Great band from L.A. One of my new finds this year. You can preview their album via the link until October 26th.
A new love… an old evil…
When Kate Richards inherits a dilapidated English estate from her estranged grandfather, she finds herself thrust into a world full of hostile new family members, mysterious Romany tenants, and strange visions of “the net” – an invisible web that connects everything in the universe. Kate thinks she’s losing her sanity, but the odd family stories and disturbing tales of the locals convince her that something sinister is going on at Weaverfields, while the inescapable pull of the net draws her deeper into the secrets of her new home.
But with those secrets come danger, and an old evil that refuses to let go of its hold on the net — or on Weaverfields. The only person who seems to understand is Joe, a Romany street artist with his own ties to the land. Kate and Joe must master the net before the past intrudes upon the present… in very ugly ways…
The northbound traffic clogged up to a fuming jam that stuttered past the airport. Kate leaned back against the headrest and stared down her nose at the car in front. One more day. One more day. One more day…
After Roborough, the traffic jam dissolved and she took her place in the synchronised escape from the city. She was up on the moor, five minutes past Princetown, when she suddenly felt very ill. She pulled into a lay-by and opened her door slightly in case she had to throw up, thinking it must be the heat. She turned the engine off and closed her eyes.
Dizziness left her unable to move, as if a big net kept twisting and tangling her up, tighter and tighter. A hot flush spread through her chest, and her mouth tasted sour. Her heart throbbed in heavy, painful waves, making her arms ache and her fingertips prickle. Her neck stiffened. Darkness gathered on the edges of her vision and raced inward.
She panted in pain and panic. She was dying.
She saw her dream home in dappled sunlight. The pool water chuckled and hiccupped over the dam. A big fish swam placidly just below the surface, watching her, and deer grazed the lawn in front of her big house. She was dying and she didn’t care because she was going home.
Her chest exploded. She wet herself and her world faded to black.
* * *
Slowly, a lifetime later, she became aware that she was still alive. Her vision cleared, and she saw blue sky, purple moor, grey sheep and dusty black tarmac.
She saw everything in everything: the tiniest molecules in whatever she looked at. She looked into her windscreen, into the glass, saw every flaw, every colour. The liquid glass flowed in an intricate pattern. She retreated from the windscreen and saw her eyes, saw their colours, saw the cells through which she saw. She looked into her heart. Good grief, she could see her heart, beating her back into the outside world.
A web of gossamer threads covered everything in sight. Kate blinked hard to clear her vision, but it was still there when she opened her eyes. The web was everywhere, like a net, linking everything. Golden traces glowed and stretched to infinity in every direction. She looked through it, concentrated on the moorland, and the everyday world returned to its normal focus. She relaxed and let the net glow again and saw deep into everything.
A nearby gorse bush gleamed and pulsed with life. Patterns spread and contracted within its frame. The moor behind it remained three-dimensional while her gorse bush became its own vibrant world, tiny models of itself forming intricate combinations and multiplying throughout the whole: smaller and sharper, smaller and sharper.
She shut her eyes and fought her fear. What could it be? Epilepsy? A brain tumour? Madness? She filed these possibilities away for later. All she needed to do now was gain enough control to drive safely. A wet seat was the least of her problems.
It was dark before she managed it. Her phone rang, but she couldn’t spare any attention to answer it. Finally, she was able to start the car and ease it back onto the road. She wanted to go home, but she didn’t know where that was, so she headed for Bag End Cottage. It seemed to be in roughly the same direction.
Mum was at the door, watching for her. “Where have you been? We’ve been worried sick!”
She managed to climb out of the car and stagger halfway to the front door before the ground tilted violently. Blackness swirled through her mind and she heard Mum’s voice from a long way away.
“Kevin, call the doctor! Kate’s ill!”
I new novel written by a dear Twitter friend which I have just purchased. Click the link above to buy a copy.
*******This post will contain Doctor Who spoilers, so only read if you have seen both parts of The End of Time or are utterly disinterested in Doctor Who!*******Last night saw the end of an era when David Tennant’s reign as the tenth Doctor came to an end. It is also the end of Russell T Davies’ time as head writer and executive producer on the show. And to that I say GOOD RIDDANCE! Yes, I thank him for returning Doctor Who to our screens, unreservedly. And yes, he has delivered some fine scripts, Midnight and Turn Left being his stand outs for me. But I CANNOT forgive that final 15-20 of schmultz that had the Doctor visiting his companions and friends in one FINAL goodbye. You did that, RTD, with the series four finale (Journey’s End). You really are hell-bent on the emotional goodbye. The Doctor’s goodbye could have been so much more befitting. David Tennant had made the character of Doctor Ten SO strong. He had gone to sacrifice himself several times over during the last four series without even a hint of regret or unwilling. And then RTD gives Doctor Ten his final words – as of a coward or wimp, “I don’t want to go”. Before that, don’t give me the 20 minutes of schmultz. That final line would have sat better if DT’s final scenes had been played out with Bernard Cribbins (as Wilfred Mott). I can pick holes in the whole thing. I can pick it all apart and over analyse it, but I won’t. I can’t stand the torture of it. Suffice it to say that part one disappointed me greatly and part two sat more comfortable with me until the final 15-20 minutes. Part two should have ended with Wilf and the Doctor post nuclear lock scene. Those scenes there where the Doctor realised his demise was going to be (inadvertently) at the hands of Wilf were wonderfully played out. It should have continued. Once we were aware the Doctor had soaked up all the radiation in the nuclear lock, I’d have liked to have seen him struggle out the door, lay on the ground and have an exchange with Wilf. You could have played in nostalgia there and not let it obscure or overshadow what were glorious scenes with Bernard and David. Then it was just stupid. Martha and Mickey married! The Doctor saves Sarah Jane Smith’s son Luke from being hit by a car (isn’t he a cyborg?), setting Jack up with a guy from a previous episode (midshipman Alonso Frame), he turns up to Donna’s wedding, leaving her a lottery ticket (WTF??!!!) and then going back to 2005 to a time before he meets Rose to tell her she’s going to have a “brilliant year”. And of all of that 15-20 minutes, the one that made no continuity sense whatsoever was the Doctor at a book shop visiting a writer called Verity Newsome who’d released a book called “The Journal of Impossible Things” that had been in her granadmother’s (Joan Redfern) possession since 1913. I got the gist of it, was aware of the book and the character of course, but what didn’t sit right was HOW on earth the Doctor knew to go to this particular bookshop and see Joan’s granddaughter. And apart from that, the Doctor wasn’t in love with Joan, his human self as John Smith was!!! RTD you make me SSSOOO angry. I just had to vent and air. I could write more, but I need time, so this is enough. Enough to express my anger and disappointment. I wanted so much more for David Tennant’s final scenes. The one positive I can take from it is that DT’s demise was ultimately SO anticlimactic that it has actually made me genuinely excited about the new series and Matt Smith as Doctor Eleven. I think in the end David was right to leave when he did. It *was* time. I am SO looking forward to what Steven Moffat is going to do with it. Goodbye David and Doctor Ten, you were brilliant. RTD, f*ck off outta here! Go on, piss off to L.A. See if anyone will have you there. Good luck and don’t ever write sci-fi AGAIN!
And London Boys. I don’t want to “Scream Like A Baby” about it for fear of “Repetition”, but the BBC have done a “Kook”y article on Duncan Jones’ (aka Zowie Bowie) Edinburgh Film Festival debut of his film Moon.“Fill Your Heart” with love for this film. Make sure you go see it, and don’t “Look Back In Anger”. It’s a “Criminal World” when you use puns like this, but it’s the “Fashion”, so who am I to argue, “Queen Bitch”?! I’ll always “Win”, “Right”! I think I better go “Underground”. And so, like a “Slow Burn”, my puns have died. Here’s the article. BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Bowie son lands Moon at festival Erm…watch out for the puns, “It’s No Game”.
I read yesterday that there’s a long awaited (for us who love and appreciate her art) Tracey Emin exhibition at the White Cube Gallery in Mason’s Yard called “Those Who Suffer Love”.Once again, there’s a bubbling undercurrent of controversy, for HEAVEN FORBID Tracey has a piece in it that shows that most women in the 21st century like to masturbate. One of her pieces is a flick-book animation of a woman masturbating. Oh, HOW pornographic! The first article I read about the exhibition was on the BBC News web site. They mentioned the animation briefly, but seemed to realise there’s much more to talk about with Tracey’s work. They had a comment from Tracey about the piece. She said, “[Masturbation] is not just about self-love, it’s also about self-loathing and being alone and for the act of being alone.” I understand what she means completely. Tracey’s work speaks to me. I have to say, I’d never even heard of her until I moved to the UK. And even then, it took a visit to Tate Modern and seeing some of her work for her name to REALLY resonate with me. I saw a short film she’d made, almost like a video diary piece. Her art is SO personal and the video work I found very moving. I think I started to become a fan from that point on. If indeed artists have “fans”, like rock stars do. Perhaps that’s what the critics (and Lord, the woman has her fair share of them) hate about the “modern” artists or as the Brit contingent are referred to YBA’s (Young British Artists – in the early 90’s, when a set of them came to public attention). That they are sort of held up as “pop stars” and have fans and followers. Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Sam Taylor-Wood, The Chapman Brothers, Michael Landy are in the ranks of being labelled YBA’s. Hirst and Emin appear to be the “King and Queen” of the YBA’s, given the Wikipedia entry on the subject. I see Tracey as almost a “today” version of Frida Kahlo. Kahlo was ballsy. She went FAR beyond what was the “acceptable face” of femininity in her art and her life. Her art was deeply personal and although I’m not a BIG fan of her artwork, I am of Frida herself and the things she represented in the art movement at the time. She portrayed herself in her art. She showed us what she wanted us to see, not what she THOUGHT we WANTED to see. And that’s why I love Tracey. Her art is personal, but it is in no way conceited or self-centred. I’m sure critics would disagree (oh how they would disagree), but that’s how I see it. And that’s why ALL art is good. Critics, I swear, through their snobbery think they must like ALL art. If they don’t like it, it’s not art. WHAT A LOAD OF SHIT! I don’t rate Damien Hirst much myself, but I don’t begrudge people liking his work, or think any less of them. I do, however, think it’s criminal that art has become SUCH a commodity. I watched a programme recently called “The Great Contemporary Art Bubble.” Revealed in the programme were aspects about how the collectors make the art a bigger commodity than it should be. A couple of examples: Andy Warhol collector Jose Mugrabi and his sons prop up the price of Warhol works, because they own SO much if it. Jay Jopling (the owner of White Cube Gallery – incidentally) and Damien Hirst bid on his own artwork (Hirst’s) to make it sell for what THEY deem it to be worth. But not only that, they also retain a percentage of the work most of the time, as it’ll be bought by consortia in which THEY are part of, therefore reinvesting in their own work, making more and more profit each time. Most of the critics that criticise Tracey don’t do it because of some morality about the absurd price of art. Quite the opposite in fact. Most of them think she’s just “not worth it” or is not an “artist”. But what is an artist? Someone who is creative? Someone who produces images (be they words or pictures) for viewing? And isn’t art, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder? Should I be pandered to and told what is art and what isn’t? Should *I* be told what I should and shouldn’t like? Am I meant to like a Jackson Pollock, even though (frankly) I think an elephant can do a better job? That’s just MY opinion on Pollock though. I don’t expect others to feel the same. For what his art sells for, obviously most people don’t. But the critics who critique Tracey seem to think we should all listen to them and stop liking her work. Here are comments left on a article on the Times Online. She’s absolutely right when at the end she says others artists will be missed by the media even if they are fantastic, whereas she will not . She’s “lucky”. Job done…but just don’t ask us to accept your rubbish as well. You’re extremely famous and lucky but you can’t draw. You are not an artist. Bob, from Hong Kong. I have a good idea for an artwork. Copy some of the crude scrawls from the walls of my local public toilet, add some pretentious titles and pseudo-intellectual explanations, and… Oh bugger, Tracey Emin has beat me to it. Chris K from Cheltenham While Hirst doesn’t seem to be any better at drawing than Emin is, at least it is not what he’s trying to impress us with…. actually the ‘dead sheep’ and ‘pickled cows’ have quite an effect when seen for the first time. I just really can’t see what’s so special about her rather ugly sketches. Paloma, from London In response to Paloma, I dare say that what separates Hirst from Emin is that although it could be argued that Tracey’s sketches are crude (by definition a sketch is “A hasty or undetailed drawing or painting often made as a preliminary study.”), they ARE personal. What’s personal about a pickled cow? Yes, it’s very fascinating anatomically, but is it art? Is it something Hirst MADE? All he did was probably design the thing it’s displayed in. He didn’t “design” the cow, or make up the formaldehyde or probably even dissect the animal himself. Tracey’s not trying to “impress” us, she’s telling us her story (and for some of us her appreciate her art), OUR story). Then there are just absurd, ridiculous statements that are laced with personal attacks. Good grief! We have all had trauma in our lives – why is this hellish woman who wants us all to know about her tawdry life in a sick visual Big Brother style, taken seriously? Arrgh. She is not an artist but a poor exhibitionist who always makes me want to shower after seeing her work. Eeww shudder Christina from Edinburgh “As artistic as vomit. – Tom Franklin, London, United Kingdom” Geez Tom, don’t give the lady any ideas! Clickety6 from London, in reply to an earlier statement. Tracey Emin can’t draw for toffee.
Nice frock she’s wearing though, so she must find a few suckers. Sara from Leicester. Maybe an inspirational woman, but an artist!?
You can fool some of the people some of the time………… Steve Duckworth from Leicestershire. Steve may have a point at the end, but if you are basing that purely on her drawings, then perhaps you would come to that conclusion. The Times article DOES point out (some people seemed unable to take this information in) that some of the drawings go back a LONG way. Let’s not forget, they are doodles, sketches. What Tracey does is present ALL of herself. Good and bad. If you only show the “good” art, isn’t that sort of a con? A cop out? Why do people not understand that? That, what is artistic in her is the way she reveals herself. That’s HER art. That, if you like, SHE’S the art. If she left sketches out because they weren’t “good enough” she’d feel she was cheating us. And people can’t see that it’s the revelation of the art, and perhaps not so much the pieces themselves that is the art. And that’s why I compared her to Frida. And that’s why I want to go and see the exhibition.
He’s NOT David Tennant! What’s going on?I have a new love in my life. Not exactly in the lustful, pining ways I feel for David, mind. Purely for his artistic ability this time (although he is cute, but WAY too young for me!). My new love is Paolo Nutini. Yes, only 3 years after he hit the music scene, I know! But I’m slow on the uptake sometimes! It all started with an appearance he made on the live music show “Later…with Jools Holland” a couple of weeks ago. I’d not really taken him in much before. Oh course I’d heard of him. It was hard to escape hearing “Last Request” as it was a HUGE hit for him. But because it was Top 40, I didn’t take it in. Hardly anything in the Top 40 ever sways me these days. I’m not having my musical influences dictated to me by what 10 year old girls like!! I had just assumed he was a sort of cheesy, middle of the road singer. I wasn’t interested. But after seeing him on Later… The way he performed, the sound of his voice, I was soon changing my mind. It was like he’d been possessed by a 65 year old African American blues singer. It was amazing! I had to look up how old he was later on and was astonished to find out that he’s only 22!! That’s how I learnt also that he’s from Paisley, home of David Tennant as well. I knew he was Scottish of course, but didn’t know where in Scotland he hailed from. I went through the back catalogue. Of only one studio album, of course. Still can’t say I’m the biggest fan of the past stuff. But the new stuff he was performing and the matured vocal style have really got me excited about the new CD he is bringing out in just two weeks time. The first single off it was released yesterday and I’ve had a listen. I’m really looking forward to the album. Especially one track which he performed on Later…called 10/10. It was a STONKING track! The album’s called “Sunny Side Up” and it’s out 1st June.
UPDATE: As of June 7th, 2009, Sunny Side Up is the UK Number 1 album! Go Paolo!
Just watched it an hour ago. Try very hard not to give away anything in my little review of it.It’s MY opinion (my opinion okay, and I know my taste differs from others, so just wanted to highlight that it’s MY opinion and I’m not trying to put anyone off watching it. You can form your own opinion) that this was a wasted special. The script was VERY light. I’d been listening to David Tennant being interviewed all week on the radio and he referred to the episode as being a “romp”. To me that would imply that it was pacy and exhilarating. Neither of these elements were reflected to me in the episode. Perhaps it felt different to David as he was filming it. It certainly didn’t come across on the screen to me. Michelle Ryan’s character Lady Christina wasn’t a very interesting character. I found her irritating to the highest degree and I saw nothing redeeming about her. I just wanted her to pi** off actually. Lee Evans’ character, Malcolm, was really good. There was nothing scary about the aliens in the episode, about the Doctor’s predicament, or the location he found himself in. There was the VAGUEST hint at what’s to come towards the end of the episode, but for Whovian’s who like their spoilers, it wasn’t revealing anything we don’t already know – POTENTIALLY. All in all, I just came away from it disappointed. Just four precious episodes we have this year (the next now rumoured to be shown in November), so there should have been something more substantial to this script, but it just didn’t happen. Russell T. Davies and Gareth Roberts worked together on the script. Roberts scripted episodes “The Shakespeare Code” (S3E2) and “The Unicorn and The Wasp” (S4E7), both of which I like, particularly the latter. But obviously together, RTD and Roberts didn’t work writing it together. Sorry guys. There were some funny elements, but I still come away thinking, “What a waste of one of David’s final episodes as Doctor Ten”. Just disappointed. 6/10
I took a rental holiday over the Christmas period then started my rental back up on January 20th. I’ve watched several films since then in varying degrees of depth (the movie plots that is).One of the first I watched, which I’d been dying to see was There Will Be Blood. OMG, Daniel Day-Lewis plays such an absolute bastard in that film!! And Paul Dano’s performance as evangelical minister Eli was SO powerful – amazing! It’s a long film, weighty to sit through, but worth it. I was a little apprehensive it was going to be all about oil, but it’s more about family dynamics and business and money. It was really good. Another film I’ve watched recently was Juno. I can see why it was getting cult plaudits. It was such a quirky little thing. A slightly odd subject seeing as adoption hardly ever takes place in the developed world any more, but it had interesting plot developments. Really liked it. And I loved the way Ellen Page played Juno – brilliant! Another was The Cottage. A Brit sort of horror/com with Andy Sirkis and Reece Shearsmith from The League of Gentlemen in it. It was VERY gory towards the end, but very funny all the way through. And the “bogeyman” in the film – what a seriously creepy f*cking guy!!! Eeewww A rare film that had me both laughing and recoiling in horror at the same time. I loved it!! And there is REALLY strong language too. Jennifer Ellison must have the C word at least 20 times! lol On Wednesday night I watched Teeth. I’d sort of heard about it through the ‘net and stuff and it sounded so preposterous I *had* to see it. It lived up to all my expectations. It’s about a girl in one of those “Promise” ring-wearing-sex-abstinent religious cults in which you are meant to keep chaste until you’re married. It helps when you have a built-in chastity belt!! Her vajayjay has teeth!! In the 80 minutes that transpire in the film, her vag manages to “bite off” some 3 penises and a set of fingers from a gynaecologist, as well as an implied penis severing at the end of the film. Through the whole film you never actually see her vajayjay. All the prosthetic penises laying about at their points of severance made me laugh though. Especially the last one – for reasons I won’t elude to in case I ruin your viewing “pleasure”! lol It was so trashy, but it made me laugh! I’ll let you know what other wonders I’ve watched in future posts.
My knitting supplies arrived yesterday and I started off straight away. I got a bit lost at first, then made a hash job at starting with the chenille (which is going to be a little flaky to deal with me thinks – a bit ambitious of me), so switched to starting the cotton yarn.This is what I’ve done so far…just yesterday. I didn’t really take in an aspect of what would happen until I thought about it after I’d ordered the supplies. Knitting + cat = curiosity and potential chaos! This is the shot I took when Chris became over-curious with my knitting… That was the result of her leaping onto the sofa as I took the photo and obscuring the lens! Thanks Chris! It took me a while to get the hang of casting on. That was playing with my brain a bit. Then I realised I was doing it wrong! Once I managed a successful cast on, I started a stokinette stitch (1 row of knit, 1 row of purl), just to get me used to knitting again. About 14 rows in, I forgot what stitch to start the next row. I WAS on a purl row, but I was convinced I’d just finished a purl row, so I started another knit row and bodged it a bit, so decided to just change the side of the pattern and continue with knit/purl as I had done. I’m going to try and make a scarf. Not even sure if I have enough yarn. It might end up being a cravat more than a scarf, we’ll see. I’m just pleased I got the hang of it relatively quickly again 🙂
I really did my research. I looked at several other MP3 players on the market, read reviews and really agonised over my choice.The X-Fi was one of the first players I looked at and read reviews on. The reviews by and large were positive and it was becoming a clear choice for me initially, until it became obvious that the software provided with it was for Windows only. The player then was beginning to sound very Windows centric, which worried me, being a Mac and Linux user. I then dabbled with the notion of getting an iPod. Despite being a Mac fan, I have always had reservations about getting an iPod. The price tag being the first turn off. Then the stories I’ve heard of poor battery life, cracked screens, poor sound quality, etc, really didn’t have me enthused over the choice. Especially when even iPod FANS were recommending buying replacement headphones for a nano that at base price was £100. To not be provided with high quality headphones on something with such a price tag sounded criminal to me!
Another thing that put me off buying an iPod was expandability. Once you choose the iPod you want, there’s no expansion slot, you are stuck with that fixed size of space. I then in light of that, considered the Classic iPod. With 120GB of space, I’d be able to put my WHOLE iTunes library on it and STILL have loads of room to spare. And although my player was being purchased not for it’s portability to be taken outdoors, I was worried about the Classics potential fragility. Especially given the 120GB of space comes in the form of an actual hard drive rather than flash memory.
I still felt myself drawn to the X-Fi. The final element that swayed it for me was a company selling the 16GB version of the X-Fi for £106 – compared to it’s RRP of £140. It was the clincher.
I’m glad I jumped at it! I’ve had the player for a week now, and it has been fab!The positives: Despite being provided with Windows software and having a program called “Creative Centrale” that only runs on a Windows machine, my Mac can see it. I use a program called XNJB which gives you an MTP user interface to upload/download MP3’s with relative ease. It’s not the MOST compatible way to do it, but if, like me you are a Mac user and were reticent to buy Zen products due to incompatibility, rest assured. The storage space. Mine is the 16GB version, but there is also a 32GB version as well. There is an 8GB version on the market too, but it doesn’t have the Wireless LAN feature and has (as far as I am aware) inferior quality headphones. Along with the fixed storage it has an SD memory expansion slot, which means you can expand the memory by anything from minimal mega-bites right up to 32GB – and in HC format too. Plenty of room for expansion! Video playback is good and high quality. So far I’ve only done a little playback via an SD card. I haven’t put any video on the fixed storage of the player. But from what I’ve played from SD, the video has smooth and fluid playback and is quite good to view despite it being on a 2 inch screen. The resolution is sharp and certainly makes video watchable. The sound quality is excellent. And of course, the better bit rate of MP3, the better quality of sound. I try as much as possible, to have an absolute MINIMUM bit rate for my MP3’s be to 192kbps. The headphones are superior quality to my previous Creative headphones which were of good quality themselves. No need to folk out for replacement headphones with THIS player (sorry Apple!). Be warned, this only applies to the 16 and 32GB versions though, from what I’ve read on other reviews, the 8GB version comes with a different set of headphones and I can’t comment on those. Battery life. I’ve had the player just over a week now and I haven’t flatten the battery. This is due mostly from me still loading songs on the machine and it being charged via the USB port when linked to the Mac. Battery life for MP3 playback through the headphones is quoted as being 25 hours. Through the built-in speaker on the unit, 15 hours, and for video playback, 5 hours. I would expect that headphone MP3 playback would see you get pretty close to the battery life quoted. The most I’ve used it for in one period was about 3 hours and it came nowhere NEAR depleting the battery life. Wireless LAN feature. As a Mac user, I didn’t think the Wireless feature was going to be of ANY use to me at all. But I have signed up to a chat account and have Yahoo on. I haven’t chatted to anyone yet, but could imagine the “keyboard” interface could be problematic. The other aspect to the Wireless is the Creative Media Centre. It’s not FULLY open to me as a Mac user, but it does let me listen to various podcasts, including, bizarrely, some Australian content like the Kyle and Jackie O show and some Triple J stuff.
The Negatives:Yes, there are some, albeit minimal (to me anyway)… AAC playback. It WILL play AAC’s as stated, but I find for me it only recognises the tracks ID3 tags when loaded onto an SD card. If I load AAC’s directly onto the player, the ID3 tags don’t show properly and the songs get loaded but unidentified and all get bundled into an album by “Unknown artist” under “Unknown album”. This probably is only a Mac/Linux users problem as us users cannot access the “Creative Centrale”. Video conversions needed for playback. So far, from what I can tell, it will only play “.avi” format video for me. And you need to convert video to 320 x 240 resolution. That isn’t so much the pain. One of the sell points for me was the larger range of video formats the X-Fi was meant to take compared to the regular Zen. The X-Fi feature. This was the BIG feature, the “muts nuts” aspect of this player. I find it a bit like a chocolate fireplace, IE: quite useless. Unless you have appalling quality MP3’s (and quite frankly, why would you?), this feature will actually LESSEN the quality of your MP3’s. If you upload MP3’s of a minimum of 160kbps or higher, I seriously doubt you’d ever need to switch the X-Fi feature on. The USB cable supplied is frankly an absurd size. It’s a 2 inch long cable!! I had to sit it behind my Mac and couldn’t confirm downloads and that the thing was charging unless I looked at the XNJB software. Or got up out of my computer chair and walked around to the back of the Mac. I wanted to have the unit in front of me. We had an existing cable that is 36 inches long. Well ample enough to have the X-Fi in front of me. It didn’t need to be a 36 inch cable, but why the hell make it only a 2 inch one?! I really think the cable should be at least 10 inches long. On this topic, the fact that you have to fork out extra money for a mains adapter charger is a little rich. But Creative aren’t the only ones. For iPods come with no mains adapter either. Honestly. What is it with these companies. They make systems with in-built battery packs. You’d think that they could at least provide an alternative to only being able to charge the gadget via a USB port. Okay, they provide the mains adapters, but at extra cost. Why not just include them in the kit and charge a slightly higher price? I don’t understand why they think people wouldn’t want a mains adapter as standard? For a person with my nails (I bite them), I find it hard to insert an SD card as it takes an effort to push the card into the slot fully, and takes nails, or having a small, thin gadget to hand (say, the back of another SD card, or a pen, or similar, or even someone with nails – for me it’s my partner). ONLY IN REFERENCE TO MAC/LINUX USERS:- The organiser. Obviously it needs to “sync” with your PC, erm, which I haven’t got. This renders the organiser for Mac/Linux users useless. Not that I’m really bothered by that myself. I’ve got a mobile phone after all. I think that’s about all really. I’d give it 4.5 stars out of 5. It’s not 100% perfect, but it is as near enough to perfection as I think you could get. It’s in the high 90’s for me! I’m really, really pleased with it.