Saturday, 29 December 2012

Scary Santa pic

We got a load of things from my son's nursery and his childrens centre the other day, of various things he's made recently.  They're all very lovely, but...

Santa - I think
If you aren't a good little boy we'll send scary Santa round.

Doesn't this Santa look kinda scary?

The little one has been really developing lately, he's had trouble with his speech but the number of words he can now say seems to be accelerating from day to day.  Currently he can:

  • Do the alphabet, in order
  • Count up to 30, and is tackling the numbers beyond that
  • Say "Oops" whenever something is dropped, someone falls over, or he is pushed over (onto a soft surface!).  This can be particularly useful when he trips over or walks into something, a well timed "Oops!" can distract him from crying!
  • Saying "wow" at anything that interests him.  Christmas trees are very worthy of comment at the moment, as is my USB-powered Plasma Ball (thanks Dan!).
  • Wave goodbye when prompted
  • Say "Ta" as thanks for receiving food or drink when he feels like it.
  • Mama, Dada, and even "Grandma!" (when not receiving sufficient attention!)
  • Name various colours and animals (he's particularly good at "Purple")
  • Name body parts
  • Tell his nana's dog to "Get down" off the sofa!

And many other cute things that are of no interest to people without children!

I've just finished reading David Mitchell's autobiography, Back Story (the comedian, not the author) and I strongly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in his work.  Very funny and interesting, he takes us through his life using a walk around London as a back drop.  David comes across very well and I would say that I very much enjoyed the read.  Warning - the front cover is essentially a closeup of David's somewhat hairy face and this can be slightly disconcerting when catching it in the corner of your eye.  The back cover is much less stressful to notice :)

Thursday, 27 December 2012


Celebrate all, for below is the latest (festive no less) guest post from my dad. Enjoy!


Steel yourselves readers for a fearsome tale of dire trepidation, foreboding and unease.
Be afraid, be very afraid, for this could be YOU!


Key: O. – ‘Oh’ an expression of surprise!
         M. – me, this is a personal statement or expression which I am making.
         G. – either ‘God’ or ‘goodness’ as you choose.
         In this case it was “GOOD GOD - HOW MUCH?”

Tis the season to eat Holly apparently.. or some such thing. Halls are gaily decked, the milk of human kindness flows unceasingly and all work with frantic diligence to make the ‘winter Solstice celebration’ a success. (or whatever you wish to call it)

One small part of this fabulous time of year is the relatively unglamorous yet essential food shopping so necessary for family, fiends and other associated consumers. After all, the shops may be closed for two whole days! And what if a long lost family member just happens to drop in on you whilst passing and expect to be fed and watered?

A safe guide is approx 18kg of turkey per person, a dozen mince pies, a gallon of exotic beer, whiskey, rum, brandy, vodka and a case of white wine or fruit based drinks for ladies. (you have of course sent cards to everyone on the planet? .. of course you have)

So it was that we set out to ride the storm tossed seas of the supermarket for our yuletide fare. 16 litres of milk was deemed adequate – I will have beer to drink so that will help to save on tea drinking (I like to do my bit to ease the stress of the Yuletide holidays).

Six loaves of bread, fish, cooked meat, uncooked meat, potted meat, meaty meat, vegetables, cuddly toy etc ..  dog biscuits, mummies biscuits, daddies biscuits, chocolates, three bags of flour just in case we have to make our own bread, two kg of mixed exotic ‘seed’ to mix with bread dough to make it erm exotic and healthy, washing powder, pork pies, a small roast, a big roast, a roast roast, a roast which was chicken, a roast which was pork, a roast that was turkey …. a roast which wasn’t any of the previous … erm did I mention sweets?

Of course, that wasn’t all by a long way. Gradually the shopping trolley filled and filled to over flowing .. my mind drifted to an imaginary checkout where the bill grew and grew and grew. Electronic numbers clicked and flashed and with dream-like ease, effortlessly multiplying … £5. ..£20 ….£ 157.34 … £1976.51 …… £1,000,000 … number too big .. possibly infinity!

A whole imaginary nation was slowly tipping sideways and sliding into a violent storming sea …. The long drowned dead cried out “The bill is IMPOSSIBLE!”

I shook myself. Shivers of icy fear ran down my back as we waded our weary way through crowds of shoppers, some frantic to buy everything that could be bought, some dazed and incapable of choosing which brand of tea to buy. The checkouts were full. Queues of people stretched down the aisles awaiting service and supermarket assistants wandered back and forth checking to see if anyone needed water or a toffee to keep them going.

Eventually … it seemed without ever moving really …. We found ourselves at the checkout. A humanoid ‘smiled’ at us without looking – she was smiling, possibly grimacing, and clearly as stressed as we were. Items were hurled through the scanner and prices danced before my eyes .. £5 … £20 ….. I daren’t look!

The trolley was refilled and a simple, small piece of plastic flashed briefly, electronic numbers vanished and we were dismissed with thankyouhaveanicedaymerrychristashellohowareyoutoday?
The next customer was being instantly processed. I staggered out of the shop weighed down with purchases.

Thank goodness we decided not to splash out this year and to budget our food buying J

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Pancake with face

And a belated Merry Christmas to you all!  Hope you had a good Christmas Day, myself and my other half came down with something on Christmas Eve (not sure if food poisoning or a bug, myself I suspect the former) so we were pretty much out of that all that day and although we had a good time on the big day itself we did both go for a nap mid-afternoon!

Spoiler alert - after the picture below I'm going to talk about the Downton Abbey Christmas Special.

It's a pancake! And the raisins make a face!!! O. M. G.

My other half likes these pancakes you can get with raisins in that can be eaten cold or toasted.  Anyway this one the raisins made a face.

Yay :)

Anyhow, Downton Abbey.  I saw the Christmas special last night, very much enjoyed it as always.

But the end - and I'm delaying saying about it in case someone who hasn't seen the episode but is planning to is reading this - was a shock.

Almost as an afterthought, Matthew gets killed (presumably) in a car crash. Certainly the blood gliding down his blank face can't be beneficial for his health.

Downton Abbey is no stranger to death - the show kicked off with the sinking of the Titanic taking out the obvious male heirs, and over the years we've seen regular crew Lady Sybil and William die, along with the attache to the Ottoman Empire.

My first reaction was to criticise the show for killing Matthew so randomly and swiftly and as one of the nicest characters in the show he'll be sadly missed.

However, thinking about it does this only go to show how good the series is, to make me care about the characters in this way?  And I can't argue that Matthew's death isn't historically likely - although national road accident statistics weren't collected in 1921 (when the episode was set), in 1926 they did begin to, and in that year 4,886 deaths were recorded.  To give this figure some detail, in 2011 the number of deaths was 1,901, despite the fact that the daily flow of motor vehicles has increased by some 150% over the forty years from 1965 to 2008 (can't find statistics going back beyond that but I can't imagine traffic has lessened pre-1965).  Of course 1,901 is still far too many deaths - 1 is too many - but it does show that we are more careful on the roads today (as well as roads being better controlled, better emergency response systems etc).

I suppose my only concern is that the show has so many ups and downs and surprises and twists that it almost feels more like an episode of Eastenders (which I was a fan of for many years until the Sunday omnibus vanished from afternoons) than a period drama. But does that matter?

At any rate I will be watching the fourth season when it arrives to give me more to blog about!

Saturday, 22 December 2012


So, I was stood around in the kitchen.  Nothing particularly exciting, my other half was working on making tea and I was chatting to avoid doing chores.

Anyhow, it turns out that I have slidey socks.

And when I kind of leaned on a counter, my socks decided to slidey slide on the laminate flooring, and sit me down on the floor at the speed of gravity (32 feet per second?  So for me that's something like 0.125 seconds to sit me down from standing?)

But of course to do this, physics had to push my legs forward, so that I ended up karate kicking the kickboard under the oven, leaving it with a huge crack.

I'm actually quite pleased with this in a way, because I've had a hate-hate relationship with the kickboard, it's not fixed, just balanced upright so whenever you stand near it it takes the opportunity to topple forward onto your toes.

Plus, my son thought it was a great opportunity to climb into my lap, which was very cute, but made standing up even more difficult when my socks were still attempting to replicate ice.

Anyway, a video I wanted to flag up to everyone is Nyan Cat.  This is a geek cult video, referred to in The Guild's music video "I'm the one that's cool" (another great video to watch).  If you haven't seen it before go watch it.

Basically either you'll turn it off after ten seconds or your brain will melt.

I probably ought to be reported to someone, because I let my son watch it on my tablet.

Eden watching Nyan Cat

We'll see what condition he's in tomorrow.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Big Bang Theory is good

I'm really getting into The Big Bang Theory in a really rubbish way.  The Big Bang Theory, for those that don't know, is basically a sitcom about a bunch of geeks.  Made by the same guy behind Two And A Half Men (and Bill Prady, whose involvements include Star Trek Voyager and the Muppets), it's a very funny series.

I got into it because Wil Wheaton is in various episodes, and as a huge fan of Wil I really wanted to get in The Big Bang Theory.

Hence I promptly recorded 85 episodes, then deleted 81 because the Sky+ box was full and Christmas is coming up!

And now I've watched all the episodes I left (yes, the Wil ones) and I need more!

If you have a minute why not watch the below music video. Very funny and nice.

J Rabbit - Happy Things

Finally, I need your help.  I've been pet battling in World of Warcraft, and I need names for my favourite pets!

Don't mess with Little XT
 This adorable little guy is my robot, Lil' XT. He does a nasty electric shock attack, can repair himself, set a explosive bomb up, and when he dies can resurrect himself.  Very nice!

I've got a crab.
 This chap is my crab.  To be quite honest he's a little dull, but hard as nails to kill.

Panther cub! Everyone coo and aww before he kills you.
But by far my favourite pet is my panther cub. He does a stupidly large amount of damage, generally attacks before anything else can attack him, and if you play him right he heals himself by killing other animals. Fun!

But these pets need names.  Any suggestions, drop me an email or reply to this post with a comment.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Gamification and the use of "Achievements" in work plus the need for BIM

Anyone who has played computer games in the last two years will have become aware of "Achievements".  Basically, you receive Achievements for doing certain things in games.  Completing a level might give an achievement. Completing it on a harder difficulty setting might give another.  Completing it quickly might be another one.  Or finding a hidden item within the level.  Falling from a height that almost (but not quite) kills you.

Anything pretty much can be an Achievement.

And they're addictive.  I'm currently playing World of Warcraft and getting really in pet battles - for those not aware of what I'm talking about, basically you can train pets to fight other pets, to make them stronger.  And you can capture other pets (generally after your pet has kicked the stuffing out of them) to give you more choice.

And there's achievements for defeating certain people with your pets.  It's driving me on to get an Achievement, and basically makes me stay online playing the games for many hours more than I would do otherwise, playing what is basically a simple turn based fight sim.

There has been some thought into how this Achievement system could be brought into the world of work.  Certainly targets are nothing new (the acronym SMART is synonymous with target setting) but whether it can be reconfigured into an Achievements system is an intriguing one.

Would you stay longer at your desk working if it meant you getting more "points" than your colleagues?  It's certainly a way of differentiating between workers.  I think there's a danger that potentially people come to rely on it as a method of assessing quality of work, which in my view it is too much of a blunt implement to do successfully.  However, it could indeed form part of performance management, apart from its main role as a motivational tool.

Construction, my particular work sector, has long been viewed as in need of a revolution to produce efficiency.  In other sectors it would be unthinkable for managers based on site to be without email or internet facilities, in far too many situations it is still the case in construction that site managers are working without basic IT facilities to support them.

BIM, or Building Information Management, is not a solution by itself, but is still a potentially fantastic tool.  being able to identify clashes on designs prior to construction starting will reduce problems on site - simply equate the cost of changing a design against the cost of changing a design while a construction site is delayed waiting for the change to be made.  The use of web conferencing facilities to allow design meetings to take place virtually, with the design team sat in their offices watching as the building design is walked through virtually rather than everyone sat around poring over drawings, trying to imagine the finished facility.  And the benefits for users, who aren't necessarily skilled at deciphering drawings, now able to look at a virtual 3D model of their completed building.

The elimination of change post-tender is an important goal to aim for.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

The magic internet connectivity of Microsoft Error Reporting

Has anyone noticed that whatever network problems you may be having, Microsoft Error Reporting always gets through?

It always works.  I swear Microsoft has a hidden API in its software somewhere that converts your mouse into a wireless network dongle, so that even if your ethernet cable is broken, it'll somehow connect to whatever network is floating around in the air around us and send off its message to Microsoft.

I must admit I haven't ever seen it come back with an answer to any of the errors it's reported, but I live in hope.

What else happened today?  My gran asked me what the nut is that they put on top of walnut whips.

Answers on a postcard.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Tis the season to eat holly etc

Hello all and see below one of the very popular guest posts from the one and only Mr Graham Raven aka dad!

‘Tis the season to eat holly etc and we all look forward to some time with our families and loved ones, and hopefully some quality time together.

However, I am reminded by a fiend of the family, that the world is due to end, once again, in late December. (sigh!)

Despite my having been on the planet a very short time indeed, by geological standards, I have experienced quite a number of ‘end of the world’ events – none of which have come to anything of significance.

However, on hearing of the current ‘end of the world’ scenario my furtive imagination burst forth with an imagined conversation between the gods …

Set amongst clouds of heavenly erm, Godliness, sounds of thunder and stuff like that …

Head God - "Well, have you released the Kraken, risen a vast tidal wave and wiped humanity from the face of the Earth?"

Lesser god with overall responsibility for Doom, mass extinction and general nastiness – "More or less oh Omnipotent one."

Head God – "Good that will show the buggers – eh, what do you mean ‘more or less’?"

Lesser etc – "most of mankind have been utterly decimated and wiped from …"

Head God – "most? MOST?!"

Lesser etc – "well, erm, it seems that there were prophets of doom predicting the end of the world, and er, well, Mr A. K. Atkinson and his wife Edna were somewhat troubled by the thought of annihilation, they have just redecorated the kitchen and, and well they sort of, tried to avoid it."

Head God – "Am I not omnipotent? Creator, and as I see fit, Destroyer of all? How did these miserable beings possibly thwart my Will?"

Lesser etc – "um, it seems they kept their fingers crossed oh great one …."

Head God then throws an absolute wobbler, I mean, he is seriously peed off. Humans will not respect him if all you have to do is cross your fingers…

Head God looking very angry. Well - Head God after standing in a pile of dog poo.

And a very merry Christmas to one and all!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Yahoo Answers - Beware of reporters!

First things first - I don't check my Yahoo account nearly as often as I ought to do.  Fully admit that.

My Yahoo email ( was the first email address I got, back at college in 1999 (hence the address!) and if I remember right it was coming up to the end of my first year, when I was completing NVQs Level 2 in IT and Business Admin.  Good times.

Over time it got filled with spam and I migrated to other email providers, but I kept the Yahoo account alive.

More recently I've been going on Yahoo Answers using my Yahoo account to answer questions.  I don't know why but I quite enjoy a session answering questions on there.  Basically you get so many points for answering questions (and more points if your answer is "the best" answer)

However, I've just been on my Yahoo account and it looks as though in late November someone's gone through my questions and reported them all to Yahoo.  This automatically gets me flagged up as a bad person basically, and unless I challenge the reports in 7 days (which I didn't because I don't check my Yahoo email that often) I lose lots of points.

All I can think is someone who I've reported for putting up a non-constructive answer has decided to get their own back.  Well, meh!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Happy Boxing Day!

I've just come back from my friends place in Norfolk where we've been celebrating Christmas - yes, I am aware it's slightly early, but I was there, he was there, so we decided to have an early Christmas Day on Saturday.

We had a gift limit of five pounds, so we had to make the most of our money to get the best present we could.

Or, if it's me, go on as many websites as possible to order free samples.

Some of the 'gifts' I wrapped up included:

  • A piece of tile
  • Some damp proofing gel
  • Some block paving crack sealant
  • A nappy
  • A Knorr Gravy pot (not ordered from the internet but from Leeds Railway Station, where people were handing them out on Thursday)
  • Carpet, curtain and fabric samples
  • Aftershave
  • Various customised bits from Vistaprint (okay I had to pay for post & packing, but £3 for a mouse mat, pen, mug and bag wasn't too bad!)

I did buy a few bits, prime one being a USB Air Freshener.  I nearly came a cropper when I realised that the air freshener needed essential oil to work, fortunately those good folk at Raven (who I may be slightly related to) sorted me out with some free Nag Champa oil, which does smell lovely.  If you are interested in any kind of weird and wonderful stuff, from josssticks to tarot cards, books to oils, get in touch with Raven at:

17 Melton Fields
Brickyard Lane
North Ferriby
East Riding of Yorkshire
HU14 3HE

Send them your address and a couple of first class stamps for a mail order catalogue.  I know, in this time of the internet we all automatically search the websites for stuff, but their catalogue is excellent (yes I am biased but even so).

All in all we had an excellent time, played some Cards Against Humanity (first time I've actually played it, I can recommend it as long as you are of a mature age and have an immature sense of humour!)

I can't blog today without a word about Sir Patrick Moore, who died this afternoon.  Sir Patrick was for anyone remotely interested in astronomy and the night sky, a legend which brought the science of the final frontier to life.  Despite only describing himself as an "amateur astronomer", he presented the Sky at Night television show for over fifty years, wrote tens of books on the topic of astronomy, and carried out functions such as working on the mapping of the Moons surface in the 1950s.  There are many tens of fascinating and fantastic facts about this amazing man, which I am not worthy of reproducing.  Being an 80s child I recall him as the GamesMaster on the Channel 4 TV show of the same name!  I would recommend to anyone interested in knowing more about him to get a copy of his autobiography, Eighty Not Out.  Indeed, any of the many books Sir Patrick was involved in writing would be a worthy read.

A memorial website has been set up for people to offer their tribunes, which is located at

Monday, 3 December 2012

Aaron Dembski-Bowden is funny and Cards Against Humanity is as well

We've had a busy weekend, taking the little one to Sundown adventure play park on Saturday - that went really well, I was dreading the two hour coach journey but amazingly he loved the coach trip, that was possibly the best part of the day for him!  And then on Sunday people came round for a belated third birthday celebration for him which went very well and involved lots of cake.

Two particular things for me to talk about today!

Firstly, Aaron Dembski-Bowden (hope I've spelt his name right) - Aaron is a seriously good Warhammer 40K writer (amongst other things) who is responsible for certain publications such as the Night Lords books Soul Hunter, Blood Reaver and Void Stalker, as well as The First Heretic of the Horus Heresy series.

He also has a fantastic blog at and his latest post, set in the style of an old text adventure, is brilliant and made me laugh out loud.  Strongly recommended if only for the TINY GUARDIAN.

Secondly, Cards Against Humanity - this is a cool card game where essentially you get given a question and a set of answer cards, and you have to choose the answer card with the funniest answer.  Simple to play and very fun (probably best for older players though - no kiddies), you can buy it online or download a free set to print and cut out.  Find it at and if you want to see how the game operates (and help test the game to make it even better go to to see how it works.
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