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Should the school leaving age be raised to 18?
I stayed on at school until 18 out of choice, I then went to University for three years soon afterwards.
I don't think the school leaving age should be raised to 18, but i think Children should be encouraged to do some sort of relevant development. Two additional years studying two or three additional qualifications such as A-Levels is not for everyone, in some ways, work related training would be better and should not be looked upon as a second class education or qualification route.
It would probably be much more interesting to find out sooner or later if you like working in a factory or if office work suits you.
A lot of kids go to school who do not want to learn, perhaps even 16 is too high an age for these children.
Many are bullied and are glad to leave at 16. Not everyone is academic and it's wrong to keep those less academic in school longer than needs be. What additional staff and economic costs would there be for keeping hundreds of thousands of pupils in education for a further two years? Billions of pounds?
Keep the age at 16 for now, don't pay benefits to 16-18 year olds that are not in work or doing some form of training.
If you are looking for a new PC to use with Windows XP or Windows Vista and you want the latest graphics technology you would be advised to get a graphics card that supports DX10. DX10 is a new technology improvement from DX9 that should give better and more realistic graphics.
If you want to play computer games in the future, I would suggest a 8800GTS is probably the minimum graphics card to go for. At around £250 they don't come cheap. However it's a bargain compared to the better GTX models that costs around £100 more. Even more scary is the Ultra model, £400 plus.
I would recommend the GTS, because it's quite a powerfull card, supports DX10 and has a decent 640mb of video memory, which is useful if you use a high resolution screen.
The card has two DVI ports and a television out connector. It is HDCP compatible.
The card uses a lot of power, and a 500 Watt power supply is recommended. If you have a good SLI compatible motherboard, you can link two of these cards togther by SLI to get even better performance.
Apparently, Nvidea who created these cards will probably release a 8900 version before the end of the year. I imagine the 8800 models will then drop in price and may well be a bargain.
A decent card to get, but expensive for most tastes. You can save £50 if you downgrade to the similar performing 320mb models, if you don't play games at a very high resolution then the 320mb will probably do. If you don't play games at all, then get something a lot lot cheaper.
I got a Wii remote control with my recently purchased Wii console. I also got one when I ordered Wii play. For just over £30 you get a few simple games that show off the controller. You might as well get the Wii play and not just the controller on it's own.
The controller is surprisingly small, smaller than a TV remote control, it's very well built.
The idea of the Wii remote is that you point it at the TV screen and the little Wii bar which picks up movements from the controller transfers your movements into movements on screen.
Just think of it working like a laser pointer and you won't go far wrong, except that you can move, rotate, swing the remote around to control games.
The remote comes with a set of two AA batteries, but I would recommend you get a battery charger and rechargable batteries.
At the bottom of the Wii remote is a little strap which you put around your wrist to stop it flying around the room should you let it go. You can plug another controller into it called the Nunchuk. The Nunchuk comes with the Wii, but not with a controller.
It's an excellent piece of kit. I cannot wait for Resident Evil 4, where you get to slash and hack with the controller!
You have to experience a game of golf or bowling to see how well the Wii remote works.
I don't think higher education should be free, however, it should not be as expensive as it is.
I think universities have had their time. With the advent of the internet, learning can be performed online for a variety of subjects and courses. Why do students now need to sacrifice a whole three or fours years at college?
Doctors, etc yes.
From experience, a lot of people do degree and then don't use the knowledge that they have gained. This is a waste of time.
I think what is needed in this country is a balance between practical work and education whilst there.
The majority of jobs with training provided would provide a better start in life to an 18 year old than 3 years doing a dodgy degree.
My advice would be to do something that gives you the best chance of getting a job you like, whilst getting work experience if you can.
Don't get roped into doing an easy degree, thinking that a 2nd class or 1 st class honours degree will get you a top job, because in the majority of cases it won't.
The Panasonic E85 is a cracking DVD-Recorder. I'm pretty sure the more modern and up to date versions from Panasonic are just as good.
The Panasonic comes with an 80GB hard drive that can record around 30 hours at a good quality rate, top is about half as much.
You can record directly to hard drive or two DVD discs. The panasonic can write on DVD-R and DVD-RAM discs. The RAM discs are a particularly robust format and it's a useful addition to have on the recorder. They can be written to 100,000 times apparently.
The recorder is easy to use. It plays dvds and recordings very well. It has component output for high quality connection to LCD screens. It does not have a digital TV tuner however.
The recorder has been very reliable. It could be made better in the future by adding HDMI connections, a larger hard disk and a digital tuner.
An excellent package that I would recommend.
The BBC offer an excellent range of programmes for all ages including things like CBBC for kids, news for adults, soap operas and other programmes like Hustle, Hotel Babylon and Eastenders.
Sky TV offer a range of channels that you can buy. If you take out the main packages it costs over £40 a month. You get loads of channels for this, more than BBC1 and BBC2 etc. However, the TV licence covers others things such as the excellent BBC webpage, BBC radio channels and BBC3 and some HD trials.
Who could travel to work without Chris Moyles in the morning, your licence fee pays for that. Adverts are not shown on the BBC channels either. Lot's of Sky channels that you are paying for bombard the viewer with adverts for almost anything.
I think we should have the TV licence for those who want to watch BBC, for those that don't they should have the option of not having to pay for it. Not everyone listens to the radio and watches BBC all the time.
It seems odd to have to pay the money to own a TV in the modern world. Why should people who pay tax already, have to fork out to pay actors and administrators in the BBC high salaries and pensions, even if we only watch ITV and SKY.
Do the detector vans really work?
Everyone should have some - National Savings Premium Bonds I mean!
Each premium bond is valued at £1, the minimum quantity that you can buy is £100.
There is a maximum value that people can hold, this is currently 30000 £1.00 bonds.
Premium bonds don't pay interest, instead each month, the government pays out a small percentage of all the bonds held. This is split up into small, medium and high value prizes. Your most likely to win £50, £100 etc. I have. But you have the chance to win thousands of pounds and even a million.
It could be seen as a decent alternative to the national lottery.
Current adverts show that in June, to mark a special date, ernie (electronic random number .... etc...) the machine that picks the winning bonds will select 5 millionaires!
The chances of winning this are very slim, but at least you get to keep your stake.
For further information take a look at the Tesco finance website or the national savings website. Also you can buy them from the post office. You can buy them online.
All bonds must wait one full month before they are put into the next months draw. So investing £100 at the end of April will mean your first monthly draw which your bonds are entered will be June.
You can take the bonds out at any time.
If your lucky enough to win, they will send you a cheque through the post. You can cash it, or reinvest it in more premium bonds.
I think Smoking should be banned in Public places!
The smoking ban actually came into force in Wales on the 2nd April 2007. So i can now reflect on what the ban is like.
I'm a non smoker by the way.
The first thing you notice is how many bilingual signs there are telling you not to smoke.
The second thing you notice is how clean the air is in places like pubs and clubs. There is no haze anymore and you can now go home at the end of the night without your clothes and hair smelling of someone elses dirty smoke.
I see the advantages of the ban to be:-
No passive smoking, better for your health.
It may lead to more people quitting the habit.
No smelly clothes and hair anymore.
Workers in pubs and clubs don't breath the smoke in from customers anymore.
Peoples health in general should benefit.
People with contact lens are no longer affected by the smoke, sore and dry eyes are a thing of the past.
People standing outside pubs and clubs smoking. Smokers corners everywhere.
Where is the government going to get the loss in revenue back from?
People are often stressed and hassled if they cannot light up whilst having a drink.
The ban is great if your a non smoker, not so good if you are.
I believe boxing is worth the risk!
Live on ITV on Saturday night at 9.45pm there is a night of boxing from the Millenium Stadium in Wales.
Wales' WBO and Ring Magazine Super Middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe defends is title for the 20th time against the runner up of the USA contender boxing series, Peter Manfredo Jr. Calzaghe is arguably one of the worlds best boxers and is the longest current reigning world champion.
On the undercard, Amir Khan the Olympic silver medallist fights Steffy Bull at lightweight.
Also on the undercard explosive Cruiserweight Enzo Maccarrinelli defends his WBO Cruiserweight title against American Bobby Gunn.
It should be an entertaining night, although I don't see any shock outcomes!
I've already posted a review about the 360 console I purchased online back in July 2006. See my review under XBOX 360 Premium.
Unfortunately, after starting up a game recently the system froze. When I pressed the on off button, the console lights turned to three read lights - known as the ring of death. Three red lights usually means that the console has suffered an internal hardware failure.
The following day I rang the Microsoft X-Box helpline. The number is a freephone number - 0800 587 1102.
I think I was transferred to a call centre in India. I waited for 15 minutes before an operator came on the phone.
If your console ever fails, make sure you try the cables, switch on and off before ringing them. Make sure you take the serial number of the console before you make the call.
I was lucky as the console is under one years old. It will be covered free of charge.
The Microsoft rep arranged a courier to call. You have to package the console up securely in an unmarked box, with plenty of packaging. The console was collected six days later. The courier said the console should be typically returned in two weeks time. I'm waiting for it to come back. You just send the main unit back, no cables or hard drive.
The console is brilliant, but many are unreliable, which is a shame.
If my console broke after the warranty period I would rather buy a new one rather than pay to have it repaired.
The law is an ass!
Apparently a number of men who were sentenced to prison for murder and who were subsequently released have been paid compensation for the years where they were locked up. Law Lords (whoever they are) have ruled that they must pay for the board and lodge that they had at Prison. This will be deducted from the compensation awards. I'm not going to comment on whether I think the people are guilty or not. But I have to say that the whole idea of paying for the bed and board is simply a joke. They were found to be locked up unfairly - why should they pay?
Someone who is guilty doesn't have to pay? Why doesn't someone who goes to jail have to pay for board and lodge if they have the money to do so, in that case?
I have completely no faith in the Police and the law. It's there to protect the real ciminals.
The police are now just tax collectors who enforce speeding, parking and council tax payments.
If criminals are caught, they are normally released and don't pay the fines. Jail sentences for serious crimes are a joke. Whats the point in having Police?
The XBOX 360 was the first of the high definition games consoles to hit the market. Its been around for over a year now and it has a decent fan base around the world, especially in the USA and in Europe. Its been a little slow to take off in Japan, they tend to prefer Nintendos and Sony Playstations.
I purchased my 360 last year. I did not fancy paying a fortune to get an early one on Ebay when they came out first. I managed to get a really good price on the Premium Package.
The premium package comes with the 20GB Hard Disk, which is a necessity in my opinion. It also comes with a wireless controller, headset, and HD component cable.
I have toyed with the idea of buying a Nintendo Wii and a PS3, although they appear to be in short supply or are not available in the UK yet. Why wait to buy one of those when you can have the best HD console now?
The following review is based on my use and experience of the 360. It does not contain a list of specifications and games available.
Why did I buy a 360?
Because I like playing games, I wanted the next generation games performance, but I did not want to pay over the odds for it. My current PC did not have the performance to play the sort of games I wanted to play. The 360 was a cheaper option.
What do I use it for?
I use the 360 for playing games. I would recommend Battlefield 2: Modern combat, Elder Scrolls Oblivion and Test Drive Unlimited. There are more than a hundred available now. I would only buy games that are rated above 7/10. Read a magazine or online review (dooyoo etc) to find out what games are good from owners.
I use the 360 to view DVDs, its really quite good at playing DVDs especially via the Component cable. You should notice a difference between this and a RGB scart cable DVD player. I also watch some of the HD trailers that are available.
I use the 360 to play games online. I joined xbox live. To me, this is a must have if you own an xbox. A good Broadband connection is required as well as a paid subscription to Microsoft. You can download new games, demos etc using Live.
Using the headset provided, you can talk to and meet friends online.
What else can it do?
There is an external HD-DVD drive that you can connect to the 360 to allow you to play and watch High Definition DVD movies. This is available now for around £130.
This is cheaper than buying a standalone HD-DVD player.
What would I like it to be able to do?
I would like a full version of Windows Internet explorer, so that I can surf the net through it.
I would like to be able to download movies and TV episodes from online.
How would I improve it?
It could have a larger hard disk drive. The console is pretty noisy, it could be quieter.
Conclusion, what do I think?
Im very happy with the console. It has excellent graphics and sound. The user interface is excellent and so is the live online system. The controller and headset are excellent. I like the rumble feature on the controller.
There are a number of sites that I visit almost everyday. One of my current favourites is a site called www.hotukdeals.com.
To put it simply, hotukdeals is a site that members can post information about any good deals they have found on almost any product imaginable, from holidays to hard disks to DVD's.
You do not have to join the site to do a search or to view the most recent offer links that are available. You can search by product category or by retailer.
To post on the members forum you have to join.
If you just surf to the main page on the web site it shows you the most recent Hot Deals that are available.
Currently there are good offers on the following items:
DVD Box sets.
There are some cracking deals every now and then. But remember that the links shown may not be the very best deal available and it is still advisable to shop around a number of sites.
Hotdeals favourites can sometime contain details of what additional discounts you can get by using quidco etc. Every few % points adds up!
In addition to Quidco, hotdeals has a large list of voucher codes that can be used against purchases. The voucher codes can be used to get some percentage off the purchases and sometimes free delivery. You have to be eligible to use the codes that are shown however.
I think Hotdeals is an excellent site. One great offer they were showing last week was for a 32 inch HD LCD screen and a Progressive scan DVD player with HDMI connection for £352.00!
I recommend this site. It's one of my favourites for bargains.
I purchased my Targa Traveller laptop a couple of years ago from Lidl. At the time it cost just under £1000.00. I purchased it from Lidl because it seemed a good bargain and came with a lot of free kit. It also came with a decent 3 year warranty.
I believe Targa are a decent company who make PC's in Germany.
The Notepad I bought came with the following specification:
ATI Radeaon X700 Graphics
Wi-Fi, Blue Tooth, Firewire etc.
As a bonus the bundle included a plug in digital and analogue radio and television card. And a good quality earphone and mic combinaton. It also came with a mouse.
Software included with the notepad is shown below:
Various video editing software.
Plus much more.
If your after a good PC or notepad, I would recommened that you look at the offers in Lidl and Aldi.
The computers usually come at a bargain price with good specification and good additional equipment.
The notepad I bought has been faultless so far. The battery life is pretty good, you can even play some good games on it. It's always worthwhile getting a PC with a decent graphics card if you want to play games.
The screen is clear and has a resolution of 1280X800 and is 15inch widescreen in size.
I would recommend a Targa Notepad PC.
Secret Army - A World War Two based drama from the BBC.
Secret Army is the original series from the BBC that inspired the idea for the comedy show called "Allo Allo" in the 1980's.
Secret Army is about a resistance organisation called lifeline which operates in Belgium during the second world war. The aim of lifeline is to rescue allied airmen who have been shot down over occupied territory and to return them to the allies down an escape line so that they can return to their countries to fight another day.
The full three series of the show that exist cover a variety of issues, but the general story each episode is based on the usual plane being shot down and the owners of a cafe and later a restaurant helping the soldiers on the run to evade the German occupiers. Another example episode shows the lifeline members and special agents going to blow up a V2 rocket silo.
There must be more than 30 episodes in all. The box sets will take a while to get through.
The members of lifeline are risking their lives everyday and have to go about their normal jobs as well as help the airmen. It is in the interests of some of the lifeline members to be friendly to the Germans so as to avoid suspicion. Later in the show this friendliness is seen from some of the population to be collaborating with the enemy.
If your familiar with Allo Allo you will remember the foreign airmen trying to escape, the maids serving in the bar and the mother upstairs. Secret Army has all of the above, but the mood is certainly not comedy. The air is tense and nervous. People found harbouring allied airmen are shot after being tortured by the villain from the show who is an SS officer called Kessler. Kessler's equivalent in Allo Allo is Herr Flick.
Kessler is a real bad egg, he's totally committed to his job and brings about the deaths of many people. Will he ever be caught and face justice?
For anyone who missed the original showings on BBC in the seventies and liked "Allo Allo" and programmes about world war two, this series is really fabulous.
I found the each series to be gripping and full of suspense. I frequently stayed up later to watch the next episode to see what happened next.
The episodes are sometimes shown on Sky television or can be bought in a DVD box set.