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MikeScoates

MikeScoates

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Reviews written

since 03/09/2000

113

Rio 500 64 MB 03/12/2000

Diamond 500 IS a little diamond

Rio 500 64 MB The box it comes in is about 10 times as large as the player itself, and once you have it in your hand it's just like holding a lighter. Measuring only 100mm x 60mm x 12mm, the Rio 500 MP3 Player is certainly small. This means it can fit in a shirt or trouser pocket without you really noticing. So what can it do? Plenty. It packs a punch. The instructions that come with it consist of one folded sheet, the rest of the information you will require is on the 2 CD-ROM's that come with it. These take a few minutes to install on your PC, and for technophiles it is surprisingly easy to get started. I had copied one of my music CD's and downloaded my favorite tracks to the player in less than 30 minutes, and I'm no expert. It can hold about 17 average sized music tracks, more if you buy the extra memory that just slots into the unit like a credit card, so it's good for a couple of hours. The batteries last for 11 hours of continuous play (so the instructions say, mine have been going for well over a few weeks), so it's worth taking on long trips, even holiday. Features include searching forward and back for tracks, data on your tracks is displayed on the blue LCD screen, and you can fast forward and reverse too. The sound quality is the best I have heard on any MP3 player, but a word of advice. The ear-pieces that come with the unit are not the best, I'd advise spending a few pounds extra on a decent set to get the perfect sound quality that the Rio is capable of. When you are ...

Creative Video Blaster WebCam Go Plus 02/10/2000

Fantastic

Creative Video Blaster WebCam Go Plus Fancy never buying another roll of film in your life? Now that dream is a reality, because this webcam doubles up as a digital camera too. Price? Just over 100 pounds sterling. A bargain. When used as a webacm it can capture live video in 16.7 million colours at 30 frames/sec, it has a focus free lens and a snapshot button for instant capture. When used as a digicam, you can record sound, multi-frame mini movies, even use it as a security camera. It's 8mb memory can record over 150 images at 640x480, and the LCD on the back displays how many frames are left, low battery warning and so on. All this for that price and you are laughing, you get your money back in no time when you take into account the cost of developing and buying rolls of film. ...

Diablo II (PC) 02/10/2000

RPG Finery

Diablo II (PC) RPG fans should love this game. It has all the elements of classic roleplay and more. You take your pick from 5 initial characters: Amazon, Necromancer, Barbarian, Paladin, Sorceress, and off you go, equipping better and better armour and equipment and more and more variety of weapon than have been seen before. The cinematic sequences are stunning, absolutely breathtaking, as is the cinematic music that immerses you into the plot. As well as being able to recruit mercenaries in your quest to defeat Diablo, there are special items to be found, acts to complete, all this and you can play on-line too. The ultimate on-line challenge is here too, where you can play as a HardCore character when you have earned enough experience and completed the game in all three difficulty scenarios. HardCore means that if you die, that's it, your character is deleted and you have to start all over again, and there is a ranking table online to see what you will be up against. If you enjoy role-play or fantasy, and can handle advanced D&D inventories and stats, this is the game for you. If you haven't played this type of game before, I would recommend you read the manual thoroughly, although there is a quick start mode to get you going in the first few pages. Happy adventuring. ...

Direct Line Car Insurance 21/09/2000

Sell Sell Sell (and I used to work there!)

Direct Line Car Insurance The thinking behind Direct Line is great, no broker to deal with, all claims dealt with in house, everything done for you over the phone and in the field. The prices are good, sometimes, if you fall into just the right category, and if you ring and get the right person they can be very helpful, (I always made sure I was.) The main problem is the hard sell. If you ring for a quote, the person you speak to gets more commission if you take up the offer there an then (or within an hour) than if you don't take it up or decide to ring back another day. So the selling techniques used can be quite fierce. As with all insurers there's no room for negotiation, but Direct Line do have some edges that others don't. Firstly, their own breakdown service can be purchased, very cheap too. Secondly, repairs are done in their own garages, very quickly. So the service is excellent. The one niggle I had was that courtesy cars were not offered, that's why you don't hear them offered when you ring for a quote; if you mention them it's a good way to make the person at the other end of the line dry up, try it and see, it's quite funny. To anyone who's got 17 year olds learning to drive, give Direct Line a try too, there are ways of getting cheap insurance for them, and Direct Line, although not specialising in this (and it does depend a lot on whether you are letting them learn to drive in a Mini or a Ferrari) can still usually find a good quote and let you pay this by installments. My ...

Intel Pentium III 1.13 GHz processor 21/09/2000

My Personal Favorite

Intel Pentium III 1.13 GHz processor I've always used Pentium processors from Intel, in fact even back in the 80's I always used Intel, not only because I've never had any problems with them, but because I can't find any fault with them either, and am of the opinion if it ain't broke don't fix it. Looking at the PIII's rivals, particularly Athlon, a user like me (domestic 40+ hours a week) would not really benefit from changing, although business users might notice some slight improvements by using a rival chipset. The advantages to me of the Pentium III are firstly that my 500 MHz works fine, and secondly I have a website created by Intel that I can go to if I do have any problems, and it is very easy to navigate, plus there is all that free software that you can download from them as a PIII user. If you are in two minds and on a tight budget, go elsewhere, but if you want reliability and backup, stick with good old Intel. ...

Gateway (Shop) 21/09/2000

It's the same everywhere isn't it?

Gateway (Shop) Gateway, hmm. Only ever had one niggle with them. I ordered a PC system earlier this year, and it came, very fast, but was just missing the childrens' game software that was thrown in at the last minute to sweeten the deal by the salesperson at Gateway. Don't get me wrong, I can't knock the PC at all, bargain and the best I ever had, but this was the only time I ever had to use the customer service side of Gateway and I wasn't impressed. Ususal thing with any company this. You ring up to speak to the one person you dealt with, they aren't there, the person you are now speaking to hasn't any inkling about the extra free software you should have had because "It's not on my screen, you'll have to speak to the person you were first speaking to. She's not here." I get this everywhere with all customer service departments, and having worked for BT's customer service I can understand why service is always lacking, you always seem to get the most unhelpful person on the other end of the line if you are having an especially bad day. In the end (5 days later), I got my software, but only by speaking to the person I ordered the PC from in the firstplace. I'd like to see this act tidied up a little. The products are so great is seems a shame that the only letdown I had with this company was the customer service department, but then I love irony. ...

Gateway Performance Series 21/09/2000

Superb, Easy to Use, Just Brilliant

Gateway Performance Series Having always been with Dell before, when upgrading from 366 to 500MHz I decided to give Gateway a try, just to see, and I was so glad I did. The helpline guided you through to the right people straight away, and although I had my specification all planned out in advance they were still able to guide me through the pros and cons of each of my selections, and advise me what was best. In the end we agreed on a customised version of one of their Performance 500 models, and the price (much lower than I expected) was agreed. 3 days after I had given them my credit card number and it arrived. The first thing you notice are the manuals, lots of them, covering the hardware, software, accessories....you start to think "Where am I going to start with this lot" and then you notice the booklet saying "Read This First". I never got one of those with Dell. This booklet made setting up and getting going so easy a 10 year old could do it. Much better than Dell there. We were up and running in 45 minutes, fully installed and on the internet. The aftersales service is also excellent, I've only had to use it once and that was to place another order!! You can get cheap prices at Gateway, and unusually they are prepared to haggle a bit on the phone if you mention the word "Dell" as one of your possible alternatives. If you are a first time buyer, or a computer geek looking to upgrade, you will find all you need here from off the shelf packages to bespoke custom-kits that you can specify ...

Gran Turismo - Cardigans (The) 19/09/2000

Unusually, a lot better than expected

Gran Turismo - Cardigans (The) Gran Turismo is an excellent album with a good mix of both fast paced and slow, melodic tracks. The lyrics are always sublime from The Cardigans, and everyone knows "Favorite Game", made famous for its links with Gran Turismo the computer game on the PlayStation. Erase and Unwind is another track on here that didn't do as well as you'd expect in the British charts, even though it is undoubtedly the best track on there. If you haven't heard The Cardigans work before, this album is a good a start as any, it's not dance music, more chill out, but it represents a good mix of both what this group are capable of and what we will be getting from them in the future. ...

Sing When You're Winning - Robbie Williams 19/09/2000

Not his best, but still good

Sing When You're Winning - Robbie Williams We all like Robbie Williams, with his cheeky looks and sense of humour he can entertain us anytime. This latest album is not his greatest though. Kylie makes an appearance on it, and Rock DJ is the 3rd track, but having listened to it a few times I am struck by the thought, "Where's his next single coming from?" I just can't for the life of me name any singles from this album, the only possible contender being the rocky "Love Calling Earth". This, unfortunately, is not up to Robbie's usual high standard, but still I forgive him. The foldout cover that comes with the CD you would not really want to have the little ones see, as it contains many shots of Robbie's behind in it. Perhaps this is just a phase he is going through? ...

The Seventh Scroll - Wilbur Smith 19/09/2000

Gripping, Adventure writing at it's best

The Seventh Scroll - Wilbur Smith The Seventh Scroll chronicles the adventures of an archeologist and a treasure hunter as they race against deadly adversaries to uncover the secrets hidden in the mysterious seventh scroll. This is Wilbur at his finest, gripping plot and fast-paced action from start to finish, and as always his flair for describing in intricate detail the beautiful and often precarious terrain of Africa and Ethopia in particular, where this particular novel is set. Personally, I could not put this book down. Every turn of the page was another startling scene being played out by the words themselves. The characters are wonderful, and the romantic interest develops along side the plotline at a measured and enticing stroll. If you haven't read any of Wilbur Smith's work before, start here, you will not regret it.

The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham 19/09/2000

Gripping, Terrifying, Excellent

The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham The Day of the Triffids is without a doubt John Wyndham's best work ever. It was serialized on BBC a few years ago now, and the adaptation was nowhere near as good as the book itself. Imagine waking up in hospital and finding out that you are the only sighted person left in the world. This is the scenario that faces our unlikely hero at the start of this book, and he goes on to face a nightmare society where chaos rules, with the added horror of man-eating plants being let loose, jumping out of nowhere and attacking their blinded and unwary victims. The story is so original, so gripping, that it is a must read. The concept of a society in disarray is so brilliantly described and detailed, this is surely Wyndham at his peak of literary talent. Widely available in all good bookshops, The Day of the Triffids is not a book you will be able to finish without a deep sense of disquiet and trepidation. Highly recommended nonetheless. ...

Blackpool in general 14/09/2000

Great day out, but wouldn't live there

Blackpool in general Blackpool is really the entertainment capital of the North, with the Golden Mile and its hundreds of arcades and fun palaces, the Blackpool Tower, its miles of golden beaches where you can catch a donkey ride at a cheap price, great for the little ones. In recent years the club life has also picked up, resulting in the trendy twenties set becoming more prevailent at the weekends and of an evening. It's practically impossible not to get a room for the night, there always seem to be plenty of vacancies in the numerous B&B's that are mostly located close to the centre's of attraction. A fun place to spend a day or weekend, but personally I find it all a bit too much excitement, so wouldn't like to live there, unless it was in an out of the way area. ...

Bath in General 14/09/2000

A Roman City

Bath in General You can see the influence of the Romans at its best in Bath's city centre where the Roman Baths can be found, but Bath has many other attractions like the Royal Crescent, its surrounding countryside, Queens Square, its thriving city centre shopping areas, and a great collection of pubs/bars/cafes. A must visit place is Milsom Street, if you like art, as there are lots of little arty shops and galleries here, as well as some of the better known high street names. If you like history or just want to have a weekend break in one of Britains more tranquil cities, come visit. ...

Bristol in General 14/09/2000

The Thriving Metropolis

Bristol in General Plenty of big business has moved to Bristol in recent years, relocating head offices from London due to the favourable rates here. Plenty of jobs available as a result of this, in all industries. On top of this, Bristol has one of the best Universities in the country, a thriving club/pub nightlife, 1001 things to do either during the week or especially at the weekend. There is the Ashton Court Balloon Festival, Music Festivals, The SS Great Britain to visit, the city boasts one of only 6 IMAX Cinemas in the whole country, and, call me biased, but it also seems to have the most attractive collection of women per capita that any city in the country can boast. Loads of hotels of varying prices, great theatre and cultural life, thriving art and historical heritage, what more could a city have. Bristol has the lot, and you are welcome to visit anytime. ...

Argos (Shop) 14/09/2000

To Queue or not to Queue...

Argos (Shop) Argos is only really useful if you are stuck for an idea for a gift, or if you know what you want without having to browse. Otherwise their shops can be hell on earth at times, with queues for just looking at their catalogues, queues to pay, queues to collect your stock, sometimes queues to get out again. Not my idea of a pleasant shopping experience. And what IS the point of having goods on display in the shop? They can't show all their range in the limited space available, and the items they do show are hardly ever in stock in my experience. The prices also seem a little high, compared to high street retailers that is. Overall, it just takes too long, quicker to pop into Woolies or Dixons to get what you want. ...
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