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since 06/07/2000


Fujifilm FinePix E900 15/03/2007


Fujifilm FinePix E900 NINE Megapixels - wow.....but what a disappointment! As a Professional photographer, I'm coming at this camera maybe from a different perspective that a normal consumer. I'd been looking for a carry anywhere type camera and one that was easy to use for my wife as well as myself. I've got thousands of pounds worth of photographic equipment, 3 Digital SLR bodies, lenses, flashes etc when going on a job. But for holidays, family events and just to slip into a pocket 'just in case', I really thought this Fuji E900 would fit my bill. But oh how disappointing... I bought it for around £240 at Jessops back in December 2005. Used it outdoors and thought it was quite good. Then came Christmas and the opportunity to snap the grandkids opening their pressies and other typical family type shots. Using either the viewfinder - which I'm used to - or the LCD Screen to frame the pictures I found straightway that the ACTUAL image did not correspond to the ACTUAL shot taken. Some clipping on the edge of the frame, obviously more noticeable if shooting 'tight' ie with the subject filling the frame. But more importantly and to me, the MOST important fact was that when I uploaded the images to my PC and looked at them, full size, they did not look SHARP. In fact they looked almost like 'watercolours', no sharp defination around the edge of the picture. Now, remember I'm a professional and when working at a Red Carpet event, Sports job or any kind of local press, PR Shoot, my ...

Canon Digital IXUS 430 10/12/2004

Could be used by 'Joe Paparazzi'....

Canon Digital IXUS 430 Once upon a time, in the dark, dark days of digital photography, finding a good quality, pocketable camera was tough. It made finding the proverbiable 'needle in a haystack' seem like a doddle, in fact. But things have moved on quite a pace. 3, 4 and 5 megapixel resolution for either side of £200 is the norm with all the major camera marques often producing a bewildering range of constantly updated models. And then there are just the basic rubbish ones...but thats another story. As a Professonal photographer (currently using a £3000 Canon 1D Mk 2 Digital SLR for work), maybe I come at this subject a different way to most people. Of course, 'Joe Public' is looking for something that is great, cheap and looks good - largely. If it takes decent pics and they can be printed out on the home or office inkjet, that will be fine. Or am I rather belittling 'Joe P' ?? Just as technology has come on a pace, so has the average consumer's expectations. Now after parting with a couple of hundred quid, 'Joe Public' thinks he can become 'Joe Paparazzi'. Well with video cameras offering quite good quality, 'digital stills' and mobile phones now mostly coming in 'camera' mode, this tiny Ixus 430 might be just the ideal thing for anyone to carry with them in pocket, handbag or car. To capture maybe that 'once in a lifetime shot' where you bump into Robbie Williams doing his shopping at Sainsburys! Like I said, I'm a Professional covering everything from Sports, PR Work, ...

Everything that starts with W ... 26/03/2003


Everything that starts with W ... "War...!!!! - What is it Good for? .....ABSOLUTELY NOTHING" Ah yes the War. But, it's not really a 'War' as such is it? It's really George Dubya trying to do his Dad's unfinished business. I think the fact that Saddam Hussein is an evil dictator is undeniable, but whether we actually needed to go in and aim to take him out, like right now....well, that's a much bigger question. I do believe - strongly - there are so many parallels with the book '1984' by George Orwell. I don't know if you are familiar with it, but in it, Eurasia is permanently at war with Oceania. Each day all workers down tools and assemble for the '2 minute Hate' - to look at one of the many big screens and watch the 'battles' with the opposition led by the evil dictator 'Goldstein'. He is the antichrist, and portrayed as Hitler, Bin Laden and Saddam all rolled into one. The crowd are encouraged to shout abuse at the screen, raise their fists and generally vent their anger. Then with a few seconds of the 2 mins left, 'Big Brother' - leader of 'us' has his visage on scren and everything is calm. He is our saviour, the good against nasty Goldstein's evil. Do you see what is happening now. Bush has an agenda to finish his Dad's work. Dubya knows nothing about foreign affairs. The man is plainly clueless and is a hopeless President. BUT, if he can focus attention on the evil Saddam - because sadly, we don't seem to have a clue where Bin Laden went (!) - he has his (and thus, Our) ...

Pizza Express, Museum Street, London 18/12/2002


Pizza Express, Museum Street, London I must say that this came as a bit of a surprise to me. I’m not a great fan of chain Pizza parlours generally. Certainly Pizza Hut has it’s uses, but ‘authentic italian’ it is NOT. Thus, I had never ventured inside a Pizza Express restaurant, expecting – quite wrongly in this case – that it would be another of the Pizza-clones. Pizza Express was founded in the 1960's with one humble restaurant near Museum Street, London, WC2. They aimed to offer good, wholesome, authentic Italian-style pizza and some Jazz. The link with Jazz continues today with many of their restaurants having music nights and jazz themes. Plus, you only have to look on the Pizza Express website (more of that later) to see their virtual obsession with the style of music. Founder Peter Boizot, is now a millionaire and past Chairman of Peterborough Utd Football Club. Anyway, I first found my nearest Pizza Express virtually by accident, definitely not by design, nor choice. I was booked to do some photos at a couple’s family get together after their return from getting married in a far flung place. It was to be a nice celebratory, but informal affair and held at the Pizza Express branch in Bedford. I was not even certain exactly where the place was, yet, it turned out, I’d been past it umpteen times. On the day in question, I arrived and was invited to stay afterwards for the meal which the couple’s family had booked everyone in for. Literally taken over the Restaurant for the whole of the ...

Vodka Reef 29/10/2002


Vodka Reef Not so long ago this would be seen as a ‘girls drink’ – no self respecting beer swilling REAL Man would be caught going near one of these ‘woofta’ alcopops. But how times have changed. They’ve become trendy and you can go into just about any bar or pub and find at least half a dozen blokes quite openly flaunting their Reefs – and some of them have tattoos and swear too! What’s an alcopop – and more importantly, what’s Reef? Well the alcopop term was probably first coined back when ‘Hooch’ first launched itself on the market. A lemony alcoholic drink that was ideal as a ‘unisex’ alternative to a spirit and mixer. And with it becoming trendy for guys to be seen in bars hanging onto a bottle (Bud, Becks, Pils etc) rather than drinking out of a man-size glass – this was another bottle to wrap your hand around. But times really have changed and Vodka has become huge business, marketed as it has been in all kinds of concoctions. Vodka Kick, Vodka Ice, Vodka Reef and so on. ‘Reef’ is basically a fruit juice mixed with a dash of vodka. Not terribly potent as it’s only 5% volume – just like premium brand beer. But it goes down very easily. You can hardly taste the vodka in it – and there lies it’s secret. It’s secret for the makers and distributors, of course. £££££££ and loads of it. Retailing in supermarkets for around £1 a bottle, but in clubs nearer to £3 a pop, it has become big business. Not the market leader maybe, but Reef is to be found in all pubs and bars. Go into ...

BBC2: The Office 03/10/2002


BBC2: The Office This BBC 2 Comedy series was raved about during it’s first series and made a star of it’s co-writer and leading performer Ricky Gervais. It is a spoof documentary taking place in the Slough offices of a ficticious paper merchant’s company (the company is ficticious – not Slough…..or then again….) Sadly – or so I thought – I did not ‘catch the wave’ and see this show during it’s first run. But, as someone who spends much of his TV watching time tuned to ‘Paramount Comedy Channel’, ‘UK Gold’ or watching programmes that will entertain me and make me laugh, I thought I’d try and catch ‘The Office’ as it started it’s 2nd series this week. Actually, I stumbled across the programme as I idly channel surfed with the Remote. “Ah yes”, I thought to myself “The Office starts tonight, I’ll check it out”. My TV alighted upon BBC 2 where it seemed some kind of poorly done documentary (not another one...) about a company relocating from Swindon to Slough was on. Then I tumbled – this WAS ‘The Office’. OK, Sit back and enjoy. But this documentary was crap. The main guy was some bigheaded loudmouth who thought he was the bog’s dollocks. ‘Mr Entertainment’ took over a welcome meeting and was embarrassingly awful. Really cringe-making. One of those guys you’d hate to work with, let alone be your Boss. He cracked non-jokes to the new staff arriving from Swindon and just could not see why people thought they weren’t funny. I sat through it, expecting, hoping and nearly praying ...

Epson Stylus C60 01/10/2002


Epson Stylus C60 As a Professional photographer, my requirements for an inkjet ‘photo quality’ printer are probably higher than most of yours. But those of you who have invested in a digital camera in the past year or so, also probably appreciate the difference between ‘photo quality’ and just like the REAL Thing. Thus, in my quest to find a printer which will serve my needs to provide good looking letters and documents, plus decent image reproduction and all in a package that does not take an age to print a page – I came across the Epson C60. The first thing that struck me was the price. It cost a mere £80, compared to the other C Range printers that Epson have brought out since the start of the year. That compared very favourably with Epson’s much hyped C70 which has very similar specifications, but a slightly smaller ‘footprint’ (i.e size). PC World had that priced around the £140 mark at the same time although I’m certain the price has fallen in recent months – plus you can certainly buy cheaper than PC World, of course! So, it was a good price, but what resolution did it offer? Well, like I said, as a photographer, looking to replace a well used and very clapped out Epson 750 Photo printer, I wanted whatever the ‘top’ spec was. In this case it is 2880 DPI, which is still, I believe, the highest output that Epson have for any of their printers (although I stand to be corrected). So, no compromise on that count – so why the low price? Frankly, I have not a clue. The printer will ...

Wrigley's Airwaves Chewing Gum 28/09/2002


Wrigley's Airwaves Chewing Gum I’m not usually in the habit of buying chewing gum, but this week things have been getting desperate. I’ve been fighting a losing battle against flu. I’ve managed to get through all my commitments, thanks in the main to copious amounts of cough linctus, antihistemine tablets and anything else I thought might help. So, that is where this AIRWAVES chewing gum comes in. I was feeling better on Tuesday and was out delivering some work. I was still feeling a little sniffy and while I was in Staples the stationery warehouse, my eye was caught by a packet of this chewing gum by the checkout (so that’s why they put it there!). Right then, Menthol and Eucapyptus flavour – this should do the trick, I thought. I was not expecting this to be the cold remedy par excellence, but as an alternative to a packet of Tunes or similar, I thought I’d give it a try. So the sum of 38p changed hands (actually it was added to my bill and paid by credit card if we are nit-picking here) and off I went, happy as a sand boy excitedly and expectantly starting to unwrap the packet. Airwaves are marketed as an aid to decongestion. I personally cannot vouch for that. They had very little effect on me and after the initial taste of menthol hits you and the vapours go about their business in your sinuses, I’m afraid I found the sensation extremely mild. The taste evaporated from the gum quite quickly – albeit probably no quicker than the minty taste leaves regular gum. But, as I stated above, this ...

Everything that starts with O ... 26/09/2002


Everything that starts with O ... O is for OBSESSION. What do you Collect? Are you passionate about it or are you Obsessive? I think most of us have - at some time or another - had a ‘fad’ for collecting something. Whether it was when we were kids and we were fascinated by stamps, dolls, postcards, or posters of our favourites stars. Then, maybe as we reached adulthood and found we had money in our pockets and we could afford to indulge ourselves a little more. Personally I’ve been more of a hoarder than collector in a serious sense. My first passion (or obsession - it’s a thin grey line) was collecting football programmes, something a lot of boys and men do and it is one of the most popular areas of collecting if included in the ‘sports memorabilia’ genre. At first I just collected anything and everything I could lay my hands on. This week I had 100 programmes, next week 125, the week after 150 and so on. Almost as if I was competing against myself, because it was hardly something I compete with my mates with. “Hey, Barry, I’ve got 173 programmes now – how many have you got?”….”Er, none, I’m not interested in football”. End of competition! Then, as in all forms of collecting, quantity gives way to quality and you begin to specialise. You focus on collecting programmes which feature your favourite team. Or maybe you try to get one programme from each of the clubs in the Premiership – or Football League as it all was back then. Once you have got a ‘set’, say all 92 league clubs, then what? ...

Cathedral City Mature Cheddar Cheese 21/09/2002


Cathedral City Mature Cheddar Cheese I can vaguely remember from my youth that we were told Cheese is good for you. “Plenty of protein, good for your bones and you a growing boy as well” my Mum used to say to me – I was 22 at the time! Unusually though, despite it being ‘good for me’ I found I actually liked it too. But, back in those days, the choice of cheese basically ran to Cheddar – or Dairylea processed stuff triangles (yuk). Nowadays - and indeed for several years now - our supermarkets stock all kinds of cheeses from throughout the world and the ‘humble’ cheddar tends to get ignored as we experiment with tastes from the other side of the world. But what is Cheddar? I say that because it depends what your taste is. You can buy the cheapest of the cheap ‘economy’ (i.e virtually taste free!) Extra Mild Cheddar, through Mild, Regular, Mature, Extra Mature, with the price rising as the taste improves. The Cathedral City brand first leapt into my eye line at a Safeways store about a year ago. They had launched their Mature Cheddar in pre packs of 400g (around a pound, for those of you still non-metric) and had a BOGOF (buy 1 get 1 free) at £1.99. Well, at that price it was certainly worth picking up and trying. (~~They also do ‘Extra Mature’ Cheddar in this Cathedral City range too) It certainly has a ‘bite’ to it. Tastewise it is quite sharp with a real ‘kick’ to it’s aftertaste. I’d imagine that it would be great to offer with wine after a meal, to take the taste of that horrid stuff away. (OK, ...

The Sweetest Thing (DVD) 19/09/2002


The Sweetest Thing (DVD) In theory, a movie starring ‘A’ list babes like Cameron Diaz, Selma Blair and Christina Applegate just can’t go wrong. Red blooded males will flock to see the movie – tongues hanging out far enough to obscure any rational train of thought. That is, I assume, the reason why this flimsy romantic comedy (I use that word in it’s mildest form) by ‘Cruel Intentions’ director Roger Kumble actually got as far as a mainstream release. I must confess that having seen a poster and later on a trailer for this film, I thought it would be worth a laugh and the odd ogle or two. No harm in that I thought. This is about three friends living in San Francisco who talk incessantly about their love lives - ‘Sex and the City’ style. That plot line alone should make for an interesting movie as that particularly TV Show has become a huge and popular hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Throw into the mix, possibly the one Hollywood actress who would put male bums on seats solely for her looks, in Ms Diaz and there you have it – surefire box office hit. Ooops – well, on with the plot. I might as well tell you what it’s about, because you probably won’t get the chance to see this till it hits your local video rental shop. Christina (Diaz) is the fun-loving man-killer of the trio. Then there is Courtney (Christina Applegate – most notable for playing Kelly Bundy in the sitcom ‘Married with Children’) is the sexy-sensible lawyer. And finally, Jane (Blair) is the lovelorn, miserable moper. ...

Nokia 5110 16/09/2002


Nokia 5110 I’m passionate about my phone. Yes, I really am. I love it to death, I really do. It’s blue and black and goes “ring diddly ring ring” sometimes. I press the white button in the middle, put my ear to screen at the top and guess what? I can hear voices! It’s really brill, I think I’ll keep it with me all the time in case it rings again. OK From that opening to my opinion, you can guess that you are not going to read an ‘all-singing-all-dancing’ opinion on the latest, tiniest little micro mobile to hit the shops. Nope, not at all. My son has a Samsung that goes ‘diddly dah, diddly dah’ and costs him around £90 a month for the privilege. He’s always on the damn thing, which is around 3” x 2” x 1” big (or small rather). His tariff gives him x amount of text messages he can use each month (and so it should for what he pays) and let’s be honest, it’s fashion item, which he could quite easily live without. My phone though is brill, it’s blue….Oh sorry I’ve told you that. It’s on the Vodafone Pay as you Talk network, which costs me £15 every two months. Rarely do I ever buy a top-up card, because my phone is used so that I can be contacted and contactable wherever I am. I have ‘call divert’ from my home phone so that any calls that come in while I’m out come through to my mobile. If I need to make a call in a hurry while I’m out I can do and the £5 worth of calling credit I get with my mobile is sufficient – although I’m sure that If I bought a contract phone with all the ...

Happy Shopper Value Cola 11/09/2002


Happy Shopper Value Cola Wow, I can’t believe that no one has written an opinion on this wonderful alternative to ‘proper’ Coke. Sorry, did I really say ‘wonderful’? Well, in the soft drinks industry you certainly get what you pay for, but this is supposed to be ‘value’ cola…is it? I wonder if the regular price differential between ‘premium brand’ cola (be it Coca, Pepsi, Virgin or whatever) is really necessary, but for the purposes of this opinion we need to examine a different aspect of the price/value question. Firstly, what are you drinking Cola/Coke/Pepsi for? Are you drinking it on it’s own or with ice? If you’ve added ice, you will, of course find the taste is watered down somewhat. If you are using coke as a ‘mixer’ with Vodka, Bacardi, Malibu or whatever, could you really tell the difference (let alone… care) in taste between a cheap or an expensive cola? If so, then you are indeed a fantastic human being, because most people would not be able to tell which brand of white rum (bacardi or cheaper), vodka (any number of different brands these days) or gin was in the drink, let alone what make of cola. Anyway, I digress a little. Happy Shopper is a brand often seen in your local corner shop. That ‘open all hours’ establishment that has come to your rescue late at night when you’ve run out of sugar, milk, coffee – or a certain soft drink! You will see their label on any number of basic items including soft drinks like lemonade, orangeade and cola. The taste of the product will not ...

Nestle Caramac Bar 28/08/2002


Nestle Caramac Bar I had almost forgotten these were still around. Caramac is most definitely something from my youth. It has never been the most popular chocolate bar around and that is possibly down to the fact that it does not get much exposure. When did you last – or ever – see a Caramac ad on TV? So, what is it? It’s not easy to describe. Maybe an acquired taste, but definitely very ‘more-ish’. It’s a toffee/caramel flavoured chocolate bar. Completely unpretentious, traditionally old fashioned and the kind of thing you’d hardly ever notice amongst the flashy, gaudy confectionery regularly on the shelves – despite it’s bright red and yellow wrapper! Inside you have to peel off the gold foil wrapper to reveal a light brown confection. I can tell you this goes down very well with a Milky Bar ‘chaser’! I really can think of little more to say about the taste, other than it's 'caramelly'. It is unlike any other confectionery on the market. Not for Caramac the somewhat ‘trendy’ style of chunky bar, no this is a thin choc bar. Not unlike the old style of Cadbury’s Dairy milk, before that went chunky. It is marked off into sections so it is easy to break off, but after tasting one piece you’ll probably just want to stuff it all in your mouth at once. I don’t do that now, because I’m far too civilised, discerning and don’t want to show myself up in public (but in private…….yeeeha!) Made by Nestle, so it pretty well has to be good. (I’ve always preferred their chocolate to Cadburys). ...

Charlie's Angels (DVD) 27/08/2002


Charlie's Angels (DVD) Shamelessly and gratuitously sexist. Flashy, trashy nonsense. And don’tcha just love it to death! Well that was what I thought after I’d watched the re-vamped Charlie’s Angels back at the Cinema some two years ago. I confess to having the ‘hots’ for Cameron Diaz (And what red blooded male does not?) and would not push Drew Barrymore out of bed either – so those two facts in themselves drew (no pun intended) me to this movie at first. This is, after all, meant to be entertainment. No ‘sub-plot’, ‘hidden agenda’ and certainly never was going to get into the Oscar nominations list. But it’s a cracking over-the-top, all-action movie full of fast cars, boats and high kicking gorgeous girls – look no further. Charlie’s Angels has all these things and more! A bit like a low brow James Bond movie (– is there such a thing as a ‘HIGH BROW’, James Bond film ?). Anyway, dis-engage your brain, sit back into a comfy chair, switch on, enjoy….. The story….oh forget the story, you came for the babes didn’t you? Well Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu play the Angels with certainly the first two spending much of the film trying hard not to let their boobs pop out of their costumes! Now that’s definitely a job I’d like – you know..the guy that has to tape them down to stop them just …flopping out when they are not supposed to! And with some of the costumes you can imagine a quick turn in front of a mirror and the phrase I used in my title being uttered – and the answer is “No, ...
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