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WD Elements Desktop WDBAAU0020HBK-EESN 2 TB 24/01/2015

A nice little hard drive that does the job.

WD Elements Desktop WDBAAU0020HBK-EESN 2 TB Western Digital Elements Desktop WDBAAU0020HBK 2 TB Hard Drive Everyone will know that gut shattering feeling of an external hard drive breaking down with precious information on that you had took from your over-full PC or laptop. Or even those of you who have had a computer or laptop break down without having backed up the contents externally. It can be earth shattering. I was unfortunate enough to have my laptop break down and my external hard drive at the same time and I was devastated. Having purchased a sparkly new laptop I was in the market for a new hard drive. I download a lot of music and movies so I wanted a decent sized external Hard Drive or HDD as they are known to the more technical people on the planet. I thought that two terabytes would be a good size memory for me to go for and I saw the Western Digital Elements Desktop WDBAAU0020HBK 2 TB on a sale in our local Media Markt here in The Hague in Holland. Media Markt is similar to Dixons or Curry’s in the UK. We do also have Dixons over here but Media Markt is a much bigger outlet and tends to have more genuine sales that you can pick up some great bargains in. On this particular day I picked up this HDD for eighty-eight euros, which is about eighty pounds or roughly thereabouts. I thought that was quite good considering that you can pay anywhere between eighty and four hundred for two terabytes. The machine itself is sleek and slim and black in colour and sits out of the way quite nicely. ...

Reeves Canvas Board 21/01/2015

Cheap and useful but not for selling work on.

Reeves Canvas Board Reeves Canvas Board If you want a cheap canvas board that is OK for experimenting on then the Reeves range aren’t bad. If however, you are serious about your art work and wish to sell then there is no way you should even consider selling on this canvas as it will deteriorate rather rapidly over time. These boards are good for practice or for doing mock ups to work from on your actual painting. They can be purchased as a pack of two, three, five and also individually. They range in size from 10'' by 8'' up to 36'' by 40'. Depending on where you buy them from the prices can range from as little as one pound up to nine ninety-five. They are shrink-wrapped in the cheapest possible way so are not that protected if not stored correctly. The board is cotton based and has a fairly thick texture line to it and is primed with a basic and very ordinary base paint so that you can paint on it straight away. If I were to use them for any serious work I would sand off the texture and use gesso to smooth the canvas out. This allows the artist to use acrylic or oil without any problems when discerning any detail in their work. The problem with these cheap canvasses is that if you don’t gesso them, or prime them in some way, then the knobbly-like texture of the cotton can impede detail, especially in portraits. The problem is that when you gesso a canvas, you have to sand it down to remove any nobbles or unwanted texture and with these canvasses ...

Hozier - Hozier 19/01/2015

My brain needs a hosing down after this one!

Hozier - Hozier Hozier by Hozier Like most artists Andrew Hozier-Byrne has been playing pubs, clubs and busking for about five years now. Often people don’t realise how much hard work it takes to even get noticed. The younger generation are spoiled with YouTube (which I think is a good thing) and programs like the X-Factor (which I don’t) propelling first-timers instantly into the limelight; only to be dumped by the music mogul-type bosses like Simon Cowell, when they realise just how much they have manufactured these people, who more often than not fail when it comes to managing their careers because they have no clue as to how the music industry works or how to tread the path. Most people will recognise Hozier from his single ‘Take me to Church’. This single was formed into the singer’s first ep or short play album in 2013. He would go on to produce a second ep ‘From Eden’ before finally managing to record his first album ‘Hozier’ that I will be reviewing here. I have a varied taste when it comes to music. I am an eighties pop hound and still follow and regularly go to see Duran Duran and Simple Minds. I’m into alternative and indie music and follow Blood Red Shoes, Klaxons and many many other groups. I am also partial to a bit of Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks and Kate Bush. I love modern pop and follow Marina Diamandis, Ellie Goulding, Charli XCX and Lorde and I like to see small independent bands that are starting out; although admittedly not so much these days as ...

The Imitation Game (DVD) 14/01/2015

The king of imitation

The Imitation Game (DVD) The Imitation Game I saw the trailer to this at the cinema a couple of months ago and knew straight away that I wanted to see it. With Benedict Cumberbatch playing the lead role my enthusiasm was immediately panged, as I think he is a top actor. The storyline also interested me as well as I like mysteries and stories of genius and heroism that come from unlikely sources. The trailer showed that it was a film about cracking the Enigma Code (the code used by the Germans in the war) and that the person doing the cracking would be an eccentric mathematician with no social skills of any kind. On seeing the film I knew that it was right up my street and for those of you who like movies like ‘A Beautiful Mind’ and films of that ilk, you will also draw the same conclusion. As usual, before looking at the actors, the script and my thoughts on the film, I would like to lay out the premise. There may be some spoilers throughout the review, but I have only used them to point out general facts and not in a way to spoil the story or reveal how things unfold or turn out. The Premise The Imitation Game is a thriller from 2014 about British mathematician Alan Turing. Turing was a key figure, if not the main figure in cracking the German Nazi’s Enigma code, which helped the Allies win the Second World War. The only thanks he would get for this was to be arrested for being a homosexual and made to be chemically castrated instead of facing ...

Lifemax One Handed Tin Opener 12/01/2015

Need a hand? Then go elsewhere!

Lifemax One Handed Tin Opener Lifemax One Handed Tin Opener I unfortunately made the mistake of buying this one-handed can opener for my Mother over a year ago. My Mother is 71 this year and has suffered over the last few years with arthritis in her hands. She has also had some major operations and is a little weaker than she used to be due to this. I ordered it online for fifteen pounds and had it sent to my Mother in England as I myself live in Holland. I thought I was doing something nice for her but when she rang me to tell me how useful it was she couldn’t find anything good to say about it. Apparently it is cumbersome, rather ugly looking and basically impossible to use without a degree in astro physics. Firstly she said it was difficult to handle as it was so big. It is not heavy but just awkward to hold properly, or at least awkward to hold in what is meant to be the correct way to open a tin or can. The grip is next to useless and my Mother didn’t succeed in getting a tin started in the opening process. I thought it would be easy to use and seeing as it was electric that it wouldn’t take any unnecessary energy or strength to use; how wrong I was. I myself cannot abide tinned food but my Mother has problems with what she eats due to the operations she has had and sometimes it is convenient for her to open a tin of a special health meal she has. When I last visited my parents in the UK I had a go at using it and to be honest it is rubbish. I ...

Philips HR 2106 11/01/2015

Hey big blender....

Philips HR 2106 Philips HR 2106 Blender We purchased this Blender online just over a year ago and all in all we were quite pleased with it. We have a magic bullet now, which admittedly is easier to clean and less hassle to set up, but this blender still does a good job. I wouldn’t recommend it to a person with little patience or someone who gets easily ruffled by little things going wrong. The sum of all parts The Philips HR 2106 pretty much looks like any other blender and operates in the same way. The main unit is not too heavy and comes with a 1.5 litre glass holding jar. The jar has a tight fitting lid, which screws on without much problem, unless, like I said, you have little patience and end up getting riled when it screws on at the wrong angle and gets stuck. The jar on our blender is glass but on a lot of the Philips models they are industrial plastic. The blade or blade unit fits neatly into the main unit and is easily removable for cleaning. Before putting the blade into the unit one must not forget to place the blades sealing ring in first. The sealing ring is a little rubber band that seals off the gap between the blade and the unit. The lid has a measuring cup that fits into the top to create the final seal. The unit contains a setting knob that controls speed and pulse. There is an extra blade that is interchangeable with the normal blade. It is a mini-chopper blade for cutting things even finer, like garlic and ginger and fresh ...

Pringles Original 10/01/2015

Saddle up's time to pop that top!

Pringles Original Pringles original My favourite flavour when it comes to crisps has always been ready salted. This is quite strange really as I don’t eat salt; or at least I don’t add salt to my meal. I use cooking salt when cooking food but never add table salt to my dinner as I find it highly unappealing and unhealthy. I think this stems from the fact that my father stopped eating salt due to high blood pressure when I was about ten years old and I joined him and have never gone back to it. I even use ‘low salt’ in my cooking. So with that in mind I’ll tell you what I think about Pringles and naturally my favourite flavour of them, the original or ready salted version. Once you pop Everyone knows that the ‘moreish’ tag is easily associated with Pringles and I don’t think it applies to many more foods with as much relevance. Even the advertising slogan ‘Once you pop, you can’t stop’ is fittingly applicable. Pringles really are hard to stop eating once you start and I think most people inevitably finish off a whole pack before they have realised it. I suppose it is a good job that they started to manufacture the smaller tins or we would be walking around full to the brim of Pringles and not much else. Pringles famously come in a round tube or cylinder which is sealed with a heat packed top to keep them fresh. That is where the pop sound comes from when you open them; it is the air escaping after they have been vacuum packed. They are made from ...

Fimo Clay 08/01/2015

Not a bad little clay and lots of fun!

Fimo Clay Fimo Fimo clay can be purchased in different sized blocks. The most common size and the one I will be concentrating on is the 56g standard block. It can also be purchased with additional material to give a different effect when shaped and moulded. These include glitter, glow-in-the-dark and see-through or translucent. The effects speak for themselves but just in case you were wondering, the Fimo glitter has speckles of glitter running through it, the glow-in-the-dark obviously glows in the dark and once the translucent Fimo has baked in the oven you are able to see through it like a sort of glass effect. You can also buy other themed blocks such as ‘stone’, ‘sand’ and ‘earth effects. I consider Fimo to be very usable clay but I would say it is better for kids than adults who seriously want to get into clay modelling. For things like making pencil-end erasers and decorations like small fruit, it is fine, but for large scale models such as Dragons, heads or buildings then I would suggest that ‘Sculpey’ clay would be better applied. It is good for kids, they can have hours of fun making jewellery and little toy like ornaments and the scope is endless. Preparation and Use I own a full set of clay modelling tools, which include shapers, smoothing tools, wire frame, wire cutters, clay cutters and even a pasta machine for rolling and flattening the clay. Fimo can be quite solid and hard to shape for beginners, especially when it has ...

Coates Coates Willow Charcoal Extra Thick Sticks 07/01/2015

Once you go black you'll never go back!

Coates Coates Willow Charcoal Extra Thick Sticks Coates Willow Charcoal Extra Thick Sticks As many of you know I am an artist and one of my main parts of my hobby/work is drawing portraits. When I first started out at the tender age of forty, seven years ago, I didn’t really like the look or the feel of charcoal. It was not the fact that drawing with a brittle, burnt piece of wood didn’t seem to compute with me, but rather the fact that the whole affair was rather messy and unsuccessful. Nowadays, with more experience and knowledge of charcoal, I use a charcoal pencil that is designed for ‘no mess’ and I find that quite gratifying. Why use charcoal at all if it is messy or if you need to buy a non-messy pencil. Why not just use a pencil? Well, to answer that one for you, charcoal gives an artist a much much deeper black than any pencil and it also has a dull or matt finish that doesn’t reflect light. When I first started drawing and I got my drawings up a few levels regarding standard, I was annoyed that I would get that horrible shine when the drawing was in a certain light. With charcoal you don’t get that and you get a much nicer tone. So I started using charcoal to blend in darker shades in hair and on shadows. This is where the Coates Willow Charcoal Extra Thick Sticks come in. I like to flake or grate my charcoal into a fine powder so that I can dip a blending stick or cotton bud into the mixture to use for shading. The Coates sticks are really thick and you can get a good powder ...

Breville 2 Slice Toaster 06/01/2015

Size doesn't always matter!

Breville 2 Slice Toaster Breville Two-Slice Toaster I have always been extremely annoyed at toasters that standard bread doesn’t fit into. The times I have felt like throwing a toaster through the kitchen window out of frustration and annoyance are too many to mention. In Holland this seems to be even worse. I have never purchased even one decent toaster. I have only seen one decent one in fact and that was at my girlfriend’s parent’s house. The last one we had was ridiculous as you had to toast half the slice and then turn it over to do the other end. Anyway, on a visit to England this year a relative gave me this toaster. It was still new in the box as he had never used it. So it was free and it is a great little toaster; so it was a double bonus for me. I say it is a great ‘little’ toaster as it only measures 8’’x 10’’ or 20cm x 30cm. For a small toaster it does a great job and for me the main factor here is that bread fits in it! The toaster is made from stainless steel and although not elaborately designed it looks quite nice and not out of place in a nice clean kitchen. It also has a neat and tidy lead, which is handy for small kitchens. We live in an apartment at the moment so it is ideal. It is capable of toasting thick bread, tea cakes and small pitta breads. It also comes with a toast elevator, which is handy for pulling out the toasted bread without burning your fingers. It has a digital setting and a counter for browning that runs from ...

lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar - Robert Plant 18/09/2014

Not one that roared ceaselessly, and did almost send me to sleep!

lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar - Robert Plant Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar by Robert Plant I must confess to never really being that much of a fan of Robert Plant. As a teenager I listened to Led Zeppelin (Plant is the lead singer) but never really listened to his solo stuff. His solo career spans forty years and has ran alongside some of his time with Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin disbanded in 1980 after the infamous death of band member John Bonham who died of alcohol-related asphyxia. This gave Plant more time to pursue his solo career and although former band members of Zeppelin get together from time to time to play one-off gigs or concerts. They played a massive show in London in 2007, which got rave reviews and garnered media space due to Bonham’s son Jason talking his father’s spot on the drums. Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar is Plant’s tenth studio album and it is also the first time that he has made a studio album and co-written it with his new backing band, ‘The Sensational Space Shifters’. As I said I was never a Plant fan but was sent this album free from a shop I review for. The album was released on September 8th 2014. It is Robert Plant’s debut record for Warner Bros. Ironically one of my favourite bands from the sixties was ‘The Yardbirds’ whose guitar player Jimmy Page went on to form Led Zeppelin. So let’s take a look at this album track by track. Track One – Little Maggie The first track on the new album opens with a banjo and a Kologo (a two-stringed lute) and is ...

Education, Education, Education & War - Kaiser Chiefs 09/09/2014

Education, Education Education and MORE!

Education, Education, Education & War - Kaiser Chiefs Kaiser Chiefs – Education, Education, Education and War Education, Education, Education and War is the fifth studio album by the lovable band, Kaiser Chiefs, from Leeds in the U.K. The band will have gained a new set of followers after their lead singer Ricky Wilson appeared as a judge on BBC 1’s ‘The Voice’ this year (2014). Ricky has not tried to hide the fact that he decided to do the show in order to promote the new album when it was finished and he even sang the album’s first UK single release ‘Coming Home’ with one of the contestants that he was mentor to on the show. It will not escape the politically minded of you reading this that the title of the album is a reference to Tony Blair’s election slogan and among the tracks is a poem that lead singer, Ricky Wilson, penned and is read by Bill Nighy, which has created a bit of a storm in the fact that critics seem to think it is making money out of the centenary. The poem was inspired by Wilfred Owen and I will talk about it more in the ‘My Thoughts’ section of the review and also include the poem itself because I think it is excellent. I write this review two days before I go to see Kaiser Chiefs live at The Paradiso music venue in Amsterdam. It should be a great night and I can’t wait to see how the band has evolved as it has been a few years since I saw them last. They have also lost a key member of the group in drummer Nick Hodgson who left the band to concentrate on other projects in 2012. He ...

Locke (DVD) 04/08/2014

Locke, Stone and two smoking women

Locke (DVD) Locke – Film only review The thought of watching a movie that follows one man in car, driving along a motorway making and answering phone calls is not one that will appeal to most people. However, when you add Tom Hardy into the equation in the form of portraying that said man and couple that with some brilliant direction and a half decent script from Stephen Knight, it becomes a whole new kettle of fish. I wasn’t really expecting too much from this movie but I already had a feeling that the performance from Hardy would be sublime and I was not disappointed in the least. To say that Hardy is one of the most underrated actors in Britain would be unfair in a way, because his performances are so good that he always receives rave reviews. Saying that though he is still little known to Joe public and I just wish he could land the bigger roles that he deserves. Much of this is probably down to Hardy himself though as he tends to pick the smaller roles or the more independent films that tend to have more soul than your standard Hollywood churn out. That said his big break-through was his role in ‘Inception’, which would be deemed a box-office front runner, but more about Tom later in the review. Before I talk about my thoughts on the movie let’s take a look at the plot. The Premise Ivan Locke works as a construction supervisor for a large construction firm. He is busy with the final preparations for a huge concrete pour, which will be the biggest ...

The Incredible Shrinking Man (DVD) 21/07/2014

The incredibly timeless cult classic

The Incredible Shrinking Man (DVD) The Incredible Shrinking Man The Incredible Shrinking man was made by Universal Studios in nineteen fifty-seven. It was adapted for the screen by the author of the novel ‘The Shrinking Man’, Richard Matheson. The story revolves around Scott Carey, played by Grant Williams. This movie is a classic and I will talk about my feelings about it in the ‘My Thoughts’ section of the review as I usually do. I first saw this movie in nineteen seventy-nine, just before my twelfth birthday. I have seen it again since when I was in my late twenties. At forty-six, it has lost no of its charm and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it again; thirty five years after my first time. Before I talk about my personal thoughts and opinions on the film, let’s take a look at the plot, the actors involved, the writer and the director. The Premise Scott Carey and his wife Louise are on vacation on a private boat, which Scott borrowed from his brother. While lying in the sun Scott teases Louise and goads her into fetching him a cold beer from the fridge below deck. As Scott lies there he notices a strange cloud heading towards the boat. He tries to get below deck but is too late. He turns his back to the approaching cloud and once it passes he is disorientated and out of breath. Louise, who has climbed back on deck notices that Scott’s chest, is covered in strange glitter like petals. Scott wipes them off and they relax back into their vacation. Six months pass and ...

The Invisible Man (DVD) 14/07/2014

You can't see right through this one!

The Invisible Man (DVD) The Invisible Man (1933) Having reviewed a few Hammer films in the past and then reviewing ‘The Curse of the Cat People’, which is an RKO movie last week, I felt it was time to review a Universal picture. I have gone into the reasons behind me loving the movies of these three studios before and if you would like to find out why then please feel free to read my previous reviews. The invisible Man was Universal film that was released in nineteen thirty-three and was loosely based on H.G Wells’ famous novel by the same name, which was published in 1897, believe it or not. At this time Universal were probably better known for their horror movies such as Dracula, Frankenstein and The Mummy. Nineteen thirty-three saw them change tack slightly with three movies, ‘Counsellor at Law’, ‘The Perils of Pauline’ and this movie. The Invisible Man, which was promoted as a science-fiction film; although some classed it as a horror. The film was directed by James Whale and starred Claude Rains as the Invisible Man, Dr Jack Griffin. It was Rains’ first big movie role and it was strange because you never actually see him in the movie until the very end and then for fleeting moments; well he is invisible after all. Before about Rains and his colleagues and my thoughts on the movie in general, let’s, as usual, take a look at the plot. The Premise The story begins with a mysterious man caught in a snow storm. He finds the sign to an old and out of the ...
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