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Mr. B. N. Vowles "vowles_ben"

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Vodafone VF354 Pay as you go Handset - Black/Grey Champagne Silver
Vodafone VF354 Pay as you go Handset - Black/Grey Champagne Silver

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An absolute nightmare, 17 May 2013
I bought this phone as an emergency mobile for my father to keep in his car. I have had pay as you go phones before and the process is simple, 1) Buy phone, 2) Charge & insert sim 3) Call network provider to activate SIM & add credit. Simple yes?...NO! Vodaphone could not activate the SIM and what followed was 2 days of being fobbed off, bounced around call centres and generally lied to. The last guy even asked if I could call back after 8pm. Guess what time the call centre closed? Yup, 8pm.

Thank goodness for amazon. I boxed it back up and returned it for a full refund (I dread to think how much money I wasted on hold though). I know that some reviewers have had a positive experience with this phone, and you are probably thinking, "You idiot, you can't give a 1 star review because you had a faulty phone or SIM, it happens, send it back & try again..." and normally I would agree with you. However, as soon as the Vodaphone call centre staff found out which model it was they completely stopped trying to help, I could almost sense them rolling their eyes and thinking "Oh no, not another VF354". I'm guessing they are well aware of its problems and that there is nothing they can or will do.

If I save one person from the Kafka-esque nightmare of trying to get this phone to work it will be worth the inevitable flaming I will get for my 1-Star review.

The SteakStones Sharing Steak Plate
The SteakStones Sharing Steak Plate
Offered by laZook
Price: £99.60

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ONLY way to cook a steak!, 15 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I like my steak rare or medium-rare but I have always found that the steak gets cold quickly, even if served on a warm plate. This product solves the problem; your last bite is as piping hot as the first. I ordered the SteakStone starter set from the SteakStone marketplace seller on Monday and it arrived Friday. The quality of the item is very good, a sturdy wooden/bamboo tray with a removable stainless steel insert to hold the hot stone, and there are three little glass bowls for sauces. I used it for the first time on Sunday with a nice thick ten ounce sirloin steak and it was probably the best steak I have ever cooked for myself.

So, any negatives? Well it's a bit expensive but it should last a lifetime. Also, this product probably isn't suitable if you like your steak well-done. I personally find the idea of cooking a steak well-done abhorrent, but each to their own I suppose.

NB: If like me, your stainless steel insert has a PVC sticky-back-plastic covering PEEL IT OFF! Your steak will not be enhanced by the smell of burning plastic.

Fisual Chunky Reuseable Hook & Loop Cable Ties - 20 Pack Black
Fisual Chunky Reuseable Hook & Loop Cable Ties - 20 Pack Black
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Every home should have them!, 3 May 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The cabling behind my TV reached critical mass when I added my new blu-ray player to the mix. You know that scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" where Indy is lowered into a pit of writhing black snakes...well you get the idea. These cable ties have solved the problem; I took each cable, coiled up the excess and secured the coil with a couple of cable ties. Now I can actually push my TV table all the way into the corner, I even catch myself peering behind the TV just to marvel at the neat coils.

I am now going to buy another pack for my home office. Is it sad that I'm excited about having neat and tidy computer cables? It is isn't it...(mental note: get out more).
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 11, 2011 11:35 AM BST

James Cameron's Avatar: The Game (PSP)
James Cameron's Avatar: The Game (PSP)
Offered by Kunoyo
Price: £14.90

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great film...Terrible game for the PSP, 12 May 2010
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
For a start, ignore Amazons description of the game (which seems to have been taken directly from the xbox/ps3 release). This is not an impressive 3D open-world battle for Pandora where you can choose sides and control vehicles; this is a very bad 3rd person stealth game. I feel like I could rant about this for pages and pages, but I will try to be concise:

Linear gameplay - You are supposed to be in a jungle, but you are basically running down green corridors. Some gaps can be jumped, some obstacles can be climbed over and some cannot. It all depends on where the game wants you to go.

Frustrating control - Your character moves at running speed, unless you are near an enemy, then he automatically changes to a slow crouching stalk. This often makes running up behind a guard before he turns around impossible.

No camera angle control - The left shoulder button zeroes the camera or locks onto an enemy (notice I didn't say "the nearest enemy"). If you are crouched behind a crate waiting to pounce on a guard, the camera tends to zoom onto the back of your head. Completely useless for stealth takedowns.

Derivative gameplay - No new ideas here, a bit from MGS, a bit from Manhunt 2, a bit from God of War. This wouldn't be a bad thing if Avatar did it better.

Repetitive gameplay - Run through the forest (i.e. down a green corridor), get to a landing pad/base, watch the guards set movement patterns, avoid the laser beams, mess it up because the camera angle makes it impossible, repeat. Even the flight sections don't save the game as you don't control where you fly. It sends you on a set course and you dodge or shoot mines.

No atmosphere - At no point do I feel like I am controlling a Na'avi warrior on the stunning planet of Pandora. This game completely fails to capture any of the majesty and wonder of the film.

In conclusion: Do not make the mistake I made in buying this game for the PSP, it has no redeeming features. You don't even have to take my word for it, check out some of the reviews on well-known online game sites before you purchase (like I should have done).

Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas
by David Mitchell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tries to be clever. Fails., 4 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Cloud Atlas (Paperback)
I have quite literally just finished "Cloud Atlas" and my first reaction was "thank goodness that is over". Six short stories loosely linked together does not a novel make. It is pseudo intellectual rubbish for people to over-analyse and find hidden meanings that are not there. I bought this book second-hand and I could tell from the spine crease that the previous owner had given up a quarter way through. One has to admire their taste.

The Silver Eagle (The Forgotten Legion Chronicles)
The Silver Eagle (The Forgotten Legion Chronicles)
by Ben Kane
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced Roman yarn, 10 Jun. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Before I review the book I feel that I should put my hands up and admit that I am a fan of Conn Igguldens "Emperor" books and of the BBC/HBO "Rome" series. This is a double-edged sword as it means that whilst Ben Kanes subject matter is right up my street, he also has a lot to live up to.

"The Silver Eagle" follows on from where "The Forgotten Legion" finished. If you have not read Ben Kanes first book I would recommend starting there. Once again we are following the ongoing saga of Fabiola and Romulus, twins separated by circumstances beyond their control and living quite different lives. The one similarity they share is that they lead quite a precarious existence where a violent end is never far away. The story moves along at a cracking pace and each chapter tends to end on a cliffhanger. The chapters alternate between the storylines for Fabiola and Romulus so there is a real "just one more chapter" feel to the book. The author is not afraid to kill off well-established characters or have horrible things happen to them, so you can never second-guess the outcome.

I would like to address some of my gripes about the book. I am no expert on grammar, but I was taught that you should never start a sentence with "But" or "And". There are many instances where this occurs in the book. But I will forgive Ben Kane. And it doesn't detract from the story. Another issue I have is with the character of Brutus, Fabiolas lover. I assume this is Marcus Brutus; Caesars' close friend and instigator of his eventual downfall (Et tu Brutus). Mr Kane has cast him as a brilliant general and skilled fighter, as did Conn Iggulden in his "Emperor" series. This is fine, it makes him a more interesting character than the real Brutus who by all accounts was a bookish wimp. However, Mr. Kane has him instrumental in beating Pompey at Pharsalus, when in fact Brutus was on the other side, he went over to Pompey after Caesar defied Roman Law by crossing the Rubicon with an army.

It matters not, this is a work of fiction based in historical fact, not a history textbook. "The Silver Eagle" is a worthy sequel to the excellent "The Forgotten Legion". Roll on the third and final book.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 7, 2012 12:16 PM BST

Patapon 2 (PSP)
Patapon 2 (PSP)
Offered by zoverstocks
Price: £10.58

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Repetitive yet addictive, 7 May 2009
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Patapon 2 (PSP) (Video Game)
You probably fall into 1 of 3 groups here:

1) "I've never played Patapon" - Go and play the original Patapon, it will be a cheaper way to see if this is your kind of game.

2) "I played the original game and hated it" - Move along, there's nothing for you here.

3) "I played the original and loved it" - Welcome back, buy this game and be happy!

I have just completed Patapon 2 after playing it solidly for a month. Just like the original game, it is an addictive and simple game where you command your gang of Patapons using drum beats. Some things have changed, there are some new types of patapon and some more mini-games, but it is essentially the same game as the original. A good change is that you never lose a patapon, in the original if one of your gang was eaten or you failed to pick up the cap, that patapon was lost. This doesnt happen in Patapon 2 which makes for a less stressful game.

However, I would like to expand on my one gripe about Patapon 1 and 2, and that is the repetitive nature of the game. To proceed through the game you need to level up your patapons by collecting materials and better weapons, but to do so you need to repeat the same missions again and again and AGAIN until you are powerful enough to complete the mission you are stuck on. The process then repeats itself. It is satisfying when you create better patapons and pick up a sweet weapon, but having to grind your way through missions you have already completed can be frustrating.

That said, I couldn't stop playing it and drove everyone in earshot mad.

Logic3 Slim & Lite Armour Case and Stand (PSP)
Logic3 Slim & Lite Armour Case and Stand (PSP)

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best protection for your PSP slim, 16 May 2008
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I recently bought a PSP slim and did a lot of research on the different cases you can buy for the PSP. The main problem I found was that it wasn't always immediatly obvious whether the case was for the old PSP or the newer PSP slim or if it even mattered. I concluded that unless it categorically states that it is for the PSP slim you have to assume it is for the older bigger model and that it might not be suitable for the PSP slim.

This Logic3 case IS designed for the PSP slim. It is a sturdy looking case that claims to be unbreakable. It is made of hard clear polycarbonate plastic ecterior with a smooth black rubber interior. The PSP slim fits perfectly inside and is held in place when the lid is closed, absolutely no rattling whatsoever.

When the lid is closed there is access to the headphone socket, charging socket, on/off switch and the shoulder buttons. The lid folds back on the hinge to turn the case into a viewing stand at which point all buttons and ports can be accessed. A quick list of the good points and bad points:

Good Points:
1) Sturdy design
2) Holds and protects PSP slim perfectly, no rattling.
3) Looks good
4) Not bulky

Bad Points:
1) A bit expensive at £13
2) Only holds the PSP (somebody mentioned memory card storage in the lid, where?)
3) I find it hard to believe that it's as indestructible as it claims.

I know that i've waffled on a bit here, but the right case for your PSP is an important decision as it makes the difference between a nice shiny PSP and a scratched/broken PSP. As far as i'm concerned this is the one to get, the official Sony soft case is not designed for the PSP slim and is not as sturdy.

Rome - The Complete Second Season [2006] [DVD]
Rome - The Complete Second Season [2006] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kevin McKidd
Offered by secondhand heaven
Price: £19.00

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As historically accurate as a drama need to be, 18 July 2007
To the reviewer who is disappointed at the lack of Italian faces in "Rome", I have listened to the commentaries and watched the "making of" programme on the Season 1 DVD box set and the director states that ALL of the extras are Italian, some of the extras with small speaking parts had no idea what they were saying and it was hard to get the extras to focus on the main action in a scene because most didn't speak English. It would also be grossly inaccurate if everyone had the stereotypical Mediterranean look because the Roman Empire stretched from the Middle East to Britain and the capital city was a melting pot of all of these nationalities and cultures.

I applaud the director for his attention to detail and if you listen to the commentaries he states where they have deviated from historical accuracy and their reasons for doing so, e.g. riding with stirrups (which the Romans didn't have) because it was safer.

Rome: The Complete HBO Season 1 (6 Disc Box Set) [DVD] [2006]
Rome: The Complete HBO Season 1 (6 Disc Box Set) [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Kevin McKidd
Price: £17.20

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 10 July 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It is programmes like this that restore my faith in television. Other Amazon reviewers have already stated why it is so good and they are quite right, so I would like to mention how excellent the extras on the DVD are. I have just watched the series again having selected the "All roads lead to Rome" option, this brings up un-obtrusive text on the screen that explains some of the detail, such as the significance of the various gods that are mentioned and why Caesar has his face painted red for his triumph.

Programmes like this need to be supported, otherwise we shall be doomed to soaps, game shows and reality television. For £25 you really can't go wrong.

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