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I wouldn't normally use any shaving products because I believe they are all overpriced compared to using that money to replace razor blades more frequently. However I was paid to receive a bottle of Gillette Fusion before it became available to the public as part of the product testing conducted by TNS.
Not being used to this type of product I didn't really know how to apply it and there are no instructions on the packaging, I opted to lather it and then to apply to dry skin before shaving with a wet razor.
The product is bright blue, has an industrial soapy/chemical smell (to match the furniture polish style orange and silver bottle) and admits of an unpleasant foamy yet gritty texture. The dispenser makes it difficult to get a small amount and any surplus dries and crusts over in minutes. This same crusting happens on your skin and makes Fusion disagreeable to use and difficult to clean off afterwards.
Fusion is designed for sensitive skin and is intended to present a veneer of Aloe and vitamin E over the skin which should help to reduce irritation.
I didn't notice any reduction in razor burn but bizarrely the first time I used it I did get a closer shave despite the formula having supposedly barred of a fraction of a millimetre of hair.
Unfortunately this effect didn't repeat because the gel clogs up the razor and sticks so firmly that it can't be cleaned without blunting the blades further, so the net result is a poorer quality shave with more irritation over time.
At around the £3.50 mark Gillette is more expensive than the competition, although you only need a very small amount of the product as it lathers up significantly and you do get an unnecessarily large bottle (200ml).
Unfortunately I still don't think this is a buy because you can get what it achieves for 14p by buying a brand new Sainsbury's basics disposable razor.
I do not play the lottery because I find the idea of queuing up to engage in extra slow bingo very tedious and because the tickets are sold at a 100% premium to their net asset value of 50p.
This means that for every ticket I don't buy I make 50p from mathematical prowess and probably another 50p from dumb blind luck. I then invest these savings in Edinburgh investment trust (UK blue chip at a discount to its NAV), reinvest the 5%+ dividends and end up with guaranteed wealth.
However I have made a small guaranteed profit by buying one ticket via a cash back website, giving me a free game plus £1 in the bank.
The ticket expired worthless but had it won I would have prioritised investing enough in cheap companies with the ability to raise their prices in line with inflation (Greggs, British American tobacco etc.) to give me a £500 a day 40 year retirement. I would also get a house in Libya and put a couple of grand in a Libyan bank account just in case.
I don't like long term fixed interest because inflation linking seems to command a much higher premium in bonds than in shares.
If I had more than a million pounds left after securing my superannuation I would spend up to £100,000 and two years of my life travelling, taking on random qualifications and then dropping them as soon as I got bored and generally not working.
In the past whenever I have gone on holiday I have always gone somewhere new because I don't want to waste money buying the same thing twice, however with a lottery win I would revisit Cheddar and Amsterdam (perhaps an odd mix).
The rest (or the whole if less than a million) would go into a mix of riskier shares and short term fixed income securities, the latter to generate enough in cash for a years living expenses while I decided what business to start first.
When I invest in shares I first look at the profit margin so I would probably begin setting up enerprises in something like catering or consultancy where you can charge high prices just for convenience and location and then when I had some experience I would try to build a branded business.
I wouldn't tell anyone I had won and would lead them to believe that I had earned my vast fortune, perhaps offering different stories depending on who I wanted to impress or instead painting a history as a serial entrepreneur and casually remarking that I used to own whatever company my interlocutor worked for.
World community grid is a not for profit organisation which conducts research into "fields benefiting humanity" such as looking for a cure for AIDS and assessing climate change statistics.
What studies should be carried out is open to suggestions from the public but the organisation has the final say and there is no vote. The results are published openly so any company or university is free to find practical applications for them.
In order to conduct its research WCG needs a huge amount of computing power and for this it relies heavily on individuals donating their idle CPU capacity.
To make a donation you simply register with the site, select which projects you want to support (default is all) and then download a small application which runs in the background whenever your computer is on.
I am at this moment unfolding the human proteome and curing AIDS, earlier on I was curing muscular dystrophy and childhood leukaemia.
The unobtrusive piece of software does everything and there is no need to ever log into the site or open and look at the programme if you don't want to. Of course you can pause or remove it at anytime.
WCG doesn't slow down your machine as it only uses spare CPU capacity, takes up very little memory and is start delayed so it isn't trying to load at the same time as everything else. By default WCG won't ever use more than 10% of your processor and 10 GB disk space and won't run whilst on batteries but these preferences can be adjusted if you so wish. The only monetary cost to the donator is the extra electricity it takes to run one more application at a time.
Per default WCG does work at any time and mutely connects to the internet at anytime to upload results or download new work. This might be a problem for people using AOL but it is easy to change the settings so it will automatically try connect at specified times when you are likely to be online already.
I have been helping WCG for about six months now and have never experienced any problems despite having adjusted the settings to allow it to use 60% of the processor. It typically takes my computer five hours to complete a task and I can run two tasks at once but as everything is handled autonomously I would not even know this if I hadn't specifically looked it up.
Overall I think WCG is a fantastic idea and it certainly works seamlessly from the point of view of the donator; however there are a few things I think they could do better:
Firstly I'm not sure about how projects are selected; what is a proteome and how can we be sure unfolding it is as useful as curing AIDS twice as fast?
All else being equal I would rather contribute to human progress and research everything imaginable, but since WCG is not forced to be practical by economic laws, how can we be sure that some of their studies accomplish anything more than fast tracking some students PH. Ds?
Ironically perhaps I would trust them more if they were a subsidiary of a biotech company earning a manufacturing profit; I would certainly still have downloaded the software.
Also WCG aren't as efficient as they could be, my computer was sent away for repairs for a few days so two projects missed their deadline. Rather than automatically reallocating the work WCG continued running both of them to completion and then noticed that the results could not be used.
Another conduit for WCG to disillusion its loyal followers is their points system which is designed to let you compare your contribution against other peoples. Unfortunately virtually all participants only receive about 95% of the maximum points available for each piece of work because their computer makes some errors. This doesn't mean participation is futile, WCG has made significant headway, but for someone not used to the ins and outs of this type of research being told that they routinely return inaccurate information can only be demoralising, some people might even be tricked into thinking they are a net burden.
None of these criticisms take away from the fact that WTG and its members have made meaningful progress (especially in cancer research) and even if data has to be checked 6 times over and even if some projects turn out to be a complete waste of time it is clear that at the end of the day WCG can only enhance human understanding and advancement.
A tiny donation of electricity might reap incredible returns. If AIDS or cancer is cured even just one month earlier that will save many more lives than a significant donation to any charity.
Casino tycoon is a simple and pointless exercise in repetitive clicking which lets down the otherwise superb tycoon series.
Basically the only lesson you need to learn is to make sure there are a range of different stake requirements in every area of your establishment, after that the money will take care of itself.
The basic game play is very tedious because all the games look and work very much alike; there might be something like 15 different slot machines but the only way to distinguish between them is by colour.
You also have to place and price other features such as ATMs and bars and this adds some small degree of strategy but you can learn the best way to handle this very quickly to the point that one game will look very much like the next.
Your staff help to inject some temporary interest into proceedings but the novelty soon wares off.
As well as the standard mechanics and janitors you can employ bar staff and target which customers should be brought free drinks and you choose a dealer for each table game who will have their own individual scores for capabilities such as spotting card sharks or playing logically or quickly.
Medics are deployed to save heart attack victims who would otherwise cost you in wrongful death suits. Left to their own devices medics are slow to respond and simply ignore emergencies outside of their immediate surroundings but you can call them for anyone.
Security guards do absolutely nothing unless ordered; to catch a thief you need to place a camera and then view an area of the map though it, any criminals seen though the lens will acquire black and white striped outfits so that you can identify them and throw them out. Unfortunately the security element is as disappointing as the financial one as once a crime has been called in the target simply waits for the nice officer to walk them to the door without any decent animations.
Casino tycoon offers two themes of casino but predictably they are not much different to one another so the choice is every bit as arbitrary as the other important decision you are trusted with, whether the lights should be dim or not.
There are some maps with specific objectives such as getting a particular guest rating or being the first with a certain turnover but none of these introduces anything exciting or different to the freeform games and they are very easy, mostly I passed the on my first attempt.
If I believe my EBay buyers Royal mail has cost me about £50 over the last three years in lost packages. I know for a fact that an additional £20 has gone missing in the form of vouchers from ipoints.
RM also falls down looking after fragile items, I worked for them as a Christmas temp and part of the job involves throwing parcels into different holes in a horizontal metal frame. Throwing them was necessary because no one can reach the post codes in the middle; we weren't just being carless it was a built in requirement of the system.
There is more than enough room in the sorting office to put two stands side by side but that would slow the process down as employees would have to wander around instead of just lobbing. I imagine that Rm's chosen layout results in the same addresses continually receiving damaged orders.
Whilst losing and smashing our possessions RM has steadily been raising prices to the point that I am now unable to sell some lower priced items at a profit and sending pretty much anything recorded is now out of the question.
Despite these ferocious price raises Rm has still managed to turn a loss most years which is quite an achievement given the volume they handle and their monopoly status.
Advertisers pay vast sums for lists of names and for the printing of flyers. This could be made a lot cheaper if all envelopes were to carry advertising on the front and back and, provided RM managed to keep charging advertisers similar prices, some of the difference could be passed on to reducing the cost of sending jiffy bags which are mostly used by businesses who simply won't post at all if the price is too high.
This solution would work for recipients who would have less rubbish to throw out (envelopes instead of envelopes plus separate adverts) and it would guarantee advertisers that their literature would at least get picked up.
Delivery times have been suffering recently, I can remember getting short lead times mentioned on my EBay feedback but it has been a long time since I last saw that and my last tax code arrived in June.
As a medieval assassin you travel from city to city investigating a complex plot by eavesdropping on conversations and pick pocketing documents before ultimately finding your local target and dispatching them.
There are two main elements to game play: free running and fighting.
Free running is the art of getting from A to B via the most direct route; over roof tops. The environment makes this more engaging as cities have a complex and realistic design but there isn't a great deal of skill involved, if you just hold down all the action buttons and point forward you generally get though.
Fighting is done with any one of four weapons including your assassins' blade and your limited supply of throwing knives. Again fighting is quite easy, from early on you can take on more than five armoured guards at a time and still be confident of success and this takes away from the strategy because it isn't necessary to plan your hits in the way it suggests on the back of the box.
The skill which Assassins' creed tests (or intends to test) is coordination, fighting especially is all about pressing multiple buttons at the opportune time.
There are lots of good things about the game; there is a huge amount of freedom in where you go and what fights you pick and everything is very realistic from the sprawling cities with diverse populations of interactive characters to the choreography of the sword fighting.
Unfortunately the game has one significant draw back which manifests itself in every element of the experience.
Assassins' creed is unrelentingly slow, not just in its performance (I am playing on a brand new PC and it still struggles sometimes) but also there is a purposeful, in built slowness in everything you do.
There is a ridiculous amount of dialogue which you can't skip over, you might spend literally twenty minutes listening to some old man putting your task in a context which frankly I don't care about, your reward for this patients is to be allowed to fulfil some arbitrary task like walking over to a bed and pressing any key to lie down and then there is another ten minutes of chit chat. Adding a skip button would automatically add another star from me.
I frequently go away to make a drink and come back to it still in video mode telling me something which will be summed up in two lines of text on the objectives screen anyway.
What is really annoying is when you load the game up again only to find yourself stuck behind a wall of speeches that you've already slept though once.
The plot is horribly convoluted with a crisis crossing story about some bloke in a lab who talks to a doctor and then goes into a machine and then talks some more to a king. The amount of memory this unnecessary double life takes up must be jaw dropping and all you get for it is hours of boredom.
The menu system is also needlessly slow and complicated, ending or reloading a game involves clicking though about five different screens. A prime example of this stupid system is the in game fighting tutorials where you are told simply to press escape to leave but really you have to press escape, select exit tutorial, select that you are sure you want to exit the tutorial and then wait for it to load again.
Probably the worst impact of this cult of slow is the journeying from one city to another. Moving about inside a city is fun because there is beautiful, scalable archetecture and plenty of guards to molest, but riding from one city to another is a hopelessly inane task. There is a long, empty road which has occasional bends to stop you from just taping down the forward button.
In conclusion there is some fun sword fighting and some great environments but this cannot justify the sheer, unrelenting tedium of the intermediate stages.
Portal is shot in the style of a first person shooter but is really a puzzle solving game in which you progress though twenty different science lab test chambers in search of your free cake.
The story line is simplistic but where computer games are concerned I think too simple is better than too convoluted and the humour defiantly makes up for any shortfall.
In each chamber your aim is to get to an exit door, this can involve the use of lifts, pressure sensors and redirecting balls of energy which bounce from object to object.
The energy balls fry you, the ground dissolves you, there are battle robots which machine gun you and a crazy computer mentor which keeps you entertained with jokes about your impending death.
The innovation of Portal is the portal gun which allows you to fire two gateways which you can then move directly between; if you want to transverse a large pool of acid you can put one portal under your feet and fire another one at the wall past the obstacle and you will simply fall though and come out on the other side.
Portals create a lot of very unique challenges and are even more important to how you see your environment than they at first seem as the speed at which you enter them soon begins to play a key role.
I think the portal gun certainly has potential but unfortunately the Portal game feels like a tutorial for a more diverse and engaging experience closer to the Half Life series.
The game is very short and there isn't much point playing it more than once as you simply learn the answers. There are bonus levels but they don't add much, there are some extra challenges but half of them are just doing the same thing faster or more efficiently.
All things considered Portal is a good game if you play just a couple of levels at a time so that it doesn't get repetitive and if you have someone sitting next to you so that you can discuss strategy but I don't think it really justifies the price tag.
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I have a victim!
"After writing 71 reviews you would have thought that you'd know how the site works by now. What is your latest review all in aid of? You probably won't have chance to reply to this anyway though as you'll probably be off the site pretty swiftly. Oh well..."
I got this message from a Dooyooer who has seemingly been taken in by my cunning plan, so I thought it would only be prudent to include the following disclaimer:
1.)While sending your card details to the mafia certainly gives them the opportunity to send you some money there may still be uncertainties with regards to whether they would be properly motivated to do so.
More over from sending the afore mentioned data a potentially significant contingent liability will be educed.
2.)Unfortunately the mafia are not technically currently regulated by the financial services authority.
This provisional situation is of course subject to change and we hope to have full regulatory approval in the near future.
3.)Banstel tech is currently experiencing appreciable epistemological challenges with regards to its quality of corporeal objective reality. Please be aware that a share which doesn't exist is likely to be less valuable than a comparable share in an existing business.
This means of course that if at a future time Banstel tech enters said sphere of subsistence its shares will be infinitely more valuable than they are today; WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH YOUR INFINITY $$$?
4.) Please be aware that the rate of return alluded to is for illustrative purposes only, scattering banana seeds on Venus may lead to a higher or lower rate of return than that specified.
As always you should do your own research and only invest what you can afford to lose.
The proven technology indicated is a reference to our space ships head lights, there are still some small technical challenges waiting to be overcome before this project will become economically viable.
If you are looking for a more traditional review please see my earlier review in the "is card fraud out of control in the uk?" area.
Thank you for reading.
When I worked for Sainsbury's I was tasked with attending self scan nearly daily so I know all of the issues people have with them.
As a customer I do prefer to serve myself because it gives you more control; you can check offers, see the total so far without having to ask and you can be sure of getting nectar points for bag re-use.
Self service does crash more than normal tills but 99.99% of the time that a customer called me over it was because they had misunderstood how to use it. Basically if the screen hasn't gone black with tiny white writing the till is working.
The main reason people mess it up is poor instructsions:
- Some offers come off at the end and others immediately after you scan the item but this isn't written anywhere.
- The bagging area isn't marked and most people think it's far smaller than it is, this results in people thinking that they've removed the item from the bagging area when they haven't.
- At the start there are two options "start" or "using own bags" but it isn't clear that these are alternatives; people try to press start and then bags.
But there are also many instances where people fail to follow perfectly clear instructsions:
-People think that "redeem" means "collect", that "re-use" means "brought" and half of people don't know the meaning of the word "quantity" while the other half think it must be the number written below the bar code.
-People don't understand that "the wrong weight" can mean either too heavy or too light; If I tell them the machine has stopped because their bag is the wrong weight they insist on supporting it from there on in meaning it is too light for each and every subsequent item .
-When I tell someone to put an item down they look at me blankly but if I try to explain that all items need to be weighed as they go in they put it on the same scale as where they weigh fruit. I can say "in the bag", I can point, but they will not get the message until I put it in for them. They have a particular problem with age restricted items which they love to wave in the air as if disrupting the scales will actually make service faster.
There are other misunderstandings where I misunderstand what has been misunderstood in the original misunderstanding.
Sometimes I am called to a working checkout where the customer isn't trying to do anything and when I ask what's wrong they just point at the screen or say
"I hoped you could tell me that".
I have real difficulty finding the words to politely explain to people that it's up to them when they want to stop scanning new items:
Me: Hi, is everything alright?
Customer: It says finish and pay.
Me: Yes, just push that when you're ready to pay.
Customer: But I haven't even started yet.
Me: It's ok; you don't have to push it until you're ready.
Customer: Why does it say finish and pay then? [Pushes finish and then start and then finish...]
Another one is with alcohol approvals, customers want to know why they have to be approved when they are in their thirties.
It is because they're clearly over 18 that they get approval.
I think that a lot of customer dissatisfaction with self scan comes from unrealistic expectations.
People have got the idea that self serve is supposed to be faster which is nonsense, of course you won't be able to scan as quickly as a trained member of staff and security requirements make it slower still.
The advantage of self service to the customer is greater control and shorter queues; we had 3 selfs into the space taken by 1 of the old tills.
The smaller selfs at Sainsbury's let you enter up to 9 nectar points for bags re-used and the large ones with belts let you enter 12.
The reason for shops wanting self serves is lower staff costs; 1 person can operate 7 selfs.
Some people criticise them for costing jobs but I don't think that's fair, Sainsbury's are reinvesting all their cost savings (and then borrowing some more) to open new stores with whole new work forces.
All in all I think self service is great for retailers and for customers who know how to use them but lots of people run into trouble and I wouldn't recomend working with them.
This is an A4 sized book of about 140 pages. It tells the story of bumbling uncle Lancelot and 3 children, Emma (15) and twins Conrad and Ivan (12) as they travel the world in search of Lancelot's lost brother Percival. On their journey they meet many wild animals who they are able to talk to.
The book is suitable for a wide age range, young children will love listening to the story and looking at the beautiful illustrations. It is a book that they will want to return to again and again.
I remember enjoying it when I was in infant's school and I still liked reading it again today. Graham Durrell uses a wide vocabulary which is refreshing in a children's book.
Reading the book we meet animals from across the world and learn about wildlife, geography, conservation and some history. The wonderful thing is that the story is engrossing and the characters (both human and animal) are convincing. It is a good read and it doesn't feel at all like a book written to educate.
The conversations with the animals is a device which Gerald Durrell uses well to give us masses of information about the animals, show us their personalities, and to move the plot along. The dialogue is often funny, sometimes sad and always involving.
The book is consistently humorous in gentle and subtle ways, both when describing the animals and their moods and also in the antics of Lancelot. This humour helps to keep the book lively and interesting.
The illustrations by Graham Percy are numerous and large, sometimes taking up a whole page or spanning across the bottom half of two pages. They are sensitive and very life-like. Though them we get a good indication of the appearance of the real animals, their habitats and also the personality of the individual in the story. The pictures of the children and Lancelot are marvellous with Lancelot especially looking just as he should.
Many investors look positively on dividends and some even specifically look for companies with high yields, sometimes using screens to filter out any business not so flushing away its capital.
Both private investors and the media have latched onto the idea that taking money from a 0.5% savings account and investing it in a company paying 5% in dividends leaves you with a profit of 4.5%. Even Motley Fool which is the best investments site going is crawling with this sort of articles:
"One no brainer share to buy today - with savings accounts paying a pittance why not put your money into these FTSE100 companies yielding over 5%?"
They have even had to shorten "high yield portfolio to HYP to save wearing out their keyboards.
Comparing the dividend yield to an interest rate is utter madness; the correct comparison is to be made with the earnings yield because the interest rate on a savings account measures how much money the product makes you, not it how you go about receiving it.
Consider the following analogy:
Bank A offers you a one year bond at 3% tax free, you invest £100 and a year later receive £103.
Bank B offers you a one year bond at 3%, but after 6 months they return £10 of your money less £1.00 tax, at the end of the year you get:
£100/2 = (£50 X 1.03 = £51.50) + (£40 X 1.03 = £41.20) + the £9.00 = £101.70
Now who prefers dividends?
Some investors cling to the idea that a dividend shows that management are confident about the future, but can't that be used to justify anything?
"We are burning down our head quarters today just to prove we are confident in our ability to buy new ones in the future"
Dividends exist to enable directors to arbitrage up via share save schemes; They receive free matching shares with all sorts of restrictions on sale but no restrictions on income so a director might buy £500,000 worth of shares, get £100,000 worth of restricted shares for free and then issue a 5% divi, thus exchanging a £25,000 capital loss (5% of £500,000) for a £30,000 income (5% of 600,000).
Thus Sainsbury's pays a 4% dividend whilst borrowing money to fund its expansion.
And yet investors still flock to the slaughter house bleating that a business which never pays any dividends has only the value which a greater fool will pay for it.
This argument is nonsense, if company 1 has £10m in assets but pays no dividends are you telling me you wouldn't buy the whole thing at a price of 1p?
Would nobody out bid you and offer £1m?, £9m?, what if it came with £2m earnings every year, would no one buy the whole thing for £11m?
Dividends cost you at least 10% in tax, they cost you at least 1% in commission to reinvest and they prove a board is either on the take or honestly thinks you are better of selling up.
Kim is 15 and her family has just moved to Brighton to escape the horrors and excess of London. Upon arrival the mother begins an affair and joins a swinging club while Kim's little brother, Matt, drowns his hamster in blue paint and sets up home in a gold fish bowl.
Meanwhile Kim is struggling to hide her sexual obsession with her straight friend Sugar who drinks copiously, shop lifts, sells drugs and soon learns to use Kim's crush to her advantage.
Series 2 picks up 18 months after series 1 ends, Kim is now 17 and has a lot more confidence. The direction of the show changes to focus less on Sugar and more on Kim's new girl friend Saint.
We see the world though Kim's eyes and we hear her thoughts so it is possible to understand that she often feels pushed into things where really she did have a choice.
where she might look deceptive she is just following the path of least resistance, on this basis I think we can forgive her lying and thieving from her own mother. Unfortunately I don't think it is possible to like her. Sometimes what she does is far worse than the circumstances surrounding her: here I am talking particularly about her attempt to rape Sugar. In fact I wouldn't like any of the characters if they were real people but this doesn't make the programme any less enjoyable.
Sugar rush is described as comedy in other Dooyoo reviews but on channel 4 it is sold as "drama sex and relatsionships" and the later is certainly the more accurate. There are funny moments but no more than in Skins.
The fact the series is based on a book helps hold the plot together but despite this the story line about the parents goes too far and adds too little; basically all they needed to say is that Kim has an unstable home life and that she doesn't have anyone to rely on. Instead we end up with a predictable and generic soap about mum sleeping with the builder. In the first episode we are told that Kim has to call her mum by her first name so as not to weigh her down with parental responsibilities. I think it would have been far more Poignant to leave it at that.
This is only a small fault in a series which is otherwise brilliant - especially episode 10 series 1. Apart from the parents the whole thing is believable.
At the moment both series are available for free on 4OD and the DVD doesn't add anything special - just outtakes and commentary, but it is the sort of series you might want to watch more than once so when 4 pull it it's good to know it's available to buy as well.
BBC Iplayer allows you to access most of the content from all of the BBC television and radio channels on demand over the internet.
The service is free and doesn't carry any advertising although it is only available in the UK and if you want to watch shows as they air you need a license.
Some programmes are not included but availability is improving; it is now possible to watch some films! (There is an option to password protect anything with an age restriction).
The image quality is amazing and the sound is fine although not quite ten out of ten. Performance starts of perfectly with no pausing or jumping and the picture never loses sync with the audio but about half an hour in the pausing starts.
Once pausing becomes an issue it doesn't let up and sometimes the frequency is ridiculous, two or three times in a sentence.
Fortunately Iplayer allows you to download programmes and this entirely eliminates the issue. Even if you do choose to stream the performance you get from the BBC outstrips 4OD by a margin and in my opinion this makes Iplayer the better service despite the briefer availability of episodes and the smaller library.
The BBC usually lets you catch up for 7 days after showing (sometimes less) where as 4OD has some entire series available for months.
I suppose you have to go though 4OD's constant error messages and restarts to understand why the BBC comes out on top overall.
Downloading is quick and easy; the estimated time remaining is usually understated and you can queue downloads so you don't have to wait with it anyway.
Once downloaded you can keep a programme for 30 days before you watch it or seven days once you have started it once.
The website is well designed with popular and recent shows prominently displayed. You can search for a show or you can browse by channel or genre. You can also filter results by whether they are for TV or radio.
There is an excellent help section which includes an internet speed checker and lots of advice for if you can't get Iplayer to work e.g. if it thinks you are in the wrong country. I haven't personally had any difficulty but glancing over the tips they seem understandably worded and not too long or technical.
Shows which are unavailable online show up in the results but they are clearly marked, this is a distinct advantage over 4OD which has you hunting for play buttons which don't exist as well as hidden ones which do.
When you select a programme you are immediately able to play it (on 4OD I get lost in the details) but links to additional information, previous episodes and other shows you might like are also clearly presented.
(I guess the recommendations are probably based on statistical usage patterns because they are often irrelevant to what you have selected and the same stuff reoccurs for different selections.)
All things considered this is a great service and a real money saver and I strongly recommend ditching the licence fee and the £50 box sets to become a devoted Iplayer player.
4OD allows you to stream content from a range of C4 channels for free.
There is a very large library with many entire series available indefinitely (it is possible to set a PIN for age restricted shows).
As on TV you have to watch adverts at the start of each episode plus commercial breaks but each break is only two ads long and there are no more of them than offline.
For some reason there are only about four different commercials for each series so you end up watching the same ones over and over.
The adverts cannot be fast forwarded though and if you try to jump to a point after a break it plays from the next set of ads. Pausing after the break for too long also seems to cause problems, it says "there has been an error" and makes you start over (but this happens sometimes anyway).
Unfortunately media can no longer be downloaded and the streaming does have some issues:
Generally performance is fair but there are some reliability issues; the programmes play at the right speed with very infrequent pausing (less than once per half hour) and the sound and picture don't loose synchronicity but the image often blurs or pixilates, especially if you watch it full screen.
Occasionally a show pauses and never resumes or only the sound resumes or it might stop and display an error message. This is very annoying as it means you have to go thought the ads again. When a problem like this occurs it usually takes several attempts to get it to restart; even refreshing the page won't fix it.
The web site is poorly designed so it takes a long time to find the right episode and to get it to play rather than displaying additional info or reordering the menu.
Overall these are only minor problems considering the value you get; a single box set could cost you over £50 yet for a couple of minutes spent searching and reloading you can have it all for free!
I was recently the victim of an attempted fraud in which my card details were used online to send £200 to an American welding specialist.
I have no idea why the fraudsters tried to take such a small amount of money or why out of all the riches on the web they tried to buy iron in another country, but I'm glad they did because Capital one recognised it as suspicious and declined the transaction. I once spoke to an old man who had been a victim and had had 7k stolen, the bank refused to refund him because they said he must have been negligent with his PIN.
I was phoned by Cap1 within twenty minutes of the attempt on my money and they froze my account while they changed my details (although not before asking if I might have typed in my 16 digit card number and clicked "buy US steel" by accident).
I can't work out where the card details were copied, I don't get paper statements and haven't been parted with my card or put it in an ATM.
I am sure that following common sense advice like shredding letters does reduce the chances of getting caught out but it doesn't seem to make you immune so I suggest getting free insurance available with any Cap1 credit card.
I have worked in retail and I think it would be very easy for anyone capable of landing a £5.70/hr job at Tesco's to empty any card they are presented with. They can put though card details with cash back with no need of a PIN or an accurate signature and the only permanent record of who did it is a paper EFT authorisations page which is rarely completed even during legitimate transactions. If they have the physical card they could do it even more easily on self scan assuming they have no fear of CCTV (which lots of people don't, where I worked they fired an average of 5 people a month for thieving from the till whilst on about 3 different cameras. That's about 1% of the store fired every 30 days and those are just the ones who got caught).
I remember serving a woman who angrily refused to let me use her cards mag stripe believing this would put her at risk. The reality is there was far more opportunity for me, the supervisor or any anonymous security guard watching the CCTV to copy down the numbers while she argued about it.
All in all I am amazed card fraud is as rare as it is; chip and pin makes absolutely no difference as long as they keep printing the numbers on the plastic.