Friday, 30 May 2014

Guest bloggers welcomed!

I'm going to be unavailable for most of next week, so if anyone feels as though they'd like to do a guest post, let me know.  I did write some guest post guidelines a while back, so if you're interested but have some questions check that out first.  Bottom-line pretty much anything goes, as long as it's not overly rude/illegal, and is interesting and/or funny.

Deadline for guest posts ultimately is going to be to get them to me by 7.00pm GMT Sunday 1st June, to give me opportunity to check them over, put them into Blogger, and set up scheduling for them.

Here's some of my more popular past posts that may be of interest:

6 weird things about NCIS
Music is rubbish nowadays
Not having a personal trainer
6 things only YouTube Creators understand

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

I'd like to dedicate this award to...

I've been nominated for the Liebster Award!

If you're a blogger, you probably know what this is. Basically, it's a nomination given by someone who knows (and hopefully likes) your blog.

There are various rules that you have to follow, which are:

1. Thank the person who nominated you.

Well, Thank you to Tim Clark of Life, Explained - Tim's a great blogger and one of the few that I read pretty much religiously (and my reading of other blogs is pretty haphazard!)

2. Answer the 11 questions given to you.

I will, keep reading!

3. Nominate at least 5 blogs with less than 200 followers (approximately).

Hmm - this one is tricky to be honest as I just can't think of that many blogs - and one of them would have been Tim's!

Here's all the ones that I would like to nominate:

  • Andy at BadDogGaming - Andy is an old friend of mine, participant in my World of Warcraft parody video, and a very funny and smart guy.
  • Duncan at Nobodys Reading Me - Duncan is a brilliant writer, and very very consistent too. I wish that I could turn out good quality blog posts as regularly as Duncan does.
  • Tony from The Writers Bloc. I really enjoy reading Tony's work, plus he did post the best comment I've ever had to a blog post, I still smile when I think of McGee/DiNozzo suggesting asparagus rustlers in Norfolk and getting a Gibbslap in return.
4. Post 11 questions for your nominees to answer.

Ok - my questions for Andy, Duncan, and Tony to answer are:

1 - How long have you been blogging for?
2 - Why did you get into blogging?
3 - What blog post are you the most proud of?
4 - What do you do when not typing frantically at a computer?
5 - What's the weather like where you are right now?
6 - What environment do you find most conducive for writing?
7 - If travel was instant and money no object, what would be your perfect day?
8 - What's your pet peeve?
9 - What was the last book you read?
10 - What's your favourite drink?
11 - How do you see the world changing in the next fifty years?

5. Post a comment on your nominees' blogs to let them know that they've been nominated.

I will do.

Okay - time to answer my questions from Tim!

1. What was your main impetus to begin blogging?

To practice writing. I've always wanted to write, to create, but for a long time I've struggled with having enough time to do it on a regular basis - in the last fifteen years, I've spent thirteen of them studying (ten of them at the same time as working) which has been great but it's really nice to have some time to myself on an evening to write.

2. What was your favourite book?

The Man on Platform 5 by Robert Llewellyn. I've always said that if you want to understand me, read this book. The main character is basically my natural resting state, and I need motivation and external influence to conform to societies norms. Basically it's about a train spotter that is made into a cool dude for a bet. It's well written and very funny (not to mention fascinating to see how technology has moved on since it was written!) I generally read it perhaps once a year.

3. If you had a time machine where would you go first?

Difficult one. The birth of the universe? Myself when I was younger to give advice on what to do and what not to do (or even just give myself the winning lottery numbers)? A hundred years into the future to see what it looks like?

Actually - back to the day my son was born, to relive the joy of his birth.

And right after that, II'd go back about six years and tell myself to go to the doctors, get checked out, and make sure whenever I was suffering I'd go back too.

4. When you look at life what thing puzzles you most?

Pensions. Okay, maybe they don't puzzle me, but, while everyone says how important it is to save for your retirement (and it is), it is basically a gamble. You're gambling that you're going to live forever, and that the pension fund people will have to give you money to live for decades and decades. They, meanwhile, are gambling that you're going to die a couple of weeks into your retirement and be quids in.

5. Have you ever posted a Facebook update just to make someone jealous, or angry?

I hope not.

6. Would you explain?

I endeavour always to keep social media interactions positive. I might express my emotions, but I hope that I never do it to make someone angry or jealous.

7. What is your favourite vacation spot, someplace you have been and intend to return?

Paris wins - I had the best holiday there with my partner about five years ago, it was great and I'd love to return. But Dublin isn't far behind, it's probably the best place in the world to drink!

8. How many play lists are on your mp3 player?

One, full of dance music for the gym.

The gym that I should be in tonight, instead of writing!

The playlist is full of music of questionable taste. Favourites that spring to mind include "Thunderbirds Are Go" by Busted, and "C'est La Vie" by B*Witched.

9. Looking at your life now, and thinking about your school years, in what subject do you wish you would have payed more attention?

I don't really feel that there are any subjects that I should have paid more attention to.

10. Why?

I don't know. I should say that this question doesn't really apply to me because I was taught at home, my first experience of formal education was when I was sixteen and went to Hull College. And when I went to college I studied IT, because that's what I was interested in.

11. Do you believe there is life on other planets?

Absolutely. There's so many planets out in the universe, I can't believe that ours is the only one with intelligent life.

But that's scary. I think, certainly in western culture, we are so used to everything in life being "fair" that the reality that tomorrow an alien invasion fleet could show up, decide that they want the Earth's resources (or to make the Earth a colony of theirs) and promptly kill us all without effort (or enslave us if we're lucky) is a little unsettling.

Fingers crossed it doesn't happen in my lifetime!

Thanks again to Tim for the nomination and I look forward to reading the answers from my nominated blogs!

Monday, 26 May 2014

Writing in a morning on a bank holiday

I'm writing at about half part 5 in the morning.  The sun is up, birds are tweeting... and in my house, I'm the only homo sapiens conscious.

I love writing and creating in a morning.  I always have more energy to be creative in a morning, and I prefer it when I don't have any other pressures around.  Ideally, I'll take a day off when everyone else is at work/nursery and be able to spend the time writing, but days off work aren't unlimited and need to be saved for a variety of more worthy purposes than to allow me to type at home as opposed to typing at work.

I've drunk a pint of strawberry Vimto cordial (no added sugar) and half a pint of cream soda cordial (probably with sugar in but what the hell) as I work up thirsty, there is a can of Asda Smart Price Lager sat on my desk that wasn't opened last night - yes, I can afford better lager but I like it - it's a quarter of the price of any other beer, it's low alcohol so I can drink several cans if I want, and also it's low in calories (a can of this stuff is half the calories of a bottle of Budweiser - and I can easily drink at least two bottles of Bud in an evening) so as just something to drink in an evening it's good.

It's actually taken me about half an hour to write the first three paragraphs of this post.  In between I've been promoting my new video (if you thought marshmallow fluff was sugary try it with shortbread!), updating AdAware, watching a vlog from Scott Tumilty, and cleaning up a friends slow laptop.

Any moment now my son will be waking up and the day will begin - it'll begin fairly gently, with an episode of NCIS (perhaps even two) over some toast while we snuggle under a blanket.  If I feel really proactive I'll put some washing on as well.

If you're having a bank holiday today, I hope that you're enjoying it and have something good planned.  Let me know in the comments.

I love bank holidays.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

6 Weird Things About NCIS

I love NCIS.  I love Gibbs and his neanderthal vocabulary and random violence, DiNozzos' cool attitude, McGees' geekiness... they're all great.

But, as a fan, there are a few odd things about the show.

Number 6: Typing solves everything

There is one hell of a lot of typing done in NCIS.  In a typical workplace, you'll certainly hear a significant amount of typing, sure.  But you'll also hear mouse clicks.

In NCIS, mouse clicks don't happen.  Anything and everything Gibbs could want, from the location of a bad guy to the bank account statements of a grieving widow, are found with a few seconds typing.

And never does the computer systems crash, unless of course DiNozzo is using it.

But if, by some chance the keyboard doesn't meet your needs, well...

Number 5: The psychic clicker

The clicker will.

Whatever Gibbs wants on the plasma screen, it will appear with one click of the clicker.  If you've ever used a "clicker" before, for example for a PowerPoint presentation, you'll know that it can either go forwards...

...or backwards.

It isn't a magical tool that will bring up any slide that you want, never mind information that isn't on the slide.  Either someone at NCIS is spending all their time creating PowerPoints that will be used a total of one times, or there's something special about that clicker.

And don't get me started on-

Number 4: Ducky

Is there anything this man hasn't done?  He's trained in shooting, he's been a doctor pretty much everywhere...

And he looks like Illya Kuryakin.

Number 3: The field office in NCIS: Los Angeles

I'm only mentioning this spin-off series once, because to be honest I don't really watch it.

But why are they stationed in what appears to be a garden centre?

Number 2: Everyone else in NCIS.

Who are they?  There must be hundreds of different people working at NCIS headquarters, but apart from the handful of named cast, we've no idea who any of them are.

Number 1: GIBBS.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs.  The leader of the team, the fearless and indestructible Gibbs.

Gibbs knows when DiNozzo is making jokes about him.  He stares confessions out of bad people.  He makes boats teleport through walls.

And he is incredibly lucky.

Think about it.  Every case, he'll tell his people to look into a particular aspect - the wife, the boyfriend, the bank account, the phone records... and that one thing will result in the piece of information that he needs to find the naughty person and stare the life out of them.

And if that doesn't work, his gun will finish the job.

Almost as though it was a TV show or something.

If you enjoyed this list and like rants of variable quality, check out this list of 8 things you learn from slimming clubs (hint: none of them include "eat less, exercise more")

Sunday, 18 May 2014


I was thinking today about Xylophones.

We all know what a xylophone is.  It's a horizontal instrument made up of a number of parallel bars (in my experience typically made out of wood or plastic, depending on the quality of the xylophone) that you hit with a stick to create notes.

I even used one in a video.

But why do we know what a xylophone is?  It isn't used in popular music.  Unless you have a kid, you probably don't have one in the house.  There are lots of unusual musical instruments that you probably don't know - the Aquaggaswack, the Daxophone, the Trump (pardon me), and the Skatar to name but a few.

I think it's because of its first letter.

Think about it - when you were learning the alphabet, there was probably any number of words for other letters.  In comparison,  "C" was probably associated with Cat, but it could have been C for Cake, C for Candle, or C for Cannula.

Maybe not the last one - but you get my drift.

But X?  It's either "X for Xylophone", or occasionally "X for Xmas" which feels like a cop out by someone that couldn't be bothered to write "Christmas" (that's a point - "C" could be for "Christmas").  The only other choice I've seen was a story that was "X is for Fox" which I think totally messes with kids heads.

So as a result, we all learned when we grew up that X is for xylophone, and now we all know what one is.

I think we've all learned something today...

Just a last comment - according to Blogger I'm a couple of hundred views away from hitting 70,000 views on this blog.  Thanks so much to everyone that's read my blog, commented, shared it... all that kind of thing is really appreciated.  There's a likelihood in the region of 99.9% that I'm not going to make this blogging lark into any kind of career, but it's an enjoyable hobby that helps me practice my writing, and it does help that I know that at least one or two people will be reading it.  Thanks again!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

I'm not a football fan, but...

Come on Hull!!!!

Chester, Davies... okay, so Arsenal got one back, but I bet if you'd told any Hull fan that at half time it'd be 2-1 up to Hull they wouldn't be entirely displeased.

Bad news though - I'm out of beer.  concerned that I may have to resort to white wine, which seems entirely unsuitable for watching football.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Weird jokes

I sometimes scribble notes on my phone as reminders, things like ideas for videos or for blog posts.

Here was one of them:

What does a cannibal have with bacon?

Fried legs.

I don't know what possessed me to write that down.

Actually I do - I did have ideas of doing a series of short joke videos on YouTube (see the "pilot" below) but I didn't really feel that it had a future.

I don't know if you've seen TableTop, the awesome tabletop gaming show produced by Geek & Sundry and presented by Wil Wheaton, but they've just finished a crowd funding exercise with Indiegogo to pay for season 3 of TableTop, and they've got an amazing $1.4m for season 3 - this also means that they can do more episodes of season 3 than originally planned, and also doing a new RPG show too.  I'm pleased that I was able to contribute a little bit towards the show, plus the amount of perks you get back in return are massive, I think for $20 (about £12 in my money) I've got about five or six perks which is pretty nice.

Play more games!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Eurovision Song Contest

I'm typing very quickly because as I write this post, the Eurovision Song Contest is just about to kick off.

For those not familiar with this event (who could that be?!? Americans perhaps) basically for one night, the whole of Europe gets into a massive battle, but instead of using traditional weaponry to fight with, we use songs.

Songs which generally vary in quality.

Instead of featuring the best singers and songwriters we have to offer, typically we (certainly in the UK anyway) feature a new act, who does a good job, but (mainly because song voting is massively swayed by friendly nations - and no one likes us, which to be honest is understandable) doesn't do very well.

To be completely honest I have no idea who is singing for the UK this year, but I do hope that they do well, I understand that the song is pretty good and I am actually looking forward to watching it tonight.  I'm also looking forward to Austria's, I understand that their song is interesting too.

At any rate, I always say that it is never to early to prepare (actually I never say that but who cares), so I've made a video ready for next years Eurovision Song Contest - fingers crossed for the duet of monkey and vibrating pig!

Touching on my last YouTube video, I'm pleased to say that it has gone, well to use Tim Clark's words (thanks for the blog post Tim) bacterial - it's gone over three thousand views, which for one of my videos is absolutely amazing, and it's attracted perhaps ten new subscribers which again is a lot for me.  Hope everyone sticks around, and if there's any particular videos you'd like making do let me know.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

YouTube videos

On Monday, I posted a video for the Clash of Clans Clan Wars Karaoke contest.  To be honest, it wasn't my great video - it basically involved me rocking side to side, singing badly, accompanied by a vibrating pig.

And the pig wasn't even vibrating.

As I write this the video has scored over 2,000 views - not exactly up to Gangnam Style, but it is four times more views than my second most viewed video.

It's attracted a lot of comments, and the dubious honour of receiving more dislikes than likes, but nevertheless I've found myself checking my channel statistics a couple of times just to see the view count soar way beyond my usual, so if you have watched it, thanks.

And I hope it didn't scar you too badly.

While I'm talking about YouTube, YouTube have just started their latest Creator Academy Boot Camp - even though I've completed the academy before, I'm retaking it to refresh my memory and hopefully connect with some other YouTubers.  It's well worth doing if you're a YouTuber that would like to improve.

Finally, this blog wouldn't be complete without pointing you over to Tim Clark's blog where he's talking about the challenges of modern life, and what we need to do.  Well worth a read - I for one look forward to Tim's control of the planet, I'm sure he'll do a perfectly acceptable job.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Clan Wars Karaoke Contest - thanks for giving me an idea for a video

So, I've been trying to think of an idea for a new video for my YouTube channel, but so far I had drawn a blank.

Until the Clash of Clans Clan Wars Karaoke Contest came along!

If you haven't encountered Clash of Clans, basically you have a village that you upgrade, and you raid other villages for loot (as well as building defenses to protect your own).  It's quite addictive and straightforward to play.

Anyhow, Supercell, the makers of Clash of Clans, are quite proactive at engaging the community by running various contests, and they've just launched their latest one, which is karaoke.

We've been challenged to recreate this video, in whatever way we wish to:

So I did.

I don't recommend watching it.

Full details about the contest are here,
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