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since 19/11/2000

256 10/07/2002

Chocolate you shouldn't live without - II It’s surprising how many good quality chocolate sites there are on the Internet. It’s also worrying just how many I’ve visited and purchased from, considering only a few opinions back I was talking about good health and how to live healthily. is, however, one of my favourites. Not as unique or original as (see last opinion), but instead containing some of the most gorgeous chocolate you are ever likely to taste, is a must if you’re looking for the finest chocolate around. The site samples and collects different chocolates made by different chocolatiers all around the world, and puts the best of the best together for excellent quality chocolates in every order. There are tons of different things to choose from, all made with fine chocolate and other ingredients, some aimed at young children, others as professional or unique gifts for adults. The variety of chocolate on offer is amazing; not only can you buy items made entirely of the luscious ‘Chocexpress’ chocolate, but there are also boxes of chocolate that vary in size and price immensely, even cuddly toys that come with chocolate on the side. As with all chocolates of this quality, you should expect things to be at a price. Indeed they are, but not at an excessive cost. Although even the cheapest item available is usually more than a few pounds, the pure bliss that you can receive when eating even one mouthful makes up for the cost…and the fat. And because it’s such ... 07/07/2002

Chocolate you shouldn't live without - I You know there are some things that are so good that you can’t wait to tell the whole world about them? Well, I’ve found one. One of the most underrated sites on the Internet has to be Unlike a normal Internet order site for chocolate, this company has made it so that you can create individual and unique bars every time you place an order. On top of a layer of chocolate (dark, white or milk) sits a specially designed piece of artistry made of icing sugar), which can either consist of one of the designs built into the system, or a picture uploaded to the site via your scanner and modem. What makes the chocolate so unique is that you are able to print a message into the side of the picture, so that your friend not only knows who gave it you, but so that you can add your own jokes or touches. Something so personalised and with need of careful attention when posted to an address is something that you wouldn’t expect to come too cheaply. Although there are more expensive chocolate sites out there, the bar still retails at £9.99 (+ p&p), which is quite expensive when you consider all you are getting is 220g of chocolate. To put that into comparison for you, that is approximately the size of a 200g Dairy Milk bar, which retails at around £1. However, it is not the chocolate that you are paying for, obviously. It is the unique nature of every bar that’s printed. You are even allowed to pick a date for dispatch and change the fonts and sizes of the writing. ...

Goodman CDMP 345 05/07/2002

Enjoy your MP3s with toast

Goodman CDMP 345 Let’s be honest, there aren’t all that many people that can afford high-quality CD players in their cars, are there? Very expensive to come by, and usually only found in brand new Mercedes, which already have air conditioning and metallic painting as standard, for the regular Joes, CD players in cars are a thing of dreams. This CD player looks to change all that. As well as being a great portable Discman-type player, it doubles up as an in-car removable player, that doesn’t need extra wiring or batteries for it to work. It also allows you to play MP3 CDs, and CD-Rs (writable CDs), and has anti-shock protection of up to 10 seconds for normal CDs and 25 seconds for MP3 CDs. How? Well, it uses a car’s tape player to produce the sound: You simply plug in the fake cassette tape, which is linked up to the CD player; so that the car is tricked into thinking it is using a tape and not a CD. The sound comes out of the speaker as with a normal tape, even in stereo. Goodmans have made it so that you don’t need any extra wiring added to your car, except for the link from the tape to the player and from the player to the cigarette lighter as a means of power. All of this arrives with the CD player with high-quality and easy to follow instructions, even instructions explaining how to use the player with MP3 or CD-R CDs. ---Sound Quality--- From the instant you turn on the player, you realise that you’re in for a treat. The headphones, which are both stylish and practical, are ...

Wella Shock Waves Maximum Hold Styling Gel 02/07/2002

Shockingly horrific

Wella Shock Waves Maximum Hold Styling Gel It’s about time I wrote a review that actually brought a product into the limelight for being terrible; all my reviews seem to tell of how fantastic everything is, perhaps because so much research is done into products nowadays that it’s unusual to find something that doesn’t quite meet everyone’s expectations. And if there is one thing that really doesn’t outstand me with its excellence, it’s Shockwaves ‘Maximum Hold’ Styling Gel. ---Why isn’t it any good?--- I have to be honest and say that I haven’t used any of the other Shockwaves gels, but if this is, indeed, the ‘Maximum Hold’ variety, I’m not sure I want to. When I use gels, which I have begun to use every day now within the past couple of months, for style effect (my Ciao photo is two years old now, that’s why I’m not using gel on it), I expect something that will hopefully not only keep my hair where I intend it to be, but also that it will last. This gel does not last. It’s quite as simple as that. If you accidentally hit your head, rub your hair, or even lie down, the gel almost immediately loses its effect, and the wet look disappears. This is handy for at night, so that the gel doesn’t stick to the pillow if you don’t have chance to wash it out beforehand, but it is most definitely not strong enough for during the day for when you need it most, and for when you expect it to last. ---The smell?--- As for the smell – well, for a bloke to be using it (and it does have Gareth Gates on the front, so it ...

C'mon, C'mon - Sheryl Crow 01/07/2002

To be loved by everyone

C'mon, C'mon - Sheryl Crow It was nearly 10 years ago now that Sheryl Crow first perturbed the grounds of the British music industry with ‘All I Wanna Do’. Since then, and the release of a further three albums, she has performed the theme tune to ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ and ‘Big Daddy’, and had more than 10 Top 40 singles. And yet, her latest album has struggled to remain in the top 10, indeed the top 75, since its release earlier this year, despite the release of two strong singles, and even of those singles, neither has reached the top 10 in the UK. All this seems almost conclusive evidence that Sheryl Crow just hasn’t got what she used to have; the sparkle that got everyone’s attention and attracted mass numbers of sales in the early days has been lost, as happened with Hear’Say and soon to happen with pop idols Will and Gareth, I’m sure. However, it’s quite simply not true. To say that this album was ‘the best she’s ever done’ would be a bit of a dramatic overexaggeration, it’s quite simply not. But the maturity shown in the wide range of mastered genres in each of the tracks represents something more than the pop-happy ‘Everyday is a Winding Road’ and ‘My Favourite Mistake’. The album begins with her latest release: Steve McQueen. Steve McQueen (who apparently is an actor from the 70s) is a very mainstream attractive song, diving straight into the ‘drive-time across America’ mood of combined country and rock. A very catchy riff, along with a head-boppingly fantastic chorus annul the slightly ...

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling 26/06/2002

A controversial 3 stars...see why

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling OK, it was because of the craze, I admit, but last Christmas, I started to read the first in the series of the Harry Potter books. I’d heard a lot of good things about the series, from friends and family, and on the news of course, what with the movie having just come out, the fourth book selling out in hours in bookshops up and down the country, and the fifth book and second movie being ever increasingly anticipated by young and old alike. Despite the fact that I’ve written a few book reviews on Ciao before now, reading hasn’t been something I’ve done much of in the past few years. With increasing amounts of schoolwork, coursework, working towards extra-curricular achievements, and, of course, work, I used to find it much easier to relax with an American comedy on the box than a book in my hand that I actually needed to concentrate on to enjoy. However, almost as soon as I started to read the Harry Potter series, I was hooked. The books (as if you need to be reminded) tell of Harry Potter, a ten year old son of famous wizards, who gets accepted into Hogwarts, the magical school for young wizards, where he learns about the magical world, and fights evil against Voldemort, sorry, You-Know-Who. I don’t usually like science fiction (which is basically what it is) stories; anything to do with witches, goblins, elves or the like I usually lose five pages into the introduction, I don’t even start the first chapter, as it doesn’t seem realistic enough and the names just merge ...

George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine 25/06/2002

Lose fat, keep your food - 250th op

George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine A short while back, I listed my top 10 ways for losing fat. Well, welcome to number 11. This is, without a doubt, the best way possible for you to lose weight and eradicate a large amount of fat from your diet, without even realising it. Whereas with most diets and exercise, you have to make a conscious effort not to eat, or to go out every night, this device ensures you reduce your fat intake quite significantly, every day. OK, I’m confused…what is it? The George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine or GFLMFRGM for…short, apparently, is one of the best additions to home cooking in a long long time. Unlike a normal grill, built into the oven, this George Foreman grill sits on top of your work surface and grills all the food, in a shorter time, and collecting all of the fat from the food in a driptray. It’s even portable, and plugs into the mains, so if you’re going away on holiday, you can take it away with you and have it at your immediate disposal. Why is it so good then? The reason why the machine works so well is that the fat is forced out by the combination of heat and pressure from the lid, and specially formulated grooves inside the machine run the flowing juices out into the driptray. Yum. The amazing thing is, though, that it doesn’t alter the taste in doing this. Cooking half a dozen sausages at a time can cause an entire drip tray’s worth of fat, and yet the taste remains. Do the equivalent of that every night and you may well have ...

Under Rug Swept - Alanis Morissette 25/06/2002

Mistress of Talent

Under Rug Swept - Alanis Morissette Originally signed up as the main profit-maker for Madonna's own record label 'Maverick', Alanis Morissette shot to international fame in the 1990s with some of the most inspiring and awesome songs to graze our land for some time. The soft-rock catchy classics 'Ironic', 'You Oughta Know', '(You Live,) You Learn', and '(One) Hand in My Pocket' were all acclaimed and extremely successful chart-climbers, all of which led to the album 'Jagged Little Pill' becoming the 5th best seller of the 1990s in the UK. Alanis came back, amid intense pressure for decent music and troubles with her home life, for a second stab at international stardom, over two years after her original album had caused so much of a positive 'she must be a diva/genius to be this good' reaction. The pressure led this album to be weak as a result. The depressing uncharacteristical music with no real emotion led us to believe that she had been driven into something she really didn't want to be doing, something less about music, and more about profit and a need to release an album just to keep from losing her fans. Hence, a lot of disappointed fans lost interest, and she went into hiding after the flop that it was. 'Under Rug Swept' is the welcome new album from the Canadian popstress, released with mixed expectations from her avid fans. Was the first album, after all, a one-off fluke, albeit on the same level as the other greats of our time? Or were we to expect something even better than before having had ...

Heinz Spaghetti, in Tomato Sauce 03/02/2002

Read on to learn how sad I am

Heinz Spaghetti, in Tomato Sauce Whilst most of Britain, so it seems, has been brought up on Heinz Baked Beans as their main simple snack-meal, I am more of a spaghetti person. I’ve always eaten Heinz spaghetti, ever since I was a kid. It used to be a treat (you’re gradually beginning to find out just how dull my life actually is but, please, bare in mind, this was close to 10 years ago, and I was little more than 6 years old) to go into Sainsbury’s each week and select the Heinz spaghetti shapes we were going to have for that week. We had Postman Pat one week, Power Rangers the next. It seemed, and indeed, still does seem unbelievable just how many different varieties of spaghetti were produced in that short time period. I saw recently that you could get Steps spaghetti, which, amongst other things, contains pasta in quaver-note form (a musical note). Pathetic, really, but great fun for kids. Still, my interest in the blend of creamy rich tomato sauce and soft, smooth, tasty spaghetti is held to this date, even if I don’t enjoy buying it quite as much as I used to. I choose now, more often than not, the long strands of spaghetti in tins, which you can buy in multipacks of four cans for a very reasonable price. As well as being an extremely wholesome and cheap meal (one can costs around 45-50p, and is extremely filling on its own), it’s easy to cook, and very tasty. I find Heinz spaghetti to be tastier than any other brand, mainly because I like the subtle taste of the ...

Violin 30/01/2002

Trilogy of Terror III - The Finale

Violin Whilst on my daily 25 minute dawdle home from school, a thought suddenly occurred to me. I’d promised the third in my Trilogy of Terror opinions to be released this week, and I had absolutely no idea what to write about. The first two have been about my favourite drinks, the idea being that all my hard earned, or, well, earned money and effort goes into them. However, I haven’t really got a third favourite drink, and, the first two opinions didn’t amount to too much, (they were alright, but there’s a limit to how long you can talk about carbonated water with colourings before you start to run out of things to say). Unlike most clever, normal people, who plan an idea before carrying it out, I had absolutely no idea what my big finale was going to be. I decided I needed something big, something that I loved with all my heart and all my time and effort went into fulfilling my passion. I chose the category ‘Violin’ because, unsurprisingly enough, I play violin. Being an A-level Music student, and Grade 8 violinist, as well as choral director and singer in multitudes of choirs, I do tend to spend a rather large proportion of my life based around music and composing, playing, singing and breathing it. Although I can play Grade 3-4 piano and sing at a professional level (head inflating, sorry), it’s only the violin that is my one true musical passion, and the only one I’ve had private lessons for. I’ve played the violin for ...

Blockbusters (Shop) 27/01/2002

Free eggs all round

Blockbusters (Shop) You might see a sudden surge in film opinions from me over the coming weeks - I successfully bid for a year’s worth of Blockbusters rentals on the crème egg website a few days ago, you see. I’ve always been a massive fan of Blockbusters, but I’ve tended to focus my attention more to the Games section than anywhere else, being a console addict. This prize, however, had to be used on DVD and VHS rentals only, so I’ve now begun to open my eyes to the other opportunities that Blockbusters offers to its customers, even if it did quite literally mean that I had to put all my eggs in one basket. And I’m glad I did. Blockbusters is the most well-known of all the rental shops available on the UK market. They’re a well-established American company, who specialise in VHS movie rentals, but have recently grown their DVD and games sections to suit the increasing demand. Stores are more than numerous, and dotted around the country in all major towns and malls. Store sizes can vary, although most are large enough to stock a fair amount of movies, mine in particular is one of the biggest ones I’ve seen, where there must be close to 10,000 films spread across a wide area. ---Why you should choose Blockbusters--- The layout of the store is exceptional. I’ve rarely found stores where I know instantly where everything is before I even step in through the door, but Blockbusters is one of them. In my particular branch, new VHS and DVD films ...

Mountain Dew 24/01/2002

Trilogy of Terror - Part II

Mountain Dew Following up my opinion on Pepsi Max in my Trilogy of Terrors (the terrors being that these are the drinks I just can’t get enough of, and that are ruining my health and my bank balance!) is one on a drink that I became rather accustomed to upon visiting the States in August of last year: This may sound strange, but almost as soon as I landed for my summer holiday, it became obvious just how popular the Pepsi drinks are on the other side of the pond. Despite a lot of claims on the American news that Pepsi profits had gone down recently, and showed signs of losing profits to Coca-Cola, they certainly didn’t seem to be doing too bad, with drinks machines everywhere and almost everyone swallowing the stuff down. Two of the brands’ drinks in particular were holding the fort, and keeping Pepsi the preferred drink. These were Powerade, a drink similar to Lucozade in that it replenishes energy, and Mountain Dew. The Mountain Dew phase in Britain began, and, sadly, ended in the early 90s. Mountain Dew was one of Pepsi’s drinks aimed at young people, with the emphasis on extreme taste, a concept new to British soft drinks, and one that didn’t seem to work. Ever since its initial release, although its popularity in America has increased significantly, it’s become harder and harder to get hold of Mountain Dew in the UK, due to it being shoved out of the market by rivals. However, personally, the combination of lemon, lime and an almost ...

Pepsi Max 22/01/2002

Trilogy of Terror - Part I

Pepsi Max As far as drinks are concerned, it’s very rare that I drink anything over than fizzy. I know it’s bad for me, my teeth, my insides, and my bank balance, but hot drinks, squash, water and fruit juice just don’t suffice. So, over the next few days I am going to release a number of opinions based on my favourite fizzy drinks, called ‘Trilogy of Terror’ because I’m aware of just how addicted I am to them, and how much they cost me! First up is Pepsi Max, which, I have to say, is my favourite of all fizzy drinks. I usually drink about a litre of the stuff per day, and have done so since its release by Pepsi in 1993. Pepsi Max was initially released as a way of making diet drinks fashionable, the idea being that ‘living life to the Max’ is being as outrageous as possible in life, and that this drink helps promote that madness and popularity. The adverts containing a group of young teenagers partaking in radical extreme sports help to promote the image although the idea of being healthy is popular anyway nowadays, and so the drink helps promote itself in being one without sugar and calories. ---So, what exactly is it?--- Well, Pepsi Max is a cola that unlike Pepsi Diet, which, unsurprisingly is also made by Pepsi, manages to regain a lot of its cola-like sweet taste that you find in full-sugar colas, despite the fact that it contains absolutely no sugar and very few calories. It is, in effect, an alternative to Pepsi Diet, ...

Toy Story 2 (DVD) 20/01/2002

No three circle heads found here

Toy Story 2 (DVD) I was astonished upon the release of the first Toy Story movie. It seemed as though we had gone from drawing mice with three definite circles for a head, and ducks with no trousers, to complex realistic computer animation almost overnight. There wasn’t that much in the way of commercial computer animation before the release of the film, only a few short stories, which were nowhere near as complex, and far less amusing, so it came as a real shock to me. When the sequel was announced a couple of years down the line, most people were, as you might expect, extremely excited about the prospect of another great Disney movie. Others, however, were, in some respects, a little disappointed. Is it right to abuse the name of a movie just to get ratings, when it was almost certainly going to be a very poor follow-up to what was a milestone in movie making? Being Disney, though, the results are very rarely disappointing. And this film certainly wasn’t a disappointment. In fact, some people claim that they prefer this movie to the original, and, despite the fact that the stories in both movies are very similar, and that Disney had the intention of making it a video only release, it has become one of Disney and Pixar’s greatest achievements to date. THE FILM… --- The story --- The story is based in America, where a young boy named Andy, lives with his sister, dog and mother (in that order?) in a very typical family-size house. Andy owns a collection of ...

Microsoft MSN Explorer 18/01/2002

Time-saver, life-saver...and it's free

Microsoft MSN Explorer ‘Good morning’, a particularly chirpy American voice wishes me (with heartfelt sincerity, I’m sure,) as I log onto my account and into the wide world of the World Wide Web. After a few brief seconds, I see an explorer window pop up, which very informatively tells me, among other things, how many e-mails I have in my Hotmail account, what the weather is going to be like in Singapore today and reminds me that my rabbit’s birthday is coming up in a few days’ time. Quick and immediate access to anywhere on the web, with the added bonuses similar to that of a ‘Galaxy Caramel’ to the original. This is MSN Explorer. MSN Explorer is the latest in a long line of offspring from the original MSN name, created and owned by Microsoft. With Hotmail and MSN Messenger already taking over most of the world’s online computers with e-mail and instant messaging, it only seemed appropriate that such a program should follow. For those of you unaware of what exactly Explorers are, let me explain. An Explorer is a means of getting around the Internet and checking mails, usually by typing in an ‘http’ address at the top of the screen. In fact, you will almost definitely be using one to look at this right now if you’re using a computer. Most people tend to opt for the popular ‘Microsoft Internet Explorer’, although a large number of people also use ‘Netscape Communicator’ or ‘Opera’ to find ...
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