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I found this book on my bookshelf recently and I have no idea where it came from so I guess thats another mystery, I probably got it from a charity shop somewhere and flung it on the shelf a few years ago. I haven't read any other books by the author Faye Kellerman but I understand she is quite popular with crime fiction fans so I thought it might be helpful to try some of her short stories first before paying full price for a full length novel. I am certainly glad I took this option as I have been most disappointed with this short story collection. The first few have some connection with the Decker family who seems to be the main protaganists in some of her novels. The main character is Peter Decker being a typical cop figure, big, athletic and as mentioned more than once with 'a big ginger moustache'! Not sure of the relevance of this but Kellerman doesn't want us to imagine him without it. Perhaps she was hoping for Tom Selleck to play the film version. After the first few stories the Decker family features less often but sadly that doesn't improve the quality of the stories, in particular is one that is blatently supposed to be Jack the Ripper although he's never mentioned by name. This one was written with Kellermans son, I think my daughter would have been more help and she's only 6 weeks old. 'I'll get ye a pint o gin' didn't strike me as very authentic olde englishe speake I'm afraid. My main gripe with the stories however is a lack of any real outcome to the stories, they just kind of peter out after a few pages. I like a twist in the tale or at least a clever idea in the earlier narrative but some of these almost feel like discarded plot strands from a longer book. I read a book of short stories by Cory Doctorow before this book and there is no comparison between the two, the writing felt lazy and the plots far fetched. She would do well to read a couple of Jeffrey Archer or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle collections for some pointers on how effective a short story can be. Needless to say I won't be investing in any of her longer works any time soon which is a shame as I imagine her reputation must be based on better work than this. If you are still keen after all this Amazon will beg you to take a copy off their hands for a penny plus postage.
Reamde is the latest book from the American novelist Neal Stephenson, the copy I am reviewing was a hardcopy with an RRP of a whopping £18.99. Whilst this seems a lot to pay the book is also quite whopping at 1056 pages plus the hard cover, so not all that commuter friendly. It might be worth looking at a kindle version if you have the option. The book follows the fortunes of the Forthrast family, initially the main character seems to be Richard Forthrast a middle aged entrepreneur who was the creator of the popular online game T'Rain which is targeted by a group of chinese hackers. The virus they use is called Reamde hence the books title. This plotline is something of a red herring however as the virus storyline pretty much peters out after a couple of hundred pages. The main storyline in the book follows the adventures of Zula Forthrast, an African refugee that was adopted into the Forthrast family as a child. After an unfortunate series of events she is kidnapped by a rogue Russian mafia boss who is trying to track down the Reamde hackers mentioned above. At the point of completing this mission the narrative takes a strange turn and Zula is kidnapped again by the Welsh islamic terrorist Abdullah Jones and his gang who were plotting atrocities from the same building as the Chinese hackers. This twist really stretches belief in the storyline and the coincidences don't stop there as various characters are introduced to the story and amazingly keep bumping into each other in unlikely scenarios. The first few hundred pages of the book cracks along at a good pace and I thoroughly enjoyed the book until about half way through. Sadly the second half of the book was unable to maintain the pace and I think could have perhaps lost a couple of hundred pages without detriment. Of course maintaining a book as a 'page turner' for over a thousand pages is a difficult task and ultimately the various strands reconverge towards the end and most loose ends are tied up. Having said that the last fifty pages or so seemed a little rushed and I wondered if the editor had got fed up by this stage and remembered what they were supposed to be doing. I have read several books by this author and I would class this as one of his more average efforts, sorry Neal I hope the enormous bags of cash you will earn from the book help you get over my comments! The book is very American orientated with RV's, Walmarts, Gun shooting family reunions, scary islamic terrorists and so on. The book could easily have been written by any one of a dozen thriller writers with not as many flashes of brilliance as some of his earlier works. The book would be classed as techno-thriller although technically perhaps science fiction as the MMORPG T'Rain is probably slightly ahead of todays capabilities. nothing else in the book would classify it as science fiction however. Overall I would recommend the book although not for a casual reader, it took me the best part of a month to read and I usually get through roughly a book a week. As of today the book is available on Amazon for £11.20 for the harcover and paperback for £15.71.
This 2006 book by Cormac McCarthy charts the adventures and tribulations of a a man and his son travelling through the desolate remains of a future America. The book won the 2007 Pulitzer fiction prize and the James Tait Black memorial prize for fiction in 2006 and was highly praised at the time. It has since been made into a Hollywood film. The book is fairly short in length, my copy was 256 pages although the paragraphs are quite short and the typeface quite large, I read the book in about three days but it could easily be read in one sitting. The genre would probably be described as science fiction, but there is very little in terms of traditional science fiction and the novel is more concerned with the interaction between the man and the boy (who are described as such and never actually named). They are travelling towards the coast following some unspecified catastrophe possibly nuclear war, there is very little food or shelter available to them other than food they can steal from abandonded homes and shops which have already been heavily looted and they teeter on the edge of starvation. Almost all plants and animals are dead although there are a few other human survivors these are treated with caution as it seems canibalism, murder and rape are all they can expect from these fellow survivors. The mans wife and boys mother has committed suicide some time in the past and it emerges that the boy was born around about the time of the world changing event. The man carries a handgun but with only two bullets it is used more as a deterrent than anything else. The man is also ill in some way and frequently coughs up blood and the boy is clearly not of an age where he can look after himself alone, it seems the man has resigned himself to killing the boy before he dies, I won't spoil the later chapters by disclosing how this resolves. The novel is quite bleak and there are no moments of humour, this is not a lighthearted read and I would have been quite reluctant to persevere if the novel had been another hundred pages or so. As it is I did quite enjoy the book although it probably isn't something I would usually choose, (a friend gave me this copy). I wouldn't however rate it as highly as some reviewers, it has been touted as the best book of the last twenty five years which I would certainly disagree with. Overall recommended but not if you want cheering up! The book is available from Amazon for about £5.00 but I'm sure you would get a copy from a charity shop for less as the book has been around for a few years.
1. What is the wallpaper on your computer screen? Why did you choose it? A picture of my wife and I in a snowy field, very close up (I took it myself!). My wife chose it. 2. Mexican food, Chinese food, Italian food, French food or American food? Tough one, all of them probably, French if I really had to choose. 3. Do you have any tattoos and piercings? No 4. Do you have any siblings? A sister four years older 5. Have you ever broken a bone? Yes collar bone and wrist. Ouch 6. Do you believe in superstitious things such as breaking mirrors? Depends if I get a shard stuck in my forehead when it happens, not really otherwise. 7. Do you like those 'end of the world' movies? Like any movies, if its well made I would like it 8. Do you eat more fruits or vegetables? What's your favourite fruit and veggie? Probably more fruit usually just for convenience. Avacado is the best, the green prince of the veg aisle! 9. Who were you most likely to play during school nativities? Can't remember doing one, maybe a sheep in the stable. 10. What's your opinion of the dentist? She is a bad lady, I still go every six months though so can't be that bad. 11. Have you ever had a speech impediment? Nnnnnnnnnnno 12. If you had to choose, what is the worst movie you've ever seen? Very rare for me to stop a movie halfway through, two that I did were Nurse Betty and Gerry, both very poor. 13. Do you like meeting new people? Take it or leave it really, good to make new friends but I don't actively look. 14. If you could, which celebrity would you date? Danii Minogue maybe 15. Who would you take with you on a deserted island? My wife, my cat and a few mates. 16. Do you know how wide your hips are in exact inches? No idea, slightly larger than most of my pants. 17. What would you say is the worst part of high school? Maths. 18. How old will you be on your Mother's 68th birthday? Is that 'old' to you? I will be 44 its oldish but better than the alternative. 19. Ever thought you were dying of something you were not even close to having? All the time. I always assume any minor ailment is something bad. 20. Have you ever wanted to be a doctor? No thanks, my own bodily functions are distressing enough. 21. If you were dying who would you say goodbye to first? First? probably last would be better, first would probably be work last would be my Mum and my Wife. 22. Do you like to babysit children? Never tried it, my wife is expecting in a couple of weeks so I'll let you know soon. 23. Do you often forget where you put things? Can't remember! 24. Do you go on a lot of holidays? Used to do but skint now due to new baby. 25. Have you ever met someone with the same 'biggest fear' as you? Not really scared of anything, snakes a bit but I think a lot of people are. 26. Would you rather write with a pen or pencil? Why? Pen, don't like the scraping noise that pencils make 25. What is your favourite number and why? 3, not sure why always has been my favourite, it is the magic number or so the song tells us. 26. Are you afraid of being kidnapped when you go outside at night time? Not at all so I probably will be now, thanks for that. 27. Where was the best school trip you ever went on? Went to France which was quite good, Lake district was good fun too. 28. Are you a controversial person? Don't think so, but I don't really care what people think so some think I am a bit odd I guess. 29. What would you say your average word per minute count is on a keyboard? 60 words roughly, my wife can do a hundred, thats fast. 30. What was your favourite and least favourite subject in school? Favourite probably Games not sure if that counts, quite liked history too. Didn't like Maths. 31. Do you bite your nails. Fraid so, but it's more socially acceptable than biting other peoples! 32. When is the next time you'll go to the library? Possibly Friday 24th February 2012, I have a book to pick up that I ordered online. Reamde by Neal Stephenson if your interested. 33. Do you like fiction or non-fiction books more? Fiction 34. Do you treat others as you'd like to be treated? I try to 35. What type of child were you? A young one 36. Are you someone who likes to get into arguments and fights a lot? No very rarely argue with anyone, I rarely get angry either. 37. Do you swear a lot? Do I F*%$ 38. If you had to get a tattoo, what would it be of and where would you have it? I nearly got a large Roman numeral X on my inside wrist whilst in New York on my tenth wedding anniversary. However we were drunk and went to a comedy show instead and then forgot. If I got one it would be on the spur of the moment. 39. What's your favourite TV show? Seinfeld is a classic, Still Game comes close too. 40. Does personality weigh out the sense of 'good looks'? Probably, good looks help though 41. What is your favourite thing in your bedroom? My huge comfy bed 42. If you could change 1 thing about you, what would it be? Nothing springs to mind, not saying I'm perfect but no point wishing for things I can't change. 43. Do you have any regrets? If so, what are they? Sure try not to dwell on them though, can't think of anything major. Sometimes wish I had gone to University but if I had I probably wouldn't have travelled as much as I did. 44. What colour hair do you have? Blondy brown 45. What colour eyes do you have? Green 46. Favourite Sound? Good music or the fizz of a beer bottle top on a summers day after a hard day. Man thats making me thirsty just writing it! 47. Favourite Quote? Its a poem If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too: If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies, Or being hated don't give way to hating, And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise; If you can dream---and not make dreams your master; If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim, If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same:. If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools; If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings, And never breathe a word about your loss: If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!" If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much: If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds' worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son! Rudyard Kipling Thanks for reading
I originally bought this book for my dad a few years ago. I'm not sure if he actually read it or not but I found it on the bookshelf one day whilst having a nosy and decided to borrow it as a bit of a change from the usual sort of books I read. The author Harry Thompson was something as a jack of all trades having being involved in the television show Have I Got News For You, Harry Enfield and Chums and Never Mind The Buzzcocks. He also wrote a Booker prize longlisted book as well as an autobiography of Peter Cook and Herge (writer of Tintin). This book is a lighthearted account of his pastime playing cricket for the fairly inept amateur cricket team The Captain Scott XI, in particular their attempts to play a cricket match in every continent including Antarctica, hence the title. As such it is a cross between a travel book and a sports memoir although the focus is more on telling a good tale than trying to keep within the boundry (no pun intended) of a particular genre. A consequence of this is that much of the book involves the amusing activities of the various team members more than a straight account of their adventures. From the hard drinking and joint smoking half Irish half Malaysian brothers to the frugal Australian who is assisted financially by the author to help him afford the trip. The author then discovers on arrival in Perth that he has used the money to buy a new car! Although it isn't essential to be a cricket fan to enjoy the book at least a passing knowledge of the game would be useful as there are one or two phrases and accounts of matches that would be fairly incomprehensible to a cricket novice. Although as with the Captain Scott XI recruitment policy having no knowledge of cricket shouldn't put you off! This is a good lighthearted and easy to read book, it helped pass a few morning commutes for me. Sadly the author died of lung cancer cancer shortly after finishing writing the manuscript for this work (and was aware of the diesease towards the end of the book). I'm sure he would have had a few more innings and a few more amusing books in him otherwise. The book is about average length for this type of book and can be bought from Amazon for £6.79.
I am the owner of the above mentioned desktop Aurora calculator which I use exclusively for work. I didn't choose the make and model myself as I found the calculator in our store room. To be honest I am not all that familiar with the big boys in the calculator world and I hadn't heard of Aurora before but this seemed to have all the functions required for my use which is basically the four main calculations of addition,subtraction, multiplication and division and in these respects it seems very adept. (Although it would be a major flaw for a calculator that struggles with its time tables!) Whilst I do give the calculator quite a hammering in terms of hours of usage a day it seems to have stood up to the punishment quite well although there is a small problem with the buttons sticking or not registering which can be quite annoying on longer calculations, especially when I have a client on the phone. However I have also dropped it a few times and stood on it a couple which doesn't seem to have upset the hardy little fellow. The buttons are a good size making it difficult for my plump digits to hit the wrong key and the keys are also laid out in a logical fashion making calculations faster. The calculator has a memory function which I rarely use and a specific mode for calculations in cash denominations which I could see would be quite useful if I had bothered to learn how to use it, so sorry about that but I can't review this aspect with any honesty! Don't purchase this calculator if you require a scientific calculator with Tangent, Cosine and all the other weird symbols that confused me as a schoolboy, it doesn't have them. If you need to do a large number of calculations on a daily basis and occasionally do a bit of rude word writing in upside down numbers that it could well be up your street. Amazon will send you one for £12.71 but send me a message and I'll see if there are any left in our storeroom.
I stumbled on this Internet site a few weeks ago while browsing the Internet in a glassy-eyes late night fashion. I thought it might be worth a look and signed up with the usual e-mail address and password requirements. I logged in the next day and before I knew what was going on I found myself the proud new manager of Stoke City FC. The basic idea of the game is to manage your allocated team to football greatness in the style of your choosing. The options are extensive and allow you to pick your players, substitutions formation, tactics such as long ball and tackling aggression and how attacking or defensive you want the team to play. There is also an in depth transfer system which enables the manager to sell poorly performing or aging players and replace with highly rated new ones. Subject to sufficient funds in the virtual account of course. The main body of the game is in the Premier league (or whichever team you are managing plays) and whilst this is realistic it does seem to be about five years out of date, it's certainly a few years since Bradford City enjoyed these lofty Premier League heights. The players are also actual players which makes the game more fun than other comparable games. Freindly games can also be arranged with fellow human players or the computer controlled teams although I haven't worked out what the benefit of taking part in these is. There is also the opportunity to manage international teams although this seems to involve a paid subscription. The rest of the managerial simulation is free to play. I have only played about four games and after a couple of heavy defeats I seem to have the team playing a bit more cohesively and managed a 3-0 win against Tottenham in my last game. Whilst the game is fun there doesn't seem to be a great deal to do once you have set up the team style and squad and done a few transfers. Maybe I haven't found some of the other options yet, similar games involve more scouting for young players, stadium management, interaction with the press etc. i will update the review if I discover any further options.
This was the first Iain M Banks book I read, originally about 18 months ago. I had read several of the same authors work previously under the Iain Banks name,( it seems his hard Sci-Fi books are published with the middle initial added). His Sci-Fi books are a long running loosely linked series which started with Consider Phlebas, they are also known as the Culture novels as this is the name of the advanced race the books investigate. The Culture has advanced to a point where nobody need work unless they choose to, there is no illness and their advanced intelligent space ships perform any mundane tasks including building new ships. The citizens only need concern themselves with passing their time in enjoyable pursuits. Player of Games was the second book published in the series and for me probably the best I have read so far having read three more since this one. The action follows an episode in the life of Jernau 'Morat' Gurgeh who is a 'Player of Games' a master of all the advanced and complicated games the Culture indulge in. He is persuaded by the 'Special Circumstances' section of the Culture to travel to a distant planet to take part in a game. The game played by The Empire of Azad is so complicated and plays such an important role in their society that the winner becomes emperor of the society. Jernau is initially reluctant but the action soon shifts to the Azad home planet where Jernau becomes more interested in the game and discovers that the Azad are a brutal and very different race to the generally peaceful Culture. The Culture are however much more advanced than the Azad and Jernau begins to wonder the real reason he has been asked to take part in the contest. Although the book was published in 1988 it has stood the test of time well, perhaps because it is set in such an advanced civilisation the real life changes in technology have little bearing on Banks' fantasy world. Also the novel is not overly concerned with the realities of the technology involved which in my opinion can make some hard Sci Fi novels become bogged down to the detriment of the story. Although most of the Banks' sci fi novels inhabit the same Universe and the activities of the Culture they are always written as stand alone novels and quite readable without reading them chronologically. This one is 309 pages long in the paperback version and Amazon will happily send you a copy for £6.79.
The Dexter series of television shows started in America in October 2006 and is still going strong although Showtime who make the series has recently announced that series 8 is likely to be the last. The show is based on a series of books by Jeff Lindsey and follows the career of Dexter Morgan (played by Michael C Hall) who to the outside world is an upstanding citizen and blood spatter analyst for the Miami Homicide Team. Outside of work however he is a serial killer albeit one with a conscience in that he generally only kills those he considers of sufficiently bad nature mainly various types of criminal. Dexter also provides an occasional commentary on his actions and justifications i.e his actual thoughts in contrast to what his actions and conversations seem to reveal. The other main characters in the series are his sister Deborah who is a quite foul mouthed detective again with Miami Homicide, his girlfriend Rita and her two children and various police colleagues whose importance in the action varies through the series. Also in the show is Dexters father who is actually dead but appears on screen at various points particularly in times of stress as Dexter is able to confide in him. It seems Dexters father was aware of his secret life while he was alive and it was he who guided him to killing only those who 'deserved' it. The first series follows the career of 'The Ice Truck Killer' a new serial killer in Miami who leaves no tell tale blood behind for Dexter to examine. I won't discuss the subsequent series plots as this would spoil the first series if you haven't seen it. I am currently watching series 5 and can highly recommend all the series so far, in my opinion the second has been the strongest and the third probably the weakest, all well worth a look though. My only reservation would be that it is not suitable for children or the squeemish! Some of the language is fruity and there are some graphic scenes. The show was aired in the UK on FXUK only but the first 5 series are available to buy on Amazon starting at about £10.99 for the first series which is pretty good value.
I can't imagine there are many out there that aren't familiar with the likes of YouTube, Google and Facebook so I'll try and give you ten you might not be familiar with, in no particular order. If you are unfamiliar with the above sites it might be time to snuff out the candle and head off to bed gramps! 1)yougov.co.uk - An online survey site, these are usuallally paid surveys between 25p and 75p, occasionally a longer survey may give you a five pound Amazon voucher. They also usually give you the option to spend your points on prize draws. (Although I never win on these, I just accumalate the points now.) I have recently cashed in £50.00. 2)readitswapit.co.uk - A great site for book fans, swap books for free with fellow members. See my seperate review for more details. Highly recommended. 3)swapshop.co.uk - Another free swaps site anything from Dvds to games and books, get new stuff for your old stuff, works on a credits system so you can buy extras if you don't have enough for the item you want. 4)rightmove.co.uk - Find houses to buy or rent, look in the UK or check out fantasy houses abroad. An apartment on a Greek island for about £25,000, I could jack my job in and live in the sun with DooYoo profits! Hope my wife aggrees, watch this space. 5)wikipedia.com - An online encyclopedia. pretty much a page for any topic you can imagine. Can be a little biased as the entrys are written by the 'Internet community' but very useful nontheless. How did we ever find stuff out before we had things like this? 6)AuctionAlfie.com - Search all the auction sites in one place. basically this amalgamates Gumtree, ebay, Amazon marketplace etc into one place saving your typing fingers. 7) lego.com - I admit I haven't had a good look around this site, but it's lego, its online and it takes me back to childhood days, which set shall I put on my Christmas list, hmm. 8) miniclip.com - An absolute wealth of free games, from commando to club penguin, watch in amazement as hours of your life disappear. Have a go at the pool game, I challenge you to only have one go. Very addictive, who needs x-box anyway? 9) skyscanner.com - see which airlines fly to and from your destination then compare in order of price. Very useful way of arranging your own holidays without traipsing through 50 airline websites. I think they have now branched out into hotels and car hire. 10) Lovemoney.com - Similar to other moneysaving or comparison sites but with useful tips on scams to avoid and money saving tips. I give this one the nod over others as it saved me from an Amazon phishing scam doing the rounds. (I got the Phishing e-mail the same day as I had read about it on here). I am also a fan of martins money saving and moneysuperkarket. Hope there are one or two above that you haven't tried and that are of interest to you. Please message me if you have any you think I might like.
I bought a Nintendo Wii not long after they were realeased, I actually got it for my wife's birthday present which was just before Christmas. they were extremely difficult to get hold of at that point. I think I paid about £240.00 for it and could have sold it on eBay for about £350.00 such was the demand. My wife wanted one to use for the fitness games, several of which she has bought and used extensively since then. At that point there was no similar alternative to the Wii with the interactive control system, for a lot of games you are encouraged to stand up and wave your arms around to control the on-screen action. Since then both X-box 360 and Playstation have realeased similar control systems for their consoles such was the success of the Wii. The graphics of the console are not as good as these two main rivals although Nintendo were not trying to compete directly on this score. The console was marketed more as a family or group activity as opposed to the hardcore gamer market. In this they were very successful and some of the games released were high quality family games with Nintendo's quirky style such as mariokart (which could be used with a cheap steering wheel add-on peripheral) and Wii sports. As I mentioned my wife wanted this mainly for the fitness games and has found the range and quality of these to be very good. Some gamers have complained that the quality of games on offer has never really lived up to the potential of the machine but the games we have bought have all been of a fair standard, although I probably do use my x-box more often and have bought more games for the Microsoft machine. The unit itself is small about the size of a hardback book and fits fine under our television. The machine itself usually comes with 2 controllers, there is now options to have the machine in a variety of colours although ours is the original white. The build quality seems fine and we have had no problems with damage to either the machine or the controllers despite them being thrown accross the lounge a few times. The Wii can also be connected to the internet which is free (unlike the x-box) we have only tried this a couple of times but the process is simple enough. Amazon currently have the Wii for £97.49 with a 2 games and a controller which seems good value.
I can't believe I have now been using 'the net' for over ten years. I first started using it to keep in touch with friends and family when I lived in Australia and New Zealand which was the late 1990s. I had a hotmail account but no home computer, but this wasn't a problem as Internet cafes were very popular back then. I would call in, fire off a couple of e-mails in half an hour and then be on my way again. I gradually realised I could also use it to check up on sports results and news from home. From this I have developed quite the internet habit, I would say I now use the internet for one reason or another for about 2-3 hours a day on average. Although I do have days of not turning my laptop on at all I also have days when I might be on it for 5-6 hours. I've never really thought about my usage but here's the main things I use it for. Social I very rarely go on Facebook and similar sites although my wife does use them to keep in touch with family and friends in New Zealand. I do use e-mail quite a bit though. Gaming Mainly PC paid for games although I do use some free to play online games. I try not to use too much though as sites like Miniclip can really suck half a day up without too much effort. Surveys and reviews Mainly sites that I get paid for such as DooYoo, YouGov, Yoursayspays, swagbucks etc. Bit of extra spendies is always nice. Shopping Mainly Amazon but also Play.com, bookshops and research into high street items I am considering buying. I also use Lovefilm quite a bit and like to check out reviews of things before I spend my hard earned pennies. Gambling I'm afraid at the moment I also spend a bit of time trying to lose the winnings I made on the Rugby world cup. I put £25.00 into an online account just to make the tournament more interesting. I then won a bit and have been frittering the profits away on football matches. I won't be topping my account up if I lose it all though. It's too easy to spend gambling this way. Not recommended! Swap sites. i have tried a few such as freecycle and swapshop although at the moment I only really use read it Swap it. (See my seperate review) Research This sounds a bit boring but I can't think how else to describe general enquiries I google every day, things like how to fix the dodgy wiring in my house. What's wrong with my cat's watery eye? Sports results and fixtures, How many smarties would it take to fill the whole of Wembley and other vital things! TV and Radio I use BBC iPlayer more than watching BBC live, the things I want to watch always seem to be on at bad times for me (maybe I'm too old for CBeebies!). I also listen to the radio online, quite often when I am just doing other things online or round the house. I haven't owned an actual radio or VCR for about 7-8 years. It's also worth noting that in the time I have been using the internet the amount of sites have been increasing hugely. I remember I had a Googlewhack (only one site found) about seven years ago with the search 'Ong's Hat'. The same search today has 258,000 hits. In 2008 google announced they had discovered over one trillion URL's. Which seems quite a few. I imagine my kids will find it strange that there was ever a world without the Internet. Whilst I only really access it now from Work and Home from a laptop or PC a lot of people I know now use smartphones or tablets which I can only imagine will become more widespread. Apart from going to live on some remote Pacific island I can't see any way to avoid my kids spending probably half their lives looking at screens of some kind. Whilst I'm not against technology and I use it often enough myself this doesn't seem quite right.
I have just celebrated my three year anniversary with ReaditSwapit and have swapped just short of a hundred books in that time. The basic premise of the site is to list all your old or unwanted books on the site for other members to view. They can then request a swap with any of your books which will show both on the site and with an e-mail. You can then browse the requesters list to see if there are any books you would like to swap with. If there isn't there is the option to decline the swap. If there is, great you are swapping. All you need to do is swiftly wrap the book and toddle down to your nearest post office with some stamp money and post the book. The other member will (hopefully) be doing the same somewhere in the UK and thus in a few days time you will have a new book to read with just the cost of postage spent. The alternative is to request the swap, this works exactly the same but in reverse. Browse the huge library of virtual books until you find one you want and request the book from the owner, then it's pretty much the same scenario as before. The good things about this website are fairly obvious. Firstly it's an awful lot cheaper than buying books new, the postage costs are the only outlay as the website is entirely free to use. It can only be used if receiving and sending from the UK so no lengthy waits and extra costs involved with overseas postage. It's a great way to get rid of old books from your bookshelves (although you'll be filling that space up again I suppose). There aren't many negatives that I can think of, I suppose postage costs could be one, it seems to cost more to post a heavier book in the last twelve months. Sometimes it would be cheaper to buy the book from a second hand or charity shop although of course they wouldn't have as many books as this site has listed. There is danger of abuse from dishonest members although in three years I have only had books go astray for a few days, they have always turned up in the end and a ratings system on the site would mean that anyone not entering into the spirit of the site would find their swap requests declined. All in all I would recommend this site if you are a keen reader with a supply of finished books that you want to get rid of.
I have been a Lovefilm customer on and off for about five years. The basic premise of Lovefilm is that you pay a set monthly amount and get a certain amount of DVDs by post. I currently have the package for three DVDs at a time (just upgraded to four, must be the recession) this costs about £16.50 a month. This means that Lovefilm initially send you three DVDs in the post, once you have watched one post it back in the prepaid envelope and they will send you a new one once they have received it back. The good thing with this is that you can watch as many DVDs as you like without paying any extra. This is also the bad side as if you don't watch any for a week or so there is a nagging feeling that you're not getting value for money. They also offer a download option for older shows, I have only used this once and it was quite 'glitchy' so I haven't used it since. You also need to have a rental list with Lovefilm which can be updated at any time online, the list is prioritised between high, medium and low priority to reflect which discs you would prefer first. Unfortunately Lovefilm aren't overly keen on sending the new release DVDs out to long term customers, it seems to be a bit like insurance companies saving the best deals for new customers, I understand the reasoning for this but it's still annoying when I'm getting ten year old movies that have been on TV when a newcomer on a free trial is getting the releases from that week. I have previously used Blockbuster who do a similar deal but at the time this was a maximum two DVDs at once, call me a square eyes if you will but I prefer to have the extra disc for the difference in price. There doesn't seem to many other companies out there doing anything similar to Lovefilm (the ones that do are usually serviced by Lovefilm anyway and just have their own branding). The timescales are usually quite efficient and do tended to be posted out when they have received them back. The exception to this is Saturday when they either don't despatch but update the list regardless or never get them in the last Saturday post. I have never received a DVD on a Monday that shows as posted on Saturday. The other minor gripe is the llong winded method to declare a disc lost in the post. I appreciate that they will do certain checks to stop people stealing heaps of new release discs but after several years with the company I'm hardly likely to be stealing Jonathan Creek Series 2 disc 2 from about fifteen years ago. Lovefilm are good but they could be better.
I picked a copy of this up to make up numbers on a three for two deal at Waterstones. It usually retails for £11.99 or currently £6.83 on Amazon. It is a sci-fi novel set about 50 years from now in which society has become impoverished due to vastly reduced oil reserves. Very few people can afford to travel and live in very close proximity in what are left of large cities. The majority of citizens spend a lot of time hooked into 'OASIS' which is a cross between the internet and a huge role playing game where anyone can do pretty much anything they like across a multitude of virtual worlds. When the designer of the game dies he leaves a challenge that whoever solves will gain control of the game and all the wealth that results. This is where our protaganist Wade comes in, a geeky teenager with no family or money but a wealth of knowledge about the 1980s which the game designer has based his challenge on. However there are plenty of other parties who will stop at nothing to gain control of the OASIS. The book is well written and flows well, I read it in about a week which is good going for me these days due to annoying things like work and grooming! It will appeal particularly to anyone who grew up in the eighties especially those who had any interest in computer games of the time. It avoids overly complicated scientific language which in my opinion can detract from these kind of books. The novel has been optioned for a movie remake which would be interesting. It seems the author has not written any other full length novels but I will be keeping an eye out for any future releases. Highly recommended.