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First of all I want to mention something about myself before discussing this book. I myself am from an eCommerce background and have many years experience of many eCommerce “fields”. I was the 7th highest rated seller on eBay UK for close on 7 years, one of the original UK Powersellers. I was also an Amazon and Play third party seller; as well as being the managing director of Retrowarez.com which made us the 5th biggest online buyer of DVDs in the United Kingdom, selling many thousands of items every week. I have experience across the whole eCommerce spectrum in startup, project management, operations and so on. I tell you all this to put my words below in context.
I have little patience for so called “internet gurus”, personally I think most of them, especially from “digital agencies” and the like (having dealt with them) are full of bull’s excrement. Consequently I was slightly sceptical about this book, after all “I’ve heard it all before”. However, this book is a cut above all the rest I’ve met and has a well rounded approach to starting up an online business.
Section 1 covers strategy in general, setting up a viable business model, the psychology and logic behind what company name, logo and strategies to adopt and so on. I myself come from a psychological academic background and found this to be a very sound and pragmatic section well detailed and sufficient.
Section 2 is about your actual website, about design, planning, cost, launch and so on. This section also contains a lot of advice although it is firmly pitched more at the idea of a third party producing your site for you, which *may* not be entirely relevant if you’re coming from a developer/programmer background yourself.
Section 3 is a “checklist”. How pragmatic is that? !!
Section 4 is about “reviewing” your site and analytics and how to leverage statistics to better your site for sales and the like. Google Analytics is covered, which is a bit of a dark mystery if you read some productions on the subject but again this is pragmatic and well written.
Section 5 is all about utilising social media to your benefit for your business and brand.
The whole book is sensible and clearly written with good “solid” meaningful and relevant advice, which considering some of the nonsense I’ve read in the past is high praise. I also consider the book to be about the right length, any longer and it would felt like the author was “padding it out” but verbose enough to get the main “stuff” in. Seriously if you want to start an online business this is a really good place to start, I can’t do anything but recommend it. Heck, if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member you can even read it for free.
Ah yes Merlin. There are of course a number of variations on the theme and the characters sometimes change around. For example in the BBC’s Merlin with Colin Morgan, Nimue was an evil b*&^h yet in this version she was Merlin’s “true love.” Ages vary as well, in the BBC version again Merlin and Arthur are about the same age, yet in this version Merlin is clearly a lot older than Arthur (nothing wrong with the BBC Merlin by the way, it’s very good, but that’s for another review sometime.)
This offering is a 2 part mini-series from Channel 4 television coming in at nearly 3 hours long. Sam Neill (The Dish) stars as Merlin who from birth is being “prepared” by Queen Mab to become a master wizard and save the “old ways” and magic from dying out in the evolving world; Mab is played by Miranda Richardson (Blackadder 2 “whose queen?” Other characters are Frik (Mab’s Assistant), Morgan Le Fay, Mordred and the inevitable Lancelot and Guinevere. Nimue is played by the truly wonderful Isabella Rossellini, Morgan Le Fay by the equally wonderful Helena Bonham carter, both outstanding actresses in my opinion.
All the usual plot elements are in there, the struggle for the throne, the sword in the stone, building Camelot, round tables etc. The story is very good and very enjoyable and unlike some other versions of the Merlin story you can see that Merlin is not infallible and does indeed make mistakes which I considered to be a nice twist.
Now to the DVD itself. The Cinema Club release (now part of 2Entertain), production of these ceased quite some time ago but you can pick it up relatively easily second-hand and the occasional new one pops up here and there, we ourselves have a handful of these. It was later rereleased by Boulevard Entertainment (aka Hollywood DVD and other numerous “budget” labels) and you may see that around, however, I’d recommend the Cinema Club version simply because Boulevard titles are budget for a reason, something has to be compromised and it’s probably overall quality.
It’s an exceptionally good title all round and on the whole pretty family friendly, nothing particularly gory and the most frightening thing is probably a dragon breathing fire on one part if you’ve got little children. You could do far worse than put this on the TV Christmas day after lunch when you’re all slobbed out
As some of you may already know I am an “Amazon Top Reviewer” (which is part of the reason this site exists but that’s another story.) Consequently on occasion I get offered items for free to review on Amazon. Those products on Amazon which I review and consider and to be particularly good I will most likely add here for review also, as I feel they deserve some recognition. This is such a product ….
Note: I was offered this product freely by the manufacturer in exchange for an honest review. I do not allow this to affect my objective assessment of the product. My review is exactly as it would be if I’d bought the bag myself.
To be honest I didn’t really know what to expect from a “yoga mat” bag. But as we have a suitable exercise mat, which frankly is a pain to move about and “unrolls” itself in the cupboard at a seconds notice it’s got to be worth trying the bag out right? I wasn’t disappointed. The bag is a generous size and holds the rolled up mat well with some space over (to ram a towel in or whatever if you were taking it somewhere else to exercise with.) Size wise it’s around 28 inches long (we reckon this is right for most yoga/pilates mats made for “individuals”) and shaped like a big sausage (well it would be wouldn’t it, or the mat wouldn’t fit, duh!) The bag itself zips up with the inevitable standard size zipper which works smoothly with no problems and has a tag attached for clumsy clots who are all “fingers and thumbs” (as the expression goes), making it easy to open and close.
The bag itself is made of polyester but does have a few small ventilation points so no sweaty smelly odours when you open the bag after leaving the mat in there for weeks (you’re supposed to exercise regularly damn it!) There’s a “mesh” pocket inside as well for putting a flannel or something in. Plus on the outside there’s a pocket for a wallet or phone (I wouldn’t stick my wallet or phone in it but that’s just my paranoia speaking), or maybe a purse if you’re not the sort of woman who has too many credit cards ….
Overall I’m really impressed with the bag, it seems good quality, “made to last” and well designed, and let’s be honest there are other things you could use it for as well, not just yoga mats. I’m not sure about “value for money”, it seems an ok price to me, but your expectations may differ of course. On a side note I’ve reviewed other YogaAddict products in the past and they’ve always exceeded expectations.
At the time of writing these are £15.95 on Amazon UK which is almost 50% off and free delivery if you’re an Amazon Prime customer:
“Don’t you ‘my good woman’ me”
First up we’re big Terry Pratchett fans here and both my partner and myself consider the Witches titles to be some of the best of his books, especially this early title “Wyrd Sisters.” If you’re not familiar with “Discworld” it is a fantasy world on a disc (no surprises there then!) The disc is supported by four giant elephants standing on the back of an absolutely huge turtle travelling through space. The citizens of this world are an eclectic bunch but you tend to find stereotypical fantasy characters such as trolls, dwarfs, elves and dragons, plus the inevitable humans. Essentially the Discworld books are satirical versions of the fantasy genre such as Lord Of The Rings and the Magician and Shannara titles by Raymond E Feist and Terry Brooks.
Now like any book brought to the screen, in one form or another (live action or animation and so on) there can always be a sense of disappointment, mainly because of characters not matching the way you had visualized them in the book; then there’s the inevitable “let’s mess around with the plot” aspect which happens to some books brought to the screen (don’t start me on Hannibal.) On the whole though I think Wyrd Sisters is pretty well done and because it’s an animation the characters kind of look the way you’d expect, plus it fits the “spirit” of the books better than say the live action versions of Colour Of Magic, Hogfather and Going Postal. The characters are well voiced as well with Christopher Lee, June Whitfield and Jane Horrocks putting in an appearance (well a voice at least.)
As for the plot the animation is faithful to the story (how refreshing) although the quality of the animation compared to say, Walt Disney, is a little crude. However, if you liked the book, indeed if you like Terry Pratchett’s books in general you’re probably going to love this. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it, lawks!
Downsides? Yeah, one damn great big downside. The DVD is nigh on impossible to find at a decent price Maybe eBay? Just keep a look out for it I guess. It’s on Amazon but the price is *wtf ?*
You may or may not have heard of Rakuten but I suspect if you’re in the United Kingdom you’ve heard of Play.com right? Play.com used to have a facility to sell your items on the site, in much the same way as you can on Amazon. As time went on it became apparent (well to some of us) that Play.com was heading more in that general “direction” as many items listed Play were running out of their own stock and then leaving that product line to the third party sellers.
Rakuten is a large Japanese third party eCommerce marketplace company (pretty much eBay’s only real “competition” in the world) and bought Play.com (for £110,000,000 I heard, I don’t know how “accurate” that is) and gradually started the transition of turning Play.com into Rakuten.co.uk so they would have an outlet here in the United Kingdom.
Frankly it’s been a somewhat tortuous process, has taken far longer than it realistically should have and their lack of speed at getting new sellers hasn’t been great so far. On the other side of the coin it can’t have been easy, Play.com was totally Windows/ASP orientated and the new site is a completely different setup altogether. It looks pretty good to be honest, but of course it’s early days so far and we have yet to see how it will be “sales wise” of course.
Anyhow if eBay is not “your thing” and you’d like to go take a look see please come see us there (feel free to buy something, it’s all working!) Click logo below to enter the site (will open in a new page):
I myself am a qualified chef (done all the necessary City & Guilds qualifications and worked in two top end London restaurants and so on, and worked in take aways and all sorts on and off when I needed to earn some money!) and although I no longer work as a chef know a thing or two about kitchen equipment. Back in the early 1990s (I don’t recall exactly when but around there) new EU regulation came into force with regards to the catering industry and everybody had to pass a test to work in a kitchen; also food storage units (fridge etc) had to be checked twice daily to ensure they were the correct temperature and so on. Ergo thermometers for food and the kitchen.
I remember clearly we used to keep a cup of water in the fridge, we’d stick the thermometer probe into the water and hope it was the right temperature (under 8, or is it under 5, honestly not sure now.) Freezers are the same, an ice cream freezer has to be around -8c (I can’t recall the exact figure) and a “deep freeze” under -18 (which explains why your ice cream at home is hard, it’s in a freezer too cold for it.) Then of course food had to be tested the other way, the centre of a joint for example *should* be 63c or more and so on. The bonus of a good and accurate thermometer is in knowing how well your meat is cooked in the middle, on a joint of beef the lower the temperature the rarer the joint.
Last night we had a barbecue (glad it was last night, looks like it’s going to tip down here all day today) so we tried this out on some of our food as I can’t abide sausages burnt on the outside and raw in the middle; now obviously being an experienced chef I can tell if it’s cooked or not just by prodding it with my finger but obviously not everyone has this ability.
There’s no on/off switch, it switches on and off by “extending” the probe (look at the pictures to see what I mean) and if you leave it “on” it will after a few minutes turn itself off. It comes with the necessary battery and can be toggled between Celsius and Fahrenheit (for awkward Americans and those who insist on sticking to imperial measurements haha!) You sterilise the probe by simply giving it a clean by sticking it into boiling water. The “finish” of the handle is pretty robust and sturdy, much better than I would expect for the price (I’ve seen a lot of variations on these over the years) and smoothly contoured.
The probe is accurate and has an impressive temperature range from -50 to -300 (if your meat is at 300c I recommend you don’t eat it.) The packaging is easy to open, none of that blasted laser welded rip your hands open plastic stuff here. For the price this is absolutely excellent, like I say I’ve seen a lot of variations on these over the years and this is pretty much spot on. Oh and it’s blue, like plasters in a kitchen …. In other words food isn’t blue, so this falls in something it’s easier to see, just like the aforementioned plasters.
If you’re in the market for a thermometer get this one, it really is very very good.
“The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.” I agree with the second part.”
Two US police detectives, a rainy city riddled with crime and sleaze …. Yeah that sounds like typical Hollywood “cop movie” fare, however Seven (aka Se7en) is a cop movie with some differences.
The detective duo, one a veteran of the force due to retire (played by Morgan Freeman), the other a rookie detective (played by Brad Pitt) recently transferred into the district and their very first job together is to investigate the death of an obese man found dead face down in a plate of pasta tied to his chair, and it’s not a pretty sight. What a welcome to the neighbourhood for the new detective! For some reason nobody thinks to switch on the lights and instead they wander around the obese man’s territory looking for clues by flashlight (not the only film where this happens let’s be fair here!)
This rather grim death then sets the tone for the remainder of the film in this city where it rains every day (could it be Manchester? Lol) and they investigate death after death and at each crime scene a word is scrawled upon the walk by the murderer which is indicative of one of the seven deadly sins, in the case of the obese man “gluttony.” The veteran detective soon realises that the killer clearly intends to have someone murdered for each of the seven deadly sins.
Ok, it’s kind of formulaic but it’s no Agatha Christie “whodunit” mystery we’re talking about here. The film takes some unexpected twists and turns, most notably when the killer turns himself in. The interesting part of the film, for me at least, is the character development, how the story unfolds and because it’s not your run of the mill cop movie. Freeman is particularly good as the senior detective and you can see the angst in his soul as he thought he’d seen it all then along comes this killer.
Good stuff, very gripping and a worthy addition to your DVD collection in my opinion. Definitely not one for when the kiddies are around though.
Ah ha! The delightful Puppini Sisters again. If you’ve not heard of them before they are a sort of “retro” trio singing songs which are lifted from a different era. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that in my opinion. The songs on this particular album are (not surprisingly given the album name) in the Hollywood “vein. Heck we all know most of these songs. Great album, enjoyed it very much. Here’s the track listing:
- Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friends
- I Got Rhythm
- Moi Je Joue
- True Love
- Good Morning
- Get Happy
- Moon River
- I Feel Pretty
- September Song
- Parle Plus Bas
Jet Li reprises his role as Wong Fei Hong, who is a legendary teacher of martial arts. Upon relocating his school he finds the neighbouring premises are a brothel and this pleases the students and the brothel master who wants to study martial arts under Wong Fei-Hong. Hong’s troubles have only just begun though and in true martial arts movie mode he soon ends up battling corrupt policemen, slave traders and a the suppliers of a medicine which causes deafness.
Yes, the film the film is full of melodramatic twists and turns, ridiculously heroic good guys and villains, some typical humour and yes …. The inevitable kung fu fighting (heck it might not be kung fu, they all look much the same to me but you get the idea.)
The plot is, well how can I put this, somewhat convoluted and unbelievable but there’s lots of action, which of course is exactly what you expect from this genre of movie. The lion versus the centipede fight (or is it a dance?) really has to be seen to be believed.
The film also stars Gordon Liu as a dodgy policeman and Cheung Man as a martial arts master. If you like this genre you won’t go too far wrong with this film.
Eric Bana has a special relationship with his very first car, a Ford GT Falcon Coupe, and decides to enter it in The Targa Tasmania Rally, with the help of his good friends. But not everything goes according to plan ….
Another “petrolhead” movie it seems. This time about Eric Bana (an Australian actor from Chopper and Star Trek amongst other things) entering a rally in his Ford Falcon (not a car I am familiar with, I’m more “Ford Focus” really.) So basically this is a documentary which talks about Eric’s Ford (his first car) which he bought for $1100 (presumably Australian dollars) many years ago and his overhauled, “done up” and all that over the years since. He then goes and enters it in a rally …. Not sure that’s what I’d do with a restored car but I guess it takes all types.
On the whole I found this ok, interesting enough and some talking about how people grow emotional attachments to their cars (not me, my car is just a box with four wheels that gets me from A to B) from the likes of Jeremy Clarkson, Jay Leno and Dr Phil.
It’s ok, I’d not waste any money though, to my mind it’s definitely a “wait until it comes on TV” type of thing but if you like Eric Bana and you’re into cars then “fill your boots” as the saying goes.
“On the streets of Los Angeles and Las Vegas, daredevil drivers race the world’s most exotic cars for million dollar bets. But as the stakes rise, so does the danger from deadly crashes to kidnapping and murder and only the fast survive. With adrenaline-pumping action and some of the rarest, most expensive high-performance vehicles ever raced and obliterated on film, Redline roars into high gear and doesn’t let off the gas until the final explosive rush.”
<Yawn> …. Basically Redline is super cars, stereotyped “good looking” women and …. Well, more cars really and racing and the inevitable crashes and rolling vehicles and the like. Personally I think this type of film is probably only suitable to watch after 4 cans of Stella Artois and a 2 large pizzas for the price of one deal when you’re half comatose on the sofa and can’t cope with anything more intelligent. But I suppose if you’re a testosterone laden petrolhead who likes that sort of thing …. Oh yes, before I forget, some of the acting is truly lousy.
If you really want a film about illegal street racing watch the Cannonball Run instead, at least that was quite funny.
“Hang on, lads; I’ve got a great idea.”
A classic British film, both exciting and funny. Michael Caine plays a Cockney criminal (very possibly he is the archetypal Cockney criminal) called Charlie Croker. About to be released from prison he takes on a devious plan from the prison’s “top con” Mr Bridger (Noël Coward) to steal a large consignment of gold bullion in Turin (that’s in Italy for those of you who don’t know, all 3 of you!) He recruits a team of dubious underworld misfits and an oddball computer expert (Benny Hill) for the job as well as a trio of Mini Coopers and a bus (well a coach really).
Given that it’s essentially a comedy there of course numerous “hitches” in this plan (what else would you expect in a film with Benny Hill in it?) mostly to do with the Mafia who sort of object to a load of English cons nicking Italian gold.
Obviously Michael Caine, Noël Coward and Benny Hill are stars in their own right and the film also features a number of cameo appearances from the likes of Irene Handl and John Le Mesurier. Especially amusing is the way Noël Coward sends himself up!
You can’t go wrong with this, ok it might seem rather “dated” now (especially the Benny Hill parts laced with sexual innuendo and the like) but essentially it’s a good family film and seriously if you haven’t seen it where have you been? Fantastic film all round, especially worth watching on rainy Sunday after a large lunch when you’re all semi-comatose on the sofa.
Mission To Lars is a documentary journaling the mission of the Spicer siblings Kate, Will and Tom helping Tom, who has Fragile X Syndrome (“autism with knobs on” in Kate’s words), realise his dream of meeting his hero Lars Ulrich, drummer with the heavy metal band Metallica. Tom hopes to meet with Lars, chat with him and hey maybe even learn some drumming!
This sounds like a relatively simple task right? Hmmm, not so, every Metallica fan and their dog wants to meet Lars it seems and Tom has panic attacks, wild mood swings and singular obsessions, so it’s going to take timing and patience to get this dream fixed up right.
As well as the Lars aspect of the documentary we get to see the Spicer siblings perform their quest in the USA with family bonding thrown into the mix. Kate and Will also want to raise awareness of Fragile X Syndrome and the profits from the film go to MENCAP (a damn worthy cause in my book.) They also during their trip interview an expert on Fragile X Syndrome, which is interesting but could probably have done with a bit more information, as not everybody has a background in psychology and mental health like myself.
Then there’s the “reality show” aspect of the documentary, where we get to see the numerous setbacks, family dilemmas and arguing among the siblings, heck it reminded me of my family!
It’s fantastic that Metallica co-operated with this and for me even more fantastic the profits go to MENCAP. I really enjoyed watching this documentary and it was great to see Kate and her brothers just like a regular family.
On a final note if you’re wondering where you’ve seen Kate before then it’s probably on Masterchef as she’s a leading food critic and journalist. I’ve been told she’s a “tough act” when it comes to dining reviews but now I’ve seen this documentary I think she’s just a big softy at heart, well with her family at least 😉
Here we have a “Marmite” film, either you like it or you hate it. 1970’s humour isn’t to everyone’s taste after all.
Essentially this is a spin off film of the television series “Are You Being Served?” which was a weekly comedy title on the BBC. Basically the characters all work in a department store on the clothing floor and have various “incidents” every week with numerous elements of slapstick and general sexual innuendo. In the film you see them all go on holiday together because the floor is closed for renovation and the boss pays them to go away to the Costa Plonka. When they get there the hotel is unfinished, the staff chase each other about looking for a nookie and they get caught up in a civil war.
Yes, it’s all very “Carry On” style humour and very 1970s. So if you like that sort of thing you’re probably going to love this. There’s no challenge to your thought processes here, it’s just plain “ooer missus” humour, so much so you half expect Frankie Howerd to pop his head round the corner shouting “oh no titter ye not.” You can’t go too far wrong watching this really.
The only criticism is probably the quality, high definition it isn’t but it’s perfectly watchable.