Friday, 31 January 2014

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year of the Horse! I hope you're celebrating or making it in some way.

For the readers of my blog, I've done fortune cookie predictions for you! The top 8 countries that read my blog most - the USA, Germany, UK, China, Indonesia, Ukraine, France and Russia - have got fortune cookie predictions! We also feature the interdimensional return of the Pyramid of Mystery!

This is a Fortune telling drinking game for the video:
  • Every time I say "So", take a swig of beer!
  • Every time I say "Okay", take two swigs of beer!
  • Every time I say "Hello", take a shot!
  • Every time I say "Yeah", take a swig of beer and a shot!
Catch the video now at

Thanks to everyone that reads my blog - I'm a smidge off 30,000 hits which is quite outstanding (I know Blogger inflates the statistics a bit, but nevertheless it must be quite a lot!), do please feel free to comment and stuff :)

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Aqua is No Artist

I was in the gym, with my earphones in, playing music off my phone.  Doctor Jones by Aqua, as it happens.

My phone showed this:

"no artist" indeed.  I knew the latest version of Android gave the damn thing opinions.

Hope you enjoyed the first of my interviews with YouTubers (if you haven't seen it it was with the very funny Nick Crompton and you can read my interview with him here), I have two more interviews ready to go and I'm working on a third, so stay tuned.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

What is Java anyway?!?

I've just installed Update 51 of Java 7 on my computer.  It's been bugging me for about a week to be installed, so I finally gave in.

But the messages it pops up with during the install always irritate me.  The first window:

Java is found EVERYWHERE?!?  And I can experience the power of Java!  Wow!  Am I excited or what?!?

And installing it comes with a requirement to think, for instance it asks:

Yep, it asks if I want the Ask Toolbar installed.  Why the Ask Toolbar?  Does Java work better with this toolbar?  Or with Ask set as my default search provider?  No, I presume that they have some sort of deal with Ask to stick this into every installation of a Java update in the hope of attracting a few more users.

In any other piece of software, I'd call this malware trying to get permission to slow down my PC.  But because it's Java, it's an additional service offered, because they're so helpful.

And it does, by default, have these boxes ticked.  So anyone not particularly IT-literate, or maybe just in a hurry, may well click Next and not realise anything is amiss until a new toolbar appears in their web browser.
No, I don't want Ask as my default search provider.

But hey, 3 billion devices run Java!  No statistics though on how many of the devices actually need Java, and how many just have it installed because a bloody update popped up and users accepted it.

Needless to say I haven't noticed a single thing to be different on my computer now that the latest Java update has been installed.

You see, once upon a time Java really was needed on your computer.  But Java use is waning.  Users should consider whether to keep Java installed on your computer, and if you so, whether you have it enabled in your web browser (basically, there are two purposes for Java - one is to run java applets on the web, and the other is to run Java programs on your computer).  I'm certainly tempted to disable it and see how I get on.

And confusingly, Java and Javascript are two totally different things.  Javascript, again used in web browsers - absolutely fine.  No need for Java to be installed for Javascript to work.  Because that makes sense, right?!?

To be fair, I'm sure all the folk at Oracle who put this stuff together are doing their best.  I understand how large organisations work, and how organisations should be differentiated from the people working inside them.  I'm sure if I sat down with one of their developers, they'd blow my mind with how clever they are and be really nice and friendly, and may even agree with me on some of the points I've complained about.  But nevertheless, I like to complain.

So there!

While I'm blogging, I've made a new video on my YouTube channel - it's actually an advert for my channel which is to be used in the YouTube Fan Finder programme (basically free adverts for me about my channel).  It's pretty short (30 seconds) so if you have half a minute to spare, do please watch it, and if you like what I do, maybe even head over to my channel and subscribe!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Gym Exercises

Firstly, I really hope you enjoyed the last post, which was the first of a series of interviews with YouTubers that I enjoy watching.  The first interview, if you missed it, was with the brilliant Nick Crompton, who if you haven't watched yet, you need to.  I'm aiming to release interviews here on a fortnightly basis, and to show how well prepared I am, I actually have the second all ready to go, and work being done on the third

Okay, so I'm going to the gym.  Nothing wrong with that, it's pretty okay, once you get there and get into it it can even be almost enjoyable.

But the exercises really don't relate to real life.

I have never in my life skied.  I have no intention of skiing.  Snow is for snowball fights, snowmen, and for looking at whilst sat in front of a fire.

Yet I am encouraged to attempt to ski for as long as I can, at speed.

Equally with rowing, but the rowing machine doesn't even simulate real rowing, instead it's some kind of bizarre rowing boat where you urge the boat into motion by pulling a bar on a string.  No steering - this boat is just going to take you forward.

And if you go forward over a waterfall, your feet are strapped to your boat so you aren't getting out.  This isn't a good thing for a guy that can't swim.  I've never tried it, but I suspect the chances of me magically learning to swim, whilst being strapped to a boar, are low.

I need an exercise for typing really fast, that would be useful.  Or perhaps one where you have to stand in a queue with a weight in the shape of a shopping basket in one hand, and another weight in the shape of a small child in the other.  Oh, and the second weight needs to wriggle randomly.

I've "vlogged" about this too on my YouTube channel - you can see it below, but do be warned that it does include simulated exercise.

I'm working on making some changes to my YouTube channel, to try to make it better, any feedback or offers of help (Hint - I can't draw to save my life and I need some channel art!) are welcomed!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

YouTube Interviews #1 - The Nick Crompton

I've decided to do a series of interviews with YouTubers that I enjoy watching (to clarify, I enjoy watching their work - I don't stalk them or anything), to link with my 2014 Video Challenges, an effort to lift the quality of my videos.

Today we're interviewing Nick Crompton, a teenager from West Yorkshire who produces some of the funniest stuff on YouTube today. And yes, he's younger than me and more entertaining than me, but that doesn't mean that I'm jealous (ahem).

If you haven't seen Nick's stuff yet I'd really recommend it, it is extremely funny and Nick's reactions to... well life, really... are just brilliant.

So Nick - how did you get into making videos?

I made my first video in July 2012 just after I'd left Sixth Form. It was the beginning of the summer and I had absolutely nothing to do so I decided to get my camera out and start talking to it. My first 20-ish videos are still on YouTube but they're private due to how awful they are. When people email me asking for advice on how to start YouTube I always send them my first video and show them how bad I used to be. Making videos isn't easy and it takes practice. I'm now two years down the line and even though I've improved massively, I'm still learning stuff with every new video I make.

I remember finding your channel as a result of the YouTube Creator Academy last year, and kind of being apprehensive because unlike a lot of the people doing the academy you had something like 2000 subscribers already. Why do you think your videos are so popular?

I don't see my videos as being 'popular'. I just like entertaining people and making people laugh and I hope that's why people keep coming back to watch.

I'd suggest that you come across in your videos as being a bit older than you actually are, and with the persona of a sort of really good northern comic, a proper Yorkshireman loaded with wit. Is the Nick we see in your videos the same Nick in everyday life?

I think so yeah. A few YouTuber's use an online persona that they create for themselves. A great example is Jack Dean, his online persona 'JaackMaate' has gained him over 100,000 subscribers and it works really well for him. I like to think I'm just me. I turn the camera on and I'm exactly the same as I am off screen.

Nick distracted in the bathroom by a Rubik's Cube.  I wasn't expecting to type that when I woke up this morning.
Talking about video quality, it's clear in your videos that you put in a lot of work polishing them - the quality is always fantastic, the custom thumbnails are brilliantly designed to attract viewers, the clone scenes are always perfect - does it come naturally to you to put that amount of work in, or is it an effort for you to do all that after you've spent your time recording?

The recording part is definitely the easiest aspect but I love editing and graphic design so the whole process seems to come naturally. Me and my friend Jason use the term "Full package" when we're making videos. The full package is a video that is well planned out, really well edited and has great graphics to accompany it. You can film almost anything and make it look good with great editing and well designed graphics.

Did you learn much from doing the YouTube Creator Academy?

I'm partnered with LittleDotStudios who taught me most of the things that they mentioned in the YouTube Creator Academy. I think it'll help a lot of beginners but I don't think I gained anything from it.

You've been involved in some great collaborations, particularly "The Final F*** Off" with TeaMakerJason, where the world was saved by people telling you go forth and conjugate... nothing personal I'm sure. Any more collaborations on the horizon? And is there anyone in particular you'd like to work with?

Oh yes, the Final F*** Off was the collab of the century. I still can't believe how much of the community got involved, it was brilliant. Shout out to TeaMakerJason for the great work on that! I've been talking to a few other YouTuber's about collaborations but nothing has been arranged yet. My dream collaboration would have to be with It'sGrace.

What do you get up to when not making videos?

Since I started my gaming channel I hardly do anything else but make videos but that's exactly how I like it. I now constantly feel busy and productive by doing what I love to do.

And for those people that haven't enjoyed your videos yet - what would you say to make them watch?

Well it depends what kind of content you prefer! I'm really proud of my latest sketch:
But if you prefer gaming videos then you should definitely check out this:

Nick - thanks for your time.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Being Creative with Cheese

So, I decided to talk about cheese in a bad Northern UK accent.

It isn't my usual accent, honest.

That one is much less intelligible.

So, this is the weekend before I kick off my 2014 Video Challenges, my drive to make my YouTube videos "better"!  I'll be blogging a lot more about this over the next weeks and months, one thing I wanted to flag up is that I am hoping to have on my blog some interviews with YouTubers that I really like and subscribe to - so fingers crossed you'll see some in due course!

If you make videos and want to get involved in my challenges, you're very welcome - head over to our Google+ community, and say hi!

UPDATE: I have my first set of answers to interview questions back!  Expect them showcased soon!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Happy 85th Birthday Popeye!

On January 17th, 1929, Popeye made made his first appearance in the Thimble Theatre cartoon series, by Elzie Segar.  So he's very shortly (as I type this) about to be eighty five years old.

Popeye wasn't always the lead character.  At the start, he was just a supporting character, there to give some of the main characters a boat ride to Dice Island, but due to his popularity with readers he was quickly elevated to become a main, and then the main, character.

I remember Popeye fondly from my childhood - when I was a kid we had four TV channels, and about an hour to an hour and a half of kids shows on a day, to coincide with when children came home from school.  This didn't mean a great deal to me as someone taught at home.

So I would scour the Radio Times for cartoons, and the ultimate - the absolute ultimate - you could hope for was a triple-bill, a whole 15 minutes, of cartoons, and I can only remember this happening once (although I'm sure it happened a lot more than only once).  And it was Popeye cartoons that was shown.

Happy birthday Popeye! Ack ack ack ack ack!!

Monday, 13 January 2014

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

First off, I have to suggest that you check out the latest post on my mum's blog here.  She's written about my adventures with the Royal Mail, where one of my parcels was intercepted and sent to Belfast.  If I disappear suddenly, know that the security services have acted.

Secondly, if you're reading it right now (as in when I've just posted it), you have but a handful of minutes to get to and join in with the very funny and entertaining retro gaming "Garlic Bread Monday" live stream by Scott Tumilty.  Go now.

Still reading?

Okay then!

Inspiring is a word that I worry is used far too often.  And more often than not, in some sort of "fluffy" context.

"Oh my, isn't that sunrise inspiring!"
"Ooh! That mirror is so inspiring!"
"Man, that hot coffee kick is really inspiring!"

I am generally cynical when it comes to inspiration.  If you want to do something, do it.  Be aware that whatever it is - writing a book, getting your dream job, running a marathon, swimming the English Channel - is probably not going to be quite as wonderful as you imagine.  Writing a book is a long hard slog.  Your dream job might not work out to be as great as you think.  And the hours spent training for a marathon or swimming the channel aren't all going to be wonderfully joyous.

But that's not to say that you shouldn't try.  Do try, try with all your heart.  Because the one thing you otherwise get stuck with is regrets.

Anyhow, I have to say that The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is inspiring.  The Ben Stiller film is actually the second remake of the original 1939 story by James Thurber, and looks at an introvert forced to go outside of his comfort zone and travel the world in search of a photograph.  It is really very good (despite mixed reviews) and well worth watching.  Special mention has to go to Ben Stiller and his acting in the lead role - you would hardly credit that it is the same person playing the character from beginning to end, such is the change in his personality.  It's been out a little while now, so if you want to catch it in the cinemas, go soon.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Working Out

So, I finished off my workout Thursday night with ten minutes on the treadmill.  For most of it I was just walking along, with a bit of a steep incline, but just walking, but then for the last maybe 2 minutes I trebled the speed and ran like a mad bugger.

When I came off one of the personal trainers said that even he couldn't have done what I just did.

I was too embarrassed to admit that I'd only run so fast because "Thunderbirds Are Go" by Busted had come over my earphones.

Man, I love that song.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014


I tried to go to the gym tonight.

But my gear hadn't been washed.

So I'm on the computer.

With beer.

Things sometimes work out quite well.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

How did you change over Christmas?

Myself - I became a fan of Doctor Who.

For someone who considers himself a geek, one thing I've never really been into was Doctor Who.  I've watched the odd episode, certainly, but it's never been a show that I would plan to sit down and watch, just something that, if there was nothing else on, could kill an hour for me.

And over Christmas, when I had some spare time to kill, there was a full afternoon of Doctor Who episodes on.

I have come to the conclusion that Matt Smith is awesome.

Apart from Doctor Who, I've been playing two games on my phone a lot - Clash of Clans from Supercell, and Hill Climb Racing from Fingersoft.

Clash of Clans is a strategy game where you build a town up, building gold mines, walls, resource stores, cannons and the like to defend yourself, whilst also recruiting fighters to go and loot other towns.  As you get better at looting towns, and at defending your own town, you gain trophies, which make it more likely that you'll be attacked by better players - and that you'll get the chance to fight them back!  It's a very engaging free to play game and well worth a try.

One of the nice features of Clash of Clans is the "Revenge" button - after someone attacks your town, you can hit this button, and rather than the game automatically matching you with a town to attack, it gives you the chance to get your revenge upon them.

I was attracted to Clash of Clans firstly by the advert which is very funny - watch it below!

Hill Climb Racing, meanwhile, is a game where you drive a variety of vehicles over a number of landscapes, trying to cover as much distance as possible, whilst picking up coins on the way that you can use to upgrade your vehicles, as well as unlocking new landscapes and new vehicles.  Vehicles go from the mundane (jeep) to the cool (monster truck / racing car) to the bizarre (tank / tourist bus), as do the landscapes (fancy driving on the Moon?)

For a very simplistic game - you have two controls, an accelerator and a brake - it is very engaging and challenging.  The landscapes are quite tough and you'll soon realise that putting your foot down is an unwise approach if you don't want to attempt balancing a car on your head (not recommended if you want to keep your neck in one piece).  However, the temptation of additional coins by carrying out tricks, like jumping into the air and flipping your car over is often too enticing to resist.  Again, I'd strongly recommend giving this one a try.  Be warned though - you never get used to the noise of your neck breaking as a car crushes it - and this happens a lot!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Having Lunch in Waitrose

I've talked in the past about taking my gran shopping, but I wanted to write a little more about lunch.

We generally go to Waitrose for lunch - actually, skip the word generally - we always go to Waitrose for lunch, except for perhaps once or twice a year when Waitrose has so annoyed my gran (probably by not giving her a receipt) that we go to McDonalds one week.

So, we go round Waitrose and buy some cat food, and then we separate - I, to pay for the cat food (2 boxes of Gourmet Ocean Delicacies), and my gran to locate a table in the cafe.

Ideally, we get one of the tables alongside the tills, because there's lots of space to get to them and my gran doesn't have to worry about her mobility scooter getting in anyones way.

Once I've got her seated (as mentioned before, seated means sat right on the very edge of her chair) and equipped with a selection of two newspapers/magazines - ideally one of which will be the Express for her, and the other the Independent for me - I'll go to tackle the most dangerous part of the shop.

The Waitrose Cafe Queue.

No one gives an inch in the queue to get served at the cafe.  I've had older ladies nudging me in the back because I've not moved to take up an millimetre of space that opened up in front of me a second ago.

And everyone has their My Waitrose cards on their tray.


I don't know why, because all you do with the My Waitrose card(s), to claim your free drinks, is when you get to the till, you hand them to the till operator.  There's no need to display them on their tray, and yet we all do.

Perhaps it's to prove that we belong.  Yes, I am an overweight gentleman adorned with a pair of jeans and a Space Invaders T-Shirt, but I have a My Waitrose card, therefore I may stay.

They do a damn fine panini though, I must admit.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

YouTube proposal...


Got a bit of a proposal for fellow YouTubers...

Last year I took part in something called the YouTube Creator Academy.  Basically you watched a load of videos about making the most of your YouTube channel, and made you do certain things, like make an introduction video for your channel, and interact with other creators.  I really really enjoyed it, especially the interaction with others - it made me watch videos and channel that normally I never would, and broadened my horizons and made new contacts ("contacts" = basically an allegedly cooler way of saying "friends")

So, I'm planning to set a series video challenges for myself to do over the next few weeks and months on my YouTube channel, and it occurred to me to ask if anyone else would like to get in on the action - I could administer the same challenges that I'm doing for other people, and maybe work together on some stuff (one challenge for example I want to set myself is one week to do a collaboration - which obviously requires at least one other YouTuber!)

I should stress that I am a complete amateur at videos (which should be obvious for anyone who has seen my channel!) so I'm not looking at running these challenges because I'm an expert, it's just that I'm going to do them myself so if anyone else wants to join in, let me know as I don't mind organising things.

If people are up for it please drop me an email at and in a couple of weeks we'll make a start!  I'll probably be running the challenges using a Google+ community so you will need a Google account to get involved.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy new year, one and all.  I hope 2014 brings you all of the things that you want.

I wasn't keen on 2013, I seem to remember from the last new year.  I didn't like it as a number, I think it was the '3' in it, as I was quite happy with 2012.  But that is all behind us, and we venture forth into a new year!

To celebrate the coming of 2014, I made a video of predictions - a group of people very kindly submitted questions for answering (special thanks to Scott Tumilty, Geek & Sundry Vlogger for his), so if you really want to know the answers to the deep, life-changing questions... this video isn't for you.  On the other hand if you want to know if I'm going to buy someone else a bacon sandwich, check the video out.

Don't worry about the glow in my eyes, it's purely down to the mystical powers of the Pyramid of Mystery, and not bad lighting.  Honest.

New years resolution?  Well for me, to lose weight.  I'm not going to worry about it this week while I'm off work and the house is still full of chocolate, but once that's out of the way, I'm hitting the gym again.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have an unfeasibly large marshmallow to eat.

Told you.

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