Saturday, 30 November 2013

Wrestling with the Sky box

I've been having fun with the Sky box tonight.  Okay, it's a Sky+HD box, I'll be accurate.  Nevertheless, I've been mucking about with it.

Two things - one, we got in the post a wireless adaptor to let it connect to our broadband to provide "On Demand" services.  I don't actually know what these On Demand services are, but that's never stopped me playing with technology before.  That was sorted quite easily, plugged in, typed in my network password and its up and running.

I should say that we have recently resolved our ongoing broadband issues by going with the local broadband provider, Karoo, and getting a half-decent router - in our case the Asus DSL-N55U.  We did tinker with a Netgear, but had problems right from the off, so got a refund on it and plumped for the Asus, which has been absolutely fine since installation.  I was slightly concerned to begin with that I was having trouble connecting to it wirelessly via my smartphone, then realised that I hadn't screwed the aerials onto the router!  It's all fine now.

The second thing I've been trying to do is to somehow watch the new local TV channel, Estuary TV.  This is one of a number of local TV channels being licensed by Ofcom, with Estuary TV launched just last Tuesday. They're based in Grimsby and are viewable on Freeview and Virgin Media in the nearby area, but because we're in Hull we can't get Virgin Media - so we're on Sky.  And because we're on Sky, we can't watch this channel.  Very annoying!  I've tried to see if I can watch it online somehow but there doesn't seem to be any option.  Guess I'll have to go round to my parents and watch it on theirs.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Fighting the good fight (XCOM part 3)

I'm continuing in my spare time to play OpenXcom, the turn-based strategy game where I defend the Earth against alien invasion.

I've discovered how to build a flying saucer, which is interesting but ultimately of bugger all use, because my next - and final - step is to build a craft capable of flying a couple of dozen hardcore troopers over to Mars to kick alien butt.  And I can't fit them in a dinky little saucer.

In the mean time, the aliens decided to terrorise Russia.  Not to worry, my troops went to intervene!

As I searched the city for survivors (hearing a lot of humans die out of sight), I spotted a Chryssalid.  These black scary things can turn your troopers - and human civilians - into alien puppets, and need taking out.

Cue the blaster bomb.

All this used to be fields.  Then it was a road and a bit of a park.  Now it's just a patch of burned earth.

The blaster bomb is a seriously nasty guided missile, which is the only thing that can punch through the walls of an alien spaceship.  It has a large blast radius and I really can't think of anything surviving the detonation of one of these nearby. It's probably not the best thing to use in a civilian location.

We did win, and didn't lose any of our own people, but this was the mission result screen:
Hmm. Well two civilians survived anyway.

So, out of ten civilians, we let the aliens kill or eat seven of them, we blew one up with a blaster bomb, and just two of them made it out alive.  Kind of reminded me of the Team America film.

It's not surprising that China has withdrawn from the project - they probably think it's safer if we don't "defend" them.

In another mission, Colonel Simon, the lover of cover, actually got fired upon!  We're now encountering a new type of alien called a Muton, who are basically green and hard as nails, forcing us to upgrade our weaponry to have a chance of killing them, and even with heavy plasma guns they still take a lot of shots before dying - which means they often get chance to fire back.  We've lost a few people to their guns and it's a little worrying.  The sooner we get to Mars to finish them off the better.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Further XCOM Adventures

I've been continuing my fight against the alien threat, trying to save the planet.  So far I've taken down two alien bases, captured one of their commanders, and am now frantically trying to research some sort of craft that can take my troopers out to the aliens home.

True, they were the elite of the elite, the best warriors Earth had to offer. But the squad still took the opportunity to unwind by knocking on the alien's door and hiding.

In the meantime, the Commander of my forces, Dustyweaver, is wounded for two months after taking far too many plasma bolts, whilst his second in command, Simon, is very healthy, mainly due to his habit of taking cover, standing behind things like walls, trees, and other people.

In other news, I've released my next episode of MANEATING early, as it's just too funny to hold on till Wednesday.  This time I decided to review a packet of Walkers Quavers.  And because I'm that kind of guy, I got my son to help me.

It didn't go quite as planned...

On the plus side he's funnier than I am anyway :)

Friday, 22 November 2013

Simon is a coward

I've been playing a open source version of an somewhat ancient game, XCOM: UFO Defense.  For those that haven't played it, the original XCOM is a classic PC game.  You are given command of an elite force with the mission to protect the earth from aliens.  You set up a base of operations, and shoot down UFOs as you spot them, sending in a crack force to finish off any of those grey-skinned freaks that survived the crash.  All too soon though you discover that the aliens are tougher than you think, and it's a race against time to stop them before they put an end to you.

My base.  Don't mess with me.
The problem is, a game of this age doesn't run very well on today's PCs, so I'm playing OpenXcom, an open-source clone of the original (and you have to have bought a copy of the original for it to work).

Now, the thing you have to understand about XCOM is that it's hard.  You don't have much money, so you're often scraping around to try to keep your fighters armed and your troops equipped.  The aliens can see further than you, and in the dark.  They shrug off your bullets with ease, whilst loading plasma death onto your folks.

So I've always cheated on it.

The thing is, to me the important thing is the story.  There's a lot of really good fan fiction based on XCOM, I particularly liked the story written by Russ Brown back in 1994.  I don't want to go into too much detail in case I spoil the game for you - oh sod it I'm going to.

Basically, we're outmatched.  In the long run, humanity doesn't have a chance.  So we research by dissecting aliens, and studying their equipment, what their reasons are for attacking Earth, how to use their weapons and technology, and eventually finding a solution to stop them once and for all (which isn't once and for all because there are many sequels in the XCOM series!)

So playing fair isn't important to me - I like following the story.  So to cheat in the original, you'd use a hex editor on a saved game to give yourself more money and make your troops tougher.  In the open source version, you can use Notepad.

The only problem is, when you're editing your troops, it takes a while, and I'm really lazy, so I only hacked maybe ten of them, and left all of the rest of them as normal troopers.

So, because my hacked guys are faster than the rest, even though they are tougher, they tend to run further, leaving the rest behind, come up against the aliens first, and get shot.

They started dying, one by one.

There's two main troopers I'll mention.  The first is the overall commander of XCOM, and he's called Dustyweaver after my mates gaming handle.  There were also other troopers called Thog and Denkai (mine and my other half's gaming names) but they took too many plasma bolts to the face and died.

I play Dustyweaver the way my friend would play him - that is to say, he leads from the front.  As a result, he spends most of his time wounded and laid up in hospital while the rest of XCOM fight on without him. To be honest, I'm amazed he isn't dead yet.

As you can see from this screenshot, Dustyweaver is wounded.  Again.
One particular mission springs to mind.  We were investigating a crashed flying saucer, and Dusty, along with a few other troopers, were equipped with stun spikes (or whatever the hell they're called) - basically a sort of taser.  The problem with shooting aliens is, although its quite effective at stopping them from shooting back, you don't generally get to interrogate them afterwards.  So, if possible, you sneak up behind one of them, zap it in the back, and get to take it home for tea and biscuits.

Anyhow, Dusty spots this alien toting a plasma rifle. I'm having him, Dusty thinks,and charges the alien.

Face on.

The alien is blasting away at this sprinting blue beast of a man, hitting Dusty in the chest, in the face, and the shots are getting easier and easier as Dusty gets closer.  It's amazing that Dusty doesn't die, but he actually gets right up to the alien, the alien is frantically reloading his gun, and...

After all that running and being shot, Dusty is too tired to stun the alien.

So we have this grassy field, one side filled with XCOM troopers, the other side with a variety of aliens lurking, and right in the middle Dusty and this Sectoid Soldier are stood looking at each other, in my mind saying "Well I can't do anything. And neither can you.  Bugger!"

After all that, Dusty staggered away and his teammates shot the alien.

The second trooper I have to mention is Simon (his first name is Mathis but I call him by his surname, Simon. When I'm feeling kind.).  Simon is another one of my hacked troopers.

As the battles went on, and one by one the hacked troopers started dying, I became aware of something odd with Simon.

Despite the fact that he was faster than the others, he never seemed to be in front.  And he spent a lot of time in cover, behind walls, fences, in tall grass, basically anywhere that reduced the chance of him getting shot.

Now this isn't a bad thing, but Simon took it to the extreme.

I've had to come to the opinion that Simon is a coward.

Note that Simon's lowest statistic is Bravery.  Unsurprising.

Quite often he advances with a trooper on either side, and a medic behind him, just in case.  It's a bit of a joke now when I play that Simon never ventures by himself.

The guy in the powered suit of armour, crouching inside a ring of cannon fodder?  Yes, that would be Simon.

The great thing about XCOM though is the stories it conjures up.  One time I was playing, I was attacking a mini-flying saucer thing, basically it's a white disc that hovers in the air and spits plasma at you (these aliens like plasma).  My squad were running around, trying to get a shot.

Finally one guy dropped to one knee, and opened up with his laser rifle, set to automatic fire.  The great thing about auto fire is that you get to fire off three shots instead of the normal one.  True, your accuracy might be a bit lower, but the odds are that one of the shots at least will be on target.

The first shot flew off into the sky, to panic a bird somewhere.

The second shot hit the disc dead on, and blew it up.  Result!

But the gun was on automatic.

And fired a third shot.

The third shot took one of the troopers colleagues in the head, and promptly killed them.

I bet that was an uncomfortable ride home for him, packed into the back of a transport with twelve other troopers, and a fresh corpse of his own making.

Another in-game joke is the armour.  The first level of armour you research is "Personal Armour".  This is a blue work suit that is pretty useless - it is better than not having any armour, but it isn't that great.  I suspect that the Research department, under pressure to provide something useful to use against the alien threat, went out and bought a load of boilersuits.

You can put as many plastic abdominal muscles on the front of your boilersuit as you like, it doesn't mean that it'll deflect a plasma bolt.

Except for the time when the aliens used their psychic powers to mind control one of my guys, and then I couldn't kill them.  All of my shots bounced off that damn armour.  In the end it took about four of my best troopers blasting away at point blank range to punch through that suit.

In other news, I now have a Google+ page with my own customised web link, - feel free to check it out.  Also, have you tried the puzzle game on Google currently up, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who?  Hit the second "O" (the one that looks like an arrow) to give it a go.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Shampoo is for frequent use

Why do they sell you shampoo which is "for frequent use" - as opposed to what?  Do they mean its not really nice shampoo, so its okay to be used every day, while you might want to keep your Pantene or T-Gel for best?  Or can you get shampoo "for occasional use, be warned that if you use it more than three times a week your hair turns electric blue"?  You don't get this sort of comment on other things.  I've never seen soap that you can buy for frequent use.

Perhaps you could buy a deodorant labelled "for frequent use" as a somewhat blunt gift?

And it's with that thought of the day that I turn to three items of news!

Firstly, congratulations to Hull on being named the UK 2017 City of Culture.  I think it's going to be really good for the city and the competition seems to have really inspired the area.  I hope it makes a real difference to the future of the region.

Secondly, I have a guest blog of mine on the Yahoo! Answers blog!  The Yahoo! Answers team have been very nice and let me blog over there about Yahoo! Answers (which I quite like going on), and fingers crossed another one of my blogs will be going up tomorrow!

And thirdly, the latest episode of MANEATING is being uploaded as I type, and should be available very very soon here.  In this weeks episode I talk about Refreshers Squashies sweets, which are very nice.  And there's loads to do on their official website - like a Wordsearch!

Squashies Wordsearch!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Weekly Routine

Once a week I take my gran shopping, and being a creature of routine the day goes thusly:

 I will arrive at my grans, aiming to be there for 9.30am but inevitably being 5-10 minutes late.  I got away with being late for a while because she'd managed to get all of her clocks and watches set 10 minutes slow, but since the "It's not eleven o'clock yet!" incident during the 11am Remembrance Sunday silence, they've all been put right.

 We'll have a brief chat, I'll check her mail, put her rubbish and recycling in the appropriate bins, and get her coat.

 When ready we'll go to the car.  An issue often arises at this point, as my gran uses a mobility scooter.  The issue is that when I'm moving the scooter into position (for example outside her front door), I'll have it on full speed, but my gran uses it on its lowest setting.  What does happen from time to time is that I forget to turn the speed down after maneuvering it, leading to my gran speeding, out of control, off into the sunset.

 We'll get in the car.  My gran may attempt to put on her seatbelt, but more commonly will pull it across for me to do.  I now understand what Peter Kay means about his grandmother just holding the belt across her lap rather than plugging it in.

The routine involves going to Lidl, Waitrose, and Poundstretcher.  In that order.  Every week.

 As we're driving to Lidl, my gran will dig through her purse for any 1p, 2p, or 5p coins she may have, which are deposited in my drinks holder as a tip.  This is very nice of her, but does make it awkward when you're trying to put a drink in there and it's balanced on a pile of copper.

 We get to Lidl.  We will park in one of the west facing spaces, looking into the windowed side of the shop, ideally with an empty space next to us to make it easier to get the scooter around.

 We go around Lidl.  This takes about half an hour, and despite my gran having a list, the list is generally only paid a minimal amount of attention as we go around the shop, following a well-rehearsed script honed over the years.

 "How many cheese twists did you want?" I'll ask her (the answer will most likely be 3.  If there are no cheese twists, she'll have cinnamon swirls.)

 "Do you want any mini-Kit Kats?" she'll ask me. The answer will be no, because they come in bags of 20, she already has about 30 mini-Kit Kats at home, and I worry that if I say yes she'll buy another 20 and have something of a mini-Kit Kat mountain that, if my son spots them, will result in a small child meltdown when I have to explain to him that he can't actually eat 50 Kit Kats for lunch.

 Biscuits are next - she will buy jaffa cakes, half of which I suspect she passes on to my mother, possibly rich teas and ginger nuts, and most likely some Penguins.  Penguins are not referred to as Penguins, but as a variety of different names, just to make life interesting.

 Then we get into the fruit and veg area.  She may buy baby plum tomatoes from here, but doesn't do so very often. Satsumas are felt to see if they are sufficiently ripe - they should have a loose peel, but aren't too dry - if they pass the test she'll buy them, otherwise the purchase of these is saved for Waitrose.

 Apple pies will be purchased, possibly with some jaffa cake bars alongside.  My gran will offer to buy me mushrooms (which I'll accept) and grapes (which I'll usually decline).

 I should note this week we got cherry bakewells instead of apple pies, because they'd sold out of apple pies.  Don't think that we aren't flexible, not for a minute, no sir.

 We will buy three sandwiches, a BLT, a Chicken Salad, and a Cheese Ploughmans.  We may buy four mini pork pies.

 We will head down the next aisle, my gran reminding me to "look at both sides".  We may buy bananas (a small bunch) and two packs of apple juice cartons.

 The third aisle is one that we may get away without buying anything, although options down here are Quavers (if Morrisons don't sell them cheaper) and tonic water.  Sometimes at the end of the third aisle / start of the fourth Lidl will have unusual food items for sale, i.e. they'll declare "It's US week!" and have US beer and hot dogs and squeezy mustard sauce for sale.  Whatever week it is, I'll pick a beer up.  And fortune cookies if it's Chinese week.

 Down the fourth aisle it's ibuprofen, possibly cat litter, and occasionally washing liquid if she wants me to do some washing.

 And on the last aisle we'll purchase milk, and look at the refrigerated special offer items, which always includes big chunks of cheese.  I suspect this is mainly for my benefit because I can't remember the last time my gran bought anything from here, but because I won't be getting home for 5 or 6 hours, I've never bought anything from here either.

 We'll then circle around, and head for the tills.  By the time we get to the tills I should worked out an estimate of how much the shopping will cost.  The leeway for error on this estimate is around 7%.  If I exceed this limit (by the final value being too cheap or too expensive) I will earn a well-deserved "You said it would be £XXX!" from my gran.

 When it gets to being our turn to load goods onto the till belt, I'll put my grans items first, and then mine, with my grans sorted roughly in the order that I want to put them into the bags.  Carrier bags will be removed from my grans bag and opened up, ready to accept the scanned goods.

 Now, it's our turn to get our stuff scanned and pay for it.

 I remember back when I was little, and going to Sainsburys with my parents.  At that time scanning food seemed to take so long that it would have been quicker to type the prices in by hand.

 Then Aldi opened opposite Sainsburys.

 At Aldi the shopping was scanned in a flash, a bolt of lightning wouldn't move as fast as the till operators hands did over that scanner.

 Now Lidl isn't quite as fast as that, but they don't hang about, and one of the staff in particular is fast as anything.  If we get her, I'm most likely going to have to resort to dumping the shopping in the trolley and bagging it after paying - but that doesn't mean I won't try to keep up!  So I do my best to scoop the scanned goods into my ready and prepared bags for life, with the aim of being able to go straight to the car and unload the bags without any packing beforehand.

 At any rate, we finish at Lidl, and drive to Waitrose (to be precise, parking in the disabled bay immediately to the right of the entrance to Poundstretcher if at all possible).  We'll go to Waitrose to the cafe and get my gran seated on the very edge of a chair - I'm convinced that she's going to fall off one day, I do try to get her to sit fully on a chair but she seems to prefer sitting on the edge - and purchase some combination of paninis, bacon/sausage sandwiches, cheese toastie (okay it's Waitrose so it's called Croque Monsieur, but that doesn't change the fact that it's cooked bread with cheese in), or if they are lacking in a number of the aforementioned items, a toasted teacake.

 Because we have a MyWaitrose card, we get two drinks (a small coffee and some kind of tea - either herbal or regular depending on how I'm feeling) but only have to pay for one.  I have registered for my own MyWaitrose card because I imagine it's going to help me feel middle class. And, more importantly, it'll get me a free drink in the cafe.  My gran always comments that most of the people in the cafe aren't eating anything - I imagine it's probably because they're all enjoying a free drink.  But my card hasn't arrived yet and so we currently pay for one drink.

 When I return from buying food I must have a receipt with me so that my gran can see what we're having for lunch.  The receipt is essential. It does not matter if we have the food and I can explain what each item is - we need the receipt!  My gran will check that we still need to keep the MyWaitrose card, I have a feeling that it doesn't have a suitable place to live in her purse and she'd prefer to get rid of it if possible.

 In the cafe we'll eat and drink, read whatever newspaper or magazine is available - my gran prefers the Mail or the Express, I prefer the Guardian or the Independent (or Sunday equivalents ie Observer).

 We'll finish the day off by going to Poundstretcher for three books with nice stories and large print, one box of Whiskas cat food, some Walnut Whips, and possibly a bag of sweets for me - I'll try to resist the latter, but some times my will weakens.  My gran will run over one of the feet of the revolving stand holding the books for children with her mobility scooter.

And in a nutshell, there is my weekly routine!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Platform 2013 is here!

I've just got back from experiencing the various delights of Platform 2013, the biggest gaming convention ever to hit Hull, and it's been pretty awesome fun.

Platform has pretty much taken over Hull City Centre today and tomorrow, being in force in the City Hall, Guildhall, Studio School, and Ferens Art Gallery.  In the City Centre the main gaming focus is taking place, with a mixture of games developers and gaming-related firms in prescence.  It was great to see the Multiplay guys commentating on some fantastic Hunger Games Minecraft and Ace of Spades games.

One of the indie developers there, Beard Bandit, was on hand to feature the first-ever public showing of their new game, Comet Chaos.  It harks back a little to Missile Command, albeit with far better gameplay, graphics, and insane powerups - swopping your missiles for a laser is ridiculous fun!  And watching the stellar chunks bounce off a handy shield is very satisfying.

comet chaos
Comet Chaos - don't be put off by my low resolution picture - I just need a new camera!

beard bandit
One of the chaps from Beard Bandit does an interview while his colleague gets the important job of "playing the game so the interview has it in shot, whilst sitting on the floor behind a table to keep out of the shot himself"

Elsewhere, in the Guildhall, two rooms are set up with all kinds of retro gaming computers and consoles available, from Acorns and BBC Micros, through Ataris and Sega Master Systems.  They only had one Spectrum but it was a +3 - oh how I wanted a ZX Spectrum +3 when I was a kid!  I tried various games, and reminded myself just how bad I am at them.  Today's games are a lot easier, you can pause them and save them and go back whenever you want, and if you die you restart just before where you died... I remember the family playing one game for a month, and that meant that the Spectrum stayed on for the month.  Amazing that the power supply didn't burst into flames really, knowing how hot they got!

BBC Micros.  At least they didn't have any of those nasty Commodores around.

I also popped over to Ferens Art Gallery to see what was going on there, as I sauntered in a Platform volunteer said "are you here for Platform?", I answered in the affirmative and within twenty seconds found myself in a lecture hall, with no idea of who was speaking or what about.  Fortunately the speaker was the very impressive AJ Grand-Scrutton who gave a fantastic talk about his experiences of working in the games industry.

Special mention must be made to Hugh of Let There Be Light Productions - great to finally speak to you in person!  And if he reads this, hi to Nana, I'd be interested in challenging you to a chair-breaking contest sometime, I understand you're quite an expert at it!

All in all a very entertaining day!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Platform 2013 - one day to go!

Well, the video camera is on charge, the brand new space invaders t-shirt is hanging in the wardrobe and I'm scribbling my YouTube channel address on the back of a load of free Vistaprint business cards I ordered for no reason ages ago.


Platform 2013!

Platform 2013 is a massive gaming expo taking place in Hull tomorrow and Saturday.  Featuring the likes of Google, Microsoft, Multiplay, Sony, Konami... the list goes on and on.  Loads of games to play, new hardware to look at (I believe PS4s will be in attendance), I'm very much looking forward to an event like this, especially one where I don't have to travel for 2+ hours to get to.

I haven't decided whether I'm actually going to do some filming or not, but I want to take my gear with me in case the feeling takes me!

Speaking of filming, my latest episode of MANEATING went live yesterday - this week it's the turn of Ryvita Wholegrain Crackerbreads to be eaten.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

And lo...

Today we have a guest blog from my dad, about feeding dogs raw meat.  I probably need to give some disclaimer at some point - um, okay.  I am in no way instructing you to feed your animals raw meat, in case something bad happens.  And I'm sure vets are very good.  This post is included for its entertainment value.  Which is considerable.

That being said, if you are on the look out for some decent Christmas/Yule presents, I'd recommend heading over to my parents Facebook page, and giving them a message asap with your postal address and a request for a free catalogue.  They do all kinds of weird and wonderful stuff, like gemstones, jewellery, incense, charm bags, moon diaries, candles, totem stones, books... the list goes on and on.  They're mail order only (well okay you can ring them and order) and there is just the two of them running the business, so if you want something unusual and unique as a present for someone you'd best off get a catalogue as soon as possible and get ordering!

Dad - over to you!

Greetings dear reader, I trust you are well. On occasion in the past I may have regaled you with tales wild and varied, of violent awakenings of a befuddled soul fresh from their bed standing in something unmentionable before the sun has risen upon the day, or have read of the home truths of hairy canines, who be they beautiful, lovely, loyal and loving, are all at one in the same time, still dogs! And on this occasion a unique occurrence presented itself to the writer of tales so I bid thee be of good and hearty spirit, and prepare for amazement …

And lo, the wolves didst look up the sheep of many heads, and the sheep didst gaze back at they, as only the silent dead can do, and the wolves were confounded, and they did look to one another in bewilderment, and then did turn their eyes to their mistress as if to say “What the?”

So it was that one of the breeders pups had eaten a plastic bag with dire consequences – Colitis. In essence, it was crapping blood persistently and far from well. The vet recommended steroids for possibly the rest of its life, a diagnosis of considerable benefit to their bank balance (there’s nothing like guaranteed repeat business, right?) The breeder, who knows more about her breed than probably any vet alive and most other people in the world, knew well enough that the poor creature would not develop properly if kept on steroids – sometimes these drugs are unavoidable, but you need to be off them as soon as possible - so another answer was needed.

Much research and talking with other canine experts in many far flung countries was done and an unusual answer was suggested – raw meat, or rather raw carcasses.
The pup really didn’t want to eat its normal food which is cereal based and so in for a penny etc, raw chicken wings were offered to the dog. Amazingly the pup was more than interested and devoured the wings. The breeder knew full well that bitches who have just recently given birth do well with raw chicken to help them recuperate, and that the new mum’s always try to offer the carcasses to their new pups, which seems a little odd … but maybe they instinctively know what is best?

So this was the food for several days and amazingly the bleeding ceased. After some time the cereal diet was tried again but this brought a resumption of bleeding and was quickly stopped. Apparently the cereal diet caused bleeding, but raw bones and meat didn’t?! An unexpected but a welcome outcome.

Further research suggested that raw carcasses are indeed recommended for this breed of dog (Rough collies) and to cut a long story short, a supplier of chicken carcasses was found and now all the dogs at the kennels (around 30 at present) eat the new diet and to excellent effect. An unexpected side effect is that all dog’s are now worm free and without any form of ‘worm doom’ treatment. Apparently the diet changes the pH balance of the stomach and worms don’t thrive in such conditions. Not what one would have expected, but all to the good.

All most excellent, all dogs now eat chicken carcasses and also tripe, and love it to boot.

But what of sheep’s heads?

Ah well, it only seemed right that the search was ongoing for variations of food carcasses and upon visiting a trade butcher known to the breeder, she was delighted to see sheep’s heads for sale. They were a bargain I must tell you, less than £1 each, and she did speak with the butcher and ask for some sheep’s heads.

Certainly madam, how many would you like (he thinks, she will want one, for a laugh)

Twenty six please.

Certainly madam, erm twenty six? What are you going to do with them?

Feed them to the dogs!

Picture if you will, these are sheep’s heads. Take a sheep, remove the head part and that is what you have got – fur, eyeballs, horns, the lot!

Some time later twenty six sheep’s heads arrived at the breeders and she took them to the dog’s enclosure and ‘deposited’ them. And lo the dog’s were amazed!

And they did look at the sheep’s heads, and the sheep’s heads did look back at them. And the dog’s looked at the breeder as if to say “What the?”

The breeder did wonder if there was going to be a pile of rotting heads in the enclosure thereafter. The dog’s sniffed the sheep’s heads, prodded them, and looked about as if not knowing what to do.

The breeder went to bed a-wondering which colour wheelie bin was most appropriate for disposing of twenty six sheep’s heads.

But amazingly, the curious canines continued to ‘investigate’ the strange arrival in their compound, and the following morning when she went to the enclosure, of sheep’s heads there were none to be seen! Jaw bones, horns and the occasional bit of wool being blown about. All else had vanished completely, tongues, brains, eyeballs, skulls, the lot!

And yes, the dog’s are fine!

Stirred on by the wondrous tale we decided to buy ourselves a chicken and, well chop the bits off that we wanted – breasts and legs – and offer the remains to our two fluffy creatures Maeve and China.

Dad and dogs.  I'm fairly certain the only way he got them both to sit like this was with food.

Maeve, looked at us as if to say “Eh?” She sniffed, prodded, mouthed a small piece …… tried to be attentive as she could, as this was obviously her main meal of the day, but no … what, you expect me to eat it?!

China is a different sort of creature. When she found that she had been given half a chicken carcass she gathered it up and disappeared to find somewhere secluded to eat her prize. We have never known her do this ever before, but hey, apparently this was her birthday and she loved her ‘pressy’.
A few bare minutes later she came back downstairs from the bedroom and took intense interest in the delicious offering which Maeve was ignoring. In an effort to help Maeve along I chopped up all her carcass into bite sized pieces, which was a complete waste of time, no way was she eating that rubbish.

China looked pleadingly, she knows full well that she isn’t supposed to steal Maeve’s food and she looked genuinely surprised when we said “Go on then China, you can have it!”

A few short minutes later every morsel had vanished, the plate licked clean and a very happy dog settled down on the sofa.

And she was fine, no problems of any kind; we haven’t seen China so happy for a long time

NB Apparently chicken carcasses are ok for dogs but they must be raw – cooking makes the bones brittle and likely to shatter into sharp pieces.  

Sunday, 10 November 2013

How can you wave at a driver that isn't there?

You may have caught this story in the news that there are plans to operate driverless "pod" vehicles in the town of Milton Keynes from 2015.

In theory, this sounds great.  Computer-operated vehicles, that could be borrowed to get around town, should be more efficient, allow people chance to check emails (by which I mean check Facebook), and if they are anything like the ones Google are testing, should be safer too.  It's rare that accidents are caused by vehicular failure - far more often it's due, partially or wholly, to the person holding the steering wheel.

But it does throw up some concerns...

  • If you let one through, how does it wave to thank you?  Does it need a robotic arm fitting to salute you?
  • Will it be able to change its driving style so that it speeds up just enough to stop that BMW from pulling out in front of you, because its passenger has a nasty haircut?
  • We know that all computer software, from apps to operating systems, crashes from time to time.  Do you really want a Blue Screen of Death when doing 70 on the motorway?

And I don't think winding all the windows down and back up again will work either.

Plus we have to think about navigation - we all know how good sat-nav is.  That is to say that sat-nav, for about 90% of the time, is great, taking you straight to your destination.  But what about when you specify a location that perhaps is on a private road - will the car take you up to where the public highway ends, and then stop, bamboozled?  What about if you want to go to a shop that's relocated, but the cars database insists on taking you to its old locations?

PS I forgot that my last post was my 200th. So why not celebrate my 201st post instead?

PPS When setting my location for this post, Blogger came up with an error message.  Slightly ironic - if the software on my PC crashes when looking for "Hull, UK" I might not feel 100% comfortable trying it in a moving vehicle!

Friday, 8 November 2013

New web series launched - MANEATING!

A quick blog post tonight, just wanted to flag up my new web series debuted this week, MANEATING!  Content for my YouTube channel has been an issue for a while, I have difficulty making content, never mind quality content.

Anyway, I thought about what I liked doing.

And eating came to mind.

Hence Maneating - a show where I eat stuff!

Here's the first episode, where I eat an Alpen Light Bar.   Mmm.

For more of my videos, check out my channel at

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Construction work is waiting for me

I have a project to undertake.

A project that will challenge all of my construction skills.

The kitchen drawer has finally failed.

The rear wall of the drawer has been falling off for some months.  Since it first showed signs of weakness, I've tried repairing it using a variety of materials, including:

  • Sellotape
  • Glue
  • Thick tough tape
  • Some funky metal bonding stuff in a tube that you have to cut, massage until its soft (a bit like blu tack), and then work into the gap

All of this has, in the end, failed.

My other half pointed out her displeasure with the current state of affairs by putting things into the drawer, and the items promptly sliding out of the back of the drawer and falling into the cupboard below.  I explained that if you:

a) Opened the drawer extremely slowly and carefully, and;
b) Didn't put anything in it

Then the drawer was fine, but apparently regardless of these perfectly reasonable facts it is time to go buy a new drawer, and fit it (gulp)

In other news, I've recorded tonight the first three episodes of my new web show.  It's called Maneating and it'll be on my YouTube Channel... sometime.  Not tonight because I have to do editing and do music, and all that kind of thing.  So maybe tomorrow night.

Unless I play Card Hunter.

The other thing is, have you got your tickets to Platform 2013 yet?  If not, this massive gaming expo is taking place on November 15th and 16th in Hull.  There's speakers from Google and Microsoft, video game exhibitors, a PC showcase, cosplay, all kinds of cool stuff.  I'm going down with my camera kit to hopefully do some filming.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Meme stardom here I come!

I can't help but notice how popular "memes" are at the moment.  I've spent some time analysing the key points of the most popular memes, and here are some home made ones - please do feel free to share (and tell people where you got them from!)

fluffy the bat meme
And here's one for everyone from Hull:
fluffy the bat chip spice hull meme

Speaking of Hull, I went out with my dad yesterday down Princes Ave in Hull.  Due to the weather, we spent the vast majority of Friday afternoon in Pave, and very much enjoyed it.

Me and a pint of Hoegaarden, with fruit in!  Very odd but it did enhance the flavour.

Dad in a philosophical pose.  This was later in the afternoon, when we'd been to another pub, and then due to the rain decided to return to Pave rather than attempt a march to Newland Avenue.

Dad very much enjoyed the Yorkshire Lager on sale, whilst I did my usual trick of trying a different drink every time - I think my favourite was possibly the Schneider-Weiss on tap, very nice indeed.

While I'm blogging I must flag up that Christmas is swiftly coming upon us, and if you want any chance of ordering rather cool stuff for presents (either for family/friends or for yourself) I can't help but recommend getting a catalogue from Raven - obviously I'm biased but my parents business does sell all kinds of weird and wonderful stuff.  They're mail order to the UK and Ireland, send them a message on Facebook with your name and address to get a catalogue, and I do believe that you get a voucher for a free gift with your first order too!  I'd also recommend liking them on Facebook because their status updates are always very interesting, usually a bit of history about what happened on this date, or otherwise it's pictures of food.

Which is always good!

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