Heroes Episode Guide – Season 2 Chapter 2: Lizards

WARNING, PLOT SPOILERS!

So Heroes continues its march through ever complicating storylines. Hiro’s seems pretty simple with him being back in time and taking on the role of Kensai but then that taking another twist at the end of the show – is this the start of the origins we’ve heard about?

Heroes doesn’t do simplicity – Peter’s re-discovery of his powers leads to defending the Irish girl but causes even more problems. And why is his wallet in a box when he blew up and cut his hair. Actually who chained him up in the first place?

This episode raises more questions than it answers. Well we did learn that the answer to whether Claire can regrow her limbs is a yes. While West may have a special power, he’s no Zack to be honest is he?

We don’t learn much about Nathan this episode. Apart from the fact he has a tremendous beard of course. And who’s that attacking his mum/Andrea? He seems Sylar-ish with his powers after that and killing Hiro’s dad. Another question.

We do sort of get an answer about Maya and Alejandro – she kills, he cures. But that’s all we’ll get. Surely she just needs to stop crying? Mohinder is doing some sterling work tricking the company and getting the Haitian back up and running and with Mr Bennet. How long will it last though and what about this disease?

They’re all important questions, but one that doesn’t bother me is where are Nikki, DL and Micah? Who cares really but they did get more interesting towards the end of last season. And I hope Ando is okay. Was I the only one who thought he and Matt Parkman knew each other?

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Carbon Neutral Search Engine

Most of us (according to the latest statistics) use Google to search. In fact, 80% of all visitors which arrive to this site via a search engine, use Google. However if a search engine offered to give you the same results as Google but also offset your search, would you use that instead? That’s the premise behind the Carbon Neutral Search Engine, who have paid for a sponsored review of their service.

Carbon Neutral Search

The Carbon Neutral Search Engine was developed by a company called fooke limited in the UK, launching in October 2007. Searches made on their Google powered search engine are offset the emissions generated through online search queries. How do they do this? They have calculated (for UK users) that when taking account the energy used by the search engine and by the user’s computer that 17.57g of carbon are emitted. Because this will vary massively by country they offset each search query by a minimum of 300g via offsetters Climate Care and Carbon Fund (see later). The home page shows the exact emissions offset to date.

So what’s it like to use? Well, as you can see it’s all black, I assume as a way to save a tiny bit of power on certain LCD monitors (there’s an LCD Monitor Search link in the top left of the page), and works pretty much exactly the same way as Google does.

So how do they pay for this offsetting? Well the results that are displayed show Google Adwords ads, they same as they would on Google itself. However any clicks on the ads make money on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis for the Carbon Neutral Search Engine, through the program Google Adsense. I have no problem with that, it’s the fundamental basis that most websites make money, but in this case the profits are going towards carbon offsetting schemes rather than to the advertisers.

Carbon Neutral Search Engine results

As you can see above, the Google referral ad (for Google Adsense) is on the large side, with some adverts below it, followed by the same search results you get in Google (I checked!).

As mentioned they use Climate Care and the Carbon Fund to provide their offsetting. According to the site “Climate Care is a leading offsetting organisation in the United Kingdom and through investing in renewable technology, energy efficiency and reforestation has offset a total of 1m tonnes since they were founded in 1998. They continue to grow through partnerships with leading international brands including British Airways, Land Rover and Grant Thornton. Carbon Fund is also a leading US non profit carbon offsetting company, offsetting over 1m tonnes from 400 companies and 100 000 individuals.”

If the search engine is a success, they also also plan to develop small scale renewable energy projects within the UK, which is an honourable goal for any company.

Personally I think it works great, provides the same functionality as Google and it’s simplistic with no pop-ups or crowded with adverts or links to other sites (besides the ones your searching for of course…). Soon they will be launching a browser plugin (both Firefox and Internet Explorer) to increase ease of use, but for now check out the Carbon Neutral Search Engine.

If you would like a review of your site or product please see the advertise page or contact us.

Heroes Episode Guide – Season 2 Chapter 1: Four Months Later

Heroes is back. First of all, you can find our reviews of Heroes season 1 here, and this is season 2.

WARNING, PLOT SPOILERS!

So how was it for you? It started quite slowly I thought. Mohinder’s speeches always annoy me but the approach of The Company (is this Bob as mentioned last season?) and his power at least livened it up. His phone call to Mr Bennet (I feel wrong calling him Noah) explains their plans, but using a mobile/cell phone is a little dangerous, won’t The Company be listening?

Mr Bennet in a normal job? It was never going to end well for the manager was it? And Claire manages to get herself noticed in her new school in California without even trying. In fact she tries hard not to be noticed refusing to do the jump in the gym, but that’s what bring her to the attention of the good looking boy (I can’t remember his name). The revelation of his superpower is a bit disappointing, it’s the same as Nathan’s, and I like Zach who presumably is still in Texas.

Talking of Nathan, he’s all bitter and twisted about the ‘death’ of Peter and grown a beard. But what’s he looking at in the mirror? It seems to be him all burnt. Does he have healing powers like his daughter, or can disguise his appearance like Candice? Or am I reading too much into it and it was just a vision/dream?

We get two new ‘heroes’ this episode – Maya and Alejandro fleeing in South America. Actually Maya seems to have a deadly power a bit like Niki in the first series and Alejandro might not have one at all. What answers do they hope to find in America, it’s probable they’re heading for Mohinder as they had his father’s book. Before promptly killing everyone.

And then there’s Kaito, Hiro’s father who, along with Nathan and Peter’s mother, gets a death threat. Who is the other one of the original 12 who atatcks him? There are only 9 left after Charles, Linderman and Peter and Nathan’s dad. Is their only 8 now? We never learnt Kaito’s power so whether he’s dead or not remains to be seen.

And what of hero himself? Trapped in ancient Japan with his hero who is not quite hero like. With Hiro take his place? He’s my favourite character, but the storyline is a bit dull. Things might pick up with Mollie’s dreams of the bogeyman and maybe the return of Sylar. It’s a solid if slightly underwhelming start to the series.

Product Review: Recycline Preserve Razors

To give them their correct (and unweildly) title – Preserve Razor Recyclable by Recycline – are recycled razors. While with their bright colours and plastic handles they look like disposable razors, they are in fact anti-disposable razors and while light and similar to say a Bic razor, the blade pops off and you can add a replacement. In fact you can buy just the blades separately here as well which fit some other manufacturers’ handles.

The come in a pack of four which may seem over the top, but I know how grubby handles can get over time so I’ve just stored the rest away from when I need them. Well, two of them – the other has gone to my girlfriend (see later).

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So what’s different about these razors? Well the handles are made from 100% recycled plastic – mainly from yoghurt (or yogurt if you like) pots and once you’ve finished with it you can recycle it again. The manufacturer says anywhere who takes type 5 plastics will recycle it or they will do it themselves, www.recycline.com provides address labels or you can request envelopes to send them back in and they’ll make them into picnic tables. Lovely. Same with their toothbrushes and tongue cleaners (my tongue is fine thank you very much). No mention of the actual blades though.

But the important thing with a razor is whether it works or not. And here’s the thing, I have a beard. It’s only a short one though so I considered shaving it off to test it. I have only had the beard for 18 months and have shaved it off twice so do have considerable experience in shaving, but there’s the itchiness involved with growing it back and I didn’t fancy it. So I cheated instead.

The test for men
Well not cheated exactly, but shared the wealth and asked someone else to do it. Rob duly obliged. Happy to have something for free and willing to give almost anything a go, he shaved to his heart’s content. And you know what? He loved it. Shaving is a solitary pursuit but I was there before and after his first shave. He has two razors he uses normally – a flashy one with a metal handle and expensive blades, and a rigid disposable one which he uses more often. While the Preserve razor looked more like the disposable one but bigger, it was much lighter than the ‘proper’ razor so I was interested to see which he preferred. And I was surprised with the results.

He loved the Preserve one. In fact, he said it was the nicest shave he had ever had! And “I only cut myself once, and that was my fault”. Not sure what he was doing but it’s good to hear. Despite being made of one piece of (recycled) plastic, the Preserve razor offers a lot of flexibility and comfort. Even disposables have the soothing strip on these days, but this seemed a bit better and cut with ease.

After five minutes of Rob talking about it, I thought maybe he’d had too much and was tempted to take it away from him. But razors need to be used over and over so I left it with him to get a longer-term opinion. And he still likes it a few weeks later. One happy customer.

The test for women
Legs this time. While I could have tested this myself, I’m not a cross-dresser or a cyclist, so left this to the girlfriend. Sadly she wouldn’t let me take pictures to put up but I assure you she did use it. I know this because she cut her knee open and I had to get up off the sofa to see what all the noise was about. However it turns out it was user error, rather than the razor’s fault, and the rest of her legs were silky smooth.

She’s used it a few times since and likes the fact it’s light and shaves as well as her well-known brand multi bladed razor and as it’s better for the environment she’ll be using the other wones too.

Thanks again goes to Nigel’s Eco Store for supplying them, you can buy the razor and spare blades here and just the blades here if you’re in the EU. For the rest of the world, try Drugstore.com.

Product Review: Soapnuts (Or The Amazing Natural Cleaning Nuts!)

Thanks to Anne over at Summer Naturals, I was sent some magically soapnuts to test out for use with my laundry. The instructions tell you to put between four and eight half shells in a cotton bag (or old sock or tights), tie securely and put in your wash with no need for any fabric conditioner or laundry detergent.

Hang on a minute – “half shells”? Yep soapnuts are actually real nuts. Soapnuts grow wild on trees in India and Nepal and the shells contain saponin, a natural soap, and are suitable for people with sensitive skin. But do they work?

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The short answer is yes. While it felt a bit strange not putting any fabric softener or powder into the machine’s trays, if you’re familiar with putting one of those nets in with the tablets inside, this is just the same. Anne gave me a nice cotton bag with the shells in and I tied it securely and threw it in there. And the result was lovely clean washing, even on muddy trousers which will happen even more now winter’s arriving with haste.

Initially when I took the washing out to dry, it was hard to tell whether the soapnuts had done their job. There’s no ‘laundry fresh’ smell (you can add a couple of drops of essential oil to the drawer if you want) but that doesn’t mean the clothes aren’t clean. And they were clean and the little bag of nuts was secure. Seems almost magical, especially when you can use them around four times before needing more nut shells.

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One question in my mind is that they’re imported from abroad and I know nothing about the conditions they’re harvested in. But as I know little about all the ingredients in Ecover for example, until they start making washing powder at my local farm, this is something that cannot really be a factor in whether to use a particular washing method.

Soapnuts contain nothing chemical at all so obviously don’t have the same whitening power of major brands but for something so natural, they’re remarkable. And cheap, an average of 3p a wash compared to 25p with washing powder and softener. And you just throw them on the compost heap when you’re done with them so there’s no waste. You can buy them here.

Oh, and before you ask, they’re not my hands in the photos….

24 Season 6 Review – The Best Yet?

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While this is a green blog we like our entertainment (Heroes being our favourite – see our guide here), and 24 has consistently been entertaining. But the past few seasons haven’t been great and have even been formulaic at times, something that it certainly couldn’t be accused of when the show launched in 2001?

The real time format works better on DVD than it does weekly (I watched the original run on TV). In fact they could do away with the time as you can tell when an episode is coming to an end as there’s normally a big explosion or a death. And this season is no different, but somehow it’s better than all the previous seasons, except the first.

The fact that Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) is in a Chinese prison at the start helps, we get to see something a bit different and the thread continues throughout the series. Jack’s father, brother and his family are introduced to mix things up a bit. Traditional things like a mole inside CTU are turned on their head, major characters die (is no-one safe? Except Jack of course) and there’s a new love interest as well as an old one. Even the idea of a traditional terrorist is turned on its head.

It’s a fun ride and a fun watch – I do advise you to watch as many as you can at once. While it’s not quite “I can’t wait until the next episode” like season 1 was or Heroes is, it’s much better watching it like this. The only negatives are that it play on having to have something big happen every hour (well 45 minutes without the adverts) and the President Palmer is unconvincing in my eyes. That said it’s the best season for years.

You can buy it here.

Heroes Episode Guide – Chapter 23: How To Stop An Exploding Man

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SPOILER ALERT!

So it’s finally arrived. The final episode of Heroes. And it was a cracker. And a culmination of what all came before it does leave some questions, but I like finding out and didn’t feel annoyed at all.

Hiro saves Ando and for a moment it seems only Sylar dies. But then he doesn’t and will Pete of Nathan survive? What we saw in Five Years Gone doesn’t come to pass, Nathan steps up to the plate and helps Peter. Or so it seems, maybe it still does, we’ll have to wait and see. Why Peter can’t control his power I’m not sure, Sylar has he same one and he can but maybe it takes him longer.

Claire shows she is a true hero as does Hiro. Peter going into the past to see the man he looked after was an unexpected highlight, what does that generation have to do with everything and what powers do they have? Maybe the rumoured spin-off series, Heroes: Origins, will tell us.

If you can’t wait until September 24 for the next series (in America at least), you can find rumours and news at this excellent site.