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They say nobody is perfect. I am not famous, more of a nobody, therefore I must be perfect!

Reviews written

since 02/12/2003


SmoothWall 03/09/2007

Smoothwall: A Great Firewall

SmoothWall Smoothwall is a great solution for connecting to the internet. It comes in two versions: Open Source, and the one you pay for. If you pay for it you get technical support, and some extra functions, if you go the free route you have to rely on their web forums (which are really helpful) The operating system is a text based version of the Linux kernel. You set this up on a normal PC with a modem, and LAN card. Its easy enough to install - just follow the instructions on the screen. It is suitable for use with a normal Dial up account, Broadband, or ISDN. Once installed the machine can be controlled remotely through your normal PC using a web browser, such as Firefox or internet Explorer. This makes life really easy to connect to the Internet, and provides you with great protection from hackers. Functions you access through your browser include:- - Connect/Disconnect from the Internet - Re-boot/Shutdown the PC - View Traffic Logs and graphs - Update Smoothwall - View what services are running - Act as a proxy server (rather than just a gateway) - DHCP server - Allow/Disallow access remotely (from LAN and/or Internet) - Time update server - Port Forwarding - Control of specific ports, but specific IP addreses - Block specified IP addresses from connecting to your network (if not all). - Full logging of all webpages visited by your LAN (including details of machine accessing the pages) - IP look up/traceroute - Securely access and edit the system files ...

Sophia Beach Aparthotel, Kos 02/09/2007

Sophia Beach Hotel/Apartments - Kos town

Sophia Beach Aparthotel, Kos Was in this hotel in August 2007. From the word go we were disappointed. On arrival at 3 am the temperature in the room was about 30 degrees. After a week there it broke down completely, taking 2 days of constant complaining before they would call out an engineer. After he left it still was rubbish. The fridge door was rusty, all the shelves were broken, and the freezer section resembled Siberia, with ice of over 3" thick. Maid service was poor, floor was swept about 8 days out of 14, no floors were washed, the bathroom was never cleaned, had black fungus on the walls, and ceiling. Shower was also black, and the dirt on the shower hose about 10 mm thick. It was so bad my 8 year old refused to use it. Beds were comfy enough, although sheets were often ripped, and only changed once a week, despite notice promising every 3 days. TV remote control was 20 euros a week. To make sure you paid for it the staff had removed all the buttons off the TV. We used wooden cocktail sticks thankfully as we found you could only get 2 Greek channels, and Fashion TV. Reception staff were friendly, striking up a conversation when you passed. However they also very quickly became outright horrible and unhelpful if you had a problem. At one point I had to walk away as the guy was trying to provoke me into lashing out at him. In the end I took all complaints to them and to the rep (chocolate fireguard comes to mind). Owner of the hotel was actually heard telling guests to f*** off ...

Motorola V620 06/05/2005

I wanna black one

Motorola V620 Well I broke the Ericsonn habit of a lifetime and went out and bought a Motorola, even though they closed their factory a mile from my house causing mass unemployment. On first looks the phone looks great with its sleek black and chrome finish case. The guy in Carphone Warehouse even pointed out that it was "metal" so even I would find it harder to break (I have a habit of dropping phones everywhere). The other major advantage - it was a free upgrade on my contract. Powered up I instantly took to its attractive display, although I didn't realise how long it took to boot up - its worse than Windows 95 when your sim card is full. Although I suspect it is a fault of all Motorola's phones. Anyway I took to task the learning process of getting to know my new phone. The layout of the menus at first looked similar to my old phone, but once I delved further in I found it completely different. However I'm pleased to say it is not difficult to learn. Next task - the games. Although there are three, one of them is just a photo pack to let you play with the pictures you take - not very exciting. Thereafter you can play Topgun - a shoot em up, or Golf - I'd rather watch paint dry. The camera works well, and allows you to take video too - although it is a bit limited at a few seconds of video. Once I got round to the bluetooth headset I started to love the phone - I could not understand anyone wanting this before, but now I have it I can leave the phone anywhere, and as ...

Virgin Active Fitness Club, Edinburgh 06/05/2005

Are they active, or just dead in the water

Virgin Active Fitness Club, Edinburgh I joined Virgin Active at the start of the year as they were easily accessible being in the centre of Edinburgh with free parking. They took over the old Esporta complex at Fountainbridge late on in 2004, but in the first quarter of 2005 they still have not managed to shrug off the old Esporta image - or signage out side. The complex is situated below ground level, with an entrance via escalator in the main complex, or through the car park one floor down. Alarm bells were ringing that they were a big company from the word go. When I called to join I was told I would be phoned back the following day by a membership consultant to discuss this. Right enough a friendly person phoned back, and arranged for me to "view" the premises. As arranged I trotted along, was given a nice tour of the place, then finally they applied their sales pitch (thank god, all I wanted was to go to the gym). They work a system where you can join for one month, paying well over the odds, but you can cancel anytime. Otherwise you pay one year (in advance), and the price never changes - they don't cover if the price goes down with you. All done, direct debits signed up I was free to go about my business, or so i thought. before I could get in I had to meet with a fitness consultant. He checked I wasn't going to drop dead I presume, and worked out a fitness program with me. So finally on the third visit to the club I got to do something. On entering the gym you first realise how big it is, its ...

Sony Ericsson Z200 13/12/2004

Z200 - A lemon or not?

Sony Ericsson Z200 I'm now on my fourth Ericsson phone now. This year I bought the Z200. The phone is a nice size, not too small, not too big. has all the usual features you would expect. Front cover is replacable - spare cover supplied with phone. Others are available via mail order or usual phone outlets but expensive at £30. Ring tones can be turned up to a decent volume (sadly lacking on older Ericsson phones). Wap facility seems fairly good, although very slow, and not a patch on the real thing. Only real complaint I have is the signal capability. I use the phone with O2. Like most phones of its size the Z200 does not pick up as good a signal as other phones. Even using it in a major city (Edinburgh) there are many areas where I can not hold a conversation without losing the connection. The sony web site offers free ringtones and images. However you have to access these through the wap connection - therefore it is kind of slow, and expensive. In the instructions (either on their web site, or with the phone, I cant remember) tih states you can synchronise the phone calander with Outlook via Infra red - unfortunately this is not the case. I also bought the Sony specific hands free kit as I do a lot of calling while in the car. This is fine when you are stationary, but if you are travelling it is difficult for anyone to hear you over the background road noise. Games: it has Alien Scum (just like space invaders), Honey Cave 2 & Minigolf as standard. You can also ...

direct holidays 22/09/2004

Direct Nonsense

direct holidays I've been a customer of Direct Holidays for about eight years. They were cheaper before being swallowed up by the Mytravel group. On the whole offer they still offer holidays at budget prices. A number of their accomodations I've stayed in have been a bit out of the way, like on the outskirts of main towns with no mentioin of this in the brochure. However there has normally been plenty around the complex in the way of shops/bars etc so not too many complaints there. My only gripe is the training of their resort staff. A few years ago I was in Salou when ETA set off a car bomb outside our hotel at 8 am. After an hour we were told we couldnt get back in for the rest of the day. Very quickly all the holiday company reps appreared and took their guests away. All apart from ours, the local staff from Direct Holidays were nowhere in site. After we decided to walk into town (with no money) we found them sitting having coffee in a cafe half a mile away. To keep a long story short the experiance was a nightmare, compounded by young inexperienced reps shepherding us from pillar to post, and not really knowing what to do. The following year I went to Tunisia with them (right at the start of the Gulf War). As there had been reports from the home office I asked the rep if they had received training of what to do in an emergency. "None" was the reply. She then joked that the reps would be on the first plane out of there. Unfortunately for her I didnt find this ...

Halifax 21/09/2004

HBOS - the demise of the Bank of Scotland

Halifax I have been a customer of Bank of Scotland for 23 years. I have various accounts with them personal and business. Since the merger with the Halifax I feel the service has gone badly wrong. The original Halifax staff have always been very helpful and arranged mortgages for me (having been a customer of theirs for many years). This year however things have gone downhill in my opinion. First of all HBOS decided all personal internet banking should be channelled through the Halifax system, leaving the business accounts with the old B of S system. Unfortunately your statment now just lists items as "Direct Debit" or "Card Payment" - it does not tell you who to, making it very difficult to check where your money has gone. Charges: have gone through the roof. My personal acount has a "free" overdraft of £400. If i go over I am charged; a letter telling me i am over the limit, plus charged an "unauthorised overdraft" fee, plus all items hitting the account are returned to person requesting payment - another charge. In the space of 24 hours (Sunday afternoon - Monday 9.00am) i was charged £80 for being £31 over my limit. I have complained in the past but they tell they have orders from "above" not to refund any charges more than once. Apart from that I was give a promise that i would get a refund for charges made three months ago (after yet another change in policy, not made clear to their customers) for which i am still waiting (another £80 - for 1 days ... 08/09/2004

Running your own server with One and One One and One ( claim ot be the largest web hosting company in the world, and the fastest growing with 2.8 million customers. Their network is based in various custom built datacentres located around the world. In the UK I think their datacentre is in Surrey (if you're interested you can get a virtual tour online at . Three choices of server are offered; Root, Managed or Windows. Thereafter your choose a further three levels of service which basically means faster machines, with more memory and more bandwidth. The Root option you run and maintain yourself, hell mend you if you don’t know how to fix it if it goes wrong - and they wont tell you. However all the software is pre-installed on a Red Hat operating system. All you have to do is update the system, back it up, and set up the firewall. The Managed option takes the worry of running the server away from you, it comes with the firewal set up, and they back it up daily. If it breaks – they fix it. You also get access to their scripts library into the bargain for you to use on your sites as well as all the log files. The Windows option, is basically similar to the Root option, but with a Windows system rather than Linux – sorry dont know any more about this option as I steered clear of it. I took the Root access option. After buying a Linux manual it still takes a bit of getting used to. Your only access is a command ...

Crete (Greece) 20/08/2004

Eva Maria Apartments in Gouves

Crete (Greece) Just back from Eva Maria apartments. Basic acomodation, but was booked cheaply on a last minute deal through so can complain. Apartments are clean enough, bit on the basic side - tiny living area, two bedrooms though for family of four. Kitchen consisted of a fridge (no complaints there), and two electric rings to cook on (what a joke!). No air con (what do i expect), but fans could be rented from reception/poolside bar. That aside it wouldnt put me off from going back. The owner was in hospital (hence the Eva Maria Hotel next door was closed), but the apartments were being run by his daughters (yes Eva, and Maria). Both of them speak very good English, and are very friendly and eager to chat. The apartments are a bit away from the beach, and the busy end of the resort (up to 1/2 mile) but is ideal for a quiet holiday. Pool good, with ample sunbeds (only about 30, but more than enough). At night Some folk ate in, but we didn't attempt it. Easy to walk down the hill to the beach and have a romatic quiet meal on the beach (handfull of restaurants spill onto the beach), or head east to the main street where all the shops and other restaurants are (about the same distance). Locals are great, the live around the resort, and greet you as you walk passed them in their gardens at night. If you looking for nightlife its not the resort for you, even the Eva Maria bar was shut by 1ish. Thereafter you had to raid your room for a carry out, or ... 14/08/2004

Easy building of Online communities Recently I downloaded PhpBB from This is a selection of php scripts that allow you to run a forum on your web site. To install it you need a decent server that allows you access to either a Mysql, Mssql PostgreSQL or Access/ODBC database. All the files are contained in a fairly small zip file (circa 1/2 meg in zip format, also available in gz, or bz2 format). Once unzipped it took all of about ½ minutes to read the “readme” file which took you through the whole installation process. Literally you installed the files on your server, and ran the installation script, filling out the blanks where necessary (not too many difficult questions here). Maybe I did something wrong, but on my first try I the database tables did not set up, although this was easily rectified by locating the necessary sql and running it through Phpadmin. However I re-installed it from fresh and it worked without hiccup. Once installed there is a decent control panel to allow you to customise the layout, grade users, appoint moderators, allow signatures/smilies or not. The colour scheme is customisable through the control panel, although you can cheat and download ready made colour schemes through Phpbb’s web site. Swear words can be put into the banned words section of the control panel to either hide any profanity, or print something completely different (can have very amusing results). User control can be altered through the control panel, to allow visitors to post ...

Fuji Finepix A405 21/07/2004

Cracking Camera at Budget Price

Fuji Finepix A405 Camera functions are excellent for the price (£99 from Dixons Dec 2003). Functions are easy to grasp. Memory Card The 16 megabyte card does not go far when you you take pictures at full resolution. But Larger cards can be purchased cheaply online. Lenses Could do with some kind of protection on the rear. Where the lense is protected more than adaquately the LCD panel is exposed to damage. Am concerned about this, but to date have suffered no problems. Interface to PC Via usb port (cable included). Ideal type of connection, the previous camera i had used a serial port. The USB connection is very fast. Power Camera ony takes two AA batteries, I feel they should have utilised heavier duty batteries as the life is fairly short. A set of alkaline batteris only lasts longer enough to fill the 16MB card with pictures (circa 8-12 pics), then upload them to a PC. Fairly sturdy bit of kit, considering I have dropped it on a number of ocasions, and it still works fine. Only comment is the silver finish - it chips quite easily, and a carrying case would be a deffinate plus.

Freenetname 21/07/2004

Freenetname Broadband

Freenetname Signed up with them in June this year online, dont have many options, the only broadband they offer is:- £24/Month gives you 500 kps download/ 250 up. You get free ADSL modem, and connection 20 MB webspace and a free name, only sting is you can not take it away without paying their penalty clause if you decide to take the domain elsewhere in the future. Order process very easy, ADSL modem arrived on time, connection went according to plan. To add to the bargin they even give you a free name, only sting is you can not take it away without paying a penalty clause if you decide to go elsewhere in the future. No static IP address option is available, although they plan to introduce the service at some point in the future. On the whole the connection is very reliable, I dont think the connection has dropped while I have been using it (I cant say the same for BT's own connection, which I use at work). Webmail is also given, all be it very slow, even with broadband connection. However they do give you pop3/smtp access to your email. Installation is straight forward apart from some of the modem settings. In the instruction book it shows there are some additional settings, unfortunately in the illustration the figures given differ from those you need. If you use the default settings (also the same as shown in the book) you can not connect. Fortunately the correct settings are given in the FAQs on their website - otherwise you have to call a premium ...

Honda Accord 1.8 27/02/2004

Honda Accord 1.8 Sport

Honda Accord 1.8 Got the car brand new (2002 version), bight red. Very nice car, like the white dials on the dashboard. Looks sporty, having twin exhaust, and wide tyres, but bit disappointed with acceleration and road handling. Car is now a couple of years old, engine has loosened off somewhat, now accelerates much better (although not as quick as i would like), Not any problems as yet, although the door trim has come off inside, (but is still covered under warranty). One complaint is the bonnet chips easily, although i dont see any rust yet. Washers also freeze very easily in winter Nice big boot, but beware of the narrow bit at the back seat - it is resitrictive when trying to get large boxes in the car. Bit heavy on the fuel, i previously had a Ford Probe which was more economic to run (on fuel anyway)
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