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Mr. M. Hill "friskdesign" (London, England)

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Case-Mate Safe Skin HTC Sensation and Sensation XE - Black
Case-Mate Safe Skin HTC Sensation and Sensation XE - Black
Offered by Accessory-Shop
Price: £9.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too flimsy, too large., 15 Aug. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having never bought a smartphone case before, I didn't really know what to expect. This case was disappointing: it's too large and so it's not snug around the phone and doesn't feel like it would protect well enough if dropped. It's also way too easy to pull at the edges when you're getting it out of a pocket, so of course all the dust and dirt ends up going inside the case and dirtying up or even scratching your phone.

Wish I'd spent a bit more money and gone for something sturdier.

Sexy Web Design: Creating Interfaces that Work
Sexy Web Design: Creating Interfaces that Work
by Elliot Jay Stocks
Edition: Paperback
Price: £31.49

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for beginners, but nothing here for seasoned professionals, 26 April 2009
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I'm a professional web designer and have been in the new media industry for over 15 years. I rarely buy technical books these days since so much knowledge is available for free on the web, but I was excited to get hold of this tome by Elliot Jay Stocks since he's an excellent designer and I hoped to tap into what it is that sets him apart from the rest of us.

Unfortunately, this book doesn't do that. There isn't enough here to inspire you to create truly original, breathtaking designs. You'll have to look elsewhere for that kind of inspiration, such as on-line CSS galleries, and for that reason I think the title of the book is slightly misleading.

'Sexy Web Design' will be much more valuable to beginner web designers. Elliot takes you through a typical web design process up to the point of delivery of design comps. He looks at everything from initial research, to site structure, layout, colour, typography, style, visual flair and technical considerations. There are many ideas and concepts addressed, including colour theory, grid systems for layout, web safe fonts, etc. As a book outlining a sound web design process and a checklist of all the compromises and considerations that go into that process, it delivers pretty well.

It will also be very insightful for the more experienced designer who never plans their work and simply jumps straight into PhotoShop without thinking about what their website needs to achieve.

If you've been in the industry for a few years and worked to an established design process (Research, Requirements Gathering, Information Architecture, Layout/Design/Style) then this book won't teach you much. But if any of those stages are alien to you and you don't understand the full process, then this book is probably worthwhile.

Even though I think this book is useful for inexperienced designers, I do have some reservations. The main issue is a lack of detail. The book skips through at a brisk pace and you'll get through it in well under two hours. I would have liked to see a more detailed break down of some stages, for example: How to work with clients, how to brain storm and come up with concepts and refine them through collaboration and iteration. Kudos for linking out to useful websites where appropriate, but a little more text would have been welcome.

'Sexy Web Design' does seem overpriced. You're paying over £30 for about 140 pages of actual content (many of these being large screen-shots) and I don't think you get enough for your money. To be fair the price is because the printing is in full colour (and it's a beautifully designed book, no question), but for this price I'd expect something more detailed and definitive; as it stands it's a little lightweight.

As an overview of good web design practices, 'Sexy Web Design' offers lots of useful advice for inexperienced web designers. More experienced designers are likely to be a bit disappointed.

Angels Fall
Angels Fall
Price: £6.87

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Like swimming in porridge., 10 Dec. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Angels Fall (Audio CD)
Back in `99, I bought the fabulous Hed kandi compilation CD called Serve Chilled. One of the first albums on the new Hed Kandi label, it had a great selection of chill-out tracks that introduced me to several new artists. Over the years the quality of Hed Kandi comps varied, but generally you would get your money's worth, at least until mark Doyle left in 2005.

So when I recently decided to get some new low-key background music (as my collection was looking a bit dated), I looked around to see what was hot. I opted to buy Angels Fall after seeing the very high ratings on Amazon. Should have known better.

What a tragic mistake. These 3 CDs are utterly, utterly insipid. There are probably only four tracks that warrant a repeat listen, with the remainder being bland, boring, dull, annoying, cheesy and simply so vapid that they bypass the state of "chilled out" and take you straight to completely comatose.

One track on CD1 is good, the sublime "Sad Eyes" by Bat for Lashes, and CD2 has a couple of decent tracks, "Little Things" by James Bright" and "Dice" by William Orbit with Finlay Quaye. The less said about CD3 the better: it's like someone has made you swim through porridge, then frozen you in aspic, wrapped you up in a composting bin and forced you to listen to the soundtrack to a property renovation show while shoving grated carpet in your ears. I realise that this is down-tempo stuff, but that's no excuse for a mind-numbing lack of passion.

This collection has so little musical merit, that I'm amazed Mark Doyle is happy to put his name to it. It's like listening to a medley of soundtracks to awful American teen soaps. These Angels can fall right into Dawson's dismal Creek for all I care.

I was hoping to recapture the glory days of Hed Kandi's "Serve Chilled" and the early "Winter Chill" compilations, but that clearly won't happen. Stay far, far away from this lump of drudging dross or you might just fall into that coma and never wake up.

There And Back Again: An Actor's Tale: An Actor's Tale - A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Lord of the Rings
There And Back Again: An Actor's Tale: An Actor's Tale - A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Lord of the Rings
by Joseph Layden
Edition: Paperback

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Whine and whine again, 28 Oct. 2006
It would be churlish of me to summarize this book with the following statement: "Reading `There and Back Again' will tell you far less about the `Lord of the Rings' films than you want and far more about Sean Astin than you need." But it seems apt having spent the last couple of weeks reading this grumpy memoir.

Let's be clear: this book isn't for fans of the film at all - it is a vehicle for Astin to muse about his life as an actor. My first point against the publishers would therefore be the misleading tagline the book receives: "An Actor's Tale - A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Lord of the Rings". There is barely half the book devoted to specifically LOTR material and it's hugely disappointing. I should have smelled a rat early on when Astin admits to not having ever heard of Tolkien when he was offered the part.

I was disappointed over the lack of LOTR insights, but I at least expected the rest of the book to be an entertaining view of Astin's acting life. Sadly this isn't the case: Astin is a whiner. Barely a page goes by without him complaining about some aspect of his career, whether it be critical indifference to his performances, his monetary worth, or the chip on his shoulder about never having really made the `big time' as he puts it (until LOTR at least).

It's clear from musings about his early career that Astin suffers from low self-esteem, self-doubt and crushing under confidence in his own abilities. This of course is nothing new for many actors. He badly wants the recognition of his peers and seems desperate for it even when it's negative. Yet bizarrely his writing becomes inconsistent when he later shows extreme over-confidence in his `heroic' portrayal of Sam or his annoyance that he couldn't influence the production of LOTR more. At one point he remarks how Christopher Lee was crestfallen when Saruman was entirely cut from the third film: "sometimes brutal decisions have to made", yet when his own scenes were lightly trimmed he throws a fit and screams to his wife "They've ruined it!" It's this inconsistency that makes the book a confusing and annoying read.

There is a degree of honesty about the problems Astin has faced and his descriptions of how he dealt with these issues. He has written erudite reasoning for his behaviour and many pages are devoted to analyzing himself and then trying to improve: a commendable trait and one that could be respected if you could believe it. But Astin has had far too long to think this stuff through and the cynic in me believes that his `self-improvement' thoughts were not experienced at the time as written, but only while he was actually writing his book several years later.

Beyond Astin's self-confessed propensity for melodrama and a lot of personal background that I really didn't want to know, his writing style is a mess. The book constantly jumps around between anecdotes of his early career right in the middle of an account of something on the LOTR set. It's jarring, annoying and doesn't respect the reader. When we finally do get some interesting information about the film production, it's usually focused on some aspect that Astin wasn't happy with.

It's not all bad. Some of the anecdotes are almost amusing and I do think the friendships he describes with Elijah Wood and Christopher Lee were genuine as far as Astin saw them, but again the cynic can't help but notice that the only people Astin seems to respect are those who are `successful' in the movies - he doesn't seem to ever hang around anyone in the industry `lesser' than him.

I didn't enjoy this book. I found the whole experience tiring and reading should be anything but tiring. I learnt little about the LOTR films (the main reason I bought it) and more about Astin than I care to know. I finished it feeling that although Astin is a decent actor with some good work behind him, he simply cannot get over himself long enough to recognize his accomplishments and enjoy them.

The Concerts in China
The Concerts in China
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £29.99

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jarre's best live album from the 80's, 14 Jan. 2003
This review is from: The Concerts in China (Audio CD)
Jean Michel Jarre was the first western musician to be invited to play within the People's Republic of China in October 1981. The concerts were not a huge success: the Chinese audience were unfamiliar with the format and the style of music, and they only warmed to the laser show (which was very impressive at the time). The music was largely underrated, which is a shame as I feel that this CD remains one of Jarre's most impressive works. It collects together excerpts from five concerts that played in Peking in Shanghai.
What makes this album stand out over his other material is the beautiful compositions he wrote to bring his western electronic style in harmony with a traditional oriental symphony orchestra. This is no better illustrated than on the track 'Fishing Junks at Sunset' which is completely mesmerising. Other new tracks he wrote for the concerts include an upbeat track 'Orient Express' and a fascinating piece called 'Night in Shanghai' which really does conjure the mood of walking through different parts of a hot sticky city at night, from the bustle of restaurants to the peace of sitting by the harbour. The final track, "Souvenir of China" is very moody, a slow burning track that suggests weariness, punctured with the incessant click of the Nikon. It's the most autobiographical track JMJ has ever produced.
The rest of the album is mainly taken from 'Magnetic Fields' including a magnificent live version of 'Magnetic Fields 2' (which has since been re-used in many of his live performances). The first track "Overture" is a little bit of a cheek--it's actually a slowed down version of Magnetic Fields 1. There are also a couple of 'Equinoxe' tracks, but there are no versions of Oxygene on this album even though it was his most well known music at the time. The only track that lets it down, and one I have never really liked is 'The Last Rumba (Magnetic Fields 5)' which felt tacked on to the end of the Magnetic Fields album, and still feels out of place here.
Overall this is an excellent album, and if you're a Jarre fan who doesn't already own it, or if you like classical oriental music, I urge you to make the purchase.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 20, 2013 11:10 AM GMT

Bean - the Ultimate Disaster Movie [DVD] [1997]
Bean - the Ultimate Disaster Movie [DVD] [1997]
Dvd ~ Rowan Atkinson
Price: £3.44

4 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new, should have left the TV series alone., 6 Jan. 2003
When Mr.Bean first showed on British TV, it was an immediate success. This was due to three factors: great writing, superb visual gags, and impeccable timing by Atkinson in the mute eponymous role. Over the years, we were treated to the occasional episode here and there, and each time it was more a less a comedy treat. Then disaster struck -- someone, somewhere decided to allow him to speak.
It's as a result of this misguided decision that the film was made. What better way to commercialise this half-witted character than by taking him to America, talking all the way? Wrong. Bean's character is essentially English, the village idiot, and his slapstick antics only really work in the country of his birth. Sure, you can make many visual gags have a global appeal, but is this the character to do it with? I don't think so.
The premise of the film is classic contrived sitcom material: The Grierson Gallery in California has purchased a famous painting known as "Whistler's Mother". They ask the National Gallery in London to send an expert to present the painting at it's official opening. The National Gallery decide to send their worst employee, Bean, as he is a liability in his day job. Formerly a guard, he is passed off as an art scholar, and it's this mistaken identity that causes the resultant chaos. Peter McNichol (most famous as John Cage in Ally McBeal) is Bean's counterpart in the American gallery, and allows Bean to stay at his house. Needless to say that Bean causes mayhem wherever he goes, whether it be by breaking something, offending someone or simply being himself.
The film is basically a rehashing of many sketches from the TV episodes, and offers nothing new. When Bean opens his mouth, it simply isn't funny. The visual gags have been seen a thousand times, and there's very little here to entertain you. I couldn't possibly recommend this humourless tripe. Even children will find this film tiresome.
Atkinson has done some wonderful work with the likes of BlackAdder, Bean the TV series, and his stand-up material, but this film is the turkey. It certainly lives up to it's tagline: "The Ultimate Disaster Movie". If you find Atkinson as Bean the funniest thing in the world, you'll probably enjoy this film, but for everyone else, one word: Avoid.

The World Is Not Enough [DVD] [1999]
The World Is Not Enough [DVD] [1999]
Dvd ~ Pierce Brosnan
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.45

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brosnan in his best Bond, 6 Jan. 2003
"Who is the best James Bond?" is a question often discussed by film fans. Invariably, for purists, the answer is Sean Connery. I shared this view until I watched The World is Not Enough. Now I am divided between Connery and Brosnan. In TWINE, Brosnan switches effortlessly between action hero, determined spy, and almost sensitive nice guy. Although not as hard as Connery's Bond, Brosnan gives the premier actor a run for his money.
TWINE has a typically thin plot involving the destruction of oil-lines that feed the West. There are the usual ingredients one would expect from Bond: a criminal mastermind (Robert Carlyle), beautiful girls (Sophie Marceau, Denise Richards), comedy cameos (Goldie, Robbie Coltrane), a few twists along the way involving themes of loyalty and revenge, and some wonderful stunt sequences. These are very good, especially the pre-credits river chase and the motorcycle leap over a helicopter. Although there are times when you think you've seen it before-the ski chase for example-on the whole these scenes are new and interesting.
Regarding the acting, Brosnan seems very comfortable in his role, which is more than can be said for some of the supporting cast. While Sophie Marceau and Judi Dench have rounded roles and play them to perfection, others fare less well. Robbie Coltrane returns from Goldeneye, ridiculous accent intact, and Denise Richards is simply eye candy as the improbable nuclear scientist. She appears uncomfortable if she has to do anything other than smile. One might argue that this is all a Bond girl is for; nevertheless, she's out of place. Robert Carlyle hams it up as the villain, Renard. We're supposed to find him threatening, dark and unpredictable, but instead he is wooden and dull. I find my mother's cooking more of a threat.
The film flows reasonably well, and is fairly fast paced. However, in some scenes the editing leaves a lot to be desired: chase sequences should have appeared more threatening, and the sequence when Robbie Coltrane releases Bond from his shackles is paced very strangely-it's neither tense nor thrilling. My main gripe is with the final sequence, because (without giving too much away) it negates Bond's previous emotional involvement with Sophie Marceau's character. On the whole it's a fun, entertaining Bond film, with Brosnan on top form, and is even better than the current comic cinema release "Die Another Day". Even the pickiest of Bond fans should find something to enjoy here.
The Special Edition DVD is packed with extras. There are two commentaries to choose from: The first is from director Michael Apted and is very informative, although not very entertaining, while the second is a 'medley' presented by Vic Armstrong, Peter Lamont and composer David Arnold.
There are also three documentaries: 'The Making Of TWINE', 'Bond Cocktail' and 'Bond down the River'. The 'Making Of' is OK, but it duplicates some material from the other features, and is presented by a very annoying woman. Bond Cocktail comprises very brief interviews from key actors and production staff, interspersed with clips from TWINE and previous Bond films. The best documentary is 'Bond down the River' which shows how the pre-credits river sequence was conceived, shot and produced. This really brought back memories, as I was working in London at the time and had watched them filming some of the sequence at the MI6 building.
There's also 'Secrets of 007'. Upon selection from the menu, you're presented with a sub menu where you can select about 10 'how do they do that' vignettes. These are short clips that mix storyboards with footage, pre-production shots and the final sequence so that you see how it's all put together. There's no voice-over on these clips which is actually a good thing-it's not needed. The only gripe I have here is that after watching each one, you're returned to option one of the menu-it should really auto-forward.
There is also a short video showing a montage of clips of Desmond Llewellyn (Q) at work in many of the Bond films. This pays tribute to Desmond as he died shortly after the film was released. I had met him at a book signing the week before he died, and although there is no commentary on the video, I found it very poignant. Additionally, there's the disposable video for the single by Garbage.
The sound quality on the film is top-notch, and the visual quality of the film is also excellent. However, the extras don't fare so well and to a greater or lesser degree, they all display compression artefacts. This is especially noticeable on fast shots and fades.
My final score: 4 stars. This might have made five if it wasn't for the less than stellar visual quality of the extras and some wooden performances in the main film.
Note: Layer switch: Start of chapter 10, the ski chase

Come Into My World [DVD]
Come Into My World [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kylie Minogue

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A cash in that doesn't deliver what you expect, 6 Jan. 2003
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Come Into My World [DVD] (DVD)
This is the fourth and final single from Kylie's award winning "Fever" album, and is probably the weakest so far. It's a reasonable song with a catchy chorus but it has neither the punchy sing-along simpleness of "Can't get you out of my head", nor the hip-switching groove of "Love at first sight".
What really saved this song was the brilliantly produced video. The video features FOUR gorgeous Kylie's walking around the Paris streets, and this was the main reason I deciced to buy the DVD single. I'm a closet Kylie worshipper, so imagine my disappointment to discover that the video isn't even on the DVD! Instead, you get the live version from the Manchester concert. This is OK, but I had already ordered the DVD of the Manchester concert. Bizarrely, if you want the video for the single, you have to buy the CD single! It seems very strange to release a DVD single that doesn't have the associated video. I really don't understand why it was not included.
The DVD single includes excerpts from the Kylie documentary, which is ALSO on the Manchester concert DVD. The only thing that might have saved this DVD single is the inclusion of the Fischerspooner remix. Sadly, it's not to be. Although the remix has a fantastic bassline and sounds great in a club, the lead and vocals are very minimal and don't do Kylie justice.
If you already own (or are intending to buy) the Manchester Concert DVD or the Fever re-release, you have absolutely no reason to buy this DVD. It's a commercial rip-off, and is for Kylie completists only.

Read My Lips
Read My Lips
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £1.97

11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Less than the sum of its parts, 8 Sept. 2001
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Read My Lips (Audio CD)
The debut album from the former lead singer of The Audience is quite a departure from her previous style. I'm not yet sure if it suits her.
Fans of Miss Ellis-Bextor in her current pop mode will probably have only heard her on two tracks: last summer's smash hit 'Groovjet' by Spiller, where she performed guest vocals, and her recent top ten smash hit, 'Take me Home', a true dancefloor filler. And this is where things get a little weird. Undoubtedly Sophie has a reasonably good voice, and it's suited to both the cynically jaded indie pop that The Audience used to perform and the disco-dancing antics of 'Take me home'. The problem with the new album is that Ellis-Bextor seems unsure which voice to use. She's credited with co-writing all the songs, you'd have thought she'd have some idea how to sing them.
This is probably largely in part to the music itself. There are few truly great tracks on this album. 'Take me Home' and 'Murder on the dancefloor' are easily the best tracks on the album, both being great disco tunes, and they draw heavily from Kylie's recent efforts on her previous album 'Light Years'. The rest of the album ranges from confused eighties retro pop (Sparkle) and synth driven twee pop moments (Lover), right up to her impression of Natalie Imbruglia 'being' Dido on the heart-wrenched electro-friendly rock monster 'I believe'. Where do you go with that? These songs aren't necessarily bad - they just don't sit well together as an album, and the disjointed result left me fiddling for the 'skip' button rather than wanting to turn it up louder.
I like listening to Miss Ellis-Bextor - at least I did when she sang with The Audience. I even liked the Spiller track and 'Take Me Home'- the track that convinced me to buy the album. Somehow though, it's all just fallen a bit short. I guess I'm still annoyed that I bought the 'Take me home' single before buying the album, only to discover that the B side of 'Take me home' is on the album aswell (Sparkle)!
Still, I haven't listened to it much yet, so I may well warm to it.

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