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green Status green (Level 2/10)


I am a teacher, beekeeper and rugby player in the South West of England

Reviews written

since 17/07/2009


Enemy At The Gates (DVD) 12/03/2010

Absolutely Stunning war film (Enemy at the Gates (DVD))

Enemy At The Gates (DVD) This for me is the best war film ever made. It may not have the action that some others have but the emotional buy in and reaction that it inspires is unbelievable. Cast Three big names in Jude Law, Joseph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz head the cast however you will recognise many other faces in this (Bob Hoskins, Ed Harris etc). Plot I won't write too much here as I hate giving away things that people would enjoy finding for themselves. This film is set in Stalingrad in World War 2 and focusses on the German assault on Russia. In particular it focusses on a young russian from a rural background who gets conscripted to fight. The film opens with a russian assault on a well fortified German position. As the russians are urged into action with a rifle between 2 people they are mercilessly gunned down by German machine guns. As the Russians try to retreat they are then shot by their own Officers for cowardice. The film centres on the main character and also a young officer/reporter who form an unlikely allegiance. The young soldier proves to be a crack shot and the reporter inspires the nation with propaganda stories about his friend. All well and good until the Germans bring in a big shot sniper of their own charged with the killing of the youngster. Add to the mix a love triangle and some genuinely heart warming moments and the film is electric. It is edge of the seat stuff. Overall Tremendous production and direction as well as excellent sets ...

Google Mail ( 12/03/2010

Not E-Mail GMail! (

Google Mail ( I have been using Gmail as an alternative to my work account for approximately 6 years now getting an early beta invite. Over the years I have seen it's quality and features improve significantly. What is Gmail? GMail is Google's webmail service, accessed by The big selling point of GMail when it initially launched was the use of Google's search knowledge in the e-mail setup. It also offered a large and constantly increasing mailbox size which currrently sits at over 7Gb of storage space. Why Webmail? The big advantage of webmail is that I can acces it from any internet enabled PC or mobile device. This is great for me as I can quite happily use it at work, home and if I am on the road or at a conference. Compatability GMail works fine on any modern browser and I have happily used it on Windows, Macs and Linux machines. I also frequently use it on my Windows Mobile Phone (See HTC HD2 review). There is also the option to set it up to use POP3 in order to access it through your favourite mail client such as Outlook or Thunderbird. Features Gmail offers all the features and functionality that you would expect in a modern day e-mail client such as Carbon copy, blind carbon copy, multiple recipients, attachments etc etc) GMail doesn't use folders for storage but Labels, this is handy as you can then tag mails with more than one label and search through labels as you go. Spam filters are inbuilt and powerful, and many new features are ... 12/03/2010

Fun is key in I stumbled across funkysnooker a few months back and was so pleased that at last someone had had a good crack at an online snooker game. There are hundreds of Pool games online but I love tyhe whole tactical side of snooker! The site Branded in a nice green colour the site itself is inviting and offers you the chance to get straight into a practice game or competitive game as a guest. This is a nice feature as many people are reluctant to sign up to something until they have tried it out. The site uses Java as a delivery engine for it's game which works well in the main browsers (I have used in IE, Firefox and Opera without difficulty). The game The game of snooker is well represented with arcade and regular versions available (Arcade has 10 reds, regular the full 15) with appropriate table sizes. Gameplay itself is faithful to sooker rules with breaks being built up and play rotating between players. All the fouls are in there and so too is the use of spin on the cue ball. Shooting is handled by the mouse, aiming and then clicking and holding whilst pulling back and forward to generate the shot power. This feels really intuitive and you soon start knocking in shots. Extras If you sign up you get a ranking which will go up or down as you play other players. This is a nice way to judge yourself and gives you motivation to improve. Regular tournaments are also run which gives an extra dimension to the game. Tracking includes how many games you have played, ...

Tesco Jelly Babies 12/03/2010

Eat Babies legally! (Tesco Jelly Babies)

Tesco Jelly Babies I've never been a huge fan of jelly babies until I played rugby for my local team. They had a tradition of suppliying jelly babies alongside the halftime Oranges and water. I have grown rather partial to these little nuggets of energy and decided to track down where they were being purchased from. It turns out to be Tesco. Read on for more! Packaging Attractively packaged ina green plastic bag with a rainbow effect with the words "jelly babies" in a nice chunky orange font. This is all on a background witha picture of the product. (Pleases note that the packagiung has changed since the product picture on this site). The front is completed with the usual nutritional info and the weight (250g). Product = Each baby is just over an inch in height and about 1/3 inch in width. They are made of a nice jelly like gum which presents little trouble when biting through it (muich softer than a wine gum). They are finished with a dusting of icing sugar making them look more attractive. Flavours are all fruity with the traditional lemon, orange, strawberry, blackcurrant and lime all there in appropriate colours. The fruit flavours are good but not outstanding with the blackcurrant being my personal favourite. Value At a mere 52p a bag the value factor here is great. They are definitely comparable to the more expensive makes and at the price make a great buy.

Isklar Glacial Mineral Water Still 12/03/2010

Water good bottle

Isklar Glacial Mineral Water Still I picked up a bottle of this from our school canteen having not heard of it before. I am no great still water expert but I do like to have a bottle in my room when teaching. Packaging The bottle itself is 700ml in capacity witha sports style top (different to the one in the picture). The bottle has a nice triangular faceted effect in it's shape which gives the impression of carved ice or diamonds. On the bottle is a small blue and white label with the company name, logo and product description. Taste Once again I am no expert, I suspect I would struggle to distinguish Evian from Tesco value! This water was certainly refreshing with a clean chemical free taste as you would hope for. The water was perfectly clear and on the back label it claims to be "Very low mineral content" I guess this helps it to taste a bit lighter and fresher. Value At 57 pence for 700 ml this compares very well to other brands. Overall opinion One of the big bonuses for me about this water is the 700ml capacity. I find a 500 ml bottle a little too small while a 1 litre bottle is a bit big. This splits the difference nicely. The taste is light and fresh and the cap works well. Overall very impressed.

Fellowes Small 23/02/2010

I can see clearly now! (Fellowes Screen Cleaner & Dry Wipes)

Fellowes Small I bought these for my classroom at school as I was fed up with the greasy fingermarks left sprawled across my monitors. Packaging The yellow box contained a 125 ml pump action spray along with a small plastic pouch of absorbent cloth like wipes. The packaging was not excessive, contained all relevant safety information and details needed. The Spray I must say I have never been a big fan of sprays as I find that all too often they leave the monitor or screen too wet! However the pump action nozzle on this spray allowed me to moderate the amount generated nicely ensuring that there was no waste. The pads = The pads are generously sized and I quickly found that one pad would easily service 2 monitors. They are lint free and very absorbent ensuring that all the spray is cleaned away and leaving a streak free finish. At no point have any of the pads tore or worn through. Value The pack contains 20 wipes and 125ml of cleaning solution. I have found that the pads will disappear before the spray, but at only £5.99 for the pack I believe this is good value. It certainly outperforms wet wipes as I find they dry out over time.

Lindt Lindor Assorted Chocolate Truffles 23/02/2010

These will truffle your feathers (Lindt Lindor Assorted)

Lindt Lindor Assorted Chocolate Truffles I have been a Lindor fan for some time and first stumbled across the variety box a couple of years ago. While I think it is fair to say that the Milk chocolate are definitely my favourite Lindt shows that it is no one trick pony with these other subtle flavours. I shall review each chocolate in turn. Milk = For me this is the greatest chocolate treat ever. The wonderful Lindt milk chcocolate is creamy and rich with a wonderful smell. However the magic happens as this melts away to reveal the wonderfully rich truffle filling. This for me is like liquid gold, easing it's way through your mouth and trickling down the throat. White The white chocolate sweet is extremely tasty but doesn't quite have the quality or smoothness shown in the milk chocolate. Overall it tastes sweeter aned slightly more artificial but in no way does it let the side down - very edible! Dark = I am no great fan of dark schocolate but for me this mirrors the milk chocolate in taste, texture and quality but with a dark and bitter twist. If you like dark chocolate you will love this! Praline This one is the real oddity of the box with small hazelnut pieces impregnated in the chocolate. While I don't dislike these I much prefer the smooth finish of the others. Once again the centre truffle is dreamlike. Overall For me these are a luxurious treat, expensive yet worth it! While for myself I would still choose a box of the milk chocolate variety for those who ...

Crabbie's Original Alcoholic Ginger beer 12/02/2010

So So Smooth! (Crabbie's Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer)

Crabbie's Original Alcoholic Ginger beer I like Ginger Beer. I like alcohol. I love alcoholic Ginger Beer. Ginger Beer for me has always reminded me of days gone by with the warm tingling being comforting and refreshing. The Look Bottle wise this looks like any real ale on the shelf. A sturdy stout traditional shape with an attractive brown hue to the drink when the light shines on it. The label is well presented with a thistle flower giving reference to it's Scottishmanufacturer. Once in a glass it has a lovely clear finish with a delicious yellow tint. The Taste I've tried alcoholic ginger beers before and only ever been disappointed. This one however ticks all the boxes. It is smoother than say Idris non alcoholic ginger beer with a less agressive carbonation leading to a more pleasant drinking experience. The flavour is a cross between something like Idris and the real homemade stuff my Mum used to make. There is the right amount of warmth on the throat and the alcohol is barely discernible in the pleasant drink. The bottle reccomends serving over ice, however serving chilled seems to give the same smooth flavour. The Facts 500 ml bottle (enough for 2 tumblers) 4% alcohol (similar to a beer) £23 for a pack of 12 (approx £2 per bottle) Summary Not a cheap option but one that I will definitely be returning to. This is the kind of drink that is great all year round, I can see it replacing Pimms at my summer barbecues and it is a great drink in the winter as it warms you from the ...

Heinz Classic Mulligatawny Soup 12/02/2010

Mull it over before deciding! (Heinz Mulligatawny Soup)

Heinz Classic Mulligatawny Soup I discovered Mulligatawny soup in an old recipe book of my Mum's and was blown away by the flavours of this wonderful soup. This review is based on the Heinz version of the soup, available for approx £1.10 for 400g. Packaging Like all Heinz soups you have the familiar red label with product picture on the front looking rather tempting. The label has all the details on the ingredients and nutritional information. Initial Impressions My first thought when I emptied the soup into a saucepan ready for heating was that it looked rather thin. I am used to Mulligatawny being quite dense with the rice and meat adding real volume and texture. The colour was a pleasant reddish brown and there was evidence of the rice. Taste In my mind Mulligatawny soup tastes like a pleasant mild/medium curry. My first taste of the Heinz version was quite positive. It certainly had some curry flavour and was warming to eat. As I continued through the entire 400g I realised that it wasn't actually as nice as I had thought. The curry flavour began to taste more like curry powder mixed in water and there were not the complex spice flavours that my home made version delivers. The rice was nice but I felt it lacked in quantity. Some of the meaty bits were chewy and not particularly pleasant. Overall Well, if you are a big fan of curry flavours give this a go. If you have tried mulligatawny soup before I'm afraid this is likely to be a let down.

Jimmy Carr - Telling Jokes (DVD) 12/02/2010

Jimmy Carr - More jokes than you will know what to do with!

Jimmy Carr - Telling Jokes (DVD) I received this as a secret santa present and finally got round to watching it last night. I have seen Jimmy Carr several times on television and always been impressed with hist quick thinking and delivery style. Packaging As you can see from the picture that DVD cover has a large picture of Mr. Carr and is an 18 certificate. The back cover has a few reviews and a warning that the DVD is not for the faint hearted. Material Jimmy Carr has an amazing way of delivering jokes at real pace. Occasionally they are delivered so fast that you don't get time to appreciate them. That being said there is some exceptional jokes in this DVD, many of them based on wordplay and puns. For me Jimmy is at his best when he is reacting to hecklers or questions. Clearly this is unprepared and for me show the genius that he is. On the flip side, for me some of his material was a bit too close to the bone. I am no prude but some of the topics covered were not particularly amusing. i think the DVD would have worked better without these jokes (wife beating, paedophillia, disability). Value At approx £7 this 90 minute video is a good buy, it will have you in fits of laughter at points and you will find the odd joke that you will want to share with the rest of your friends. Add to this his Comedy Central performance (30 minutes) and a 20 minute special based on his Twitter updates as well as some outtakes and deleted scenes and this is a very appealing package.

Lego 8547 Mindstorms Nxt 2.0 Robot 12/02/2010

Build your own Robot! (Lego Mindstorms)

Lego 8547 Mindstorms Nxt 2.0 Robot Please note that this review is for the Lego Mindstorms NXT2.0 Educational Kit which incorporates the Intelligent Brick. As an ICT teacher I was looking for a product to make learning about Control in ICT a little more engaging. I stumbled across an advert in a trade mag for the Lego Mindstorms Kit and decided to risk a couple of thousand of my budget on a set of 8 of these. The Kit The intelligent brick is the hub of the kit, it communicates with the sensors and controls the motors and actuators that you can connect. It also has a rechargeable battery pack and a bluetooth connection enabled. Aside from the brick, light, sound, movement and contact sensors are included, along with 3 servo motors and some LEDs built in to Lego bricks. There is also an abundance of structural lego which can be used to build the core robot and to further modify it. The Concept Build your own Lego robot and either using the basic controls on the brick, or the PC software included, Give the robot instructions to react to various senses. The Reality Building the bots proved great fun to my 6th form class, the instructions were clear to follow and they did not take too long to get them up and running. At the time we did not have the software installed so we used the controls on the bricks to try some basic rprogramming. Within 40 minutes we soon had a fleet of robots following paper trails on a dark floor! Cost Not cheap at about £250 a pop. I certainly ...

HTC Touch HD2 12/02/2010

Have you got a HD2? You should do! (HTC HD2)

HTC Touch HD2 I have been after a decent smartphone for some time and was contemplating an I-Phone, hiowever as soon as this little number showed up I knew I wanted it. Read on to discover why! The Looks Slightly wider and longer than the I-Phone this phone is actually a little shallower and fits nicely in the palm of the hand. The general appearance is dominated by the huge 4.3 inch screen (more about that later) On the back is a nice brushed metal battery cover which gives it a feel of quality. On the front there are 5 buttons (call, home, start, back and end call)which sit unobtrusively below the screen. The camera lens protrudes form the back of the handset and is accompanied by dual LED flash and a speaker. Features The HD2 features the latest Windows Mobile Operating System (6.5) and comes with the basic Office programs. The phone has an accelerometer and this is put to good use by many applications by handling changes in display fro m pportrait to landscape. The screen is also a capacitive one, allowing for multitouch and gestures such as pinch to zoom. Under the hood if you will is a 1GHz snapdragon processor that keeps the phone working at a real pace! The phone also comes with the HTC Sense user interface that replaces the Windows interface seamlessly. this has some nice built in features including media players and photo handling. Other features that come preinstalled are Google Maps, a 15 day trial of co-pilot live Sat-Nav and a few games. Both Opera and ...

Roddas Cornish Clotted Cream 12/02/2010

Cream of the Crop! (Rodda's Cornish Clotted Cream)

Roddas Cornish Clotted Cream Clotted Cream is a real Cornish delicacy. I grew up eating Roddas with many deserts and like to keep a pot in the fridge. Packaging A nice traditional looking design adorns the plastic tub and clear plastic lid. The design features an old fashioned milk maid carrying pails of milk. The packaging leaves you in no doubt that the cream is Cornish! Description of Product Clotted cream is a very thick cream which has a similar consistency to your average cheesecake. In the tub there is generally a layer of (crust on the top, which when you break through reveals the lovely smooth cream beneath. The crust is just as tasty and still perfectly edible, however it does have a different texture. Flavour It is hard to describe the flavour of clotted cream - it is more subtle than double cream and the smooth texture adds so much to the taste. It is the perfect accompaniment to virtually any dessert with Xmas pudding being one of my favourites. Of course the iconic Cream Tea in cornwall features clotted cream on top of jam on top of a scone. Delicious. Cost If you live outside Cornwall then you can get 8 ounces delivered for £4.45, however it is about half that price in the supermarket! Brand Roddas is the original and best clotted cream. Others have tried to break into the market but Roddas is in a class of it's own. When she was still alive the Queen Mother had a delivery of this every week - it is easy to see why!

Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 (PC) 12/02/2010

Create the website of your Dreams! (Adobe Dreamweaver CS4)

Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 (PC) This has been my latest purchase for our school's website design software and I am delighted with it. The Concept Dreamweaver has for many years been the leading standard in web design software. It offers a great balance between WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) simplicity of design and the incredibly powerful code editor to ensure you casn get things exactly as you want them. Features As well as the drag and drop design features the software also features support for many Back end services such as ASP and Database connections. The software will allow you to create PHP pages or functions and integrate these into your work. One very handy feature is the built in FTP connection allowing you to connect to your website host and transfer files to and from your computer. This feature I find very handy as it allows for instant change updates. New to this edition and coming straight from the Adobe stable is Lie View - this ensures that you are working on the page in just the same view that would be seen on a webpage. this is great as it saves you having to preview changes in a browser to check them. CSS support is there of course, as is support for JavaScript, AJAX and AIR applications. Limitations There are no real limitations within this software, chances are if you want to do something, you will be able to. Combined with Flash this allows you to create extremely media rich websites. I guess the biggest limitation is price with a single user costing ...

E.C.D.L. 12/02/2010

Stupid name - great course The European Computer Driving Licence

E.C.D.L. I took my ECDL qualification several years ago now, but I have been involved in teaching it for 2 years. The Structure There are 7 modules of the ECDL covering the MS Office applications (Excel, Word, Powerpoint, Access, Outlook) One on managing files and folders and one theory unit looking at the basic use and knowledge of ICT. Each module is assessed at the end by a test. This is taken on a computer in one of two ways. The first option (known as manual marking) is where you are presented with an exam paper and are required to work through it using the PC. You are required to save and or print at various points and the amrker will then examine the work and mark it according to the mark scheme. The second option is the online testing where you log into a false test environment which emulates a computer and carry out instructions given online. This is automatically marked with immediate feedback. Difficulty Several of these units are veryt easy (particularly units 2 and 7) hoever the Access unit can be a little more taxing. We now offer this course as a GCSE option combining it with a Unit E test. This is about the level I would pitch this course and it offers the just reward of being wortha grade B at GCSE. Recognition This qualification is extremely well recognised by employers with many big companies putting all their staff through it. It is recognised internationally too. Overall A great course if you want to learn more about the basic ...
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