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bloodandfootsteps (London)

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Nokia 108 UK Sim Free Mobile Phone - Black
Nokia 108 UK Sim Free Mobile Phone - Black
Price: £19.66

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The holy grail of dumbphones? Nearly!, 15 Dec. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've been on a bit of a dumbphone kick recently, purchasing the Nokia 220, 130 and now the Nokia 108. Having become completely disillusioned by smartphones and loathe to become one of those people who sit and stare at them for whole train journeys [and that is most people], I wanted something that would give me basic contact methods but still let me - you know - look up and engage with the world for most of my natural life. I had five criteria:

1. It had to make calls clearly and loudly.
2. It had to be very comfortable to text with. And very responsive.
3. It had to be able to play music well.
4. It had to have a camera - even low quality.
5. One had to be able to add one's own wallpaper.

The 108 meets all these. I will elaborate on my first five points a little and as to why they're important, and additionally list any cons.

1. Calls: the phone makes calls very loud and clearly. No problem there at all. There is one con though - and it's the one thing that stops me from giving this phone five stars - and that is that with the headset on - for reasons best known to themselves, Nokia have decided to make the microphone muted. That means you cannot have conversations with a headset/earphones on. You must disconnect them and hold the phone normally. This is a hard minus point for me since I like having conversations with earphones plugged in: it's convenient and fuss-free, especially for long conversations [mind you, I used mobile phones without this commodity up till about 2010, come to think of it].

2. Text: the Nokia 220 has this ability to slow down the longer your text message gets, to the point where it can take one to two seconds for the screen to register your key pressing. Not so with the 108, it's super quick and super comfortable to text with the rubber keys which aren't too stiff either. A real pleasure. Texts are not in threaded view but individual messages, but that's no issue for me. As far as I'm concerned the 108 is excellent as a text-machine.

3. Music quality is very high on this phone, surprisingly as good as my Lumia 820. Maybe even better. The only con is that the third and second highest volume setting are too far apart, meaning that music is either too loud or too quiet. Or so I thought initially. Recently I've been having it on the third loudest setting and my ears must have got used to it - it doesn't seem too quiet anymore at all. I wouldn't recommend having it any louder than that to protect your hearing, to be honest. If you really want more control over the volume, you can easily buy an earphone volume control device from Amazon for £2.

4. Camera: well, it's low quality but a useful feature - back-facing only. I'm not someone who takes a lot of photos but a camera on one's phone is an important addition. For example, the other day there was a power failure in my local train station meaning the ticket gates were left wide open for all passengers. I took a photo of the board saying POWER FAILURE and showed it to the guard at my destination so he could see why I hadn't touched my Oyster in at my departure station. He sympathised and let me through so I wasn't charged extra. Without the picture, I don't think he would have believed me.

5. Wallpaper: it sounds mad, I know, but the Nokia 130 only has three stock wallpapers to choose from and you can't add your own even from SD card. With the 108 you can display wallpapers from your SD card. Weirdly enough, there seems to be a glitch with the 108 which I've read from a couple of other people here in that the phone displays some very faint lines over the picture. Strangely enough, these lines will actually rotate if you rotate the picture too! There is a partial workaround for this: if you're clever enough, you can choose a wallpaper which will blend naturally with the 'lines' so you don't notice them.

Other things which are positive:

Video files: this phone plays video files from your SD card. It only works with AVI files as far as I can tell, but the phone won't dim the light while the video is playing, which is great. It's a 1.8 inch screen which is tiny, sure, but it's a nice feature. However, the viewing angles are poor and the phone has to be viewed pretty much dead on, but it's nice to have it at all.

Weight: the phone is 70g. I've always said that any phone under 100g is an ideal weight, but this one is half the weight of my 820. 70g is such an insanely light weight, you really don't notice you're carrying it.

Look: the 108 has a very nice look to it, a sleek, 'piano black' sheen. Looks very nice indeed for what it is.

Battery life: sending 10-20 texts a day, listening to a couple of hours of music and making a couple of calls a day, for me the 108 comfortably lasts five days on one charge. It's such an immense plus to have reliable battery life rather than running for the charger every few hours with a smartphone.

No internet: Oh yes, the 108 has no internet capabilities. I'm sure you'll manage to check your emails several times a day through other means.

Conclusion: the 108 is an excellent handset. It gives you so much for a miserly £20 it's unreal. An excellent addition to the dumbphone catalogue for those who would rather their phone were an accessory to the world rather than vice versa.

Nokia 130 SIM-Free Phone, Black
Nokia 130 SIM-Free Phone, Black
Price: £18.10

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No JPEG support, 25 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I haven't seen this posted anywhere else but buyers should note - this phone does not have any kind of picture support. You have three wallpapers to choose from and that's it: you cannot add any extras and you can't put any on the SD either for it to read.

The phone also does not support MMS. If you receive a picture message it will just show a notification saying "message cannot be displayed".

One of the most important things to me when having a new phone or new PC is to add my own wallpaper to make it feel like my own. Without the possibility of doing that, it just doesn't feel right. Will revert back to my 220.

Another point - this phone does not display texts in conversation format, it displays them as individual messages. I thought this would be quite nice but it's actually really annoying in restrospect, especially when you consider the volume of texts people send these days. Conversation format is far more convenient when you have multiple texts to keep track of.

Sony Mid-Range In-Ear Headphones with Deep Bass for iPod, iPhone, MP3 and Smartphone - Silver
Sony Mid-Range In-Ear Headphones with Deep Bass for iPod, iPhone, MP3 and Smartphone - Silver

5.0 out of 5 stars A new staple for the mid 2010s and beyond, 1 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Since the 2000s Sony's MDR-E 818 LP headphones were my "go-to" earphones [God, I hate that phrase]. I bought them religiously and whenever they failed, I bought another pair.

However, three things have pulled me away from them: 1] they were failing just a little too often, I have lost count of how many pairs I have had to buy especially over the last three years; 2] after a bit of listening I actually prefer the deeper sound of the MPCE4s and 3] the MPCE4's comfortable "in-ear" design means they do a fantastic job of blocking out about 30% of outside noise before you've even pressed 'play'. This is especially good for those of us who file onto public transport at 8am on weekday mornings, crushed up against our fellow metropolitan commuters, listening to fortifying music whilst also trying to drown out the sounds of brattish kids and giggling office girls. Oh, and the cable is LONG, roughly a comfortable third longer than that of the MDR-E 818 LPs. Size does matter in this case.

So, the era of the MDR-E 818 LPs is no more. It was a good innings, but the MPCE4s now have the edge. It's natural selection, artificially created.

Nokia Asha 220 2.4 inch Sim Free Mobile Phone - Black
Nokia Asha 220 2.4 inch Sim Free Mobile Phone - Black

71 of 84 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I love it - but I'm only giving it three stars!, 17 Sept. 2014
I've had a smartphone for about two and a half years now. The other day I decided I'd had enough. I always complain about smartphones - the bulk, the weight, the meaninglessness of all the apps, the fact that THEY can track you and look at you [and you know they do] - so I thought, well, I'm going to put my money where my mouth is. So I bought the Nokia 220 to work with my EE existing contract SIM.

Some people may think that's crazy - to have a 4G contract SIM and put it in a 2G phone - but that's exactly what I'm doing. And things are all the better for it. And I love this phone. Really love it - BUT I'm still only going to give it three stars.

I basically wanted a phone that was smaller than my smartphone, lighter, had better battery life, no complex app ability, and could play music relatively well with a 3.5mm headphone jack [not those old weird 2.5mm jacks that Nokia used to have on their phones]. This phone is all those things but there are a couple of niggles in there.

Stating with the basics - call quality. It's OK - it's not fantastic, but it's all you need, audible, clear, maybe slightly tinny but nothing to detract from the call itself. It's basically fine. You won't notice any difference before long anyway. I always find it takes some time to get used to the "voice sound" of a new phone.

Texts: now, I'm a big texter. It's my favourite form of mobile communication, forget social networking of any sort. This phone displays texts in 'conversation' format like smartphones do, but it doesn't feel as smooth, which is to be expected. These days you couldn't really go back to the old way of having one text and then a separate one and then another separate one either, could you. That's not how people communicate anymore. The colours for texts are a black background with white on top for sent texts and yellow for received. It looks like some kind of 80s BBS. Which is fine by me. But I have two gripes. Firstly - some of the words it chooses for you in predictive text are illogical e.g. it will select for you the word 'tie' before 'the' which is insane. Who types the word 'tie' more times than 'the'? It does my head in. Secondly this phone will only store about 100 texts before you get a 'texts full' warning [it may store more with an SD card, dunno]. Now back in the old days 100 texts would have seemed like a hell of a lot, but not anymore. These days we're used to our phones storing thousands. So it looks like I'm going to have to get used to deleting texts more often.

Another big reason I wanted this phone - music. Now I did not expect this to be anything like a proper dedicated mp3 player or the music sound of a better phone model, I just wanted the music quality to be decent, and I can contently say it is. Trying it out with some classical and some metal music, it performed well in both, metal sounding particularly punchy, which was probably thanks to the decent headphones I put in with it. Electro didn't fare so well, and this phone showed its limitations by being extremely sensitive to music where there is any chance of the audio clipping. If there are even slight clips in the track, this phone will amplify that. So electro music lovers, caveat emptor. The music topic brings me to me next big gripe - the SD card. This phone takes a micro SD but guess what, you can't connect the phone to a computer. Certainly not with my Windows 7 I can't. You plug it in, W7 sees the phone but says there is no driver. And I can't find one on the net from any source that I trust. No, in order to get the music onto your SD card you have to use another phone and then swap the card into this, or use an SD card reader. Which is bonkers.

Three more things worth noting here. Firstly you have no customisation control of the phone's themes whatsoever apart from the wallpaper. That's actually enough for me, but if you don't like white on black menus and texts, well, you'll just have to lump it. Secondly the battery life is advertised as 29 days on standby - I don't know about that - but using this as my main phone, I would guess I'd get about 72 hours battery life out of this thing on average. That's still way better than a smartphone and better than my Nokia Lumia which would sometimes drain completely overnight after I'd charged it to 100%.

Finally, internet. This is a 2G phone so go easy on the net usage. If you're like me, that's what you were looking to do anyway. This phone has no GPS capability, no maps. You can't download apps. I kind of knew this and am fine with it, but as far as the internet goes, I wouldn't really use it for anything but checking Gmail. You can write emails on it, it's pretty painless, but it's really as a kind of 'last resort/emergency email' kind of measure.

*Update after a month* some more things that are worthy to note here. Firstly, with regard to the music, "lock screen" does not totally lock the screen. You can play music and "lock" the screen but it will still enable the 'skip track' buttons [which are left and right keys]. Which means you can have the thing in your pocket and a slight knock in the right place will skip the track - but the volume buttons, which you are most likely to want to use in lock mode - no, you have to go into the application to use them. Another crazy piece of logic by Nokia.

A potentially big problem is the "silent" mode. This, weirdly enough, defaults the ringtone to about 2/3 loudness. I found this out today the hard way when I put my phone on silent and the thing went off during a seminar. You can go into "silent" mode and turn the sound down to avoid future embarrassments, but if you turn the phone on and off again it will revert back to 2/3 loudness.

Something else worth mentioning is the games. This phone comes with six pre-installed games. Great, you may think, but five of those are Gameloft demos and you only get three trials of 90 seconds on each before it tells you to buy them. Which is pointless, really. The sixth game is Snake which is actually quite cool, but it's the only thing you'll end up playing on Tube journeys [or any other form of public transport].

On a positive note, charging this phone from PC USB is way faster than charging a smartphone from PC USB. Charing smartphones from PC USBs can be crushingly slow, but this charges from very low battery to full in about one and a half hours or less. Must be because it's a low power phone.

Conclusion - So even though the Nokia 220 has decent music capability, is nicely light at only 83g, has a big screen and good battery life, it's let down by a few things which are difficult to see over the top of. But I still love this phone and can see myself going a long way with it. And as long as there are phones like this around for this price, I doubt I'll ever be going on contract again.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 8, 2015 3:32 PM GMT

Hostel Part II - Unseen Edition [2007] [DVD]
Hostel Part II - Unseen Edition [2007] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Lauren German
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £1.73

3.0 out of 5 stars Less of everything, 9 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having enjoyed the gratuitous gore and flesh-fest that was Hostel I and having some time to myself for the next couple of weeks, what better way to spend it than by revisiting the Hostel series and going for Part II, I thought. I had read some of the reviews in the negative sense and thought that people were just being too squeamish, too judgmental and too sanctimonious. I suppose it was wrong of me, on this occasion, to think the opinions of the masses were irrelevant to me.

So the two things that I wanted more of on this occasion, were the gore, which I thought was blissfully no-holds-barred in Hostel one, and the girl element, which was shamelessly enjoyable. In fact, so far-reaching was it in the first film that for the first 30 minutes I thought someone had slipped a porn disc into the box instead. But Hostel II has far less flesh on offer, less gore, less suspense, less... everything.

The first 30 mins or so of the film chart the journey of a group of girls to a hostel lured there by another girl who's a life model, drawing victims out of her classes for carriage over to Slovakia. The girl travellers check into a hostel and you know how it goes from there: they get auctioned, sold off and then used to their clients' whims. There is then an interesting change from the first film in that Hostell II follows the activities of two buyers from remote sale to being in the same room as the girls. One buyer chickens out from dishing out the torture and the other goes for his life. However, from this point on I found it increasingly hard to care. In the first film people, the victims are just treated as lumps of meat [as are the girls who solicit them]: the whole film is about the carnal disposable nature of flesh. However, in Hostel II Roth tries to inject a bit of personality and emotion into it by trying to get us to feel sorry for one of the girls. In short, we don't. We want her offed just like the little victim she is, we don't want to see glassy-eyed close-ups of her snivelling face. I won't go into detail, but sufficed to say she ends up getting the better of the situation, not the other way round.

Overall I felt the gore element was pulled punch in the film. The only exception to this is the scene where a female client bathes in the blood of a victim - Bathory-esque - after slitting her throat, but after this, things get a little tamer and my interest fleeted.

If you are coming to watch a film like this you must be expecting all-out insensibility on every level, and Hostel II just doesn't deliver, all the elements that were there in Hostel I are still there but just much less so. Or maybe I'm becoming too desensitised these days. The only upside was that I only paid £2 for the DVD [which was a dud so I had to end up watching it online anyway].

Arabic Musical Scales: Basic Maqam Notation: Basic Maqam Teachings
Arabic Musical Scales: Basic Maqam Notation: Basic Maqam Teachings
by Cameron Powers
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.25

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for introduction to maqamat, 27 Nov. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The other review for this book seems to be unfairly negative. True, it doesn't ship with the CDs and it doesn't explain that sometimes maqamat can descend differently to how they ascend. However, these are minor points if you are starting out in this area and have no knowledge of maqamat.

Before I got this book I knew nothing about the Arabic musical modes. In the West we are generally used to hearing the same kinds of scales over and over, whereas in the Middle East there is a different common set of scales, a lot of which can sound quite mystical or exotic to us. This book will take you through over 40 of them, though it emphasises that just 17 are enough to have a very good grasp of the modal system. This isn't as hard as it sounds because sometimes a maqam can have just one note difference from another in the same family, though others can, of course, be widly different.

What I really like about this book is how Cameron gives a brief description of the moods associated with a lot of the maqamat, from certain ones which are bright and happy to others which are sacred and mysterious, to others which express sadness, sorry and grief. This book also introduces the concept of quartertones, something else which the Western brain generally has no knowledge or experience of. It's good to start with those maqamat which don't include them at first, I've found, then gradually move onto the quartertone ones over time. There I was thinking that some Middle Eastern melodies were just 'out of tune' at times, but it was just that I was unfamiliar with quartertone melodies. Shows my ignorance in this area.

If you are relatively acquainted with maqamat you would presumably find this book rather limiting, but if you are just starting to get into this area it's an excellent resource for improvisation and taqsim. I have been putting into practise what I have learned from this book every day for months with good results.

Price: £13.55

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best you'll hear, 6 Nov. 2013
This review is from: Makan (Audio CD)
I've listened to a lot of oud music recently from all over the Middle East, having recently got myself an oud and wanting to listen to the masters. Of course there are many oud players who are virtuosos and technically brilliant, however, for me what was always missing was some real tangible emotion in the playing. I first heard Driss el Maloumi playing on Hesperion XXI's "Orient - Occident" album and was instantly taken aback by his technical ability and the texture with which he plays. Every note had a tangible feel to it which you could reach out and grab.

Driss doesn't put out a lot of solo albums [this is his second, I think] and I'm glad to say that Makan is in exactly the style that I came to favour on the Hesperion album, there is just so much feeling to the music here. On this album Driss is joined by a couple of other musicians on percussion - but fear not - the percussion here is very subtle and understated and perfectly fits in with however quiet or loud Driss is playing. It just feel part of the whole thing rather than being something you can single out. One or two of the tracks have vocals in them which are again, quite subtle and not overpowering, and I was pleased to see the inclusion of some female vocals in places as well.

Of course the main standout is the oud itself which takes centre stage as you'd expect, being mostly an instrumental album. The overall feel to the album is energetic and rhythmical, but in an understated way; it's like the fast movement of a very modern high-speed train - you know you're going somewhere fast, but the journey is so smooth and well-paced. The melodies are quite introspective, there nothing too 'happy' here. Standout tracks are Imtidad, Khamsa, Douceur pour 2 "R", Intidar [which is remarkable for the novel and experimental oud playing] and the excellent 11 minute Safar which forms the album's highlight, slowly building and building beautifully to a climax. The only really upbeat and happy song here is Ayour, which is a nice change from the rest of the album by the time you get there. I should also mention the album booklet which is quite thick and has a lot of information and photography, which goes nicely with the feel of the work.

Overall an excellent album, esp if you're interested in playing the instrument yourself. I've only gone through it twice so far but I can see this in rotation for a while.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 18, 2014 7:15 PM GMT

prem-i-air Compressor Dehumidifier with 1.5 Litre Tank Capacity
prem-i-air Compressor Dehumidifier with 1.5 Litre Tank Capacity
Offered by Motionperformance - Waxacar
Price: £109.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extemely efficient - and passes the hygrometer test, 9 Oct. 2013
I keep some wooden instruments in my room, and living in London near the river I thought I'd measure the humidity since wooden instruments don't like high humidity levels. I bought a hygrometer and was surprised to see that a lot of the time the humidity crept over 70% and sometimes to 80% which is far too much. I spent many weeks poring over my dehumidifier options, trying to save as much money as possible. Eventually it became clear that for the size of my room I would have to spend over £100, no way round it, I wouldn't be able to buy a smaller model or buy some dehumidifying eggs or anything like that instead. You get what you pay for after all.

After a few days' hard research and agonising I bit the bullet and bought this model. I had to carry it home over South London, didn't find it too heavy though it wasn't a great journey. On getting it back and unboxing it, it looked quite good and sturdy, definitely well made. There is no humidistat on it, just an on/off button which I quite like the simplicity of, and my analogue hygrometer on the wall [on the other side of the room] doesn't 'know' that this is here... so the dehumidifier can't 'cheat' by counting down the humidity% on a 'stat the longer it's on!

The main thing about the unit is that it's impressively efficient. My room is a decent size, quite large, and within 20 mins this unit makes the hygrometer drop 5%, and 10% in 40 mins easily. I've only had it running a few hours overall since I got it and it's filled up with water twice. Amazing how much moisture is in the atmosphere which it can suck out the room [not sure my areca palm is so happy about this though]. It blows cool air out the top which is quite nice, especially if the weather is very slightly warm.

The only reason why this is getting four stars as opposed to five is because of the noise level. Some people here mention that it is one of the quieter units... well, I'd hate to hear a loud one. The sound isn't loud by any means but it's definitely noticeable and I don't think I'd be able to sleep in the room with this on.

The main thing is that it does its job with impressive speed. Tonight when I came home the humidity here was about 72%. I've had this on for 45-50 mins and it's down to 60%, so right at the edge of the hygrometer's "perfect humidity" level. I'd definitely recommend it, especially if you want the job done fast. Now I can enjoy my instruments without fear.

Casio W-800HG-9AVEF Mens Digital Watch
Casio W-800HG-9AVEF Mens Digital Watch
Offered by Euro-Gold
Price: £16.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Classic style never goes out of fashion, 3 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I spent ages trawling through the hundreds of Casio watches on Amazon. I wanted something that was simple, reliable and also looked authentically retro. I spent a lot of time choosing between this and the W214H. In fact I was so indecisive I bought the latter as well because I couldn't decide between the two. My concern was that the numbers on the 800HG watch would be too large or the watch just wouldn't look good enough.

All my fears were allayed when opening the box: it was love at first site. This watch looks very retro indeed, helped especially by the slight orange screen tint which massively adds to its 80s appeal, in fact it goes nicely with skin tone so it doesn't look out of place. The matt black bezel is much better than a gloss one, and looks far classier, in my opinion. The numbers certainly aren't too big and look just right on the screen. It's 100M waterproof too, and since I'm going to Turkey this summer and will likely spend a lot of time in the sea, I needn't worry about leaving this on the beaches.

Now, there are two versions of this watch, both of which I own. There is the standard "silver" 800H which is very popular on Amazon, and the more uncommon "gold" version 800HG, which is this one. Having worn the 800HG for a few days before the "silver" one turned up, I can say that the "gold" version looks far more interesting with its orange tinted screen and the thin gold line around the screen which offsets the matt black nicely. The "silver" 800H has this light blue line around the screen which doesn't show up in the Amazon pic and makes the watch look a little cheap in comparison. The 800HG definitely wins over the two in my book: it's more interesting to look at and has more personality. Own this watch and you'll definitely have something more unusual but great looking over the more standard Casios - and that's whether you think gold is your colour or not [I'm more of a silver person, ironically].

Once you start configuring the watch you'll remember how tricky it can be to set the time on a digital like this...but after a couple of minutes' fiddling it's all done. Some people seem to complain about the backlight being dim, and while the light is dimmer than some Casios on this watch, it is perfectly adequate to read the watch in total darkness. You also get a stopwatch if, like me, you like keeping track of running times when your phone app has a chance to fail [Runtastic crashed during a 10K run for me, very annoying... so much for modern tech]. As if these qualities weren't enough, this watch has a ten year battery life and is only £14, so if something goes terribly wrong with it you can just get another. All in all, it's hard to lose out.

The only thing I'd really want that's missing here is a month-to-month calendar... but how the hell would they fit it on the screen?!

Update May 2015: Two years later! I've worn this watch every day since purchase and I still love it. The old strap started to break and I was faced with the choice of getting a new watch or replacing the strap. I couldn't find anything else I liked online as much so I changed the strap, and it looks good as new. Well, there are a few very minor specs in the face from long-term use, but this watch has stood up to repeated use and has stood the test of time. Hardly, sturdy, reliable, and good-looking.

Sony MDR-E 818 LP  Headphones
Sony MDR-E 818 LP Headphones

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only earphones you'll ever need, 8 Nov. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've been buying these phones for years, the first pair I had was in 2003 I think, maybe even earlier. I've bought loads of similar ones to check if there's anything better in the price range and always comes back to these. They're loud, give great clean sound quality, and fantastic unobtrusive bass. I can't imagine buying any other earphones as long as these are around.

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