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markd_uk

markd_uk

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Reviews written

since 01/09/2004

202

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 30/05/2010

The Best an Android Can Get...

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 The first thing you notice about Sony Ericsson's Xperia X10, right after its sleek and sexy glossy body, bright screen, 8 megapixel camera and beautiful Timescape interface, is how much it uses the battery. So let's get the bad news out of the way first: Sony Ericsson boast that this phone can achieve up to 425 hours from the battery in standby mode. This is, quite frankly, a blatant lie. I timed mine, switching it on in the morning from a full charge and leaving it alone all day. After thirteen hours and three minutes, the battery was dead. Both Sony Ericsson and Vodafone, my mobile provider, told me that I could extend the battery life by switching off such features as GPS and Wi-Fi, but as the GPS was already off and my phone wasn't in range of a wireless network, such advice seemed redundant. Not to mention that if I didn't want to have such facilities as GPS and Wi-Fi, I wouldn't have bothered buying the phone in the first place. Switching them off, then, seems kind of pointless. Still, the iPhone fares no better when it comes to battery life, and as the X10 is aiming squarely at the same market place we can assume there are no victors on either side in the battery argument. So what is the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10? In short, it's Sony Ericsson's first foray in to the Android market place. Android being Google's smartphone operating system to challenge the iPhone, and it does this very well indeed. Certainly, Apple's 'Jesus Phone' has got a big chunk of this ...

Sony Ericsson W980i 10/02/2009

Simply Sony

Sony Ericsson W980i The world of mobile telecommunications these days is a complicated one. Not because of the satellites involved, or the are-they-or-aren't-they-carcinogenic transmitters that litter our landscape these days in order for us to speak and text. Nor is it complicated because of the array of different providers you can get, from a Tesco Value Pay As You Go mobile phone to a steel-clad device made by Tag Heuer. It's made complicated by trying to decide which phone to buy. These days, you can't simply walk in to your local People's Phone and ask for a mobile that will make a telephone call. Advances in devices mean that it is all but impossible to buy a phone that doesn't have a camera on it. Indeed, trying to buy a phone that is simply a phone with a camera built in to it is hard enough, such has become the complexity of these devices. Mobile phones are lifestyle choices now. They say a lot about the person who holds it, and as much thought is put in to the type of phone you own as is put in to the type of car you drive or the colour you choose to paint your bathroom. Should you be seduced by the fashionista, names such as Prada, or should you go for the phone of the moment, the iPhone? Do you want a phone that plays music, shoots high quality video or can thrust your e-mail at you at any given moment of the day? Does the screen need to be high quality enough to replay your latest selection of illegally downloaded films, and should the camera be of a sufficient resolution ...

Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman 06/10/2008

A Cracking Tale

Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman Have you ever wondered what happened to the people who slipped through the cracks in your life? You know, the friends you once socialised with regularly and now you barely even remember that they existed. You know: they've moved on, you've moved on. It's as if it's a part of your life that you dreamed rather than experienced. Today, you see a photograph of them and you go "Oh yeah, I remember him. He snogged that Lucy Whatsherface on the photocopier at the Christmas Party in 1987." My best friend and I have known each other since we were twelve and still chat regularly today, but there are so many people we've both known in the last twenty four years that we thought were great mates, potential Godparent material for our children, who now we can barely remember existed. They've simply slipped through the cracks in our life and, if we were characters in the novel Neverwhere and living in London, the chances are they'd now be living in London Below, moving invisibly through the sewers, trading on the Floating Market, and opening doors that need to be opened for nefarious angels. With penmanship that is akin to James Herbert and Tom Holt, Neil Gaiman's imagination introduces you to Richard Mayhew, a financial analyst who, by a chance encounter with a scruffy homeless girl who seems quite badly injured, finds himself wrapped up in an adventure beneath the streets of London Above. Imaginative characters such as the Marquis de Carabas, the Lady Door and Hunter the ...

Smoke and Mirrors - Neil Gaiman 30/09/2008

Delightfully Depraved

Smoke and Mirrors - Neil Gaiman I like short stories. I like a perverse sense of humour. I like dark and terrifying horror tales. And I like sex - preferably lots of it. Which, when all rolled together, must surely mean that I like Neil Gaiman's "Smoke & Mirrors", a collection of some of his finest short stories, shouldn't it? And, in many ways, I do. Stephen King, noted for several compilations of short stories (and, indeed, with another anthology due out any day), said that "Gaiman is, simply put, a treasure-house of story, and we are lucky to have him." Well, if Stephen says so, I have to pick up the book and read it myself. William Gibson cited Gaiman as "a writer of rare perception and endless imagination", while Chris Carter says "you long for writers like Neil Gaiman: his vision is so personal and idiosyncratic. And unexpected..." The description in the front of Gaiman's books is a little more down to earth: "Neil Gaiman is a messy-haired white male author trapped in the body of an identical white male author with perhaps even less-tidy hair." If I was a girl, I'd probably find this last description quite endearing but, as it was, I had to go with the suggestions of others and, tempted by the idea of short stories to wend my way through the quiet evenings behind the bar, picked up a copy of "Smoke & Mirrors". This collection of stories, to be fair, is a departure from Gaiman's usual writings. Ordinarily, his jovial style, dark wit and lustful imagination meld together to create highly ...

telebid.com 26/09/2008

Telebid Testicles (AKA Swooping Swollocks)

telebid.com *** Update 25 September 2008 *** For some reason known best only to the Directors, who probably came up with this idea while they were drunk, Telebid is no longer called Telebid. Clearly, after consuming a bit too much Penderyn, they decided the Telebid was just a useless name. But, rather than using my nattily thought up name of 'sevenbid.com' below, they came up with an even more useless name: Swoopo *** Original Review *** I really want a PlayStation 3. I want one so badly I actually want one more than I want to get down and dirty with Jennifer Aniston and, to be fair, I want that so badly I would actually sell my right testicle in order to achieve it. So, logically, I'm going to have to sell the left one to get a PS3. Or, at least, that was the way I was thinking before I discovered Telebid.com. This website swung into the view of my monitor in such a seductive way that, momentarily, I was lost for words. Its clean white screen and logo designed by viewers of Nickelodeon seduced me quicker and more effectively than Angelina Jolie pinching Brad away from poor Jen, and I dumped eBay just as quickly. You see, while the shops are still selling PlayStation 3 consoles for something akin to NASA's annual fuel bill, you can pick one up on eBay for about three hundred quid. Which, when I think about it, isn't really that much cheaper than the retail price in your local Currys.Digital. On Telebid.com, however, one sold this morning for just £24.78. Excuse my ...

King of Shaves Azor Hybrid Synergy Razor 08/09/2008

The Jester of Shaves

King of Shaves Azor Hybrid Synergy Razor According to Toyota, their Hybrid Synergy Drive system uses a complicated array of batteries in a twenty-first century Wales & Edwards milk float sort of way to generate power in their Prius car up to 27 miles per hour, at which point a 1.5 litre petrol engine kicks in to carry you the rest of the way to the speed limit. Heat from brakes and other clever paraphernalia are regurgitated to recharge those same batteries, thus allowing Toyota to promote their Hybrid Synergy system as a safe, economical, environmentally friendly solution to motoring. Their sister company, Lexus, use the same system to improve performance and reduce emissions. You could be forgiven, then, for thinking that the King of Shaves Azor razor, which boasts a Hybrid Synergy System, might be one of those razors fitted with a Duracell AAA battery so that the ladies doing their bikini line can have a bit of a giggle. But it's not. It's just a cheaper razor with a plastic y-shaped handle that looks a bit like a headless man holding a bunch of blades above his torso; Atlas for the shaving man. It takes a lot to get me to consider a razor other than Gillette's rather superb Mach range, but a few weeks ago I had to go to Scotland for my brother's wedding and, on arrival, discovered that I had forgotten to take my razor with me. Having already managed to get myself in to trouble with the wedding party - and my mother in particular - because I'd arrived late, not brought the children, and made a bit of a ...

Citroen Xsara Picasso 1.6 HDi 110bhp 03/07/2008

Blancmange by looks, Blancmange by nature

Citroen Xsara Picasso 1.6 HDi 110bhp I've always quite liked Citroëns. When I was a kid my Dad had several of the large CX estates, all with Citroën's patented quirkiness: hydro-pneumatic self-levelling suspension, single-spoke self-centring steering wheel, large water-fed display for speedometer and revs, and push-button controls for indicators and wipers rather than dull and boring stalks. If they broke down, they were even more entertaining. The failsafe mechanisms in the hydraulics meant that, first, the suspension would lower; then, the power steering would fail; after that the clutch would go; finally, the brakes would fail. If you hadn't managed to stop by the time the brakes failed you were either a) pretty stupid, b) going too fast in the first place or c) an extreme sports enthusiast looking for a new way to get an adrenalin rush on the M1. Citroën later sold the patents for their suspension to BMW and Rolls Royce and the money helped secure the French automobile maker's future and help build their relationship with Peugeot, with whom they share many standard chassis parts. As well as all this, few people recognise that Citroën masterminded directional headlamps on the DS (now a feature on BMW motor cars) and paved the way for front-wheel drive to become a mainstream manufacturing standard for most car makers. They've built some of the most iconic cars in vehicular history, including the legendary 2CV, and the site of an old Citroën on the road today fills me with nostalgia and happy memories ...

Marmite Yeast Extract 18/02/2008

The Marmite Theory

Marmite Yeast Extract Life, you might have figured out by now, is full of things that you love, and things that you hate. I love, for example, Jennifer Aniston. I think the Ferrari 612 Scagliatti is wonderful (I'll even admit to being a closet fan of the Citroen C6) and I love Americans, despite their tendency to believe they have the right to rule the world and cannot grasp the concept of irony. I love drinking beer and enjoying sunshiny days in the park and thick slopes of snow on Alpine hillsides. By contrast, I'm not that keen on Cherie Blair, I think the Bugatti EB 110 was styled by a six-year-old and I truly hate cheese. I don't like injections (and actually, at age 26, once ran away from a doctor who wanted to jab a needle in my arm), can't abide clowns and I absolutely, unutterably, one hundred percent certainly hate Marmite. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say I'd rather swallow a throat-load of man goo than ever spread Marmite on my toast again. Marmite's own website - indeed, their entire marketing philosophy - is actually based on the concept that, sort of like the arse end of a Renault Megane, we either love it or hate it. I'd agree with every statement on the hate section of the Marmite website: I'd rather rip the wings off live chickens and I'd rather be stripped naked in public. To be fair, both of those sort of get filed under "two things I must do before I die" and certainly take priority over eating Marmite. I would rather grass-up all my mates for being terrorists ...

Worms: Open Warfare 2 (PSP) 16/02/2008

Maggot Maiming Fun

Worms: Open Warfare 2 (PSP) Lately, I seem to have developed a bit of a habit of playing with my little worm. Lots of little worms, if I'm honest. Seriously, I can't get enough of the little critters and I grab a handful whenever I get the chance. I love the way they do anything I tell them, blindly wander in to mines and generally blow themselves up in the most stupendous of ways. I am, of course, talking about the game Worms: Open Warfare 2. Even more specifically, I'm talking about the version for the PSP. You know, the little handheld games machine made by Sony that I've yabbered on about in the past. It's sort of a mini PlayStation for people whose wives tut and bluster if you decide to use your large widescreen hi-def LCD television for anything other than watching Coronation Street. The video game Worms was originally created as an entry for a programming competition by a sadomasochistic chap called Andy Davidson, who seemed to like blowing things up on his Commodore Amiga. Publishing company Team17 saw the BASIC designed program and offered to put it in to production, probably offering him a fiver in return for selling them all copyrights on the finished product and, in 1995, the first full release of Worms went on sale, sold just 5000 copies but nevertheless developed a cult following that resulted in a host of sequels and spin-offs and cheesy attempts to cash-in on the franchise. Last year, Worms: Open Warfare 2 was released and, in my house at least, it's become a bit of a classic. ...

moonpig.com 11/02/2008

Mark Once More Attempted To Get Lucky

moonpig.com *Warning for the feint of heart - there may be the odd smutty reference or two in this review." I'm not one for greetings cards, to be honest. I sort of subscribe to my best mate's philosophy when it comes to gift- or card-giving times of the year: if I get you a present, you won't get a card; if you get a card, you know you're not getting a present. But then, being a testosterone-fuelled alpha-male, I invariably forget to give a card to those I'm not getting a present for. And then there comes the time when you're expected to give cards - perhaps something romantic, because it's your anniversary. But I don't do romance, and I certainly don't do soppy. Which means I'm struggling this week as, I was recently reminded, it's Valentine's Day on Thursday. This means that it is expected that I shall procure a dozen red roses from Vladimir Putin's private collection of Glaucous Dog Roses, have a table for two booked at La Noisette in Sloane Street, book the St George's Penthouse Suite at the Westbury Mayfair Hotel, and make sure that the Chippendales are oiled up, naked and ready to serve her glazed veal sweetbreads on a tray of petunia petals for supper. Rather predictably, it is the same expectation every year and, rather predictably, each year I forget to do any of these things. This invariably results - as it did last year - in me waking up at 7:30 in the morning in something of a panic, running downstairs to the garden, picking a bunch of wilting daisies from the ...

Center Parcs, United Kingdom 06/02/2008

As Relaxing As Sleeping In A Beehive

Center Parcs, United Kingdom Going on holiday to a resort just twenty minutes up the road from my house is total anathema to me. Even worse is spending quite a lot of money to do it yet, despite my protestations that Spain would be cheaper and sunnier, last week we packed the car up until the suspension rested on the bump stops and travelled the 14.7 miles from our front door to the Center Parcs site in Elveden where my wife assured me we would have a peaceful and relaxing break from the pub. To be fair, several of my friends and my bar staff have all travelled to the same destination and assured me that, once settled in, I could be anywhere in the world and would forget totally that I was just twenty minutes away from home. Certainly, Center Parcs Elveden - like all Center Parcs establishments - is set in a peaceful and tranquil forest location but, unless you think I am completely stupid, I knew that I was only a short drive from home. And sanity. The first clue to my location was that on Wednesday the temperature was a tropical zero degrees Celsius, as it was at home, whilst in Cape Town it was thirty degrees. Then there was the rain which, on Thursday, it did in quite torrential style. Malaga, meanwhile, was bone dry but I'll grant that Brunei Darussalam did suffer some thunder storms on the same day but that was needed to break up the humid 32 degrees C they were enduring. And then there is the local military air base. You see, being a resident of these parts, I was acutely aware of how ...

Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) Slim & Lite 20/01/2008

Slimmer & Lighter - But No Better

Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) Slim & Lite These days we are obsessed with making things smaller and lighter. Cars are getting smaller and lighter as each year passes, yet more and more of them are becoming harder to crash. They're littered with more technology than NASA to stop you from actually having an accident and then, if you are still imbecilic enough to ignore every flashing light, warning beep and automated braking system that is trying its damndest to stop you hitting that tree, the small and light body made from leaves and acrylic will simply fold and crumble around you until the car comes to a rest and you can merely step out of it, brush yourself down and wander into your appointment as if crashing was part of your everyday existence. Take my sisters, for example. Last week they hit a patch of ice in their brand new Renault Clio, rolled over eighty three times, bounced over twelve scarecrows and came to rest in the middle of a field. The leaf-acrylic polymer of their car's body was shattered and lifeless, but the two of them simply walked away, shaken but not stirred. Then there are mobile phones. As each gadget show passes we all wait with baited breath to see how small and light the latest Nokia is going to be and what funky toys it's got on it, and then Apple came along with their hybrid love match between mobile phone and iPod and the whole world wet its pants. Small and light and yet packed with so much voodoo that the screen actually adjusts to be the right way up regardless of how you're ...

Soon I Will Be Invincible - Austin Grossman 10/01/2008

How Not To Be A Hero

Soon I Will Be Invincible - Austin Grossman Being a supervillain is sort of a life ambition for me. To be truthful, World Domination is what I'm actually after but, in the meantime, I'm going to have to put up with contemplating a world full of superheroes and super-badguys, with me lining myself up somewhere at the head of them all, ready to be the next Dr. No. A world where beautiful damsels in distress, like sallysmith1973, are rescued by fearlessly gorgeous wonder women like tallulahbang, working in a team of heroes that include such glamorous headline names as MutleyTheFrog and Torr, accompanied by their pet android N13ROY and all managed by their beautiful and intelligent secretary, HotBabes. The heroes will be there, all looking to save the planet from supervillains like myself and Greenierexyboy and that villain voted most likely to destroy the planet than rule it, the digitalenvironmentalist. Yes, that's the sort of world I envisage. Superheroes everywhere, saving the world from bad guys whilst sipping tea, uttering crass sexual innuendoes at bespectacled young women with their hair in a bun and poring over the data chucked at them by countless Cray supercomputers hidden in the depths of their secret badger warrens. So when I saw Austin Grossman's debut novel, "Soon I Will Be Invincible..." and read the inside cover, which talked of Doctor Impossible, an evil genius every bit my equal desperately waiting to take over the world at his next opportunity, and Fatale, the reluctant nuclear-powered woman ...

Crest Spinbrush PRO Couleur 09/01/2008

The Cheapest Thrill In My Mouth, Ever

Crest Spinbrush PRO Couleur It is very tempting to write about a product relating to oral hygiene - especially one that, well, vibrates - by littering the article with smutty jokes, innuendoes and the odd comment that you might have never had anything so powerful in your mouth before, but I fear that would result in a whole host of "bah humbug you pervert" comments, low ratings and a verbal pasting off Tallulahbang for being a bit of a hoe and succumbing to the crudity of my mind. But I suppose that would stop her from moaning at me for a little while about always pushing my blog page. The trouble is there isn't really much you can write about a toothbrush that is overly exciting. Oh look, it has some bristles, and a handle and - ooh - this one you can switch on and it will try and forcibly remove your fillings. And it's not ridiculously expensive. Whilst manufacturers like Philips and Cybersonic make toothbrushes that sound like an object from Doctor Who's utility belt, full of promises to remove plaque via a mixture of voodoo and sheer brutality, Crest's SpinBrush product simply cleans your teeth. And it does the job very well. The SpinBrush doesn't claim to stroke you 45'000 times a minute, nor does it come with a plethora of attachments for cleaning your tongue or removing crusty lumps from beneath your foreskin, but neither does it cost you four million pounds to buy. Instead, it costs £2.99, massages your teeth at a gum-bleedingly quick 3'700 strokes per minute, comes with one simple head ...

Everything that starts with J ... 01/01/2008

Joyless 2007 Comes To An End; roll on '08

Everything that starts with J ... Ordinarily, at this time of year, I'd write some form of review of the past twelve months, highlighting the highs, lowlighting the lows and generally lamenting anything that went horrendously wrong in some form of comic lampoon. But this year I don't want to. 2007 is full of some painful memories, mistakes made and good friends hurt. It's also full of great memories, too, and I fully subscribe to the point of view that it's better to have something to regret than to regret not having done something at all but, at the end of the day, I've tumbled out of the end of 2007 feeling somewhat perplexed, alienated to an extent and, at the end of the year, desperately hoping that there is something positive to look forward to in '08. In 2007 I managed to put a screw in a water pipe, flooding not just one bar but the entire cellar too. I punctured one of my fingers whilst installing the new kitchen and I did an outside bar for a 30th birthday party where all the revellers wanted to drink nothing but tap water. Then there was the refurbishment of the pub, not just the public bars but the kitchen too, which all seemed to drag on like an Ariston advertisement and eventually ended up costing far more money than originally budgeted. To top all that off, I even managed to sleep through somebody driving in to the side of the pub. The end of year party fared little better. The evening started out quietly, to the extent that Barmaid Amy probably stood there wondering why she'd dressed ...
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