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since 14/08/2000

26 15/09/2000

Laura's site - is it a "Loz"t cause? I pulled up this particular URL with trepidation. The site is clearly named after its web-mistress and I wanted to know what offering "lovely laura" would have for the ePublic. Unfortunately, despite first appearances (from its domain), this is not a porn site. There are no pictures of the raven-haired cutie cavorting around her PC in various states of undress and with various "toys". However, despite this drawback, the site has a lot of potential. The first page, produced using FLASH, is eyecatching and transfixes the viewer with its simple, yet clever animation. This is handy, since there are no other pages. This first page, offering the tempting suggestion "coming soon", does have a link to allow you to mail the webmistress and that, itself, must be quite a technological feat.

Does My Bum Look Big In This? - Arabella Wier 11/09/2000

A girlie book, read by a bloke!

Does My Bum Look Big In This? - Arabella Wier If you've seen the "Does my bum look big in this" character on the Fast Show, you're already starting to get the idea about the main character in this book. Obsessed with her size and the amount of cellulite she's developed, an otherwise intelligent and successful woman journey's through life, oblivious of how people really see her. Her perspective is (albeit comically) warped to such an extent that she fails to recognise any admiration or respect for her and completely misinterprets a number of suitors' attraction to her. Indeed, when she is criticised, in an article, for her negative attitude to herself, she is throughly pleased with that article because it didn't mention that she might be overweight. The neurosis is amusing and disturbing. I read this book pretty much in one sitting (I had a fair bit of time on my hands) and laughed out loud a few times.

MGM - High Society 09/09/2000

What a swell film this is!

MGM - High Society A twenty-six year old man in the start of the new millennium is usually not the first to extol the virtues of a 1950's MGM musical (or was it 60's?). Anyway, I am going to. This is because we have the explosive fusion of one of the best musical writers and several of the more memorable musicians/actors. You'll have heard of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly and Louis Armstrong and to find that they are all the stars of this film is, for a music lover, a real treat. You will know several of the songs and I think that you will marvel that the film seems fresh without any of the technology or effects of modern films. This is simply because a good performance and great music just doesn't need these modern trappings.

Newcastle University 08/09/2000

Howay the lads!

Newcastle University Newcastle University took me from Leeds and planted me in the heart of the North East of England for 3 years (Undergraduate Computing Course). 8 years later, I still live in Newcastle. The city is excellent and the University is a good way to find that out. The quality of the degree course was high and has prepared me very well for my career in that field. The staff and facilities are also pretty good, with IT facilities among the best in the country. Occasionally, we felt that the resources were not completely available for our work, but most people probably feel this at some stage. Nightlife: Newcastle is supposedly one of the top 10 party cities - say no more. Living: It's the North, things are not so expensive up here.

Fermats Last Theorem - Simon Singh 08/09/2000

How did I understand that?

Fermats Last Theorem - Simon Singh Simon Singh's written style is a wonder. He manages to take the most scientific of subjects and make an easy-to-read and captivating story from them. Perhaps the secret is his concentration on the personalities and his timing in relating events. The book I have just read (after enjoying his other book - The Code Book) is a story of a mathematical proof - not something you would expect to be the most interesting read. However, Mr Singh has found that which is interesting and related it, with an obvious passion for both the subject and the telling of a good story. Read one of his books, you'll be proud of yourself for understanding a complex subject (but hopefully you'll realise that the true glory belongs to a good author). ...

Jif Bathroom Mousse 07/09/2000

This mousse ain't for eatin'

Jif Bathroom Mousse Squirt it on, leave it 20 minutes and then wipe it off... can it be this simple? Well, essentially, yes it can! I follow the instructions exactly and get the desired result. Well, actually, I dropped the bottle and so my nozzle is a bit bent, but it still sprays nicely (good aerosol build quality there). I use a sponge to rub it off and the shower to rinse my bath out afterwards. In general this is quite successful. Plus, if you use the stuff on your taps, they come up gleaming. I'm not a fan of the smell, but it's comparable with the smell of most cream cleaners... and intense lemoniness can dispell a lot of dirt!

Trailfinders 07/09/2000

The road is long, with many a winding turn

Trailfinders I wandered into Trailfinders off the street. Their operations centre in Newcastle is also their telephone call-centre. However, they were well geared up for dealing with people face to face. The staff member was professional and friendly and the environment was also pleasant. They found me a cheap flight, gave me a good range of times and dates and then organised some cheap car-hire as an encore. I was worried that the end result may be dubious if it was all so cheap but I was being cynical. Everything went off without a hitch. The only minor exception was that they omitted to tell me the check-in times and terminal for the return flight, but that was easy to find out when I arrived.

Volvo 440 06/09/2000

A sound choice for young and old

Volvo 440 You cannot get them new. Mine is 10 years old (nearly) and if you're thinking of a second hand car, perhaps this should be on your list. My base-model 440, which I've had for 8 years, is a faithful companion. Its performance is neither sluggish nor racy - it has the power when I want it and the cruising when I don't. The car has lasted the years and 120,000 miles it's done, because it is well-made and solid. Basically, that's what Volvo is all about. I'm in my mid twenties now and the Volvo might seem a little old for me. However, I've had plenty of good miles and a few boy-racing moments (the understeer is exactly where it should be!) and I've been satisfied. The down side is that the petrol+carb combination provides only medium acceleration and the lack of automatic choke on my 1990 model has meant that I've had to learn how to handle the car cold. I wish I could get another 8 years from my car but my lack of washing and its propensity to rust means that I probably won't!

Sachins, Newcastle 05/09/2000

Curry heaven

Sachins, Newcastle I last went to this restaurant in Feb 2000. We had one of their set meals and found the quality of their authentic Indian food to be of the highest standard. The restaurant is located near the central post office behind the central station. It is up the hill from the Copthorne hotel and so is fairly out of the way. However, it is worth a visit due to the quality of the food and the friendly service. The price is on the higher end - expect to pay around £20 per head for your meal and drinks (plus a bit more besides). However, quality comes at a price. My tip - try the Peshwari Nann.

Marbles Card 05/09/2000

Marbles - a load of old balls?

Marbles Card I applied for a Marbles card online and I got it easily enough - with only a quick postal form to confirm my application. I liked that. The card itself is an attractively designed Mastercard and you can choose from a variety of cards and "networks". The initial interest rate for balance transfers is very good - 4.5% APR and they even give you a free CD with streetsonline as an initial gift (or at least they did with me). The website allows you to manage the account but is not a replacement for paper-statements and telephone customer support. Unfortunately the website is quite slow and you have to remember a user id, network password, security number and telephone banking password in order to use all the services... a bit confusing.

Original Source Tea Tree & Mint Shower Gel 05/09/2000

It stings in sensitive places

Original Source Tea Tree & Mint Shower Gel This is a shower gel which smells good enough to eat. However, you will find, when you apply it to your more sensitive areas (including the scalp and many things below the waist!) that it would be a bad idea to eat it. There is a cold/stinging effect from applying this stuff. Actually, the stinging is not painful but it is a surprise on first use of this green gel. The effect of this gel on your skin is amazing, the skin feels noticeably smoother after one wash. The gel can also be used on the hair with similar effects. I like this and you'll find that a mint-smelling body has many benefits after a shower.

Wright's Antiseptic Body Wash 05/09/2000

The Wright Stuff

Wright's Antiseptic Body Wash A pleasant smelling and foamy shower gel, this is my favourite all-over body shampoo. However, I have found it almost impossible to come by. If you see some, BUY IT - I assure you that the clean and fresh smell of tea-tree oil (the base of this substance) will make you feel even cleaner than you really are! Wright's claim that this is an antiseptic body wash as well... is there no end to its magical powers? Actually, in seriousness, I would like more people to try this one out. I have recently managed to get my hands on a few bottles and had forgotten how good it really is. If you see some, buy it, you'll like it.

Advanced C++ Programming Styles and Idioms - James Coplien 04/09/2000

Idioms or idiot?

Advanced C++ Programming Styles and Idioms - James Coplien If you are interested in learning some of the ways that common problems can be addressed using C++, then you might find this book interesting. As a predecessor of the Design Patterns book, this book is aimed at describing language idioms or patterns of use that provide design solutions that the language does not expressly provide. I have no doubt that the quality of the content in this book is very high. I found this book rather dry and a bit out of date. You would be better off reading the Design Patterns book if you are interested in design. Some issues, like virtual and multiple inheritance, are discussed very well but serve little use to the majority of sensible programmers.

Sing When You're Winning - Robbie Williams 04/09/2000

But is it a winner?

Sing When You're Winning - Robbie Williams This is a fun album for three reasons: 1. The cover artwork is quite funny with all aspects of a football match on display - with Robbie playing all the parts. 2. The track "Knutsford city limits" has an amusing title 3. Robbie does a duet with Kylie... well I thought it was good! 4. There's a tribue to the Gloria Gaynor song I will survive. 5. That's more than three reasons, isn't it! Anyway, from the first track onwards, you know that it's vintage Robbie. Since the Rock DJ song is the only one I've heard more than once, so far, it's the one which sticks out. The other tracks are not instantly memorable, but after a couple more listens, I know I'll have this on my top albums list.

The Mystery of the Yellow Room - Gaston Leroux 02/09/2000

Locked room mystery - a classic!!!

The Mystery of the Yellow Room - Gaston Leroux If, like me, you enjoy the puzzles of a good detective story, then this is the book for you. Mind you, this is not the sort of story where the detective and the characters smarm about looking interesting. No, this novel describes an enigmatic mystery. A woman goes into a room, locks herself firmly inside and then later there are screams for help, a commotion and shots are fired. When they eventually break the door down, she is found alone, having been assaulted - there is no way in or out of the room except for the door which has just been forced. Add to this story the race between two detectives to solve the case, an unusual reticence of the victim to identify her assailant and Gaston Leroux' (who also wrote The Phantom of the Opera) journalistic style of writing and you have a novel which I, for one, could not put down. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. However, it is not exceedingly easy to find, nor is it particularly cheap - £7.99 for 236 pages. I bought my copy through (with a modest discount). Despite being written in 1908 by a French author, the style of writing is still fresh and easy. I could not help but be reminded of Jonathon Creek when I read this book... perhaps this was an influence on the series. The book was intended to break the mold of detective stories and it certainly gives Sherlock Holmes et al a run for their money.
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