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thespurs

thespurs
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Member since: 22.07.2004

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    • Samsung X06 LTM 740 / Laptop / 48 Readings / 44 Ratings
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      15.05.2006 20:06
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      It looks classy and also light and moveable.

      I have recently started to work in London for an Inventory company that my Father owns and is run by older Brother. The nature of the job is such, that having a laptop means that I can be far more efficient in both the quality of work that I do and the speed in which I can get it done. It also means that when I am travelling on trains and buses, I can get even more work done in time that I would otherwise spend reading a paper or staring out of the window.

      There were a few decisions to be made about the type of laptop we would opt for. We decided that I only really needed a laptop that performed basic functions and was comfortable and easy to work with. I would only ever be using Microsoft Word and Excel, along with Internet Explorer on occasions, so a machine capable of running those programs was what was required. There would be no playing computer games or streaming videos via the internet, so performance wasn't really a great issue.

      The next thing to consider was the size and weight of the machine. I was keen to find something that I find comfortable to work with and carry around with me. It therefore needed to be relatively light, nothing above 2.5kg where possible. It can be, at times, rather cramped on the trains so we wanted something that was relatively small and easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces. This would mean that a 14 inch screen was about the limit to which we could stretch.

      Finally, the price of the computer has to be a major part of the decision making process. There is no need to spend more than you need to when buying a laptop. Taking into account that fact that only on with basic functionality is needed, about £600 would be the cap. That gives you a reasonably wide selection without breaking the bank and wasting money.

      After much searching, both online and at major electrical retailers, we weren't having a tremendous amount of luck in our hunt. We then headed for Tottenham Court road, where we knew there would be a great range to chose from and reasonable prices to match. We finally wound up with this, the Samsung X06 with Celeron.

      The laptop certainly has the looks and the style to rival any other. It comes in a dazzling silver finish, a refreshing change from the blacks and matt grey colours we have become so accustomed to seeing. It provides that sort of modern, revolutionary touch and you feel you are getting a good piece of technology. It is sleek too, slight, once again adding to that ultra modern feel that means everything should be smaller and more compact. It isn't emblazoned with logos and brand names, just a small silver 'Samsung' logo adorns the top (appearing upside down when the screen is closed). The look is not really what you should be looking for, but with this you can't help but mention it.

      I was surprised at how light the Samsung X06 is to carry. It weighs in at about 2.2kg, which is a little less than 5 pounds for those imperials out there. So, overall, a pretty light piece of kit to lug around with you everywhere you go. It is deceptively light, as I said, from looking at it to actually holding it in your hand and resting it on your lap. They have done well to get 14 inches of screen in and keep it so thin. I feel that it's largely down to the thickness of the machine and how light the clip-on battery is. I can't really have any complaints here, in fact I can only give praise to what Samsung have done.

      I have also found the machine to be very usable when out and about. That for me is the main thing that you have to look for when buying a laptop. The fact that it is as thin as a sheet (not literally) really adds to the overall suitability of the machine for mine and any train travellers' needs. It doesn't take up too much room and isn't all bulky and ungainly when you have it open and in use. This has to be one of the strong points of this machine. Most of the other laptops on offer in the 14 inch screen size, seemed to be far bulkier.

      On the performance side of things, the laptop by no means operates at breakneck speeds but it certainly does a job for you. All in all, for a very mobile machine, which the Samsung X06 is, you get reasonably good performance. You get 512MB of RAM and a 60GB hard drive for your money. The visual display is also very sharp and well refined. However, when you unplug the machine from the mains it can be a little dark and doesn't really withstand the glare of the sunshine or bright light too well.

      The keyboard and the touch pad are actually really rather well done and nice and easy to use. The keys are set so that you let your fingers sort of glide from one to the next and you don't really need to press them down with any great force in order to get a reaction. My typing speed must be at least 10-15% faster on the laptop than on this, my PC keyboard. The touch pad is well balanced in its responsiveness to your finger movements. It is also good for 'left clicking', rather than using the standard button. The very small scroll button is good too, but not something that I can say I will make much use of.

      The price of this Samsung laptop is a more than respectable £499 including VAT. That was the high street price and I found it in a shop situated on Tottenham Court Road in London. I haven't found it available at many other retailers, so this is the only real price that I have to go on. There may be some people that are a little cynical about buying a Samsung built laptop, but they are an internationally recognised manufacturer of electronics so you can every confidence in their legitimacy as a company.

      So to sum up, if you are looking for a cheap, light weight and highly mobile laptop for mainly work and emailing then this could be the one for you. There is little, if anything at all, that lets you down here. There is in many ways not a great deal of expectation really, in a laptop that costs under £500. You can't really be left disappointed. Bear this one in mind in future and always remember to explore all of the options available to you before you buy.

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      • pokerroom.com / Internet Site / 53 Readings / 48 Ratings
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        05.03.2006 15:04
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        Great fun.

        Are you the sort of person that likes a little bit of a flutter on the horses or the football at the weekend or tries their luck on the lottery? Well there is another way to gamble your little bit of spare cash. You join up to pokerroom.com and start playing poker against people from all over the world.

        Poker has taken the internet by storm in the past few years and its popularity has grown rapidly throughout the world. Pictures from finals of the big global and European poker tournaments are even being beamed into homes all around the world. In the UK, we see poker on the satellite channels and even ITV and Five late at night. This exposure has lead to an ever increase core of passionate poker players who ply their trade online.

        There are thousands of poker sites around on the internet. It is often difficult deciding which site to sign up with and start using. The each offer different promotions to new and existing players, which can vary in many ways. The type and amount of players can also vary greatly from one poker room to another, a factor also worth taking into account. You often find some players who don’t seem to care if they lose and will bet regardless of their hand. This can make for some easy profits but from time to time can really dent your stack.

        This review is quite hard for me to write, because I know that there will be people reading it that know a little and others that know lots about playing poker online. If there are things that you don’t understand, please feel free to ask me any questions you may have. I will try and answer them as concisely as possible.


        *Signing Up and Depositing*

        It couldn’t really be an easier process to get yourself signed up and ready to play on pokerroom.com. When you arrive on the homepage, click the ‘Sign up’ link in the top left hand corner to get to the registration screen. Simply choose a username, a password and give a valid email address. In order to play real money games, you need to give some form of ID. You can use your driving licence or passport for this. It’s perfectly safe and just confirms your age and existence. You also need to provide your address, date of birth and select your time zone.

        Once your account is set up, you can think about making your first deposit. There are many ways for you deposit, including via your UK credit or debit card, Moneybookers and Neteller. Each of these have different limits as to how much or how little you have to deposit per transaction so you will need to check these. Upon making your first deposit, pokerroom will give you 20% on top up to a maximum of $100 and a free ticket to a ‘newbies’ tournament. You will then be ready to hit the tables and start playing.

        The sheer ease and simplicity of setting up a new account and making that first deposit on pokerroom are fantastic. It makes you feel comfortable with the site and allows you to get your teeth into playing poker very quickly. If you do have any problems with this then you can contact ‘Support’ who are very helpful. I will talk more about how to do so later in the review.


        *Getting to the Tables*

        There is one thing that is pretty unique about pokerroom.com. Most poker websites require the player to download software to their computer in order to play at the tables. At pokerroom this isn’t the case at all, although there is the option to download the software if you wish. This factor is something that a lot of people will be drawn by. It means that you don’t have to download anything that might, it probably wouldn’t though, harm your computer in some way.

        In order to bring up the lobby, that contains all of the respective tables and tournaments, you simply click on the picture on the homepage once you are signed in to your account. You will then see a range of tabs running along the top of the lobby as well as an option to view the ring games or tournaments which is located in the centre of the window at the top. You then need to decide what game you want to play and at what stakes you would like to compete.


        *Ring Games*

        The ring games are a range of tables that offer different stake games for the four different types of poker available on pokerroom.com. Traditional Texas Hold’em where each player is dealt two cards and must make the best hand from those two and the five cards on the table. Then you have Omaha where players are dealt four cards and can use a maximum of two, along with three of the five on the table, to make the best hand. 7 Card Stud and 5 Card Draw ring games are also available.

        The stakes at the table vary from .25c all they way up to $100. That gives you a wide spectrum a good variation of tables to use. Those tables at the lower end of the scale are obviously used more than those higher limit tables and you can therefore try and find a table that suits you. If you play one .25c table and the players aren’t playing your sort of game, there are always plenty of other tables to try. It also follows that the higher stake table you are at, the better the players tend to be. It can all go terribly wrong, incredibly quickly when playing for higher stakes – so be careful.

        There a limit games, pot limit and also no limit. These determine the amount that each player can bet at any one time during one round of betting. If you are starting off and don’t want to risk too much money, you should stick to the limit games where people can only bet up to a maximum. However, pot and no-limit games give you a greater opportunity to bluff and actually win higher amounts of money.

        The tables also vary in terms of the numbers of players that can sit at them. There are 10 seats at every table, but there may be a limit to how many players can sit at it. It will be anything from 2 players (heads up) right the way to the full 10 players. The 5 player tables tend to be quite popular as you tend to get more playable hands and more money changes hands far more quickly than full tables.

        I personally tend to play $1 no-limit Hold’em and Omaha tables at pokerroom. I also try to look for tables that only allow a maximum of five or six players to play. I like this because you get to see far more flops and you are playing for a higher percentage of the time. It also allows you to try and get the measure of your fellow players, as there are less of them to monitor. I like to know where I am with some people and if you can read their game then it stands you in good stead. I like the range of ring games available at pokerroom and also the fact that they don’t have any ring games for less the .25c. Therefore you get some of the leisure players playing on the bigger tables and you can earn a nice wedge from some of them.


        *Tournaments*

        There a huge number of tournaments and qualifiers available at pokerroom.com. The buy-in (entry fee) can very from $1 for the Lucky Dollar right up to $250 and $300 tournaments. The Freeroll also operates twice every day and your entry is free. The 2400 entrants fight it out for a total prize pot of $500.

        If you have a few hours to spare and really devote your full attention to these tournaments you can have a lot of success. The prizes can be quite substantial even for finishing in the top 5% and you can get a great return on your initial outlay. Also as there are such a range and such a high frequency of tournaments you can play a few and decide which one suits your style the best.


        *Sit and Go*

        The Sit and Go tournaments are different in that the number of entrants is smaller and there are a lot more of them, running regularly throughout the day. There are a wide range, too many to list here, but I will a couple of examples. You can play full table games with anything from a $5+.50c buy-in right up to $100+10c buy-in. The ten of you then play for a top prize, with position 2 and 3 also paid. Then there Turbo tournaments that see the blinds rise much quicker and these can be for five players right through to three tables.

        I really enjoy the range of Sit and Go tournaments that pokerroom offer. If you play the lower buy-in games I feel that you are risking your money less. If you were to have all of or most of your money out on a ring game table, you could easily lose it all if you are reckless. In these Sit and Go games you get virtual chips and you can therefore be more in control. These tournaments also mean that you start on a par with all of the other players as you each have 1500 chips. The only thing that gets to me sometimes, are the incredible hands that seem to hit. You can have a clear winner only for someone to call with a rubbish hand and still beat you.


        *Players Points*

        Taken from pokerroom.com:

        Ring Games
        0.07 Player Points are awarded for every $0.10 paid in rake. So a rake of $3 will award all players in the hand 2.1 Player Points.

        Tournaments
        5 player points are awarded for every paid dollar in entry fee (real money tournaments). For example, if you enter a $20+2 tournament, you will be awarded 5 * $2 = 10 points, if you enter a $5+$0.50 tournament, you will be awarded 5*$0.50 = 2.5 points. The points are awarded when the tournament finishes.

        These player points can be used to buy tickets for certain tournaments and also to redeem bonus packages offered by pokerroom.com. The bonus packages are quite good as you can get plenty of extra cash if you play a lot of high stakes ring games and also tournaments. I have managed to earn a bonus $10 on a number of occasions and it all comes on handy.


        * Support*

        The support service provided at pokerroom is very extensive. There is a detailed section answering questions that may arise whilst playing at pokerroom and quite often you can find a solution. Any problem you may have will be solved very quickly and enables you to get on with playing poker. If you do struggle to find an answer and think you have encountered a strange problem, then you can get in contact with support. You can email your queries or simply phone up the helpline which is always open. Another avenue would be to try the lobby as a member of support often hangs around in there and might be able to point you in the right direction.

        Thankfully I have never had to use this service as I have never had a problem in my year and a half of playing at pokerroom. Those who I know that have had problems have found quick and satisfactory resolutions thanks to the help of the staff support. I think customer service is one of the most important things that any company should provide and at pokerroom it is top class.


        *The Look*

        As far as the actual graphics and design of pokerroom is concerned, I think it is second to none. The clarity is immense in every way, maximising your poker playing experience from start to finish. Even the silly things like the angle at which the table is placed all helps. The animation is also fantastic too, it tends to move in real time and be fluid. I find that some other sites seem to shunt along and their graphics seem very stone age in comparison to pokerroom. The 10 characters around the table are all different and although the always remain the same, they certainly add something.


        *Evaluation*

        This is a site that I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to play a bit of poker online. It has a poker game for everyone, with so many variances available. It brings together players on a global scale too, so you can play against and chat with people from all over the world. The chat feature at the tables can be interesting and it’s amazing how many foreigners can speak the English language and how well they do it.

        The bonuses that you can get at pokerroom are also very good and you get a nice help in hand when you start. There are also reload bonuses to be realised and if you refer friends to the site it can be very profitable.

        The key thing to remember when playing poker is to enjoy it and only play with money you can afford to lose. If you don’t enjoy it and get stressed it will reflect poorly on your game and could cost you money. There are limits that pokerroom put on players and that includes a maximum of $250 that can be deposited in one week. If you want this removed, you can send more ID to pokerroom and they will do this for you, but I would say that the limit is very sensible to have in place. So join up and have some fun in the process. If you don’t enjoy it then move on to another site and try your luck elsewhere.

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        • More +
          16.01.2006 17:08
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          Found in any good office

          -Introduction-

          Post-it notes are one of those inventions that most people will have come across by now and they will all have had some use for them. They have now been around for 25 years, 3M are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the humble Post-it note. In its time it has become widely respected on a global scale and enjoys massive annual sales. I have made the most out of Post-it notes since I first came across them and they have been vital in my remembering of important daily tasks for the past few years.


          -What is a Post-it note?-

          The Post-it note is now available in so many different sizes, colours and denominations that giving an exact definition isn't easy. The most common Post-it note are those that are about 3 inch by 3 inch squares. They come in pads of about 100 sheets. Each sheet has a small strip of special semi-adhesive glue across the top, on the back. It holds the pad together, but once the individual sheet is torn away from the pad it can be applied to almost any surface. It will stick to wood, paper, glass, metal, plastic and pottery/crockery etc.

          They are very versatile and are used by many people for different purposes. The main use of a Post-it note, is to serve as a reminder or a hint for someone. They will note down important things that need to be done, write down a phone number for future reference or even parts of a shopping list.


          -History-

          The Post-it note came into being more by chance than anything else. A man named Dr Spence Silver was assigned by his company 3M to research new acrylate adhesives for their vast range of sticky tapes. In the process of doing so, he found something that was quite different and seemed to offer a lot of potential. The glue substance would take the form of thousands of tiny circles. They couldn't be dissolved or melted in anyway which seemed odd. Each particle was very sticky on its own and that was a great plus point. Dr Silver now needed a use and a purpose for his notes and this came in the form of Art Fry. Again, purely by chance Art Fry stumbled across a use for the newly discovered adhesive. Art was annoyed that his bookmarks kept falling out of his hymn book in church and he thought of a sticky book mark that could be easily removed and reattached, without leaving a mark. This was the start of the Post-it phenomenon and many products sprung from the single book mark like Post-it note.


          -In the Office-

          They are used in the office to make note of the many tasks that people may have to complete and to store information in an easy way. I have seen my brothers use them in their office and the Post-it note is integral to enabling to get everything done. If they take a call, the use a Post-it to note down all of the details and they then 'queue it up'. They have a system whereby the very latest note goes at the far end and that will be the last in line for being dealt with. Using Post-it notes gives you quick and easy access to vital parts of information and once you have dealt with it you can simply discard it and move on to the next.

          There won't be too many offices where you don't find Post-it notes. I think that they are great tools for staying organised and keeping on top of things. I would say that in some cases, it can look messy if you have lots of notes scattered around the place and you can look very unorganised. Some people don't arrange themselves and put each Post-it in the relevant place and it can then take a while to find them. The thing that I find with Post-it notes is that they all look the same and if you have hundreds of them it may be difficult to find the relevant one. In the office environment, I feel that a Post-it note is an indispensable tool in keeping organised and up to date. It is a fantastic invention that has changed office life in many ways.


          -In the Home-

          The Post-it Note may be used in the home for many things such as shopping lists on the front of the fridge or for little reminders of things that need doing around the house. Again, using my brother as an example, he has a 'to do' wall. He makes notes of all of the things that he needs to do including anything from booking a dentist appointment to remembering when to renew his Travelcard. It is by his front door so he can have a quick look every day before he goes out and has a snapshot of things he needs to do. We have a set of Post-it Notes that we write things down on that we need from the supermarket. The most common place for posting these is on the fridge, because they then get noticed easily. It is such an easy way of remembering what to do and you can add and remove the Post-its with ease.

          I have used them for revision in the past, noting down key words and sticking them to walls all round the house. It is on advice that teachers have given me that I have started to do this. They have suggested to the whole class that having various key or trigger words for particular subjects spread around the house, means that you can learn more. They are always in your face and you can't help but think about the word and what it means. They should trigger off certain things in your brain and it will show you how much you know and what you need to learn. I have found this to be a great revision tool and the Post-it notes are a great part of it. They can be applied to the wall without damaging the paintwork or leaving a mark. If I was to use paper and Sellotape, the paint would get damaged and Dad would go mad. It also allows you to move them around easily and this can be good to just to get a different perspective.


          -Product Range-

          As I have already mentioned, there are numerous different types of Post-it notes and similar products now available. The standard size note that I have mentioned (about 7.5 x 7.5 cm) is still the most widely available and used size. They come in the traditional yellow colour, blue, pink, lime green, purple and orange. They come in pads of 100 and they are sold in packs of 12. The standard yellow ones cost £9.99 and the other colours £10.49 from Staples for the first two packs that you buy. The price comes down if you purchase more. They can be found at euroffice.co.uk for £8.59 per 1200 which is great value.

          There are various other products available in the range, including the rectangular Post-it Notes that are about double the width of the normal size. These cost £11.59 for a pack of 12 x 100 sheets at euroffice.co.uk. I recently purchased a set of 2 x 2 inch notes that are really funky and have been very handy in organising various files that I have. They can also be purchased in the shape of arrows, hearts and speech bubbles and I think that they look rather funky. We tend to use the speech bubble shaped Post-its and these cost £2.19 per 225 sheets at euroffice.co.uk and each set includes three different colours. This can be helpful as you can allocate each colour for a certain area e.g. shopping, housework and banking for example. You can also buy Post-it flags. These are used for filing and they mark certain pages so that you can easily get to them. There are also various dispensers and holders available, these are mainly aimed at people working at desks who need easy access to their notes and flags.


          -Conclusion-

          All in all, the Post-it note is one of those most helpful inventions that many people can use to their great advantage. I think that the innovation that took place between 25 and 30 years ago to give us what we have now was fantastic and it has produced many benefits. I can't recommend it enough to people, although I would suspect that many people will have already used them in their lifetime and come to a decision as to whether they like them. If by chance you haven't used them yet, then I would recommend that you give them a go and see. They can be seen as expensive by some people, but if you use them purposefully then they will seem like good value in the long run. There isn't really too much to say aside from the fact that these are a wonderful tool for keep on top of all of the things that you may need to do.

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          • Nokia 6630 / Mobile Phone / 46 Readings / 37 Ratings
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            06.10.2005 14:55
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            A lovely phone from Nokia, arguably the best producer of mobile phones

            -Introduction-

            The time has come for me to get my hands on a new mobile phone and sign up to a new twelve month contract. I have been waiting for the right phone to come along for a while, nothing else that I have seen really appeals. It was a contest between the Nokia 6630 and 6680 for me, but I eventually settled on the 6630 after agreeing a great deal with shop.

            The Nokia 6630 is a third generation smart phone. For those of you who are a little less clued up, I will explain those two terms as simply as possible. The third generation handsets (3G) allow users to send and receive videos and images, as well as making video calls. The smart phone, refers to the functions like Microsoft Word and Real Player that are available to use. This phone is quite high-tech and very much top of the range. Other notable features are the 1.3 megapixel camera and the in-depth functions available.

            I haven't written a review on a mobile phone for a while now, so I do hope that you will bear with me. I will break the review down into more manageable sections, each with their own self explanatory headings. The technical information will be included where necessary and explained fully. If there are any questions that you have about the phone, I am only too happy to answer them.


            -Package Contents-

            The Nokia 6630 comes in various different boxes, reflecting the various Nokia factories around the world. The box contains everything you need for your new phone, although some people won't find all of it to be of use. The items are listed below:
            • Nokia 6630 Smartphone
            • 64MB Reduced Size Multi-Media Card (MMC)
            • Adapter for MMC
            • Nokia Stereo Headset
            • Nokia Battery
            • Nokia Travel Charger
            • Nokia Connectivity Cable (USB)
            • CD-ROM containing software and guides


            -Calling-

            The calling capability of this phone is pretty much standard in line with any other mobile phone. The telephone number can be punched in the keypad or the name of the contact you wish to call simply highlighted and with the press of the green 'send call' button you are put through. As soon as you have made the connection with the other person, you can switch to loudspeaker, which can be a very handy feature at times. The video calls can be made, simply by selecting the intended contact, selecting 'call' and then choosing 'video call'. This is only possible if the contact you are calling has a 3G compatible handset.

            There isn't really too much to criticise or commend as far as making calls are concerned. It is the most basic of all of the phone functions and it can't really be improved or made that much worse. The voice tags are the only way that calls can be made only using one button. This is an effective tool, but in public you may look rather silly saying the name of contact into your handset. The set-up can also be a quite lengthy process if you have a lot of contacts.


            -Messaging-

            Again, this is a fairly straightforward feature of the Nokia 6630. There are now three different types of message that you can create and send to other. The text and multimedia messages are still present, along with the capacity to send and receive emails. There is the possibility to add images and video to your multimedia and email messages and doing so is very simple. The same rules still apply for writing the messages and sending them. It is very self explanatory and if you are in doubt at any point, then the instruction booklet is the best form of information.

            It is possible to view sent items and messages and also to create drafts that you may want to add to and send at a later date. This can be handy if you haven't the time to complete your message and don't wish to completely erase it. There are various templates for text messages, 10 preset onto the phone. There isn't really too much else to add, although I would say that you should experiment with different types of messages and have a bit of fun. I think that sending and attaching any file to a message couldn't be easier. The only issue that arises for me, is my sometimes slow and sloppy writing of messages.


            -Camera-

            The phone really starts to get good now, the 1.3 megapixel camera is very much the centre piece of the handset. It produces quite superb images that once uploaded to your computer look absolutely fantastic. They are faultless and I didn't expect them to be quite so fantastically clear. The video recorder is also another possibility, but not something that I make much use of.

            The camera has various helpful functions that allow you to maximise all possibilities. There is a timer function that allows you to set the camera to take a picture after a certain amount of time. It is very handy for group shots of people. It is possible to adjust the brightness of the image and to choose 'night mode' which enhances the image in low light. There is a 6x digital zoom that allows you to get in close on the target object. The quality does get progressively worse, the closer in you get. You are able to capture six consecutive images in the space of 2 seconds, which can be very funny. The image can also be flipped between portrait and landscape.

            I am very impressed with the quality of this camera, Nokia to tend to be a little bit behind other firms as far as their imaging capabilities are concerned, but in this case they have done a great job. I don't think that anybody who buys this phone, or gets it for free, will be disappointed by the quality. The images may not great on the phone, but transfer them to the computer and you will be delighted.

            -Nokia PC Suite-

            The Nokia 6630 comes with compatible software, that allows you to get so much more out of your phone. It makes it so much easier to make changes and add things to the phone. The software first needs to be installed, which is very easy indeed. Simply pop the CD-Rom in the computer and let it take you through the wizard. The phone then needs to be connected to the USB port of the computer and you can begin having fun and changing your phone.

            I have uploaded a number of music tracks and pictures direct from my computer onto the handset. It did take me a while to get the hang of it, partly because the software is a little misleading. The best way to add music and pictures, is to copy the file and paste it into the relevant folder on your phone. It can be great fun adding music and pictures to your phone, allowing you to effectively turn your phone into and iPod and also to personalise your desktop with pictures. You can even use an mp3 as your ringtone!

            The software effectively allows you to manage your phone via the computer. It is much easier to view the inner working of your phone and make changes to them on the bigger screen and in a Windows format. You can also have more menus open at once, which means you can move things around with greater ease. There is one problem that many people tend to have when they get a new phone. It is the transferring of their contacts, or adding lots of new ones. With the software, you can type your contacts details into the computer and then simply update the contacts on the phone. It saves such a lot of time and effort this way.


            -Other Features-

            This phone really has far too many features, to go through each one and give them an explanation. There are a few key things that should be listed, that are relatively key aspects of the phone:

            - Bluetooth enabled
            - JAVA Games
            - Symbian Technology
            - RealPlayer Supported Formats: 3gp and .mp4 file formats, MPEG-4 video, H.263 video and AMR audio, RealMedia (Real Video and Real Audio), MP3 and AAC
            - Video Recorder: Resolution = 174 x 144 pixels or 128 x 96 pixels


            -Memory-

            There is going to be an issue with memory on the phone, it only has 10mb of internal memory. This will be used for your contacts, ringtones, messages etc. It will get full relatively quickly and if you have one song on it, it will be pretty much full. The phone has a 64mb hotswap MMC, that does give you a lot more capacity. I have uploaded 10 songs and that leaves me with a little bit of spare capacity. I am going to invest in a 512mb MMC, that will mean that I can get over 100 songs onto it.


            -Shape and Styling-

            There does seem to be a move towards rather oddly shaped mobile phones within the last year or so. Nokia are the main culprits, with various different designs shaking up the way that handsets now look. I think it is a positive move, giving people a much wider choice in that sense. I would say however, that Nokia should perhaps level with its current designs and refrain from launching any very strange look phones, for the time being at least.

            The Nokia 6630, looks very stylish and smart in my view. I'm not sure that too many people would disagree, many of my friends have said that the thing that comes across most is how practical the handset actually looks. It is predominantly rectangular, with slightly round top corners. The phone gets a little wider towards the bottom and takes on a semi-circular form. It doesn't widen too much, which means that it still looks like a pretty 'normal' shape. I am would say that it is the best shaped handset in the current Nokia range and the best non-flip phone on the market.

            There are two main colours that dominate the phone. The front a back express-on covers are in metallic silver, the standard colour. These can be changed if you are willing to fork out for expensive replacements. They can be purchased from all good mobile phone accessory stores, online and off. A matt black band of plastic runs right around the sides of the phone and along the bottom. This is the permanent part of the phone, that can't be adjusted or the colour changed.


            -Size and Weight-

            This isn't one of the smaller or lighter mobile phones available today, but by no stretch of the imagination is it big and bulky. The handset is 11cm from top to bottom and 6cm from side to side. The maximum thickness is allegedly just over 2cm, but I would disagree and say that it is more like 1.5.cm. It is not too dissimilar to an iPod in its shape. The phone will easily fit into you pocket with out any trouble at all. I have found it to be very comfortable whilst walking along and it is easy to get hold of should you need to take a call.

            The phone weighs in at just 127g, incredibly light for a phone of such magnitude and overall size. I think that it is relatively light and it won't make your pocket sag when you have a loose pair of shorts or trousers on. When you are holding the phone in the palm of your hand, or up against your ear, it doesn't hurt your wrist at all. You may have to change hands every so often, but only because the blood supply to the arm may become limited after a while. The last phone that I had was just as heavy and didn't have even half of the features of the 6630. The weight of the phone is certainly not an issue.


            -Durability-

            The phone seems to be pretty well made and put together, something that I come to expect from Nokia. They have such high standards in every area of their products and the toughness and manufacture of this phone proves to be no different. The phone does look and feel like it could withstand every day use and also the odd bang and collision every now and again. The exterior covers give the phone added protection and the fact that these can be replaced, should they get damaged it a great plus point. The camera lens is very well protected from damage, with a rubber ring lignin the circumference. If the phone should impact a surface on its back, then the camera should survive the impact.

            As far as the software and actual electronic part of the phone is concerned, I expect it to be fully operational for the lifetime of the phone. I only expect to have the phone for 12 months and in that time there shouldn't really be any problems with the interface. I still think that it will be fully usable for about three to five years without and trouble. However, the new software is that much more complicated, that the likelihood of problems occurring may just be that bit higher.

            *After having this phone for a while, the protective rubber sealant around the camera starts to peel and wear away. This isn't much of a problem, let it occur naturally is the best advice I can give. Don't try to neaten it up by peeling it away yourself*

            -Buttons/Functions-

            There do seem to be an every increasing number of buttons appearing on the newer and up-to-date mobile phones. I can count a total of 20 buttons on the keypad, of which one has five different functions, as well as one button on either side of the phone. They do all have their relevant uses, although there are some that you will use a lot more than others.

            The numbers and the hash and star keys are self explanatory, as well as the green and red call buttons and the 'clear' button. The directional buttons are each used for two different things. Pressing 'up' takes you directly to the camera, 'down' to your list of contacts, the 'right' button will open the calendar and by pressing 'left' you are take to the text message function. They are also used to navigate within the various menus on the phone. The buttons either side of the centre, will perform the very command that is written in the text above them. This will change, depending on which part of the phone you are navigating. The main menu button, is located below the green 'send call' button and has a strange blue symbol on it.

            The phone can be turned and the current profile changed, by clicking the button that is located on the side of the phone. This will bring up a menu, with option to turn the phone off, switch to any of the optional profiles and lock the keypad. The keypad can also be locked and unlocked by pressing the button to the left of the central directional button and then the 'star' button. There is the opportunity for you to set up various voice tags for your phone. These can be set by simply configuring your voice tags.


            -Navigation-

            I have always said that Nokia phone software is by far the easiest to use and operate. Many people do agree with that, sighting it as one of the main reasons for purchasing a Nokia in the first place. The phones really are designed so that anybody can get to grips with at least the very basic calling and texting functions available. It is designed logically, the Scandinavians are well known for their simple approach to things. I have had a couple of problems with working out what certain new things do, but after a day or two I know pretty much all of the ins and outs of the phone.


            -Instructions and Multimedia-

            If you really do struggle with some parts of the handsets functions, then the instruction manual and interactive guides are of great help. Again, they are set out in a logical format that means you can find what you are looking for with relative ease. The step-by-step guides are easy to follow and they often include pictures showing what button to press and what should be appearing on your screen. The interactive guide that comes on the enclosed CD-Rom, is probably the best way to tackle things. There are various demonstrations and guides that help you to maximise the possibilities of your Nokia 6630. I haven't had to use the instructions, but I do feel that should I need to do so I will have little problems in solving problems.


            -Availability-

            As far as I am aware, the Nokia 6630 is available on 3 and Vodafone. I'm not sure when it will be available on Orange, 02 or T-Mobile. I do know that the official UK launch of the 6630 isn't until next month. It is available for free on most tariffs and in pretty much any mobile phone store, on the high street and on the internet. There are various deals doing the rounds at the moment, so be sure to shop around and get yourself a good bargain.

            I got my handset from the Link on a 3 contract. The tariff that I chose, is VideoTalk 500 and it is £25 per month. I have managed to get half price line rental for the first three months, credited by the network to the account, as well as the phone for free. They wanted to charge me £29.99, but I said that I wanted the phone for free and they obliged. The tariff entitles me to 500 inclusive minutes to any number, on any network, at any time. It also includes all video calls.


            -Conclusion-

            I can certainly recommend this phone to anybody who is looking to acquire a new mobile. It is packed full of useful features, that allow you to get so much more from your mobile phone. It is very up to date and incorporates the latest mobile phone technology. The phone is also a Nokia and for me that on its own is enough for me to be drawn to the handset in the first place. They make top quality, easy to use handsets.

            The Nokia 6680, has just been released and it is a step up from the 6630. It has two cameras and an integrated flash, that allows you to make video calls and capture even clearer images. The phone shops are only offering this phone for free, on the higher end contracts but it is worth waiting for a few months for the price to come down. However, if you aren't interested in video calls, then this phone is more than suitable. I absolutely love it and I think I shall enjoy using it for the next twelve months.

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            • More +
              05.10.2005 17:36
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              A superb way to cap off the most epic series of films ever

              -Introduction-

              It is the film that I and many others have been waiting to see, for a long, long time. Star Wars Episode III, Revenge of the Sith. It has received so much hype and varying reviews, some consider it to be the best ever film and others somewhat disappointed. I wouldn't consider myself to be the biggest Star Wars fan on the planet by any means. I don't have Star Wars costumes, visit conventions or queue up for the very first showing of the film. However, I do have Star Wars Lego and all of the other films on video, twice. I have been looking forward to this since the second episode, well since seeing four, five and six really and I was hoping and was pretty sure that it wouldn't disappoint.


              -Background-

              This is the third film, in a series of six and it is in fact the sixth and final film to be released. It is in many ways a film that gives us answers and reasons for what happened in episodes four to six. It gives everything that bit more meaning and our understanding should be much greater. It fills in those missing gaps, but it does so in spectacular fashion.

              The films are written and directed by the now great George Lucas and they are undoubtedly films to be proud of. In recent weeks, Lucas has admitted that he only ever anticipated there to be one Star Wars film, but how wrong he was. It has come such a long way in the last thirty years and it has drawn people of different ages, who are eager to see the trilogy completed.


              -Opening Titles-

              The opening titles are the same as any of the other five films in the trilogy. The music kicks in and the now famed yellow text roles across the screen. It really doesn't give to much away, only an introduction to the first part of the movie. It is very short compared with other films, only three paragraphs in total. The wording wasn't quite what I would have expected, it did seem rushed and as though it was considered an important part of the film. This is about the only criticism that I am going to be able to come up with. They should have spent a little more time refining the wording and also perhaps looked at the length. The camera then pans downwards and the film begins.


              -The Plot-

              The war between the Republic and the Trade Federation/Empire is now in full swing and the battle is finely poised. The force of evil still exists in the galaxy in the form of Count Dookoo, previously too powerful for Anakin and Obi Wan. Having claimed Anakin's arm in a battle past, he is determined to bring Dookoo to his knees. The relationship between Padme and Anakin is still blossoming and they are more in love than ever. It seems as though everything is set fair, but things are turned on their head. A single piece of news, that is joyful and worthy of celebration is the catalyst of a chain of events that will change the galaxy forever. There is immense confusion between all of the characters and parties and the events do start to spiral out of control. One thing is for sure, destiny is fulfilled but in the most unexpected of ways.


              -Graphics/Effects-

              The visual effects just seem to get better and better. This film has been able to really excel itself with the new graphic features available. Some of the scenes, especially of cities and the more remote battle centres are amazing. They are so detailed and precise and on such a massive scale. They are quite simply breathtaking and they are immensely realistic. The battle scenes are also exquisite, the duelling in particular. The moves are far less expansive, the fighting is more intricate and intense. I got the feeling that I was being taken closer to the action, to the heart of the fight.

              You can't fail to be impressed by the visualisations that Lucas and his team have come up with. They are immense and out of this world, but they have remained believable. The graphics have always been good, but in this film they have been really stepped up. The volcanic and lava scenes are ones too look out for. If for nothing else, go and see this film just to witness the visual effects that have been used to make the film truly amazing. They aren't over used by any stretch of the imagination and are really taken into the film.


              -Casting-

              The casting hasn't much changed from the second film and I think even then they had the right balance and chemistry. Hayden Christensen is excellent as Anakin and he does a fantastic job of demonstrating his anger and evil, whilst his loving side still shines through. He and Natalie Portman, playing Padme, are fantastic in those intimate scenes and they really take to the role and situation. They seem relaxed in their character and really pull it off well. Obi Wan played by Ewan McGregor is his usual self, being able to play the part of his mostly relaxed character. There are those traits of the older Obi Wan present and also what we saw of him in the original two films comes through. Ian McDiarmid is for me, the most impressive of the characters in the film. He lives up to his evilness with great effect and he steals the show. He is the dictionary definition of evil and at times you are genuinely convinced that he really is that evil. There were no changes to the cast, there didn't need to be any. It has been spot on from the very first scene of Episode One.


              -Dialogue-

              There are many critics that had complained of a poor dialogue in the film and that C3PO and Yoda came out with some silly and unnecessary remarks. I would totally disagree with this and say quite the opposite. They spoke at the right time and said the right thing. C3PO said very little, but he was ever present. There were long sessions of one on one dialogue that are quite unprecedented in Star Wars films. They were careful to keep these as short as possible, whilst making it gripping and holding your attention. There were often times when simply the music and images could tell the story and feelings of the characters and this is another thing that I think the production team got spot on.


              -Music-

              The music of all the Star Wars films has been brilliant in every way. John Williams has kept up that level in this film and even taken it on a stage. There is one familiar piece of music that returns, the death march that accompanies Darth Vader and the Sith. Once again you get that eerie shiver down your spine and you know the dark side is a power once again. The music is very emotive and at times it just takes over and tells the story itself. It fits in with the action perfectly and at times it does get you, it reflects the solemn mood, the evil and even the hope. It is a vital part of the film and I really can't fault it.


              -Conclusion-

              I don't normally recommend any of the products, media, or services that I review to everybody, but this film a must see for everyone. If you aren't a Star Wars fan, then I feel this film still has something to offer you. It has graphics and visual effects that are simply out of this world and it is full of action from start to finish. It is also immensely gripping, emotional throughout and action packed in the intervals. There are more fights than in the centre of town on a Friday night, all of which are thrilling to watch. It is amazing, in every way, the ending is fitting and it really does complete the trilogy in the most satisfying manor. I just can't quite come to terms with the film, it's going to take me another viewing at least in order to do so. Once again, the ending is just sensational!

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              • More +
                24.08.2005 03:49
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                A company that I would reccomend using as they have been great for me

                The Carphone Warehouse are one of the most established and well recognised providers of mobile phones in the UK. They have grown rapidly since they began trading in 1989, they have become the largest independent retailer of mobile communications in the whole of Europe. They operate in 10 countries and boast over 5 million customers. Their reputation is unrivalled and they are the first name that many people will think of when considering a new mobile phone for themselves or as a gift.




                The Carphone Warehouse provides customers with a huge range of telecommunication products. They say that: ‘A product bought from the Carphone Warehouse will be the most appropriate for the customer's needs.’ It is not only the provision of a product that fits well with the customer that the Carphone Warehouse endeavours to provide. They also claim to have, ‘A comprehensive range of products, services and after-sales care that cannot be found elsewhere.’




                I have recently dealt with the Carphone Warehouse both on the high street and online. On both occasions I was purchasing mobile phones on a twelve month price plan. I had pretty much made up my mind that I wanted to connect to the 3 network, having been with them previously. I did look around at the other offers available on other networks, just to make sure that I was making the correct choice. This was easy for me to, especially online, as all of the offers are clearly displayed. They are detailed, yet simple and easy to read and you can really make a quick decision on what else is available to you.




                The homepage of the Carphone Warehouse website displays a range of the latest offers that they are running. These tend to be exclusive to the website, so they aren’t available in store. They are able to offer slightly better offers to online customers, because they don’t have to cover the overheads of a shop front. It is definitely advisable to shop through the Carphone Warehouse online. The offers include contract and pay-as-you-go telephones, so there should be something for everyone.




                If nothing immediately catches your attention, you can define your search to find something more suited to your needs. You can select either contract or pay-as-you-go phones and then choose the network and handset you are after. You will then be provided with a comprehensive list of the offers available to you. The handset details are listed in good detail. There is a box on the left hand side that gives a very brief summary, using symbols. The list of networks that the phone is available on, are listed on the left. When you select one network, a list of different price plans available will appear. They include: inclusive minutes, contract length, monthly line rental and the handset price. If you find a tariff that you are happy with, tick the box and proceed.




                When you have selected your mobile phone, you should proceed to the checkout. If you haven’t previously shopped online at the Carphone Warehouse, you will need to complete a simple task to create an account. The next stage is to enter the billing name and address. If the delivery address is different, you also have to enter that. Then you will move onto the payment and credit check section. You can set up a Direct Debit from your account, once you have passed the credit check. The rest of the process is pretty much a formality. They will ask for a £75 holding fee whilst your phone is in transit. It should arrive the next day and you will receive confirmation through of the deal.




                The delivery of my handset was ‘Next Day’ and I received it about 20 hours after placing the order. The product arrived as described, with everything as it should have been. There was no damage sustained during transit, the box looked as good as new. The documentation was also correct, the contract details and the payment options all as they should have been. As far as setting up the phone and getting it ready to use are concerned, it was pretty straight forward. You should follow the instruction manuals provided. I was thrilled that the phone arrived so soon after I had ordered it and was as I expected, possibly even better.




                The after sales service that you are provided with, is more than adequate. I had a query regarding a handset that I couldn’t resolve by referring to the instruction manual. A quick email, followed by a phone call, was all it took to put my mind at rest and be at ease with the handset. There hasn’t been a need to make any further enquires to the Carphone Warehouse since, such are the standards of the original service that they provide. There should by no reason why even the most obscure of queries that you may have, won’t be solved by contacting the Carphone Warehouse.




                The overall level of service that the Carphone Warehouse provide, is very high. They do live up to their promises, making sure that you have everything you need when buying a phone. Having used the Link and Phones 4 U, I can safely say that the Carphone Warehouse provide you with the best deals, most efficient processing and connection and after sales service. I did shop around for better offers and was only able to find them on less well known sites that I wasn’t too sure about. Nothing is more comforting that the assurance that you feel when buying through the Carphone Warehouse.

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                • Nokia Data Suite / Apps / 38 Readings / 35 Ratings
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                  20.05.2005 11:47
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                  -Introduction-

                  I have recently acquired a new mobile phone, one which I have of course already reviewed. It was the Nokia 6630 Smartphone, making it very high-tech and up to date. It has a number of different functions on it that make it difficult to manage and maximise the handsets full capabilities. The phone comes with Nokia PC Suite software, included in the package. This piece of software allows you to manage the phone via your computer. This has a number of benefits, mainly that it speeds the whole process up and you can see the things more clearly.


                  -Purpose of Nokia PC Suite-

                  The main underlying purpose of a piece of software like Nokia PC Suite is to allow owners of Nokia handsets to remotely manage their phone. It makes it much easier to add and remove files and also to move them to different parts of the phone. It also allows for interaction between the handset and the PC, in order to backup files, update contacts and calendar details and store other data. It has been around for a while and I can't help feeling that it is massively under used and people aren't really getting the most from their mobile handsets.


                  -Installing Software Package-

                  The installation of the software is relatively simple and similar to any other software that you may have put on to your computer in the past. The CD-Rom needs to be place in the computer and it should automatically start the installation process. The menu will open on your computer and you will be given a number of options. To initiate the installation of the software, simply click 'Install Nokia PC Suite'. There will then be a number of simple menus that take you through the process step by step. You will need to connect your phone to the computer when prompted, via the USB port on the computer. There should be a USB wire included in the package and simply connect it between the handset and computer. Your PC will then pick up the new USB device and the software will install the correct drivers. That is pretty much it and you are ready to use the program.

                  It is possible to download a version of the PC Suite via the Nokia website at: http://www.nokia.com/nokia/0,,72014,00.html. It is pretty much the same as the one provided with the phone package. There was a problem with the CD-Rom supplied with the phone, which is why I had to use the website. It is important to remember, that you should wait until the software prompts you to connect the phone to the computer, before doing so. It will prevent the computer from not recognising the device and then refusing to accept it. It is a simple enough piece of software to set up and I am very satisfied with how easy and simple it was to do. I'm sure that anybody would be able to do it, no matter how little you claim to know about computers.


                  -Connectivity-

                  The phone can be connected to the computer via on of the following. The provided USB cable can be used, via a wireless Bluetooth connection or even using infra-red.
                  It is advisable to install the software via USB cable, but after that you can connect via Bluetooth. You will of course have to have a Bluetooth reader in order to do this and that will of course come at an extra cost, should you not already have one. I don't have any problems connecting via USB cable; it doesn't take anything away from the level of interaction between phone and computer. You can connect and disconnect the phone from the cable whilst the computer is one and it will still pick the device up without having to restart the PC.


                  -Functions-

                  There are a huge number of different functions that the PC Suite is able to perform. They are all useful in their own way and some people will find some of the features to be more relevant than others. They are all relatively simple to use and their purpose is pretty clear. I would certainly recommend that you do have a play around with all of the different settings and tasks that you can perform. It is pretty much impossible to cause any problems or faults to occur with the phone, so do have a try and a play with a few things. I will pick out a few of the key features and try and explain what they each do and how beneficial I feel they are.


                  -Backup-

                  The very first option present to you is 'Backup'. It is identified by the filing cabinet picture and from that you can pretty much guess what it does. It simply copies all of the data from your phone and stores it on the PC. It will copy content such as contacts, pictures and videos, messages and even your profiles and individual settings. This means that should you lose your phone or you have an unexpected fault occur or you damage the handset, you will still have much of your data. The content can then be restored to the existing or a new handset. It is advisable to backup your phone every week or so, if there are important details that you really can't afford to lose. It will also save time, as you can quickly upload any data to your phone at the click of a mouse.

                  I haven't found this to be of need as yet, because I haven't lost my phone and it is still working efficiently. I am careful to back up the data on my phone every few days and I am certain that I won't lose any data should something happen to the handset. It is a very good function and I am glad that it is at my disposal. It is easy to use and you can benefit hugely from it. The process of backing up files involves two simple steps and the wizard takes you through them.


                  -Synchronise-

                  This feature is again pretty self explanatory from the heading at the two arrows that symbolise it. This is another form of backing up your phone content, including calendar entries, contacts and all your messages. If you add a new contact via the handset whilst you are out and about, when you synchronise it is sent to the contact list on your PC automatically. This is something that I like, because you can view the contact name and their number side by side and it makes it easier to pass the number on to someone else. These contacts or messages can then be sent to another phone via the USB connection. It is the simplest function to use; you simply need to select 'Synchronise Now'.


                  -File Manager-

                  This has to be the best feature of the lot in my opinion and really makes things so much easier. It basically allows you to view the entire content of the handset and enables you to move things around and add or remove files. It is in many ways like a cheat, making some of the other functions of the software redundant. When you want to add a music file from your PC, you simply have to go to the containing folder, copy the file and paste it into the appropriate place on the memory card. It also allows you to add and remove any images, in a very simple way. You can select images already on the phone and view them. Then you can remove them to free up memory for future pictures that you may wish to take. I do like this feature because you can add and remove files very quickly and it is very clear and easy to do. It does take a little time to get used to, but you will soon get the hang of it.


                  -Add a Contact-

                  This is a much quicker way of adding new people and their telephone numbers to your phone. You can simply type in the name, all of their contact numbers and their home and email addresses. It is much faster and much more efficient. When you have done this and saved the new contact, you can simply synchronise with the handset and the contact will automatically be added to the handset. It made swapping my numbers from the old phone so much quicker and I had done all them in about five minutes. I am really impressed with this and can't thank Nokia enough for it. You can even add a picture, so that when they call it appears on your screen. It does also act as an address book on your computer, so you can easily find people's home addresses with relative ease.


                  -Other Features-

                  There are various other functions that you can perform and also use to change how your handset works. You can write text messages on screen and then send them via your handset. It makes the whole process much quicker and less erroneous. It is also possible to create your own ringtones using audio files from your PC and any composing software that you have available. The same can be done with images, to create your own specialised wallpapers. The handset can also be used a modem, to allow the computer to connect to the internet. This isn't something that I have a need for, but if you have a laptop and are on the move then it can be very useful indeed.


                  -Conclusion-

                  I have found this invaluable to getting the most out of my new handset. It has made it possible to get what I want out of my phone and also to make things much faster and more efficient. I have really benefited from it and I am sure I will do so long into the future. I am always changing the music files that I have stored on the phone and it is so easy to with the Nokia PC Suite. It is definitely something that I would recommend to anybody who owns an up to date Nokia handset. I am sure that many people have the software still in the box and have never actually considered using it. As I have said before, don't be afraid to try a few things out and you may get some quite positive results.



                  For details on this and other products visit: www.nokia.co.uk


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                  • More +
                    08.05.2005 23:28
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                    -Introduction-

                    The Purbeck coast, runs from Lulworth to Swanage and Studland. It is well renowned for being one of the most versatile and active coastlines in the Britain and even the world. It is home to some of the most spectacular coastal landforms and anywhere and is generally very picturesque. It is somewhere that is quite local to me and I have recently visited the area on a geography field trip with the school. I do feel that it somewhere that pretty much any type of tourist will enjoy, for one reason or another. I will say this now so that you know to expect it, but there will be numerous geographical references, that I will make sure that I explain in an easily understandable fashion.


                    -Durdle Door-

                    This is one of the most prominent and outstanding coastal formations along the coast. It has been formed over hundreds of thousands of years, the sea has slowly shaped it into the form that we see today. Softer rock, sands and clays, have been eroded away by the power of the sea, both landward and seaward of Durdle Door. With the removal of this natural protection, the harder limestone rocks have been exposed to the erosive powers of the sea. Over time, faults in the rock alignment have been slowly exploited and made bigger. The rock is weakened and some of cliff falls away into the sea, leaving the arch formation that we see today.

                    It is a great site to see, especially on a sunny day at around sunset, with the backdrop of crisp blue skies. It is just simply a piece of land just jutting out into the sea, with a gaping hole in its centre. It is however so much more than that, it is very rare and a spectacular site. For any photographers, it is a great site to get a few shots of and there are many different angles and perspectives that you can take photos from. It will one day simply be a stack, when the arch becomes too heavy or unstable and collapses into the sea. Even then, it will be spectacular in its own right and will be talked about for generations to come.


                    -Lulworth Cove-

                    This is in my opinion, a most spectacular site and location. It is evidence of the immense powers of nature and more specifically the strength of the sea and its erosion capabilities. It has again, formed over thousands of years in a slow but efficient process that leaves us with a true sight to behold. The process is a fairly simple one to understand.

                    The most seaward rocks are the Portland Limestone and they are aligned vertically in strong formation. The provide a sturdy protective barrier for the more vulnerable soft rocks that lie behind. The clay and greensands are very prone to erosion when the sea is allowed to attack them. Although the Portland rock is well formed and very strong, in time the sea has been able to exploit breaches and cracks. Over many hundreds of year these gaps have grown in size and the sea has further widened the front of the cove. As soon as the softer rock is exposed then the erosional process is much faster. The rocks behind are pushed back and the rocks are even eroded sideward. The cove will continue to increase in sizes in the future.

                    There are quite substantial tourist facilities on offer at the cove. There is an extensive car park that is quite fairly priced considering the high demand for spaces in the summer. The overflow car park usually provides enough space for everyone to get their cars in. To one side is the tourist visitor centre. It offers a wealth of information on the area, with leaflets regarding all of the attractions available for free. The incorporated museum, offers a small insight into the history of the cove and its formation over time. It does help you to get to grips with how the cove turned out how it has done. There are toilets located at the end of the building. Across the other side is the café and small shop that are open throughout the year. There is also a quite substantial wine store, that says it offers more different wines than any other shop.

                    There is the possibility for visitors to the cove, to take a boat trip, at certain times of the year. It is a very limited season and the services are often very rare. The sailings are also dependant on the weather conditions at the time and also the number of people wishing to go on the trip. It is available on Saturdays between July and August and the boat leaves at 10am from the slipway. It travels to Gad Cliff and back, with a guided tour on board. There are boat trips throughout the year at various times of the day, but they do tend to vary, so you would have to check when you are in the area.

                    As I have said before, I really think that the cove looks quite spectacular from any angle. It is a quite dramatic landform and you can really appreciate how it has formed and the history behind it. The water is very clear, aided by the shallow depth and the wave cut platforms below the surface. It is a very active piece of coastline and all around, there is evidence of erosion taking place. It is a must see and you will have an image of the cove firmly engraved on your mind as soon as you set eyes on it.


                    -Lulworth Village-

                    Upon entering the village you pass a pub come restaurant, the name of which escapes me, which serves quite exquisite food. In the evenings they tend to opt for a more restaurant orientated menu which will be a lot more familiar. During the day, the food includes all your favourite home made dishes, made with local produce. I have been told that in the winter, their soup is to die for. If you carry on towards the cove, you will come across a delightful duck pond. It is a good idea to have a bit of spare bread with you, just to feed the little duckies. It will certainly be a bit of enjoyment for the kids, should you choose to take them with you.

                    The village itself is actually relatively small and is still very traditional in terms of the buildings, services and infrastructure. There are a few traditional local shops and a couple of quite wonderful little gift shops. They sell some fantastic souvenirs and also some of the local crafts. There a few commercial products on sale which is a shame, but they still serve as a reminder of your visit. The roads are of course very small and there isn't any pavement. The houses are very compact and very nice to look at.


                    -Fossil Hunting-

                    There are many people, who are immensely keen on finding and examining fossils. There is the chance to do this here too. If the army are not practising, you can walk eastbound from Lulworth along the cliff top to Chapmans Pool. It is a favourite fossil hunting ground of and can be found to be very tranquil and peaceful when it isn't too busy. It is a great place to sit and admire the view and examine any fossils that you think you may have discovered.


                    -Tyneham Village-

                    Although I haven't had the chance or the pleasure to visit myself, the small village of Tyneham is a must for any visitor to the area. The village went under military occupation six days before Christmas 1943 for the training of American and British tank crews. It was needed as a practise range and a place to harvest fresh troops for the war. The whole village was kept under occupation and although the authorities pledged to return the village to the inhabitants, they went back on their word. To this day, it remains deserted and is a ghost village.

                    The village is still used by the military today, as a practice range for the troops stationed nearby. It is now mostly in ruin, but it is still somewhere worth visiting. It is preserved and relatively uninfluenced by humans, giving you a chance to look back 50 years in time and imagine what life may have been like. It is open to the public for most of the year and has some of the best walks in the area. It is only a short drive from Lulworth Cove, or a pleasant walk.


                    -Other Areas-

                    Stair Hole, Man O' War Bay and Old Harry Rock are all other places worth a visit. Lulworth Castle also provides a good bit of enjoyment and the ruins of Corfe Castle also have a rich history. Ballard Down is a truly spectacular place to visit, if you have the energy to tackle the huge hills that give you access the area. The views are quite spectacular and you can look out to see both in front and behind you. To one side are Bournemouth and Poole and to the other you look down upon Swanage. That it is another place well worth visiting, especially if you have children who may want to play on the beach.


                    -When to Visit-

                    In the summer months, this area can get extremely busy. It is advisable to visit in the off season where possible, but you can still get much enjoyment from a trip to the area in high season. The spring time is probably my preferred time to visit, everything is at its best. There may be a little bit of mist and haze out to sea and the sun is a bit lower in the sky, making viewing of the landforms much more spectacular. The facilities are all open at this time of the year, so you won't be missing out on that account. There are also no restrictions as to where you can walk at different times of the year.

                    The roads are very thin and windy for the most part and during busy periods the traffic can be a nightmare. There are often lengthy tailbacks and getting in and out of the area can be a lengthy and frustrating process.

                    I would go to Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door and the other areas in the morning and early afternoon, in early spring or at this time of year (April/May). I would start with a nice walk along the coast, in either direction just to soak up the atmosphere and get the wind in your hair. I would then look down on Lulworth Cove, before proceeding to beach level. It may be time for a spot of lunch or just a quick coffee so I would go into the little visitor complex and grab a drink or a bit food from the café. It is nice to know a bit about the area and its history, so the perfect place to visit is the little museum. There should be plenty of time just to go off and explore the village and then decide what you want to do next.


                    -Accessibility-

                    The public transport in the area is very poor. It is pretty much non-existent, so the other feasible way of getting into the area and travelling within it is by car. The roads aren't fantastic but you can get by with relative ease. As far those with wheelchairs and walking aids are concerned, accessing some of the natural attractions will prove to be difficult. The man made facilities do cater for wheelchairs and there are disable toilets.


                    -Advice to Visitors-

                    These areas of countryside and natural beauty are often very fragile and susceptible environments. It is important to treat such locations with a lot of respect and care, in order that they can be enjoyed by everyone for many, many years to come. There are a few things that you can do to make sure that you aren't causing any damage to the area.

                    The first and possibly most obvious measure to take is to make sure that you take any litter home with you. There aren't many bins because of the wildlife that may be affected, so it is very tempting just to leave your rubbish on the floor. Rubbish that you do leave lying about, may harm wildlife and in the longer term won't go away. In time it may build up and become a real problem for the area.

                    There is often a problem with footpath erosion in more rural areas. People can tend to wander off the set paths, trampling grass and vegetation in the process. In busy periods, hundreds if not thousands of people will walk around and if they all stray from the path it will widen over time. It is a continuous process and before you know it, the area becomes a mud and dust track. If the path is muddy or boggy, try to tread carefully and only leave the track if absolutely necessary. There are a number of paths that do have stones and chippings on, so there should be no need to stray. The other problem that can arise from managed paths, is that people remove the stones or wood chippings, making the path smaller and then more prone to people not sticking to it.

                    Any damage that does occur to such a delicate environment is likely to be very difficult to reverse and in some cases it can be very damaging. A couple of simple steps and precautions by everyone can mean the difference between preserving and spoiling a beautiful area of natural beauty. It isn't fair that we use primary attractions for our own enjoyment and benefit and not ensure that they remain for future generations.


                    -Conclusion-

                    I would certainly recommend this area of the Dorset coast to pretty much any type of holiday maker or 'outdoor' person. There is scenery that really can't be seen in such great splendour, in any other area of the world. The walks are also extensive and enjoyable for those who like a good stroll. It is certainly somewhere that all of the family can go out to and get a good bit of fresh air and soak up a few rays if the weather is fine.

                    I wouldn't describe the Purbeck Coast as being somewhere to holiday for a week, but it is certainly good for a short break or day trip. If you are visiting Bournemouth or Poole and just want to get away for a day, then you could perhaps head out towards Swanage and Lulworth. It is something different to do and it is very educational and informing in its way. There are a number of different things to do, but you can probably exhaust all possibilities in a day or two. All in all, I would certainly recommend that you try and find some time to visit this area once in your life. It has to be one of the more attractive areas of the UK to visit. It is a stretch of coastline that illustrates each and every stage in the development of bays and headlands. It is a must see!

                    There really aren't too many downsides or criticisms that I have of the area. It has so much to offer any type of visitor and you will always find something to do. The roads are a bit of an issue, but I wouldn't be in favour of any widening of the exisitng routes. The presence of no high street shops is a plus point from my point of view, but there may be some people who would like a newsagent or a supermarket to buy a few things from. All in all, you will really struggle to find fault with such a beautiful area of the world.


                    -More Information-

                    There are a number of different websites that you can visit for further details on the area and information on accommodation, eating out and other travel arrangements. There are a few sites that I have found to be of great help and they can be found at:

                    Local Sites: www.purbeck.gov.uk/tourism and www.lulworthonline.co.uk



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                    • Champions Cup / Discussion / 22 Readings / 16 Ratings
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                      05.05.2005 16:49
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                      A great competition for the neutral fan

                      -Introduction-

                      The UEFA Champions League is Europe's premier cup competition and has been so ever since its creation in the 1992/93 season. It replaced the European Cup, a tournament with such a rich history behind it. The change is said to have taken place, in order to modernise the tournament and the inclusion of a group phase was welcomed. The Champions League is very topical at present and I have thought it necessary to give a bit of background on the tournament, a look at the players and teams over the past 13 seasons and also to look at where it may go in the future.


                      -Competition Format-

                      In its short existence, the actual Champions League format has undergone numerous changes. The tournament has always included Europe's elite teams, in the first season only 8 teams took part compared with the 32 teams that began this seasons tournament.

                      Initially the 32 teams are divided into eight groups of four teams each. They play each other at home and away, each team playing a total of six games in the group. The top two teams from each group then progress to what now is the second round. The top placed teams are seeded therefore they can't meet in round two. There are also certain procedures put in place to separate teams from the same group and country in the second round draw. The matches are played over two legs, home and away with the winning team advancing to the quarter finals. A further draw is then made, where any team can meet a team from their old group or federation. At this time, the semi-final draw is also made so that the teams know who they will meet should they advance. The final is played out over one leg between the teams who advance through the quarter and semi finals, on a neutral venue decided by UEFA far in advance of the competition getting underway.

                      The games in the knock-out stages are played over two legs. The teams play each other at home and away and the team with the best aggregate score goes onto the next stage of the competition. If a team scores a goal when playing away from home, then it has more value than one scored on their own territory. An example would be that the first leg finishes 0-0, with team A having played at home. The second leg finishes 1-1, with team A playing away from home. The aggregate score is 1-1, but because team A scored an away goal, they would win the tie. Away goals only come into play if the tie is drawn, otherwise they are irrelevant.


                      -Attendances-

                      The number of fans going to watch European matches rapidly declined in the early 1990's for a number of different reasons. The first is that the format had become somewhat tired and fans simply lost interest in the tournament. There was an increase in the amount of games shown on television, which lead to many fans staying at home to watch their teams play. The attendances at games have now risen, as the group phase format has once again appealed to the football fan. The vast majority of the games around Europe are sell outs and even attendances in Italy have risen, after marked reductions in numbers at games.


                      -TV Coverage-

                      It is possible for residents of the UK and other parts of Europe and even globally, to view all of the Champions League matches taking place. Sky Digital viewers can choose between all of the games on a Wednesday and all but two on a Tuesday. The number of people watching the games is huge and the exposure of the game is ever increasing. There are huge amounts of money involved as far as the screening of games is concerned. ITV and Sky pay huge sums of money for the right to show matches and this then filters down to the clubs who receive huge windfalls simply for qualifying. The TV coverage has opened the tournament up to a wider audience and the changed competition format, has attracted new viewers.


                      -Champions League Anthem-

                      The familiar sound of the Champions League anthem at the start of television broadcasts and just prior to kick-off, has become a key part of the whole tournament. It is almost like a war cry, it gets the two teams and the fans in the mood for the game ahead. The anthem was composed by a Mr Tony Britten. It is performed (sung) in three languages; French, German and English. It was seen as a way of unifying the participants and giving the tournament an identity.


                      -Tournament History-

                      Since the very first year of the Champions League in 1992/93, there have been nine different winners of the trophy. Real Madrid have won it three times and AC Milan have triumphed twice in all. The single biggest margin of victory, came in the 1994 final when AC Milan thumped Barcelona by 4-0. There are only two players, who have won the Champions League with two different clubs. Paulo Sousa and Marcel Desailly are the two players that go down in the tournaments history. It hasn't been possible to uncover some of the other statistics that I feel will have added to the review. If anybody knows where I can get the all time list of topscorers and such statistics, then I would be very greatful.


                      -Future-

                      I can see the competition continuing to be a great success for many more seasons yet. It is always exciting from the very first match, to the last kick of the final. It always lives up to its billing as the greatest club competition on earth. There won't be too many changes to the present format, which has only changed this season. The number of games has been cut by four, amid pressure from managers who have said that there are already too many matches in a season.

                      There is always talk about a possible breakaway European League, that would see the top teams from Europe leaving their home federations and competing across Europe week in and week out. However, this is still as distant possibility and isn't really realistic in the near future. The domestic competition in Spain, Italy and England are as exciting as ever and the Champions League is more than good enough. The only substantial change that I can for see, is the scrapping of limits placed on countries with regard to the number of teams that they can enter. There are often three or four weak teams that play in the group stage, that could be easily bettered by teams that haven't quite done enough to qualify from the bigger leagues in Western Europe.


                      -Conclusion-

                      Although my team, Tottenham Hotspur, have never completed in the Champions League I can still see the appeal and magic of the tournament. It showcases the very best of Europe's footballing talent, bringing together the best club sides. It consistently lives up to its expectations and the competition is always exciting. The standard of play is also a joy to watch, as a fan of football in general. To see the foreign teams break with such pace and ruthless efficiency is a great sight and to see Italian teams contain some of the most attacking teams in Europe is also intriguing to watch.

                      In recent years, it hasn't always been the better sides that have reached the latter stages. The last team to lift the trophy, FC Porto, were huge outsiders at the start of the competition but defied the odds to win it. Teams like PSV and Liverpool weren't expected to do so well this year, but they have excelled themselves and found ability that they never knew that they possessed within the team. It is a tournament that brings out the best in the players and they really do give it their all. It certainly seems to mean a great deal and the put a lot of effort into trying to get wins.

                      If you are a football of any sort, then surely you will have followed the Champions League. If you don't take an interest, because your side isn't in the competition then you are missing out on top quality entertainment. Some of the matches can have more twists and turns that your average soap opera and they always through up surprises. I also support the English and Scottish teams when they are in action, because the better than those teams do the greater profile that our domestic game receives. So do make sure that you catch the forthcoming final in Istanbul, which features Liverpool who scraped through against Chelsea. I can't think of a single reason not to watch the Champions League, you are mad if you don't have an interest in it.

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                      • Chelsea F.C. / Discussion / 18 Readings / 16 Ratings
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                        01.05.2005 23:27
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                        I write this review as a Tottenham fan and more so a football fan in general. I like to let my views be known and invite others to comment on the issues, if any, that I may raise during the review. I want to make clear that this isn't a review of Chelsea as a football club, the history, match day details etc, but a look at this season so far for The Blues.

                        As I'm sure you all know, Chelsea picked up their first title for 50 years on Saturday. A 2-0 victory against Bolton, with the goals come from Frank Lampard, was enough to crown the West London side Barclaycard Premiership Champions. They became only the fourth different club to win the Premiership since its formation some 11 seasons ago. They remove the crown from Arsenal, much to my pleasure, who haven't really lived up to the standards that they set last season.

                        There are those that say that Chelsea have effectively bought the Premiership title. The cheque book of Roman Abramovich has seen more action than the local brothel this year, with millions of pounds spent on new acquisitions to the squad. Big money signings included Didier Drogba from Marseille and Arjen Robben, along with Petr Cech who has been a complete revelation since his arrival.

                        The lure of Chelsea and their millions was even great enough to bring the manager of the previous seasons Champions League victors FC Porto, to the club. Jose Mourinho was gently persuaded to sign up and he was viewed by many as the final piece of the jigsaw, in Chelsea's search for success. From the word go, he had a confident swagger and he certainly talked the talk. In his first press confidence, he assured the media and the footballing world, that he is already a 'great'. Perhaps it is this confidence that has been key to the success that he has brought to the club.

                        It is important to remember, that the very heart and soul of the current Chelsea side is British. More importantly, it is two English players who have played pivotal roles in propelling Chelsea to their current status. Frank Lampard, along with Claude Makalele, has made the centre of Chelsea's midfield very strong in defence and a huge threat on the attack. Lampard finds himself, or puts himself, in the most advanced of positions and he is often the furthest man forward and more often than not is the one who applies the finish. He still scores his trademark goals from around 20-25 yards out. The PFA player of the year, John Terry, has played an even bigger role, scoring 8 goals this season from central defence. His main contribution has come in the shape of bossing the Chelsea back four and making them tough to break down. They went for over 1200 minutes of Premiership football, without conceding a goal at one stage. Let’s also not forget Joe Cole, who at last seems to be finding his feet and is contributing all over the park.

                        The Champions League crown is the next challenge for Mourinho’s team, with the second leg of the semi final against Liverpool looming. They should clinch a victory, or a scoring draw at Anfield that would see them advance to the final where they should meet Italian giant AC Milan. It will be a tough game, a great watch for any football fan. Victory in the final in Istanbul at the end of May, would cap off what has been an already remarkable season for Chelsea. It would add to the League Cup triumph over Liverpool and the Premiership title.

                        A treble in Jose Mourinho’s first season, who would have thought it? There were those that said he would need time to settle into his new role and adapt to the English game, but it seems that they were wrong. It seems that all of the hype and build up he gave himself at the start of the season, has been justified. Yes, he has had a huge transfer budget at his disposal, but to overhaul Arsenal and Manchester United in such fashion has taken someone very special. He will want to win the Champions League this term and there will be nobody more disappointed than Jose Mourinho, if Chelsea fail to lift the trophy.

                        The question on many people’s minds is likely to be: where do Chelsea go next? Should they win the Champions League, they will have achieved things beyond their wildest dreams. The only thing that they can look towards is the domination of domestic and European affairs for many seasons to come. They certainly the ability to do so and Chief Executive Peter Kenyon has already said that he wants Mourinho to stay for another 10 years. I think that they will want to win the Premiership for two or three seasons in a row and the same for the Champions League. They will want to break long standing records and perhaps have a crack at Arsenal’s 50 game unbeaten run.

                        I do have slight concerns over what has gone on this season. I think that if Chelsea have three or fours years more dominance, then Abramovich will walk away from the club. He will have achieved all that he wants to and will move onto something else. He will eventually get bored with football and the fact that Chelsea keep winning. The other thing that worries me was the lack of competition that Chelsea faced from the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal. They never really had any challengers en-route to the title, only Arsenal put up a bit of resilience at the start of the campaign. It made for a huge anti climax, to what did promise to be an exciting title race at the start of the season. There is far more focus and excitement regarding the intense four-way relegation battle, than on the top of the league.

                        As for next season, I think we will see more of the same from Chelsea. They will make two big signings in my view. A right back and a striker, or an attacking midfielder who will interchange with Eidur Gudjohnsen, are the two areas that I think Mourinho will look to strengthen. I can see Mateja Kezman and Glen Johnson being the two casualties of this. I would also think that Mourinho will look to Mikel Forsell an active role in the side. He has a lot of promise and after coming back from injury he has looked good in the reserves. I think that Arsenal will get their act together and if they can find a partner for Henry, they will improve. Manchester Untied should also mount a much better challenge for the title, if they can get Rooney and van Nistelrooy playing together from the start of the season. They missed Rio Ferdinand when he was out, so his presence for a full season will also be an added bonus. I am going to stick my neck out and say that Chelsea will retain the Premiership next season and win the Champions League this time around.


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                        • More +
                          25.04.2005 18:45
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                          #Introduction#

                          I am a massive fan of the Star Wars series and I can't wait for the final episode in the trilogy to be released. Episode III, Revenge of Sith, is released on the of 19th of May in cinemas across Great Britain. It completes the story and will be the last of the six films to be made.

                          The first and second episodes in the Star Wars trilogy are called The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. They have preceded the release of Episode III, but they were produced and released after the original episodes. Episodes 4-6 to were the first to be produced and were released between 1977 and 1983.

                          There has been an awful lot of criticism directed at the two newest Star Wars episodes. Many people have said that they don't even come close to the quality of the original episodes. They say that there are too many special effects, not enough action and that the story is boring and in some cases less believable. I believe that people expect and want the new episodes to be very similar to the original set of films. I think that there has been a welcome change in direction that has brought the whole concept more up-to-date with modern society.


                          #Episode I - The Phantom Menace#

                          The first episode takes us right back to the start, in terms of the Star Wars story. It tells the story from the beginning and it starts to show how and what events took place that lead to the events seen in episodes 4 to 6. The first notable character that we meet is Obi Wan Kenobi. He is only an apprentice at this time (Padawan) but he is clearly talented. The only other familiar character is Yoda. He is on the Jedi council and is an immense fighter. We see C-3PO, in his early development and R2-D2 throughout.

                          The new characters that we meet are somewhat different to what you may expect, but entirely feasible in the context of Star Wars. There is Queen Amidala, who rules the planet of Naboo. She has a key role right from the off and it is clear that she will feature in a big way as the trilogy progresses. Played by Natalie Portman, she is a focused and intelligent individual. Jar Jar Binks, is a Gungan reject, who is saved by the two Jedi, when Trade Federation forces land. He is regarded by some viewers as a very annoying and unnecessary character. Qui-Gon Jinn is the Jedi master, trying to train his apprentice Kenobi.

                          The basic plot of the first episode, is that the two Jedi have to help Queen Amidala and her aides and fellow residents to preserve their planet from the impending attack. They are initially driven away by the heightened security threat, but return to fight a battle with limited man power and armoury. They enlist the help of the native Gungans and begin a battle against the trade federation.

                          The early parts of the film, see the characters trying to bring about a peaceful solution to a crisis that threatens to turn deadly. The Trade Federation is mobilising its droid army and blockading the planet of Naboo. The two Jedi and the Queen, get stranded on a remote planet and the only way to get away is to find money to replace the broken parts of the ship. They stumble across a young boy, a slave to the owner of the spare parts shop, and he offers to enter the pod race on their behalf. They seem to have discovered a special boy and they end up taking him with them.

                          It is a great start to the whole trilogy and you see how things started to change. It is incredibly moving in certain parts, the drama and the emotion that you feel can really get to you. It isn't the best Star Wars film yet, but it certainly has its part in the trilogy and it makes a good start that you can draw certain things from. It is a good launch pad for the second episode, which has plenty of areas to expand upon.


                          #Episode II - Attack of The Clones#

                          We return to see the young apprentice all grown up and his now master Obi Wan is in his prime as a Jedi. They are charged with protecting the now senator Amidala. They investigate the attempted assassination of their subject and it leads to a quite remarkable discovery that changes a lot.

                          We see the darker side of the young Jedi, as he discovers the death of his enslaved mother. He can't contain his emotions and lashes out against the perpetrators of his mothers downfall, going against the Jedi code: A Jedi Shall Not Know Anger. Nor Hatred. Nor Love. He does incidentally seem to find love, another sign of a weakness that may soon be exploited by the force of evil. He has always admire Padme Amidala and they share many emotional experiences throughout the film.

                          Towards the end, a massive battle and epic fight scene takes place, the most dramatic yet in many ways. The emotions of the two young lovers come to a head and much against the Jedi councils wishes, they marry. Padme and Annakin are now deeply involved and the consequences still be proven. It seems that a new dawn is upon the planet or Naboo and the republic in general. They are now protected and they have to strong people at the heart of it.

                          I really enjoyed this film and in parts it was the best that Star Wars has ever seen. It was so intense and the action and drama was ever present. The love scenes did add to it, because it is a very real concept that hasn't previously been explored in the Star Wars films. It is a really great prequel to the third and final episode and it is many ways a cliff hanger. We don't know what will happen next, but you can see evidence of certain situations ready to take the forefront.


                          #Acting and Casting#

                          I think that they got the right mix of actors to play the characters in this film. Natalie Portman is very much in the mould of Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia). They are both very attractive, but quite dainty characters and it is good that they kept that same sort of theme running throughout. She gives very good performaces throughout and she really puts everything into it. Liam Neeson did well in his short stint, always convincing in his role as a Jedi master and speaker. Ewan McGregor is immense from start to finish and I look forward to seeing him in the final episode.

                          Annakin Skywalker has been played by two different people. Jake Lloyd played him in his earlier years in Episode I and then Hayden Christensen in the next. They both do very good jobs and portray different sides of his personality very well. His caring side and then his more violent tendencies are very carefully done, ensuring that they aren't too over the top. Mace Windu, played by Samuel L. Jackson, gives a solid performance but his role is relatively limited.

                          George Lucas and his team clearly took great care in selecting actors that would fit the mould of the characters perfectly. The chose the right sort of person for each role and clearly motivated the actors to give it their all. I can't pick out any character who I thought could have been done more justice by any other actor. They all performed brilliantly and this is just another reason why I adore Star Wars Episodes I and II.


                          #Special Effects#

                          The special effects have come on leaps and bounds since the very first episode from 1977. The film world has made many advances in the field and many of today's action films are computer generated for the most part. I believe that all but 15 minutes of Episode I is filmed using special effects. They make sure that they get the most from the visual effects and they really do look amazing at times.

                          I do think that they add to the film and that the vast majority of the special effects are done in such a way that you don't really think about it when you are watching. Unlike films such as the Matrix, you almost forget that it isn't real and it is genuinely believable. Much of the film has to be computer generated because many of the scenes are so detailed, it is the only way of doing it. The scenes that depict large cities or stretches of space littered with spaceships, can't be filmed live, so they have to use the technology available to create such effects.


                          #Soundtrack#

                          The music remains very similar in both films and very much on a par with the original soundtrack. The much renowned open title music is still present at the start of each film and when you hear it, you get a tingle down the back of your neck. The imperial march music, that you tend to get when the dark side are being focused on is still ever present throughout. All of the music is still conducted by the now legendary John Williams, who does a really fantastic job. I really enjoy all of the music and it is often very emotional in a certain way.

                          #DVD Extras#

                          I have always found that Star Wars DVD's and videos, are jammed full of extras and special features. They seem to take great care including extra things for the viewers to get their teeth into. There are plenty of never before seen scenes, that have been cut out of the final release for one reason or another. It is interesting to see these and learn why they were not included in the films. The director, George Lucas, speaks about the films and gives his audio commentary. It is good to hear what he has to say about his new films and having been away from the directors chair for such a long time, he had responded well. There are numerous other features, some of greater interest than others.

                          All in all, the extras are well worth having a good look through. There have been some other films, where they may as well have not bothered including any bonus features because they were so dire. However, there has been a great effort on behalf of the producers, to include material that is genuinely interesting to view. They haven't gone too over the top but have left enough to make watching the footage worthwhile.


                          #What I Think#

                          These two episodes of Star Wars, offered a lot of enjoyment for me. They also stirred up several different emotions, something that all of the Star Wars films seem to have done. The ups and downs, the highs and lows throughout are what makes the films, for me the best that have ever been made. These two latest episodes to tend to have more feeling in them, in terms of what the characters go through, than the original set of films. I do like this in a way, because it adds that extra dimension to things.

                          Although there is a distinct inevitability about where the whole Star Wars story will go, it is still good to watch. It is difficult to know what exactly is going to happen next and also to know what the effects will be of certain details that on the face of it may seem rather irrelevant at the time. Bits of the puzzle will start to click together and you will be always mindful of what is going to occur next.


                          #Conclusion#

                          The Star Wars series is undoubtedly the most recognised collection of films around the globe. Although the concept doesn't appeal to absolutely everyone, the draw of Star Wars is very expansive. Therefore, it is a must have in any DVD or video collection. The trilogy is one for all of the family, people young and old are sure to enjoy it. It can be pulled out at Christmas or at the weekend and you can all sit round and enjoy it.

                          I'm not sure that I will ever tire of watching Star Wars Episodes I and II for an awful long time to come. They both offer so much entertainment and excitement throughout, enough enjoyment to last for numerous viewings. I have also found that you spot new things if you watch them again and they make the story that much clearer and enables you to make various links between certain events that have happened.

                          I would certainly recommend that you pick up a copy of Episodes I and II and watch them over and over again. It would be ideal to watch them both now, in preparation for the release of Episode III in May. They can be purchased for around £35, although their availability is a problem. It is going to be a case of searching around to find them, but it is well worth it.


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                          • rpoints.com / Archive Internet / 16 Readings / 30 Ratings
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                            23.04.2005 14:10
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                            ~Introduction~

                            It seems that these days, there are endless ways to make money online. There are review sites such as Ciao and Dooyoo that pay their members to write about certain products that they have used or own. There are of course paid survey sites such as globaltestmarket.com and mytns.com that distribute a ride range of surveys for the members to participate in. Then there are sites such as rpoints.com and quite ironically ipoints.co.uk, that award members for signing up to various sites and schemes via their web pages. They are all good for a little earner on the side, but won't make you rich overnight. I will try and make my review as clear as possible and weigh up the positives and negatives of joining rpoints.com.


                            ~Signing Up~

                            It is very simple and straightforward to join rpoints.com. You have to register a few basic details such as your name, date of birth and home address. They then ask for an email address and that you set up a username and password. Once that is all done and dusted, you can begin to earn your rpoints.


                            ~The Site~

                            The website has recently undergone a small facelift and the colour scheme is very refreshing and quite funky. It is easy to navigate around, with all of the sections and areas clearly labelled and headed. The pages load up extremely quickly and once they do so, you are struck with surprising clarity that greets you. There aren't any parts that you can't understand and it is all very simple.

                            I really like the way that they have organised the content of the site, making it user friendly for all of the users. It is a site that I myself and I'm sure everyone will feel comfortable with using. If there any difficulties that you do encounter, they can be easily resolved by contacting a moderator or posting on the forum.


                            ~Earning Points~

                            The beauty about rpoints.com, is that there are many ways in which you can earn yourself points. I will break each it down into clear sections that makes them easy to understand in the next section. There are three main ways which I will discuss in the next three sections of the review.


                            ~Easy Points~

                            There are points that you can earn without actually spending a single penny, so they are effectively free money. These come in two different forms. There are sites that offer you a set amount per click, when you select a link from their site to one of the partners. An example of this would be kelkoo.co.uk. You click through to kelkoo via rpoints.com and then search for a product. There will be a list of partner sites that stock the item and you will earn set amount of points for doing so. A break down of these sites is set out below.

                            -Ebay: Earn 3 points each time you visit and place a bid (at least the reserve price) or use a Buy-it-now link
                            -Kelkoo: Earn these points when you click on an a link: Car hire 15 pts; Travel / Flights 10 pts; Electrical/Computing 5 pts; Other categories / unique visit 2pts
                            -The High Street Web: Earn 5 points for each click through
                            -Dealtime: Earn 8 pts for Electrical, Computing & Appliances; 4 pts for other categories
                            -Price Guide UK: Earn 4 points when you click through to a retailer site
                            Carsource: Earn 2 points per search session

                            (There are restrictions on how many times you can earn points via these sites each day, so do look at the details)

                            If you just take 15-20 minutes time out during the day just to make a few click throughs to these sites then you can earn yourself a nice bit of cash. It is very easy, although maximising your point earnings does take a little bit of practice and trial and error. It is often advisable to go through the rpoints link for every single search that you make, just to make sure that you get the points. I am very comfortable and very happy with the amount of points that I have accumulated by doing this and it is relatively simple and not very time consuming.

                            The other way in which you can acquire free points, is to sign up to certain websites and offers via rpoints.com. There are points for signing up to everything from Ciao and Ebay to dating sites and free competitions. It is made clear how many points you will receive for each next to the links. With Ebay, you get 300 points just for signing up and then you are paid an extra 3 points every time you place a bid on an item that is higher than the reserve price.


                            ~Rebates~

                            If you are a regular online shopper, then there is ample opportunity for you to earn money back on your purchases. If the product that you want to buy, is available in an rpoints.com partner site then should you choose to buy it from them you will receive a certain rebate. You can select the shop for the directory and then make sure that you click through to the site via the rpoints.com link, otherwise you won't get your points.

                            It will be made clear how much money you will receive back if you make a purchase from a particular site. It will say something along the lines of: 'Earn x% rebate on all purchases'. There are some sites that offer as much as 10% rebate and others that only offer one or two percent. It does all add up over time and if you spend £100 then you may be able to get £3-£4 of it back. I use the dominos.co.uk link to buy pizza and they offer 1.75% rebate, but I have managed to earn about £1 in rebates over the past couple of months. You can earn 3% on all purchases on amazon.co.uk, which is really good. Even if you use gift vouchers, you still get the rebate.

                            I think that you can earn yourself a lot of money if you shop online on a regular basis. There is such a lot of money going, if you shop this way and it is yours for the taking. If you purchase things via the internet, they are often cheaper anyway so you are getting a double saving if you purchase via rpoints.com. There are numerous shops available and new ones are being added all the time.


                            ~Sign-Up Bonuses~

                            This isn't something that I have taken advantage of since using rpoints.com, but I can give a few basic details as to what it entails. There are numerous poker, betting and other gambling sites that you can join and get paid a certain number of rpoints for placing your first bet or making a deposit of a certain amount. These initial deposits are generally around $50 or the equivalent in British Pounds. The deposit or bet is often matched by the company, so you get double the money to gamble with. If you are crafty enough, you can get a free bet of £10 and a load of rpoints for free. You can actually end up making money plus giving yourself the chance of a big payout when you place a bet or play poker.


                            ~Points and Redemption~

                            The points system on rpoints.com is very straightforward, unlike some other earning sites that you may come across. It is made so simple, because each point is worth 1p. This way you are clear as to how much you have earned and how much you should expect to have when you cash out. Some other sites have rather confusing point structures and no clear value on what each individual point is worth. I think that this scale makes it so much easier to interpret your earnings and to plan how to spend them. It also allows you to weigh up whether taking up a particular offer is worth it or not, because you get a clear figure in your head of how much money you will be saving or actually earning.

                            The minimum cash out value is just 500 points, which is £5. This is the same as Ciao and I think that it is a very reasonable amount. There are other sites that force you to earn as much as £25 before allowing you to cash in and get a reward. You have a choice of four different redemption methods, which I feel cater for the vast majority of people. If you want to convert points into amazon.co.uk vouchers, then you can do so at 500 points a time. I find that I have the voucher code in my inbox within 24 hours, which is very impressive. Paypal is another option, one that I haven't used, but I'm sure that the procedure is pretty straightforward. Eggpay and Moneybookers are the other two methods, but you require 1500 and 3000 points respectively. I haven't had any experience with these either, but I can't see it being a problem to receive your money.

                            The points that you earn on the site, do take about a month or so to come through. The statements are updated on a weekly basis, usually on a Monday afternoon, and your new account status in calculated. The points that you have earned in the past week will appear as 'pending' on your list and there will be a date that indicates when they should be available for you to redeem. When the points are added to your balance, they will show up as 'awarded' on your statement and they will be highlighted in grey.


                            ~Forums~

                            The rpoints.com bulletin board is always very lively and active. It is extremely helpful for any user, because it is crammed full with important information and advice to getting the most out of the website. It is also the place to pose questions to the moderators and other members of the site, if you have a problem or query regarding missing points, unclear offers or any other difficulties that you may run into whilst using the website. There is also an announcements section that is always worth keeping an eye, to keep abreast of any changes that are taking place on rpoints.com.

                            The forum is also the place to post any offers that you have spotted on the internet that you wish to bring to the attention of other members. There are numerous categories which these fall into, freebies and mobile phones to name two. There can be some real bargains to be had here and if you are looking for something in particular you may just find something that fits the bill. The posts are often accompanied by a link to an online shop or store that stock the particular item. If you buy through that shop then you will earn yourself rebate.

                            There are also fun areas that you can talk about everyday events and have a laugh and a joke. The fun and games section is a good laugh, the story time thread is particularly good. There is useful advice to be had on financial and technology issues and you can generally ask a question on such matters and get a very good answer from someone. There is a lot of gambling associated material here and you can get a lot of very good advice on how to master online poker.

                            There is such a wealth of information to be viewed here and you can almost any question that you have answered by someone who knows what they are talking about. I think it is really handy to have access to and it has helped me to boost my points balance immensely. I haven't really any real criticisms of the forums and how they work, only praise.


                            ~Customer Service~

                            The rpoints.com team do everything they can to respond to your questions and queries as fast as possible. If you post a problem that you have, they will often come up with some sort of answer for you within a few hours. If none of the moderators are around, the more senior members of the site will often give you a pretty solid answer. I think that in this sense, rpoints are second to none. They will always give you a speedy answer, even if it isn't the one you are looking for.


                            ~Conclusion~

                            In my opinion, this has to be one of the more lucrative and efficient ways of earning a little extra money online. If you know what you are doing and know how to maximise your earnings then you will earn yourself a tidy little sum. As I keep mentioning, there are so many ways that you can earn yourself points that you continue to do so with relative ease. There are always new ways of earning being added and new shops offering rebate, so if you do find that you exhaust the sites immense possibilities then your next earner may be just around the corner.

                            I can't recommend this site highly enough. I have only earned a total of £20 in the few months that I have been a member, but they have all been free points. The only times that I have actually paid out money, is when ordering pizza from dominos.co.uk via my account. I think that anybody who is dedicated enough and does any amount of shopping online, will soon reap the benefits of being a member of rpoints.com. This site, like anything in the world will take a bit of getting used to, but once you are rocking and rolling there should be no stopping you on your charge to earn as many rpoints as possible.


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                            • Nike / Sports Equipment / 3 Readings / 29 Ratings
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                              21.04.2005 01:30
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                              ---Introduction---

                              It may have come to the attention of one or two of you that I am very much into playing tennis and also watching it should I get the chance. I play around two to three hours a week, for around six hours. I therefore feel it necessary to have all of the correct equipment on me, or in my hand, when playing the game. It is important that you are kitted out correctly in order that you can play the game to your full potential. This review is about the new pair of Nike Air Zoom Vapor tennis shoes, that I have recently purchased to replace my Nike Breathe Two shoes that I can no longer use.


                              ---The Need for Tennis Shoes---

                              Making certain that you have the right footwear on when playing tennis, or taking part in almost any other sport, is often imperative. There is little use in playing tennis with a pair of trainers designed for leisure on your feet. This won't offer the support that your feet need when pounding around the court and moving into position to play a shot. A tennis trainer will typically offer the ankle a lot of support and the whole shoe will protect your feet and lower legs from the potentially difficult changes in direction that you may have to make. In the long run, they may prevent you for sustaining any sort of serious injury that may stop you from playing tennis for a long period of time.


                              ---Style---

                              These Nike tennis shoes are very neatly designed and they do look rather snazzy on any tennis court. They are obviously styled with the consumer in mind, making the whole product a more attractive overall package. They have tried to get the most out of emphasising certain aspects of the shoe, in terms of the technology, that makes them what they are.

                              The actual shape of the shoe is pretty standard. There aren't really any real variations from other tennis shoes that are currently available on the market. They wideness and broadness across the top of the foot is present, in order to protect the feet and give a range of movements to the player. The shoe gets much thinner towards the heel area, which aims to stabilise the heel and joint between the lower leg and foot.


                              ---Colour---

                              The shoe is mainly a mixture of blue/turquoise and white material. The top of the shoe is all blue and there is like a clip shaped section of white that runs from one side of the shoe, around the back and finishes up on the other side. There are numerous air holes that run around the side and across the top of the trainer and a luminous yellow meshing set on the inside, shows through which is really effective in making the shoes appear very attractive. There is a large turquoise Nike emblem on either side of each shoe, which is pretty much standard on any Nike footwear.

                              There are other colour ways available in America, such as all black and all white. However, I think that Nike have chosen to retail by far the nicest in this country. It is a slightly different colour from what you normally expect and it is a nice refreshing change. It isn't one of those colours that really get in your face, but it does still stand out. I would have perhaps liked another colour in amongst the blue/turquoise areas just to break it up a bit, but overall I can have no complaints.


                              ---Comfort---

                              The most important aspect of a tennis shoe, in my somewhat qualified opinion, is how comfortable and easy on the feet your tennis trainers are. If you can go out onto a tennis court and feel that your shoes won't cause you any discomfort or problems, then you have one less thing to worry about. There is no use in wearing shoes simply because they look nice or because everybody else is, it's about what suits your feet.

                              If I compare this trainer to the previous pair of tennis shoes that I owned, these are certainly a level above those. Although the old pair were Nike, the technology has advanced even further to make these shoes even more easy on the feet. I never have to worry about my feet being sore or hurting during a tennis game when wearing these, I can just get on with things. They are exactly the right size which means that they are a perfect fit and your feet get the maximum of protection.


                              ---Control---

                              The way that these shoes are designed, gives the player wearing them a great degree of control over their movements. They are very compact which means that you won't get you feet in a twist and your range of movement won't be restricted in any way. The grip on the soles of the shoes, allows you to change direction pretty quickly. There are some tennis shoes that grip the surface too well and that slow you down to a degree. The grip on these shoes allows you to plant your feet securely but also to help you get into a position to hit your next shot. The movement and change of path, is also helped by the little bit of freedom that the top of the shoe gives to your feet.

                              I think that these certainly help my tennis game a great deal. I feel that I can reach even the most difficult of balls, with the level of movement that these shoes provide for me. There were times in the past when my feet would get caught up under my body and I would end up playing a very poor shot. I can prevent this happening much more easily and create space between myself and the ball in order to hit the ball efficiently.


                              ---Durability---

                              Much like all tennis shoes, this particular pair is designed to be very strong and that means that they are very well made. They use very strong materials that have been specifically researched and developed in order to offer protection for the feet and longevity of such protection. The way that the shoes are put together, contributes to the hard wearing attributes that they posses. The sole and the main body of the shoe, are bound together in the toe area with a strong piece of rubber. This prevents wear and tear from causing a hole to form after continuous use. The vast majority of tennis players drag their trailing foot along the court surface when serving and this more often than not leads to the toe area being worn away faster than any other part of the shoe. Where the sole and the main section of the shoe meet, there is added padding and protection to make the shoe more secure and that in turn makes the shoe less susceptible to being worn away.

                              If these shoes are looked after in the correct manor, then I would expect them to last for between a year and a year and a half. I play for around six hours a week, so that is a fair amount of use over that period of time. A fair amount of stresses and strains are placed on a tennis shoe, with changes in pace and movement, so any shoe that can last for over a year is generally of a very high quality. The grip on the sole of the shoe doesn't appear to be wearing away very quickly, so that won't be the first thing that goes wrong with these shoes.


                              ---Availability---

                              It is often very difficult by tennis products and equipment in the United Kingdom. There is nowhere near the level of choice available as in the US and there tends to be a lot fewer variations of individual products available in this country. There could be a number of reasons for this, but they aren't really worth going into. There are only two websites that sell this particular shoe and they have both been out of stock for a very long time. I had to get mine from Nike Town in London, because there simply isn't anywhere else to buy them. There are about four different colour ways available in America, but only one over here. Therefore, you will have to really search hard for this pair of tennis trainers in order to be able to purchase them.


                              ---Value for Money---

                              It is certainly worth your while to spend a bit of cash on some specialist tennis trainers, if you are committed to playing the sport regularly. They will help your game and make you feel much more comfortable on the court. They will protect your feet, both in terms of injury and keeping them free from blisters or getting sore after a long period on the court. They are available for £80, which is the recommended retail price. I managed to get my pair from Nike Town and they appeared to have good stock levels. It is worth checking out pwp.com and also tennisnuts.com, in the event that they get new stock in the near future.

                              As far as this particular pair of tennis shoes is concerned, I really couldn't recommend them more highly to anyone. I think they offer any player everything that you could want from a shoe designed specifically for tennis. On top of offering you stability and control on the court, they look pretty nice too. They are worn by Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt, arguably the two best men's tennis players in the world at present, so you can't really be going far wrong in your choice. They are used by the best, they won't necessarily make you as good, but they will certainly add something to your game.

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                              • More +
                                14.04.2005 18:34
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                                Made you look!


                                Personally, I don't think that there is as much of a community spirit and general interaction between members as there should be. Therefore, I am going to publish a review that will tell people a little more about myself and perhaps prompt others to do the same. I will answer various questions, as set out in the review. I hope that you find this of interest and perhaps an inspiration to make you write about yourself a little.


                                1. What time do you wake up in the morning?

                                I have two different wake up times for the weekdays. The ‘early’ time, when I have to be at school for lesson one, sees me wake up at 7.30. It gives me time to get myself and my things together to catch the 8.00 bus to school. If I don’t need to be at school until lesson two, then I sleep in until about 8.30.

                                At the weekend, I like to get up reasonably early, so that time doesn’t pass me by. I would say that I am up by at 10.00 at the latest on Saturday and Sunday.


                                2. If you could eat lunch with one famous person who would it be?

                                I would like to have a sit down lunch with Tim Henman, given the chance. It would be interesting to raise certain questions that I would otherwise not find out the answers to. I would ask him about his distinct lack out of determination and grit when he plays tennis. I would like to learn more about the technical side of the game too and ask him for any tips and advice.


                                3. Gold or Silver?

                                If I am honest, I don’t wear either gold or silver. It is a tough decision, but I would say that silver just shades it. I think it is more universal in what it can be worn with and slightly more trendy in today’s world.


                                4. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?

                                I haven’t been to the cinema for ages, it’s unbelievable. The last time that I went, was to see Gangs of New York. I shouldn’t really be saying this, but my mates and I sneaked in through the side of the Odeon cinema. It was the first screening and the cinema was packed to the rafters, but we got front row seats! I have got my tickets for Star Wars Episode III, so I will be going again quite soon.


                                5. Favourite TV Show?

                                This is a really tough choice again. I would probably say that ‘The Bill’ just shades it. I always make an effort to watch each episode on Wednesday and Thursday every week. It is action packed and takes numerous twists and turns. I think it is essential viewing for any half sensible human being.


                                6. What do you have for breakfast?

                                I don’t tend to eat breakfast if I am awake early, because I just can’t face it. I do adore my cereal and a couple of bits of toast. I certainly make up for lost ground at the weekend, a couple of bowls of Shreddies with a light sprinkling of sugar usually foots the bill.


                                7. What would you hate to be left with in a room?

                                I am answering this question last, because nothing springs to mind. The only thing that would scare me, is a fully testosterone charged adolescent male lion that would turn on anyone or anything in its presence.


                                8. Can you touch your nose with your tongue?

                                No, I’m afraid that I can’t. My friend can though and it is quite scary that he has a tongue quite that long. It is his party piece, but he is a little more wary of showing it off for some reason. He also makes rather hilarious duck noises when prompted.


                                9. What/Who inspires you?

                                I couldn’t put my finger on anything or anyone in particular, but I take certain things from the world around me and aspire to emulate them in some way. I am a big fan of the Tour de France and I have learnt a lot about Lance Armstrong and his battle with cancer. The way that he has bounced back and dominated the cycling world for the last 6 years or so, is amazing. I certainly admire him, but I’m not sure if he is an inspiration to myself personally.


                                10. What's your middle name?

                                I actually have two middle names, lucky me! One of them is particularly embarrassing and I don’t really like to share it. They way I look at it is, that my three names are all the names of British Kings/monarchs from some point in history. There aren’t a lot of other people that can say that about their own names. You are quite welcome to hazard a guess at what they are if you are feeling somewhat puzzled.


                                11. Beach, City or Country?

                                For me, there is nothing like the hustle and bustle of city life. I always enjoy going back to London and slipping back into the fast pace of life. I like things to be that way, because it means that you get things done and you are always on the move. It is also difficult to get bored, because there is so much to do in any city.


                                12. Summer or winter?

                                Being the difficult person that I am, I’m going to say that I prefer Spring time. I like to see the trees and plants starting to bloom and the animals slowly re-emerging. The weather is often set fair and you get the odd warmer day that means you can sit outside and soak up a few rays.

                                I don’t really like the heat, or the cold. I prefer a temperate climate; the temperature at around 20-25 degrees is about ideal for me. I can’t the beach and that it is weird for someone who leaves so near to one of the best beaches in the UK. I can’t see where the fun is in splashing in water and sunbathing with sand somewhere in the midst.


                                13. Buttered, Plain, Salted, Sweet Popcorn?

                                Butterkist Toffee popcorn is more my thing. I haven’t had any for ages come to think of it. I may pick up a baby bag at ASDA when I’m next in store.


                                14. Pets?

                                Never had the pleasure, but I would call it good fortune, of owning a pet in any form. I am not a fan of dogs at all, after the experience that one of my friends went through. My brother has a really funky cat named Henry (after Thierry) that is a bit of a laugh. I’m not sure that I ever will have a pet, unless I have a wife or children that badly want one at some point in the future.


                                15. Favourite Car

                                If I had to choose one car in particular, then I would have to say the new Ford GT. I know that Jeremy Clarkson has one and that it is a Ford, but they are amazingly trendy and incredibly fast. I am not that big on my motoring and owning a car, but I do watch Top Gear when it is on so I know a little about what cars are good and those that aren’t.


                                16. Favourite Sandwich Filling?

                                I would say that a sausage sandwich with a bit of butter and a dollop/blob/splodge/squirt of Heinz tomato Ketchup and a bit of Utterly Butterly is just the job.


                                17. Star sign?

                                Pisces - the fish. I know nothing about star signs and horoscopes or anything guise that such things fall under. I have nothing more to say on the matter.


                                18. Do you believe in true love?

                                Can I come back and answer that one in a few years?


                                19. What characteristics do you despise?

                                I really don’t like people who either refuse to admit that they are wrong or try to limit the damage by turning it all around onto you or someone else. If they are clearly in the wrong, but have gone out on a limb to prove otherwise, they refuse to admit defeat. It just shows how arrogant people are and that they think they know it all.


                                20. Favourite Perfume/Aftershave?

                                Emporio Armani. I don’t know much about perfume and fragrances, but this is a really nice scent. It is, in my opinion, quite a citrus smelling scent with perhaps limes being more dominant than anything else.


                                21. If you had a big win in the lottery, how long would you wait to tell people?

                                I would tell all of my immediate family within a few hours of winning. I would stay calm and try to carry on in a relatively normal way. I suppose that friends and other associates would just find out in due course.


                                22. Fizzy or still water as a drink?

                                The flavoured water is my favourite form of ‘water’. Volvic ‘Touch of Fruit’ is particularly good and incredibly refreshing on a hot day or after sport. I can’t drink plain tap water, but chilled mineral water is fine by me.


                                23. What colour is your bathroom

                                The bathroom is half tiled and half painted. The top half is painted in white emulsion and the bottom is tiled in large white ceramic tiles. There is also a patterned border tile running right around the bathroom. The furniture and fixings are mostly brushed chrome and other items tend to be a green or turquoise colour.

                                24. How many keys are on your key ring?

                                I don’t actually have a key ring. I just carry the outside and front door keys loosely in my pocket. I think that they are best kept apart, because if you lose just one of them you can always get into the building but perhaps not the flat. At least that way you can get inside and just wait for somebody to let you in.


                                25. Where would you retire to?

                                I would probably choose somewhere like Bournemouth. It is a retirement hotspot and there are a certain number of facilities in place to meet the demand of the ageing population. I wouldn’t move abroad, because I would get homesick incredibly quickly. For me, there is no place like home.


                                26. Can you juggle?

                                The phraseology may sound a bit dodgy here, but the only thing that I can’t do with balls, is juggle them. I can play the vast majority of ball games to a good standard, with tennis, football and cricket being the most outstanding. I can throw a cricket or tennis ball an awful and catch anything really well. I have amazing control of the tennis ball and football, but I just can’t seem to handle three of them at once.


                                27. Red or white wine?

                                I don’t drink wine. It is dire, it’s like a punishment having to drink it. I can never see my tastes changing, in order that I like wine.


                                28. What did you do for your last birthday?

                                I had three separate birthdays celebrations this year, having turned 18. I went out with the family for a nice meal in the weekend leading up to my birthday and we then went for a couple more drinks. On my actual birthday, being during the week, I went to the pub with a few friends and had a bite to eat which was rather good. The following weekend, we went clubbing and I really enjoyed that. I couldn’t have wished for a better few days, so bring on my next birthday!


                                29. Do you carry a donor card?

                                I haven’t actually got one, where do I get one from?


                                30. When were you at your ideal weight?

                                I would say that when I was about 10. I have got a bit of weight that could do with getting rid of. I am quite fit, in terms of strength and stamina but I just don’t look like I am quite so athletic.


                                31. Braces?

                                What about them?


                                32. Do you recycle?

                                I do in a fairly primitive form. I always put the old newspapers in the special recycling bin, but apart from that everything goes into the dustbin. I have fairly strong views on the issue, so I should really be making an effort. However, the amount of packing that things come in these days is ridiculous. If things were packed in smaller or less wasteful packages then things would be a lot different.


                                33. What is you favourite Movie?

                                Band of Brothers is by far and away my favourite movie(s). Star Wars is close behind, but nothing quite compares to BOB. It is a truly amazing series of short films that recount the events of Easy Company in the Second World War. I won’t go into further detail, because I have written a review about it that has received a diamond! So go and check it out if you are interested in finding out more.


                                34. A current friend you have known the longest and how long?

                                I have known all of my current friends for about the same period of time. I couldn’t pick out one in particular, but I have been friends with certain people in our group for about five years now.


                                35. Favourite mixed drink?

                                This is going to sound silly, but technically it is an adequate answer to the question. I like ASDA or Robinsons orange hi-juice and water. It is lovely and certainly good after sport or a hard day at school.


                                36. Coke or Diet coke?

                                I would say Coke. I can’t understand why people drink Diet Coke, because it is still bad for you. It’s like when people order MacDonald’s and ask for a Diet Coke, as though they are being healthy.


                                37. Colour eyes?

                                I’m pretty sure that I used to have light blue eyes, but I have now been told by various people that they are green and other that they are dark blue. I’m not fussed to be honest with you and it doesn’t really matter.


                                38. Hair colour?

                                I’m by no means and expert in what hair colour is what. I would say that my hair is very light brown. I was brilliant blonde when I was younger, but those glory days seem to have now deserted me.


                                39. Daddy or chips?

                                There isn’t really any sort of a contest here. I would of course, say Daddy. We have our up and considerable downs, but at the end of the day I wouldn’t be without him. I do like the Daddy or chips adverts, great fun.


                                40. Favourite song of all time?

                                This is more straightforward than any of the other answers that I have had to give. My favourite song, it’s more of a tune, is Robert Miles: Children. It is a dance anthem or classic and it has never lost its magic. It is just so involving and incredibly euphoric. If you haven’t heard it, then try and get hold of it and have a listen.



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                                • Logitech X 120 / PC Speaker / 3 Readings / 21 Ratings
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                                  07.04.2005 00:00
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                                  #Introduction#

                                  The most bizarre of circumstances has led to the purchase of a new set of audio speakers for my home computer. It seems that the old ones, the original set that came with the computer, practically imploded on themselves and went bust. I think it was a combination of age, an existing fault that had got worse and the level of usage that they had had over the years. I can appreciate that a set of computer speakers won’t make for the most exciting of reviews that you will ever read, but I hope that I can offer something that most can enjoy.


                                  #Computer Speakers#

                                  Along with a mouse, keyboard and monitor, a set of speakers is a fairly integral part of any computer set-up. The level of sound media that people have access to on a regular basis, via their PC’s, has certainly increased and people want to add sound to their experience. As with many modern technologically orientated products nowadays, speakers come in all different shapes and sizes. There is something different for people who require varying types of audio output from their computers. With the upsurge in people watching movies on their PC’s sets of four and five speakers are now available so that people can create that much coveted ‘surround sound’ effect. Speakers are supplied as standard with the majority of computers, but from my experience some can be of a pretty poor quality.


                                  #Logitech#

                                  The company has slowly emerged as a major player in the global market of manufacturing and supplying computer accessories and peripherals. Logitech tend to be leaders in producing new and innovative mice that sell on a huge scale globally. The firm was founded by a group of university graduates just over two decades ago and since then they have expanded and built up a reputation for producing products of a high standard. In 2003, they announced the sale of 500 million mouse units since the company started production. In the year leading up to that, they had sold 100 million globally that broke predictions and records. Their other main achievement is the introduction of the first ever cordless optical mouse in 2001. They do tend to dominate the market for computer speakers and this division of the company has seen marked growth in the last few years.


                                  #Audio Output#

                                  The very first time that use the speakers for your listening pleasure, will probably have quite an effect on you. The quality of the sound, whether it be music, speech or just cursor clicks, is just so much better and that much more rewarding. It does in a sense feel that much more involving than what you get from older speakers. You can really hear the full body and dimension of the sound media being emitted from the speakers and I certainly hear little things in songs that had previously evaded my rather insensitive ears. There is a clear improvement in the audio quality from these Logitech speakers and it makes buying them worthwhile.

                                  The level to which the speakers can be turned up, or how loud they will go, is quite incredible. I have only done it on the one occasion since buying them, but on full volume the sound is almost deafening. It probably would be if you stayed near them long enough. I think that for such a small pair of speakers to have such a huge output is fantastic and if ever the occasion arose, you could really bang out your tunes. The bass/treble button is very good, but I like to have the bass turned right up because that’s the way I am. There is certainly a marked difference between the two settings and that is another thing that I really like about these speakers.


                                  #Styling and Colour#

                                  The set of speakers that I have been able to acquire are mainly matt black, with a silvery/grey fabric front that is pretty traditional on any speaker units that you come across. They do look rather good along side the black tower, although the white monitor does mess up the look a little. They certainly have a very modern look about them and they would fit anybodies modern day expectations. At the top, the curve off and appear almost to have a snout or peak. This is certainly very funky and something quite new to me. It is just a gimmick or a mark of style; it doesn’t improve the overall listening quality. I do think they look rather ‘executive’ in their way and certainly would fit alongside almost anybodies computers. The styling isn’t the most important thing in my opinion, but it does add that something that extra and these certainly do that.


                                  #Buttons and Functions#

                                  There are three buttons/knobs that appear on the front of the main speaker. The on/off button is situated in the centre and when pushed in the speakers are turned on. The volume control sits to the right of centre and it twisted clockwise the volume is increased and vice versa. The treble/bass knobs are the same, situated on the left and you twist this accordingly. There is a port for headphones below that can come in useful if you want to do a bit of quiet listening with out disturbing others. The advantage of putting the headphones via the speakers is that the quality is much better than straight from the PC. A green LED indicates whether the speakers are on or off. The buttons make the speakers very easy to use and enable you cater the audio to your requirements.


                                  #Durability#

                                  The product, from what I have seen so far, is very sturdy and extremely durable. The outer casing is very tough having been made with strengthened plastic and in two well connected parts. The overall production quality appears to be of the highest quality and with the naked eye it looks perfect. As far as the likely lifetime of such a product goes, I would expect these speakers to be good to go for at least another 10 years. However, I do feel advances will mean that there are much better ones out there in the next few years. They design is one that means they should stand up to everyday wear and tear, without any problem at all.


                                  #Installation#

                                  The speakers couldn’t be simpler to install. To use the word install, is possibly a little incorrect because there isn’t any need for any software to be uploaded to your machine in order for the speakers to work. The best thing to do is to turn of your computer first just for your own safety. Remove the old speakers and then place the new ones in position. There are two wires or leads that run from either speaker. One of the two, will be the link between the two speakers. The other lead on the main speaker, should be connected to the audio port of the computer. The remaining lead on the support speaker should be plugged into the mains socket. Once this is done, reboot your computer and you are away.


                                  #Additional Information#

                                  The speakers are relatively heavy, compared with the set that I had previously. This is because they are of a much higher quality in every sense. They are much more tough and secure; damaging the inner workings is like to be much more difficult. They are also weighted so that they are more difficult to knock over and damage. The distribution of weight evenly throughout the two units means that you are far less likely to send one of them tumbling off the desk. There are a number of small rubber pads, placed on the bottom of each speaker, that prevent huge movements and marking the desk/worksurface.


                                  #Little Niggle#

                                  This is going to sound really silly to some people and as though I am trying to pick a fault just to make my review complete. However, turning the speakers on and off is perhaps a little more arduous than it really should be. The button has to be firmly pushed in, so that it effectively clicks in place, for the speakers to be given power. This can't be done with holding the speaker with one hand and turning it one with a finger on the other hand. If you do it without holding the speaker firm, it will slide wildy across the desk and out of your control. Smothering the speaker day after, can't help with wear and tear and I would have thought that the firm may have addressed an issue such as this in their product testing.


                                  #Conclusion#

                                  I would certainly recommend this set of speakers, should there be a need for existing ones to be replaced. There is no need to go out and spend money on a new set, if you have ones that are capable of doing a job for you. The one thing that I would say, to slightly contradict my last statement, is that the technology has come a long way in the past few years and the quality of the output is now that much better and you do get a much better listening experience from them.

                                  The Logitech product seems to be very reliable and extremely efficient at doing the job it is in place to do. There isn’t really a single thing that I would change about the Logitech X120 speakers that I have bought. They have got every aspect right, from styling to performance and they have come up with a very competitive price to retail them at. I picked these up from my local Staples superstore for just £19.99, which was just about right for me. I went out with a budget of £25 in mind and I think got away with a bargain. So, if your speakers are a big knackered and could do with replacing, these could be the ones for you.



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