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since 12/07/2000


Toshiba Satellite 1700-300 25/06/2001

Cheap and very good

Toshiba Satellite 1700-300 I've been oohing and awwing for a while now about whether to invest in a laptop computer. It always seemed a little pricey for what I was going to get out of it. Fortunately there's been a bit of a price war and that finally prompted me to take the plunge. I decided on the Toshiba, initially because of its long standing place in the laptop market, they've been around a while and know whats what. Secondly I wanted a lot of features but didn't really want to break the £900 (inc vat) barrier. Well I got it. For £890 (inc vat) I got 650 MHZ Processor 64mb RAM DVD 13.3" TFT 6 GB Hard Drive 4mb AGP Grapics card (ATI Rage Lt) PCMCIA:- 2 x type II or 1 x type III Onboard modem Bunch of bundled software. Needless to say the mouse is on the computer, one of those nipple types. OK I'll admit there are some corners being cut, most notably the 64mb ram (cf 128mb) and only a 6GB (unformatted) hard drive, but these are things that you can upgrade later when you have the money and it becomes necessary. Models with all this on board plus the extra HD space and memory will generally see you well over £1000. Basically its a really great deal for entry level that will last you for many years. Performance is good. Graphics card could do with more memory but then it hardly struggles at 1024 x 768 resolution playing a DVD. Screen is crisp and bright and the build quality seems very high particularly around the hinges. I always feel a little nervous opening these things up like ...

Shrek (DVD) 08/06/2001

What a great movie, wallace and gromit with bite

Shrek (DVD) I was fortuneate to be given advance tickets to see Shreck. Prior to that I hadn't even heard of it. It turned out to be one of the best films I have seen in a long time. Chicken Run was very much a dissapointment to me, Shreck basically moves into the ground that should have been covered by the Aardman crew but wasn't. This is a must see film. The story is basically a cynical modern fairy tale about an Ogre (Mike Myers) accompomied by a talking donkey (Eddie Murphy) as they attempt to rescue a princess (Cameron Diaz) for the prince (Jon Lithgow). It includes references to fairy tales, nursery rhymes and modern films, and isn't afraid to send them up, mercilessly at times. Mike Myers Ogre occasionally has a bit of a dodgy Scottish accent, but through most of the film I was reminded of Ewan McGregor, pretty good really. Cameron Diaz is great as the princess but has a backseat role in this film, as does Jon Lithgow, but both are good where it counts. For my money the star is Eddie Murhys wise cracking donkey, mix animation with the Klumps and that pretty much sums him up. Some themes are a bit adult but unless your an adult you won't get them anyway. The animation is impressive as hell, I don't remember seeing a film of this kind looking so good, more real than Toy Story but long enough that you don't fell short changed. This is very much recommended for young and old alike, everyone will love it.

Neuromancer - William Gibson 15/07/2000

Cyberspace - Where it came from

Neuromancer - William Gibson Occasionally a new book comes along thats different, that stands out from the crowd - thats Neuromancer. Famous for inventing the term 'cyberspace'. Its set in the future where paper money is only used in shady deals and where cyberspace is viewed directly with the mind. The story details the adventure of Case, a hacker who has been subjected to a toxin that prevents him from accessing cyberspace administered after double crossing his employers. Basically he was the best but without access to cyberspace he degenerates to a shell of a man on a downward spiral awaiting the dodgy deal that will get him killed. Then a mysterious man appears offering him a cure to the toxin that he will provide as long as Case does a hacking job for him. Accompanying him is a 'razor girl' a woman with gizmos aplenty solely designed to kill. Together they set about the task before them - which I won't tell you because I don't want to ruin the surprise. Enough is is to say that they travel the exotic parts of the world picking up stranger and stranger people necessary to their task culminating in a joint physical and cyber attack on a 'company' in space. As the book progresses you learn more and more about the characters, real or virtual! It leaves you with the feeling the future will be an incredible place where technology merges with man and for once does not result in the possible end of the world! I can't be sure but I bet that this is the book that brought cyberpunk to the world - that ...

Galaxy Quest (DVD) 15/07/2000

Galaxy Quest - What a film!

Galaxy Quest (DVD) This has got to be one of the best comedies around at the moment. It details the adventures of a group of 'has been' actors who were once famous for their screen exploits in a Star Trek type series called 'Galaxy Quest' as they inadvertently become whisked away on a real intergalactic adventure. In truth the sci-fi plot has little bearing on the comedy in the film. What is so good is the keen observations that pretty much everyone has made of the sci-fi genre and playing on them. The infamous counter always stops at 1, the character with no name always ends up dead, the bizzare food and of course the 'I'm so sexy yet slightly pudgy' Captain. This along with the fish out of water routine make for a very funny, entertaining film. Tim Allen plays the 'Kirk' role well with just the right amount of ham. Alan Rickman does the 'Oh god what am I doing here' part to a tee and Sigourney Weaver is, well Sigourney Weaver - She's good in whatever she does. The friendly aliens are ridiculous and the baddies horrendously ugly - Its great and not afraid of using those cliches we've always laughed about.

Canon BJC 2000 12/07/2000

BJC2000 - cheap and cheerful

Canon BJC 2000 I decided to buy this printer because I wanted a piece of equipment that won't leave me feeling cheated at the price I paid when it dies in 3 years time. 3 years being the average lifetime of an inkjet. I only had to pay about £70 and I got all the leads drivers etc. that you expect - but not always supplied. I'm used to dealing with computers but it's hardly a problem for anyone at all - they're pretty much all the same, plug it in, install drivers and go. A good point I found was its size. Its quite small and with a vertical paper feeder I was able to fit it into a pretty small space at the end of my desk. Print quality in black and white is excellent, certainly more than adequate for your average letter writing. Large patches of colour tend to show banding (determinable lines in printed area) so I wouldn't suggest it for any high quality photo work. To be fair I used 'normal' paper; better paper may well have shown better results. The colour printing showed similar patterns of behaviour but overall it did a OK job of some pretty intense colour plots I drew. For users of linux - this machine IS compatible: you have to use the BJC-600 option in your Kernel/setup params. This was a particularly useful feature for me and compatibility with this system is not normally expected from 'cheap' printers. Overall if you want an average printer and have a tight budget I would consider this printer.
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