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stuleg

stuleg

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Reviews written

since 30/11/-0001

173

Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec (PS2) 28/02/2005

GRAN TURISMO É MAGNIFICO

Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec (PS2) Maybe few of us gamers realised it at the time, but December 1997 was to mark a pivotal moment in the evolution of gaming as we knew it. An unknown game developer named Kazunori Yamauchi set about creating a different kind of racing game, a game where the cars looked and performed as they would in the real world and the scenery at the various race track locations looked lifelike and believable. This game was called Gran Turismo and was available on the original Playstation console, there was one more Gran Turismo game released for the PSX before 2001 saw the release of Gran Turismo 3 A-spec for the fairly new Playstation 2. I remember actually seeing a feature on the six o’clock news regarding this game, such was its originality and sheer groundbreaking look it was literally the first game of its like the world had seen. The premise of Gran Turismo 3 Well, in its basic form it is a racing game and yet that description does scant justice to GT3. Dependant on what is selected on the options screen the player can either enter a single race and time trial via the arcade option or take part in the Gran Turismo competition. Single racing is pretty much as the name suggests while the time trial is a good way to hone skills before challenging the big boys in the Gran Turismo mode with the majority of the cars available save for those really special ones. The real fun of the game though shines through when the Gran Turismo mode is selected. The player is given ...

Getting Rid of Mister Kitchen - Charles Higson 21/02/2005

SOME DAYS YOU JUST CAN`T GET RID OF A BODY….

Getting Rid of Mister Kitchen - Charles Higson “Mr Kitchen, I seem to be missing something here. Correct me if I’m wrong. But this is my home, my flat. You came in here uninvited, acting for all the world like one of the less civilised contestants on Through the Keyhole, insulting me, insulting my work…. And somehow this means that I am rude?” Life was damn near perfect for the unnamed protagonist in Charles Higsons` “Getting rid of Mr Kitchen”, He was about to hit the big time in the world of interior design, his nice flat situated in affluent St Johns Wood and money in the bank meant that a steady stream of hard drugs and soft women were always on hand to entertain him. Yes, all was going swimmingly. Damn then that bloody stupid, insistently rude and seemingly ignorant Mr Kitchen; Damn him because he insisted on trying to buy the Saab, damn him for looking down his nose at the modern decorative style of the flat, and damn him for winding up the “soon to be big in interiors” man of the story to such an extent that a £600 sharpened designer candlestick had to be stuck just beneath his ribs! It did the job though in shutting up Mr Kitchen once and for all, but all sorts of problems presented themselves as Mr Kitchen twitched feebly and spewed crimson life fluid onto an expensive rug. With a bunch of photographers and a reporter due at the flat that same afternoon to do a piece for the Observer our protagonist had little time to spare, but just how do you get rid of a body in this day and age? “By this stage I’d ...

Sony PlayStation 2 - Slimline Model (PS2) 17/02/2005

HAS THE PLAYSTATION 2 BEEN ON THE ATKINS DIET!

Sony PlayStation 2 - Slimline Model (PS2) Maybe I’m showing my age here, but I remember one of the first games consoles there was, the Atari 2600, complete with its wood effect case and cartridge games! Since those bygone days many consoles have come and gone with battles being thought between the likes of Sega and Nintendo to be top dog in the world of video gaming. All that has passed before though is the mere under-card to the battle royal being fought here and now between Sony and Microsoft to be the undisputed king in the eyes of the joypad waggling generation with their Playstation 2 and Xbox consoles. When faced with the choice of buying one or t`other I came to the conclusion that although the Xbox was superior in graphics and potential exclusive games the PS2 was the only choice for the shear size of the back catalogue of games and strong support from third party games developers. Also the PS2 has just undergone a major remodelling which has delivered a smaller, trimmer console and a more user friendly gaming experience.  So what’s the difference between this slimline PS2 and its fatter, older brother?  Well most obvious of course is the look of the console – Internally the various parts have been replaced by smaller quieter components to reduce the weight by about half. This has also had the effect of reducing internal noise by up to 75% resulting in a far more peaceful gaming experience. As part of the space saving cuts the standard ...

Everything that starts with G ... 14/02/2005

WHAT IF IT ALL MEANS SOMETHING! (ILUSVM CHALLENGE)

Everything that starts with G ... It has been a little while since I did a challenge review and since I am waiting for two products to be listed on Ciao I thought I’d keep my hand in with the fine “What’s & Ifs” challenge setup by Emma (ilusvm). Here is what Emma has to say on the matter:- “I have never created one of the challenge things before so I thought I would have a go. The questions below are all based on “what’s” and “ifs”. Write your answer below each question. Please let me know if you do this challenge as I would love to read peoples answers.” ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ *~ “WHATS” ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ *~ (1.) What is the first interesting thing that you see when you look around the room? Interesting? Well there are plenty of uninteresting things to see but I suppose an interesting thing would be Mia – one of my black Labradors lying by my feet. Other than that it is a hotch-potch of the usual stuff that we surround ourselves with in life – a stereo, a TV, a Playstation 2, plenty of books and a paper cutter. (2.) What can you hear at the moment? The rhythmic breathing of Mia with “whispering” Bob Harris accompanying her on Radio 2. I am a big fan of Radio 2 which I dare say confirms my fears that I am rapidly heading into old age. Oh well, I will just sit here with my pipe and slippers sucking Werthers Originals and moaning about the youth of today. (3.) What is on your computer desk? My PC tower, a TFT monitor, a couple of computer speakers, my mobile phone, a stack of post-it notes, a ...

Cadbury Double Decker with Nuts 11/02/2005

HAVE YOU GONE NUTS, CADBURY?

Cadbury Double Decker with Nuts Now please don’t get me wrong, I’m all for evolution – be it plants, animals or even chocolate bars – but one day soon we are going to have only one choice when it comes to buying a bar of chocolate, and that bar of chocolate will have every possible facet of every other chocolate bar included. It will be two chunky fingers of caramel and mint chip wafer filling, topped with nuts, nougat and coconut, covered in alternate ribbons of dark, milk and white chocolate! Maybe I am being over dramatic, but it seems to me that chocolate bar producers seem incapable of leaving a tried and tested formula alone. If I want a treat with chocolate and nuts I will simply buy a Marathon (Snickers) or Topic – If I want something with a chewy caramel theme I’ll no doubt head for the Double Decker or Boost section. But as far as I am aware I have never been eating a Cadbury Double Decker and suddenly exclaimed that I really wished it had some nuts included! I bought a Double Decker because I wanted a Double Decker! It’s really that simple! Imagine my shock then when I stumbled upon the latest bastardisation from the Cadbury camp – The Double Decker with Nuts! At first I presumed it to be some sort of joke, some hidden camera stunt at my expense, but no – this was real life, and this was a real life chocolate bar staring me in the face. Such was my shock at this new kid on the chocolate block it took all of my strength and resolve to pick up two bars and put them in my basket. But I was ...

iSkin eVo2 Case MP3 Player (EVO2CA-A) 03/02/2005

RIBBED FOR i-PODS PLEASURE!

iSkin eVo2 Case MP3 Player (EVO2CA-A) In life, you often find that a thin layer of rubber can give the very best protection; In children’s playgrounds a little rubber matting can spell the difference between a slight bruise and a broken bone. In the bedroom a layer of rubber (latex) can literally save your life in regards to horizontal shenanigans of the sexual kind and diseases contracted in the act thereof. So we shouldn’t really be surprised that those bright sparks at Iskin.com have invented a rubberised covering for that most fragile and expensive of gadgets – the i-pod. If, like me, you have paid the best part of £300 in order to store and listen to your music collection on this most iconic of gadgets then you are going to be less than impressed if, while showing off your snazzy MP3 player, you accidentally drop it. So it was that as soon as I recognised the fragility of my new i-pod I scoured the internet for some sort of protection to keep it in one piece.  Availability & Fitting  The i-pod accessory scene is a massive selection of cases, covers, and other “must have” additions so I had little problem in finding the item I was looking for, the ISkin eVo2 40GB i-pod protector. The price seemed to be around the £20 mark so I handed over my credit card details, chose black as my preferred ISkin colour and waited for the postman to do his stuff. Two to five days later the ISkin arrived and on unwrapping it I have to say I was a little disappointed with the look and colour, still the ...

The Simpsons: Hit & Run (PS2) 28/01/2005

EAT MY EXHAUST!!!

The Simpsons: Hit & Run (PS2) I think it is fair to say that previous computer and console games carrying the Simpsons name have been something of a let down. The Simpsons Wrestling was little more than tedious rounds of punching, kicking and hoping, while The Simpsons Road Rage was a display of inept graphics and gameplay at there very worst. No doubt like many others I held my breath when I heard that a new game in The Simpsons stable was coming out called The Simpsons Hit & Run. But what was I worrying about? At last the people who licence The Simpsons brand name had got it right and finally put the name to a decent, funny and playable game. A game of such immense enjoyment it will surely go down as one of the classic console games of recent years. ♦So what is the game all about then?♦ Well, in its crudest form it is a sort of Grand Theft Auto for cartoon fans. Taking turns as Homer, Bart, Lisa, Marge and Apu it is the players quest to work out the riddle of the black vans, dark sedans and spy cameras that have started popping up throughout Springfield. Is it all linked to the new cola drink on the block, the imaginatively named “Buzz Cola”? Something is afoot that’s for sure and through a clever succession of car chases and tasks in which you help the other members of Springfield in return for clues or the use of their cars the mystery is slowly revealed. Along the way you must avoid too many hit and run accidents on the poor innocents that happen across your path as you drive like a ...

Sony SRS Z510 25/01/2005

A SOUND INVESTMENT

Sony SRS Z510 There is little doubt in my mind that computers and the internet have revolutionised the way in which people listen to music. MP3 music files can be downloaded in just a few minutes with a broadband internet connection, computer games have replaced the few mandatory beeps and chirps of yesteryear with full bodied music and character voices, and there is now the option of listening to virtually any radio station in the world with just the click of a mouse button. Of course, the sound you hear when participating in any of those activities is only ever going to be as good as your computers speakers will allow, you may well have the fastest most powerful computer in your street with the latest sound card installed, but if your computers speakers are not up to the job you might as well have saved your money. ●Why I chose Sony SRS-Z510● As I make computers for friends and family I am able to select the best components depending on what each user requires. But the one thing I always strongly advise is that a decent sound card and speaker set up is key. For those who are happy to go with my recommendation I install a Creative SoundBlaster 1024 sound card and Sony SRS-Z510 speakers. Many say that the £40 price tag seems a little steep for a set of speakers, but once I explain the strengths of them the potential recipient is usually convinced. Firstly, the speakers are powered, which means that damping is improved. Basically this means that the electric impulse which ...

London Bridges - James Patterson 19/01/2005

LONDON BRIDGE IS FALLING DOWN

London Bridges - James Patterson “There are many who lust for the simple answers of doctrine or decree. They are on the left and right. They are not confined to a single part of the society. They are terrorists of the mind.” It was a warm and clear skied day in Sunrise Valley, Nevada, and the towns three hundred inhabitants were going about there business in and around there mismatch of mobile homes as best they could. Little did they know that there peace was about to be interrupted on a grandiose scale, a convoy of army trucks and jeeps swamped the town and set about evacuating its people for “emergency” reasons. All seemed to be above board until one man – Dougie Puslowski – refused to leave and was promptly shot and killed in front of his wife. The other inhabitants were then taken away in the troop carriers and trucks and dumped in the middle of the Nevada desert some forty odd miles away. What followed was a breathtaking and violent act; a cargo plane circled lazily over the deserted town and dropped a massive thousand gallon fuel-air bomb with devastating results. The town was demolished completely – those parts that were not vaporised on impact were burnt to the ground by the tide of burning all encompassing fuel. But who would do such a thing? And why plan such a devastating attack on a shanty town in the middle of nowhere? “Our war that we now fight is against terror and evil... Our struggle is going to be long and difficult. But we will prevail. We will win. Good will overcome evil.” It ...

Philips 170C4FS 16/01/2005

THIS DREAM SCREEN IS SUPREME

Philips 170C4FS Ever since LCD monitors hit the market a few years back I have wanted one, but the high price coupled with the quality of the display always held me back. Finally though I decided that my old CRT monitor was not really up to the job, it is a monster of a display about the size of a small car taking up far too much desk space so it really did have to go. I did a great deal of research online to find out which was the best LCD monitor for my needs and was constantly finding myself reading good reports on the Philips 170C4FS 17” LCD Monitor (henceforth in this review to be known as the 170C4). I also noticed that it was sold by PC World which was another bonus as I wanted to see the monitor I bought working first, just to see if the colours and brightness were acceptable and exactly as I required. A quick trip to PC World in Southend and I was faced with about half a dozen 17” LCD monitors all working and showing their capabilities to all who passed. The 170C4 was nestled comfortably amongst them and was, in my opinion, the best looking and had the clearest and brightest display. I spent a good ten minutes just watching the various monitors so that I could spot any weaknesses in the display, one or two seemed to stutter when the action on the screen (which was a Finding Nemo game) got too fast, but the 170C4 seemed to cope with anything the game could throw at it. My mind made up I told the nearest shop assistant which monitor I wanted to be told they didn’t have any of the ...

The Lake - Richard Laymon 11/01/2005

REVENGE IS A DISH BEST SERVED OLD

The Lake - Richard Laymon “Revenge is always the weak pleasure of a little and narrow mind” It’s the summer of 68 and Leigh’s parents are at their wits end at her wayward behaviour, the final straw being her arrest at an anti Vietnam War rally. It seems nothing can stop her on the destructive route she has taken so an idea is hatched whereby she will spend the remainder of the summer at her Aunt and Uncles house overlooking Lake Wahconda. Initially reticent Leigh soon changes her mind when she arrives at the Lake in all of its glorious detail, with a summer of swimming and sunbathing ahead of her Leigh could get to rather enjoy the whole setup. Her spirits are further raised when she spies a young athletic man rowing on the Lake one morning, a tanned and muscled lad by the name of Charlie who uses the lake and its surrounding houses to hawk his Mothers hand made baskets. Romance is quick to blossom with long sunny days and lazy swims all adding to the glorious new love, however, while in the throws of some energetic lovemaking in an old abandoned beach house an accident sees Charlie fall through some rotten floorboards to his death, the love that was blossoming so fully between Leigh and Charlie is snuffed out before it ever really got going. As a final twist Leigh discovers she is pregnant and since she has had no other sexual partners Charlie must be the Dad. “Those who plot the destruction of others often perish in the attempt” Fast forward to 1984, and the result of Leigh and Charlie’s ...

Packard Bell iMedia 3051 09/01/2005

THIS PACKARD`S A BELLE

Packard Bell iMedia 3051 Time was when buying a new PC would leave very little change from a thousand pounds for even the most basic of systems, but with mass production of components and increased competition from retailers PC prices have tumbled to such an extent that an adequate system can be purchased for just a few hundred pounds. This is where the Packard Bell 3051 iMedia comes in; a friend of mine was looking for a new PC and despite my protestations had decided that PC World was the shop to get his custom. A look around the various models on display unearthed what seemed to be a veritable bargain - the above mentioned system for just £310. Some questioning of a shop assistant revealed that this price did not include a monitor but since the friend in question had purchased a TFT monitor not four months ago this was ideal as far as he was concerned. So £310 and half an hour later we were setting about the task of unpacking and installing the new PC to see exactly what £310 bought by way of a new computer system. ◄What’s in the box? ► Well I’ve already mentioned that a monitor is not included but what you do get is a nice looking silver and black tower with separate DVD and CD-RW drives and the mandatory – but seldom used – floppy drive. The 102 key keyboard is also silver and black as is the two button scroll mouse and the twin speakers. Power leads and cables are of course all present as are instructions for both the PC system and the Windows XP home operating system which is ...

Xerox 2400 OneTouch 07/01/2005

SCANNED AND DELIVERED

Xerox 2400 OneTouch Now it is fair to say that computer hardware has tumbled in price in recent years and this is as evident with scanners as it is with other hardware. When I first started out in the world of PC`s I bought a scanner which was frankly poor by today’s standards for nearly £200, although it is still working well enough the speed at which it scans coupled with the poor resolution it offered meant that replacing it had become a priority. Browsing a local newspaper a few weeks back I stumbled upon a double page PC World advert with many a special offer available throughout the bank holiday weekend, and nestled amongst the laptops and printers was a Xerox scanner for a penny less than £35. The scant details offered in the advert showed that it was far superior to my current scanner so I headed wallet in hand to my local PC World to procure the item without delay. Now therein lays my first mistake, after a twenty minute wait the sales assistant reappeared to inform me that they had sold out there allotted shipment of scanners and that he had no idea if or when they would be getting more in. Exit me in a fowl mood vowing never to go near PC World again (a vow I make at least once a month) and without the scanner I set my heart on. No matter thought I, I’ll simply do a search for the Xerox 2400 flatbed scanner on the internet and buy one that way. However the cheapest price I found it available at was, you’ve guessed it, at PCworld.co.uk. This wasn’t a problem though, I like PC Worlds ...

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens 20/12/2004

"CHRISTMAS! BAH HUMBUG!"

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol “Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire.” “Bah!” said Scrooge, “Humbug!” as his Nephew bid him a Merry Christmas, and those two words encompass the feelings of the truly miserly and miserable Ebenezer Scrooge. A man of such unimaginable bad will that he only lets his long suffering employee Bob Cratchit use one piece of coal in the fire at a time. A man that sees Christmas day as little more than a poor excuse for picking a mans pocket every twenty-fifth of December, and warns the aforementioned Cratchit that he had better be at work all the earlier come Boxing Day if he is to have the whole of Christmas Day away from work. Yes, it’s fair to say that Scrooge kept Christmas in very much his own way – by simply ignoring and berating it completely, he ignored his Nephews repeated requests for him to join him and his wife for a Christmas dinner, preferring his own melancholy company. Of course this sort of attitude could not be left to fester a moment longer, and so it was that this Christmas Eve as Scrooge sat in his dark and cold chambers that a deep and mournful rattling of chains emitted from the basement and grew in strength as something – someone – seemed to be walking deliberately towards old Scrooges room, toward and then straight through old Scrooges door. “Scrooges ...

A Ciaoer's Poem for Christmas 14/12/2004

HAVE A HAIKU CHRISTMAS

A Ciaoer's Poem for Christmas I am not sure exactly how comfortably the ancient art of Japanese Haiku and Christmas sit together – my guess is not very well! But that is not going to stop me knocking out a few more Haiku with a distinctively Christmassy feel, I hope you enjoy them. ■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□ COMPOSING A TRADITIONAL JAPANESE HAIKU POEM The 300-year old Haiku Poem has its own distinct discipline: - Each complete poem has only three lines, totalling 17 syllables. - The first line must be five syllables - The second line must be seven syllables - The third line must be five syllables When these rigid conditions are met, the result can be a very satisfying word picture. Note that the subject or content of a Haiku poem does not matter, as long as the basic 5-7-5 rule applies. Try it yourself and see just how talented you ...
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