Saturday, 31 August 2013

Pedometer Challenge - Post One!


Amazingly for someone of my sturdy physique, I'm taking on a pedometer challenge.

mmm... smell that computer monitor.  Maybe I can eat it.

The pedometer challenge is being done through work, as part of the British Health Foundation's "Health at Work" programme to get workers fitter.  Basically, from September 9th, I'm going to be measuring my steps for four weeks to see how many steps I can take (the more the better), as part of a team of five people.  Obviously we want our team to do better than the others, and I want to do better than the others in my team - or at least not be the worst!

I'm going to be posting regular updates here and on my YouTube channel - with the first video going up later tonight.

I'm hoping that I can use this as a bit of a start into regular exercise, so, wish me luck!  Being a geek, I'm looking forward to making lots of graphs of my progress which I'll bore everyone with!

UPDATE: My first video is now available, you can go here or open it below.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Signs are no match for stupidity

Want to guess where I leaned whilst in the chip shop?

Here's a clue:

Yep.  It was hot.


In other news, my latest book vlog is up on my YouTube channel - I'm talking about the amazing "Betrayer" by Aaron Dembski-Bowden.  If you're a Warhammer 40k fan I strongly recommend it.

And - of no interest to anyone but myself - I finished level 147 of Candy Crush Saga.  I'd been stuck on it for over a month.  Now I'm stuck somewhere in the mid 150s.  Nothing ever changes.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Fortune telling and DIY achievement!


Apologies for the delay in blogging - it's been a busy bank holiday weekend (highlights including talking about toasters and fuel efficiency in a bar, a wide variety of beers, and consuming two doner kebab wraps) so now things are settling down a little I wanted to get something up.

Firstly, I wanted to flag up to readers a fortune-telling friend of mine.  Carys is starting to work for herself telling fortunes, and she's really good - do head over to her facebook page ( and fire her a message if you'd be interested in getting a paid reading.  Definitely well worth a visit.

Next, I have an announcement to make!  I have unlocked an achievement in real life - DIY!

achievement unlocked DIY
This is drawn using Paint Joy on my tablet.  Text added in Paint. Go me!

In summary, I changed the toilet seat.  This wasn't as easy as it sounds because the hinges for the new seat weren't in the right place to fit, so I had to take a drill equipped with a screwdriver tip to them so that I could turn them around.  I know this is pretty minor stuff but I'm still pleased that I managed to do it without help!  Our old one was cracked and we wanted one with an integrated child seat for my son (which this one has) so it should be better for him.

It's not available yet (it's encoding as I type this) but in a few hours I'll have a new video on my YouTube channel, one of my book vlogs.  This time I'm talking about Betrayer from Aaron-Dembski-Bowden, one of the Horus Heresy books from Black Library.  In the meantime I'd love it if you meet Omega 4.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Flowers are rubbish

What's the deal with flowers?  Why do people like them so much?

In my garden there are two types of plants, which are categorised thusly:
a) ones that grow healthily unaided
b) ones that wilt and die despite regular feeding and watering

Guess what? We want the plants in category b, and not the ones in category a.

So we resort to ever more desperately watering the flowers and herbs that we want, giving them a lovely specially lined hanging basket that protects against the wind and fattening them up on Miracle Gro, in a vain attempt to get them to look one tenth as lively as the massive weed growing out of a crack in the patio.

And then, if we're really lucky and we manage to nurture the frail little flower, to give it a real chance of reaching it's full potential...

My son will jump on it.

eden killing daisies
The little one looking his innocent self whilst murdering a pack of daisies.

But do not fear!  As ever, computers have the solution!

I shall plant flowers around my home in Minecraft!

They don't need watering, they don't die, they don't get eaten by the local animals even, they're just great.
Oh what's this?  Oh... a creeper.  Heading towards my house.  If you're not aware, creepers explode.
 The flowers stood up to the explosion of a creeper about as well as you'd expect.

Sod flowers.  Heavy stone reinforcement is what we need!

Monday, 19 August 2013

I tried to defect!

I've had enough.

I've tried for so long to work with Google Chrome.  But I can't put up with it any more.

I love Google Chrome.  I find it more responsive than Internet Explorer, I prefer the user interface, it's by far my preferred browser.  But it has a bug in it.

You see, Chrome comes with a copy of Adobe Flash Player built into it.  If you don't know what Flash is, basically it's a type of code used all over the Internet, best known in the area of animations, sounds and videos, but has spread to do other stuff too.  If you don't have a Flash Player in your internet browser, you'll have problems.

But the problem with Chrome is that it, as well as having a copy of Flash built in, it installs another copy, and the two conflict.

A lot.

As a result, generally what happens is Chrome freezes, and then goes on to freeze my PC, requiring a reboot.  And I've just had enough of it.

And yes, I know the "fix" is to go into chrome://plugins and disable one of the Flash plugins.  I can't get it to work, regardless of whichever one I disable.

So I went to good old Internet Explorer, and put the thoughts of Chrome behind me.

For about two days.

Back on Chrome.

In other less geeky news, my son hasn't been too well this week - he's had a bad cold so we've been dosing him up with a variety of medicines, from an inhaler to antibiotics to ibuprofen and paracetamol.  But of course when he's feeling really sick the last thing he wants is to take medicines.  On Monday we tried to bribe him with chocolate so he would have his ibuprofen.  He actually gave the chocolate back, and I'm sure if he'd had the vocabulary he would have accompanied it with "I might like chocolate, but I'm not going to pay that price!"

What else? Well, I have an insane amount of books to sell, so if anyone wants a huge pile of books, mainly in fairly decent condition, let me know.  Lots of sci-fi, warhammer 40k, quite a few vampiry ones (those are my other halfs let me assure you), some funny books... I've made the decision to sell off my books and make the move to e-books.  There isn't a logical reason to keep the books when I can get the ones I'm actually going to read online, and then access it from whatever phone or tablet I have with me.  I've tried using a variety of online book selling systems, but they all seem to give me rubbish prices for them - I realise that I'm not going to get full price for second hand books, but 50p for a virtually new book (eg read once) that sells for £10 seems too low.  If it was a £1 I'd go for it, but 50p is just too slow.

And keeping on the topic of books, my mum has just written a new one all about Halloween - it's got Halloween games in it, stories, all kinds of stuff about the Samhain festival.  If you want to find out more head over to their Facebook page ( - if you send them a message on Facebook with your postal address they'll send you a catalogue (they operate in a mail order format) and you even get a free gift with your first order!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

National Relaxation Day and did you enjoy YouTube Geek Week?

Firstly, it's National Relaxation Day!  I think this day is a great idea - we are in so much of a rush all the time to get stuff done, it's important to take some time out.  Here's my top 5 ways to relax:

  1. Write.  Yes, unsurprisingly I love writing.  It sets my imagination free and does all that well-being stuff.
  2. Head to a coffee shop or quiet bar.  Somewhere where you can stop, have a drink, and chill out.  My favourite places for these are Planet Coffee, with its huge range of drinks, and Pave - Pave is one of my favourite bars ever.  They introduced me to Jazz, which brings me to-
  3. Music.  Listen to music.  I have possibly the worlds worst taste in music, I can guarantee you that there will be something in my collection that you'll hate.  The CD in my car currently includes Psy, Carly Rae Jepsen, Eminem, Metallica, and Leona Lewis.  And I'm also getting back into my rave music!
  4. Walk.  I don't do enough of this, I really ought to take more constitutionals, but I don't make the time for them, and that's a mistake.
  5. Sleep!

How do you relax?

Changing topic, YouTube's Geek Week took place last week, did you enjoy it?  I loved it!

Some of my highlights:

Taking the geek quiz! (It's still up - why not have a go and let me know what your score was?)

Geek IQ 200!!!  That's the only time I'm going to get a score of 200 for anything IQ-related

This amazing Assassin's Creed Meets Parkour Video:

And this guy doing Pacman in real life!!

A great week!

In other news, I've started a new series on my YouTube channel of book vlogs.  The first book I talk about is The Man on Platform 5 by Robert Llewellyn.  This is my all-time favourite book (I did a review of this a little while back for Faye's great blog, Daydreamers Thoughts) so it had to be the first one I talked about.  Check out the video and let me know if you like it, I'm planning to do more!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Happy International Left-Handers Day!

It's Left Handers Day today! (hence the photo of my dad below - a left hander - otherwise it wouldn't make much sense. That's banana bread he's holding)

So what? What does being left and right handed matter?

How about what side of the road you drive on.

Knights rode on the left so that their jousting lance was in place to take out the opposition,  or walked on the left so their sword arm was nearest to any enemies coming the other way.

But this began to change when the french, and left handed leader, Napoleon rose to power. He  needed to pass people on the right so that his sword arm was ready for use. This was adopted throughout the French Empire. 

Fast forward to today, and roughly three quarters of the world drive on the right. Go Napoleon! 

Famous left handers include Winston Churchill, Angelina Jolie, Julian Clary (whose autobiography I always attempt to read when we pop round to see my fiancée's mother - I'm about halfway through) and Prince William, who is about a month older than me.

As an aside, I got this particularly interesting spam comment on one of my blogs the other day...

I have a notable synthetic eyesight pertaining to fine detail and can anticipate troubles just before they occur.

Really! Thanks for that! I'd quite like a superpower too.  Perhaps "I am able to decimate ten pies in five minutes"? 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

The defeat of limits...

I've had my limits challenged tonight, by a meal.

I don't like meat with bones.  Ask anyone that knows me, they'll say "Mike doesn't like meat with bones".

Actually, no, I imagine they'll say "Mike?  Yeah, I know Mike.  He's familiar with pies."

Which I am.  I love pies.

But I don't like meat with bones in.

To be precise, I don't like bones in my food full stop.  I don't particularly like having to muck about with food before I eat it, whether it's removing bones, cutting away fat, cooling it down because it's too hot to eat... if it's on my plate I want to eat it.  I am willing to compromise - I will use a fork to get the food from my plate to my mouth rather than just eating it straight off the plate using fingers (or inserting my face into the food - after all this would result in an extra chore of washing face afterwards) - but I do prefer the process of getting the tasty plate of food converted to empty plate to be a straightforward as possible.

Now, if you've been reading any of my recent posts, you'll know that we like polish food.  We generally get a polish takeaway at least once a week from the excellent Kuchnia.  Now, my partner always orders the same thing (devolay with extra mash and garlic sauce), but I like to try different things, and the problem is that because we're not familiar with polish food, I don't know what they make without a menu.  So, what I do is I ask them to give me "something with meat" and they do so.

This has always worked out excellently.

But then tonight happened.

My meal arrived - and it was pork ribs.

Ribs, for those that failed Biology, are bones.

It was therefore to my extreme annoyance that after a handful of seconds scraping the meat off the bones and disposing of the excess thoracic cartilaginous material, that the meal itself was delicious, and I have to admit that I wouldn't be entirely against trying it again.

I do hope no one reads this so I can continue to complain about how much I dislike food with bones in.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Free Polish Dessert

We ordered Polish food today (again).

We got free dessert!!!

polish dessert
Pancakes with oranges on skewers. Yeah!

If you've not been on YouTube in the last couple of days, it's Geek Week on YouTube - go check out the stuff.  Very good.  We've got an issue with our internet going really slow (it's about a third of it's normal speed, which isn't brilliant anyway), but on Thursday people with a ladder and technical equipment are turning up to fit us a new internet connection, which hopefully will speed up our 1.6 meg download by a factor of ten or more.  Can't wait to be able to watch videos again!

Anyhow, I did a little video celebrating Geek Week.  It'd be interesting to hear from you what you're a geek about.  And if you do have a minute, please do meet Omega 4.  He can handle the rain.

While I'm blogging, I have to recommend checking out Scottplaysbadgames channel on YouTube.  Scott loves retro video gaming, and is extremely funny.  He's been selected as one of the new vloggers on Geek & Sundry's Vlog channel too so he is very popular.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

New video - Omega 4!

I have a new video live!  Meet Omega 4 - he's a geek, he's a hero, he's a heroic geek.

There is a rather bad continuity error in the video (actually 2... at least!) - why not let me know (comments box below, or get in touch at me at my Twitter account) if you spot it or not?

Let me know if you can't view this video - I've had a report from someone that it wouldn't open on a tablet so if you have this (or any other problem) with any of my videos I'd really appreciate knowing about it.

YouTube have announced that any channels with 100 subscribers or more will be able to live stream.  I'm currently 76 subscribers away from this, so if you do have a Google or YouTube account it'd be great if you could check out my channel and subscribe if you like my stuff!

In other news, milk bread is one of my favourite foods of all time, which my mum makes occasionally and she's seen fit to put her recipe up on her blog.  I'm going to have a go at making some!

Finally - it is National Watermelon Day today!  Apparently there are over 300 different kinds of watermelon.  For a (healthier than chocolate) treat I'd recommend a glass of chopped watermelon pieces, mixed up with a crushed meringue nest, and a spot of single cream (you can always use low-fat cream like Elmlea) - lovely!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

No news is... more and more common these days

You know, in the olden days, there wasn't any Internet?

You had to wait for news.  You watched the news programme on TV (BBC in our household, we didn't mix with those heathens on ITV.  And don't even think about mentioning Channel 4.  Although I do like Krishnan Guru-Murthy)

Personal news came by the telephone, people coming round to the house, or in the post.  You waited for the post to see if you had anything.  Nowadays all the post ever has in it is bills, junk mail, or parcels from Amazon.  It is true that in the old days it was generally mostly bills and junk mail, but there was the hope of an actual letter from someone in the mix.

But as technology had advanced, we wait less and less.  We can log onto the Internet and find out the latest news.  Our phones beep and vibrate to warn you that you've got a new email, with the sideline of the message being READ IT NOW even if you're busy, perhaps in a meeting or having dinner or attending a christening or something.

So we don't get to be surprised by news any more.  That's a shame.

Speaking of news, however, are you aware that the Perseid Meteor Showers will be coming along in under a month?

The Space Striders blog says that after midnight on August 11th and 12th should be good opportunities to see the meteor showing.  I've always had an interest in Astronomy - even toyed with it as a hobby for a while - and I've always wanted to see a decent meteor shower but never actually done it.  Perhaps this might be the year!

Also, tomorrow is the closing date for the Costa Short Story competition.  I've just submitted my story - a sort of psychological science fiction... I really want to use the word thriller but I really don't think it is. Anyway it's been fun to write a story and I was surprised how quickly I could pull it together, bearing in mind I only started it on Monday!  For more info about the competition head to
TOTS 100 - UK Parent Blogs
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