Fancy throwing a rain-free indoor barbecue this winter? That’s exactly what the Avance Grill from Philips lets you do. A 2000W grill designed for use inside the house, but without scrimping on the juicy flavours that characterise a great outdoor barbecue, it’s great for cooking red meats, poultry and fish, as well as grilling veg too.Though we at Brandish have their fingers on the fashion pulse, we weren’t in the queue when they started handing out Michelin Stars. But the Philips Avance Grill makes it simple for even amateur cooks to throw together a tasty meal. For starters, there’s just one control, a heat dial that lets you choose how hot you want the grill to get, with a handy indicator light that blinks off once the grill has warmed enough to cook on. Philips also throw in a simple cook book too, showing dozens of recipes that can be made simply by throwing all the ingredients in at once. It’s basically fool proof.
The Avance Grill’s secret weapon is its “Taste Infuser”, a small circular metal depository where you can pop in smoker chips. A packet of hickory chips come in the box, which when heated up in the compartment on the grill (and the glass lid has been shut in order to keep the smoke circulating around the meat) adds a sophisticated smoked taste to your dishes. A small well at the back of the grill can also be filled with water if you’re looking to steam meats, keeping steaks moist and fish from going too crisp.Cleaning the grill is easy too. The glass covering panel slides out, as does the cooking grill itself, exposing the heating conductors below. The Taste Infuser pops out of the grill, and there’s a run off tray underneath that collects excess oil (keeping meals pretty healthy too). All these can then be soaked in warm soapy water, with the cooking grill and glass panel washable in a dishwasher.
Even with our lack of cooking experience, we were able to knock up a load of tasty dishes for a gang of pals in just 30 minutes or so, including preparation and beer-sipping time. As well as a great BBQ alternative on a rainy day, we’d also say the Avance Grill is a great going away present for students who aren’t too comfortable in a kitchen, as it’s so easy to use.The Philips Avance Grill costs £120 and can be picked up from Argos and Homebase. Extra taste-infusing Smoker Chip packs in a handful of different flavours can be picked up for £7 from www.barbecook.com.
The witching hour is almost upon us! Yep, come the end of the month, the ghouliest ghouls and the creepiest creeps will stalk the streets in search of tricks and treats, as Halloween night descends over Britain.
While the 31st of October bash is more of a big deal in the States than it is over here, every year us Brits get more devilish in our fright night antics. Whether you’re throwing a party or putting together a haunted house to scare the bejeezus out of ickle trick-or-treaters, this Tech Digest guide to decorating your home in the most frightening way possible will get you screams and smiles in spades.
STEP ONE: Cover the walls
First things first, you’re going to want to cover up your lovely flowery wallpaper. Halloween comes but once a year, so don’t go crazy and start painting the place. Instead, head down to a local hardware store and grab some inexpensive black tarpaulin and pin it to the walls, or pin some black bin bags to the walls. If you shred the the bin liners and hang them from door arches, they make for creepy tentacle things too. STEP TWO: A bit of mood lighting
Your IKEA lamp shade just isn’t going to cut it in a haunted house, so take any covers off your lights for a creepy dangly exposed bulb. White lights wont do at all either; pick up some red light bulbs for a hellish, warm glow. They’re inexpensive and can be picked up from places like Maplins or even your local £1 Store. You could also buy a strobe light too, but they’re very expensive. For a cheap alternative, head over to YouTube on your Smart TV or by hooking up a laptop, and do a search for strobe lighting videos, like this one:
These can be then played through the telly stretched to fullscreen, downloaded and then set to replay over and over through your media player of choice for a far more cost-effective scare. Flashlights too dotted around in unusual places can cast strange shadows as well.
STEP THREE: Atmosphere
Nothing says “graveyard chic” like a bit of fog. You can achieve this two ways; either grab some dry ice, or get a hold of a smoke or fog machine. Dry ice is a pretty tough material to get hold of, is expensive, and can really damage your skin if not used correctly, so grab a smoke machine instead. They’re available from Maplins too.This one’s probably best if you’re building some kind of outdoor event, but it’ll work inside too, providing you keep an eye on how hot the smoke machine is getting. They can be very hot indeed, so handle with care, and make sure not to leave them near anything flammable, nor where someone could easily spill a drink over them.
STEP FOUR: More gore
This step is not for the feint of heart. To really send a shiver down the spine, you’re going to need to get some fake blood. Gallons of the stuff. The bathroom is always a good place to splatter some of the stuff as it is easier to wipe tiles clean than, say, carpeted rooms. For a fake blood recipe that doesn’t stain, try this concoction we found on Yahoo Answers (use at your own risk!):
Take a teaspoon or two of Arrowroot (a white powder used in baking that you can easily find in health food shops) and add to water heated on the stove. Stir continuously until the mixture becomes gloopy. Add a small amount of red children’s non-toxic powder paint and stir in. The mixture should now be bright red. Add a tiny amount of brown powder paint or coffee concentrate (make this by adding a small amount of water to coffee granules) to darken the blood as required. Store in a bottle or jam jar and thin by adding water to make the blood the required consistency as and when you need it.
Once you’ve got the bath all covered in red, try plopping some fake body parts in there, which can easily be picked up from joke shops. If you’re truly committed to getting some scares though, head down to your local butchers and ask for a bag of offcuts and offal. That’ll be all the weird guts and stuff they don’t sell, maybe even a pig’s head if you’re being truly messed up. It’ll be a really convincing scare, but also one hell of a clean up job afterwards. STEP FIVE: Demonic Decorations
With your haunted house starting to take shape, it’s time to start pulling together some of the finer details. Plenty of household items, if used correctly, can look pretty darn creepy. Gardening tools, for instance, look really weird and creepy if taken out of context and put inside your house. It might not just be flower bulbs buried with that spade, if you catch our drift.
But many decorations can easily be found in second hand shops and charity shops if you need to grab some more bits and pieces. Old photographs black and white, especially weathered or torn ones, can look really scary. And there’s nothing like a line up of old fashioned dolls to freak someone out with.
Then there’s the classics, like fake spiders webs, and of course a carved pumpkin. Brownie points for inventive designs, of course.You can pick up plenty of props from toy shops and joke shops too, but shop around and you’ll get some real treats. The Box O Zombies from Firebox is great, detailed little toys that you can dot around the house.They come in packs of 6, measuring roughly five centimetres each and cost £8.99. You’ll get a real chuckle out of your mates when they come across these hidden around your flat.Really just try to think out of the box and be a bit creative with it. Got an old bit of rope lying around in the shed? Then you’ve got yourself a hangman’s noose. An old sheet with holes in it? The world’s simplest ghost if you put a torch underneath it. Put your mind to it and you can make a dark, dingy den for just a few quid.
STEP SEVEN: Games
Once you’ve got people to come to your haunted house, you’re going to want to give them something to do. Bobbing for apples is a classic, so grab a decent sized barrel or container, fill it with water and apples and challenge your mates to pick a few out in under a minute. Mix a few red ones in with a load of green apples, and you can even offer a prize to those who can fish out the winning colour.Or go a bit more techy. The Ghost Hunt game available from Firebox is a bit like a Halloween laser tag; it features a little Billy Bones ghost toy that projects spectres onto your walls, and screams when you shoot them down with the included laser pistol. It costs £29.99 and will be great fun for little ones.
Bigger kids may want to test fate by having their fortune told. Firebox also sell a beautiful little set of Zombie Tarot cards for £13.99, featuring 78 wondrously weird designs.STEP EIGHT: Spine-tingling tunes
With the party ready to get started, you going to need some tunes. Try this Spotify playlist that we put together. It’ll put the bump into your night, Monster Mash and all:
Also, if you’ve got a spare iPod dock lying around the house, load up an MP3 player with some creepy sounds (chalk board screeches, crow calls, rustling wind, wolf howls etc) and hide them around the house. Friends will get a real scare when they hear a random scream coming from behind the toilet.
So how did we do? Creepy enough for you? Or did we wuss out like a toddler on a ghost train? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below!
Last night Amazon’s Chief Executive Jeff Bezos unveiled a number of highly anticipated new Kindle products and although they’d already been revealed in a US TV ad earlier in the week, the three new Kindle Fire tablets and Paperwhite eReader didn’t fail to impress us.
Here’s a quick and dirty guide to the main announcements from Amazon:
The Kindle Paperwhite is an eReader with a capacitive touch display, which is totally different to standard black and white Kindles because it’s got a high resolution screen with 62% more pixels, 25% increased contrast, a 212 ppi display and a built-in light for reading in all kinds of conditions.
Jeff Bezos said at the event in California yesterday:
“Paperwhite is the Kindle we’ve always wanted to build — the technology didn’t exist to build a display with this level of contrast, resolution, brightness and battery life, so our engineers invented it.”
The device has a pretty impressive 8 weeks battery life too, which Amazon claims will last even with the light on the whole time. There’s also built-in Wi-Fi (and free 3G connectivity in some areas), Whispersync technology that works for audio too and a new feature called Time to Read, which tells readers the amount of time it will take them to finish reading a certain chapter or a whole book based on reading speed.
The Paperwhite is 9.1mm thick and 7.5 ounces.
We’ve only got US details about the new Kindle Paperwhite for now, it’ll come in at $119 and the Kindle Paperwhite Wi-Fi + 3G is $179.
Kindle Fire HD
This high-resolution iteration of the Kindle Fire comes in two new sizes, 8.9″ and 7″. The larger version has a 1920 X 1200 pixel resolution and the 7 inch model has a 1280 X 800 resolution.
Both devices have super durable Gorilla Glass with a laminated touchscreen that Amazon claims will reduce glare by 25%.
They also have stereo speaks and an HDMI port for connecting up to other devices.
The Kindle Fire HD also has two wi-fi antennas and Mimo (multiple-input and multiple-output) technology to improve internet speeds and connectivity. The bigger tablet can also be bought with 4G connectivity with a heftier price tag over in the US.
The 8.9″ tablet comes in at $299 / £159 and the smaller 7″ version is £159 for the 16GB version and £199 for the 32GB version.
The current Kindle Fire product has now been improved with all of the best features but with a faster process for 40% better performance, twice the amount of memory and a longer battery life too.
Fancy smelling like James Bond? No, it’s not some clever olfactory disguise devised by the inimitable Q, but rather a new men’s aftershave called 007 from P&G launching exclusively online and in-store at Harrods from 15th August 2012.
Harking back to the Fougere perfumes of the 1960s (arguably the first “hero scent” range for men), the 007 Fragrance “flawlessly combines irresistible sophistication with uncompromising masculinity [...]culminating in a robust signature scent which embodies the duality of Bond.”
Ingredients include the strong vetyver, blended with lavender and apple, all packed in a glass flacon bottle as sleek as some of Bond’s motors.
“It has been an exciting experience coming together and working with P&G to create the debut James Bond fragrance,” said Keith Snelgrove, global business director of James Bond’s production house EON.
“This is a special year for 007, and we are thrilled to launch this distinctive and sophisticated scent during Bond’s 50th anniversary year.”
Expect to pay £32 for 75ml bottle and £42 foe a 125ml bottle.
A friend of mine has been with his girlfriend for six years and I’ll be honest, she’s pretty hot. Problem is they argue constantly, and I’m not talking the casual bickering that most couples go through, I’m talking about weekly rows on an apocalyptic scale. Their relationship seems to have picked up a little recently but frankly that is because they stopped living together and simply don’t have the opportunity to fight as much. Poor logistics probably aren’t the basis of a solid relationship though and most of his friends have told him repeatedly over the past few years that he needs to give her the old heave ho. It’s likely that her friends have been saying the same thing but he insists that he loves her and can’t see himself with anyone else. So where did it all go wrong?
You’ll no doubt know people in similar situations and wonder why they stay together. Perhaps you’ve been dating recently and are wondering whether your new squeeze really is worth committing to. When it comes to relationships most people at some point have taken a moment to wonder whether the person on their arm is really right for them. Well ponder no more. My foolproof and frankly stupidly simple method will help you instantly get a grip on whether Mr Right is really Mr Wrong or whether you need to put a bit of distance between you and that perfect girl next door.
It’s a little system called the THREE Ls. Basically if you have all three Ls, your relationship will work. If you have less than Three, it’s doomed. Simple.
Number one; you need Lust. Fairly obvious but you need to fancy your partner. This is not normally an issue at the start of the relationship as typically what lead to you getting together was initially some form of mutual attraction. Add alcohol into the mix and hey presto you might have managed to pull that girl that was hitherto out of your league. Of course once she’s wiped last night mascara out of her eyes and seen that you are in fact a slightly overweight, balding man approaching middle age she is unlikely to stick around. Without Lust the relationship won’t get off the ground but for those lucky enough to have initial mutual attraction, Lust only becomes a problem further down the road.
The second L is ‘Like’. You have to actually like your partner. This normally comes after Lust. You fancy someone, you actually pull them and then spend a bit of time not drunk and wham, you either like them or you don’t. How many times have you heard a bloke say ‘she’s fit but really annoying!’?. These relationships usually have a shelf like of around 3 weeks, but if by some miracle you meet someone who you fancy and they fancy you, and you like them and they like you then wham, you’ve got a relationship. You’ve got ‘Lust’ and you’ve got ‘Like’ and that means you will probably give it a go and hey chances are it will work out ok for a while, maybe several years. But the third L is always the decisive factor eventually.
The third L is of course ‘Love’. After several years with someone you not only find attractive but get on really well with, the chances are you might fall in love. Bang. Scary times. But not as scary as when he or she doesn’t love you back. This can be a real relationship ender. You’re sat there one day thinking I lust after this girl, like her personality and frankly can’t see myself with anyone else. So you tell her you love here and she says she ‘likes you a lot’. It’s a cliché but also a classic example of misalignment of Three Ls. You love her but she only likes you. Bang. Relationship over.
So far it’s all quite simple but if this was the case then why do relationships go bad? One minute you’re all in lust with someone you really like who loves you back and next minute the relationship is just not working out. How is this possible when you had all Three Ls? Well you need to ask yourself if you still have them. Typically you start with Lust and Like then Love follows and yet we find ourselves in a situation, just like the friend mentioned at the beginning of this article, where we are in love with someone but can’t seem to make it work. The simple answer is to look again at the Three Ls. In the case mentioned, he Loves her. He Lusts after her but basically he hates her. Somewhere over the course of their relationship they just stopped liking each other but when people have had all Three Ls they find it hard to exit a relationship. In this case they need to really break up as they will only fuel each others anger. Worse though but potentially repairable is another example. A couple who once had the Three Ls are finding things tough. They look at their relationship and realize they still love each other deeply and still like each other but in this case the lust has gone. It’s easy to see why; a few pounds gained and a bit of hair lost all leads towards lethargy and a distinct lack of lust. This can sometimes be rectified with a gym membership, hair replacement or in drastic cases, cosmetic surgery but if you can’t get that missing L back then the relationship is doomed.
We’ve all been there in a relationship that’s on the rocks, wondering why it isn’t working but by applying the Three Ls you can quickly see where the cause of the trouble is. If the love is gone then chances are its over, but that will be obvious. If it’s that there is no lust then there’s a load of places you can go to try and sort that out but if you realize that actually you just don’t like you partner then maybe it’s time to call it a day. Try the Three Ls. It’s simple but I haven’t found a case yet where it doesn’t hold true, and you never know, it might just give you the confidence to start being true to yourself.
Philips recently released The Sonicare DiamondClean, a £250 toothbrush, but is it worth it? Read on to find out.
The Sonicare DiamondClean is probably one of the most techy toothbrushes I have ever come across, its packed with teeth cleaning features and even looks good.
The bush has a long oblong handle that features a power/mode select button and an illuminated display to indicate which of the brush’s five cleaning modes you’re currently using, in addition to battery charge levels. The five cleaning modes are designed to target specific areas of your mouth, allowing you to specialize your brushing with settings such as gum care or the whitening mode. Th brush has been clinically proven to remove up to four times more plaque than a manual toothbrush, increase gum health in only two weeks and whiten your teeth in as little as one! In addition it has an impressive rechargeable lithium-polymer battery, which is good for 3 weeks of regular usage from a single overnight charge.
Tech aside, the DiamondClean looks great on your bathroom shelf. The brush comes with an eye-catching silver travel case and a nicely cut glass tumbler with a silver base unit that it rests in all while wirelessly charging.
Using an inductive charging system similar to that found in Powermat chargers, simply placing the brush into the glass resting on the base unit (with the base unit plugged into a wall socket) charges the DiamondClean. With the green-lined travel case, it’s a similar principle, lying the toothbrush down inside rather than standing it up, and connecting the case via a USB connection on a PC or laptop to charge the brush. A useful feature for those who travel a lot.
After only one use of the DiamondClean I was a fan. My teeth as clean as they do after a visit to the dentist. For those not use to using an electric toothbrush Philips have cleverly designed the brush to ramp up the intensity of the cleaning cycle progressively after your first few brushes, letting you get used to the brush gradually. While testing out the brush I generally stuck to the default “Clean” setting. In this mode the DiamondClean uses a 2 minute “Smartimer”, automatically switching off after you’ve brushed for the recommended 120 seconds. In addition it will stop the motor for a split-second at 30 second intervals to help you better judge when to move onto a new area in your mouth. It’s a great way of making sure you’ve done a thorough job. After only a few weeks of using the brush I noticed my teeth look notably whiter and my mouth felt fresh.
In a city like London it can sometimes be overwhelming trying to figure out where the best cafes are.
That is why here at Brandish we are absolutely obsessed with a app called London Thru Cafes. This beautifully designed app focuses on independent cafes and has lots of ideas for interesting things to do ranging from all the classic tourist attractions such as the Tate and Southbank, to hidden gems known only by locals.
The app features over two hundred original photos to bring entries to life, reviews,
plus all the essential information such as opening hours, off-line maps, nearby stations, access information, whether there’s Wi-Fi or gluten free options available and area write-ups to give a place context. There’s also information on which coffee and cake places serve. Best of all the app works off-line so you can browse your options while on the tube to your destination.
Whether you live in London or are just visiting, the London Thru Cafes app is definitely a must have.
Oh and did we mention it is Free for a limited time over Christmas?
How do you communicate a fragrance online? Swiss brand Victorinox has found a fun way of doing just this, with the first interactive underwater 360° video. Shot in a picturesque Swiss lake, the movie’s perspective can be altered by the viewer to encapsulate the experience of a brisk lake swim. The video aims to merge interaction and the breathtaking landscape into a near-physical experience to trigger the feeling of well-being and freshness as exemplified by Victorinox Fragrances.
Check out the video above and don’t forget to order a free fragrance sample.
Christmas parties are just around the corner, and while they are usually a lot of fun, there is also a lot of pressure to look your best.
We all know that a balanced diet and regular exercise is the best way to do this, but we also know its not always easy with a busy schedule. So as a part of our on going feature series, ‘staying in shape this winter’, we have investigated some of the diet shortcuts available on the market.
First up Strawberry Laser Lipo. You have probably seen this advertised countless times on Groupon, and is being touted as the latest non-invasive, pain free inch loss treatment. But does it actually work. We were curious, so sent down one of our writers to find out.
Strawberry Laser Lipo targets fat cells via a low level of laser energy, and we were promised up to a 4 inch reduction across the chosen measured areas such as the waist, arms and the most common problem for men… stubborn back fat.
The laser is able to target problem areas by essentially making fat cells porous and enabling the cells to release water, glycerol and fatty acids into the bloodstream. The fat cells reduce in size and the released free fatty acids, glycerol and water are then transported around the body to the tissues that will use them to create energy during the metabolic process. This process is a natural function that comes into play when the body needs to use stored energy reserves and is simply mimicked by the treatment. After the treatment you are required to complete a 20 minute cardio session to ensure the elimination of the freed fatty acids which is converted into energy and then worked off.
Science aside, we tried out the treatment at The Body Silk Clinic, near Monument, London. We weren’t really sure what to expect, and to be 100% honest were a little nervous about the whole thing. However, the friendly staff quickly eased our fears and walked us through the entire process. The treatment sessions only lasts 10 minutes and is completely pain free, making it easy to fit into your day. We only did one session, but were told for best results a course of 8 treatments are needed, with 2 treatments undertaken each week. However after only one session our lucky guinea pig had already lost 3”.
Although we would love to see the long term results of a full course of treatment, if your looking for a quick fix check out Strawberry Laser Lipo.