Editor’s Message Our October issue is one we have enjoyed putting together. We have waited untill now, to included our take on the recent UK riots, as it seems that social media and one mobile phone operator has been held to account in it’s response to looters and rioters favouring the use of their facillities. There is definately two sides to the story. Responding to readers letters, we’ve delved deeper into items sold online, and have devised a format forsummarising a list of five best buys across various categories.We intend to cover all other categories of goodies sold online and wellcome voting readers for their input. Special thanks to techpaparazzi.com, mgid.com, endlessorigami.com, funzo.com , Andy Davey and Rodney Pike. Their content input has been a great addition to this issue. Sola Akinfie
Sandy Basset News/sub editor
Zachary Saumanahaii Staff Writer
Anil Dauche Contributor
Blaine Smith Gaming Editor
Rodney Pike Cover Design
Gary Hammond Webreview Editor
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Fantasy Review Celebrity Facebook Social media and the UK riots Google + vs Facebook Social Media - Dark side Phone reviews Really useful websites Best of Five: Homeware Travel Fashion Console Games E book reviews Wacky pictures online Browser Likes Browser news
Commercial Distribution Amber wide Online manager Kofi Saunders Misgelle Waterman Staff Writer
Catherine Monreal Staff Writer
Daniel Baker Art Director
Managing Director Sola Akinfie
Sales manager Adam Scope Marketing manager Franck Artridge Advertising manager Jane Mitzef
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Fantasy Review By Sola Akinfie
Got asked to review the Blackberry Torch 9800. I’d rather be reviewing the latest German hot –hatch. Some say Blackberry is the toy for scallies, chavs and looting hoodies. Some say Blackberry Messenger is responsible for damaging written English beyond repair. All we know is The Torch 9800 is here, and with a claim to revolutionise the mobile experience. Design Blackberry is a Canadian brand that has enjoyed a phenomenal rise. Made by RIM, these chaps in the lab coats are relatively good at producing consumer-inspired designs, that’s true, but we’re in need of something groundbreaking in this competitive mobile phone market. Being a bit of a toff, I shy away from the Blackberry brand in favour of the iPhone. Blackberry is said to be the chavs’ choice of phone. To be fair, the Torch isn’t bad looking, and I’ll leave it at that. Being a petrol head, any gadget I endorse would have to be car friendly. Ever since the government in its infinite wisdom decided to ban the use of mobiles whilst driving, I favour a handset that’s easy to activate while belting down the M11 in my gleaming Mercedes SLK. The slide-out mechanism is unfortunately a definite no in my book. Steering and thumb controlling the slide-out is bad enough, then you’ve got the tiny key pads with dual commands on each key press - that’s tedious and definitely not finger friendly, I don’t care what anyone says. I’ve always disliked that about Blackberry phones. You need the fingers of a two year old with microscopes for eyes to make or answer a call. In regards to an upgrade to previous models, I don’t see my self whooping for joy at this new Blackberry – not enough groundbreaking additions to get excited about. Apart from the slide out mechanism and one or two other design features which I’m still struggling to find, the Torch 9800 hasn’t made a big difference to the Bold 9700. The size and shape of the device is nearly identical.
It offers the touch screen option on icon call up, as well as a touch screen numerical pad. As for the obvious features, it has the same QWERTY keyboard with optional touch screen numerics or the traditional Blackberry key pad. I must point out that other Blackberry handsets with touch screen calling functions can be a nightmare. I shy away from things that can be activated by accident. Dial lock or not, it’s only a matter of time before you ring someone by accident. Imagine unknowingly making a phone call to the other half while indulging in some extramarital engagement. Thanks to Blackberry’s high-end sound quality, the missus can pick up your every incriminating sentence at the other end. So, for me, I would be happy to go through the trouble of clicking down my keys. The slide out mechanism is good for that I suppose. Aside from the larger screen for more multimedia use, I fail to see what the fuss is about. It’s a bit like the variations between the latest VW Golf and its predecessor. Not a significant reason to upgrade.
Function The Torch comes with a 480 x 360 resolution display, which is as disappointing as their latest handset. You’re not going to get that crystal clear graphics display you’d expect. No point packing some great apps and enhanced user interface only to be deprived of the full luxury of digital magic. Some improvements in the memory size – 512MB RAM, which is twice that of the 9700 Torch. Plus, 4GB of hardware capacity. A variation of muscle, but a bit slow off the mark. Like the Ford Mustang, despite a
design favoured by most and a reputation for good function, the chip and clocked CPU provides a sluggish performance in some areas. Competing smart phones can breathe a sigh of relief In the image and video department, RIM has added a 5 megapixel camera. My old Nokia 72 sports the same image power, so don’t discard your digital camera just yet. It’s time Blackberry kept up with the rest of the contenders. Photo and video usage settings are a slight improvement from the older models, but I’m still searching for that unique selling point. Access to pictures and the edit settings requires the patience of a saint, but the pinch to zoom access may float some people’s boat. Let’s simplify the devices report card. The awful web-browsing experience of previous models has had a major overhaul with the introduction of the Webkit based browser. This provides improved web experience with pages loading as they should. Pinchto-zoom, tab management and emails also work much better. You now have a powerful universal search alongside a social networking tool which
allows you to aggregate RSS feeds and services like Twitter or Facebook into a single view and content aggregation. The search facility, has to be said, is as good as it gets on any rival handset. Swift flow of data instantly displayed on call up. Having your Twitter, MMS, SMS and email displayed in one may be a question of preference, and I’d admit that, for me, it makes life a lot simpler. There’s still progressive hope for the Torch yet. User interface in regards to look and feel is leaner and meaner. Less confusion with more flavour to iconography. Freezes and lagging are not yet a thing of the past with the Torch, but the attempts to address this is evident in an improved Blackberry OS 6. Just as I’m warming to the idea that the handset is actually an improvement, I stumble upon the audio upload and download performance. Trying to sync my favourite Kanye West playlist (yes, I can be hip you know), I realised I’d spent a good 20 minutes battling with the process. It’s like doing the Rubik’s cube after a generous bout of Super Brew Larger. I finally decided to give up.
Another lapse in commercial judgement is the app issue. No good improving the app world experience when your updated version is having recognition issues with the browser. Some of my favourite apps - like the traffic and e-reader applications - are either working like a pensioner at a rally car racer, or not starting at all.
Pricing Carphone Warehouse offer a massive drop in price at £25 -£30 a month, and £100.00 SIM free. It seems they’ve finally chosen their market and designed prices to fit their demographic. This handset is absolutely perfect for the lower-end customer profile –let’s face it, the average Blackberry user is likely to be unconcerned with technical protocol. They only need Facebook, BB messenger and music to disturb others on the bus. In conclusion – I would give it a 3 thumbsup rating. An improvement on past handsets, but not significant enough to cause damage to competitors.
Natalie Chandler and Sola Akinfie
Subscribe here for a better life The nation that is Facebook is having a bit of a bad time running the country. Citizens are grumbling about the autocratic decisions to change the settings, newsfeeds and other settings and layouts. Recently, The Facebook government launched its shiny new Subscribe button feature. Product manager, Naomi Gleit, said of the addition: “Facebook has always been working on giving users more control.” Her pants caught fire shortly after. The feature release saw the media cry copy-cat. Apparently Facebook nicked the idea from Google+, which in turn thieved it from Twitter. No word yet on where Twitter light-fingered it from. By simply subscribing to someone’s Facebook profile, their public status updates will magically appear in your news feed - even if you’re not their friend. You can also tweak the kinds of updates you receive. For folks who are your virtual friends, subscribing allows you to fine tune how much of their content you have to endure. Only interested if they get engaged or sent to Dumpsville? Consider it done. We say it’s only a matter of time before this new feature gets Facebook in the pooper over privacy. In the meantime, we’re all for anything that feeds our penchant for Face stalking. Probably. www.koktale.com/facebook-subscribe-button-follow-users-google/
Now hear this! What’s the top price you’d pay for a decent set of ear cans? £20? £200? Erm, £1000? According to a recent report over at BBC News, an ever-increasing number of consumers are parting with their hard-earned cash to secure themselves decent headphones. In fact, headphone sales recently saw a 24 per cent year-on-year growth in volume – bucking the subdued performance of the overall electronics industry. The market is now worth over £415 million-a-year. Music purists are getting their rant on, over the lost quality of music thanks to digital music players and their various accoutrements. Dom Feeney, UK consumer product manager at specialist headphone firm Sennheiser, told the BBC: “It’s no good having the best quality of music if you have a rubbish pair of headphones.” Meanwhile, Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Beats by Dr Dre, has tasked his company with “cleaning up the destruction of audio caused by the digital revolution” Not to be outdone, Feeny looked into his crystal ball and saw that “with the headphones of the future, each ear will be taken into account and be customised for individual’s hearing.” Yikes. www.squaremile.com/blogs/95/Bonus-Buster-Ultrasone-Edition-10-Headphones.html?printable=yes
The UK riots – We need to communicate The big-boy social networks and one phone company have all copped it in the neck over the recent UK riots. Blackberry’s RIM, Facebook, and Twitter faced a Commons select committee over claims social media – particularly the encrypted Blackberry Messenger was a key tool in organising the fracas. Top toff David Cameron’s initial solution was banning potential rioters from social media - a move which has been pooh-poohed by human rights groups. But is the Government wasting time pointing the finger at Blackberry et al when it should be searching for solutions closer to home? Erh, why not, it’s easier. Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt piped in on the problem, telling the audience at the recent Media Guardian Television Festival “It is a mistake to look into the mirror and try to break the mirror. “Whatever the problem was that caused the riots; the internet is a reflection of that problem. If you have a problem, use the internet to understand what the problem is.” Yes –start by googling it. www.boards.mpora.com/forums/looters-hove-t59188.html
Sony’s continuous headache Following a spate of hack attacks, Sony is planning to ban gamers from its PlayStation Network (PSN) unless they cross their hearts not to sue ‘em. Gamers have 30 days to opt out of the agreement, which has been incorporated into PSN’s T&Cs. In future, if gamers get a huff on, at having their private information thieved by hackers, they will first have to go through a Sonyselected arbitrator before being able to file a lawsuit. The new T&Cs clauses - dubbed the ‘Binding Individual Arbitration’ – state: “Any dispute resolution proceedings, whether in arbitration or court, will be conducted only on an individual basis and not in a class or representative action, or as a named or unnamed member in a class, consolidated, representative or private attorney general action”. The first attack on Sony way back in April saw 77 million users’ details stolen. The resulting class action lawsuit is expected to cost the Japanese electronics giant billions. Hackers also later broke into the digital assets of Sony Online Entertainment, Sony Pictures, Sony Ericsson, and Sony Music Entertainment. Guess that would explain the paranoia then. www.ibtimes.com/articles/150981/20110524/sony-music-japan-website-sql-sony-bmg-greece-attack-hacker-playstation-network-japan-thailand-fixing.htm
Microsoft’s expensive gamble Microsoft’s search engine Bing. Is one expensive gamble. The whole project has been acting like a growing baby demanding a bottle feed once too often. A new report from CNN suggests that Microsoft is losing $1 billion a quarter on Bing, its search engine, with total losses so far reaching $5.5 billion. Want to go after Google –well, that’s what you get. While the gain in the search engine market share is a good sign, it seems that Microsoft has banked too heavily on users wanting more from a search engine. Popular opinion states that the way we engage with search engines is likely to change with specific search requests being the magic word. Trouble there is most people in their laziness find Google search results more than adequate. A whopping 65% don’t even search beyond the first page results. Perhaps Bing would be better of being marketed as a niche search engine for the intellectuals, no riff – raff please. www.pamil-visions.net/category/featured/page/14/
It's the clash of the internet titans. Google and Facebook are going head-to-head to see which social network can get the most friends. Who will reign supreme? Both are major contenders in the same weight division, the stakes are high. Facebook, which is run by Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg, is now one of the most powerful players in the online industry and officially the one with the highest average user time spent per login. Such is its monopoly on social networking that very few companies have had the guts to even think about tossing their hat into the ring. Until now - Yes, we have a new challenger in the social network ring. Not content with dominating internet search, email, internet video and online maps (and dipping its toes into a host of other areas) Google has squared up to Zuckerberg and Co with its own social wonder child - Google +. Facebook already has a massive 750 million active users. All those Facebookers aren't just going to up sticks and familiarise themselves with an entirely new social network without a very compelling reason to do so. On the face of it (excuse the pun), the odds seem rather stacked against Google. So what miraculous offerings does Google+ bring to the table in its efforts to do the seemingly impossible? Well Google +'s main selling point and the one thing that really sets it apart from Facebook, is the use of 'circles'. Unlike Facebook, which lumps all your contacts into one group, Google + better reflects the more nuanced relationships we have with other people. With Google + you can sort your contacts into any social circle you can think of, such as work colleagues, close family, ex-girlfriends, potential girlfriends, and all those people you secretly hate but are too polite to cut out of your life. This then allows you to share status updates, links, videos and pictures selectively. So, for instance, any debauched drinking
binges aren't revealingly documented for your boss and mother, while heartfelt love poems (or domestic online rows) can be spared from anyone other than your nearest and dearest. Smartphone users are also well-served by Google. The Google + app is far clearer, and better presented, than the rival Facebook app and brings with it a couple of unique features. One is the option to instantly sync and upload any pictures or videos you snap into your online albums. So as soon as you take a picture on your phone, it will instantly appear on Google +. This does present some unwelcome possibilities, but you can thankfully turn the feature off, and the photos are firstly uploaded to a private album before you approve them for public consumption. Very good Google, you've made a decent a social network. It all runs pretty smoothly, there are a couple of new features, and it's put together in a user-friendly and intuitive way. But Google + still doesn't feel compelling enough to lure us away from the social network we've been exclusively using for the last five years. So end of story, Mr Zuckerberg can sleep soundly on his mattress of gold bullion and diamonds (it's great for your back, trust us). Well, maybe not. Sure, in its current incarnation, Google + is probably not useful or interesting enough to siphon away Facebook's user base, but Google has a trick up its sleeve. Actually it has a whole magic show stuffed up there. Remember all those pies Google is currently wrist deep in? Such as Gmail, YouTube, the Google Chrome browser, Android smartphones and of course internet search? Facebook doesn't have any of those pies and each one of them presents huge potential for integration with Google +. It's already happening. The big one is, of course, internet search. Whenever you search for something on Google, you
may have noticed that each returned link features a little +1 icon next to it. This is effectively the same thing as Facebook's 'Like' button, only it can applied to the whole internet. So, once you and your buddies are all signed up to Google +, every time you conduct an internet search you'll see what results have been recommended by the people in your social network. Facebook can't do that. Facebook also doesn't control it's own internet browser. Google Chrome has been steadily winning over internet users since it launched a couple of years ago. The potential for Google to completely integrate its social network into the browser is vast, for instance, you could post status updates, photos and links straight from Chrome's tool bar. Then there's Android â€“ the world's most popular smartphone operating system - which Google also owns. Imagine taking down someone's contact details and automatically syncing to their Google + profile? Or having the smartphone's entire user interface based around Google +? Google also owns YouTube and perhaps in the future you'll be able to upload videos to YouTube directly from Google +, instantly sharing them with your friends and the world. Of course, this is all speculation, who knows what Google has in store for its social network in the long run. But the search giant must know that people are not going to ditch Facebook on the basis of a few new features and some shiny graphics â€“ and there's nothing stopping Facebook from simply copying the 'circles' feature outright. Closer integration with other Google services is the only way forward if Google + is to survive. The battle of the social networks may have finally begun, but this will be a long fight, and we're barely into the first round.
Christopher William looks into the muky world of sharing and peeking with the use of Tweeter, Facebook and the like. Its a weird and dangerous outcome for some of us online.
Rappers can’t tweet
These days you can find virtually anything on Facebook – music, videos, blogs... even a hired killer! Yep, Philadelphia resident Corey White was shot and killed just months after his girlfriend, London Eley, posted a status update that read “I will pay somebody a stack ($1000) to kill my baby father.” Following the grizzly update, a right plonker named Timothy Bynum allegedly replied to Eley with the following: “Say no more... what he look like … where he be at … need that stack first”. The police arrested both Bynum and Taylor’s girlfriend shortly after the Facebook postings were made, so they don’t believe that either of them killed Taylor themselves. Maybe detectives should post a status update asking for
Most of the time hip -hop stars can be found gleefully slagging off the police and authorities, but a Twitter mishap left popular US rapper ‘The Game’ issuing a grovelling apology to his local sheriff’s department. The Game, real name Jayceon Taylor, tweeted to his 500k+ followers that he was looking for music interns. All well and good. Then he separately tweeted a phone number. Naturally thousands of people dialled the number hoping to have a chin-wag with their rhyming hero, only to find the Los Angeles sheriff on the other end of the line. The amount of callers severely disrupted the sheriff’s department’s ability to respond to genuine emergency calls. According to Taylor, the whole thing was a prank played on him by a friend. After a length apology, the police decided not to press charges. I can see the next album now – Tweet da Police!
Anyone who has ever tried online dating is bound to have some horror stories to tell. Usually such stories revolve around dates carrying a few extra pounds than their picture originally suggested, or being unable to string a sentence together without a keyboard and computer screen in front of them. But spare a thought for poor Leah Gibbs, 23, who went on a date with a chap she met over Facebook. It was all going well until her date, a Mr Adam Chapman, asked her to drive him to a nearby Ladbrokes. Upon arrival, Chapman leapt out of the car, robbed the bookies at knife point, and then demanded Gibbs drive him home. Police arrested the two moments later. Luckily Gibbs was cleared of all charges when her Facebook hook-up admitted to acting alone. That’s one friend request she definitely should have ignored.
Terror Tweeters The recent London riots showed just how dangerous social networks can be when applied to organised violence and last month residents of Mexico City saw an even more sinister side to Twitter. Gilberto Vera and Maria Pagola are both facing 30 years in jail for spreading rumours over Twitter that children in Mexico’s capital were being attacked by drug gangs at their primary school. The tweets understandably caused hysteria, with more than two dozen car crashes linked to panicked parents rushing to check on their children. However, many organisations, such as Amnesty International, are protesting at the harsh sentences dished out to Gilberto and Pagola. The accused say that they were simply relaying information they heard and they didn’t intend to cause harm.
Pseudonym fail One benefit of the gradual erosion of internet anonymity, in the face of social media, is that criminals like to use Facebook too, which of course makes them far easier to catch. Take 23 year-old New Yorker Jesse Hipolite for example. Jesse came to the attention of the police following a bank robbery that was linked to his car registration number. While under observation Jesse posted pictures of himself on Facebook handling $100 bills as well as tactful status updates such as “crime pays my bills” and “I got to get that $$$$$”. But it gets better. After a while Jesse started to suspect that he was being watched, so he changed his Facebook name to a pseudonym. Only he changed it to “Willie Sutton Jr”, the name of one of the most notorious bank robbers in US history. Jesse was eventually arrested for three bank robberies in the Brooklyn area. If only he’d checked his privacy settings.
8,000 tweets to Nirvana I thought Buddhists were meant to be paragons of detached virtue and calm, never getting angry, or jealous, and certainly never sending over 8,000 threatening messages over Twitter. Mr William Lawrence, a self-proclaimed reincarnation of a Buddhist master, took offence when his claims of reincarnation were rejected by another reincarnated master, and head of a US Buddhist centre in Maryland, Ms Alyce Zeoli. After his rejection, Cassidy inundated Zeoli with charming tweets such as “Do the world a favor and go kill yourself. P.S. Have a nice day.” and “Ya like haiku? Here’s one for ya. Long limb, sharp saw, hard drop.” Cassidy even repeatedly created new Twitter accounts in order to circumvent Zeoli’s attempts to block his tweets. The scorned Buddhist is now cooling off in jail, where I’m sure he’ll have plenty of time to meditate.
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By Sola Akinfie
Tweeter, Facebook, and Blackberry were recently hauled before the home secretary to account for, and address the primary use of their services to fuel the flames of the London and UK riots. We take a look at the good and the bad side of social media and popular communication. Evil
The popular message facility has been a major medium to incite violence and rally yobs to strategic looting – The looters call at Eltham was done on Twitter. Some of these daft cretins are using Twitter locations to pick looting spots, others have warned the public what is going on, bringing their unhealthy humour and sense of fun to the occasion.
The rioting in London over the weekend was mainly orchestrated and organised on Twitter, with the Daily Mail, for example, claiming the “violence was fanned by Twitter as picture of burning police car was re-tweeted more than 100 times”.
Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan sentenced to four years in jail for using Facebook to incite others to riot. Amed Pelle of Nottingham logged onto the social networking site hours before recent rioting in the city, to encourage his friends to murder police officers. Posts made on the network, detailed shops later targeted for looting. In a later update, Pelle added: “Rioting 2nyt anyone want anything from (fashion chain) Flannels?’ Johnny Melfah is said to have posted several messages on a group that had been set up called “Letz start a riot”, encouraging people to riot in Worcester. The teenager is charged with intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of widespread thefts and criminal damage. He was bailed at Worcester youth court. A 17-year-old youth who posted - “come on rioters, It’s about time we stood up for ourselves for once. So come on rioters - get some. LOL.” He had deleted the post by the time the police had been alerted and arrived at his door.
Blackberry messaging service is an encryption protected service which has made it difficult for authorities to investigate incriminating messages. Messages from BBM was used to rally other yobs to leave their play stations for the night and come to rob in Hackney. Teenagers were using the personal messaging facility to add status updates shared with all of their contacts - on which retail establishments were next for attack.
Good Riot Cleanup, a Twitter page successfully kick started a community clean up effort in Clapham and Battersea, organised through Twitter and other social media, inspiring pictures of caring residents raising their brooms in the air helped start a positive trend in the clean-up effort. Andy B, the driving force behind the account, wrote on Twitter – “at Clapham junction to help with clean up - great turn out”. He then posted the picture with just the words 'we're ready'. The @RiotCleanup Twitter page has amassed more than 50,000 followers in fewer than 10 hours and is consistently broadcasting cleanup locations and times, along with other pertinent information regarding the initiative. Deloot London the initiative was helped by social media. Especially with the use of Tweeter, where there is an active feed for those offering their money or services to ensure that most shops looted do not end up closing. AlexFortyNine on Twitter, is part of a group of individuals from the Enfield community, who are out to protect their local area from more of these looting yobs. Alex and this group have taken it upon themselves to make citizens arrests of these unsavoury individuals bent on destruction and thievery. With the use of Facebook, a copy cat collective effort was initiated, to clean up other parts of the country caught in the rioting. Riotcleanuop.co.uk was set up and launched by a community spirited resident of Shropshire and spread the word through social networks to urge visits to the site for a more detailed call to clean – up action. The website is being constantly updated with cleanup location information in regular updates. Tmblr account - Catch a looter One of the pay -back favourites. This account was set up to receive posted images of looters for identification. Local residents were able to post smartphone pictures and videos of the ugly scenes witnessed. Quite a number of looters were easy to identify. Blogs: Keep Aron Cutting .Senior citizen, Aaron Biber closed his barber shop in Tottenham, as a result of looter damage, but his modest establishment was revived with a collective £20,000 donation. The 41 year establishment was saved from permanent closure when several blogs came to help raise funds to clean up and repair the salon..
By Sola Akinfie At last – the cash generating hoard of CCTV’S were put to good use during the recent UK riots. Joining forces with footage from have –a- go smart phone users, the yobs never saw them coming. Enjoy the postcards!
JD spo rts – Gre sport like th at for activ e loot ers ru e n.
out any way? What’s that riot ab
They’re really taken this sales frenzy a bit too far.
Ahh, look at his sw ing the eet face , doshopping for mum then?
There was a ru sh by law abiding yobs to get their hands on mobiles so as to call their mums
Great fam ily photo for this d yob, Could aft n’t be ask ed to cove r his hideou s face.
re deme some ba “Got to get ” v! u br ads signer thre
e 78 to it for th a w e st ju meantim We’ll d, in the ar n e u d o r e c e n com e evide th n o t ou can si
Chav mums opinion
“It’s the guvments fault – conservertives innit?
Taking our taxes back!
Responsible mum teaches her impressionable child the art of good shopping. The Video we wanted to show you has been removed. So here is a photo.
E–book Choices for the Month Title: Blood and Smoke Author: Charles Leerhsen Publisher: Simon & Schuster Type: Nonfiction Themes: Discovery, Journey, Fortune Wow, reading about the early road races it is a wonder anyone survived. From the mechanicians job (yes that is the original spelling) to the hazards of being the driver, this book takes you on one raucous ride. The crashes are spectacular and the behind the scenes hijinks are not to be missed either. Now if they could only come to a consensus regarding who actually won the first race.
Title: Volt Author: Alan Heathcock Publisher: Graywolf Press Type: Fiction Themes : Redemption, Death, Good and Evil A grouping of eight short stories set in the fictional town of Krafton. The superb writing style of the author takes us into the land of death, despair, and the hope for redemption. Each story weaves a tapestry of words that takes us on a dark journey, and we have only to read on to find out where the journey will end. It is interesting for each story to be different but the central or almost additional character is the town itself.
Title: Nice and Mean Author: Jessica Leader Publisher: Aladdin Type: Fiction : (Reading level 9-12 years) Themes : Coming of Age, Family, Friendship Who doesn’t remember middle school with all of the awkwardness and popularity contests. This story brings the themes forth through the two main characters, Sachi-the nice girl and Marina—the mean girl. We not only get to learn about them but also their backgrounds and it gives insight into why they are the way they are. There is a deepness and richness to the writing that goes beyond a typical teen angst novel.
Title: Unlikely Friendships Author: Jennifer Holland Publisher: Workman Publishing Company Type: Non-Fiction Themes : Friendship, Hope, Survival What an amazingly wonderful book. Sometimes with so much going on in the world to stress you out, you just want to read about something going right. This is the book for you. There are a little over 45 stories and each one exemplifies how boundaries can be broken and friendships can be forged no matter the differences. Some of the unlikely pairing include: a hamster and a snake, and a cat and a rat. Whether through injury or loneliness these stories show that even predator and prey can forge a bond. Heartwarming and a must read!
Title: My Heresy Author: Maryam Schonbeck Publisher: CreateSpace Type: Fiction Themes : Family, Judgment, Love A legal thriller with a twist. Rose and Robert are both lawyers and come to find that they are in love with each other. There is something about Rose and Robert that makes this relationship different. Will they be able to get past it? Will they succumb to the feelings they have for each other? Add to this a case that has come into their laps that means they will be working closely with each other. What will become of them both? Will it affect the case? This is a book where you must get all of the facts before you can render a verdict.
Title: American Masculine Author: Shann Ray Publisher: Graywolf Press Type: Fiction Themes : Family, Men, Death Where to begin….these ten short stories deal with death, reconciliation, forgiveness, violence, hope, and new life. The backdrop to these stories is Washington and Montana, with Washington described as a bustling busy, crowded place and Montana painted as an open expanse where “skies run from a tilted wooden porch all the way to the horizon line”. The stories focus on various men and their interactions amongst themselves and everyone else in their lives. Must read!
Title: The Storm at the Door Author: Stefan Merril Block Publisher: Random House Type: Fiction Themes : Love, Family, Illness What happens when the idyllic life you knew begins to unravel? Katherine and Frederick are loosely based on the author’s grandparents. Everything seems fine until Frederick begins to act erratic, gets arrested, and subsequently get admitted to a mental hospital. The story is seen from both Katherine and Frederick’s perspective so you are given insight into Katherine coping with the expenses and the social stigma of mental illness, and Frederick’s nightmare in the mental institution.
Title: The Mistress’s Revenge Author: Tamar Cohen Publisher: Free Press Type: Fiction Themes : Love, Revenge, Obsession So you are happy with your life. You have a wife and a mistress on the side, but then you decide to leave the mistress after 5+ years….what could go wrong? Your lover decides to leave you and become a devoted husband again how do you cope? Through reading Sally’s journal entries, we find she doesn’t cope very well. She essentially becomes obsessed over what she cannot have and appears to stop at nothing to exact her revenge-even losing the things most precious to her. How far will she go? A must read! Deemed a modern day Fatal Attraction!
TRAVEL Spabreaks.com We like to think that Italy’s L’Albergo della Regina Isabella (try saying that after a couple of Peronis…) is the spa James Bond would stay at if he wanted a break from international espionage. The Hotel Regina Isabella is located in Lacco Ameno on the island of Ischia, smack-bang in the Mediterranean just off the coast of Napoli. The Hotel Regina Isabella has specialty spa treatments that will turn you to smush. Plus for antsin-your-pants-types there’s a tennis court, fitness centre and table tennis. The Three Night Spa Holiday will set you back £379 per person and includes accommodation and breakfast, loads of massages, and full use of the amazing facilities.
e Can As Spa As The Ey See
Be still our luxury-loving hearts. The Hotel Sidi Saler is a five-star resort in Spain’s Valencia. Enjoy your treatments in your very own private cabin. Some of the amazeballs products include the gold anti-ageing treatment (yep, as in *actual* gold) and the coffee anti-cellulite treatment. You’ll leave feeling brand-spanking new. After a hard day’s pampering, you’ll need top-notch nosh. As luck would have it the Hotel Sidi Saler’s Les Dunes Restaurant boasts world-class food and wine, plus panoramic views over the dunes of the nature park.
So Spa, So Good
Enjoy the Two Night Spa Holiday from £220 per person. Now that’s value for money. www.spabreaks.com/venues/hotel-sidi-saler/regions/spain
The five-star K Club in Kildare, Ireland, has everything you want in a luxury spa resort. The K Club has cherry-picked the best treatments available worldwide, and has brought them back to this beautiful corner of the universe. Enjoy facials, massages, golf, and even your very own personal trainer if you’re the Fitty McFit type. The K Club Romantic Escape is just £269 per person. It includes accommodation, breakfast, chocolate and wine upon arrival (huzzah!), a Candle Lit Table D’Hote Meal for two, plus full use of the spa facilities, sauna, jacuzzi, and steam room.
re Luxury, To Be Su
This one was just named winner of Best Luxury Spa in Greece in The World Luxury Spa Awards 2011. Located in Greece Crete, the resort overlooks the Aegean Sea. Its Six Senses Spa offers so many faboosh signature treatments you’ll wish you had more than the one body to sample them all. In addition to a world-class restaurant and wine cellar, Elounda Peninsula boasts The Serenes’ Jetty Bar, just above sea level at the very tip of the peninsula. Take in one of the world’s most beautiful vistas with your evening cocktails.
Enjoy the Elounda Peninsula Three Night Break for £648 per person. This includes accommodation, breakfast, and full use of the facilities. www.spabreaks.com/venues/elounda-peninsula/regions/Greece
Situated in Villars-sur-Ollon, the Chalet Royalp is a member of the Small Leading Hotels. It boasts a luxury spa, plus a private couples’ area for hire. In between spa treatments, suck in lots of fresh mountain air while out walking or cycling. Plus, there’s even a golf course on-site. Enjoy the Three Night Break at Chalet Royalp for £362 per person. This package includes accommodation, breakfast, and full use of the spa facilities.
Spa And Away
sanctuaryspaholidays.co.uk Since opening its doors in 2008, Koh Samui’s Absolute Sanctuary has become Thailand’s premiere yoga and detox holiday destination. What gives it its edge over competitors is its state-of-the-art detox centre, fabulous spa cuisine, fully-equipped yoga studio, and beautiful Moroccan-styled rooms. Standard inclusion in the Absolute Sanctuary Signature Detox Program includes: yoga, colon hydrotherapy, herbal drinks, nutritional supplements, raw/cooked vegetarian meals, spa facilities, seven nights accommodation, and airport roundtrip transfers.
ce Give Peace A Chan
Lordy but the Shangri-La Hotel in Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi, is fancy-schmancy.
Set within an 8.5 hectare complex complete with its own 1km private beach, the spa resort features the best in modern Arabic architecture and extensive treatments - all just 15 minutes from Abi Dhabi’s city centre and ten minutes from the airport. Reach The Chi Spa, located on the complex, by traditional wooden Abra watertaxi. Once you’re there you can choose from half-day spa experiences, 150 minute Chi journeys, Hamman packages, and men’s skin care treatments.
So Spa, So Good
A five-night stay at the Shangri-La – including flights, accommodation and breakfast – will set you back £979. Call Sanctuary Spa Holidays on 0870 243 1972 to make your booking today.
The Longevity Wellness Resort in Portugal’s Monchique is a five-star, eco-friendly spa resort that’s not going to let you turn into an old boot anytime soon – not on their watch! Run in partnership with Dr. Claude Chauchard, world-leading expert in Ageing Management, you’ll get luxury accommodation, detox and relaxation programs, and let’s not forget microdermabrasion, micro-needling (holy ouch!), and something called the Fountain of Youth Face Treatment. To find out how much it costs to turn back the hands of time, call Sanctuary Spa Holidays on 0870 243 1972. A free room upgrade’s on offer subject to availability.
No Time Waits For u Yo pt ce Ex … an M
Look no further for your next Caribbean holiday. St Lucia’s Cotton Bay Village boasts 74 luxury suites, townhouses and villas, pamper-tastic spa facilities, a golf course, a kitesurfing and windsurfing school, beach volleyball, kayaking, yoga, plus a nanny service to keep your 3-7 year olds entertained while you take in all of the above.
Cotton On To Luxurio us Cotton Ba y
Enjoy a seven-night stay at Cotton Bay from £1,129 including flights. Call Sanctuary Spa Holidays on 0870 243 1972 to make your booking today. www.sanctuaryspaholidays.co.uk/spa-hotels/cotton-bay-village.htm
In addition to beauty and relaxation treatments, at this gorgeous spa resort there are doctors from several specialist fields plus an Ayurveda consultant on hand around the clock to cater to your every whim. Jetwing guests staying a minimum of three days can also expect to enjoy music therapy healing, specialist consultations and cooking demonstrations with the chief doctor, and yoga and meditation classes with a specialist Indian guru.
ry The Lap Of Luxu
Enjoy a seven-night stay at Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions from £799 including flights. www.sanctuaryspaholidays.co.uk/spa-hotels/jetwing-ayurveda-pavilions-sri-lanka.htm
bookaspa.com If you fancy a pampering without clocking air miles, the UK’s not short of a luxury spa resort or two. Exhibit A: Cowley Manor in Gloucestershire. Set in 55 acres of parkland, woodland and meadows, it’s the perfect spot for some serious R&R. The tasty treatments include holistic massage, soaking, scrubbing, detoxing, and old favourites Mr Mani and his good friend Mr Pedi. Enjoy a Two-Night Spa Break from £288 per person including accommodation, breakfast and dinner, plus two mini treatments (facial, manicure, pedicure and massage)
Suck up the stunning views of Loch Lomond while you luxuriate in, er, luxury at The Carrick Spa at De Vere Cameron House.
This five-star resort has a golf course, a world-class spa, and views you can enjoy from the rooftop infinity pool – booyah! Plus, let’s not forget the steam room, jacuzzi, and hydrotherapy pool, peeps! With your Two-Night Break from £378 per person you’ll enjoy accommodation, breakfast and dinner, plus two one-hour treatments (massage, facial, manicure and pedicure) so there’s no chance you’ll go home looking all haggis. (Soz, couldn’t resist). Enquire online at BookASpa or call 0800 988 3202.
Loch Stock …
Grab your bezzie mate or current amore and clock some serious spa time at The Rembrandt Hotel’s Aquilla Health and Fitness club, located in uber-posh Knightsbridge. Aquilla has been pampering peeps for over 20 years. Today, they’ve got it down to an art form. The spa boasts a full gym, swimming pool, weight-free area, and individual sauna and steam rooms. Plus, treat your bod to the highest quality products from Thalgo Skincare and Jessica nail care ranges.
The Rembrandt’s Two Night Spa Break will cost you a cool £330 per person and includes accommodation, dinner and breakfast, plus two one-hour treatments (massage, facial, manicure and pedicure). Enquire online at BookASpa or call 0800 988 3202. www.bookaspa.com/the-rembrandt/default.aspx
This five-star beauty bubble offers spa treatments a-go-go, plus views over Cardiff Bay that are set to stun.
Having A Wales Of A Time
Enjoy full use of the sauna, jacuzzi and hydrotherapy pool. In addition to the standard spa treatments, you get rejuvenated with the popular Microdermabrasion Manual Facial and Organic Facial. A Two-Night Spa Stay at St David’s Hotel will set you back £433 per person. That includes accommodation, breakfast and dinner, plus two one-hour treatments (massage, facial, manicure and pedicure.) www.bookaspa.com/st-davids-hotel-and-spa/default.aspx
Take a wee trip and check your bad self into The Spa at Grand Jersey. Boasting two floors of five-star fun, you’ll soon be on the receiving end of tops treatments, breathtaking views of St Aubin’s Bay, and tasty nosh. Plus, Jersey’s St Helier, where you’ll find loads of bars and shops, is just a short trip away. The Spa at Grand Jersey certainly ain’t short on facilities. It boasts a sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, indoor swimming pool, and experience showers (nope, not a clue…)
Girls] Jersey Boys [And
For £300 per person you can secure yourself the Grand Jersey Two Night Spa Break. It includes accommodation, dinner and breakfast, plus two one-hour treatments (massage, facial, manicure and pedicure). Enquire online at BookASpa or call 0800 988 3202. www.bookaspa.com/grand-jersey-hotel-and-spa/prices.aspx?clearsearch=1
GADGETS spyearpiece.co.uk We spy with our little eyes… You! Looking seriously freaking cool thanks to the Spy Earpiece PlayEasy MP3 Player Kit. Featuring a 4GB MP3 player from PlayEasy 200, it also just happens to have a Standard Skin Coloured Earpiece and a Black Coloured Neckloop – what are the chances? Plus, hit record to capture a speech or presentation in MP3 format. And as if we weren’t geeking out already, the PlayEasy 200 MP3 Player Kit also features a built in speaker, FM Radio, seven band Equaliser, 16 built in languages and OLED screen to display ID3 and lyric information.
It The Spies Have
The Spy Earpiece PlayEasy MP3 Player Kit will set you back £85.99. A small price to pay to be James Bond. www.spyearpiece.co.uk/products-page/spy-earpiece-packages-standard/spy-earpiece-playeasy-mp3-player-kit
The Spy Earpiece Bluetooth Glasses Kit from SpyEarPieces includes stylish specs with built in Bluetooth transmitter and microphone – perfect for your next covert mission. The regular Joe glasses will fool even your canny optometrist. Plus, the skin-coloured wireless earpiece is invisible in its cloak of cool. What’s more, those who want to hear a pin drop can upgrade to the Skin coloured Loud Earpiece. The tricked-out kit comes complete with battery, USB recharge cable, glass box, and cleaning cloth. Prices start at just £99.
Gadgets don’t need to cost a fortune to be cool, y’all. Take the USB Car Charging Adapter. It will cost you a diddy three quid – that’s right, change from a fiver – and you get a nifty device that, as the name suggests, plugs into your car cigarette lighter and lets you charge almost any USB device. Perfect for when you’re spying on the go and don’t have time to head home to change martinis let alone charge your whiz-bang gadgetry. Like we said, the USB Car Charging Adapter will cost you just £3. Rude not to, really.
Not only is the Spy Earpiece Bluetooth Pen Kit super-sneaky, it also doubles as an *actual* gardenvariety pen. Cunning. Popular amongst students at exam time – we can’t imagine why – the kit also features a two-watt audio amplifier, stereo CSR Bluetooth, and a way-sensitive microphone.
A Pen For Your Thoughts?
Plus, you can even purchase ink refills – the mad geniuses have thought of everything! As with all Bluetooth Earpiece Kits, this stealth pen also comes with a Skin Earpiece that can be upgraded at extra cost. What’s more, the cool price tag will leave you neither shaken nor stirred – pocket your spook pen for just £99. www.spyearpiece.co.uk/products-page/spy-earpiece-packages-bluetooth/spy-earpiece-bluetooth-pen-kit
The Spy Earpiece Bluetooth Kit’s for serious types who like prefer their spook paraphernalia minus the muss and fuss. Complete with skin-coloured ear piece, the kit comes with a neckloop complete with Bluetooth receiver attached. The neckloop can get its chat on wirelessly with other Bluetooth devices such as a phone or MP3 player. The sound gets outputted to your ear piece and – voila! – you’re a bonafide spy. Danger may even be your middle name – though probs not on your *actual* birth certificate.
ful Spy Keeping A Watch
What’s more, the Bluetooth neckloop also includes a built-in microphone for two-way wireless conversation. This bad boy’s going to set you back £89.99.
iwantoneofthose.com/gifts/gadgets.dept We defy you to find the AppToyz AppCopter lacking in awesomeness. Sure, maybe your first thought when you took your shiny new iPhone home wasn’t ‘I wish I could fly a helicopter with this bad boy’. But now that you know you can… So how’s it work? We’re so glad you asked. The AppCopter is a gyro-stabilised three-channel helicopter (whatever that means.) It’s controlled using your iPhone or iPod Touch - just plug the peripheral into your Apple handset of choice and use the DPAD (traditional remote control) or the built-in accelerometer to fly the sucker!
The AppCopter boasts an eight metre flying range plus loads of sound FX. It will set you back just £59.99 from IWantOneOfThose. www.iwantoneofthose.com/10532040.html
Sometimes it’s the simple contraptions that really float our boat – like the Bike SpokeLit from IWantOneOfThose for just £9.99. We’ve no doubt, dear reader, that you’re the environmentally-savvy type who uses your trusty bicycle to get from A to B, with maybe a little C thrown in if you’re feeling adventurous. Kudos to your caring, but it still pays to be cautious of other peeps on the road.
On Your B ike
The SpokeLit snaps onto your bike spokes and ensures others can see you both coming and going. You have the choice of constant light, or rapid flashing contoured light. We’re giving two very enthusiastic thumbs up to the constant light – great for getting your Tron on. You say gimmicky silliness, we say cool bespoke watch. The Paper Watch is made from Tyvek, a tear-resistant paper-style material. Plus, it’s got a digital watch built in. Obvs. Get out your marker pen, biro, paint or stencils and really go to town on your new wrist canvas. The strap is fully adjustable, while the watch battery is standard strength.
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And the best bit is you won’t have to pay fancy gallery prices to secure yourself a Paper Watch. From IWantOneOfThose it will cost you a diddy £8.95. www.iwantoneofthose.com/10427014.html
According to IWantOneOfThose, last year alone a tidy 37 million pieces of luggage were lost worldwide. That’s a whole lot of cranky folk in tropical climes with no clean undercrackers. Introducing the Trace Me Luggage Tracker. The sturdy tag secures onto your suitcase, sporting a unique serial number and barcode. Wherever your bag vacays, local handling officials or police can scan your barcode or read your registration number.
Without A Trace
Your details will then quickly pop up on property ownership register Immobilise.com. Shortly after you’ll receive a text and email letting you know the whereabouts of your luggage. All this aceness for just £12.99.
What do you get someone with the mind of a teenage boy trapped in the body of a fully-fledged adult? The USB Humping Dog is pretty high up there on our list. Pop the pup into your PC’s USB port and the randy canine will start speed humping it. Seriously. Sure, it’s two parts tacky mixed with one part purile. You say that like it’s a bad thing!
A Dog’s Life
The USB Humping Dog will cost you just £7.99 from IWantOneOfThose. www.iwantoneofthose.com/usb-humping-dog/index.html
iwantoneofthose.com/gifts/gadgets.dept Just because Potter’s jacked it in, doesn’t mean you can’t get your wizard on with The Magic Wand Remote Control. Much easier than all that eye of newt and skin of toad guff; this wand just needs two AAA batteries to work its magic. Use it to control your telly, Sky, digibox, stereo or any other infra-red device. Program it to store up to 13 infrared settings that will be triggered by set swooshes and slight of hand.
Does the Trick
The good peeps at Firebox will let you take home your very own Magic Wand Remote Control for just £52.99, no hocus-pocus. www.firebox.com/product/2481/The-Magic-Wand-Remote-Control
If you’re decrepit like us, you’ll remember a time before digital cameras. Just because camera film’s gone the way of the dinosaurs, doesn’t mean we don’t still fancy a stroll down Nostalgia Lane every now and then. But what to do with all our old-hat negatives? Thanks to the Photo and Negative Scanners, available from Firebox from just £119.99, now even the most tech-tragic folk can digitise their precious memories.
Picture Th is
Simply slip in your photos, negatives or slides and wait for the magic to happen. You can then burn them to CD or name-and-shame family members on Facebook. www.firebox.com/product/2614/Photo-and-Negative-Scanners
If you’re sick and tired of having to check your rock-god persona every time you leave your bedroom, it’s time you got yourself the Electronic Guitar Shirt from Firebox for just £31.99. Yes, you read right. The Electronic Guitar Shirt is fully kitted out with a playable integrated guitar. There’s even a mini amp with tone and volume knobs. Each button on the guitar’s touch-sensitive neck represents a major chord, so you can still play a mean tune even if you’re seriously lacking in*actual* musical talent.
Weight has officially gone hi-tech thanks to the WiFi Bathroom Scales.
The super-sleek glass and aluminium doo-hickey records your weight, fat mass and BMI the second you step on the scales. But here’s where it gets all kinds of fancy. The device then beams your weight info to your computer or iPhone, so you can track your results or even sync them with Google Health. And it gets better. The scales even synch with Daily Burn and iPhone apps like RunKeeper and WeightBot. Booyah!
Weight An d See
The WiFi Bathroom Scales will set you back a cool £119.99 from the good peeps at Firebox. www.firebox.com/product/2625/WiFi-Bathroom-Scales
Bringing a whole new meaning to clean technology, the USB Mini Vacuum Cleaner will have your keyboard spick and span quicker than you can say done and dusted. Simply plug this super-compact dust buster into your USB port, flick the switch and you’re good to go. Its transparent cover will even let you view all the mucky sandwich crumbs and assorted crud that comes off your computer. Ew.
Keep it Clean
The USB Mini Vacuum Cleaner works with both Macs and PCs and is easy to take apart for cleaning. From Firebox, it will lighten our pocket by just £3.49. BUY www.firebox.com/product/2771/USB-Mini-Vacuum-Cleaner
HOMEWARE The way we see it, if you’re going for the vintage look at home you have two options. You can buy a load of stuff from a charity shop that smells like your grandma’s couch, or you can buy one of these shiny new retro-style phones and pretend. With the second option you’ll save moolah on air fresheners and still get all the original features like a coin slot that actually works. Probably the most useful piggybank ever made. At £65 it’s a tad more expensive than your average second-hand number – but we reckon the lack of stank is worth it. www.next.co.uk/x481306s1#484390x48
Phone a friend
BUY NOW Into more eye-catching décor? Lucky you – get your new brewmaker in lime or blue. Plus it’s cordless, so you can stick it anywhere you want. They’ll even throw in a snazzy matching toaster so you can have brekkie with your brewski. You get the pair for a bargain £48. www.next.co.uk/x481262s3
You’re To ast
That’s right folks, a dining room set where all the chairs vanish into the sides of the table. It also comes in three colour combos – ash for the sophisticated types, dark wood and shiny black for the bachelor pads. Choices, choices! Unfortunately we’re not sure there’s enough space in there for you to hide from any unwanted dinner guests… The set costs a pocket-lightening £425. But let’s face it, you can’t put a price on this level of cool.
Me Come Dine with
Roll up, roll up, folks. Step this way and see the Coco chair - for anyone who’s ever wasted a weekend trying to master Ikea instructions. These bad boys are already assembled! No more trying to find which bit of Part A slots into Part B, or wondering what the blazes the inevitable extra screw does. Just pop them out of the box, stand them in their designated spot, and you’re away. Oh, and did we mention they’re absolutely gorge? Parisian chic, eat your heart out. The Coco chairs will set you back £275 a pair. Go on, you know you want them..
Chair Way to Heaven
Quebec ain’t just a city in Canada, you know. It’s also the name of the most phwoarsome dining room stuff you’ll ever own. Getting the table? You have to get the iPod-esque white chairs too or you won’t get the full effect. Add the sideboard and shelves and you’ll be the envy of all your chums – which is totally more than worth the price tags. www.next.co.uk/homeware/quebec
ing to Guess who’s com dinner?
You’re sitting pretty with the Bouji chair. Laze around for long enough and you’ll feel like lord of the manor. You can order your minions to do stuff for you. All you need is a padded velvet smoking jacket – that matches the chair’s modern colour combo, natch - plus a monocle and you’re good to go. Get your hands on one of these for £169 and you’ll never look back. www.made.com/collection/retro/bouji-chair-pavilion-grey-and-turquoise-blue
Take A Seat Anyone who’s anyone knows a well-decorated home needs a good bit of quirky kitsch. So look no further than the Juke. It’s not made from a real wheat sack, but we reckon they’re probably a bit scratchy so that’s no bad thing. You can get all the benefits of owning a genuine recycled sackcloth chair without the chafing. Winwin if you ask us. Plus it’s yours for the not-too-hefty price of £399.
Arm(chair ed) and Dangerous
It’s big. It’s really big. Think the Empire State Building of beanbags and you’re probably somewhere in the ballpark. Who needs actual chairs when you can lounge around on the floor on one of these bad boys? The jazzy twist on the traditional Union Jack design is just a plus. Not only that, imagine the pillow fights you could have! Epic. The Piggy Bag, and all the fun that comes with it, is yours for the nowhere-near princely sum of £59. www.made.com/leisure/the-piggy-bag-union-jack-lime
It’s in the Bag
One word – mesmerising. Remember lava lamps? Get your mitts on a heaps acer version. What lava lamp have you ever seen that changes colour? 16 million times? We thought as much… We have to warn you though - get sucked into looking at its gorgeousness and you may never do anything productive again. Wave goodbye to your social life now, it’ll make it easier in the long run. Get obsessed for £79.
Let There Be Light
Looks really cool, this coffee table’s pretty useful too – you can stack about a trillion magazines in the handy storage space underneath. If only our doctor’s office had one, then we wouldn’t be stuck reading womens’ weeklies from November 1985. This one gets extra chic points for having a sophisticated French moniker. Gives it that extra je ne sais quoi, non? Le Bric will lighten your bank account to the tune of £199.
the Wall Another Bric in
Rock the retro look in your living room with the 60s-style Sassoon Pod chair. It’s got pretty much everything you could want in a chair – snazzy PVC seat, red trim, a base so metallic you can see your face in it…we could go on. You should definitely park yourself in the seat of this baby – but we take no responsibility if you can’t bring yourself to get out of it again.
Oh, and it’s only £163.03. Sold. www.linthorpeinteriors.co.uk/living-room-furniture-5/novelty-furniture-19/unique-furniture-sassoon-pod-chair-139.htm
Half armchair, half office chair, all design genius. These chairs are the pinnacle of ‘wow I’m cool’ interior decoration - not to mention that they provide a good-sized dollop of retro chic. Groovy, baby. Make like the cool kids and snap up a pair - or more - for your living room. We promise you’ll love them more than life itself. They’re that good. Feeling adventurous? Shake things up a bit and mix and match your colours. If you think all that sounds amazing – it does, we know – wait ‘til we tell you they’re only £124.09 a pair.
Sofa So Good
We think this coffee table and stool set is awesomes and eye catching. The slinky little number comes with four stools that tuck directly underneath the table. That means no more comedy pratfalls over chairs that trip you up on purpose. You know who you are! It gets niftier. The stools also double up as storage compartments – handy when you need to hide the biscuits, but not big enough for hide and seek. We guess you can’t have everything for just £287.69….
Bored of the average dining table? Can’t think of anything more square than a round one? Simple solution ahoy – this little octagonal number. Yep, you read that right. Eight sides. No more knocking other people’s elbows while you’re cutting your steak. At £1,348 it certainly doesn’t come cheap – but you do get the chairs.
A Glassy Affair
VISUAL MAGIC ONLINE The work of Rodney Pike, is an attractive visual addition to online and offline publications. Rodney has now availed himself for personal artwork for individuals as well as businesses. To many in the art world he is known as rwpike, His work is a bit different to your average photo manipulator. He works on all sorts of photo manipulation, but photo-manipulated caricature illustration is what he specializes in, perfect for magazines, books, posters etc. He’s also a whizz on caricature portraits. Rodney says the images make a great decorative piece with that personal touch. Imagine photo manipulated pictures of your children’s favourite celebrity with them integrated into the pictures and a whole list of creative backgrounds to finish the work off.
Purchase decorative digital prints from our
LADIES FASHION asos.com
ASOS Bodycon Dress with £20.00 This one is a classy evening dress. Pleated One Shoulder in a bodycon style, with over-sized trim. Price discounted by £15 is good value for money. Pleated fabric: 100% Polyester Main: 97% Viscose, 3% Elastane
ASOS Chiffon Sleeve Wrap Body £25.00 Elegant and chic – this is a stylish wrap design, with plunging V-neckline blouse on chiffon sleeves.97%Viscose, 3% Elastane. Contrast: 100% Polyester split detail, and a full cut back, in a soft stretch jersey finish.
River Island Crocodile Print Platform Heels £50.00 Platform court shoes by River Island. Features a crocodile textured finish, an almond shaped toe, block platform with studded trim and a high slim heel. www.asos.com/River-Island/River-Island-Crocodile-Print-Platform-Heels/Prod/pgeproduct.aspx?iid=1686652&cid=4172&sh=0&pge=0&pgesize=20& sort=-1&clr=Green
G- Star Arc Super Skinny Jeans £109.00 Skinny jeans by G Star, with a button closure, belt loops, five pocket styling, metal rivets, a washed finish to the leg, panels to the knee and a logo tab. reverse.68% Cotton, 30% Polyester, 2% Elastane
Denim Bott oms
ASOS Padded Biker Leather Jacket: £120.00 Padded leather jacket, featuring a bleached fade-effect finish to the seams and edges, with an asymmetric zip through closure, a round neckline with collarless styling, and vertical zip pockets to the waist. The sleeves are long, with biker-style padding and stitching to the shoulders and elbows, and zip openings to the cuffs, a short waist-length cut and fitted panelling to the reverse. www.asos.com/ASOS/ASOS-Padded-Biker-Leather-Jacket/Prod/pgeproduct.aspx?
Sarah Chiffon Long sleeved cut work bodycon Dress £20.00 For those with the right waist, this is a great chiffon - long sleeved cut work bodycon Dress. Scarlet coloured, with a shaped length. 95% Viscose 5% Elastane. Length 80cm. www.boohoo.com/new-in/sarah-chiffon-longsleeved-cut-work-bodycon-dress/invt/azz72747
Carrie Open Back Slit Sleeve Pussy Bow Blouse £20.00 Elegant pussy bow blouse. With sophisticated slits in the sleeves, and a cute open back detail. Open back silky slit sleeve puss bow blouse. 100% Polyester. Length 60cm.
Gina Sporty Lace up Heeled Calf Boot. £40.00 Tanned with calf length sporty detail. Lace up double strap, buckle trim heeled boot. Quite comfortable to wear with solid heels. Heel height is 8.5cm www.boohoo.com/footwear/boots/icat/boots/new-in-footwear/gina-sporty-lace-up-heeled-calf-boot/invt/azz74223
Leona Indigo Bleached Effect Crinkle Leg Skinny Jeans. £20.00 A nice fade through bleached Effect. This pair of jeans is designed to fuse with the body. 75% Cotton 20% Polyester 5% Elastane. Length 94cm. www.boohoo.com/clothing/jeans+denim/icat/jeansdenim/jeans-and-denim/leona-indigo-bleached-effect-crinkle-leg-skinny-jeans/invt/azz72444
Denim Bott oms
Evie Belted Cape Coat. £45.00 A versatile style and complementary colours. This caped collar coat comes with a belt. Available in black and tobacco. 100% Polyester. Length: Centre Back 89cm. http://www.boohoo.com/clothing/coats-+amp-jackets/icat/coatsandjackets/new-in/evie-belted-cape-coat/invt/azz71268
MENS FASHION asos.com
Lacoste Live! Slim Fit Panel Shirt £90.00 Panel shirt by Lacoste Live. Featuring a contrasting block panel to the front, with a button down shirt collar, a patch pocket to the chest with an embroidered crocodile logo, full length sleeves with twin closures to the cuff, a curved hem and slim fit styling.100% cotton. Chest: 35”/89 cm. Size medium
Humor Tyson Carrot Jeans. £70.00 Carrot men’s jeans by Humor. Mid wash, with faded creased effect. Twisted seams and low placed back pockets. 100% cotton. www.asos.com/Humor/Humor-Tyson-Carrot-Jeans/Prod/pgeproduct.aspx?iid=771056&cid=4208&sh=0&pge=7&pgesize=20&sort=3&clr=Mid+blue
Denim Bott oms
River Island Military Boots. £65.00 Leather boots by River Island. Featuring an ankle length design, with padded cuff, strapped around the reverse. A stitched panel design to the main, lace up fastening with d-ring detail to the front. Almond shaped toe, a slim sole and a low wooden heel, in a smooth, leather finish.
Gio Goi Four Pocket Biker Jacket £80.00 Biker jacket by Gio Goi. Featuring a band collar, with a wrap strap fastening, a zip through front, tabbed shoulder epaulettes, full length sleeves with fitted ribbed cuffs. Four utility style pockets to the chest, a ribbed hem and neon stitched brand logo detailing.100% cotton.
Jackets / Coats
Franklin & Marshall Shawl Collar Cardigan. £127.00 Logo cardigan by Franklin & Marshall. Featuring a v-neck with shawl collar, long sleeve styling with contrast ribbed cuffs, contrast appliqué logo to the chest, button fastening through the front, twin welt pockets to the waist, and a ribbed waistband, in a knitted finish. 50% Polyurethane Coating, 50% Wool.
r Cardigan / Jumpe
California Fleece. Sleeveless Contrast Zip-Up Hoody -£24.00 A good colour combination of mustard and grey. The sleeveless version of our classic zip hoody with contrast details.100% California Fleece cotton construction .Metal zipper ￼ hooded with white finished Polyester draw cord .Kangaroo pocket. store.americanapparel.co.uk/rsa5409.html?cid=210
Top / Sweats
Shiny Denim Winter Jacket. £96 A classic jacket in bright Lamé Denim. Lined with Sherpa and featuring dual closure for additional warmth and comfort. Lamé Denim (98% Cotton / 2% Elastane) construction self. store.americanapparel.co.uk/rsald402.html?cid=209
Jackets / Coats
Logan Shoe by Bass Classic penny loafers by Bass & Co. These shoemakers and craftsman having being going since the 1870’s, using only the highest quality leather goods. Leather construction and outsoles with cushioned insoles. store.americanapparel.co.uk/logan.html?cid=196
Vintage Oxford Button-Up Shirt. £27.20 Vintage 1980’s Oxford button-up shirt featuring yellow, white and blue stripes on blue cotton/poly blend fabric. Left breast pocket. Button enclosure down center. Measurements: Bust: 25”, Waist: 24.75”, Hips: 25”, Length: 32”
.Simian Mobile Disco Sheer Jersey T-Shirt. £25.00 100% Sheer Jersey cotton construction .Durable rib neckband. www.boohoo.com/clothing/coats-+amp-jackets/icat/coatsandjackets/new-in/evie-belted-cape-coat/invt/azz71268
Creative photo from Thomas Herbrich. PURE GENIUS
Galaxy Note from Samsung One of Samsung’s new innovations. This is one smart phone that offers a real selling point. We love the idea of being able to scribble text and images on anything displayed on the screen, you can send your finished work to friends. The application is smooth and quick. Adding scribbled comments on photos or your own diagrams is just a delightful idea on a phone. The screen size is generous and the OS makes for a tidy interface when browsing the web. Samsung describes it as a cross between a tablet and a Smartphone. Pre - order price of £510 -£600 – not for the faint hearted. video - www.samsung.com/global/microsite/galaxynote/ note/index.html?type=find
Galaxy Note from Samsung This iron Samurai watch is born out of a design concept – a men’s stylish bracelet with a cleverly hidden watch interface. The manufacturers say it’s made from Samurai sword steel folded 1000 x over. - Length: 180 mm with 18 segments for wrist adjustment. Clasp: Exclusive fold over lock design. You also get the date, activated by the small buttons on the outside. This fashionable time piece looks particularly great at night, giving the wearer that Blade runner futuristic look. www.chinavision.com
The I toilet
Creative photo from Thomas Herbrich. PURE GENIUS One of our favourites -The thinking man or woman’s seat – imagine listening to your favourite collection of urban music on this gem – guaranteed to make your deposit a quick and smooth experience. This contraption is one of those novelty units that would surprisingly sell. Looks a bit like a loo for the disabled, but we love it. You can pick one up when Apple have finally lost it with their ever expanding desire to manufacture everything. Right now it’s a spoof idea. Sorry folks.
Grassy lawn charging station! What a great idea! Forget unsightly cables and leads for the thousand devises we seem to have these days. You can now have a decorative grass patch, to place your devises in for simultaneous charging. We like that look of going green and thinking about the Earth, even though that isn’t really the case. You can conceal the cable beneath the grassy plain and sit place your gadgets in the artificial lawn. Just remove the grass from the top, place all the messy cables beneath and place the gadgets requiring a charge in the grass. You can pick one up for £23.99 on www.lazyboneuk.com
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PICTURE MANIPULATES Courtesy of www.funzo.com
Do you really want to feel my sting?
An ink blotch with bite.
This no smoking thing is getting a bit much!
We are what we eat!
m o c i. z z a r a p a p h c te y s te r u o c
With technology coming out with new devices every five minutes it is a wonder that any of us can even keep up. Every day something new is discovered, invented, or brought to market. These smart phones below seem to understand this concept in the fact that many can handle multiple tasks simultaneously, there is a melding of professional and personal data management, and options available for relaxation or for a bit (examples: music and games). Prices given for the phones do not include any accessories or service provider charges. Letâ€™s take a look at current market offerings:
By Catherine Monreal
Google Nexus S
At first glance –the design isn’t groundbreaking, and doesn’t really stand out from the competition. Its functionality and fine-tuned extras makes up for this though. The Google Nexus S is paving the way, being the first phone to run on Gingerbread which is considered the “fastest version of android yet”. Gingerbread offers the user the ability to save battery life. Instead of having apps severely drain your battery, Gingerbread will assess the apps energy usage and will halt the offending app that is using too much power. While this is done automatically, there is also the ability to manually manage apps. A great feature about the phone is the front and rear facing cameras. The rear-facing camera offers 5 megapixel clarity, which can be used for pictures or video and the front-facing camera offers VGA quality with the ability to take pictures or record videos as well. We like the voice recognition feature which seems to be more effective than most. You can also use the voice capability to send a text, find directions or listen to music. The Google Nexus S phone also offers the ability to use the phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Up to six portable devices can be run from the phone. Along with the near field communication this phone could be quite versatile. You can use the phone to pick up information from a smart tag on a painting and then utilize the Wi-Fi capabilities to do further research. Some areas of the phone that could have been better include the call connectivity and the lack of memory slot. Some individuals felt that the feel of the phone was cheap as well. Average User Comment: Notification light issues. No SD card slot.
Acer Liquid Mt
This phone has not quite hit the market yet but currently things are looking good. The Acer Liquid mt (formerly named Liquid Metal) offers the user touch screen command. For the business-minded individual the phone can view and edit Microsoft Word™, Powerpoint™, Excel™ and Adobe® PDF files. Business can be conducted on the go and the businessperson can ensure that the latest information is gathered for the files. Another way to help with this is the ability for the phone to be a Wi-Fi hotspot where other devices can connect. For the photographer and videophile in you, there are the 5 megapixel camera and 720p high definition video options. This way you can take crisp clear pictures in a flash. The camera offers face recognition and helps to end the dreaded bad, out of focus picture. One good selling point is noise cancellation. Typically, using your mobile in a noisy environment can be tedious when having to ask your caller to repeat them selves while you are looking silly plugging a finger in your other ear. The Acer Liquid mt uses the technology of two microphones that can help reduce the conversations and noise around you. This will make your voice clearer to understand and easier to hear for the listener. Meetings can be focused, time and efficiency increased, and money saved by reducing redundancy. Initial Comments: Design issues. Good signal strength
Dell Venue Pr o
The Dell Venue Pro has Windows® Phone 7, which offers a live tiles feature so that information and elements that you use the most can be instantly accessible. It’s easy to keep track of new messages, weather, or the latest breaking news right by looking at your phone. For the gamers there is the ability to play Xbox® games from the phone and extend play with console and computer – “now that’s a selling point” One great way of packaging the available data is through the use of hubs. For instance, in the picture hub you can store all of the pictures you have taken, and get updates when your friends on the social networks have added pictures. This makes sharing and commenting on pictures so much easier. Another plus is the option to use the vertical slide out QWERTY keyboard (no need to turn the phone on its side first) or just use the on-screen keyboard. Dell Venue Pro comes equipped with Office Mobile (PowerPoint™, Word™, Excel™, SharePoint™, and OneNote™) and Outlook Mobile so office documents and important emails can be managed with ease. This phone can be like a minioffice on the go. While there is a bit of bulk, it lends the air of sturdiness to the phone. This bulk plus the use of Gorilla Glass for the screen gives one sense of comfort that the phone cannot be injured that easily. During a demonstration of the phone, a pen was used to strike the screen repeatedly and at the conclusion the screen looked no worse for the wear. Some users were having connectivity and Wi-Fi issues, but it appears that the company has heard the consumers concerns and is working on firmware updates to tackle these topics. Average User Comment: Great onscreen keyboard. Kind of bulky.
Really Useful Websites By Christopher Williams
We round-up the web’s downright essential sites.
Have you ever had a great idea that you struggled to get off the drawing board? Perhaps you lacked the technical know-how or time? Or maybe you run a business and need to deal with excess work quickly, minus the rigmarole of employing someone? If you need a helping hand – or have a hand spare to help - then Elance is a great place to start. Elance is a bit like eBay for freelancers and employers. It allows peeps from all manner of professional backgrounds to bid on jobs. Speaking of bidding, the site’s structure certainly favours employers. Freelancers’ salaries are significantly lower than you might find in the real world as folks openly compete on price to secure projects. As long as you don’t expect to make your fortune you’ll find the work on offer varied and interesting; from rewriting a novel to designing an iPhone app. Whether you’re employing or seeking work, there’s something for everyone. www.elance.com
We all know how painful it can be to up sticks and move to a new flat. Especially if, like many of us, you rely on flat shares to combat the ridiculous rents in big cities. Easyroomate.com is a great tool to help you find other flat-seekers with similar interests, as well as sub-letters looking for an extra body. Landlords with a flat to rent are also represented. Easyroomate gives you a broad selection and is well protected from fraudsters. However, the extra security comes at a price for some. The site is free to sign-up, plus you can advertise your availability as a roommate or landlord. But you have to pay a membership fee if you want to advertise your phone number and be contactable. Room seekers can also pay a fee - £15 for five days – in order to message anyone, whether they’re a paid member or not. Think of it as a dating site for pulling the right roomie. www.easyroomate.com How Stuff Works is one of those sites that should be in everyone’s bookmarks. Its tagline, ‘Learn how everything works’, sums things up nicely. How Stuff Works is a feast of trivia and guides. Some are topical and current, such as ‘How double-dip recessions work’. Others are completely random, such as ‘How Area 51 works’ and ‘What happens to a brain during orgasm’. Sure, you can find most of the information on How Stuff Works elsewhere, like Wikipedia, but not in such user-friendly, bite-sized chunks. How Stuff Works also features a number of video and podcast shows that pick-up and explain various topics. Stuff You Should Know is a podcast covering much of the topics featured on the site, whereas Stuff Your Mom Never Told You delves into more biological and sexual topics. Meanwhile Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know panders to the conspiracy theorist in all of us. www.howstuffworks.com
Google may be a wonderful tool when you know what you’re looking for, but the World Wide Web is a very big place. Chances are there’s billions of gigabytes of great content out there that you’ll never get to see by relying on your own search skills. Enter StumbleUpon. The website lets you choose some general areas of interest – politics, science, celebrities etc – and then serves-up websites or web pages based on those interests and the recommendations of others. You can even sign-up to StumbleUpon via your Facebook account and get recommendations from your friends. It sounds simple – and it is. But trust us, spend 30 minutes with StumbleUpon and you’re almost guaranteed to find content that you would never have stumbled upon with good old Google. www.stumbleupon.com
Ah parking, the bane of any car owner’s life. Trying to locate a space in central London can quite literally drive you up the wall (sorry). Thankfully some bright sparks have thought up Park At My House, a website that lets those with parking space rent it out to drivers in need. The site is elegantly designed and simple to use. If you’re looking to rent – or buy – a parking space, simply type in the postcode of your chosen area and you’ll see a map with all the available spaces plotted out, along with their prices. For those letting their space you can even check what the average monthly price is for parking in your area. The catch (yes there’s always a catch)? Park At My House charges 15% on transactions for parking space owners. But that’s not an unreasonable cost for such a convenient service. Plus, you can always strike a deal in private if you meet a long-term renter. www.parkatmyhouse.com
If you’ve every gone backpacking around Asia, or even taken a short city break, chances are you’ve picked-up a Lonely Planet guidebook. Lonely Planet has been synonymous with travel since they first started publishing back in the ‘70s, so it’s no surprise that the website is high-quality. Obviously the company makes it’s money from selling books, so don’t expect to find complete guides online for free, but you can still put together a great itinerary based on the content on offer. Even better, the online shop lets you buy and download standalone chapters from Lonely Planet guides in PDF format at a reasonable £3 per chapter. The online forum – dubbed the Thorn Tree – is a fantastic place to get up-to-date information from travellers who are already in your destination of choice. Plus, there are opportunities to meet-up with like-minded backpackers who are looking for a companion on their travels. www.lonelyplanet.com Google Translate has come a long way since its inception in 2006. Back then it translated just one language into English (Arabic), and pretty badly at that. Today Google Translate is the biggest translation tool on the web, with over 50 languages supported as well as voice output to help with pronunciation. Sure, the app isn’t perfect. It can throw up pretty obvious errors – especially when translating two unrelated languages such as Chinese to English. Nevertheless, it’s become one of the web’s most valuable tools, especially when trying to decipher foreign websites (if you use Google’s Chrome browser you can translate a website instantly, without having to visit the web app itself). Google Translate is so costly to run, Google tried to quietly axe part of the service earlier this year, only to back down after massive public protest. www.google.com/translate
Martin Lewis is the man whose face graces the website Moneysavingexpert.com. This site – which features tips to save money on a range of services and goods – has become so popular that Lewis is now a celebrity penny pincher, often appearing on radio and TV. Now let’s get this out of the way, Moneysavingexpert.com is ugly and hard to navigate. It looks like something out of the late 1990s. But that’s almost part of its charm. You get the impression that Lewis sees it as his brand image. Nevertheless, the advice on the website is brilliant, no-nonsense, stuff. It can really save you cash on everything from your mobile phone bill to your travel insurance. It also gives lots of tips such as how to use cash-back credit cards and how to find a discount on Amazon.com. Plus, there’s an active forum filled with wallet watchers who are ready to give advice on money issues and warnings on which companies to avoid. www.moneysavingexpert.com The internet is full of news sites ready to quench our thirst for up-to-the-minute coverage and commentary. But what if you wanted to get an overview of all news outlets, from the BBC to the Daily Mail? Or search for specific headlines and subjects? Well there are plenty of news aggregation sites out there, but Google News is probably the most powerful and comprehensive. You can personalise Google News to your exact requirements, telling the service, for instance, that you want sports stories occasionally, science stories frequently and notifications every time the word ’spatula‘ appears in a headline (it’s more often that you’d think). You can also tell Google what news sources to prioritise, like The Guardian, CNN or Fox News. Then there’s Google’s basic news search function, delivering you all the relevant news based on whatever search terms you input. If news is your addiction, then Google News is your crack. www.google.com/news One of the best things about the web is how it has democratised information. In the past we were forced to rely on trudging off to the doctor to get a diagnosis on the most basic of problems. But now all of that health information, which was previously buried in our GP’s head, is floating around online. NetDoctor is the UK’s most popular online health site. It features extensive advice articles, videos and a health forum where you can share your stories and advice on healthrelated issues.
NetDoctor has an archive of over 6000 answers from doctors on health-related questions, as well as a fairly comprehensive self-diagnosis tool that takes you step-by-step through your ailment. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should rely exclusively on NetDoctor when it comes to your health, but as a resource it’s invaluable.
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Farmville seemed to take the internet by storm, becoming an internet phenomenon within days of going live, it has since accumulated over 33 million Likes on Facebook and is widely considered as Zynga’s best product. The main reason behind Zynga’s success is also Farmville’s biggest downfall, the game has a heavy focus on a real money currency (FV), which is a form of micro transactions that most MMO players will be familiar with. However, Farmville doesn’t offer hundreds of hours of game-play or a vast, beautifully rendered 3D world to explore, instead you’re dumped in your own little field with a mouse cursor. We did our very best to attempt to write this review with an open mind, but we failed miserably to understand the appeal. The gameplay - You simply click around the screen moving your 2D avatar, harvesting your seeds and plowing more land, and your reward? After a few minutes work you’re forced to wait several hours for your crops to grow. This is where Farmvilles biggest selling point comes into play, you’re forced to socialize. Unlike typical online games that seem to cater for both lone players and social players, Farmville offers practically no option for real advancement unless you get involved with your friends farms. It almost feels like it’s forcing you to play devil’s advocate and advertise the game for them.You would think it would be too good to be true but Farmville, and many of Zynga’s other titles, have proven this to work as they dominate the Facebook gaming genre. When you first start your farm, regardless of your technique or planning, you will quickly end up with nothing to do but wait for a few hours.Understandibly, this would be a good approach to casual gamers but just how casual do they want you to be? It took about 5 minutes before we used all our cash to create some plots and plant some seeds, We were then looking at a minimum 4 hour waiting period before we could reap any of the benefits of back-breaking work. The 20 million player base is mind –boggling. Although you could spend no time on your farm directly, you can visit the farms of your Facebook friends and help maintain their crops in return for some cash. This does offer an option to sink more time into the game but there’s no depth to it, you are literally just clicking the mouse in almost the exact way you do on your own farm.The average Facebook user doesn’t stare at their wall all day waiting for something to come up, they simply log in during the day to catch up with friends, arrange meetings, that sort of thing. Games like Farmville allow them to spend tiny amounts of time to accomplish something over a much longer period, with the FV currency offering the option of speeding things up for those of us that are a little impatient. As for Zynga’s licence to print money,well here’s your breakdown: $1 – 5 FV $5 – 25 FV $20 – 115 FV
Pine Tree 324 coins 10 FV 10 FV Would be $2.50
As you would expect from a game using the Indiana Jones name, the game has a heavy focus on expeditions and gathering artifacts, this is what you’ll spend most of your time doing in the game. It starts off pretty basic, you get a couple of starter tools and chop your way through bushes, avoiding traps and collecting items and artifacts. As you travel to new areas, puzzles and other challenging obstacles like enemy monsters, will start to halt your progress, requiring a bit of attention to pass. The combat is simple clicking, highlight the monster with your mouse cursor and continuously mash your mouse button until the monster disappears, nothing really exciting there. One of the more unique aspects of Adventure World is the base building and expansion options, combined with the action based exploration of the game, the base system creates a nice change of pace and almost feels like a RTS title at times. Between exploring deep caves and blistering volcanoes, you can take a short time-out at your base camp and upgrade various buildings or collect quests. The majority of items are level restricted and as is expected with a Zynga game, the really cool features are unavailable unless you want to open your wallet. The first time you reach your base camp you’ll notice an excessive amount of tree’s and underbrush that can be cut down or chopped up to earn you some more experience points and coins but there’s far more interesting things to do. As a lowly Dr.Jones apprentice, you have access to a basic whip, which is as iconic as ever, and a machete. Other tools are available as you progress through the game such as a Pick-Axe and some other useful tidbits, you gain access to more tools as you level up your Tool Shed. As well as tools, there’s some really cool Indiana Jones type gadgets, although I admit you won’t find many of them in the movies. You can unlock things like dynamite, which has obvious uses, as well as a Grappling Hook to get to those hard to reach areas and even an Eagle which can somehow magically clear up fog that’s restricting your progress in a certain area. If you’re more into general decor and making things look pretty, you can also unlock various items from each exploration area to give your base camp that personal touch, everything from useless bushes to useless rocks and useless fences, it can make things look a little better but bottom line is, most of it is pretty useless. Although the Base Camp is one of the more defining features of the game, it’s also where the familiar downfall of Zynga games comes into play, that’s right, wanting to spend time playing the game but the game refusing to let you. In order to continue on your explorations you must have certain supplies such as water, fuel and food, these supplies can be obtained by sending your assistants out to collect or visiting friends base camp’s to collect more supplies but you will usually find yourself running out fast. The game doesn’t do much to bring anything new to the table, the quests are bog standard for a Facebook game and the continual hassle of having to have other friends play to get anywhere is really a pain, unless you happen to have dozens of friends that have nothing better to do than supply you with your expedition requirements. If you’re a gamer looking for something to sink your teeth into, you’ll find as much disappointment as you would at the bottom of a bag of Doritos’, but fans of Facebook games and other Zynga titles will find there’s plenty to do and the graphics and audio are easily better than most other titles on offer. I’ve played a few Zynga titles and I would have to say this is probably one of their best as you don’t find yourself having to wait 4-5 hours after 20 minutes play before you can progress and the whole Indiana Jones and exploration vibe is pretty cool but it’s probably not something most gamers could play for long.
Tropico games, is a strategy simulator game. This is another game in a successful line of strategic games from Kalypso. You are once again asked to reign as an all-powerful dictator of a small nation and lead the people there into a new era. Although, generally, this game has the same idea as the ones before it, it also has a few more key features that gives Tropico 4 more of an edge. For example, unlike on Tropico 3, you can now build a Ministry. This is where your council meet and pass edicts, with your say so of course. You have 5 kinds of ministers that you need present, educational, defence, foreign affairs, economy and interior. It is essential to have these council ministers to be able to pass edicts, which can be essential around election time! There are now additional foreign relationships that need to be maintained to avoid being invaded. USSR and USA (as before) and now the EU, China and the Middle East. It is within your best interests to appease these big world leaders to keep your threat level low. Plus, as a bonus, if you have a good relationship with these countries, they will provide you with annual foreign aid, which comes in the form of money. Another new feature is task requests from the leaders of the factions. This can range from a number of strange or serious requests, such as the environmentalists requesting more gardens on your island. In doing these tasks you can greatly improve your relationship with the factions, which in turn will win you more votes to stay in power and succeed. It starts with a new president (El Presidente) being elected into power. This is you. From then on you have absolute power in deciding how your island is run. Each island has a different ultimate aim, whether this is to earn a certain cash amount or just to last in power for a set amount of years, you also have to maintain an overall happiness for the citizens on your island, or risk being voted out of power (game over). We like how there are new options when designing your personal avatar. You start with suiting and booting him/her, there is only a limited amount of clothes you can pick from, and the same for skin and hair styles/colours. However, when it comes down to business there are lots of different options. You can pick a background for your avatar which gives you additional perks. I personally went for “Professor” which gave me a good start of 20% higher intellectuals respect and makes my people learn 50% faster (both educational and skills). You can then go on to pick your traits. You can pick ones that can make your life easy, or ones to give you more of a challenge, such as alcoholic – which is not approved of by the religious faction… The music goes really well with the game (although sometimes feels a bit repetitive). However, another new feature is the voice over that comes up when you get a task/new mission. This helps set the scene a bit more. Someone get me a cigar, I have an island to run! The controls are easy to use, absolutely idiot friendly. You simply move to the side of the screen to move along. You can scroll in and out, depending on how close you want to be from your subjects. Good if you need to build something in a hurry, but probably not necessary. As on the other Tropico’s, they have the helpful “suggested buildings” tab come up when you go into build mode. This is good for keeping a track of what your people want and need. When you click on the docks it has a handy tab that explains how much produce you have exported, and, a new feature to the game, it tells you how much you are importing too. It also now tells you how long it is until the next freighter gets to your island. This is quite a good touch as you can spent many months (in game) on Tropico3 wondering whether the freighter has gotten lost on its way to my island. There are now helpful in-game tips too as you are going through the missions. Just little pointers which will help with all levels, for example “build a new farm or source of food per every 50 new citizens”. Something we hadn’t overly thought of before, but handy to know. we’d recommend the game to any RTS/Management Sim fan and if you’ve played any of the previous Tropico titles, this will be right up your street.
Beautiful sandy beaches, sun-kissed bikini girls littering the shores, hunky surfer dudes, just a shame they’re all trying to eat your brains. Dead Island is the latest title to hit the increasingly popular Zombie genre although it’s another one that does its very best to avoid using that terrible Z-word. The game takes place on the tropical, palm tree filled beaches of Banoi, a small island among the Papa New Guinean islands located off the coast of Australia. As such, the majority of NPC’s and voice over work is done with an Australian accent which does retract from the fear factor a bit. Even when they’re screaming in pain, “Bloody monsters, help me out here mate”, it doesn’t really create any real need for urgency, although you do tend to feel a little sorry for most of the islands inhabitants as the Australian accent makes people seem so friendly. Anyway, enough bashing on the Aussie accent, let’s take a look what else the game has to offer. The closest comparison we can make to Dead Island is from titles like Fallout, Elder Scrolls and other free roam RPG titles. There’s an obvious main story plot to follow but the game is filled with dozens of side-quests and practically no restrictions on where you can travel for the majority of your adventure. The main activity in Dead Island is slaughtering the Infected (Avoiding that Z word again) and you’ll do a lot of it, whether you expose their intestines with a sharp kitchen knife or introduce your baseball bat to the side of their head, by the end of a days play you will have seen enough Z...almost, Infected guts to make even Mr. Romero himself nauseous. Dead Island features a weapon creation system that allows you to combine various components such as nails, motors and accelerant to normal everyday items creating some of the most devastating Infected killing machines that you could dare to dream of, and if that’s not enough, jump in a truck and just watch the horror on their face as they bounce over your car bonnet. Although you can easily run around the island for several hours just chopping up all the poor people who just came to soak up some rays, the game offers various activities to break up the pace. Everything scales with your characters level so unlike other games where you find your explorations halted by an over-powered beast twice your level, the enemies in Dead Island progress at the same pace you do. This is great in many ways, and really offers a lot of freedom but at the same time, you can only expect the challenges to be as hard as the game lets them rather than trying to take down that monster twice your level just to see if you can, on the island of Banoi, you don’t get that opportunity. This is probably the only real downfall of the game but most won’t even consider it that. There’s no question about it - Dead Island is an impressive game. Banoi could easily be a real holiday resort, bars, clubs, restaurants, accommodation, even a volcano and some Lost style underground bunkers, although no time travel I’m afraid. The graphics compliment the area design perfectly, you’d have to stop and take the view in on several occasions, even with a Zoom, this is proving difficult, a member of the Infected, attempting to nom-nom on the back of my neck. If there’s anything that’s better than dismembering people on your screen, it’s doing it in high quality graphics on a white sandy beach with the tranquil noise of the waves to keep you company. The combat itself is engaging and unique, which is a good thing as there’s no shortage of Infected to slaughter. You can find yourself a little overwhelmed at times with multiple Infected coming from various angles but the game offers various tools to combat this, a swift kick to the face will send most of the weaker Infected on their backside where as a well placed Molotov would see off anything stronger in a matter of seconds. The freedom the game offers can make the fighting a little easier, a few area’s are popular for having a large amount of Infected in a small area, MMO players familiar with grabbing aggro will have no problems dispatching of anything up to 15-20 infected at a time but it’s obvious the game is designed to fight far less at once. Overall, I would recommend this game to anyone that’s a fan of the RPG genre. It features a levelling system, a crafting system, hundreds (if not thousands) of enemies to slaughter and top notch graphics. I’ve fought the urge through this entire review but I can fight it no more, Zombies, Zombies and more Zombies!!!
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