Confessions of a Shopaholic Review

I never have been one to show great interest in fiction books. From a young age, I tried desperately to be like everyone else, reading the latest teenage fiction novel to no avail.

Obviously during education I had to read a certain percentage of novels especially to get through my English Literature exams, but for some reason they never did ‘float my boat’ so to speak.

Give me a magazine, research material or philosophical texts and I?m quite happy to read up on my gossip and debate things like the existence of god. This has always been the way until recently when I was introduced to a range of novels written by Sophie Kinsella.

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Confessions of a Shopaholic had me hooked within the first few pages, a sneak peek into the life of Rebecca Bloomwood – Financial Journalist. I stood by her as she went through the twists and turns of life, through her tears and joys, love and heartbreak.

A character whom I think we can all identify with to some degree, for myself, alongside loving shopping, it was the belief that if I hide bad things away for long enough they might just disappear. My addiction had begun. Each book that followed carried on the story.

Needless to say when it was announced that they were making the story into a film, I was looking forward to it. Being able to re-live the novel, but this time on the big screen where the characters are brought to life. The trailers teased and made the anticipation that little more exciting.

As Rebecca Bloomwood would write; ?Contemplating the film on the big screen was like finding the perfect dress you’ve longed for, in the sale at Barney’s; it’s the right size and has no faults. The feeling of exhilaration flows through your veins, everything seems better. Until you realise when you wear it to the most amazing ball that the perfect dress has a nick in it at the hem, at first not that noticeable, but through the night, the hem slowly unravels and the dress falls apart at the seams. You’re so disappointed, you feel let down as if you’ve been cheated.’

One of the main nick?s in the hem of my perfect dress was evident within the first 5 minutes. As I watched in disbelief, I couldn’t help thinking to myself; “This didn’t happen in the novel”, “I don’t understand” and “I don?t remember it happening like that in the novel”, so much so that I found it very difficult to absorb myself in the film. There were so many inconsistencies; so many so that I asked if we?d walked into the wrong theatre therefore missing part of the story. Why was it all set in New York? Why was Becky working for Successful Saving? Why did she go to work for Luke? Why was Alicia ?Bitch? Longlegs working for Elite fashion magazine? Why were Tarquin and Suze engaged within the first 5 minutes? Where was the on air argument between Becky and Luke? Why did Becky not work on Morning Coffee in a regular slot? And so many more…

The unraveling of my hem happened before my eyes as we were introduced to the main characters of the story. The character of Rebecca Bloomwood was unbelievable, although Becky is slightly naive in her dealings and imaginings within the novel and obviously does have a shopping addiction; the movie portrayed her as a plastic, simple minded and superficial. Suze was impersonal, unlike how she is described within the novel; she lacked her caring and motherly side and instead came across as quite aggressive and selfish. What happened to the girl who would do anything for her friend, who stuck by Becky no matter how many mistakes she made? Tarquin was quite confusing, he held a very small role so it was impossible to judge the character too much, yet I was left asking the question; what happened to the scrawny, un-stylish and awkward character described in the novel that Rebecca found so repulsive? Luke Brandon was possibly the most believable character within the movie, although I found it difficult to relate Luke?s mysterious, almost distant and driven characteristics portrayed by Kinsella to the actor playing the role. Whatever did happen to him running Brandon communications from the beginning?

I understand that changes have to be made on screen to fill the film reel and that sometimes it may be necessary for the range of novels to be merged slightly. Yet why the producers and script writers omitted important events and almost re-wrote an already fantastic storyline is beyond me.

I can?t help but feel rather deflated; the lovable and hilarious ?Confessions of a Shopaholic? was obviously lost in translation.

The first guest post by Jennifer as she had read all of the Sophie Kinsella books to know the difference between the two mediums.

An Ordinary Soldier Book Review

Doug Beattie was born in Northern Ireland and joined the British Army at 16. A boy soldier who at 15 had accidentally shot his best friend in the head. His friend survived however Doug needed to get out of Northern Ireland. Following in family foot steps Doug joined the Royal Irish Regiment and throughout training was subjected to intense bullying. Quickly recognised for his soldiering skills Doug was promoted through the ranks to Regimental Sergeant Major and then commissioned. As a Captain in the Royal Irish Regiment he was sent to Garmsir, Afghanistan as part of a Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT).

Ordinary Soldier

Doug was part of a small contingent of British Forces sent to to recapture Garmsir with the help of member of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP), whilst this was supposed to be a 48hr operation it ended up over a week long with British and Afghan casualties. They were up against a determined enemy with a small amount of forces, Doug leading from the front came close to losing his own life on numerous occasions. JTAC Sam New and Doug fighting from the front on regular occasions bringing in fast air strikes within 60 metres of their own position, well within the safety guidelines.

The silence was broken by a burst of fire from the first building on the left, which was still only just emerging into view. The earth in front of the Danish sergeant erupted into little fountains of dust. Then more bullets came my way, zipping and fizzing through the air, scything through the crops. Instinctively I ducked even lower and pulled my trigger, spewing ammunition towards our attacks.

Doug Beattie, MC – “An Ordinary Soldier”

Doug left Garmsir on R&R and only took 48hrs to get back to his wife and family in the U.K. No one at home could imagine the ferocious fighting he had been through after all he had stabbed an enemy fighter through the throat with his bayonet, fired on and slotted a number of enemy as well as bringing 500lb + bombs down on groups of fighters dismembering bodies.

He saw through his own two eyes like so many other soldiers around the world. He was invited to go back to Afghanistan even though he was determined to leave the Army however he had to do something first. He had to write about his experiences to help him deal with what had happened, he had to write “An Ordinary Soldier”.

He pulls no punches and doesn’t look for forgiveness for what he made decisions to do, he has enough time answering the questions he asks himself. It’s a terrific read and constantly keeps you engaged throughout the entirety of the book.

The future of Battlefield

If you follow me on twitter you will know that I am crazy about Battlefield: Bad Company. Since picking it up from the store I haven’t stopped playing it. I make sure I get some time to play a bit of Multi-player as much as I can and it’s usually a daily routine, with friends joining in on the action every now and then.

Battlefield

I’ve been playing the Battlefield series since way back, Battlefield 1942 being my first game sent to me by EA when I was reviewing games for NVmax. I was hooked on Battlefield 2 for nearly 2 years and only gave it up in place of a dying PC and me buying my Xbox 360. I missed Battlefield 2 when I switched onto console however when Bad Company arrived, I knew I was back in the fold. The adjustment to playing FPS on a console was a strange one however I got there in the end. I’ve been playing Bad Company MP for a while now and although I’ve ran into various server issues and lagging at random the boredom has never kicked in. EA released Conquest for Bad Company a little while ago and I have played some conquest matches however you feel like you need more people on the map. Battlefield 2 had players en-masse and I think it will be a long while before we see 64 players in a game again especially on the 360.

Battlefield Bad Company

Battlefield 1943 will host 24 players fighting through land, air and sea and by the looks of things they are going to be re-introducing planes, thank the lord!!! Apache helicopters rock, but planes add some other kind of excitement. Iwo Jima and Wake Island are going to be putting in appearances again which should be pretty awesome.

Battlefield Bad Company 2

Bad Company 2 is to come back with more vehicles, more destruction and more teamplay which should be interesting. My whole love for the game is because of the environment being able to be demolished depending on what the players are doing. I’d like to see more teamplay in the game, with squad invites specific for your xbox live friends etc. The squad invite in the current Bad Company seems a bit all over the place currently.

Either way I’m looking forward to both new games and remember the future is bright, the future is Battlefield. (Not Call of Duty!)

Expectant Clients are lost in translation

Clients are brilliant, they really are! They come to you when they need something, they ask you to do the job you love and they pay handsomely for it! I mean come on, we get paid for doing something we would be doing anyway. We’re certainly not going to argue with them. Whilst it’s one thing getting clients to say yes, this can often seem to be the easy part of a growing client relationship.

Designers and developers can strike up relationships with clients unlike most other industries, this is down to developing their ideas into a reality. It’s great that we can produce print design for national coverage, web design for the masses or a logo recognisable by the world for years to come.  I try my hardest with clients, I’ve got to work with them for at least a couple of months so it’s the least I can do. I learn from them and pass on my own knowledge where I can, and now there are even clients who I can  firmly call friends. Becoming friends with clients can be disastrous long term as they expect most things to be done on a ‘friends’ basis from there on out, however the real friends clients will always treat business as business and friendship as friendship. Both should be kept as far away from each other as possible and both parties should know where to draw the line.

Once that relationship is built it’s all well and good knowing where to draw the line but what happens before that time, before your relationship is welded together like solid steel. Is there a place in time where we can firmly put our hand up and shout STOP! at the top of our voices to be heard above the droning sound of clients saying I want, I want, I want. Yes there is, and there is also a reason why clients expect too much.

Clients Categories

Depending on the category of client you work with you would usually have an initial meeting to gauge and measure up the client and see if they’re on the level, if they know their www’s from there @’s and their http’s from their ftp’s. The reason why some clients become so expectant is all down to them not knowing what to expect, they don’t know how the Internet works, they don’t know how dynamic websites are built or how ecommerce software is constructed so in not knowing what to expect they expect everything.

This has dire consequences on how a project plays out over the course of weeks and months. Your initial quote or proposal ends up seeming inadequate for what the client expects and thus the relationship breaks down fairly quickly as the client thinks you’re doing half the job they expected. The supplier ends up pulling hair and banging their heads in retaliation for the ensuing mental breakdown and thanks to every action having an equal and opposite reaction if nothing is done in the first place it will always happen.

You could say the blame cannot be pointed at any individual and that it’s just one of those things but it is one of those things that needs ironing out BEFORE a project starts. What can we do to help clients understand what they’re getting or how things are going to work? Is it up to us to sit them down for a days seminar to teach them about the great interweb? I’d like to think I could give them a few hours of my time to them, however my time costs money. Do I charge the client for their little lesson, would that put them further out of joint and cause them to run for the hills? I suppose it depends on the person and how various outcomes differentiate a good client from one you would rather avoid.

Adii from Woothemes and radiiate mentioned today on twitter that he learned in 2008 to give an approximate price to a prospective client in the first email he sends to them so they know how much his/their services are going to cost. This, to me is a great way to pre-empt a situation and at the end of the day neither you or the client have the time to go running round in circles over facts or money.

In reality money isn’t everything, it’s the job at hand and the services you provide that you would like the client to understand and what you’ve quoted for is what you have understood the job to entail and you’ve costed for this accordingly.  Anyone worth their salt engages into a contract with a client because they want to work with them, it is our choice to take the work on. It would be nice for clients to understand that we do what we do because we know how to do it. We want to work with them to get to an outcome where they can stand on their own two feet in the world of the web, where they can grow and establish themselves as a recognised brand whether locally, nationally or internationally.

So here is to a few changes in 2009 where clients and suppliers can work together amicably, in a relationship where both know where they stand and what services are going to be delivered.

Would be very interested to hear views on the subject.