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Settling into my new job/career, so time to start picking up with the rest of my life and hobbies again :)

Reviews written

since 01/08/2001


The Bourne Legacy (DVD) 13/10/2013

Bourne Again

The Wind Through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel - Stephen King 12/05/2013

"My first thought was, he lied in every word"

Great Mid Life Career Switch - Gordon Adams 12/04/2013

And now for something completely different?

Iluv I 301 19/03/2013

Way better than sticking my fingers in my ears!

Iluv I 301 Keeping myself amused on a 9.5-hour flight to Vancouver required headphones, for both music and the in-flight movies. Knowing the set provided by the airline weren't going to be great, I decided I really needed a set of noise-reducing earphones, to block out as much of the engine drone as possible so my not-too-great hearing would actually be able to make sense of the movie dialogue! Alas such things tend to be expensive so when I spotted this iLuv product (in an eye-catching funky indigo-like colour; available shades should suit any taste!) beside the checkout in Currys I figured that (a) at £7.99 there was no way they'd be any good, and (b) at that price I could afford to take the risk, and at least have a backup if my others didn't show up in time (which they didn't, so phew for impulse buys!). As a bonus, they fit more easily into my hand luggage than big 'cans'! I was initially unsure about the foam-pad-like bits on the ear bud but from the first use I realised how much more comfortable they made these headphones compared to the (awful!) hard plastic iPod-standard ones. A couple of spare foam bits are included in the packaging, which is good 'cos they aren't the most securely fixed of items (although mine are still attached just fine!). These aren't sold explicitly as noise-cancelling, but those foam bits do rather a good job for the price - given that a 'proper' set can cost £30-odd quid for a cheap (!) pair I'm actually rather impressed with my bargain option! To ...

Tron (Legacy/Original Soundtrack) - Daft Punk 16/01/2013

Meet me at the end of the line

Acer Aspire 1825PT 11/12/2012

'Aspiring' double agent!

Acer Aspire 1825PT Tablet PCs are still very much an infant market, and usually I would have preferred to wait for a more stable technology and probably a clear market leader. However, the chance to have a bit of kit that retained all the practical things I needed in a laptop combined with the curiosity factor of a touchscreen made me take the plunge and go for this: the Acer Aspire 1825, a Windows 7-driven tablet PC, which converts between a regular laptop and a touchscreen tablet. That conversion happens by way of a swivel hinge centred under the screen. I can see this as being the future weak point: if it's going to break, it'll be here. So far - I've owned the machine for over a year but been careful with it - it's absolutely fine, although it took me a long time to brave removing the initial sticker making it very clear which way the whole thing pivots! ;) The joint is (still) firm and rigid, but if you have to put more than a little pressure to make it move then you're trying to force it the wrong way! Once swivelled 180º, the screen will fold back flat against the keyboard, producing the 'tablet'. The LED screen loses about 2 inches from the whole size, but is still a reasonable 11.6 inches - one of the main reasons I chose the Acer was the slightly larger screen. The hinge also allows way more flexibility than I'd expected: it'll hold rigid at any angle you want. I've been known to use it as a touchscreen but set at an angle from the base - whatever seems most comfortable while in ...

Lush Brazened Honey 19/08/2012

Bee nice to your skin!

Prometheus (DVD) 03/07/2012

In space no one can hear you scratch your head

Prometheus (DVD) Across the world, across civilisations separated by impassable distances and time, archaeologists have discovered pictograms showing the worship of giants each pointing to impossibly identical star systems. It’s an invitation, whispers Elizabeth Shaw (the original Girl with a Dragon Tattoo’s Noomi Rapace), a chance to meet our maker. She wants to find God; boyfriend Charlie wants to talk to aliens, and the Weyland Corporation, represented by ice-cool Charlize Theron - well, they probably just want to make money, at any price. And the rest of the crew of the Prometheus, sent to follow that star map? Well, by the end of it I’m guessing they just want to go home: they set out on this quest with a mix of high hopes; the planet they find, however, is not what anyone expected. But from all the disappointments rises something terrifyingly unexpected... I wanted so very badly to like this film. I adore all of the Alien films – yes, even the last two that everyone else panned. I’m a massive fan of director Ridley Scott, particularly the phenomenal Blade Runner. How could a movie set before Alien, exploring the identity of the mysterious ‘Space Jockey’ (an ancient, huge corpse with a telling hole in its chest...!) not be a sure-fire winner?! Answer: this. This movie is, for me, exactly how you take all those amazing ingredients and mix them all up into muddled brown sludge. And that, I’m afraid, is the only answer you’re going to get out of this sprawling, messy movie. Which is ...

Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle, Vancouver 09/06/2012

Canadian Comfort

Acuvue Advance Contact Lenses 03/05/2012

Stop me bumping into stuff!

Acuvue Advance Contact Lenses Well, no - I still bump into loads of stuff, but contact lenses can only fix your eyesight, not ingrained clumsiness! ;) Jokes aside, I have been wearing contact lenses since 1995, and this particular brand since its launch c.2004. Acuvue Advance are fortnightly-disposable lenses for daily wear: I moved from monthly ones, back in the days when most contact lenses were bought at huge expense for a full year of daily wear! I was always too scared that I'd damage them. That remains the one issue with these: it's still quite easy to nick the edge a little (maybe my nails are too long) - very difficult to spot, but the irritation to your eye is like razor wire! Of course, same problem is true of any lens: at least with these I always have a new pair ready to switch to!Of course these days it's more fashionable to go for daily lenses. I have tried those, but found them very thin in comparison to these and just too fiddly and easy to tear for me - presumably coming the other way you'd find any longer-term lenses rather thick. I also like the flexibility of popping my lenses in and out a few time during the day - say, in for putting on makeup and travelling, back out for a day stuck too close to a computer screen, and back in for an evening's outing. That'd be a couple of pairs of dailies; no problem with these! These aren't very long-term wear lenses: if you need truly all day (or more) wear, higher-oxygen permeability ones are available but I don't really care to have my lenses in ...

Carrion Comfort - Dan Simmons 05/03/2012

Despair - I'll feast on thee

Carrion Comfort - Dan Simmons We live in a violent world. Every month, week, day there are news stories of carnage and aggression, of people blowing things up, shooting strangers... all for no good reason. How can so many have such random urges towards mayhem, with no care for their own selves in the outcome? It's almost as if some sadistic hand was pushing them beyond their own self-control... Such an idea is not alien for holocaust survivor, Saul Laski: escaping a German extermination camp in his youth didn't help him escape the nightmare of his last few hours there. Hours when the army colonel, the Oberst, suddenly and terrifyingly took control of Saul's mind, marching his body to terrible acts. Saul could only watch the horror passively out of his own eyes, helpless to interfere. Now, decades later, he's still trying to find the Oberst, and to understand what happened that dark night. His story soon collides with that of Natalie Preston, whose life has also been affected by dark, inexplicable deeds and random violence. She, too, would find the truth - even at terrible personal cost. And it all starts with three elderly people meeting in a nice suburban house one afternoon, for tea and a catch up. Life-long... well, you might think friends, but it's soon apparent that isn't quite the word. Nor is their chat quite what you'd expect, as each lays out newspaper cuttings of grim deeds. Deeds they couldn't possible have had anything to do with. Of course. Dan Simmons is a long-time favourite author of mine, ...

Centurion (DVD) 08/02/2012

On my command, unleash... bad weather?

Centurion (DVD) (film-only review)Britain, 117AD: the Roman invasion of the country remains stalled when it comes to the far north, what will eventually be Scotland (yay!). The native Picts aren't happy about the intruders, obviously, but rather than pitch an all-out battle - something that would play to the Roman strengths - they hold off the interlopers with swooping, hit'n'run attacks. One successful raid on a Roman frontier fort (not as sturdy in the film as my history lessons would have had, but far more realistic!) leaves Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender - 300, Inglorious Basterds) the only survivor. Dragged off to a Pict camp to be used as an example, he manages not only to escape, but to run into the legendary Ninth Legion, sent by the local Governor to finally wipe out the pesky Picts. Led by the much-loved General Virilus (Domenic West - The Wire, 300), the Ninth are held as Rome's best. Slightly embarrassing, then, when they fall into an ambush, get slaughtered and see their general carted off as a prisoner. Can the surviving few mount a rescue mission, beat of the brutal natives, and make it back alive? All of that is told as a rather superficial opening - or rather, what I suspect is meant to be a brief-ish beginning before getting into the meat of the story. Here we meet the brave Quintus, then the beloved, just-one-of-the-men Virilus (although I did think the men were chanting 'fearless' to begin with), before a quick sweep of some of the legion; just enough to stir some pity ...

Samsung SE-S084F 13/01/2012

Plug in and play away!

Samsung SE-S084F Last year I got myself a shiny new tablet PC. However, as it didn't come with any integral disk function an external DVD drive was the first accessory I deemed necessary. This model - the Samsung SE-S084F - won out for being very affordable (I paid less than £25) and would also let me burn DVDs. It's not something I'd thought to be really necessary in the past, but a lot of software downloads these days require being burned to DVD (CDs are old fashioned and too small these days!) before you can install. Although there are software works-arounds for that, there are still loads of reasons why a drive is essential: not least accessing music, movie or game disks, and this gizmo saved my bacon when I needed to burn a CD of coursework for uni! So yeah, this writes and burns CDs and DVDs, at 24x and 5-8x speed respectively, the latter depending on your type of DVD, but this will cope with all (+/-R(W)) saving me from the mega-confusion of which disk type to buy in the shop! The whole thing was very easy to set up: really, plug and play. I'm running Windows 7, but it's compatible with Vista, XP and 2000, as well as Macs. The interface is via two USB ports, which might be a problem with some computers, but mine has 3 ports, so I can plug the printer in at the same time, thankfully! Those are USB 2.0 connections, too, meaning that the whole thing is as fast as it can be when transferring data, either way - very appreciated! So far the whole thing has worked absolutely perfectly, both ...

Blitz (DVD) 07/11/2011

Born Bad (film only)

Lush Keep it Fluffy Bath Ballistic 02/10/2011

Grab one while you can!

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