakers or headphones and listen to all your music (which can be put on using Itunes). I personally don't really put much music on it, as I use my Iphone, but there is no reason not to use this great function.
        The Ipad comes with a camera too and thus can be used to take photos, or videos which are then stored directly onto your Ipad, as well as being uploaded to iCloud which is an online storage system recently created by Apple, and can be accessed anywhere in the world. Facetime is another function using the camera (and there is also one on the front too) and allows you to make calls to other Ipad, Iphone or Mac users who also have Facetime. PhotoBooth is another app that allows 'fun' use of the camera functions.


        App Store:

        The App store is where you can download and purchase (if necessary) any apps you want, and there are a lot to choose from. I will give you a selection of a few of my favourites:

        iBooks: great app where you can download from a wide selection of books both fiction and non-fiction as well as things like cookery books....it's basically like having a Waterstone's shop on your Ipad.

        Facebook/Twitter: social media apps, which you will of course have to have if you have accounts on either of these, both work really well and are just what you need to keep up to date with friends.

        Flipboard: a superb app that allows you to create your own little board of sites/magazines/news type things you want all in one place. I have BBC news, sport, Men's health, T3 just to name a few on my board.

        Noatbility: a great app for making notes or annotating PDFs. They can even be saved and can be accessed easily using an app like Dropbox.

        Sketchbook Pro: a very classy and fairly easy to use art app for both rookies and budding artists.

        BBC Iplayer/40D/ITV player: essentials for catching up on any tv you missed. I would also recommend Netflix for watching films and tv series on your Ipad (monthly fee of about £6)

        Games:

        Infinity Blade: Beautiful graphics and good game play
        Angry Birds: Essential.
        Machinarium: good little puzzle game with nice graphics and music.
        Multiponk/Achtung: multiplayer fun
        NFL Flick QB: good sports game
        Monopoly/Scrabble/Trivial Puruit: Classic board games
        Temple Run/JetPack Joyride: fun little arcade games.


        So far I've tried to give you a taste of the whole variety of functions and uses of the Ipad, and I've only really scratched the surface here. Of course there are loads more apps for many different purposes and I'm sure that everyone out there would be able to find apps tailor suited to their interests.

        Of course there are some other important things I should point out to you before you go ahead and buy one! Firstly I am extremely pleased with the battery life, I would say the 10 hour battery life of solid use that Apple have suggested is about right. So it would be perfect for a long flight to keep you entertained the whole way! It is also so easy to use, and a great alternative to a traditional laptop. You can just pick it up and quickly send an email and then go back to doing something else...no need to power up the computer or anything! It is also really easy to use even if you aren't that technologically minded (I wouldn't really say I am). Apple itself provides loads of online resources on how to use its many functions, as well as providing in-store sessions to help you along the way.
        It is really easy to use alone, or in conjunction with a computer where you can use Itunes to sync any music, videos, photos, games, etc on to your Ipad.

        You also have the choice of getting a Wi-fi or a 3G version. Essentially with the 3G version you need to buy a contract to allow you to use the internet anywhere that you can get a 3G signal, ie if you're out and about a lot and want to use it on the move, then this is the one for you and contracts can be purchased for around £15 a month. Alternatively if you just want to use it in the house predominantly or in wi-fi hotspots, then the extra cost of getting the 3G version is not worthwhile.
        Furthermore, you also have the choice over the size of the memory: 16, 32 or 64gb. Again the higher the memory, the higher the cost. Your choice would depend on how many films or how much music you plan on storing on your Ipad. The 16GB version is easily enough for casual use and putting the odd movie on if you go on a road trip, but if you plan on filling it with music and films then I would recommend paying for more memory!

        Finally price. Again the price depends on your choices made as discussed above, but ranges from £329.

        Finally, here is what you get in the box:
        ◦ iPad
        ◦ Dock Connector to USB Cable
        ◦ 10W USB Power Adapter
        ◦ Documentation



        Overall, I have found the Ipad to be one of the best purchases I have ever made and would recommend it to anyone and everyone! I certainly give it 10/10.
        If you'd like to find out more information about anything more specific then it would be worthwhile visiting the apple website and taking a look there. But I hope I've managed to give you a good review of what I think of it and some of its core uses!

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          28.09.2008 20:29
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          A very original game which has evolved all new free roam games from now on!

          Introduction:

          Crackdown was released in early 2007 and published by Relatime Worlds. It was created with by the Grand Theft Auto creator, David Jones. GTA is seen as being one of the best games on any console and has amazing free roam capability and great stories with loads to do. As a result this game had a lot to live up to. Another reason for a lot of the popularity at first for this game was the fact that it included the Halo 3 Beta, which ended up being one of the greatest games ever. Well back to this game, Crackdown and how in my view it has certainly lived up and beyond the hopes and was definitely more than a simple game to stick the Halo beta on to encourage sales.

          The Idea:

          This game is an open world or free roam, third person shooter game which is exclusive to the Xbox 360. The game is not slightly cartoon - like in style and quite colourful making it more enjoyable to play. The game is set in Pacific City with there being 4 main islands controlled by several different gangs. At first you start in the central, smallest island where the Agency Tower is located. The idea of the game is that you are working with the agency peacekeepers, the police in other words and have to help rid the city of crime and the gangs. The other three islands are controlled by the three different gangs: Los Muertos, The Volk and Shai-Gen. You have to with the help of the peacekeepers kill all the gangs and you play the character of an agency super person who has enhanced abilities which throughout the game you can improve. There are loads of different cool looking characters to play as, including some extra ones which can be downloaded for free.

          The best thing about this game is that it is completely free-roaming. The islands aren't particularly big, but don't need to be as you can not only go every on the ground but can climb any building and roam on the rooftops above the cities. This greatly improves the game and separates it from all the rivals, like GTA. You can gain an advantage over enemies, move around the city easily and just have fun jumping from building to building 200 metres in the air!

          You will first start in the agency tower and will be given a car and can then enter the first, and only the first island where the Los Muertos gang are located. When entering the island an agency video will be shown, one tells you all about the agency and your character and what can be done with him. The second video will show you about the gang you will be fighting and what sort of weapons and vehicles they have. For each gang there are 7 different gang leaders to be killed including one main boss. Each time you find and then kill a boss the gang will be weakened for example with less men being recruited or not as powerful weapons, etc.

          Your aim is to wipe out all three gangs by killing all 21 bosses on the three different islands, and liberate pacific city from all the fighting and crime!

          On each of the islands there are also supply points which can be found. These will act as safe houses where the game can be saved and you can store and change your weapons.
          You can also drive a variety of vehicles from cars to vans and Lorries and then the special agency vehicles which can be found at the agency tower. These include a supercar, an SUV and a lorry. These will evolve when you get in them and as you improve your driving skill the vehicles get better and you can drive better including by performing stunts in mid air.

          Your character:

          As I just mentioned you have a driving skill which is just one of the many traits that can be improved whilst playing the game. These abilities include: driving skill, firearms use, agility (how fast you can run and how far you can jump), explosive skill, and strength.
          Driving can be improved by killing enemies with you car or performing stunts. You can also compete in races in the city which will also improve your skill. There are four levels of each skill and once you have got all completed 4 times you will become the ultimate agency super agent!
          Firearms skill can be improved by killing enemies with weapons from pistols to machineguns to shotguns and sniper rifles. You can shoot at enemies' arms, body, and legs or head using the special unique aiming system which is easy to get to grips with. Once your shooting skill gets better it takes less time to get aimed up and you will be more accurate and powerful.
          Agility skill can be improved by either shooting from very high places, or by completing rooftop races located all around the islands. This can also be improved by finding green agility orbs on the top of most buildings, or by finding special hidden orbs (which will improve all 5 different abilities). Once your agility skill ranks up you can jump higher and reach greater heights, jump further and run faster.
          Explosive skill like firearms skill is improved by killing enemies with grenades or rocket launchers, and once improved explosions are much bigger and very fun to watch.
          Finally strength can be improved by using your fists or legs to beat down enemies or throw things at enemies to kill them. At first you can only pick up bricks, but by the end you will be ably to pick up anything that isn't attached to the ground including Lorries, you will also be able to throw them really far.

          Multiplayer and extra content:

          This game can be played with another player on xbox live which is great if you get stuck at a certain point and need help. Anyone can join your game and you will carry on from that point and won't have to start again. It is so much more fun with two people as you can race across the roofs, race by car or generally team up and kill all the enemies. I personally enjoy playing a made up game called 'rocket tag' where myself and my friend have to kill each other. One is the mouse the other the cat and the person escaping is not allowed weapons and the other guy has to use rockets! - Very amusing and great fun for hours on end.

          On xbox live there have also been a number of new downloadable content add-ons for the game. Some have been free such as the one which gives you a load of new characters and there is another one which allows you to use cheats. This really fun if you complete the game or just get bored as you can make it easier for yourself by ranking up quicker, spawn any vehicles you want or go into God Mode where you can jump super high which is great fun!
          The other content to download has to be purchased and I think it costs about 600 - 800 Microsoft points (equivalent to around £3-£5). This one adds extra multiplayer challenges, extra races and even some new agency vehicles such as the buggy! There is no way you can get bored of playing this game.
          And even more, which I almost forgot. There are even time trials which can be done where you have to try and complete a boss part, i.e. kill one of the 21 bosses as quick as you can, or do this with a friend on xbox live.

          Conclusion:

          This game has certainly lived up to all the hype and speculation over it beforehand. It has a really cool style and looks great as well as adding a completely new dimension to free roaming games - there is more than just the ground - you can now roam the sky and rooftops. Not quite the same as Grand Theft Auto with less of a story, but so much fun to be had this game can not be missed!

          Price: £14.99 from play.com (bargain!)

          Thanks for reading!

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            20.09.2008 19:08
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            a unique but great little ipod

            Introduction:

            Apple originally released the Ipod in 2001 and it was designed to be another mp3 player to rival all the others. It proved to be hugely successful and easily out witted all its opponents. It was designed to be small and sleek compared to all the then bulky music players you had to carry around.
            Since the launch in 2001 Apple has sold millions of Ipods across the world and it is recognised as the ultimate in music players and is seen as somewhat of a fashion icon - there is no way you could mistake an Ipod for anything else.
            Apple has also released a variety of different Ipods and products to meet the needs of such a wide and diverse customer base. The range includes:
            Ipod Classic, the touch screen ipod Touch, the video-capable ipod Nano, the screenless ipod Shuffle and the iPhone. With there also being several older versions such as the Ipod mini.

            In my family we have owned the majority of these different versions, and if we haven't personally owned one then a friend or someone has had one which I have been able to look at and use. The most recent addition to our collection has therefore been the new Ipod Shuffle and has proved to be a super small, lightweight and very simplistic music player. At first I felt it would be inferior to its sister products such as the Ipod video which has so much to offer including having videos and games. However I have been pleasantly surprised at this little gadget and it has so many advantages and it is certainly a great product even without a screen.


            Screenless - good or bad?:

            The most obvious difference with this Ipod shuffle to all the other versions of the Ipod is that this one has no screen. An ipod is often recognised by its trademark look with the large screen being the main part of it. So in some respects this ipod shuffle is somewhat different and moves away from the typical ipod style. It therefore also limits the functions you are able to perform such as it visually displaying the song, running time, album, and then all the other features such as games, pictures and even videos. Of course if you take into account all thee missing features it seems very much inferior to the other ipods.
            However it not having a screen is clearly much smaller and more compact and very simplistic. For those of you are not very technology-literate it is extremely simple to use by just turning on and listening to your music. It is great for those of you who are good with technology as well as is not the purpose of an ipod to enable you to listen to all your favourite music? With this gadget it is so simple and you can get on with other stuff while listening. There are no other distractions and do you really need all those luxury features such as games - they hardly seem to get used in my opinion.

            Appearance:

            This is by far the smallest version of the Ipod made by Apple and also the lightest only weighing 15 grams! It is very simplistic with a one colour scheme, then white at the top and the circle around the controls. The Ipod shuffle comes in a variety of different colours: Silver, Green, Blue, Pink, Orange, Mint, Turquoise, Red, and Lavender.
            The Ipod shuffle also acts as one large clip - as the back just pulls away and can be clipped anywhere. It is small and sleek and won't look out of place. It is great if you are planning on going for a run or to the gym as you can still listen to that great music while working out and not having to hold that Ipod but instead just clip it onto your shorts or top.

            Controls:

            As I have already mentioned this is a very easy to use Ipod and has the minimal amount of controls with optimum usage. On the front there is the circular main control pad as seen on all Ipods with the play/pause button in the centre. On the actual circle you have skip forward or backwards and the volume up or down controls (+/-). You simply click with one finger and you can control anything. On the top of the Ipod you have the shuffle switch which can be used to either put your music on shuffle so that it will play your songs in a random order and give you loads of variety or have it as it is on itunes or your own custom playlist. This can be changed with the simple flick of the switch. The other button on top is the power button which clearly turns the ipod on or off - and you can also put it on hold so that you don't accidentally change songs while you are walking along and knock into something.

            Charging/power:

            The ipod shuffle comes with a small docking station for easy charge. You simply slot the ipod into the docking station - a small white thing - standing up and plug the USB end into your computer and then it will simply charge up. This can be done when you are loading songs onto it from your computer for example. It doesn't take very long to charge and when the battery is full it will last for about 12 hours. There is also a little light on top of the ipod which will inform you of the charge level. When it is green then it has a lot of battery life, amber means you are running low, and read means stop - you have practically no battery life. This simple traffic light system is great for helping you know when you need to charge back up again.

            Itunes:

            Itunes will act as your key to managing and loading up your Ipod shuffle or any other Ipod version you may own. It will be installed when you connect you ipod to the computer or can be simply downloaded from the Apple website.
            Itunes is a great system by which you can manage everything that goes onto your ipod. You can put any CD you own into the disc drive on the computer and itunes will copy all the songs onto your won database and these can be put straight across onto your ipod. You can decide which songs to put on and which to delete as well s sorting out playlists and the order of your songs. There is also an itunes store where you buy loads of songs and albums from a massive list from modern pop to old classics at very reasonable prices of something around 75p a song and a couple of pounds for an album - depending on which artist or album. You can of course also download podcasts, films, games, pictures and even books from itunes - but these can't be used on the ipod shuffle.
            Itunes is a great customer service feature which is free to all ipod users and will not only help manage their ipod but will also give them any manufacturer support they need

            Headphones:

            As with any Iopd you purchase you get a free set of headphones. They are always in the same ipod white style and do look very stylish. They are labeled L and R so you know which plug goes in which ear. I personally find them very comfortable and easy to use with a good length of wire. They are also very strong and have never had them break. Of course replacement headphones can be bought from anywhere - I would suggest play.com or amazon.co.uk

            2GB

            The Ipod shuffle was originally released with a 1GB memory capacity but this newer version now comes with double the capacity of 2GB. I personally find this a much better size and can fit around 300 to 400 songs on. Of course if you only want about 150 to 200 songs then the smaller size version would be better but at only a small increase in price the 2GB version is definitely the right choice to make and will leave you listening to all those great songs for hours on end!

            Other accessories:

            There are hundreds of different accessories you can purchase to enhance your little ipod shuffle. There are cool skins to protect it and a variety of cases and straps or armbands to hold it in. There is also a car charger and even a waterproof case for it! There are loads of nifty little things to get and all can be found online or in an Apple store.

            Price:

            £45.00 for the 2GB version from play.com

            £32.00 for the 1GB version play.com

            Of course for double the memory size it only costs an extra £12 so is definitely worth it.

            Conclusion:

            The Ipod shuffle may not have all the extra features as other versions but is certainly a great little music player that serves its purpose. It looks cool, can be clipped on to your shorts while in the gym and comes in a variety of colours - what more could you want?

            Thanks for reading!

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              15.09.2008 22:35
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              xbox live makes the xbox 360 a true super console!

              On purchasing an xbox 360 console you are given a free months xbox live gold membership which can be used once for each xbox live account that is created. However this of course only lasts for a month and after that initial month I was hooked and since then have bought and year's membership and love to play online with my friends over xbox live all the time!

              What is Gold Membership?:
              When you create an xbox live account on your xbox 360 there are several different things you have to do. You at first have to input your email address and password in order to verify the account. You then get to choose a gamertag to have - this is your special unique gaming name that you will be recognised as while playing on xbox live - mine is magicman142.
              The final section on signing up is to choose the type of membership you want:
              - Silver membership - You can have a friends list and manages this. You can also download things from the marketplace including demos, arcade games, pictures, etc (I will talk about this in more detail later). You can also send and receive text and voice messages. This level is free!
              - Gold Membership - This is the premium account level which is the same as silver and also allows you to play all xbox games online with friends and players across the world. You also have a much more enhanced friends list and features including member feedback etc. This of course comes at a price which I will discuss later.

              Why connect to xbox live?:
              Xbox live in my opinion has to be the best thing that ever happened to xbox! Without xbox live this console would be just the same as every other one with good games and that's about it. However with xbox live - what having this membership will unlock - you can truly get the most out of your 360 console:

              - Xbox live marketplace - with your membership you can get loads of free stuff from the marketplace including themes, demos etc and can also purchase microsoft points and purchase loads of cool stuff to play and do on xbox live:
              xbox live marketplace.
              The first thing you can buy is an xbox live arcade game. These are classic old style games whose prices range from 400 to 1200 points. Some of my personal favourites are:
              - Worms (800 points)
              - Uno (400 points)
              - Track and Field (400 points)
              You can even purchase extra content for these games, for example for worms you can get new levels and backgrounds.
              You can also buy downloadable content for many xbox 360 games and these cost about 800 points (though prices will vary), and example would be Call of Duty 4 - where you purchase a new map pack of 4 new maps for online and off line play.
              Other items to download from the games section of the marketplace includes gamer pictures and themes for you xbox - these prices are often below about 200, and again it varies from game to game.
              Another new privelidge is being able to download old games from the original xbox, called Xbox Originals.
              My preferred xbox originals are:
              - Halo
              - Black
              - Burnout 3: Takedown
              These cost 1200 points each.
              Another area of the marketplace is the video and music marketplace where you can download music videos from a massive variety of singer from Michael Jackson to Robbie Williams.
              Another new feature is the availability of movies to download for only a few hundred points. These can even be downloaded in HD.
              These includes titles such as:
              - I am Legend
              - Cloverfield
              - Braveheart
              - Harry Potter films
              and so on ( for a full list visit www.xbox.com)
              - The best feature of xbox live has to be the ability to play loads of different games online and get the most out of these games. You can play with all your friends and create you own teams or leader boards as well as compare yourself to players across the world in all time leader boards of different games.
              Most games can be really good offline but they become amazing once you start playing with them online!
              For example I loved the campaign on Call Of Duty 4, but now can't stop playing online against loads of people and it is so great - if I didn't have my membership I wouldn't be able to do this.
              Another example is the recently released Mercenaries 2 which involves loads of missions which can be very challenging, however I can now just go online and play with a friend who owns the game and we can work together and help each other out in finishing the game.

              - On xbox live you can also have your very own friends list which with the gold membership shows you a list of your friends along with their gamertag, picture, catch line and you ca n then read information about them and compare your games with them and loads of other stuff. You can also see your own statistics about how other members find you - a good player or someone who leaves early?
              You can also send messages, videos and voice messages to all your friends!
              Price:

              £34.99 from play.com for 12 months membership
              £12.99 for 3 months (play.com) - which would work out at £51.96 for a year
              In my view it is definitely better to go for the gold membership than the free silver as you get so much more and can of course play games online - one of the most important things about xbox live. It is also far more economical to purchase the full 12 months rather than the 3 months membership for the reasons shown above in the prices.

              You can purchase the membership in several ways:
              - Online from places such as play.com or Game and you will be sent the voucher code through your email account and then type this into the xbox.
              - In store where you will receive a card and have to just scratch off to reveal the code.
              - On the xbox - Using your credit card you can sign up for automatic renewal through the xbox dashboard!
              Conclusion:

              What are you waiting for now is the time to get your membership and start playing all your favourite games online with your friends and get all the other great features from the xbox live marketplace including games and demos and videos, etc. A one off payment can set you up for a whole year's worth of gaming!

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                09.09.2008 14:59
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                Super headset for your xbox 360!

                I originally had the basic wired headset which comes with the xbox 360 premium console. Unfortunately this one was broken by my mum who hoovered up the wire causing it to rip out. I then bought a second one of these which broke of its own accord, and i was then rather fed up with the normal wired headset and opted to go for this new wireless headset, and thought it would be even cooler to get the halo edition one for only a small amount more!
                It was quite a bit more expensive at £30 to the normal wired headset which is only £15, but i felt it would be a worthy investment and would survive longer than the previous ones.
                It certainly has and i have now had this headset for about 6 months and have not had a single problem.
                It is certain the perfect headset for both hardcore gamers and for just casual gamers.

                Firstly, being not wired makes it far more practical as you can move more freely without being attached to the controller, and you can also walk away from the controller without suddenly having your head grabbed back by that really annoying wire.
                It is also very small and compact and fits nicely on the ear and i have found it to be very comfortable, even when wearing it for a few hours. It even comes with two different sized ear holders - suitable for most ears! It is also hardly noticed and you look quite cool and even feel like you are some sort of soldier or something like that.
                Of course a headset itself is necessary on xbox live in order to meet and talk with new or existing friends and to make teamwork a key part of certain games. You can even boast to other gamers about how well you did in the previous race or game, etc.

                The headset also has useful features such as being able to adjust the volume or even to mute your voice so you can listen and not talk - which can sometimes be very amusing!
                The headset itself comes with a wire to plug it into the xbox to be charged which will only take a few hours to get to full and it can last for ages it seems (i'd say about 8 hours). But there is no need to worry as it will give you a warning beep when it only has 30 minutes of life and then again at 10, etc. Of course the fact that it charges through the USB means there are no extra costs for batteries - so another benefit there then.
                Another great feature which is very apparent is that this is actually a limited edition halo 3 headset. The actual headset and functions are exactly the same but it includes some really cool artwork on it and consequently looks so much better than the plain headset. It's great to show off to your friends and also fits really nicely with one of the two limited edition halo controllers - and I also own one of these!
                The headset includes the special halo logo and includes the main halo colour scheme all over - no costs spared!

                Summary:

                -Experience enhanced clarity and performance without wires to tie you down.
                -Embrace the stylish, ergonomic design that fits comfortably on either ear, with two sizes of removable ear grips for a perfectly snug fit.
                -The headset utilizes the same 2.4 GHz radio technology employed by the award-winning Xbox 360 Wireless Controller for clear communications within a range of up to 30 feet.
                -Take command of the situation and communicate with superior audio quality over Xbox LIVE.
                -Up to eight hours of battery life per charge.
                -Outfit your teammates (or rivals) with up to four Wireless Controllers and Wireless Headsets simultaneously per Xbox 360 console.
                -Supports Voice Command for select games.
                -Conveniently located Power On/Off, Volume, and Mute Controls are right where you need them.
                -Halo logo and colour scheme

                Price:
                Should be around £30 normal retail price - play.com or amazon. But can be found cheaper elsewhere if you look around (such as ebay)

                Thanks for reading!

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                • More +
                  01.09.2008 21:18
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                  great album fro the best group ever: Queen!

                  Introduction:

                  I was never really a Queen fan until a few years ago now. I of course knew loads of their songs and in particular We Will Rock You and We are The Champions which are forever being played at all sorts of places. I knew of them for a while and liked them but had never once bought one of their CDs.
                  However as I said first of all this all changed a few years ago now and since that point I loved Queen and now own this CD as in my opinion it is certainly the best one to buy with all the best Queen hits put onto two of the best CDs you will ever encounter!
                  Becoming a Fan:

                  A few years ago now for my Birthday my Mum bought two tickets for the show in London We Will Rock You and she took me there a few weeks after my birthday as a special present. I wasn't really aware of what it was about, but guessed it may have been something to do with Queen from the title.
                  We watched the show at this theatre in London and I thought it was absolutely awesome by using all the Greatest Hits from Queen (most if not all appear on this CD) and making a story out of it. I won't go into details about the show as that is not really relevant to the CD. But all I will say is that once the show had finished I left the theatre as a real Queen fan and I couldn't wait to get the CD!
                  I was actually rather fortunate as my Birthday wasn't too far away from Christmas and lo and behold I was given this CD that Christmas from one of my Aunts. It was the perfect present and I have listened to it loads and am always listening to it in the car, in my room and have even transferred all the songs to my Ipod and listen to them whenever I get the opportunity (along with all the other songs on my Ipod).

                  The Band:
                  Queen is a British rock group whose music has a wide variety from pop rock to Hard rock and includes loads of musical variety and experiment. The Band was formed by Brian May (guitarist) and Roger Taylor (drummer) and Freddie Mercury (lead singer - who died in 19191). They were seen as one of the Greatest bands ever and released hundreds of CDs and have been estimated to have sold around 300 million copies worldwide. They are also famous for their live performance which greatly involve the audience participating and singing along - such as in We Will Rock You.

                  The CD (the important bit):
                  This CD is one of loads of different CDs that have been released by the band and has sold millions of copies worldwide.
                  It includes two CDs - greatest hits volumes 1 and 2.

                  Greatest Hits 1:
                  These songs feature from the first half of their career (1973-81)
                  1. Bohemian Rhapsody:
                  This is possibly one of their most famous songs ever and has been voted the greatest song of all time. I have to say that I totally agree as it is such a great song with superb vocals and music and has so much variety and texture! The video for this song is also very original and different.
                  Rating: 10/10

                  2. Another one bites the dust:
                  Another great classic which is now played on the hit show 'Gladiators' when a contestant is defeated. Again a really good song which I enjoy listening to and has a strong beat - great to sing along too!
                  Rating 8/10

                  3. Killer Queen:
                  Good track that emphasises the ability of the band with great guitar solo and superb vocals. Certainly not as good as the variety on Bohemian Rhapsody!
                  Rating 8/10

                  4. Fat Bottomed Girls:
                  The first thing you notice about this song is the rather amusing title (and the original was released in a case with a naked women which caused a bit of an outcry). This song is very funny and enjoyable to listen to and of course has some sexual tones. It also has lines linking to the next song - Bicycle Race - as they were released together.
                  Rating 8/10

                  5. Bicycle Race:
                  One of my favourite songs on this CD with a great tune and great singing - which I enjoy signing along too (thought not very well!). My favourite bit is when all the bicycle bells start ringing and then it goes back into a guitar solo and then the song again! Also links back to Fat Bottomed Girls with a line mentioning them.
                  Rating: 9/10

                  6. You're my Best Friend:
                  A much slower song than most of the Queen hits and one which I am not overly fond of as I prefer the more upbeat tunes, but it is still a good song with some catchy lines!
                  Rating: 7/10

                  7. Don't Stop Me Now:
                  Absolutely amazing song - very fast and upbeat with some great lines "travelling at the speed of light, that's why they call me Mr Fahrenheit"!
                  You won't be able to stop once you get going on this song!
                  Rating: 10/10

                  8. Save Me:
                  Not too keen on this song but it is still okay. It is slightly different to the normal Queen songs and is a rock ballad about a friends broken relationship - a more emotional side that is often unseen from Queen - interesting
                  Rating: 6/10

                  9. Crazy Little Thing Called Love:
                  A great song - one that seems to make you sway and what to click or clap along (you know what I mean!). It is rumoured that this song only took 5 minutes to compose and was even written by Freddie whilst he was in a bubble bath!
                  Rating: 8/10

                  10. Somebody to Love:
                  This song is another rock ballad which is about love and religion - God. It is made to be like a gospel choir with their voices being layered to sound like 100 people. Another good song - but not great.
                  Rating: 6/10

                  11. Now I'm Here:
                  A very good sign which sees Freddie hit some of his highest notes ever. I really enjoy this one and would have loved to have seen it live as it was very popular and even featured two Freddie Mercury's on stage (a fake appeared one side then he appeared the other side).
                  Rating: 7/10

                  12. Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy:
                  Less successful than most of the other hits on this CD and not one of my favourties. Includes a great guitar solo and some great solo singing from Freddie!
                  Rating: 6/10

                  13. Play the Game:
                  Another good track which was the first to use electronic synthesisers and also the first to show Freddie's famous moustache which he is often recognised for having. Good vocals but not a brilliant song.
                  Rating: 7/10

                  14. Flash:
                  A superb song which is from the film Flash Gordon (a great film) and is from the opening scenes. It even includes dialogue from the first scene of the film which makes it even more unique and great to listen to. A great start to this song!
                  Rating: 9/10

                  15. Seven Seas of Rhye:
                  The earliest released song to appear on this album and was from a fantasy world made up by Mercury. A relatively short song but still good including some superb guitar playing from Brian May.
                  Rating: 8/10

                  16. We Will Rock You:
                  Stomp, Stomp, Clap..Stomp, Stomp, Clap. I bet you can all recognise that being one of their most known sons for its superb beat and ability for anyone to join in with! Very powerful, loud and strong song that I love - it is also played in the show We Will Rock You funnily enough and the whole audience has to join in!
                  Rating: 10/10

                  17. We are the Champions:
                  This is one of the best songs ever and is always being played at football stadiums and sung by fans (I know as have done this several times when my team won promotion!). An anthem for many sports teams and one that is loved be everyone (I think!). Another amazing song and a favourite for me!
                  Rating: 10/10

                  Overall:
                  One of the best CDs with some of Queens best and greatest from the first half of their career!
                  Overall rating: 9/10 - I love this CD!

                  Greatest Hits 2:

                  This CD completes the package to make this one of the best CDs ever. This second one consists of the second half of their career after 1981 and includes several more amazing hits and some which are slightly less known and not so popular.

                  1. A Kind Of Magic:
                  This hit became number one in over 35 countries, but not in Britain and I don't see why as it is such a great song and was made for the film Highlander. The video was very modern and included loads of special effects. A very well known and popular song!
                  Rating: 8/10

                  2. Under Pressure:
                  This song was the first time that Queen joined up with another artist: David Bowie in this case and it was a massive success. A good song and one that includes some great vocals between Bowie and Mercury both high and low.
                  Rating 7/10

                  3. Radio Ga Ga:
                  This was one of my favourite songs after watching We Will Rock You in London and it was extremely well performed on the stage. A very robotic song but enjoyable and not monotonous at all. Very easy to listen to and great to join in with.
                  Rating: 9/10

                  4. I want it all:
                  This song reminds me of something you will probably hear lots of kids saying when they are at a toy shop! A great classic rock hit - something that Queen can do with absolute perfection!
                  Rating: 9/10

                  5. I want to beak free:
                  Another favourite of mine on this second CD. with superb vocals and lyrics which like many of the tracks has a great variety and build up to that best bit in the song! One of their most successful releases in Europe!
                  Rating: 9/10

                  6. Innuendo:
                  One of their longest tracks ( 6 and a half minutes) and a very successful one as their first to be released in the nineties. This one proves just how skillful they can be as it includes a whole variety of different music styles - but it is not one of my personal favourites.
                  Rating: 8/10

                  7. It's a hard life:
                  Not one of their best in my view but displays Freddie's love for opera which influenced several songs such as Bohemian Rhapsody. Good song - but nothing to stand out from the rest.
                  Rating: 6.5/10

                  8. Breakthru:
                  Displays great variety s it starts off slowly which I am not too keen on but is then great as it suddenly speeds up into a great rock song!
                  Rating: 7/10

                  9. Who wants to live forever:
                  This is again another slower track but one which I really like as it is very powerful and emotional and was for the film Highlander where the main character has to face losing his wife. A heart wrenching song that is my favourite slower song by Queen and one which I really like!
                  Rating: 8.5/10

                  10. Headlong:
                  A typical fast paced rocker which is relatively good. he importance of this song is that the video was one of the final shots of the band with lead singer Freddie Mercury who died not long after.
                  Rating: 7/10

                  11. The Miracle:
                  This song is about God's creations and refers to many famous figures in the lyrics as well. I wouldn't say it is one of their best but was described as "an incredibly complex track" by Taylor.
                  Rating 7/10

                  12. I'm going slightly mad:
                  A typical eccentric Queen song that is very funny and light hearted, although many people think it has darker undertones - though I don't think this and feel it is a good song.
                  Rating: 7/10

                  13. The Invisible Man:
                  Another more light hearted song which resembled very much Ghostbusters. It also has a great video for the song which shows as child playing a computer game trying to shoot the band who are the bad guys!
                  Rating: 7/10

                  14. Hammer to Fall:
                  Another song to feature in the film Highlander and is another heavy rock song. The record sleeves, particularly the one from the live version, are now a collector's item (so have a look in the loft if you may have one!)
                  Rating: 6.5/10

                  15. Friends Will be Friends:
                  Not one of their most successful but still a record being their 30th single release in the UK and reached 13th in the charts. Not one I like that much.
                  Rating: 6/10

                  16. The show must go on:
                  It is about how Freddie is continuing to sing and perform despite being near the end of his life (hence the title). Definitely one of their most powerful and emotional songs about life and death and a very good one!
                  Rating: 9/10

                  17. One Vision:
                  Written after a live aid performance and one which focuses on the problems in the world and was used as an intro to many of their concerts. A great song and great end to the album!
                  Rating: 9/10

                  Overall:
                  A great second album with some super ones at the beginning and end yet has a few not so good ones in the middle!
                  Overall rating: 8/10
                  Price:

                  £5.40 from amazon.co.uk - no question about getting it at this price!

                  Conclusion:

                  This has to be one of the greatest albums ever with the best songs from the greatest band ever! Super hits which are really well known across the world including Bohemian Rhapsody and We are The Champions! (They certainly are!)
                  Overall rating: 9/10!

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                  • Men Of Honour (DVD) / DVD / 116 Readings / 112 Ratings
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                    31.08.2008 00:21
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                    A great film about getting into diving in Navy ( true story)

                    I was given this DVD as a gift several months ago and before that had never even heard of it. I have been very busy over most of the holidays being away quite so have not had time to watch it until today and at first all I'm going to say is that it is a superb film with a great story and great acting.

                    Initial Expectations:
                    Having not seen nor heard of this film before I wasn't too sure what it was about, but having been pestered for quite a while from the guy who gave me the DVD and waiting I while before I watched it I had loads of time in which my imagination began to guess what this film was going to be about. I thought it was to do with something about war (which was assumed from the title and front cover) and that being a 15 it would probably involve fighting and stuff like that.
                    I was however completely wrong and it turned out to be quite different but certainly no less of a great film.

                    The film:
                    The film is actually based on a true story about Carl Brashear, a black boy who is told by his father "never to quite, and be the best" and he certainly took these words on.
                    He is the son of a sharecropper and watching his father he wants more and is determined to succeed and then joins the US navy. He then sees Billy Sunday doing heroics as a deep sea diver for the Navy and he decides he wants to do that and become the first ever African American diver for the Navy. And that's not as far as he sees, he also wants to be a Master Chief, something that few people achieve.

                    The film follows through the life of Carl and also his relationship with Billy Sunday and shows how they are both similar and shows their triumphs, problems and failures. They are the "men of honour".
                    The film is great and shows how Carl is mistreated by everyone for being black and is even tested much harder and is forced into failure by those around him. However he has enough dtermination to get through this and shows to others how he is great and can acheive high things.
                    The relationship between Carl and Billy is also great as at first Billy hates Carl and wants to destroy him, but later begins to build respect for him and eventually lets him pass the course.

                    It is not until the ned that we see a true bond and relationship between them as Carl loses a leg and has it amputated, but still wants to dive and fulfill his ambition. To do this he has to prove he is strong enough to use the diving suit in the court room. He is helped by Billy and they both win the case and prove they are men of honour.
                    I absolutely loved this film and can't wait to see it again as it was a super story along with good music and acting and proved to be very emotional and you really felt the full emotions come through from the film!

                    Film details:
                    Cast:
                    Robert De Niro ... Chief 'Billy' Sunday
                    Cuba Gooding Jr. ... Chief Carl Brashear
                    Charlize Theron ... Gwen Sunday
                    Aunjanue Ellis ... Jo

                    Release date: 30 March 2001
                    Running Time: 123 min
                    Awards: 9 nominations
                    "History is made by those who break the rules"


                    Price:
                    £2.98 from Amazon.co.uk ( at this price it is a must have!)

                    Conclusion:
                    A great film about how an African American man makes history and shows real determination, and how friendships are created from hate.
                    A super film that I can't wait too watch again!

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                    • AGA Cookers in General / Discussion / 98 Readings / 92 Ratings
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                      30.08.2008 13:36
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                      the best oven money can buy!

                      Last year, during the summer, we had a large extension built onto our house and this added some extra rooms as well as largely extending our kitchen transforming it from a small square room into a large room with a dining area at one end and then the main kitchen along with an island in the middle of the room. We got all new shelving units and cupboards and everything from fridges to a dishwasher. But the centre piece of our new kitchen is now the new Aga.

                      What is Aga:

                      Aga is a company which makes one of the world's most known and finest cookers.
                      It is thought to be a very much British company but actually originated from Sweden and their cookers are now present in thousands of homes across the country. The actual Aga was invented by the blind Dr Gustav Dalen. It was originally designed to be a modern cooker for his home and is now a style icon which is present in loads of homes and is seen as the top of the range in cookers.
                      Aga as well as producing their fine cookers also make fridges and cook books and other cookware.
                      Why get an Aga:

                      If you are fed up with your old cooker that looks dull and rather tasteless in the corner of your kitchen, why not make your kitchen the place to be and enjoy being there with a great cooker that not only looks great but is also extremely useful and easy to use.
                      They even come in a range of colours from creams to black, blue or red.
                      Shop and Service:

                      The first time I went into an Aga shop I was amazed at how great it looked with all these outstanding cookers and it felt really homely. All the staff alwasy seem to be very helpful and know a lot about the Agas, many are even specialist Aga cooks who have their own books.
                      If you are interested in getting an Aga, but are unsure what it would be like they have loads of cooking sessions where they show you the potential of it and how to use it and loads more. So we had to go to one of these ( and you even get the first one free - as you can go to others and learn more once you have your Aga). It was great as we were cooked loads of stuff from a cooked breakfast and toast (which can be done on the Aga) to Salmon, spaghetti and even some nice deserts including popcorn for the kids.
                      This session was extremely useful in showing us how to use an Aga and how it can be used to cook anything - and it tasted great. The people were very helpful and told you anything you wanted to know.
                      We have subsequently been back to several sessions including a special Christmas one on how to cook your Christmas dinner!
                      The Installation:

                      As you can guess from this subtitle we bought the Aga - and were very easily persuaded. A date was organised as to when they would come round and install it as it has to be put together at the house - and is very heavy as it is made from some very heavy, chunky metal. It didn't take too long too install and they just had sort out the pipes so it could all work properly. It then has to be turned on and left at specific heats for certain lengths of time and turned up gradually so it gets going properly. But this only takes a week or so and then you are set up forever (hopefully). It just meant we had to have microwave meals for that first week!
                      The Aga:

                      Having now had the Aga for almost a year now it has been absolutely great and has been used for so much. We opted to buy the largest one with two hobs, as well as a gas section at the end. The reason we got this as well is because the Aga is of course very hot and tends to act as a large radiator heating most of downstairs up - which is great in the winter, but not so in the summer. So in the summer we turn off the main Aga, but can still cook using the gas section.
                      Our version is cream and fits in with our fridge and all the cupboards and units in the kitchen.
                      It has several different sections in it and they all have different uses, from the normal cooking ovens to specially designed baking ovens for making all your cakes and other goodies.
                      On top of the Aga there are also two special hobs one is for boiling and the other is slightly cooler. They both have special lids which just lift up and there you have your hob hot and ready to use. You can even fit up to 3 average sized saucepans on top of these.
                      There is also a special section behind a door with all the heat controls which are very east to use and described through the manual.
                      We find that some of the sections are great for also storing all our trays and other things - especially in the summer as there is no heat!


                      We have used the Aga loads since we have add and have even been able to experiment with different things from our Aga cookbook - including popcorn on the boiling plates which is very amusing.
                      Another great factor as well as being a heat source for the house is the fact that the ovens don't give off much smell so if you leave that chicken in there for too long when having a dinner party no one will be able to smell it (although you will have to find some more food!). We have had a problem once or twice and have left something in there and forgotten about it and found charcoal left in there!


                      Problems:
                      We have only ever had one problem with our Aga and that was that the fan was not working properly so the Aga couldn't heat up enough. However Aga were very good and sent round someone to look at it and it was all sorted within a few days and the fan was replaced, and at no extra cost as you are covered for 3 years for any problems after buying your Aga.
                      The Aga can also get very hot when it is turned on and children must be aware of this as touching it will not burn but may cause a shock!

                      Good things:
                      The Aga food tastes so much better in my opinion than a normal cooker as it cooks different to normal cookers and doesn't dry out food, but keep all the flavours.
                      Toast can even be done on the Aga - you put your bread in a special rack and put it on and it only takes second to toast!

                      Aga offer loads of help in their shops and on the website as well as there being lots of different Aga specific cookery lessons and demonstrations to attend (information can be found out at your local Aga store)

                      Other Aga products:

                      Aga also produce several different cook books by a variety of different chefs and these are all specific to the Aga and tell you some great recipes and how they should be cooked on an Aga rather than a normal cooker.
                      Aga also produce their own range of saucepans and other useful cookery items, though these can be used on any cooker of course.
                      What they do however produce are several items that are specific for the Aga and also come free when you purchase an Aga. These include grease proof sheets for the hobs in order to protect the actual hob and make it easy for frying stuff such as eggs!
                      There are also covers for these hobs which allow you to put your washing for example on top to allow it to dry but without getting burnt - very good use of space indeed rather than having an airing rack up in the winter.
                      Aga also produce a special toast rack to put your toast in and then put it on the hob and close the lid and hey presto you have toast in a few seconds!

                      Price:

                      This is the only bad bit I have to say.
                      The prices of an Aga oven range from about £5000 to £12000.

                      Though you can of course buy second hand ones or renovated ones for much lower prices.
                      You can get a free brochure from the store or website.
                      I have to say that it is very expensive, but if you think about what you are getting it is worth it. A top of the range oven that will be the pride and joy of your home!

                      Conclusion:
                      The best oven money can buy. Cook everything you want and learn loads more about cooking. Aga is definitely the best choice in ovens!

                      Thanks for reading!

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                      • American Dream / Discussion / 117 Readings / 113 Ratings
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                        27.08.2008 18:45
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                        The American dream - what is it?

                        The 'American Dream' is said to be a belief that any person who can put in hard work and use initiative can achieve anything they want. The United States offers boundless possibilities and opportunities and many other rewards, and people can achieve their 'dream' regardless of their past and previous circumstances; anyone through enough commitment is able to unlock their potential.
                        In this essay I will be discussing the relevance of the dream in today's society and whether it is still achievable by anyone. I will also compare the status of the dream in the past to what it is like today.
                        On the other hand one could say that the dream is merely an idea and many people would never have a chance of achieving it. However the fact that it exists gives people something to aim and strive for and as a result they believe that they will become successful in life. This optimism would then result in people, in theory, leading better lives, and the idea of the 'American Dream' has been extremely successful in achieving its purpose - to improve people's lives in America.

                        The American Dream was very different in the past, particularly in the 1920s. Up to the Wall Street crash in 1929, many people were able to make money on the stock market and many wealthy people were created in this period. People could achieve their dreams and buy many material goods including cars, fridges and radios. This massive boom led to many people becoming able to achieve their 'American Dream'.
                        Despite the Wall Street Crash and the depression of the 1930s, the idea of the dream has still survived and is a prominent feature in society today. It is clearly very resilient and powerful and many people in America believe it is still achievable.
                        In today's society one could say that the dream has become distorted from its original meaning and has merely become an obsession with wealth and possessions. Thus, in these circumstances, the dream is not accessible just by hard work and commitment, but requires access to wealth, power and connections. An example of this is Hilary Clinton who is running in the current presidential election. Through the status of her husband, Bill Clinton (president 1993-2001), she has been greatly aided in this election; with him providing wealth, power and certainly connections. However, Hilary Clinton is trying to accomplish something never before achieved - becoming the first female president. This is a step towards the aspirations of women and in particular towards the equality between men and women, and symbolises a dream held by many, if not all women in America and suggests that the dream is not only held by a singular person but can be held by a whole community, in this case women.

                        Another point is that today people can also achieve their dreams with no hard work at all. Game shows such as 'Who wants to be a millionaire' and the lottery can make instant millionaires and winners resultantly can achieve their dream with no input or effort whatsoever.
                        There has recently been a major crisis in America over mortgages, in which many banks have lent mortgages to customers in the sub-prime category. These people have very poor credit history and have borrowed money they can't afford to repay, and as a result the banks have been repossessing property and this has led to lives becoming devastated. This recent catastrophe has caused American dreams to become ruined, and has heavily affected those with poor credit history.

                        There are many examples of people who have achieved their 'American Dream'; a recent example is Bill Gates who invented Microsoft and built up a multi billion dollar empire.
                        Overall, in my opinion the dream is something that can be achieved by everyone, but is more easily attained by those with power and connections, whilst others find it much more challenging. Over time the idea and purpose of the dream has changed and become solely a struggle for wealth, but nevertheless the dream in itself has been very resilient and has survived many difficult periods such as the Wall Street crash. I believe that in the future the dream may surpass many changes, but will remain an icon in American values.


                        Feel free to express your views on what the American Dream is and if it's still there - or has it gone in recent years and particularly in our current economic climate.

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                        • Jubilee Sailing Trust / More Travel / 89 Readings / 85 Ratings
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                          26.08.2008 17:11
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                          A LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE!

                          I first found out about the Jubilee Sailing Trust in the Southampton Boat Show. My Mum knew about it and was rather keen on me going on one of the trips so we took a brochure and a few weeks later I was booked aboard Tenacious for this summer to sail from Southampton to London. Before going on the trip I wasn't too keen or excited about the trip as I had never sailed before and it didn't particularly appeal to me.
                          I will say now that I am extremely glad that my Mum pushed for me to take up this opportunity as I have leant so much from the trip as well as making loads of new friends and encountering new experiences. I now can't wait to go on another trip next summer - and hopefully an even longer one!
                          Day 1: Monday

                          I arrived at the port in Southampton around 2 o'clock and the first thing that hit me was just how amazing and beautiful the ship looked. We were sailing on Tenacious, a large tall ship which looked superb amongst all the other boats with its large masts and sails. As soon as I stepped aboard I felt instantly better as everyone was so welcoming and I was shown straight to my watch leader and then to my cabin. I was to be sleeping on the top of a bunk bed in a room with about 10 beds with most of the boys and men. I did have a nice window to look out of though! Once I had put my bag on my bunk I had to go to the lower mess (large downstairs sitting and eating area) where we were each given a name sticker, our wet gear (which I felt would not be needed as it couldn't get that wet - I was wrong!) and we signed onto the ship for the next few days.
                          The rest of the day went rather quickly as we met our watch groups and I instantly got to know people, and we were then able to go up the mast. We each climbed up the rigging and then out along the mast - you get a great view from up there.
                          Unfortunately due to severe weather warnings we could not set sail according to plan and we were going to remain at dock until the following day and then leave. This meant there was not as much to do so after a great dinner of Lasagna and Banoffee pie we played some games in the mess, and then retired to bed early.
                          Day 2: Tuesday

                          The second day started very early being woken up at 5.30 ready for the early morning watch from 6 to 8. Because we were in harbour only two people were needed to do the watch, so I was elected along with Sue, another member of my watch. It was very early, but we had an unforgettable experience in seeing the QE2 come into port at about 6.30 that morning! This watch was actually rather entertaining as we had the duty of waking up the mess men and then the ongoing watch - which took a bit of effort particularly trying to find the different people in the right bed numbers.
                          As soon as our watch ended we had a great breakfast consisting of toast, cereals (including my favourite Weetabix!), and even a cooked full English breakfast, and porridge. I thought this was just a one-off but it was the same every day. At 10.30 we had what was called "Happy Hour" - though I'm not quite sure how it gained this name as it basically involves cleaning the whole ship including scrubbing the decks and mopping and cleaning downstairs. I was fortunate and did actually have a fun job and was in charge of the fire hose spraying down the decks. This hour of happiness does of course make the ship look very nice and is a good way of making friends and builds upon teamwork skills.
                          We were due to set sail at 12.00, but just before that the disabled people including those in wheelchairs were taken up the masts with everyone else having to heave the ropes. When we finally set sail I was part of the off-shore crew which involved removing all the large ropes from the stacks on the dock. We then rode in the speed boat back to Tenacious which was great fun as it was very rough and I was absolutely soaked by the waves.
                          Unfortunately once we were out of the safety of the harbour the sea became extremely rough with the boat constantly tipping from side to side, and the waves crashing onto the deck. I was sensible and had made sure I took my seasickness tablets and was perfectly fine throughout the journey. Others were not so good and a large handful of people were sick and feeling very bad. With the wind changing direction we had to change the bracing (angle of the sails) and everyone who was still in good health had to help with the ropes. I then had to help prepare a sail to be put out and it needed to be tied on securely, which proved rather difficult in very strong winds.
                          For the evening meal we had a rather poorly chosen meal which consisted of both gravy and peas - not the best when the ship was tipping from side to side and the peas were flying everywhere.
                          We then had our second watch from 6 to 8 in the evening and as we were now at sea the full watch was required and everyone had duties including being on lookout for anything at sea, completing the log where you took readings from a selection of the different dials and finally my favourite, being able to take control of the wheel and steer the ship.
                          I went to bed much earlier after a very long and tiresome day, yet it took a while to get accustomed to sleeping while at sea as the rocking meant I was constantly rolling across the bed. Had it not been for a special canvas put up on the sides of the bunk I would certainly have gone flying out of the bunk on several occasions during the night.
                          Day 3: Wednesday

                          I was woken up about 6.40 ready for an early breakfast, and the first thing I noticed was the ship was barely rocking and was thankful both the sea and wind had finally decided to calm down. We were on watch for a long stint from 8 to 12.30, and again we had the famed "Happy Hour" at 10.30 and once more I was on hose duty, although this time I managed to get more water on myself rather than the deck. We then anchored up at sea just by Margate for shelter as there was more bad weather to come - including force 10 gales.
                          When I applied for this trip I also applied for the young leader's award and this of course involved some extras during the voyage. We were all gathered together around 11 o'clock and had a discussion about the ship and in particular working with disabled people. We were then asked to go up the mast and to tie up the sail as being anchored up we no longer needed to catch the wind. By doing this we were able to learn more about the ship and in particular how the sails work, for example they are attached by special gasket knots. It was actually much scarier going onto the rigging once we were at sea as there were winds of over 45 knots and the boat was still rocking; and I was one of the furthest along the mast and only attached by a single clip onto a wire.
                          Unfortunately with the weather remaining very bad we were forced to stay at anchor overnight and the consequences of this were we were unable to do as much sailing as we would have liked, we had little time and it wasn't very safe to cross the channel and visit a French port, as had been planned.
                          Another great perk of participating in the young leader's award was that we were asked to provide the evening entertainment in the form of a quiz. This actually proved to be very successful and everyone became involved in a challenging quiz with one question being and that still puzzles my mind: In what note do toilets flush? Answer: D minor!
                          Day 4: Thursday

                          On the penultimate day we pulled up anchors and began our descent down the River Thames, just after breakfast. I wasn't on watch during the morning so I had a bit of free time which I spent relaxing for a while - something which seems to be hard to find whilst on the ship. Happy hour descended upon us again and this time I was cleaning downstairs, along with the rest of my watch. I was designated the job of mopping the floors and had to follow the man with the hoover through the rooms and corridor. At least I didn't get to clean out the heads (toilets) which looked to be the worst job. After a delicious lunch of mini homemade pizzas we were on watch from 12 to 4. In this time I had to be lookout for any buoys or ships in our path and was able to get some good views of the Thames and even saw Southend where I used to live and also good a great view of Southend pier (the longest pleasure pier in the world!). During our watch I was also able to go up the mast again to help tie up the sails properly, I was right at the far end of the sail and had the most important role of tying the end of the sail through the clues and onto the mast, during which I was being mentored by a member of the crew.
                          At 4.30 I was to start my mess duty for the week and would be helping in the galley along with 4 other members of the voyage crew. We had to set the tables for the different groups eating and then had to wash and clean up after dinner. I didn't mind this too much as I currently work in a restaurant washing up, but working in this small team in the galley helped me improve my team working skills and I also made a few more friends.
                          We docked up at Tilbury at around 7 o'clock that evening and after dinner we were able to go ashore for the first time since the beginning of the voyage. As this was to be our last night everyone went to the local, and only, pub in the area where we had a great evening playing loads of card games, some of which were very rowdy. We also had another task to do as part of the young leader's award in which we had to experience what it was like to be disabled and in this case blind. We took it in turns to wear blindfolds and guide each other all the way around the ship. We ended getting to bed quite late that night, almost 1 o'clock and were to be woken the following morning at 6.30!
                          Day 5: Friday

                          On the final day I was up early ready to continue my mess duty by setting the table for breakfast and clearing up again after. We were relieved from this duty quite early so we could pack our bags and clear everything from the bunks. This didn't take too long and after packing we had to strip the beds and put all our bags in one of the rooms out of the way. We then had our final happy hour so the boat was looking pristine ready for the final leg of the journey into the centre of London. My job was relatively easy as I just had to wipe the tables in the upper mess.
                          As we entered London everyone on the ship went out on deck and a lot of us were lying down on the bow of the ship at the front. We were passing many famous landmarks including the O2 Arena and then past Canary Wharf, where we would eventually be ending our journey. It was at this point that there was suddenly a call asking for four volunteers to go up the mast, and I was lucky enough to get there quickly and was able to go up the mast whilst we were going through the centre of London. Whilst up on the mast we had to release a banner which said "Jubilee Sailing Trust" on it and this was acting as an advertisement for the charity. It was an amazing experience going up the mast then as we got a great view of London from up high and we were also being waved at by hundreds of people in nearby flats or walking down the paths along the Thames.
                          We then got to our end point along the Thames at Tower Bridge where the Birdge opened up for us! There were thousands of people watching us as we passed by along with several of the river cruise boats stopping by us for photos. We then turned around and once again the bridge opened up for us and we began our return to our destination, Canary Wharf. Along the way we took group photos of all the crew and then of each separate watch group.
                          The final leg of the journey became quite emotional as we had just got to know each other and were now already at the end of our experience aboard HMS Tenacious and were soon going to be saying goodbye. We docked at Canary Wharf where there were all of our families ready to welcome us back home. Once we had docked and everything was shipshape we slowly began leaving the ship and saying our goodbyes - though hopefully not forever!
                          Conclusion of my expereince:

                          This has probably been one of the best experiences of my life and one which proved to greatly beat my initial expectations and hopes. I enjoyed it so much that I can't wait to get back aboard again and hopefully next time complete a longer voyage. I have taken so much away from this experience that will greatly benefit me in general day to day life and other experiences I may encounter in the future. I have of course discovered a joy for sailing which I never knew I had (my Grandfather, an avid sailor for years, is thrilled that at last one of his grandchildren has got the sailing bug. I may yet persuade him to join me aboard HMS Tenacious) and I have learnt a lot in such a short time about the ship and new technical language. This voyage also involved working and living with disabled people, an experience I had never really encountered before. I believe I have made many friends who have disabilities, but have also discovered how these disabilities should not make them lesser people and that their involvement was never hampered by their disability and they could enjoy themselves. This voyage was strongly based on team work in every aspect from within your separate watches to mess duty and to general control and running of the ship, and I believe I have greatly enhanced this skill within my own ability.
                          This has been a truly great experience which I believe has made me better as a person and it is one which I can't wait to do again!

                          Extra Information:

                          More information about the JST can be found at : www.jst.org.uk
                          They run many voyages throughout the whole year aboard their two Tall ships: HMS Lord Nelson and HMS Tenacious.
                          There are many different types of voyages from the short 5 day ones which remain within the Birtish coast or to those longer expereinces across the Atlantic to Barbados or the Canary Islands.
                          My trip being just 5 days cost 500GBP, but I managed to save 50 pounds by booking early and also was sponsored for half the cost.
                          Taking a trip with the Jubilee Sailing Trust can be a once in a lifetime or lifechanging experience!

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                            25.08.2008 17:08
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                            cool mario kart radio control cars!

                            Mario has to be one of the most famous characters ever in video gaming history. He has been in many games from some great classics on all the old Nintendo console such as on the N64. An d he still features in all the great modern games on the Nintendo DS and the Wii - including some new games involving Mario and friends (or enemies) such as Mario Olympics and that new Mario football game on the wii.
                            However this particular radio control car features from the well loved Mario Kart racing game which was originally released in 1992 on the SNES. Mario Kart DS has been rated number 35 in the top 100 greatest games of all time!

                            The game:
                            Mario Kart is definitely one of the most fun and enjoyable racing games you could play. It involves racing as characters from the Mario series including Mario, Yoshi, Princess Peach, etc. You race in cool looking Karts and have a variety of weapons and power ups you pick up in order to win the race including banana skins, turtle shells and mushrooms for boost. There are some really cool tracks that you race on as well from Bowling alleys to beaches.

                            So back to the product, what is it?:
                            This product is a radio control Kart from that famous game I have just described. You can get a choice of three version: either this red version with the main character Mario on it, or two other versions with Yoshi (the green dinosaur) or Donkey King (the big monkey). These Karts look really cool and realistic with a Kart which is greatly detailed from the game and features Mario sitting in the driving seat with his typical red clothes and that famous red M hat.
                            The Kart is 1/32 scale and comes with a remote control with all the buttons you would need to drive this. The controller is actually like a Gameboy Advance controller and features all the buttons on that normal controller for the console - so you drive it as you would play it on the game. You can drive forward, revers and obviously steer as well as light up a light in the exhaust.

                            Details:
                            Height: 13cm or 5 inches
                            Batteries: Requires 1 x 9v and 2 x AA batteries (not supplied)

                            Some problems or weaknesses:
                            Being relatively small means this kart has a relatively short range and would therefore be restricted on how far away you could drive it. It also doesn't really compare to other radio control cars on the market. Although this one is rather quirky it doesn't have any extra abilities as such and doesn't go particularly fast, but does of course have those cool Mario characters!
                            Of course another restriction is that these run on batteries which means if they are used a lot you will have to keep buying and changing batteries which are not only costly but are also bad for the environment as they can't be recycled.

                            Who would like this then?:
                            I would suggest this would be a great gift for any gaming and particularly Nintendo fan. It would probably take them away from the television and games console for a while as well. This is relatively small so is great t be used on a table or desk at work for example. But is also very strong and would therefore work outside on a flat surface as well. Being very colourful it would also be a great gift for kids of all ages as long as they are able to work it. It looks nice and is great fun so most kids would enjoy it whether or not they have played the computer game.

                            Price:
                            £9.99 from game.co.uk and with three different karts to choose from: Mario, Yoshi or Donkey Kong.

                            Conclusion:
                            This is a great gift for any Nintendo fan or anyone who has played any of the Mario games. They are really fun to get two and race each other around the house for example. You could even stick in some obstacles in true Mario Kart style -who will win Mario, Yoshi or Donkey Kong. At only £10 it's not too hard to purchase more than ! and have some great fun with friends or family with these quirky little radio control cars!

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                              21.08.2008 22:46
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                              great stickers for your psp!

                              At first thoughts you may think this is just some cruddy little sticker you will stick on your PSP and within a day or so it will begin to peel and fade and will have to be pulled off - and then it may even leave marks and little bits of sticker all over your lovely PSP. This is exactly what I thought when I first saw these skins and was not overly keen on buying one.
                              However one of my friends found them on Ebay for around £5 and managed to persuade me to get one for my PSP to make it look 'cool'. I have to say that was one of the best buys I've made for my PSP.

                              What are they?:
                              These wrapstar skins are basically very high class vinyl stickers which are bought stuck on some of that special paper flat. You then peel it from there and carefully apply to your PSP and apply pressure to remove any bubble. The sticker comes in several different sections for the back, and front and other small bits which need separate stickers.

                              They are great for revitalising the boring old PSP which seems to come in only black, white or pink (for the more daring of you). That reminds me a bit of Henry Ford who once said "you can have any colour you like as long as its black". That's a bit like the PSP - a lack of choice, but no longer with Wrapster skins being like an upgrade or paint job for your PSP - this is the future!
                              Applying them is very easy and as long as you put them carefully in the right place they will fit exactly.
                              They do not seem to be two large and cover the PSP perfectly - and still leave enough space for the buttons to be easily pressed or moved (such as the analog stick).

                              The skin can also be very useful if your PSP has become damaged or scratched and it can be used to hide the marks and may it look new and fresh again! Much cheaper than buying a new PSP!

                              Style and life:

                              The one I had lasted about a year and hardly peeled at all, I just decided I would have a change and return back to the normal black PSP. The skin never faded and always looked really good.
                              I had a purple lightning one with loads of lightning strikes all over it.
                              There are loads of different colours and styles to choose from. From simple plain colours to bright ones or even those with pictures from games on the PSP - you name it they probably have it!
                              I would say one of these would last about a year or so - not bad for a sticker eh!
                              These skins are also great for showing off to your friends and you could even pretend you have some special limited edition model - I bet they'd believe you!

                              Removal:

                              If for some reason you wish to remove the sticker it is really easy and can be peeled off in one simple move and will not leave any glue residue or marks and will actually make your PSP looking newer than before!
                              The only problem is you can't put it back on after removing as it will curl and go a bit funny - so keep for as long as possible and don't have a sudden inkling while playing a game to start picking at that corner!
                              Price:
                              These will cost under a fiver at most places and can be very cheap for only a couple of pound from Ebay.co.uk


                              Conclusion:
                              These are really cool little skins that will revitalise that dull looking PSP of yours and make you fell happier with it as well as acting as protection to scratches (or covering up those already made). I can't really find any floors with this product as it doesn't peel and is very durable - and at an extremely good price you could easily afford to buy a few of them!

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                                18.08.2008 16:31
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                                good sony memory stick for use in psp and sony cameras

                                This product is the 2gb memory stick which can be used in the Sony PSP console.
                                I currently have a PSP and have changed memory sticks several times. At first I had the 32 mb version which came with the console, I then bought the 512mb version.
                                However I have found the 512mb version to still be too small and I needed a much bigger memory stick in order to store all that I wanted on my PSP.

                                The actual stick:
                                The memory stick is a very small plastic card, just larger than the size of your thumb and slots into the side of the PSP. It is potentially hard to lose but you should not need to take it out of your PSP that much. It is very strong and will not break easily and of course is black to fit in with the typical PSP colour. Althoug this isn't that important as it goes inside the console. It can also hold up to 2gb worth of memory which is absolutely perfect for anyone who owns a PSP and wants to optimise their use of it!
                                So, what can you store in this and PSP?:
                                There is so much you can do on the PSP and this really helps you do everything you could want.
                                - Music:
                                You can store loads of songs on your PSP as well as sorting them into groups just like an Ipod - so no longer a need for that. You can store hundreds of songs with 2gb of space!

                                - Videos
                                You can put downloaded videos of game trailers and other stuff for the PSP which can be downloaded of the PSP website along with other short videos and programmes. You can also even put films onto the PSP and this will act as a MP4 player - for example I put 300 onto my PSP and it took about 800mb.
                                - Games
                                Of course one of the main features and uses of the memory stick will be to store your game saves and these take up very little space so that is a great benefit! You may also wish to download further game demos through your PSP - or even download games which can be found out how to done on the internet and start downloading all your favourite classic games!
                                - Pictures:
                                Another favourite is to put pics of anything on your PSP to show to all your mates. These also take up little room and can be easily sorted on the PSP. There is also a camera function on the PSP which can be used and these pictures can also be stored very easily.
                                There are other great uses such as the new RSS channel, surfing the web and going onto the portable tv which all use up some memory space.


                                With this great little memory stick you can really unlock the true potential of your PSP and have loads of fun with it - turn it into your own mini computer!
                                It is also very easy to put all this things on your PSP by using the computer and a USB to connect up and start putting all this great stuff on!
                                Price:
                                £9.50 amazon.co.uk

                                There are also loads of alternatives and other makes of memory stick which are all equally great!
                                For example the size of memory sticks include a variety:
                                - 32mb one which comes with the basic psp starter pack. This one of course is very cheap and can be bought for a couple of pounds but it has no use other than for game saves really.
                                - 512mb a good size to start with as you can save loads of pictures and music as well as all your games saves.
                                - 1gb is suitable for storing a feature length film on as well as some music and costs around £6/£7
                                - Above 2gb or the 4gb (£19.00) for those who really want to maximise the use of their psp and store game saves, films, music and games and loads more.
                                This memory stick (and the others) being made by Sony can also be used on most Sony digital cameras to take and store your photos - so this memory stick can have several uses.

                                Note: There are also other makes of memory stick and I have tried a few but there is really no difference as they all come in the same range of sizes and at similar costs - so I would simply recommend getting the Sony ones as they are almost guaranteed to work and can also be used on the digital cameras and you can rely on Sony as they are such a large company and manufacturer.
                                This is a must have for any PSP owner to really improve the power and function of their PSP as well as being able to use it on your Sony digital camera (if you have one!)

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                                  17.08.2008 21:53
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                                  A super comedy from the 70s with 12 great episodes!

                                  Fawlty Towers is my favourite comedy and one of favourites in our home and also with most of my friends and family. It originally aired on BBC 1 in the 1970s
                                  It is a comedy made at the height of comedy in the 70s and is about a hotel - "Fawlty Towers" in Torquay. It is probably one of the best known and most loved British comedy and although there were only ever two series they are forever being shown on channels such as UKTV gold - and with there being this boxset available you will never forget this great programme. I am forever watching the episodes over and over again despite knowing most of the words - they are just so funny and enjoyable to watch.

                                  How it all started:

                                  The series was written partly by John Cleese who came up with the idea when he was staying at a hotel in Torquay named the Gleneagles. He was there along with the rest of the Monty Python team and the owner of the hotel called Donald was extremely stressful and they encountered many rather shall we say amusing moments for example with a bus time table being thrown at the guests. The idea of the Fawlty Towers series just spawned from that hotel visit!

                                  What's it all about:

                                  The series is simply about the day to day life of the Fawlty Towers Hotel in Torquay on the English Riviera. There is Basil Fawlty (played by John Cleese who is perfectly suited for this part) as the owner and manager of the hotel. He spends most of his time just getting angry at the guests and throttling or hitting Manuel with whatever he can find be it a saucepan or a kipper. Manuel of course is the waiter from Barcelona who speaks little English and is constantly getting things wrong. Polly the assistant in the hotel is left to making people's stay as pleasant as possible whilst Sibil (Basil's wife) is left to pick up all the pieces.
                                  There are throughout the two series a range of different guests from hotel inspectors to Germans. There are also a few p[permanent guests including Major - an old war veteran and a pair of old ladies who are always very happy and upbeat.

                                  Cast:

                                  The regulars:
                                  John Cleese - Basil Fawlty
                                  Prunella Scales - Sybil Fawlty
                                  Connie Booth - Polly
                                  Andrew Sachs - Manuel

                                  Others include:
                                  Brian Hall - Terry The chef
                                  Ballard Berkerley - Major Gowen

                                  Series 1: (1975)

                                  - A touch of class:
                                  In this the first episode of the series there is an arrival of what appears to be someone of aristocracy but is actually a con artist and hands a case full of valuables which are actually bricks! Basil of course treats him with nobility and talks about other guests being "riff-raff" and is a bit embarrassed when the common man talks to Manuel in perfect Spanish. Eventually they discover they have been tricked, but Basil can't face up to it and checks the bricks as much as he can for anything.
                                  Best bit: Where Basil says to Manuel "There is too much butter on those trays" and Manuel replies "No senor - uno, dos, tres"
                                  Rating: 4/5

                                  - The builders:
                                  In this episode Basil and Sibil are away for the weekend and he has organised O'Reilly to do the building work very cheaply, but Sibil thinks it is being done properly. Of course it all goes terribly wrong with the door being put in the wrong place and likely to collapse at any moment. There is also an incident with Manuel in charge and a garden gnome which he tries to book into a room. The episode ends with Basil leaving the hotel eager to stuff the gnome into O'Reilly's head and then escape to Canada!
                                  Rating 3/5

                                  - The wedding Party:
                                  In this episode there is a group of couples from a wedding party and Basil is not very keen on what is going on and tends to be extremely rude to the guests. The episode also reveals the sleeping arrangements of Basil and Sibil in separate beds. Basil also ends up hitting Manuel round the head with a frying pan in this episode!
                                  Rating 3/5

                                  - The Hotel Inspectors:
                                  This episode does as you can probably guess involve a hotel inspector; however Basil doesn't get it quite right. He at first is extremely rude towards one of the guests and gets very annoyed with all his requests and tells him to "talk properly". He then thinks he is the hotel inspector and is very apologetic and tries to redeem whatever he can. He then discovers right at the end that he is not actually a hotel inspector and applies a custard pie to his face and groin and pours milk in his briefcase just as the real inspectors walk in and witness everything. He boots the man out of the door and turns to the others and says "And what can I do for you three gentlemen?" and then he screams!
                                  Rating: 4.5/5

                                  - Gourmet Night:
                                  There is a special gourmet night at Fawlty Towers and most of Torquay is out to see it, but unfortunately the chef is drunk and Basil is in charge. He has to race out in his car to find a replacement main course of duck! He has a struggle getting it with his car breaking down and him beating it with a stick. He gets back and opens the tray to reveal not duck but a trifle and he quickly searches in it and finds nothing and the episode finishes on "Duck's off. Sorry"
                                  Rating: 4/5

                                  - The Germans:
                                  Definitely save the best till last with my favourite episode of this series in which a group of Germans come to stay at the hotel. Sibil is at the hotel being treated for an in growing toenail, leaving Basil in charge having to put up a Moose's head and have a fire drill. He is constantly called by Sibil and told to do something he is already doing! The fire drill goes very wrong with a confusion over aslarms and everyone not doing what he says - and then there is a real fire in the kitchen and Manuel is pushed into it - Basil goes mad shouting "FIRE!" and the Moose's head hits him on the head and he ends up in hospital. He quickly returns to find the Germans have arrived and he causes more problems by talking about the war and results on one of young Germans to start crying.
                                  Best bit: When Basil makes the girl cry and he then says "You started it you invaded Poland!"
                                  He then says to the other staff "Don't mention the war, I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it!"
                                  Rating 5/5

                                  Series 2: (1979)

                                  - Communication Problems:
                                  My favourite episode by far with Mrs Richards visiting as well as Basil making a secret bet on the horses without Sibil knowing. Basil makes a bet on the horses but to hide the money it is given to Polly then to Major - who forgets he has it. Manuel also refuses to say anything as he says "I know nothing" and is told not to say anything by Basil. Sibil is then persuaded that Polly won the money on that horse called "Dragonfly". Mrs Richards is also visiting at the same time and is very hard competition for Basil and complains about everything: "I asked for a room with a view" but Basil comes back with what did you expect "the hanging gardens of Babylon". She also complains about the bath being too small. There is also the problem with her hearing aid not working because it is tuned off as it may "run the batteries down". But Basil plays on this and speaks quietly then shouts really loud and she bangs her head. He then picks something up and says "is this a piece of your brain?"
                                  The episode ends with her having lost some money and his winnings from the horses is given to her - but she is "ten pound short" and he shakes the till out and goes mad. He is then given her lost money and for the first time in his life he is winning! But then he drops the vase and screams when Sibil finds out he was betting and he loses all the money!
                                  Rating: 5/5

                                  - The Psychiatrist:
                                  The episode starts with two doctors coming in and he gets confused as to who is a doctor. There is then of course the psychiatrist and Basil is constantly under the impression he is being tested and when he joins in a discussion about holidays he thinks it is about sex and answers that he goes on holiday "2 to 3 times a week". There is also a young guy staying in the hotel who smuggles a girl into the room. Basil won't allow this and does all he can to stop it including going into other rooms and listening through the wall and peering through the windows after climbing up a ladder which he subsequently falls off. The psychiatrist ends by remarking that there is enough material here for an entire conference.
                                  Rating: 4/5

                                  - Waldorf Salad:
                                  In this one some Americans come to stay and arrive late after the Chef has left but they still want some food. There is also one point when they order a Waldorf salad and Basil is cooking and claims that they are out of waldorfs - even though there is no such thing! Basil even pretends there is a chef and has an invisible fight whilst Sibil walks out with the salad. The American guy, Mr Hamilton finally walks in and catches Basil shouting at the invisible chef!
                                  Best Bit: When everyone is in the lobby and Basil is being shouted at and he then declares he goes or they go. He is sent out but then immediately marches back in demanding a romm with breakfast in bed and a waldorf salad!
                                  Rating 3.5/5

                                  - The Kipper and the corpse:
                                  In this episode they have a guest to stay who is feeling ill and asks for breakfast in bed. He dies in the night but Basil is unaware and takes the breakfast up along with the old kippers and talks to the man and thinks nothing of it. It is not until Polly comes in that she realises he is dead. Basil assumes it was the old kippers that killed him and quickly throws one out of the window and puts the other up his shirt - especially as there is a doctor who comes in and he doesn't want to be blamed. He is overjoyed when he finds out he died in the night and he can't be blamed (though everyone else finds this a bit strange). The man is then put in the laundry basket to be taken away and on the way downstairs it scare the two old ladies. At the end of the episode Manuel is hit round the head with a frying pan and out in a basket and Basil also jumps in as he can no longer cope!
                                  Rating: 4.5/5

                                  - The Anniversary:
                                  It is of course Basil and Sibil's wedding anniversary and Basil has organised as surprise party with loads of guests. However Sibil assumes he has forgotten like the last time so she disappears to the golf course for the day. Basil is now stuck with loads of guests and no Sibil, so Polly dresses up as Sibil and pretends she is really ill in bed. He just makes the problems worse and worse encouraging guests she is really ill. The real Sibil then appears and he forces her to leave again as they can't both be seen or he would look stupid. He ends up ruining their wedding anniversary despite having good intentions!

                                  - Basil The rat:
                                  Manuel has bought what he thinks to be a Siberian hamster from the local pet shop, but it is actually a rat. It is kept in a cage but unfortunately manages to escape and is running loose around the hotel at the same time of the hotel inspector arriving. The inspector eats in the restaurant and orders veal, which is off as it is covered in rat poison. It is even more amusing the fact that the rat is called Basil and Manuel sits there a clasps his hands and shouts "Basil!" trying to find the rat. It ends with the inspector seeing the rat and Basil being dragged off by Manuel - after having gone mad again!
                                  Rating: 4/5


                                  The boxset comes with three discs the first two being with the two series each on separate discs. The DVD boxset as well as including all the episodes in the two series also comes with some special features which are all on the third disc:
                                  * Exclusive interview with John Cleese
                                  * Exclusive interview with Prunella Scales
                                  * Exclusive interview with Andrew Sachs
                                  * Artist Profiles
                                  * Out-takes
                                  * Torquay tourist guide -- a short documentary film
                                  The boxset also comes with a booklet with a list and short description of each episode and some other information about the series.

                                  Technical Details:
                                  Catalogue Number: BBCDVD1072, DVD Region 2 coding in PAL format, Subtitles (other than English): French, German and Dutch, Picture Format 4:3, DVD release date: 19 November 2001. Rated PG (Parental Guidance)
                                  Price: £22.99 - a super price for the whole series!

                                  Conclusion:
                                  This is a great British comedy which can be described as being short and sweet and has not been overdone. It is a shame of course that there aren't any more episodes of superb comedy from John Cleese. The boxset also includes every episode as well as some great features and is certainly worth buying for any Fawlty Towers fan so you can watch those great episodes over and over again!
                                  Of course if you really enjoy watching these and seeing John Cleese in particular it would be worth watching some of his other films and series such as Monty Python and the films.

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