Saturday, 27 January 2018

I made a thing - Silly Words Educational Game

I made a thing.

Our son is eight now and reads, writes, and talks fairly well, but it took us a while to get him started. One of the challenges we found was that a lot of the books weren't really engaging for him.

What we did find that really worked for him, and gave him a start into reading sentences, was a game where you could build a sentence up out of words (a bit like this Big Box of Sentence Building). We found that our son really liked making silly sentences - in particular, I remember once he made "the cat ate the baby" and was laughing so hard that he went red in the face and almost started having an asthma attack!

We continue to have difficulty encouraging him to read, because although he can do it he doesn't find a lot of interest in it.

One idea I had the other day was to make a game, which is a bit like Cards Against Humanity (a very adult party game) where basically you've got a number of questions, and a number of answers.  What you do is you pick a question, and your child picks an answer that they find funny for the question.  As part of this you can encourage them to read both the question and the answer

Example question with a few answers

My son found it very funny, while allowing him to do some reading and speaking, he also came up with some new answers which was nice to see a bit of imaginative play.

If anyone would like to download a copy of the game you can freely download it from the link below:

Silly Words is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 license.
Which basically means you can print it, play it, change it however you want for your use (I've included via the link the MS Publisher file that the game is made from so you can customise it for your child), but don’t make your fortune selling it :D

Monday, 22 January 2018


Here's some pictures I took tonight of the night sky.

Admittedly, there's not a lot to see. Apparently the camera on my phone can't pick up the stars in the sky.

I did take one photo with flash left on:

I don't think it's an improvement.

Even though you can't see it, the night sky here is lovely at the moment, on a clear winters night the stars do stand out. We're really lucky when you think about it, we have the stars, the moon - without which we wouldn't have tides - we're in a star system with a collection of planets.

We take all this for granted, but can you imagine how life would be different if we were in a star system with just the Earth and the Sun, and nothing else?

No moon to light the night sky, or to create tides.  No other planets.

I wonder if we would be a more insular society? Without that goal to travelling to the Moon, to other planets? If the Earth was alone, with only rhe Sun for company, and the next vista being several light years away?

There's a great deal to see on the Earth, a lot that I want to see. But that doesn't mean that it's the whole universe.

Anyway, I made a GIF of my pictures.

Enjoy! :)

Friday, 19 January 2018

Heinz soup

Easy Cheese.


Biscuits and gravy.



In the UK, I feel that there is sometimes a little bit of food snobbery.

We say "I can't believe Americans eat that Donut Burger, a burger the size of a plate shaped like a doughnut, filled with fries and coated in squeezy cheese"

(I just invented that food and I want to eat it now)

But let's be honest.

One of the most quintessential British foods is Heinz Tomato Soup.

Heinz Tomato Soup is great. It's a brilliant warming snack, a great lunch. I've just had it, accompanied by a corned beef, cheese and pickle sandwich, for dinner.

But we need to face reality guys.

This - is a tomato.

Look how red it is.

If you asked me to describe that colour, I'd say red.

Red - like a tomato.

Because a tomato is red.


What colour is Heinz tomato soup?

Let's see.

Bright orange obviously.

Don't fear, there is a silver lining.  You see, the reality is that Heinz is actually an American company founded in Pennsylvania, so we British (because we have such as grand food tradition, obviously) can continue to turn our nose up at American food.

While secretly craving it.

I'm off to eat some Cherryheads.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Computer Games Update

I've not just been playing Grand Theft Auto V lately.

I'm playing a good deal of mobile games at the moment, in particular Words With Friends, which isn't Scrabble.


Not at all.

It's a completely different game where you place tiles onto a board to form words, with the aim of scoring more points than your competitor.

I'm enjoying it a good deal, the only comment I do have is every morning it messages me, worried that I haven't played for six hours.

Not only have I not played, but neither have any of my friends!

We're all asleep dude, sorry. We'll get back into forming words which no one has ever heard of (Zoa, Lin, Seq, and Ae are all fine, yet apparently "July" isn't a word?!?) in a bit.

The other game I've been playing a good bit is World Conqueror IV, a turn based war strategy game set generally in World War 2 (although there are additional timelines that get unlocked as you advance)

Bears no resemblance to World Conquerors 1, 2, or 3, I'm sure.

It's quite good as it's got a few different game elements - there's a full world conquest where you can choose one of quite a few countries and see if your side can conquer the world (I'm doing rather well on my phone as Finland at the moment), there's also single scenarios as well as challenges that you can undertake in order to unlock certain generals or other features.

It might not look very clear in the screenshot, but, reflecting history time and again, my Spanish army has just taken New Delhi.

It's not desperately easy and the temptation is to stuff a bit of cash in to unlock some uber General that can make your army far more efficient, but so far things are going reasonably well.

Hope you have a good weekend, if there's a particular game you think is worth a try do mention in the comments - I love my first person shooters, and strategy games (turn based and real time), I would like to find some really good co-operative first person games - one of my favourites is playing the special missions on Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 with a friend, but we could really do with some more missions or something like this that we could play!

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Warning - Grand Theft Auto V ahead

Warning - some adult related content ahead.

So, I've recently been playing Grand Theft Auto V.  It's been out a few years now, but I've just got my hands on it (thanks to my good friend and Counterstrike partner Dusty).

Now, you are probably aware of Grand Theft Auto, it's not the most law abiding of games. For the uninitiated, it involves stealing cars, and carrying out missions which tend to be morally ambiguous at best. And I'm not talking about squeezing the toothpaste tube in the middle, or parking on a double yellow line without a disabled badge.

Although you can also play tennis. We might be gangsters, but we're middle-class gangsters.

Anyway, I played a few missions with one of the main protagonists, Franklin.

Here he is!

Franklin had had a bit of a rough day, all things considered. He'd collected some cars and take them back to a car dealer of questionable nature, taken part in a gun battle, chased down some guy on a motor bike (which he was supposed to shoot whilst driving, only I couldn't work out how so I had to drive into the biker, get out of my car and then complete the task whilst foot)... it had been a bit of a tough day for him. So he decided to go and unwind.

Unfortunately for Franklin, I was controlling him.

So, Franklin went into a strip bar, had an overpriced drink, and then got a couple of private dances from a lady called Infernus.

The strip club in the cold light of day

Things were going well with the dancer, Franklin was complimenting her on her tattoos and the like, and she suggested that the party be continued at her house.

You too could meet an Infernus at a place like this.

Franklin agreed.

Now, here comes the first problem.

In a game called Grand Theft Auto - where you can pretty much steal any car you like - I had decided, for reasons unknown, to walk to the strip club.

Meeting Infernus round the back of the club,  I realised that her house was quite some distance away, and would take forever to walk to. And she didn't look as though she was likely to sprint, considering the stilettos she was wearing.

I'm not going to spend half an hour walking to Infernus's apartment, I thought, Franklin's a busy man. Besides, was the classy Infernus going to be happy walking across city?

So I did what anyone in Los Santos would do - I stepped out into the highway in front of a car, and as they came to a stop Franklin opened the door and pulled the driver out. Hey presto, I've got a ride.

That's when things went wronger.

A very annoying bystander who had seen the whole thing go down decided to call the cops on me.  Infernus declared that she wasn't down for this kind of action, and started walking away.

I swiftly drove the car up to Infernus, hoping to talk her round, but apparently driving a car at high speed towards the exotic dancer scared her.

Now, I'm not quite sure how it happened, but I ran into her.

Panicked at the way things were turning out, I put my foot down, and Infernus tumbled along, pushed at high speed by my car, until she was pulped quite badly between my stolen car and a commercial waste bin.

This one, actually.

This definitely put a downer on Franklin's evening (and Infernus's, for that matter).

Following this was a high speed car chase going the wrong way down the city highway as I was pursued by various police cars trying to hunt me down.

So spare a thought for Franklin, whose night didn't go down as well as he hoped.

But at least he's got a nice new haircut and beard.

In other news, my son last night, busy drawing pictures of people, asked me what colour my hair was.  I didn't reply so that I could see what he'd say next.

He then said "Is it black?"

Black. Yes, I'll take black.

Not sure on the exact percentages, but silver definitely has a bid. So I'll stick with black for now.
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