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since 30/11/-0001

22

i-gotU GT-120 USB GPS Travel Logger 01/04/2009

i-gotU, I got it and it knows where I've been

i-gotU GT-120 USB GPS Travel Logger This review covers a product with a rather specific purpose and one that I think will become obsolete in the very near future. I mention that it's future may be limited and I think this is the case because of the number of GPS enabled devices that are available these days. Your phone may have GPS and very possibly can perform a similar task. Cameras are apparently starting to have GPS possibilities and the convergence of phones with compact camera and GPS ability means that this device will quickly become redundant. What it is and a little about the operation of it The i-gotU GPS Travel Logger is a device that uses GPS and records it's position at set intervals for downloading to your PC later. The data can then be interpreted to provide a track of where you've been on a map and to show photos from your camera on the map also. The device is bundled with software to enable uploading of photos to Flickr or Picasa or to a blog site that is specific to the software (so not directly to your own, existing blog). The software relies on you having the correct time on your camera to record when the photos were taken to match up later (time zone differences are okay as you specify this during the import) The device is small, waterproof and comes with a small blue silicon case to help protect it when dropped. It has a little belt loop in the case. You can attach a camera or phone strap to the device itself, there isn't one included. The i-gotU only has one button and two LED ...

Holiday Inn Prague Airport 29/03/2009

Second best option for Prague airport, but still a good hotel

Holiday Inn Prague Airport Continuing my current trend of hotel reviews that lack the useful addition of photos I bring you a review of the the Holiday Inn at Prague airport. If you are visiting Prague I don't advise you to stay at the airport, there's no reason to. It's 15 minutes by bus 100 or 119 to the metro (I forget exactly which bus goes to which metro line) and you can surely find a more interesting place to stay in the city. If for some reason you need to be at the airport then there are two hotels I've used in recent months and this is one of them. Location Well, the hotel is at the airport, almost. It's a bit of a walk. If you're arriving at the airport and are staying at the hotel, give them a call and they'll pick you up. It's only a couple of minutes by road. There's a courtesy phone right by the arrivals door in the international terminal. They'll also take you to the airport if needed when you check out. If arriving to the hotel from Prague, the airport busses stop right outside, I mean RIGHT outside the doorstep of the hotel. The bus stop to go TO Prague is just around the corner. There are no shops nearby, so if you want some supplies for your stay stock up at the airport, if it's during the day you can save some money by stopping at the Billa supermarket in the shopping centre opposite the terminals (where the Courtyard Marriott hotel is located - future review). First Impressions When you arrive at the hotel you'll see it's a modern but uninspiring building from the ...

Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku, Tokyo 29/03/2009

A superb value hotel in one of the best Tokyo locations

Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku, Tokyo I'm lucky to have never stayed in a bad hotel in Tokyo. For this trip I decided I wanted to stay near Shinjuku, so previous hotels were out of the question and my budget is getting smaller all the time. Through a combination of reviews on Tripadvisor, rating on hotels.com and a good listing of hotel rates from lowest to highest there emerged a clear winner, the Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku! Getting there We arrived in Tokyo on the Shinkansen train from Kyoto, switched train lines at Tokyo station and emerged at Shinjuku (one of the major stations in the city). The journey from Tokyo station was easy, it's not hard to get to Shinjuku really as it's such a major station. If you're arriving at Narita you have a couple of options to get to the hotel, you can take the Narita Express train or there is also a bus which stops right outside the hotel. In my experience the bus can take a very long time, depending on the time of day, the train runs to Shinjuku at varying intervals and takes about 48 minutes if my memory serves me correctly. If there isn't a train to Shinjuku then you can get to Tokyo station from Narita every 30 minutes. Once at Shinjuku you may struggle to find the right exit, print a decent map with some of the exits from the station marked. If you can navigate your way to what I think is called the 'Southern Terrace', it's quieter around that area and the hotel is on the street behind the office buildings along the terrace. There are maps along the terrace ...

Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS 28/03/2009

So glad to be back to a Canon!

Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS First of all let me explain that I'm actually reviewing the Canon IXY 210 IS. It's the exact same camera, but the name and model number are for the Japanese market. Second of all let me mention that I only take photos to remember places I've been or nights out, I know nothing about photography and so will not attempt to explain anything technical. This review will compare with other cameras I have used, my experience is somewhat limited. So, a little history. I first owned a little 2MP Sony camera, it was tiny and nice to look at and the photos weren't too bad. Later I upgraded to a lovely little Canon IXUS I, I got on with it very well and produced what I considered to be some decent photos. Then somebody stole by beloved little IXUS and I was forced to buy a new camera. What came next was some Konica Minolta dimage thing that I never liked and could only be charged via some giant docking station thing, that was soon on eBay. Finally I ended up with a small Samsung camera, the buying decision consisted of finding something cheap and I got lucky as there was a deal to get another free camera with it, which I promptly gave to my girlfriend for Christmas, amazing generosity I know :-) The Samsung was alright, I think I wrote a review about it on dooyoo saying it was pretty much idiot proof, stick it on auto and carry on. Eventually I started to realise that it wasn't as good as all the other cameras in the world. It could never detect a backlight situation, it always ...

Karasuma Kyoto Hotel 27/03/2009

Loved the city, but not the hotel

Karasuma Kyoto Hotel On previous visits to Japan I've been lucky to find some good value and good quality hotels. I'd never stayed in Kyoto before and having looked at the options online I chose to stay at the Karasuma Kyoto hotel. The reasoning for my decision was that it wasn't the most expensive hotel (although still £75 a night) and in a good location. I'd read that the interiors were dated, but that's fine with me as long as things are clean. Sadly it wasn't as great as I had hoped. Location The hotel does score some points here. It's two stops north on the Karasuma subway line from Kyoto station. If you arrive via the subway be sure to exit the station by South Exit 6, it comes out right in front of the hotel, you'll see it directly in front of you with the Starbucks at the front, just as in the photo. Being very close to Shijo dori you are able to walk quickly to the main shopping district. If you're looking for some snacks there are many convenience stores in all directions and the usual ready supply of drinks vending machines (I like that you can buy a hot can of coffee any time of the day practically every 20 metres) For sightseeing you can of course use the subway, but the lines are limited and don't cover the city so well, busses pass regularly on the Shijo dori and there's always the option to walk. Kyoto has many many temples and shrines to visit, we covered a large number in the 3 days we were there. Most of the time we walked but one of the days we took the unlimited ...

Samsung NC10 27/03/2009

My new travel toy

Samsung NC10 I've not had the highest success rate with small laptops. I dropped my 10" Vaio, shattering the screen, it's replacement got stolen and I followed on from these with a 9" Samsung with an external keyboard that eventually just drove me nuts. I'd settled for a larger screened Dell (a massive 13.3" screen) but after 13 months of successful and happy operation the GPU decided that it couldn't handle being so warm for so many hours each day and decided to give up, leaving me with no way to use my otherwise functioning laptop. Swift action was required as I travel a lot and really really need a little laptop (slightly overstating the need I suppose, but I do go quite mad without one). The previous month I had seen a shiny looking black Samsung NC-10 whilst out shopping and thought how nice it looked. A few weeks further on I saw a shiny blue one and spent rather too long looking at it, the seed was sown in my mind but I was determined to resist buying a new shiny thing, I didn't need another laptop. Then of course my Dell stopped working, giving me a perfect excuse to get straight on the net to order a blue NC-10. My previous Samsung laptop experience had been a largely positive one, a nice Q1 that eventually just proved to be impractical because it was just too small and required an external keyboard. It still works and permforms surprisingly well given it's low spec, so I wasn't worried about buying another small Samsung laptop. The Specs and features Many small ...

Japan Airlines - JAL 26/03/2009

A JAL'y good way to fly

Japan Airlines - JAL What a shocking title, sorry about that. Recently I was looking for some flights to head off to Japan to treat my girlfriend and decided to spend some airline miles to get there. The best availability for us was to fly with JAL and using miles allowed us to fly in business class for practically free, otherwise we'd have been sitting in the back. So my review is based purely on the experience of JAL in business class. Booking Well I booked our flights on the telephone with American Airlines, so can't say much about the booking process direct with the airline themselves. I did however call JAL as I was unable to view my booking on their site (different booking system to AA) and the very helpful staff were able to provide me with a booking reference and some guidance for the website so that I could pick seats in advance. The hours are limited for calling their office in the UK but the staff are very helpful. Booking can also be done online of course. Checking in Check in for our outbound flights was easy as we did it before a connecting flight and simply changed planes at Heathrow. For the return trip we used the self service machine at the airport and despite missing the 'English' option we were eventually able to get our boarding passes. There is a bag drop for those with stuff to check in. Each time we got our seats that we'd requested so I would say that the check in process was easy. There is also the online check in option, but you still need to pick up ...

Windows Live Skydrive 12/03/2009

Backup stuff online for free

Windows Live Skydrive As many of you will know, some things need to be backed up from your PC. I've had hard drive failures, my laptop stolen and everytime lost something I didn't have a copy of somewhere else. Most things I don't care about, but some things are important. My number one concern is my photos to be honest, that's why I'm giving a positive review here for Windows Live Skydrive. What is it? Windows Live Skydrive is a service provided by Microsoft completely free of charge for storing files online. You are given 25GB of space (it used to be a lot less and maybe it will increase in the future) to store all the files that you want (if they fit and are under 50MB individually). How do I get it? If you have a Windows Live ID (from Messenger or Hotmail for instance) you can sign into the service. Main features Online backup - You can backup all the files you want, up to 50MB in size per file. Obviously you can't store anything that infringes any copyright. Online sharing - You can share folders and files with friends (you can restrict it to certain users) or completely publicly. Friends can even make use of the RSS service to see when new files are added. Note that not everything is shared with the world, so it is okay to store stuff that is just a backup for yourself. Photo Sharing - The photo sharing is much like the file sharing, only it displays the photos in albums according to the directory structure that you choose. Drag and drop uploads - You are able to highlight a series ...

Ca' Bragadin Carabba Hotel, Venice 12/03/2009

Bargain Bragadin in Venice

Ca' Bragadin Carabba Hotel, Venice We've been enjoying taking advantage of some very cheap budget flights recently and my girlfriend found us a couple of cheap seats to Venice (okay, Treviso, but it's only a bus ride away!) Having never been to Venice and having no idea of where to stay I needed to find a cheap hotel and found this place on Hotels.com/Expedia for around £45 a night. That's a cheap price as far as I'm concerned so I went ahead and booked, using a voucher for the booking site brought the cost down to £40 a night, a price I was certainly happy with. Hotel Background The hotel was opened in late 2008 and is located in the area of Castello. The building is a former palace, dating from 1362, but you won't find a lot of ancient features. They like to point out that Casanova has stayed at the palace in the past. The name 'Bragadin' is from the man who ordered the palace to be built. Don't be expecting something too palatial however, from the outside it's just another Venetian building and from the inside it's all a bit new. They've spent 2 years working on the place and everything inside looks very clean and new. Things aren't quite 100% completed yet, but this was not a problem for us. The layout is a little strange, with an empty lobby to greet you on the ground floor and reception is found by climbing a flight of stairs and entering an anonymous looking door. It's not quite as bad as it sounds! Location As mentioned, the hotel is in an area of Castello but is close to San Marco and ...

EasyHotel Earl's Court, London 26/02/2009

Squeezy hotel, excellent value but a bit cramped

EasyHotel Earl's Court, London These days, like most people now, I prefer to do things on a tight budget. Whilst I might shun a 5* hotel these days, I still have some standards and I normally expect to spend around £65 a night for a decent 4* in London. £65 is suddenly sounding quite high to me, so for recent trips I looked at an even cheaper option, easyHotel. The Website easyHotel.com is a typical 'easy' branded website with all that orange thrown all over the place. It's easy enough to navigate and booking is easy and fast. There is a service fee for each booking of £1.50. You have to register to make a booking, but I've not been spammed by them since I made my first booking a couple of months ago. Before you go, be sure to print out your confirmation, they like to have it when you check in. I'd print a map too, just to make life easier when you're trying to find your hotel. Locations and cost easyHotel is a franchise operation, so not all hotels are owned by the same company. I've only stayed in one, so I cannot comment on how well the standards are maintained between properties. In Europe there are hotels in Budapest - Hungary, in Larnaka - Cyprus and two hotels in Switzerland, Basel and Zurich In the UK there are 6 hotels in and around London. Earl's Court, Heathrow, Paddington, South Kensington, Victoria and Luton. Of the London ones, Heathrow always seems to be the cheapest, sometimes as low as £21.50 I think, but looking at the site now it seems to be consistently around £24.50, £26 ...

smartcafe hot cafetiere mug 25/02/2009

It really is a smart way to drink coffee

smartcafe hot cafetiere mug I'm not one for spending hours in the kitchen, so with the possible exception of the kettle there isn't really much in there I could write a review about. I love to drink coffee and tea though and when I'm home alone and fancy a change from the instant coffee I find this item is particularly handy. I'm no coffee snob, as I say I can drink the instant too, but I do enjoy a good coffee and I like to buy beans and grind them at home (coffee grinder, I do use more things in the kitchen!) There's enough washing up to do every day without buying some complicated machinery to make coffee with, so I stick with a cafetiere, but that's a bit much when it's just me around. Quite by chance I wandered into a Whittard's some years ago and browsing the sale I came across the SmartCafe Hot Mug. I think it cost me about £1.99 at the time and it has proved to be a most valuable purchase. So valuable that I often cannot find it as my girlfriend has taken to using it whenever it is available. Features Well, it's a mug. But wait! This is not an ordinary mug. It has one of those plunger things that you find in your everyday cafetiere. So to use, simply put your coffee grounds in the bottom, add hot water and allow to brew before pushing the plunger, brilliant! The excitement doesn't stop there however, the mug is double walled, so if you like to take your time drinking your coffee then it's not going to get cold quite as fast. Does it work? Yes, it does. The plunger has a rubber edge to ...

Thermae 2OOO, Valkenburg 23/02/2009

Relaxing, fun, nice location, but expensive

Thermae 2OOO, Valkenburg Now I'm guessing that this review is going to cover a place that will be of little interest to a lot of people, but if you happen to be in the little part of The Netherlands that is close to both the Belgian and German borders then it may be of use. Thermae 2000 is a spa complex and hotel. I've not been to a lot of spas, so it's hard for me to compare, but let me tell you a bit about it. Where is it? The complex is situated in Valkenburg in the Limburg area of south-eastern Holland. Unlike most of The Netherlands the area has a few hills, that's a good thing if you've been in The Netherlands for a while and got bored of everything being flat. Valkenburg is easily accessed by train, a short walk through the pleasant town and a little bit of a climb on the other side and you'll arrive at the spa. Signposts will guide you. It's situated opposite a giant Holland Casino complex, which is handy if you turn up as a couple and only one of you is interested in spa activities. Valkenburg has an interesting tourist history, it has developed in recent years from being a camping destination for teenagers to becoming a more mature destination. That doesn't mean it isn't fun anymore, the town has plenty of bars and restaurants to keep you amused. There are caves to visit, a ruined castle (not ruined by teenagers, but during a battle in 1672) and the area is well renowned with enthusiasts of cycling and walking holidays. A chairlift runs from the centre of town to a hill overlooking ...

flightmemory.com 23/02/2009

If you want to store and view your flight history.....

flightmemory.com This will only be a brief review, but I hope to give an idea of what this website does. If you have some spare time in front of a PC and are interested to map and view statistics on all the places that you have flown in your life, this site might just be for you. flightmemory.com is a free site that allows you to input information on flights you have taken. The minimum information is a departure point, destination, and you'll need a date for each flight too. However, if you're unsure of the date that you flew you can of course type in whatever date you want. You can also record the class you travelled, where you were seated, or possibly a little more useful, the airline and type of aircraft that you flew on. Once you start to record this information you can view statistics about your travel. Maps Maps are divided into 3 sections for us European flyers. We have our domestic map (UK for me), a European map and a world map. Each displays the flights that have been taken at that level, so your European flights won't show up on the world map detail, but that's a nice feature as otherwise the map might be a little crowded in that area! Stats Grouped into Top 10 lists you have information on your most flown airlines, routes, visited airports, aircraft and other information including the total number of airports and countries visited. It also calculates the total number of miles (or km) that you have flown and the number of hours that you have spent in the air. A nice ...

click4sky.com 23/02/2009

Czech this site if Prague is in your plans

click4sky.com There are a staggering number of budget airlines these days, their routes constantly changing as they expand and contract their businesses in an attempt to maximise income or even just to keep going. Full service airlines went through a period of creating their own budget services, for example BA created Go! (before selling it to easyJet a little while later), KLM have Transavia (though I'm yet to see a budget priced ticket on that airline), Qantas created Jetstar, Delta had Song and United had TED, to provide a few examples. click4sky.com is a little different however. click4sky is not a budget airline, it's not an airline at all. It's also not a booking website for multiple airlines. click4sky only sell seats on CSA Czech Airlines. It seems that rather than create a budget offshoot, CSA opted to sell cheap tickets on their existing aircraft. Routes Unless you live in Prague you're going to find their routemap a little limited. As you would expect, they only operate flights to/from Prague, but this does open up CSA's entire European network at a fixed, low price if Prague is a starting point for you. From the UK they operate from London Heathrow and Manchester airports. They're easily the cheapest from Heathrow, but from Manchester they have some true budget competition from bmibaby. Other budget airlines operate from other UK airports to Prague, including easyJet, SkyEurope, Jet2, Wizzair and Germanwings. Flying CSA CSA Czech Airlines are the Czech national ...

Football Manager 2009 (PC) 20/02/2009

Waste your life for virtual glory. FM 2009

Football Manager 2009 (PC) Many years ago, somewhere around 1996, I bought a computer magazine. This wasn't something I was prone to doing, but I'd just got a new PC and I liked the look of a couple of things on the free cover disc. I soon got bored of these freebies and installed a couple of the demo games. I couldn't tell you what any of these games were, except for one..... Championship Manager 2. Since that life defining moment I have spent many hours in front of computer screens attached to that game and those that followed it. I've suffered the frustrations of having a great winning streak, signing lots of good players and progressing well in the cups only to press the 'Continue' button and see the whole application crash. It's very disheartening, but the annoyance can return you to your friends and loved ones for a few days whilst you recover. You eventually learn to save the game more regularly. I've sat there and laughed as the comments on the game introduction screen gave me useful life advice, like 'Don't forget to feed the cat' or more recently something about turning your underwear inside out to save on laundry. The more hours you played, the more desperate sounding these messages sounded as they demonstrated my level of addiction. Many arguments have stemmed from the fact that a meal has been lovingly prepared but coincides with the middle of an important league match, or the phone rings, or maybe someone just wants to have a conversation with you. Nobody seemed to understand how ...
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