Sunday, 30 September 2012

Downton Abbey is so addictive (kinda like Gangnam Style)

Why is Downton Abbey so addictive?  I've watched the first episode (recorded so I can fast forward through the adverts - I don't mind the odd advert but there does seem to be quite a lot in a typical Downton Abbey episode) and it took about 30 minutes for me to go from "Not really bothered about this" to "Oh my god is she going to get married? Oh no, Tom's drunk - ah he's been drugged. Matthew, good lad!" and going from scene to scene desperately hoping that this wasn't the last one.

Now, two episodes in, I can't wait for my next fix of period drama / soap goodness tonight!  Very strange.

I watched the Guild Season six launch show last night, featuring Felicia Day, Kim Evey and the director of season six, Christopher Preksta.  The show was very good (although they had one or two technical issues, primarily with showing the community synopsis videos - they still got around them though) and really psyched me up for Tuesday and the release of the first episode of Season Six, I can't wait! Despite the fact that my video didn't get featured (not surprisingly!) I really enjoyed it and the "winner" (not a winner because they're not allowed to have competitions in the US?) produced this fantastic 8-bit synopsis video.

In other news, Gangnam Style by Psy looks as though it's going to be the new Number 1 on the UK charts today.  Views of this hit music video by the South Korean rapper have shot through the roof - when I first saw it, there was 51 million views (a decent amount by anyones estimation).  It is now standing at over 325 million views, which is more than the entire population of the USA, and with something like 38 million of those views being in the last 4 days it is extremely popular right now.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go here.

And when you've seen that, go watch the many parody videos out there.

Like this one - the Oregon Duck and his friends put in way too much effort making an excellent and extremely funny video. Well done guys!

Or the baby one if you're a parent :)  Their channel is actually pretty cool so it's worth checking out too.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Dawn Park Patrol Returns!

My dad returns once again with an update to the adventures in the Humber Bridge Country Park!

Before I hand over to him though, there's a Geek and Sundry Google+ hangout taking place tonight to celebrate the launch of season 6 of The Guild.  It's to take place at 3pm Pacific time, which is something like 8 hours behind GMT.  But I'm not sure how summer time affects this.  I've seen a couple of people say the hangout is taking place at 10pm UK time so I'm going to be on for that.  I'm looking forward to seeing who won the community video contest (I know it wasn't me! My effort can be seen here) and basically getting pumped up for the Season 6 launch on Tuesday!

If you don't know what I'm talking about, go watch The Guild.

Over to you dad!


It was a pleasant autumn morning, the sun brought a welcome cheer to cloudy skies, foul weather was alleged to be forthcoming but for now the morning looked good to the eye.

The Dog’s were in attendance as usual, big balls of fluffy loveliness on the outside, and hidden not too deeply within, DOG’S!

Charming beautiful lovely gorgeous cuddly creatures, and also DOG’S!

You could almost forget that they are DOG’S such is their fluffy gorgeous etc-ness – aren’t they Beautiful!?

Indeed they are, and also, they are DOG’S!

One does one’s best to keep long sensitive noses away from erm, things ‘too indelicate’
for the fair readers eye to consider, you know what I mean, animal droppings, rotting animal corpses etc, things which appear all too attractive to a long sensitive nose and almost demand to be sniffed (or worse!)

Yes, we are talking DOG’S here.

DOG’S which despite being fed a luxurious diet and being over weight, nevertheless appear to be starving and which simply MUST devour all manner of impossibly revolting material at any opportunity.

DOG’S apparently (and yes, I’ve looked this up on the internet – it’s true!) will sometimes eat erm ‘droppings’, both other animals waste material and also other dog’s um similar erm, quite, no, don’t think about it.

Despite many theories, No one knows why they do this.

I discourage them intently, I really do, but I can’t be with them 24-7 as they are free to come and go through the dog flap. And to watch their every move whilst out walking you would need eyes in the back of your head.

Be all that as it may, I believe the culprit this time was one or both of two well rotted rabbit corpses which we encounter every day whilst walking.

We have a constant battle. The DOG’S ‘Need’ to stick their noses into these remains, and possibly devour them and I equally need to stop them doing so.

I think that Maeve got to one of the ‘remains’; it was only for seconds but that may have been enough.

Days later Maeve did not want to eat.

Her guts were bubbling and griping. She was not happy.

Silly damn dog.

What you don’t want with a big fluffy gorgeous hairy DOG, is for that DOG to have the screaming shits!

No better love does a man have for his dog, that he trims her (censored description of an unclean posterior) and gives her a bath.

Maeve is now considerably less hairy about the nether regions, and she smells much better too.

For some reason the crazy bird seed droppers were thin on the ground this week and park benches were free from offending material. Fear not, the patrol goes on (weather permitting)

I am thankful for small mercies.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

I was so wrong - and thank you!

Firstly, as of today my blog passed the 1000 views mark. Thank you to everyone who's viewed my blog, especially those who have visited it and came back for more!

Now, I was so wrong when I said I wasn't excited about Pandaria.  I actually started playing it last night, and it is so much fun!  I've only really just got into it, but I've hanging out in Honeydew Village, and I am seriously loving the pet battles! Win!

A week or so back I decided to get a new, proper broadband cable to replace the thin, almost invisible telephone extension that we connect our router to upstairs.

I ran a speed test of the old cable (at, and found that I got download speed of 5.7 Mbps per second.  Not bad.

Then, I disconnected the old cable, plugged in the newer, better, and shorter (length is important when it comes to cabling, and the shorter the better) RJ11 high speed broadband cable, and tested again.

8.2 Mbps!

Yes, that's right.  A whole 2.3 Mbps faster.  Something like a 44% speed increase.

Anyhow, I was happy.  But, I would have to take up laminate flooring, and glue the new cable carefully along sides of bannisters and the like, so I decided to plug the old cable back in for the time being.

I got 8.2 Mbps again.

So, we're sticking with the old cable.  If anyone would like a 10m RJ11 high speed broadband cable for going from your microfilter to your router, do drop me a line and I'll get it out to you.  Obviously some love for the blog in return would be cool!

If you really want to know, here's the stats in full:

15m basic cable, 060912 @ 0753
10m RJ11 high speed broadband cable, 060912 @ 0757
15m basic cable, 060912 @ 0801


Speed test from

Download speed
Upload speed
0.84 Mbps
0.82 Mbps
0.83 Mbps

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Going for a walk!

And here's another guest blog from my dad, Graham Raven.  I'll just briefly ask that if you haven't already viewed & liked my Guild synopsis video on Youtube that I'd be really grateful if you do :) Thanks!

The favourite one will be played on the Geek & Sundry channel on the 29th of September, I can't imagine that mine is going to be best because there's some seriously decent ones been submitted (and mine is a bit... variable shall we say) but I'd like to at least have a decent number of views and likes.

Over to you dad!


It was a typical grey autumn Sunday morning. ‘Mellow’ seemed to describe it well enough, neither hot nor cold, with just a suggestion of breeze, just mellow. It was too early for frantic human activity and even the eternal traffic noise from the nearby dual carriageway seemed muted. Birds sang, a profusion of berries shone in the sunlight, tree tops moved gently, the air was good, fresh and clean without threatening to scour your lungs with needles of ice. All seemed well.

I mused how wildlife increasingly wakes with the first smear of the days light as the Sun creeps over the horizon, rat and toad, stoat and minnow arise from sleeps embrace, but humankind is sluggish and was therefore quiet.

We arrived at the Great Humber Park soon after breakfast. It is easy to let oneself become mazed with nature’s wonders. There are several million species of trees out there, all indistinguishable from one another. They are full of Penguins or so I’m told – or possibly or Magpies. I remember years ago I used to wander the pathways collecting examples of wild flowers with which the park is so abundantly blessed. I once collected a daisy, and fifty-nine things that weren’t. Of course, such activity is strictly illegal these days and to be abhorred.

The parks information posters tell us that Horseshoe Vetch, Charlock, Sea Urchin, Hemlock, Water-Dropwort, Mango, Cat's Ear, Wall Lettuce, Pineapple, Loon, Yam, Nettle-Leaved Selfheal, Cactus, Twayblade, Bougainvillaea, Saxifrage, Breadfruit, and Tundra are all to be found within the parks confines. One day soon I really must search for these wonders in earnest.

But I digress. Regardless of natures evident beauty everywhere I looked, such wonders were quickly passed over, for my colleague and I were on patrol today, and in the guise of ordinary dog walkers.

The anti-RBSD squad began patrol a little after 8am. The park is disarmingly quiet at this time of day but this was the very time when miscreants seek to do their foul deeds.

Location 1A was reached quickly and nothing was found to be amiss.
I mentally ticked off the first stop of my check list. So far, so good I thought, but remain vigilant, I felt in my bones that out there somewhere would be our ‘prey’.

Some distance further we came to the lake (ok pond). The only sign of life, apart from the odd owl paddling in the reeds, was a solitary fisherman.
We exchanged greetings and I enquired in an equable manner whether or not the larch were biting, and he turned and stared at me for a long time.
There is much inbreeding in these parts, and I put it down to that.

The dogs were excited, a walk in the park is a big treat for them as rarely do they have so much freedom, so much of ‘everywhere’ to explore. As we proceeded we encountered other dog walkers who came and went, greeted, fussed dogs and continued their way. It was beginning to look as if the park was clean today and we were making our way back to the car when we spotted them! 

Oh so innocent! An elderly couple walking quietly through the park, she with a sturdy carrier bag half full of bird seed.

For goodness sake, there must be 5kg of the stuff in there, that’s almost enough to feed a Roc*

Modern protocol forbade the urge to tie them to the nearest tree and douse them with cold water as they richly deserved, so we hurried in the direction they had come from to uncover their misdeeds. And yes indeed, there was a trail of park benches all but smothered in bird seed, squabbling birds and bird droppings.

Some of the birds too full to fly, scuttled out of the way of curious dogs.
We hurriedly swept the illicit mounds of seed onto the ground thereby making the benches useable once more for park visitors.
I bid my companion to remind me to boil my left hand in Domestos for 24 hours when we got back to base, you can’t be too careful with potential bird disease you know.

The park administrators provide ample bird tables and feeding areas throughout the park to satisfy bird feeding fanatics. There is simply no need to cover every park bench in bird seed.

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. Rest assured dear readers, the anti RBSD** squad will maintain its vigilance and strive to keep park benches free from offensive bird seed.

*Legendary two-headed bird known for carrying off humans and occasional farm animals to feed to it’s young on mountain tops. Sodding big!

** Rogue Bird Seed Droppers.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Two hours to Mists of Pandaria!


In just under two hours, the launch event for the latest World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria, is going to kick off.  And in about three and a half hours, the new expansion will be officially open.

I should be really excited, but I'm not - I guess my WoW playing is at a low ebb at the moment.

Not that the expansion won't be cool and I'm sure I'll get it, but I'm feeling a little under the weather at the moment - my body doesn't particularly agree with anything vaguely approaching cold weather, currently I've been off colour today plus my hands and feet are aching like hell due to skin happily cracking apart.  I've been using some skin cream but most of it seems to have vanished (probably put somewhere safe during the summer!) so I'll have to go buy some more.

I've just installed Google Drive to backup some of my key documents.  You get 5Gb free online storage, and one of the things that is always forgotten about is how fallible hard drives are.  Hard drives are a technology dating back decades, with moving parts, a need for an absolutely clean environment, and are liable to failure due to temperature extremes, sudden movement, or simply worn out - and when we say worn out, opinions vary but potentially even a year old hard drive could be on its way out (although we all hope it'll last many more years than that!).  At work the system makes multiple backups of files on the network so we never really worry about losing a file, but at home I have (as I'm sure everyone has) memories dating back years.

So, I'm making backups of my key documents, some of my writing, some pictures that I really don't want to lose.  Apart from Google Drive, Google+ also provides storage for pictures so the pictures are going up there.  I would recommend to anyone that you do look at backing up those files that really matter to you - from time to time I've been involved in recovering files from damaged hard drives and it's always family photos that people haven't got copies of that they would really miss.  In the "olden days" all the photos were kept in nice chunky photo albums but with the digital age it's amazing how many things you might only keep on your mobile phone or home computer.

If you missed my last post, I've now got my entry for the Guild Community Video Contest up here.  I'd really appreciate some views, likes of the video, even subscribes to my YouTube channel if possible if you have a YouTube or Google account.

So - time to get ready to become a panda!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

It's up! My video is up!!!


I mentioned earlier in the week that I was producing a synopsis video of seasons one to five of The Guild (of which season six is coming out on the 2nd of October) - I've just done it! It look my loads of takes, and I had to scrap the "characters on sticks" idea I had originally as it was taking up too much time - the time limit for the video was 90 seconds which sounds loads but really isn't!  Plus you wouldn't believe the number of times I said a word wrong or got mixed up, luckily my other half was listening and was able to point out errors so I could improve.

Anyway, it's now on YouTube!  Do feel free to watch, video below:

I will be in the very near future uploading one of my first attempts which is FAR too long (like 8 or 9 minutes) but if you really want to watch it it will be here later tonight, probably in about an hour or so.

I would appreciate views, likes, and perhaps even subscriptions to my YouTube channel if it's possible for you to do so - it might give my video a boost, the best one will end up on The Guild Season Six DVD.


Friday, 21 September 2012

A Guest Post!

Here, for the first time on The Blog of Thog, is a guest post!

It's from my dad Graham, aka Ravanna/Oshune/Ellene for those Ravenswing gamers out there.  He's an excellent writer (far better than me!) so do enjoy.

Another post is in the pipeline too :)




I like to think of myself as a very thorough reader, indeed I can take ages reading just one page sometimes. It due to having a vivid imagination you see, I can visualise scenes that the words conjure up as it were, and I also find it easy to imagine that I can pronounce all those long words, and even know what they mean

A pen friend in Wales recently wrote and spoke of the joys of a rare welsh event, not only had it stopped raining (briefly) but it was also the International Eisteddfod, and so she had taken off with her partner to enjoy the parade. Everyone was having a wonderful time, there was singing, dancing and impromptu dances on the Maes. I took the latter to be English interlopers who had bought up welsh country cottages and were busy breathing welsh air and corrupting the local population in foreign ways.

A time honoured welsh tradition no doubt and highly commendable for sure. I mused if the abandoned gaiety had excited the spirits of summer for strange events were afoot all over it seems. Not only had the rain stopped (briefly!) and maes were being danced on but our fireguard had completely vanished for the second time recently and the bank had sent us a strange letter demanding that we comply with their Global Fortress initiative – failure to do so would result in a £50 monthly fine!! Do this by September 7th or else!
If we did comply then we would be charged £3.50 admin charge for erm, complying.

‘Global Fortress Initiative’ is gobbledegook for “We will handle all your online sales and make sure it’s safe”. We don’t do any online sales, none, this is something we don’t do.

Thinking as one might “What the ****!” I took the bank letter and informative booklet to the bank and asked one young assistant “Er what?” She duly arranged for someone to see me and within barely 15 minutes I sat down with another bank person who said “Erm, I have no idea, sorry. You’ll have to see a Business Specialist.”

An appointment was made a few days later I saw a business specialist who chatted in a friendly manner about the current economic climate, how it was hard for everyone these days etc. Eventually we managed to get him to look at the bank’s letter and informative booklet. He read the letter that the bank had sent us very carefully indeed, looking like a man who had not the slightest idea about what he was reading.

He had not the slightest idea about what it was he was reading.

“Ah, you will have to contact um, this specific department – I think they are down south somewhere, I’ve no idea what it’s all about really – and they will sort you out.”

“Oh by the by, you have approximately one week to sort it out, otherwise they will instigate the monthly £50 fines.”

(Graham thinks to himself – “But we don’t do arrgghhh kill death violence riot! I envy the Greeks, they firebombed their banks!”)

“Erm, we don’t do online sales, never, it doesn’t happen.” We don’t sell online, we don’t buy online, we don’t bank online – it’s just not safe (in our own opinion)

“Hmm” the business specialist said “well I am sure you will have to comply anyway.”

He looked at us and we looked at him. “So, can you sort this out for us?” I asked.
“Oh no, I’ve never seen this” – he waved the booklet about – “before, you will have to go online or talk to someone on the phone … I’m, I’m sure they will be able to help you.”
He smiled and looked relieved, the sun was shining and he had done his duty.

So, the bank has no idea what the bank is doing; gives you a kind of warm glow doesn’t it … come the revolution (long overdue)

When we got back home sitting in the bedroom (Why? How?) the fireguard stood innocently resting against a box of books. How it had gotten there is a mystery. How we hadn’t noticed it for over a month is a bigger mystery. I can only assume that it has been visiting a parallel dimension where all sorts of lost items go to for their summer holidays.

Graham Raven is a published author and partner of the company Raven.  Raven's facebook page is here and benefits from regular updates and pictures, do feel free to like!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

I'm nearly ready!

For anyone that runs their own website, today I found a really cool tool for you.  Nibbler carries out an automated free test of your site, and tells you basically how good it is - it covers technical specs, if the website has been tweeted about, and basically gives you some guide as to what you should work on to make your site better.

If you want to see the report for my blog it's here.  One of the cool things about the checker is that it gives you "badges", like achievements in games, good and bad ones.  They even run competitions sometimes to get bizarre badges.

Which is why I'm about to say "Ni! This is a dead parrot! Brian!"

And deoxyribonucleic acid.

(I'm really pleased I wrote that right - my dad used to be an industrial chemist and I wouldn't want to have misspelt a chemical!)

Read their blog too, it's really cool. Almost as good as mine! :)

Anyway, so far I've got a score of 5.3 out of 10 for my blog, 885 points, and 12 badges, including W3C Rebel (basically my blog is so bad at complying with web code it's James Dean) and Ink Waster (I'm missing a print style sheet apparently - so don't print my blog or bad things will apparently happen).  It promises to be very addictive as I try to fiddle with stuff to increase my score.

So apart from that, I've nearly got my stuff together to do my Guild synopsis video on Saturday.  No details yet though, you'll have to wait until you see the video.

One thing though I'd really appreciate - when I do post the video, I'll tell you where it is and all that.  It'd be a big help to me if you just watched the video, and maybe Liked it if you've got a YouTube account (or a Google account, they're the same thing), I'd really appreciate it.

Bye for now!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Warning: Blogging Is Seriously Addictive

I am so addicted to blogging.

I love being creative and being able to get stuff out there, it's so cool.  But it's difficult to try to impose quality standards on yourself to make sure that what you put out is half decent.

I've had this blog going for just over a month now and I wanted to thank you all for reading it.  Over the time I've had something like 110 unique visitors to my blog and somewhere between 700 and 800 pageviews.  Not exactly a massive amount but from nothing just a month ago I'm very happy.  Something like 25% of visits are for more than a minute too so not everyone is just coming on, going "oh my god" and leaving.

Just 65% of them :)

Interestingly after the UK the most popular countries visiting my blog are France and Canada, so if you're from France or Canada - thanks! Bonjour!

My dad is going to be producing a guest blog in the not too far distant future so stay tuned for that.

But it's weird how much effort I put in to getting the blog promoted.  I've signed up to numerous blog directories, I've got a t-shirt with my blog address on it, a load of blog business cards and a handful of blog postcards (all very cheap - thanks Vistaprint!)

We're having a bit of a clear out at the moment prior to the launch of Mists of Pandaria next week, so I'm tempted to do a bit of a giveaway to people willing to promote my blog for me.  I'll have a look round and see if I've got anything anyone would want.

Apart from blogging I'm getting stuff together for making my The Guild Synopsis video on Saturday.  For those that missed my last post, The Guild Season 6 premieres on October the 2nd, and they're asking for the community to do video synopsis of seasons 1 to 5.  I've got a draft script but I just need to make my props.  As mentioned in the last post, if you'd like to help do let me know.

Anyway - got to go and play some WoW!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Safety signs - too many or not enough?

You know those really stupid safety signs?

Like this one:
Of course grapes on the floor can be tripped on.  You're in the fruit and veg section of a supermarket, check where you're walking!

I think I need more of them.

I just took a big sip of a hot chocolate and spat it down my t-shirt because it was too hot.

The clue's in the title Mike :)

The worst thing is not long ago I completed a certificate in health and safety!

Today however, I found a new, even better warning.

On a tube of Asda Antiseptic First Aid cream - you put it on small cuts and spots - the warnings on the pack include "Avoid contact with eyes, middle ear, brain"... whoa, hold on a second. Brain?!?  Who damages their skull and decides to treat it with some antiseptic cream?!?

The warning further explains that you should avoid contact with the brain "if using [the cream] in a surgical procedure".  Now I like Asda, I often shop there - it's near to my house, things are generally inexpensive, I find it a good place to do a lot of my shopping.  But I do think that I'd be worried if, when in hospital for an operation, the consultant came to me and said "Right then Mr Raven, the procedure shall go as follows - we'll give you a general anaesthetic to put you out, then we'll take a saw to cut away your skull, we'll then lightly cover your brain with Asda Antiseptic First Aid cream, replace the skull and sow you up before you wake up again. Any questions?"

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Sunday, 16 September 2012

Volunteers welcomed!

Had an amazing day yesterday.

I was honoured to be asked by my friend Alex to be his best man at his wedding.  The weather for the day was absolutely perfect, tons of people turned out and all had a great time.  My son's mind blew up when he discovered that he could walk up to a plate of chocolate brownies (at the chocolate fountain), take one, and eat it - and attempt to repeat this another seven or eight times.  He also massively enjoyed running RIGHT ACROSS a rugby pitch.

Apparently I look like Winston Churchill.

All in all it was a great day and most importantly Alex and his new wife Julie were (and I'm sure still are) very happy.  Congrats guys!

Changing topics, season 6 of the Guild is coming out on October the 2nd.  If you haven't seen any of this hilarious web show, go watch some.  Very funny.

And to celebrate the launch of season 6, the show's creator, Felicia Day, posted this:

Basically, she wants people to submit 90 second videos outlining the plot of seasons 1 to 5 of The Guild as if to someone who hasn't seen the show before.  The more creative the video the better.

The best one will go on the season 6 DVD and be shown on the prelaunch show on the 29th of September, but all videos will be featured on the Geek and Sundry playlist.  Deadline to get videos in is the 25th.

I'm going to do a video but if anyone else wants in on the action let me know - you might want to be in a video, or speak in a video, or shoot the video, or edit it, or maybe you've got some cool props, or some cool ideas as to what we could do in the video?

Saturday 22nd September is when I'm planning to make my video, so if you want to get involved, get in touch before then.  Various contact paths to get to me:

Mike on Facebook
Mike on Twitter

Right - time for me to get the little one up!  Have a good Sunday folks.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

I accept the embarrassment.

Something that I did in my past keeps coming back to remind me of how...odd... I can be.  So to deal with the various people thinking that they can embarrass me by referring to it, I decided to blog about it.

About 4 years back now I went to i36, one of the LAN parties organised by Multiplay.  Had a great time (as I always have done at an i-series, get down there)

Now at the opening ceremony, they were dishing out free stuff, t-shirts, lanyards, the usual stuff.

Plus some of these:

Sennheiser PC350 headset
These is a Sennheiser PC 350 headset.  A very nice piece of kit, great for gaming, an all round excellent headset.

And not a cheap one.  Even today you'll do well to pick up a pair for less than £100.

Anyway, they threw one set into the crowd, and kept the second back to do something with at the end.

I thought to myself   They're going to make someone do something embarrassing on stage, then give them the headset.

I kind of have an objective when I go to i-series.  The tickets to go cost about £95 now (less if you book early) so I kind of like to try to get free stuff to the same value or more.  This sounds tricky but bearing in mind at another one I also won a Intel Quad-Core processor which I then sold for about £150, it's surprisingly possible if you take part in the various competitions and games (which I always think forms part of the festival experience anyway)

So, I made sure I got my hand up first.

And went on stage.

And did this.

For those unaware, I was attempting to replicate the female night-elf dance from World of Warcraft.  I'm aware that I missed a chunk of it out (you can see it here) and obviously wasn't that good, but at least the crowd (and many people who have seen it on YouTube since - I never thought about it being recorded!) got a good laugh.

Surprisingly to me, I got a lot of positive feedback afterwards, from people impressed that I was willing to do it.

The other thing I get is people asking for a repeat - I always say that if they're willing to give me another £100+ headset for a minutes work I'll consider it!

Am I pleased that I did it?  Ultimately, I guess so.  We're on this planet for such a short time (where we go from here we all have our own views on) that shouldn't we really make the most of it?  I'd rather be considered weird than boring.

And just to put up some pictures of other people doing stuff...

Ravanna on Wii
Here's a photo of my dad playing Just Dance 3 on the Nintendo Wii.  With his first attempt ever using a Wii, and using the controller with his other hand (he's left handed) he still did better than me.

Eden nose-controlling a tablet
And here's my son controlling the touchscreen on my tablet with his nose.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Is anybody on Twitter real...

Following on from the virus last week, it's now hit my other half pretty hard, plus my son seems to be coming down with it this morning as well which is worrying. It also seems to have given my system a kicking in general so I'm waiting for advice from my consultant and being very careful what I eat (translation - not much) so altogether I'll be happy when we're all better.  On the plus side losing a pound or two wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

I keep getting followers on Twitter, which is really cool.

For the uninitiated, Twitter is a "microblogging service" - basically you can write tweets, which must be a maximum of 140 characters, which then everyone who is following you can see.  You can follow people yourself, to see what they are tweeting.  Popular celebrity twitterers (twitterati?) include Stephen Fry and Lady Gaga - the latter has almost 30 million people following her, which is just insane if you think about it (or not for the matter).  Personally I recommend The Guild, Geek & Sundry, Felicia Day, and Wil Wheaton.

My twitter account is at RavenswingThog if you want to follow me.

But how many (I presume) fake Twitter accounts are there?  I have, at the moment in time, a huge 68 followers.

Of the 68, about 44 are work related in some manner.  A few more are friends, but there's a few which are clearly fake accounts.  When I say fake accounts (lets call em zombies), its usually a female with a random name that includes "xxx" in it and all their tweets are random garbage like "once I went outside but it rained".  Quickly scrolling through I can see at least nine zombie followers.

It just seems odd to me to have zombies trailling after me, listening to my tweets. I guess the reason why is that they follow real people in the hope that they follow them back, they then have a long list of followers and sell tweets to businesses (for $100 we could tweet to all of our followers about your urinal cake business!)

More worrying, I did a quick search on the net for "fake twitter followers", which led me quickly to a website that would check how many of these you had following you.  But to do this, the website would have permission to post tweets on my behalf.  I wonder how many people sign up to something like this, and then the app happily goes along tweeting about whatever it wants on their account.

Facebook apps do the same.  If you're not careful all types of Facebook games and the like take the ability to post on your timeline about themselves.  Generally I try to be fairly careful and reject those apps that want too much access, or if there's an option of "who sees the posts from this app" I set it so that only I can see the posts, and it doesn't bother my friends.  After all, I generate enough noise without apps helping!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

I made a video!

I made a video!

You may remember that I opened up my YouTube channel recently with a (quite bad) video of me reviewing Realm of the Mad God.  The video, to be honest, isn't great, but I basically got a bit excited and uploaded it anyway.

If you want to see it it's here.

Nevertheless, as a result of that, I got a subscriber.

For those not familiar with the term, basically if you have a YouTube account, you can subscribe to other channels.  Then, when you log into YouTube, it shows you what new videos have been uploaded by your subscribers.

As an aside, this is different to subscribing to a blog (you can subscribe to my blog if you really want) - either use the icon on the right hand side with the text "Subscribe in a reader" if you use some kind of reader software, or down the bottom of the page there's an option to subscribe by email so you get updates emailed to you.

Let's get back on track.

So, I was excited that I got a subscriber.

I made them a video to say thanks.

Here it is.

The video sound is a bit low so you'll probably need to crank the sound up (and remember to turn it back down again afterwards!) but it's been pretty well received so far :)

Saturday, 8 September 2012

It's a virus!!!

Hi folks,

I've been off the blog for a few days due to illness.

Monday night I had a really bad night sleeping, to the point where I was up for about 2-3 hours in the night watching videos on YouTube because I just couldn't sleep.  A sore throat had turned up out of nowhere (Monday daytime I was absolutely fine) and on balance Tuesday morning, although I wasn't too ill I was tired from lack of sleep and my throat was aching a good bit, I decided the best way to see off this cold was to take a day off work, rest up, and get back on Wednesday.

I was wrong.

Tuesday night I had as bad a nights sleep as the night before, but my throat decided that it wasn't going to do any of that throaty stuff like swallow fluids or anything, it was far too painful for any of that.  Simply making a swallowing motion was enough to make me wince in pain.

Wednesday morning I began throwing up, but I noticed that there was blood on it, and after the third time, each time the amount of blood was increasing, I thought I ought to make sure I was okay.

I went through my symptoms on the NHS Direct website and was advised to see my GP today.  Now the issue is that currently my GP's practice is down on staff (one doctor has left, another is leaving shortly) so although you can get in there, I'm reluctant to take up their time if it's not really needed.  So, I decided to use the NHS Direct telephone service to get an opinion from a medical professional.  For those that haven't used it, it's excellent.  We've used it five or six times in the past, and it's great - you get through to a healthcare worker who goes through an assessment with you, and agrees action from there.

Anyway, I got about six questions into the assessment with the healthcare worker, and she said:
 "You need to go to A&E and get checked out.  Can you get there okay?"
 "Yes, sure." Oh - might be serious.
 "Can I double check your contact number just in case?" she added.  This was definitely beginning to worry me.

As it happens we live about five minutes drive away from Hull Royal Infirmary, so I got in there and saw the A&E reception staff.  And waited.

And waited.

This isn't a rant about the NHS.  In my view, the NHS are excellent.  They get a lot of negative press, when the bottom line of the NHS is, if you are ill we will look after you.  I'm not saying that they are perfect, but when in many other countries people who need life saving treatment must have medical insurance or face a huge medical bill, I like having the NHS in the UK. I remember when my other half was in hospital getting ready to give birth to our son, and it took a while.  But in particular, I remember one point in the birthing suite where they were having a problem finding his heartbeat.

And the room filled up with staff.  Suddenly, they were needed.  And they were there, doing all the stuff you want them to.

He's been busy this week pooing on the lawn but that's another story, and shows that they did their job okay then.

So anyway, I waited ages.  I did get to see a triage nurse, and someone took my blood to check, but I waited about two hours, then my other half turned up - I was so glad to see her, it surprised me.  Then we waited almost another two hours before we saw the doctor (which took about 10 minutes as you expect).

Bottom line, I have a viral infection in my throat.  Because it's viral antibiotics have no effect.  Basically it's rest up and drink lots of water (which has been really hard because it was hurting so much to swallow - you don't realise how much saliva your mouth produces until you have to force yourself to swallow it).

I slept on and off for about 17 hours after going to hospital, and I've spent the last two days resting and basically doing as little as possible.

One fun point was the use of technology for communication.  I had to get a message to my mum after hospital to tell her that I wouldn't be going round on Thursday, and that she needed to go and tell my gran this.  This sounds straightforward, but...

  • I can't speak due to throat, so the phone is out
  • I'm too tired to go and drive anywhere
  • My mum checks her emails and Facebook page once a day (at most).  She doesn't use Facebook chat.
  • My mum plays World of Warcraft (I don't have a live subscription)

So, I went on Facebook, and found an old friend (hey Abyss) on there.  I asked Abyss to contact my mum on World of Warcraft to tell her to check her Facebook, and I sent her a Facebook message.  She then rang up to see what was going on, so my other half explained what was going on.

With having some downtime, I have actually started playing World of Warcraft again.  It's a nice and fun game and lets you be social with people (hey Guild Ravenswing!) and the new expansion, Mists of Pandaria, looks like it is going to be really good.  I just need to learn how to play my hunter - I've never really been happy since they took away my mana bar and changed it to focus - but that's just me whinging!

Anyway - catch you later!

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