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Ciao... please bring back paid music reviews, I want to gush over the new London Grammar album :,(

Reviews written

since 08/03/2012


What is your summer song 2017? 03/08/2017

"After the GIRLS of summer have gone..."

What is your summer song 2017? Musical Snobbery As much as Ciao would like you to, in their own words, write about "world-wide known" songs on the radio, there's not a chance in hell of me recommending a poorly attempted bit of Spanish in Despacito, an ear canal abusing, shrill shriek of the hypocritical Zara Larsson or all 46,000 'DJ' remixes of songs that have weird noises instead of a chorus, clogging the radio waves. Normally I'd try desperately to stand out from the crowd and pick a song from the 80s, 90s, 00s or something never broadcast on radio but regardless of those first few sentences, I am trying to be more open with music tastes - just not the songs performed by those morons on MTV, written by 85 people in the backroom! Last year I might've made a shout for Sigala's Sweet Lovin - possibly the only current, mainstream song you'll get me agreeing is pure unbridled joy. The girlfriend is most certainly having an influence, especially as I'd class my drunken jam to be almost anything by Little Mix. She's even got me digging out old school disco classics like The Hampsterdance - anyone remember that one!? Christ it was terrible. Terribly happy. You won't find a single bloody Ed Sheeran song here though, thank God, so look elsewhere sheep. So let's get to it - a summer song - even though it seems like we've had most of the sunshine over the last month and have started enduring so much rain, flooding and the like more recently... 'Stay Right There' - Airia The song I've chosen isn't a complex mix of ...

Rock Band (PS2) 05/07/2017

"...Who likes all our pretty songs and he likes to sing along..."

Rock Band  (PS2) Intro Ever-persistent to get the other half sharing an activity of mutual interest, I remembered the single days where me and my fellow brethren would put our loneliness to the test and see if we could perfect the art of video game instrumentation! At one point, a close friend insisted on attempting drums in real life solely because he enjoyed hitting the rubber and plastic controller (I bought him some Spongebob Squarepants drumsticks) I had already been playing guitar for a good 4-5 years so it was a little more natural for me... hitting buttons on a guitar shaped controller. Back then though, none of us had the bravado to take on vocal duty, plus we still lived with our parents and one of us screaming into a fake microphone late at night was simply unacceptable. With a place of my own and a doting girlfriend focusing on guitar riffs, I knew the track that I could deliver the goods on. I'd gone through the transition of pop to rock in secondary school and partook in the brief comeback summer of grunge. At least enough to have memorised most of the words off of Nirvana's Greatest Hits. Put simply, I rocked the ever-loving f*ck out of In Bloom for 95% (Sarah even managed a 90% for a song she'd never even heard off - sacrilege! - albeit on easy) The game is also available on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii - if you're using the latest generation consoles, you'll likely need an adaptor to utilise the instruments (if old) as well as a multi-USB port if you plug in ...

Portal (PC) 17/06/2017

This was a Triumph!

Portal (PC) The Cake is a Lie 2007 - Oh yeah, the college days. I had yet to come to my senses and acquire a pc, still slumming it like a console peasant on an Xbox 360 and this title came a calling on the live arcade. Couldn't tell you why I bought it, maybe it was on sale, who knows. A mostly white walled, first person game were you shoot a gun that doesn't kills stuff. However, from now on I shall claim it a sign from God because whatever the reason, it was well worth it. Nowadays I can't help but insta-purchase it on Steam (hence why I'm reviewing the PC version). Now, for a gamer to buy a game they already own a second time takes a certain amount of dedication, loyalty and downright incompetence with money. I possess all of these qualities. Little did I know that a handful of my friends had also picked up this little gem, be it from the same source or the 'The Orange Box' - a package containing both Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2. I couldn't give two f*cks about these games frankly. One was a sequel to a game I missed in its prime, the other an online mammoth that keeps bringing in nerd monies from those creating hats for in-game characters - not my style at all. Anyway, now that I've got my customary swear out of the way to annoy Supercilious Simon "Let down by the poor language" *Raises monocle* I can start getting into this review, enter the Portal, so to speak... Christ that was lame. Note to self, don't write a review at midnight. "That thing you burned up isn't important to ...

Project Zero 3: The Tormented (PS2) 13/06/2017

"Experiencing severe physical or mental suffering."

Project Zero 3: The Tormented (PS2) I knew the feeling well, playing this game. Fatal Frame - AKA - Project Zero For once it seems so long ago now that the first of this series came out. 2002 for the Brits, Fatal Frame re-titled as Project Zero for no comprehensible reason, it was an exciting time for gamers with the battle of consoles: the PS2 and the Xbox. Why does this jargon matter? Well mainly because the first two games in the series were multi-platform, meaning they were (eventually) available for both mainstream consoles (no love for PC unfortunately - although you can emulate this with some degree of efficiency) The third instalment however, does not get such treatment. Likely due to licencing with Sony or a lack of enthusiasm on the market, The Tormented was no big title and did not sell spectacularly well - no where near the figures of the first two which clearly garnered enough critical acclaim for ports and directors cuts that saw a supposed to be scary game, give the option of schoolgirl uniforms for the female leads. Very Japanese. As such, you won't find this game in many a bargain bin, nor online pre-owned for that matter - the usual rip-off merchants are on eBay trying to pull in ludicrous amounts but some fairer souls looking to make an honest buck still have it at around the original retail price of £45. I can understand this though as there aren't that many copies floating around - I know this as I lent my copy to a dear friend for many years, completely forgetting said borrow until, well, ...

Pokemon Go (iPhone) 10/06/2017

"I will travel across the land, Searching far and wide!"

Pokemon Go (iPhone) Nostalgia When I first heard about this game, not gunna lie, I was pretty hyped! A twenty-six year old, stoked about a children's video game. I remember it fondly - a fleeting acquaintance randomly messaged me about how to get the game as the UK was one of the last countries to get it properly. Turns out you can download it via signing in to the AppStore with an american account. I had it for a couple of days then travelled to Fuerteventura where we found whole tables of young adults playing it at the dinner table - nobody talking. That was quite sad really. Clearly though, this was not a game solely aimed at kids because the tv series and card game originally came out in the mid to late 90s, meaning that generation has grown up - with a phone, means of transport and most likely, money to blow on a childhood fantasy. The nostalgia pulling at the heartstrings of these people was powerful indeed. I collected the cards, I played the TCG on gameboy as well as Yellow (which I'm likely to review thanks to Ciao's alphabet challenge!) What's more, there were only the original 151 Pokemon available initially, none of these new fangled abominations! Unfortunately for some, the world of Pokemon now consists of far more than 151 creatures, closer to 300. The App Free and available on both iPhone and Android devices, Pokemon Go is 326.1mb in size at the time of writing (this might fluctuate depending on save data) so it's fairly substantial. Once downloaded, you have to either sign up ...

Best Western Homestead Court Hotel, Welwyn Garden City 05/06/2017

Best is a bit Boastful but.. Yeah, Probably

Best Western Homestead Court Hotel, Welwyn Garden City A BRIDESMAID AND +1 AT THE BEST WESTERN 27th of May, 2017 - The day of my girlfriends brother's wedding, a couple of hours away in Hatfield. I remember I was told about it LATE and that the actual place everyone else was staying was fully booked (thank you Sarah!) Being the somewhat responsible adult that I am, I booked this closely located hotel several months in advance. Having never stayed in a UK hotel other than Premier Inn or Travel Lodge it was a little new risk for me. I hadn't even heard of the chain before going and only just saw an advert for them a few days ago (which kind of got me writing this - I should also say the place in the advert was nothing like the real deal!) I got slated for an old review by a few odd people the last time I reviewed a hotel, so much so that I probably claimed I wouldn't write another, but screw them and my past self, they're both lame. THE GOOD * PRICE - 198.88 doesn't seem too bad for two nights in an 'Executive Double'. There was a choice to enable cancellation refunds (several more pounds which I declined - about £16) so that option is there if you're unsure. This was also the most expensive room I could find within the hotel so you can get rooms for significantly less if you'd prefer. A quick look at their website and upon looking up 2 nights around September for two people, I'm greeted with an icon saying 'From £142.20' So there is your lowest estimate. You can also pay a good £100 more when you book in exchange for BW points ...

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (DVD) 01/06/2017

Spin-Off Snorefest

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (DVD) "The Jedi are all but extinct, the Republic has fallen and in their wake, the Galactic Empire has engulfed the far reaches of the galaxy in fear. Persecuted members of the Old Republic have been thrust into hiding. Only members of the REBEL ALLIANCE dare take a stand against the ruthless Imperial forces. Deep in the Outer Rim territories, the dastardly Director Krennic has discovered the location of a long lost friend; one capable of completing the Empire's most powerful weapon yet…" ~ Opening Crawl Movie Night This was a special one for me - the first proper sit down in the new flat with the mrs, sprawled out on my old mattress in the wrong room as we were still waiting for the new one to arrive. Cider and crisps ahoy, I had a loot at all the new films I had acquired and due to a brief conversation at work about the latest Star Wars film, which apparently was deemed even better than The Force Awakens - big praise - well, not for me because I rated that a lowly satisfactory with 3 stars. To my surprise, the other half welcomed the chance to watch a sci-fi film (her most detested genre despite loving Guardians of the Galaxy - go figure?!) so it was an easy choice slapping it on the wide screen propped up on some drawers in a largely empty room. So the scene was set! A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...(Story) I'm the worst when it comes to names and as you can see already by the rating I've given, I'm not likely to watch this again or even research the characters ...

Fitbit Charge 2 29/05/2017

For Your FatBits

Fitbit Charge 2 WHY!? I know, I'm so lean and muscular anyway! Nah, I know I'm getting slightly portly and when your own grandmother says you've put on weight, you goddamn better believe it! I'm still of a 'healthy' weight according to that BMA index thangy but who knows what's going on with my heart and general well-being. My only defence here is that this was a Christmas gift - fair play I asked for one but that's beside the point! I had no idea what I wanted and when the mother asks, she'll get an answer or I'd get a slap and so like an uninspired cockatoo, I chirped exactly what ma said back to her. I didn't really want one but I knew it'd have some sort of momentum nudging me towards a healthier or at least more active life style... or just aware of it. At least it was an easy way to go about gift giving and for that I'm grateful, thanks ma! She even very bravely suggested buying one for my partner - who for the record is in infinitely better condition than myself what with her 5 less years enduring the torment of adult life and about 2 stone lighter than I yet the same height. Madness said I. She was worried it'd be an embarrassing present because it could look like she was critiquing her appearance (them's fighting words for the womenfolk) when I knew the more likelier reality of embarrassment due to it being an expensive gift for someone who already has the ultimate gift in me already O:) Wow that was lame, I apologise... Just not enough to delete that last sentence. Features Going ...

Iiyama ProLite T2452MTS-1 24 in 22/05/2017

Shines up brighter than a New Penny!

Iiyama ProLite T2452MTS-1 24 in We've all been there. New job, new desk, second-hand workstation. I envy you lucky souls who've strolled into a newly furnished suite and sit down to a pristine mouse and keyboard (though I spare a thought for the IT guys who'll undoubtably have to deal with incompetent employees and their computer-illiteracy!) This kind of thing just doesn't seem to happen in the real world. No, you're far more likely to plunk your *rse down on a squeaky, creaky office chair that needs some more air, need to clean the gunk out of the mouse, press down hard on a sticky keyboard and wait for the piece of ancient technology to boot up properly or suffer more setbacks. I remember my first day, having already gotten to grips with Windows XP I had no problems but the companies policies put me in chains - many a time was I slapped with a "you can't download this, look, NON-COMMERCIAL use only!" But I just want to be able to see the RAW file thumbnails! As usual, I digress. Never before have I reviewed a computer monitor - never again if I have to ramble on about the general state of the workplace to make it seem somewhat helpful. As you can imagine, it'd have to be something special for me to consider writing about - and it is, one that I might pour all of my past grievances about screens into but seeing as this has its peculiar quirks, hopefully you'll forgive my countless accusations of poor craftsmanship and poking of dead pixels. Why I have it Well I don't have it technically. It's works ...

Ray-Ban RB2140 Original Wayfarer 18/05/2017

"She's my rock'n'roll Ruby, rock'n'roll!"

Ray-Ban RB2140 Original Wayfarer That's right, Johnny Cash may have worn the odd pair of Aviators but also some classic Wayfarers. "Suits you." Isn't that what we all want to hear when you don a new pair of (sun)glasses or any clothing really? Never one to understand or buy into the expensive sunglasses fad - I had given Rayban and the like a wide berth in favour of cheap wayfarer imitations on eBay. I mean they looked the same, just costing £3 if that! Bargain! It was only by handling a work colleagues Raybans that I'd changed my mind. I should make it clear that I am not a brand hound - I don't need to have the need to have all my jeans be Levis or have a Polo logo on my nipple all the time - I have very little brand loyalty - I don't even like having them on hoodies or t-shirts. Think of Burtons range of clothes - they have 'Okinawa 47' written on them - what the f*ck does that have to do with anything!? Not against a pattern though.. Just like how I'm not really for bad language but since one person on here clearly finds me and my writing so addictive, I can't help but offend the poor soul with a good insertion of a f*ck. Bless him. What I'm struggling to get across is - I don't let companies turn me into an advert, nor do their expensive and flashy products make me feel part of the 'in' crowd or better about myself. So why did I purchase these? Build Quality & Lenses As soon as work bud Danny handed em over (I swiped them from the glovebox when he was driving) I knew they were the real deal. For some ...

Canon EF L USM wide-angle zoom lens - 17 - 40mm F/4.0 13/05/2017

Decent Wide Angle, but Splash the Cash to Find Better

Canon EF L USM wide-angle zoom lens - 17 - 40mm F/4.0 Wide, Wider! (Intro) Normally overlooked by the professionals due to its price and muddled mm range, it's not the most well known - so how did I find it? I had originally started with crop sensor cameras - a Nikon D40, then a Canon 500D (aka Rebel), Canon 700D - until finally being able to bridge the gap to a full frame Canon 6D. Those with some knowledge of SLR's will know that the full frame cameras effectively have, well, more in the viewfinder, hence the names full frame and crop. What I loved having with my crops was an EF-S lens - a 10-18mm which was a gloriously wide lens for a very low price (around £200 now) Sadly, these type of lenses are incompatible with FF (although they can be modified for use but you risk permanently damaging your sensor) so I was looking for a replacement. When researching the market for such, you'll often find prime or fixed lenses (no zoom) with questionable focal lengths that you wouldn't normally consider 'wide' such as the 24mm and Samyang and Tamron brands despite typing Canon! Dig a little deeper and you can uncover some serious equipment with the likes of: 11-24mm which still holds a hefty premium or worse, the fisheye lens - an 8-15mm. As you can tell, I'm not a fan of the art-school glass. Regardless, I still haven't quenched my thirst for some premium glass even after this acquisition but it has pretty much satisfied my needs for the more, 'girthier' of kit ;) That F/4.0 As far as I'm aware, this is the lowest F-Stop for the ...

Silverline Combination Pliers 09/05/2017


Silverline Combination Pliers The fatter brother pair of pliers in my drawer I present to thee, another dull and drab household and carpentry bit of boredom! If only it were so easy to just say: "They cut things and sh*t." but alas! I shall pretend they do a great deal more and spin a story about how wondrous they are in over the top detail and so on. Here goes... *Yawn* Tuesdays aye? Design Still a bit staggered that such quality, durable steel has been used to make these (along with a tough as nails rubber component) and they still cost so little. Because of that they are rather heavy - weight can be a sign of quality right? Not really much else to say about the design as they mirror that of the other pair but while they are both the same overall length, these have shorter ends but have longer handles. They still have the usual colours, materials and branding. The metal however is a good 1cm thick and goes from 7mm to 2cm from top to bottom. The insides of the steel clamps has little rows of teeth for grip too but do not open as wide as the bro. Nitpicking but mine are much more bright and cheery compared to the one in Ciao's photograph! Theirs is ink blue, mine is vibrant sky ;) They have a couple of spots of rust but not as much as the other which could be either less use or heavier, better steel that's less prone to the scourge of iron oxide. Use Similar to that of the long nose equivalent ...*work fire alarm goes off*... these are very useful for the odd tasks around the office and workshop - ...

Roger Black Magnetic Exercise Bike 05/05/2017

Affordable, Necessary... but poorly made and Agony!

Roger Black Magnetic Exercise Bike 27 Twenty-seven. Twenty-seven hit me hard. For twenty-six years on this earth, I've been a svelte, gazelle of a specimen. Always a single stone digit on the scales, a slightly fluctuating 28-30 waist size and ever a size small shirt wearer. I could eat what I wanted, sugary, fatty, no matter, couldn't put on a pound. Then it hit me. The big 27. Not exactly a milestone but for some reason, at the age when football pundits claim professional players hit their peak - the same cannot be said of a graphic designer, sitting in his office chair, hunched over a desk. No longer running around a playground playing ball games or on the move without ownership of a car had clearly taken its toll as well as mother nature. Joe was starting to get a spare tyre. To think the crippling numbers involved with moving out for the first time would have an effect on the amount of food (and therefore calories) consumed would keep me a bit of a stick-man. Foolish. No, no, the steady grind of 4 years in an office would contribute to a stomach slumping over what was previously the shadow of a washboard. The just considered healthy weight of 9 stone at a height of 5'7 would turn into a 10 and just be low enough not to be deemed overweight. No longer able to go on top for more than 5 minutes, ride a bike without cramping up or sprint without completely knackering myself. Sitting on my ass had taken it's toll, as had a sickening amount of microwavable, processed food in my belly. It was scary to think that ...

The new Nintendo Switch 28/04/2017

No Battle, No Balls

The new Nintendo Switch I was rather pleased to see a Current Issue concerning video games - regardless of how it seems to be based more on marketing ploys now. I'd had my first console at the tender age of about 5 - a Super Nintendo! So I'm no rookie when it comes to the Japanese corporation. My second was a Gameboy so I', at least well versed in the retro kit they had going on in the 90s. Not to be completely outdone, my sister had a Wii as does my partner and although we only really play the sporting games, I think I get the gist. Nowadays I play most, if not all my games on PC via Steam and the games consist of fantasy, horror and puzzles - so safe to say, I'm not as optimistic about Nintendo's newest squeaky clean release as Ciao seems to be... First Impressions Not being as avid a follower to the video games industry as I used to be, I was only fairly aware of an impending release from the old school developer. It would be an advert that first gave me the whole picture - and it was an pretty average one. A group of people walking around what seemed to be a party, with these protruding plastic devices in each hand. They games they were playing were par the course for Nintendo - clean but incredibly simplistic and full of baby bright colours. Personally, I felt I outgrew this sort of stuff after the Nintendo 64 (I was a Playstation kid anyway) so even the Wii with its odd bit of family fun drew a yawn rather sharpish. However, with an RRP of just £279.99 the appeal practically doubles as it's ...

Scholes: My Story - Paul Scholes 24/04/2017

Not as fluent as his passing but blunt like his tackles

Scholes: My Story - Paul Scholes ”Heh heh heh… Kn*b-head.” (Introduction) Paul Scholes’ classically dry humour sneaking into a snippet of a football highlight show. Robbie Savage - the bloke with the girl hair, mediocre career and a penchant for reminding everyone with ears that he was in a United youth squad - had just got in a jibe about Scholesys’ height whilst the ginger maestro muttered under his breath, only to be later called out on his antics and coerced into apologising (something which his facial expression seemed to disagree with or find utterly bewildering!) as those who’ve seen my previous reviews will know, I’m not exactly bookish but I have always wanted to find the time to get lost in the fragrant pages of a deep read, only work, laziness and video games tended to dominate my thoughts. Throw in a girlfriend, television and hobbies etc it became even tougher but with more and more time spent with someone in a somewhat confined space, you can finally share some comfortable silence in the company of a good read. The shop wasn't overly flowing with my type of genres (perhaps I should go to the proper one not 30 feet away!) but being a fan of the mighty reds, it was an easy decision picking this up for £8.99. I must admit this was a safe bet as it features a photograph on almost every page so the 300 pages didn’t seem so arduous! I should mention that my copy has been fully updated with the 2011/12 season - the one where he decided to come out of retirement for one last hurrah. It includes and ...
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