Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Duel (1971): One of Steven Spielberg's Less Popular Jewels

Most probably, you've already seen plenty of Steven Spielberg's movies but it's quite possible you haven't seen one of his first films made for the TV yet. Duel is a remarkable movie in many aspects. Duel does not have an extensive cast. It does not sport any huge film stars. One of the two Duel's characters that matter is practically invisible throughout the movie. There is not a lot of talking and almost everything in Duel's an hour and a half long time span happens on the road or along it. Yet, this is a film that captures your attention from the beginning and keeps it absorbed until its end.

Duel's plot is quite simple. David Mann (Dennis Weaver), a man from California, drives through the desert for a business appointment outside of his town. After David passes a massive truck, its driver begins to chase him and does not give up independently of David's attempts to lose him. It appears the truck driver has no other occupation than pursuing David hidden in his big truck.

As unpretentious the plot might seem, it's enough to entertain you for the entire continuance of the movie. Duel starts with random transmissions from various radio stations that are interesting on their own. It continues with some common road activities and subtly proceeds to the thrilling part. From then on, the suspense is constantly there and if you've been wondering what substance could stuff a movie based entirely on a road chase, you are going to stop at this point. It's easy to guess where the movie is heading for and even that the chase could have a tragic conclusion for one of the participants but you will not know who and how until the very end of the film. In fact, you won't be completely sure about the reasons for the pursuit even after Duel ends.

Dennis Weaver has a heavy task in this movie because he must carry out the whole narrative on his shoulders. He copes with the assignment quite well. His character tries to simulate self-confidence but he is a man who has doubts about everything. He is easily frightened and tries to avoid any possible problems, yet this results in overreactions and often inadequate behaviour. David is the perfect guy to be chased by a psycho.

The problem I have with this character though is why he doesn't just turn his car back when he has many occasions to do it and especially when he realizes that he has missed the meeting. This is pretty much the main flaw of the movie since it doesn't fit in the character's profile. David Mann is hardly a man who would like to prove anything to a malevolent stranger. It would have been much better if the moviemakers had decided to present the whole chase as happening after the meeting and David travelling towards home since his wife waiting for him would be a substantial reason to continue in that direction regardless of the truck following him. Of course, it's not very likely to expect from a movie with a plot limited in the aforementioned boundaries to be flawless so this fault is excusable although diminishing Duel's realism.

Despite that flaw and a couple of other minor plot issues the execution of this project is rather good and Duel is an important demonstration of Steven Spielberg's capabilities in his early days. Duel is suspenseful. The events happening along the road are feasible. And the chase itself is memorable and haunting. This results in an easy recommendation of Duel to all movie lovers, a recommendation which is even more easier to the fans of Spielberg or to the admirers of thrilling experiences.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Haywire (2011): A Watchable Film with Wasted Potential

What happens if you put together a beautiful retired mixed martial arts fighter (Gina Carano), an Academy Award winning director (Steven Soderbergh), several famous actors (Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor) and a mediocre story? Well, apparently a haywire movie. Although in reality Haywire is not a disastrous film I expected a better film bearing in mind all of the people involved in its production.

Haywire presents a couple of weeks in the life of secret operations near-freelancer Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) who is regularly hired for various undercover missions via her "boss" Kenneth (Ewan McGregor). After a hostage rescue mission in Barcelona, Mallory is quickly assigned to a new task in Dublin. She has some suspicions though and discovers that she has been set up and her life is in a real danger. Mallory has to use her fighting skills (which she uses well) to survive and her training for secret missions to escape her chasers and get back into the United States where she is determined to find out the truth and to revenge on all implicated in her getting in trouble.

In fact, Haywire starts fairly well and slowly loses potential. While we see some of Carano's martial arts skills, there are a lot of other misused people and items. As mentioned before Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and Ewan McGregor star in the movie but they are rarely shown on the screen. Michael Douglas plays government agent Coblenz but he is pretty much an expendable character and rarely appears in the movie. Antonio Banderas' Rodrigo is kind of Coblenz's contact but he is almost as redundant as Coblenz himself and it's strange why these two actors have accepted their minor roles in Haywire. Ewan McGregor, whose part is to be the head of the private firm Mallory works for, does not have much to do throughout the movie as well although the amount of his participation could be considered passable. From the rest of the cast, Michael Fassbender is worth a mention giving a good performance as a British agent who is unfortunate to meet Mallory at the wrong place and time.

It should have become clear from the above that Gina Carano is the main driving force in Haywire. But speaking of driving, even the appearance of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution car in the film is not used to its full potential. Mallory drives the car of a random guy who tries to help her but there is nothing noticeable in the few driving scenes to justify the use of this mighty vehicle (even in the light of product positioning). And speaking of that random guy with the car, he is also completely expendable.

The direction of Steven Soderbergh is decent but he has filmed much better pictures than Haywire. There is enough suspense in the movie up till a certain point (mainly while the retrospective sequences last) and after that it becomes quite straightforward without twists and surprises. The only not so obvious part is whether Michael Douglas' character is "good" or "bad" but you cannot be completely sure about this even after the ending of Haywire.

For fans of Steven Soderbergh or any of the actors, Haywire is understandably a must see film. For all of the rest, it's a decent movie but if you have better opportunities for spending your time do not wonder too much which option to choose.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 Attempts a New Domain Name Registration Scam

I had quite an unpleasant domain name registration experience with GoDaddy yesterday. I don't know if this is a new way for Go Daddy to cheat you and "steal" your money but at least it was the first time they attempted to pull this domain scam on me. I have been using for registering domain names for years and I haven't been so displeased by them as other people. The registrar usually tries to sell services you most probably do not want but once you've become accustomed to their methods, they are easy to be quickly omitted. So, until yesterday, I didn't mind to register generic top level domains there. Now, after they supported SOPA bill and my recent obnoxious discovery about them, I think it's time to reconsider using GoDaddy's domain registration services.

So, what's the story? Yesterday, I decided to register a .com domain name for a new website which I intended to create with a friend of mine. We liked a name and I incidentally checked if it was available for registration at EuroDNS (the registrar where I had registered some international domain names, mainly European and Asian). The domain look up at EuroDNS showed that this particular name is unoccupied. So, I went to and began the steps required for domain name registrations. What was my surprise when immediately upon entering the domain it showed that the name had been already taken but available for purchase at GoDaddy auctions for $499 USD. I repeated the search several times while trying to figure out what was the reason for this "unavailability" and all of my attempts at Go Daddy showed that the domain name was already registered.

I knew that EuroDNS sometimes displays wrong information about domain availability so I decided to check if the domain name is free at a couple of other domain registrars. I did the check and there was nothing wrong with EuroDNS this time, the domain appeared to be available for registration wherever I checked. Then I thought of another test. I went back to GoDaddy and instead of searching for [domain name].com, I made a search for [domain name].info. And as you might guess, now the .com version was listed as available and ready to be registered.

Obviously, GoDaddy's trick is pretty simple. When you make a domain name lookup at, sometimes, they decide to show an unregistered domain as already taken and listed for sale at GoDaddy's auctions. If this scam successfully misleads you, there are 2 options. If you really want this domain name, you'll have to pay tens if not hundreds of times bigger amount for it instead of the regular GoDaddy's domain name registration price. If the multiplied price is too high for you or you are not so much into this particular domain, I suppose Go Daddy assumes that you are just going to register another name with them and thus, they will still get (or keep) you as a customer.

The bad thing is, as nasty as GoDaddy's behavior is, the fraud could actually work quite often. In fact, if you haven't accidentally become aware a particular domain name is available for registration, chances are not very huge that you'll figure out Go Daddy is trying to cheat you. I hope this writing creates some awareness about the described GoDaddy scam scheme and if you think it could be helpful to your friends, just share the article with them.

A necessary addition
Because it appears there are a lot of people with a "headache" that have not other job but to accuse others, here are some further clarifications.

1) I did not write the above because GoDaddy "stole" the domain name from me. I successfully registered that name and I own it now. It has been available for registration for all of the time in question so I have not had any problems with its registration. It was available for registration at all other registrars and even at GoDaddy if I searched for the .info version instead of the .com version.

2) Actually, the whole problem described above lies in GoDaddy's implementation of their website and particularly the domain look up. Apparently, if a domain name has been listed for sale through their auctions (and has not been removed) they directly display it as already taken and they offer it to you at the auction price instead of making a check if the name hasn't become available at the time of the check. I don't know the reasons behind this implementation but it's hard to believe it's implemented this way unintentionally. Whether this is a scam depends on your definition of the word but definitely, it is not proper.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Murder on the Orient Express (1974): Agatha Christie's Mystery

Murder on the Orient Express
Sidney Lumet's Murder on the Orient Express is packed with great actors. It has a good and interesting (despite being a bit narrow) plot based on a book by the world famous Agatha Christie. The director is arguably one of the best directors that have ever lived. The costumes and all other details are carefully crafted. And pretty much everything seems to be perfect at first glance. Then it's quite strange that although plenty of people like this movie, there are many that nearly hate it. The main reason probably lies in Albert Finney's representation of detective Hercule Poirot who creates a distinguishable character which is easy to be loved but equally easy to be hated too.

Multiple Oscar nominee (incl. for his role in Murder on the Orient Express) Albert Finney presents a really notable Hercule Poirot. He is intelligent but arrogant. He does not show sympathy for everybody. He could be gentle and charming with ladies yet impolite and restrained with particular men. He speaks with accent and sometimes it's hard to understand what he is saying. He manifests a sense of humour but he is also capable to be plain serious. He is a bit annoying at times and overly self-confident most of the time. All this translates to a character that could be simultaneously enjoyed and disliked depending on different people's perceptions.

While Finney gives quite a distinctive performance of Poirot, the rest of the all-star cast has not been misused either. Lauren Bacall as Mrs. Hubbard plays an important part constantly providing Poirot with clues and pieces of evidence. Martin Balsam enacts the train line director Bianchi who shows a lot of concern for the future of the Orient express after the murder has been committed on his train. Ingrid Bergman gets her 3rd Academy Award for a convincing (yet small) role of religious missionary in this movie. Jacqueline Bisset, Vanessa Redgrave, Wendy Hiller, Sean Connery, John Gielgud and Jean-Pierre Cassel are only some of the other renowned actors that make great portrayals in the film.

The movie exposes the life in 1935 with very typical shades. Almost all of the colorful and rich characters are very snobbish. The vehicles, the papers, the costumes are well selected and fits perfectly in the epoch. Sidney Lumet creates enough suspense although he has made tenser movies. The tight environment determined by the dimensions of a train car could call forth some parallels with Lumet's 12 Angry Men but this is quite a different film. In fact, the lack of space here probably furthers any theatrical resemblance that the acting could prompt eventually.

Another moment that could dissatisfy some moviegoers is the fact the ending revelations are not quite naturally coming out of the investigations presented in the film. Still, this is a common "feature" of most of the movies based on mystery books (a recent example could be Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) so it's not such a specific flaw of Murder on the Orient Express. Despite its shortcomings this is a solid film. I can see where both its admirers and their opponents are drawing arguments from but it's a movie that is worth a look even just because of its (kind of a controversial) ending.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011): Nothing Is Impossible

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
After a gap of several years, Ethan Hunt is back with yet another Mission: Impossible movie. If you've already looked at some of the critique's reviews, you can think that it offers something different or at least some more than its previous installments. The truth is Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol offers primarily more impossibility and this could be good or bad depending on your taste. What could not be denied is that the movie looks spectacular and it is packed with lots of action. Of course, "Is it really sensible?" is a rhetorical question.

The fourth instalment in Mission: Impossible series begins with a rescue mission for getting Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) out of a Russian prison. Shortly afterwards the Kremlin is bombed and the IMF is considered involved in the bombing so the organization is shut down. Ethan Hunt and his team are left alone to stop an insane terrorist (Michael Nyqvist) in possession of access codes for launching nuclear weapons and to clear the IMF's name from the accusation of the Kremlin bombing. A skilled and dangerous female assassin is working for the terrorist while Ethan's team gets an "analyst" (Jeremy Renner) as an unexpected bonus. Despite being constantly short of time both, terrorists and Hunt's team, succeed to visit the distant cities of Dubai and Mumbai in addition to Moscow. And with this team involved, the action scenes are guaranteed anywhere in the world.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol offers everything delivered by the previous installments of these series and even more. It has beautiful (Asian) scenery, gorgeous women (the "good" girl Paula Patton and the "bad" one Léa Seydoux), a semi-annoying tech geek (Simon Pegg), various types of action, straightforward plot, breath-taking operations, a lot of "last second" events and naturally, frequent impossible happenings. Plausibility has never been a strong element in the Mission Impossible series and Ghost Protocol is no exception of this rule. Our heroes bring havoc in all of the places they visit yet we have to believe they are under cover.

In their effort to increase the complexity of the missions, the filmmakers have gone quite too far in some particular moments. For example, there is a scene where a guy of Ethan's team has to go down in a shaft and instead of using just a plain "old school" rope in the vertical direction, the team's tech guru tries to capture the jumper in the air with kind of a computer game machinery. Of course, if you are going to see the movie just because of its impressive action and visual sequences, such flaws are nothing to be worried about.

All in all Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is a film that delivers on expectations. The critique has been a bit too favorable to the movie but if you don't tune yourself for something really great, chances are you'll end up satisfied by this Mission: Impossible experience.

Friday, January 13, 2012

CyberLink Coupon Code for PowerDVD 12, ArcSoft Coupon for TotalMedia Theatre 5, Corel WinDVD Promo, 2012 Blu-ray Software Bundles

For 2012 reviews of (3D) Blu-ray player software follow the link.

Since free Blu-ray software players do not exist yet the closest thing that comes to them is purchasing a BD playback software package at a discounted price. Unfortunately, we can't hope the situation with the unavailability of free players to be changed soon but happily enough the companies developing Blu-ray player software offer promotional coupon codes quite often. As of 2012 the regular prices vary between $80 and $100 depending on the product but with a good discount code you can succeed to buy a video player even for $40. And if it happens that you come across such a substantial promotion of our top choices for a BD player, PowerDVD 12 Ultra and TotalMedia Theatre 5, you should not hesitate to take advantage of it.

So, below we will list the discount codes we stumble upon during year 2012 having something to do either with a particular software BD player or with another product of the same manufacturer. Note that all of the video players (except for Nero's) support Blu-ray 3D playback. We'll try to keep these coupon codes recent and most of the time they should work.

CyberLink coupon code (PowerDVD 12 review)
Use this link to get PowerDVD 12 Ultra, PowerDVD Mobile and PowerDVD Remote with $30 discount. CyberLink have added to this package also MediaEspresso as a bonus for free. You can also save $10 on PowerDirector 10 with that link.
Additionally, an old promotion for various former versions of CyberLink's software products seems to be still running. It includes PowerDVD 10 Ultra 3D at 25% reduced price and it is also valid for upgrades to PowerDVD 12 as well as for other CyberLink software.

We are not aware of a particular ArcSoft coupon or discount code for TotalMedia Theatre 5 right now. You can check this link though and see if there isn't a recent promotion because promotional offers valid even for just a day are not an unusual practice for ArcSoft. There is a new coupon code, ARCGREEN, valid through March 31, 2012 which reduces the retail price of TMT 5 by 30%. Also the coupon code ARCCJLINK has been extended beyond its initial expiration date so do not miss to try it if anything else doesn't work. It should give you a hefty 25% discount.
And here is some recent news. As of March 2012 ArcSoft introduced bundled products. This means if you need more than a single product from the company you can get a bundle at a significantly reduced prices. For example, ArcSoft Media Pack Ultimate includes TotalMedia Theatre 5, Panorama Maker 6, MediaConverter 7.5 and ShowBiz 5 and gives an overall discount of 40%. Check the bundles here.

Corel promo (WinDVD Pro 11 review)
Corel currently offer 25% discount on their BD player software WinDVD Pro 11. Use this link to buy WinDVD cheaper. You can also check Corel's Special Offers section for coupons valid for other products.

Nero discount codes
As you've probably learned from our reviews Nero do not offer a self-contained Blu-ray software player. They also do not offer a 3D Blu-ray player program. For discounts concerning Nero 11 Platinum Suite as well as other of their (Blu-ray capable) products, you should check here (prices are almost constantly lower than their retail counterparts). A cool bonus is that you can apply the coupon code AW-G720-Q7QH for a further 20% discount of Nero 11 Platinum cost. This voucher is valid until March 31, 2012.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Contraband (2012): Unsurprising Action Thriller Movie

Contraband is the latest Mark Wahlberg's movie. And not for the first time Wahlberg is the main hero in an action film even if he scarcely takes part in the action himself. It seems that Contraband is kind of a remake of a four-year-old movie called Reykjavik-Rotterdam. The more curious fact though is the Icelandic director of Contraband, Baltasar Kormákur, plays the lead (the role of Mark Wahlberg) in the former film. Since Contraband is set in America, I suppose Wahlberg has been the better option for the role. Thus, Kormákur has the "easier" assignment just to direct the remake.

Contraband is about a former smuggler with a legendary status named Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) who has left his smuggling days behind. He lives happily in New Orleans with his wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale) and their two children but unfortunately, Kate's brother Andy seems to have not been listening to Chris advices to stay away from criminal affairs. After a drug transfer executed by Andy fails, Chris is forced to return to his smuggling days in order to settle Andy's debt with Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), a young criminal boss for whom Andy has been working. Chris heads to Panama to import a pile of counterfeit bills but as expected everything goes wrong so he and his newly assembled team have to adapt their behaviour almost in real-time. Meanwhile, Chris' wife and children have the task to survive in the United States until he's back.

Mark Wahlberg is the typical cool male protagonist in Contraband. He does not demonstrate a bunch of new acting skills and as far as I recall correctly, he does not make even a single shot in the movie but still he fits well in the role of a charming leader and respected smuggler. Giovanni Ribisi is not very convincing as a mob boss (which could be attributed to the role itself) so his rough resemblance to Metallica's drummer Lars Ulrich would be pretty much everything I will remember him with. Kate Beckinsale hasn't been in a movie for several years and it seems this year she will be back with more than a couple of screen appearances. She does not have a huge role here and it's hard to determine if she's in a good shape by just seeing her in Contraband but her character looks pretty and worried which, I suppose, is what mainly has been anticipated from her.

To continue in this direction, Contraband delivers pretty much everything you would expect from a movie like this. There is a portion of action, a couple of small twists, some thrilling moments, a pinch of drama as well as a few funnier scenes and of course, a happy ending. But on the other hand, this same predictability is what depreciates the film considerably. You can see coming all of the major events and the only non-evident elements in Contraband lies in the details. Another thing I find to be problematic is the filmmaker's decision to include Chris' brother-in-law in the team for the job in Panama having in mind he's not a very dependable guy but apparently this has been important for the plot.

So, a recommendation for this movie is easily determinable and even does not need my meddling: since Contraband possesses exactly what one would anticipate to find in it and there is hardly anything to surprise you in whatever aspect, you should be able to decide whether to see the movie or not without further help.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Friends with Benefits (2011) vs. No Strings Attached (2011)

No Strings Attached
It often happens that more than one movie exploiting a certain topic is released in a short space of time. Some examples could be Tombstone and Wyatt Earp or The Illusionist and The Prestige. Last year's No Strings Attached and Friends with Benefits have been one of the recent couples to join this company. Both movies are typical romantic comedies and explore the mixture of sex and friendship in people's relationships. Yet the couple in either of the movies tries not to be involved in a real romantic relationship so both of the films have a lot in common.

No Strings Attached has Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Kline on its list while Friends with Benefits does not sport actual Academy Award winners but has a good ensemble comprised of Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake, Woody Harrelson and a few other Oscar nominated actors. So let's assume there is not a particular winner in this aspect. No Strings Attached starts with a primarily physical relationship before complications arrive while Friends with Benefits begins with friendship shortly followed by sexual exercises but still without any initial intention for romantic development. Again, nothing so outstanding on either side. Both movies show a parent with lots of sexual relationships. And both, Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis, are beautiful actresses although we have seen them looking prettier in other films.

Friends with Benefits
Now, to point out some differences. No Strings Attached is somehow more unfocused. There are events like a funeral and an invitation to an almost unknown person to attend it that seem a bit artificial. The movie starts with a physical relationship while trying to avoid any elements of friendliness. Some of the main supporting characters including Kutcher's female co-worker and his father are annoying at times. The ending is kind of mawkish and on second thought, this is valid not only for the ending.

Although Friends with Benefits seems a bit harried over towards the end, it has less redundant scenes and the whole narrative flows more naturally. The dialogue sports a little more freshness compared to the other movie. The ending is not so sugary despite not being original. The supporting cast (or more correctly the characters they portray) fits better in this movie. Woody Harrelson plays a Justin Timberlake's gay co-worker who is really cool with lots of humorous lines for his short screen presence. Another distinction is Kunis-Timberlake couple is practically in a romantic relationship almost since the very beginning of the film, only they don't realize it at that point.

The above should translate in Friends with Benefits being the better movie but don't expect a huge quality gap here. The film is just a bit fresher than No Strings Attached, funnier and more relaxed. Both are standard romcoms with predictable endings and without unexpected twists during the rest of their time span. If you are a fan of the genre, you can see both. If you are not so much into romantic comedies but you want to pick out one of them, I would suggest Friends with Benefits unless you're a dedicated Natalie Portman or Ashton Kutcher admirer.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Cheap International Calls - A Few Rebtel Secrets

Calling from:
Calling to:
Find Calling Rates
If you are already familiar with Rebtel's cheap international calls, below you will find a few secrets for decreasing your phone bills even further (and if you are not, you can find some Rebtel highlights here).

After my first acquaintance with Rebtel I've continued to be unaware of many of the real advantages the service offers for a long time. In order to save you from discovering all of Rebtel's benefits yourself, I am going to list several of its not so obvious treasures so you can make really cheap international phone calls. I say "really" because after reading these tips, you will be often able to make even cheaper phone calls with Rebtel than you've expected. Many of Rebtel's users remain unaware of these possibilities for quite some time after they've signed up with the service so go through the list below and use every hint you can to your full advantage.

So here are the tips that result in direct saving of money when making cheap international calls with Rebtel.

Use a voucher code to double your deposit
Sometimes, for promotional reasons, Rebtel offers voucher codes so you can double your first deposit. For example, by clicking on this link you can turn your deposit of $10 USD into $20 or your initial $25 USD into actual $50 which you can spend for making cheap international phone calls twice more often.

Use international collect calls to speak even cheaper
The so called collect calls are based on a very simple idea that could lower your rates multiple times but most likely you won't be aware of it when you land on Rebtel's website for the first time. What is the actual trick? Let's use an example. If you live in the United States and you want to call a friend in the United Kingdom, Rebtel's fee for this call would be 14.9 cents/minute. And you probably wouldn't know that the rate for calling vice versa (from the UK to the US) is just 1.5 cents/minute which is actually 10 times cheaper. And here is the good news: your friend from the UK could call you in the US by using a Rebtel number without even being a customer of the Rebtel's service. How could this happen?

If you are a Rebtel user, you can give your friend the Rebtel number that will be assigned to your real phone number by the service so when your friend in the UK uses the assigned number, the call will be made with a rate of 1.5 cents/minute instead of 14.9 cents/minute. Your friend would have to pay for the local call and you should cover the international part of 1.5 cents/minute. In fact, if you are in the USA, anyone that lives in another Rebtel supported country will be able to call you without even being a Rebtel customer and paying just the local fees (in case local minutes are not included in their monthly plans for free) while you're covering the international part of the call for just 1.5 cents per minute. Of course, this example could be applied to many other countries and you can check the actual rates between them with the help of the box on the left in the beginning of the article. It's a very simple trick but it gives you the opportunity to make really cheap international calls by just changing the direction of the call.

Make free calls directly from your mobile phone or landline
Another money saving feature of Rebtel's is that you can make free calls under certain circumstances. And you don't need a computer with Skype for this. You can talk with your friends that have Rebtel accounts for free if you have an iPhone, Android or BlackBerry phone. You will have to download a software application in order to use this feature though. You can also make "free" international calls even if you don't have Android, iPhone or BlackBerry phone but you should cover the local part of the call in this case. You can learn more about this feature here.

Use Rebtel to avoid international roaming charges
To maximize your benefits from Rebtel you can use the service to lower the charges for your roaming calls when you are abroad. You can read more about this opportunity here but in brief, you have to do the following. You should buy an international SIM card (which just means a local SIM card for the country you'll stay in) and when you enter the number of this new SIM card in your Rebtel account, you will get a Rebtel number for it. You have to give this Rebtel number to your friends and family in your home country. Now, when they make calls to you using this number you will have to pay only the Rebtel fee for the international call instead of paying any roaming charges to your mobile provider. This is so cause the international part of the call will be routed between the new Rebtel number in your home country (where your regular cell phone provider operates) and your "international" SIM card via Internet. And the good news again is your friends and family do not have to be Rebtel customers for calling you.

These have been all of the hints I can recall currently for using Rebtel's cheap international calls from either landline or mobile phone to their full potential. I hope they will be helpful to anybody wanting to save a few more bucks with Rebtel's voip calls and I wish you cheaper calling.

Cheap International Calls - A Few Rebtel Highlights

Calling from:
Calling to:
Find Calling Rates
I'm going to list below a few highlights that make Rebtel's cheap international calling service convenient and easily recommendable for trial and usage. If you're already familiar with Rebtel's service you probably don't need to continue reading this article but you can still check my hints for getting the most of your Rebtel subscription. With these "secret" weapons you will most likely make the "cheap international calls" service you've been already using to cost even cheaper.

Here is how Rebtel works in brief. After you sign up with the service, you receive a local phone number for each of your contacts so when you dial to your friends, you will be practically making a local call. Rebtel routes the international part of the call via Internet so you pay to your landline or mobile provider just for the local call plus a small fee to Rebtel for their service. You don't need any phone cards, software downloads, computers and headsets for this and you can make cheap international calls from either your mobile or landline phone.

And now, a few interesting points that you should have in mind when deciding whether to sign up with Rebtel.

There is a trial free call.
You have the possibility to test the service Rebtel provides by using the free trial call they offer before paying them. If you have any doubts about the quality of the service or any other concern about Rebtel's cheap international calls this is the way to go.

No phone cards, downloads, computers or headsets
Unlike other similar services, you don't have to buy any calling cards or use a computer and download software in order to use Rebtel's service for making cheap international phone calls. You do not have to use a headset either. Actually, there is a case when you need to download a software application but it is intended for use on your phone rather than on your PC and it's just for the purpose of making free calls to your friends which also own Rebtel accounts. You can read more about Rebtel's free international calling on the aforementioned page with money saving tips.

Use landline or mobile phone
You are not only relieved from using computers and calling cards but you can use either your cell phone or landline phone and the service will work fine independently of your choice. The same is valid for your friends on the other side of the line. It is a VoIP call service that can be used directly from your phone in any moment you like meaning you can make cheap international mobile calls directly on the street or anywhere else.

15 million users company
If this has any significance to you, Rebtel is a winner of several awards for mobile phone services and applications. More importantly, they have more than 15 millions of users in 50 countries around the world.

So, after sharing the above Rebtel highlights for your convenience, now it's time for the tips that could lower your international calling charges. Find them here: Cheap International Calls - A Few Rebtel Secrets

Friday, January 6, 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011): An Old School Cold War Spy Drama

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The Cold War was a fruitful inspiration for many spy thrillers back in the days. John le Carré's books about MI6 were amongst the more successful. Some of them have been made into films, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold with Richard Burton probably being the most popular. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy has already been made into TV series with Sir Alec Guinness in the main part. So the new version has some big shoes to fill.

The protagonist George Smiley is everything that James Bond is not: plain, quiet and working in an office. The movie is centered on his attempt to uncover a double agent in the higher echelons of MI6, or the Circus as its personnel address it. The movie is directed by Tomas Alfredson, who did Let the Right One In. He brought in the project cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, his collaborator on Let the Right One In. Van Hoytema also more recently shot The Fighter. As expected, the film is carefully crafted.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is an old school Cold War spy drama both in themes and technique. It is a slow film which takes its time thus recalling the cinema of the 70's, which, incidentally, is when the story is set. The cast features a lot of top British actors: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds, to name a few. This shows in the movie: it is an excellent example of a great ensemble cast elevating the end result. Gary Oldman has a heavy task in the role of Smiley, competing with the previous work of Alec Guinness. He does a wonderful job even though his character doesn't talk much and he can most accurately be described as unnoticeable and plain. In fact, his lack of verbosity is so present that when at a later point he relates an event from the past in some detail, it serves as a counter point. Benedict Cumberbatch as Smiley's assistant also deserves a special mention.

The movie conjures a very strong image of London of the 70's. The atmosphere is almost a character of its own. The film has a brownish grey desaturated look; London of this film is not a colorful place for sure. Characters are often portrayed from a distance. Long lenses are the main workhorse, resulting in abundance of shallow depth of field. All this gives a detached view on the subjects and conveys a sense of suspicion and paranoia. Everyone is watching someone and is being watched themselves.

In conclusion, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is one of the best movies of the year 2011. It is meticulously directed, wonderfully played and masterfully shot. And all of this with an almost nostalgic nod to the cinema of old. It is a movie one can't often see these days and a film that the awards season will most likely ignore. So treat yourself and go watch it in a movie theater if you can.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

EuroDNS Voucher Code List - 2012 Coupons

Similar to the previous years we are going to list here any EuroDNS voucher codes valid throughout 2012. EuroDNS continues to be one of the strong domain registrars offering international domain name registrations so we hope this list will help to many people who want to save a few bucks when register or renew their generic, Asian or European domain names at EuroDNS. The discount codes are valid for renewals too so you don't need a separate promo code to save on renewal of your old domain names as it is with other registrars. Be sure to browse the whole list of coupons below since often there is more than one voucher code for a particular top level domain name.

Here is the list of EuroDNS voucher codes valid during 2012. The list has been updated on 24/01/2012.

Code TLD Type Discount Expires on
DMRE4EU12 RE ANNUALPRICE 50.00 % 31/01/2012
DM50NO12 NO ANNUALPRICE 50.00 % 31/01/2012
SORO12A RO ANNUALPRICE 28.61 % 28/02/2012
SOCH12A CH ANNUALPRICE 28.61 % 28/02/2012
NLLU12A LU ANNUALPRICE 55.91 % 29/02/2012
PBBE7512 BE ANNUALPRICE 75.00 % 29/03/2012
PBNL12A NL ANNUALPRICE 45.00 % 29/03/2012
NLSE12A SE ANNUALPRICE 39.32 % 29/03/2012
NLIE12B IE ANNUALPRICE 61.48 % 29/03/2012
NLFR12B FR ANNUALPRICE 55.61 % 29/03/2012
NLORG12C ORG ANNUALPRICE 50.06 % 29/03/2012
DTES5 ES ANNUALPRICE 72.00 % 31/03/2012
DTIT5 IT ANNUALPRICE 82.00 % 31/03/2012
SOMX12A MX ANNUALPRICE 41.19 % 31/03/2012
PBPRO12A PRO ANNUALPRICE 83.39 % 30/04/2012
PBASIA12B ASIA ANNUALPRICE 55.61 % 30/04/2012
PBDE12B DE ANNUALPRICE 56.31 % 30/04/2012
PBEU12B EU ANNUALPRICE 61.17 % 30/04/2012
NLCOM12C COM ANNUALPRICE 50.06 % 30/04/2012
NLNET12C NET ANNUALPRICE 66.72 % 30/04/2012
NLTV12C TV ANNUALPRICE 58.35 % 30/04/2012
NLTEL12A TEL ANNUALPRICE 55.61 % 30/04/2012
NLXXX12C XXX ANNUALPRICE 32.45 % 30/04/2012
NLCOUK12A CO.UK ANNUALPRICE 73.40 % 30/04/2012
NLBIZ12B BIZ ANNUALPRICE 33.39 % 30/04/2012
NLAT12C AT ANNUALPRICE 50.04 % 30/04/2012
GOMOBI12A MOBI ANNUALPRICE 68.94 % 31/05/2012
NLEU12D EU ANNUALPRICE 66.72 % 31/05/2012
NLDE12B DE ANNUALPRICE 62.56 % 31/05/2012
NLME12A ME ANNUALPRICE 37.54 % 31/05/2012
NLCOM12D COM ANNUALPRICE 66.72 % 31/05/2012
NLPT12A PT ANNUALPRICE 20.62 % 31/05/2012
NLMOBI12A MOBI ANNUALPRICE 44.50 % 31/05/2012
PBINFO12B INFO ANNUALPRICE 66.72 % 30/06/2012
PBME12A ME ANNUALPRICE 54.21 % 30/06/2012
PBCOM12C COM ANNUALPRICE 50.06 % 30/06/2012
PBNET12C NET ANNUALPRICE 66.72 % 30/06/2012
PBTV12C TV ANNUALPRICE 58.35 % 30/06/2012
PBMOBI12A MOBI ANNUALPRICE 61.17 % 31/07/2012

If you do not have an account at EuroDNS but you want to try their domain registration services, you can create a new account here. After your account has been created, you can use a particular discount code by entering it in the "Voucher Codes" section on EuroDNS website. Another option is to enter the EuroDNS vouchers directly during the process of new domain name registration or renewal. The article international domain names from can give you more information about this domain registrar in case you don't know much about it.

PS. As explained in the comments below, EuroDNS voucher codes do not work for renewals anymore. According to the company this is due to the fact the majority of the corresponding registries stopped offering discounts for renewing domain names too.

Explore the Review Maze to find other domain name articles.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Moneyball (2011): Change the Rules of the Game to Be Competitive

Moneyball is about balls more than it's about money. Moneyball is in fact about shortage of money (although it's hard to call having millions of dollars an actual lack). What we have in excess though are balls. Because Moneyball shows not only a lot of baseball balls but also men that have balls to experiment, to go against everyone else and to risk their reputation, professional relationships and careers. Changing the rules requires a lot of courage and it is not always a successful initiative but if you are brave enough to commence it and persistent in doing the changes even after a series of failures, you have good chances to succeed. Moneyball confirms this statement and offers even more to enjoy.

Moneyball is about the 2002 season of the Oakland Athletics, a baseball team of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. The club has had a low payroll for the recent years and the team's general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) has grown frustrated of the situation and his unsuccessful attempts "to win the last game of the season". He desperately seeks for an efficient way to achieve more while on a limited budget and thus he encounters Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a Yale economics graduate who suggests that Billy's goal should be to "buy" wins instead of players. Together they embark on an interesting experiment that makes the team competitive and amazes the baseball world.

Moneyball's cast is quite strong with Brad Pitt having the task to present the emotional depth of the lead character in a role not so typical for him. Billy Beane is not only a manager trying to change the rules of the baseball game but also a former player who feels the system has misjudged him and probably has turned his entire life in a wrong direction. Billy is constantly bothered by his past and Pitt brings out the general manager's inner pain well enough. Jonah Hill is very believable as Peter Brand. He is smart, quiet, shy and not so extreme as his superior. Philip Seymour Hoffman appears in the role of the Oakland Athletics' manager who has the hard task to manage a team of players he does not approve. The rest of the cast is Ok although not having a lot to do really.

The narrative of Moneyball is fairly absorbing. I suppose it should be more interesting to a baseball dilettante compared to a baseball fan cause the latter one would be most likely familiar with many of the events that have happened in the baseball season of 2002. One possible issue I see that might or might not bother you is how much of the movie is actually true. The statistics cited in the film are probably correct but what part of the Oakland Athletics' success has been due to the new approach is hard to be judged. Moneyball does not offer a typical happy end which again could be treated as good or bad depending on your particular preference and film perception.

Independently of the season's outcome for the Oakland Athletics, the movie is quite inspiring. Moneyball demonstrates that although it's rather dangerous to change the rules of the game, you can often get a big advantage by doing so. The film has a strong potential to change your thinking and eventually to revise your strategies in life, love, work, etc. and this is what makes Moneyball interesting and deserving of your attention. It's a movie good to be seen not only by sports people but by anyone who frequently faces challenges.