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J Kilby
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AVG Internet Security 8.0, 1 Year Protection - One User (PC)
AVG Internet Security 8.0, 1 Year Protection - One User (PC)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, buggy, intrusive, 17 Jun. 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I loaded this one up with high hopes. I'm a long-term AVG user, currently using version 7.5 of the free offering available from AVG. STILL using version 7.5? Well yes, I am - I had so many problems and grumbles with this new version I uninstalled it after a couple of days.

The total package offers a lot of functions, including a firewall. I had hoped this would replace my existing firewall, reducing the number of startup applications I would require. It DID replace it, but it fared badly. The configuration was overly complex, and the presentation of pop-ups was unnecessarily intrusive - large and centre screen, in front of anything you were doing or watching. This meant that even when no action was required it was impossible to ignore it, and using the PC as the centre of an entertainment system became a chore.

The other problems relate to crashes. My PC, which suffers an occasional lock-up like any other, was suddenly doing it every couple of hours, and the AVG application itself crashed (and restarted, to its credit) around every twenty minutes. Throw in the fact that I only managed to get one scan of my PC to successfully complete in two days (the rest died mid-scan) and I was reaching unhappily for the UNINSTALL.

Perhaps these problems will be ironed out over successive small-increment releases, but for now AVG 8.0 is extremely disappointing.


Knocker Jungle
Knocker Jungle
Price: £6.81

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fact or Fiction? Good either way!, 22 April 2008
This review is from: Knocker Jungle (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The official write-up on this intriguing album sounds like a April Fools joke - a CD of a lost classic from an obscure band that was unearthed in a long forgotten archive? All rather contrived, I thought, just a hook to get you to check it out. And curiosity got the better of me! I'm still unsure whether this is some elaborate gag or not, but I'm quite certain that this is a very good album.

The style is typical of the late sixties and early seventies, but doesn't fall comfortably into any genre. For example, the opening track I DON'T KNOW WHY kicks off somewhere between folk and southern rock (in fact, folk/rock fusion is as good a pigeonhole as any if you need one), but quickly settles into something that somehow reminded me of early Pink Floyd. The ridiculously enunciated vocal doesn't do the catchy tune justice, and I found myself very wary of the remainder of the album on first listen. But this proved to be a needless worry.

OH TO BE FREE continues in a similar vein, while CAUGHT A COLD LAST NIGHT reminded me of the Rolling Stones with hints of early Rush, and I'VE GOT TIME felt a bit like Bob Dylan. So, contemporary influences are all over the place, and it all works beautifully.

Standout tracks seem to lurk in the midsection of the album:

- ECCESIATES, which (somewhat bizarely) would fit wonderfully on a Spinners album (the Liverpudlians, not the Motown outfit!). Unashamedly folky, but arranged more accessibly that that, and it's very hummable after the fact.

- YOU'VE GOT YOUR LOVE FOR ME, which smacks of MUNGO JERRY or DEXY'S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS but could easily be a JAMES BLUNT tune.

- SUNBURNT VIRGIN TROUSERS is unashamedly rocky, with Echoes of Cream or even Hendrix. It doesn't run away with itself, but has one of a handful of the acoustic solos on the album in it, and builds to a great finish.

- IMPOSSIBLE YOU is the highlight of the album for me, a tune so light, fresh and contemporary it gave me fresh suspicion that the whole album was actually recorded quite recently. I can think of half a dozen modern singers who would do a wonderful rendition of this summery song, and I'll be amazed it it doesn't show up on another album sometime soon. And this is another one you'll find yourself singing along to long after the disc stops spinning.

A poor rehash of GERSHWIN'S popular IT AIN'T NECESSARILY SO blights the album for a couple of minutes, but the remainder of the album continues nicely past the salad-days-y OH MY and the moody SHADOW ON YOUR SHOULDER to its destination with the light and airy ROSEMARIE.

None of the eighteen tracks run for very long, with just half a dozen over three minutes. But this doesn't affect the whole adversely, nor does the slightly uneven production.

I was going to give this album a very solid three stars after the first couple of listens, but I find I keep gong back to it and humming the tunes when I'm out and about, so I think it deserves four!


These Are The Good Times People
These Are The Good Times People
Offered by positivenoise
Price: £6.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eclectic, energetic, fantastic, 4 Mar. 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I had no idea what to expect with this album. One of the lovely things about the Vine review program is you're tempted into new listening experiences. I'd never heard of THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, but it looked interesting so I checked it out.

What a striking album! It kept knocking me in different directions, because it doesn't easily fit into any genre, and doesn't stay still long enough to get pidgeon-holed. The songs drift from Teen Rock into Funk, then pass through Americana, Skiffle and Surf Rock, flirts briefly with Psychedelic/Prog and then charges for the finish line via Rockabilly, Merseybeat and 70s Soul.

A very heady mix, but very effective! Each song is nicely crafted, and not over-produced - the overall sound is pleasantly stripped-down without being spartan. Many of them are great sing-along tunes, though the language is a bit coarse in places.

The mix of genres may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for the iPod Shuffle generation, this eclectic collection won't present a problem!

I'm really pleased I've discovered THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Highly recommended.


A Night To Remember
A Night To Remember
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £7.73

4.0 out of 5 stars Top-notch 70s standards by a master on top form, 4 Mar. 2008
This review is from: A Night To Remember (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This album is an absolute delight.

Any fan of the 70s will know and love these songs. Don't think of this album as a least-resistance batch of "cover versions". This is an amazingly solid set of 70s standards, sung by Johnny Mathis, one of the most distinctive and beautiful voices of that decade or any other decade. And Mathis is on top of his game here, effortlessly delivering the songs in a way that is both familiar yet fresh.

Fantastic stuff, highly recommended!


Quality Of Life [2004] [DVD]
Quality Of Life [2004] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Lane Garrison
Offered by Qoolist
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A striking and effective movie, 30 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Quality Of Life [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
QUALITY OF LIFE is a story of friendship.

Vain and Heir are two graffiti taggers in downtown LA, whose longtime friendship is threatened after a run in with the police. The threat of prison time has a profoundly different effect on the two, and it is the strain that their diverging paths places on their entwined lives that provides the meat of the tale.

The performances are good, but Lane Garrison (Heir) shines far brighter than his co-stars. Brian Burnham (Vain) does good work but he's relegated to supporting cast by the strength of Garrison's performance.

QUALITY OF LIFE is a terrific piece of cinema, shot beautifully by directorial first-timer Benjamin Morgan. I'm amazed Morgan has been quiet since this was made in 2004. I look forward to seeing more of his work in years to come.


Mattel - Uno Spin
Mattel - Uno Spin

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, unpredictable fun, 19 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Mattel - Uno Spin (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This variant of the Classic Uno game is a tremendous amount of fun. In a Christmas that was jam packed with Christmas-list toys, the arrival of this game out of the blue knocked everything else for six.

My kids like the regular Uno game, but get frustrated when they have to pick up cards or if other players were doing better. However, the new Uno Spin mechanism changes all that! When the spin marker is seen on one of the regular Uno cards, the next player spins the wheel, and there are a number of forfeit/fortune outcomes - pick-ups, discards, hand swapping, and so on. This means that being made to pick up cards is no longer something to sulk over, as the game can change so quickly.

We played this a lot over Christmas, the kids enjoyed it so much they finally learned how to hold a hand of cards properly!

I totally recommend this great family game!


The X Factor Interactive DVD Game [2007]
The X Factor Interactive DVD Game [2007]
Dvd ~ Simon Cowell
Offered by Qoolist
Price: £0.98

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fizzles quickly, 11 Dec. 2007
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My interest in this game came about because of my young kids' obsessive interest in the X-Factor, ITV's successful Saturday night talent show. I figured they'd love to have a crack at this DVD game. And they WERE excited about the prospect, so when it arrived we sat sat straight down and gave it a go.

It was a very mixed experience for us.

The kids enjoyed the first couple of rounds that revolved around judging auditions and answering X-factor questions. They did far better than I did! But as the rounds progressed, the format became mostly based on pop trivia, and even 90s-based questions were out of their reach, let alone the ones from the 60s! They were also surprised and frustrated by the fact that there was a random chance that they could be "voted off" (ejected from) the game in the final round if they got a question wrong.

I was less certain of the early rounds, but quite enjoyed the pop trivia in the later ones. And a had a few niggles that the kids didn't - there were a few repeated questions, even on the second play, so I wondered how long a shelf life this would have. I was also bemused by the scoring mechanism - we were quite competitive in the early rounds, amassing scores, but the scores were discarded before the final round, and served little purpose overall.

The game itself is bright and engaging and has lots of video clips - not badly designed at all - but ultimately it can only make the best of a limited gaming mechanism. DVD-only games seem very restrictive when compared to traditional board games, though it has to be said that games that use a DVD as a source of questions (like Scene-It and Trivial Pursuit) work really well.

Overall, I think the game is realistically targetted at players who are teens or upwards, or younger fans who don't mind playing on a team with a parent.


Waterloo, Tennessee
Waterloo, Tennessee
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £13.77

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clean, clear, but strangely unengaging, 12 Nov. 2007
This review is from: Waterloo, Tennessee (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My first impressions of this album were of a stripped down, back-to-basics set of tunes, performed (and sung) with considerable skill. Over subsequent listens, I expected some subtleties to emerge, for me to find more to enjoy. This didn't happen. I liked what I had heard, but found little to engage me on repeat listens. My favourite music speaks to me on some level, whatever the genre. But I failed to connect with this album. There's a lot here to admire in terms of talent, but for me the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts, and ultimately I found it drifting into the background while I did other things.


Pangya Golf With Style! (Wii)
Pangya Golf With Style! (Wii)

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly silly, but a solid game!, 11 Jun. 2007
This isn't some stiff formal golf game - this is the way golf SHOULD be played! Daft characters, cool outfits, ridiculous equipment, insane caddies, and just a smattering of super-powers. Yep, this is a lot of FUN! Don't be put off tho - underneath the beautiful, detailed, COLOURFUL courses and the eccentric characters who play on them, there is a rock solid simulation. Do the tutorials, get the basics, and you're away. But practice, practice, practice and you'll realise that this is a top notch game that benefits from a smooth swing and some strategic thinking. It might be a bit tough for some players (in the same way that Wii Sports Golf was) but like all genres, golf games will suit some and not others. But this is a terrific game that will suit both fun play and more serious play. Highly recommended!


Somewhere Else
Somewhere Else

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid, perfect for fans, but not one for the masses, 6 April 2007
This review is from: Somewhere Else (Audio CD)
I've had the album for a few days and it's getting pleasantly under my skin. My first impressions were somewhat muddled. These guys once said they're good at starts and finishes of albums, but sometimes struggle in the middle, and THAT was my first impression. The title track washed over me along with much of the mid-section. However, a few listens later and I'm definitely getting it. There's much to admire here, but this is a subtler and more relaxed outing than many of their earlier albums, even more so the easy-on-the-soul MARBLES. As a fan I think this will blossom into the classic the band proudly presented it as. But commercially, though there's some semi-radio-friendly stuff (THANK YOU WHOEVER YOU ARE particularly), I don't believe this will ingrain the band afresh into the public consciousness. It's simply not urgent, vibrant or "hooky" enough. These guys may never shake the memory of old times and old hits. This is a shame, because this album is has more going for it than most mainstream offerings. Take a chance, you'll might be pleasantly surprised.


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