Tuesday, 7 September 2010

A Fine Boozer

The Red Lion in Sittingbourne makes for a good pint on days the sun shines, and during the hours it actually shines in the courtyard.

Such as today.

Taken using an iPhone 4 and Pro HDR

Monday, 6 September 2010

Employee of the Month!

As with any employee of the month award, we first require some background, so the other employees don't feel to slighted, we need to know just what this employee has done to earn such an accolade. So here we go. 

Friday night I was drinking beers with a couple of friends. (If you're interested I was drinking Budweiser '66', which is an improvement over the pisswater of normal Budweiser in my opinion.) 

We we're making serious inroads into the first beer of the night, the movie has just started, and then the phone rings. It's my friends other half, she's got a flat tyre. Well we could hardly leave her by herself with a flat on a Friday night, and as one of our number was driving and sober anyway we piled into the car and off we went. I took a few beers with me because hey, its Friday, and I'm not the one driving.

We arrive, and she's got all the tools to change the tyre bar one. We need a flathead screwdriver or similar to prise the hubcap out of the centre of her alloys to get to the wheel nuts.

This is a problem... We don't have a screwdriver, there's not a similar tool kept with the jack and iron, so this presents a problem. We're gonna have to go all the way back home for a screwdriver... But then, who should save the day...

Turns out the pry tip on the edge of the Brewzer beer tool was a perfect fit to get under the hubcap and prise it off, the tyre was successfully changed and off we all went home to more beers. Thank you Brewzer. You not only open my beers, you saved three guys from the embarrassment of being stymied by a hubcap. I can't think of anyone else more deserving in my employ.

*Okay so this technically is a Inanimate Stainless Steel Rod, but if I called it that then The Simpsons gag doesn't work. I'm pretty sure stainless has carbon in it on some level.

So long Ibiza, until next year.

Yes I like Piña Coladas. There was however no rain to get caught in.

Taken at SunSeaBar, I can thoroughly recommend the fish. Especially the dentex. Odd name, really tasty fish.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

A Shadow over Milton

Not that I'm saying the people of Milton worship the Deep Ones.*

*Though I wouldn't be surprised.

Man Up.

I was reading my Twitter feed. (As one does these days.) As I did so something posted by the folks over at Picturecool caught my eye, seemed poignant. Someone, who I would love to credit but Picturecool rarely link to the source, had created this image. It was pretty cool but the slogan was a bit harsh for my liking. Hardness, does not necessarily equal goodness, or manliness, in my eyes. 

So I tracked down the original photo (Taken by Robert F. Sargent, I found a copy here.) And I created my own simpler, more straightforward version for my iPad, inspired by the original wallpaper. An iPad wallpaper to remind us all. (Not just the men.) That hey, just get on with whatever you are doing, it's really not that terrible. You could be asked to do much, much more.

(Click for larger size)

Friday, 16 July 2010


*Or maybe your iPhone 4 struggles when your big plates of meat cover the antenna?

So, today Apple issued an iPhone software update that corrects a mistake in the signal strength displayed which goes all the way back to the first iPhone. The day before Apple are holding their first press conference, which is specifically addressing the iPhone 4.

There has been much, much talk of how terrible the iPhone 4's signal is and how Apple must clearly issue a recall to fix this horrifying problem. The death grip has become a thing of legend. And the stink it's caused on the tech blogosphere reminds me of the Facebook privacy hoo-hah from 2 months ago (Remember that? When everyone was angry at Facebook? Swearing to quit using it etc? Yeah, that died a death didn't it?) There's even been rumours that tomorrows press conference is to announce that CEO Steve Jobs is standing down over the whole issue. Which is possibly the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard.

Firstly. The iPhone 4 has been out less than 30 days. If you are that unhappy with your iPhone 4, return it. Secondly, 2 million iPhones have been sold. And I'm not convinced this is as big a problem as is being made out.

But! Apple did release the update, and I installed it, and could finally get the death grip magic touch to actually effect my signal! At home I now saw a drop from five bars to four, and in my local, (a previous blackspot for signal) was able to get the signal to drop from 5 bars to 2 by applying the death grip. However, my iPhone 3G used to be lucky to get 2 bars in my local in the first place, let alone 5, AND usually when not trying to deliberately drop signal I keep my iPhone4 in a case anyway.

My own very unscientific conclusion is; yes, the iPhone4 gets better reception than my old iPhone, and yes, if you hold a phone in a way to cover the antenna, its going to interfere with signal. Try having a conversation via a V3 RAZR with your hand clasped over the plastic bottom and see how well you get on!

Some people are having a death grip problem. But, if a cellphone has only 1 bar signal, you KNOW you're in a bad signal area, and hold the phone accordingly. Once on my old phone, in the middle of nowhere I had to call my bank, no signal, the phone was fine on speaker phone in my hand with 1 bar. The whole 90 seconds it took me to enter all my account details and press the right options and listen to the recorded woman telling me my call was important. That was all fine. As soon as I was through to an operator, turned off the speaker phone, and placed the phone to my head, Call dropped.

My big man noggin blocked all the signal. I really must stop trying to crush walnuts with my man mind while in areas of low signal. But if that Happened when I had five bars I would be fuming! but knowing it was with one bar... I expected it. Apple is too blame here. Artificially enhancing the indicated signal, but not to blame for our own bodies interfering with signal strength.

Bad signal happens, Apple has now provided the information to deal with it. Man up and do so!

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Quattro, Vier, Quatre, Cuatro, Fyre, Four.

Four, the number of hours sleep I have been getting each night because of a desire to watch as much World Cup and World Cup highlights as possible?
No, well, yes, but not the four in question. This would of course be the iPhone 4. I've had mine for seven days now, and here's my review.

Yeah, it's pretty awesome.


Oh okay okay, you want another blog post about how great it is, here it is. Everyone saw the look of the phone months ago thanks to Gizmodogate but it really stands out in person. it feels solid and well made, with a weight behind it that backs up its price. As mentioned previously in my post comparing the leaked black and white iPhones the new one has a definite 2001 monolith feel about it. The glass back and slender steel sides give the iPhone4 the feel of being carved from a slab of the future itself. It's impressive, and the buttons all click (or in the case of the mute switch, slide.) very responsively.

The screen though, is where the iPhone4 really shines (pun intended). This thing is bananas. You really cannot appreciate just how nice this display is until you see it in person. I always thought the display on my old iPhone 3G was pretty good, but it really does look like arse compared to this. To get an idea of just how big a display apple have managed to squeeze into the 3.5" physical area, check out this wallpaper created by Arron over at Razorianfly.com. The 640 x 960 pixel dimensions take up a helluva lot of space on my desktop machine, yet its crammed into 3.5 inches. Like I said, that is Bananas. Its a bit of a cliché now but the screen really is like print media. Fonts are crisp and clear, images pop out of the screen at you. It's very impressive.

It's definitely a whole heap faster than my iPhone 3G. The new model has the much faster A4 processor used in the iPad, and double the ram of the 3GS, so everything feels really quick to load. Its not significantly faster than my girlfriends 3GS, maybe a second or two at most. Carcassone was a bit of a bother on my 3G, it now opens almost immediately.

The camera is also, excellent. Apple have been pretty clever with this camera. 5MP is not going to blow anyone out of the water here. Sony Ericsson, Samsung, are among just a few of the compaines offering cellphones with 8 and 12MP cameras now, but this 5MP sensor is very very good. Ars technica have put up a very interesting article which goes into depth just what makes the iPhone4's CMOS sensor so good and it goes into more technical depth with regards to sensor size and pixel pitch than I am comfortable with summing up here. fortunately they summed it up for me, and conclude its almost good enough to completely replace a point and shoot for a lot of people, and I would agree. The video recording is certainly enough to replace any Flip video camera  or the ilk. It's smooth and great quality.

It's not all been good times though. There has been a lot of discussion online about antenna problems, and yellowing screens. The yellowing screens apparently resolve themselves over a few days of use, and maybe down to the adhesive used to bond the two layers of the screen together not being cured properly before Foxconn have shipped them, but the antenna problem has become quite noisy on the web, and the butt of many jokes.

It seems the iPhone4 has a 'death spot' that when touched by a finger (or the palm of your hand when on a call) Causes the signal to drop and eventually ends with no service. Try as I might I cannot replicate this effect with my unit. Apparently having a case prevents this from happening, and mine is being kept snug in a Gear4 case bought from O2 on the day of purchase. But even outside of that case, I cannot get my signal to drop.
I can only conclude that: 
  1. I have bizarre cyborg hands which are not bridging the gap between antennas electrically. 
  2. This is a problem that only manifests when in areas of poor signal anyway. 
  3. Perhaps the yellowed displays from a lack of curing time are a sign that Foxconn's QA teams were not up to scratch with a batch or three of iPhone4 and have shipped defective units.
Apple have apparently sold 1.5 million units since launch. Sure there's a lot of people getting the antenna issue, but 1.5 million worth? I don't see the complaints being that high yet. I'm certainly not included in it, my signal has improved. In places like my local where before on the sofas 3G signal was an unlikely fantasy and the dreaded single dot of GPRS data reigned supreme I now pull in solid Edge data, with the occasional pop back up to 3G.

So there we go. Another glowing blog post about the iPhone 4. As I said up top... It's pretty awesome!

UPDATE: Anandtech have an interesting post up regarding the iPhone4 antenna problems after analysing the antennas gain and loss.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

iPhone 4 racks up 600,000 pre-orders. Not from O2 though. UPDATED

So, the iPhone 4 was available for pre-ordering from the Apple website yesterday. And they've sold a ridiculous number already. Seems like all existing stock has been sold and if you order now, you wont get one until at least July 2nd. Prices not totally unreasonable for a sim free unlocked smartphone with a built in iPod Touch. £499 for the 16gb version, or £599 for the 32gb version. (How times have changed, I remember when my Sony Ericsson P900 broke and Dixons wanted to send me a cheque for £649 to replace it.)

What I find most frustrating about the new iPhone though, is the complete lack of any useful information from O2. I've registered my interest as an existing customer, and they've been sending me emails, which is good. And they've all been optimistically titled like a countdown, whipping their readers into a frothy mess. The latest '8 Days to go' Is telling me what to do with the new micro-sim that the iPhone 4 uses.

Great. But you know what would be really useful O2? Something like, I dunno, A price? The ability to pre-order my upgrade for delivery on the 24th? My local O2 store not to be closed for three weeks refurbishment including the launch day? Yes, all of those things!

At this point I'm just guessing how much O2 are likely to charge, just based on what Vodafone leaked accidentally the other day. Which is no way to go. Come on O2 tell us something useful!

UPDATE: Orange have released their iPhone price plans, and include how much it will cost to take it on their network, adding another frustration that I'm still in the dark with regards to O2's prices.

UPDATE: O2 are obviously avid readers of my blog and have finally updated with handset prices. Pretty much same as the other networks though seems a little more expensive on the lower tariffs. Back when I worked in phone retail £30 per month on a contract was the sweet spot for good prices. Now it definitely seems that £40 per month is that sweet spot. Weirdly on the lowest O2100 tariff it's actually more expensive to buy the phone on a 24 month contract than 18. Obviously O2 have done their maths with regards to ARPU and come to the conclusion that they wont make as much money out of the 24 month there. Strange to see though.

Probably the Best Blog Entry in the World.

It is a well known fact that I like beer, and I Like Carlsberg. I like the fact it can be found in many many pubs on draught. I like it's 3.8% alcohol content which means I can drink throughout the evening without getting leathered on the first two pints. I even like the shade of green on it's cans. Maybe watching Ice Cold In Alex as a child influenced my fragile mind but I like to think that It's just because it's a tasty beer. 

Savvy marketing from Carlsberg as well, over the years they've had one of the most notable taglines ever (see blog title) and they've got their name out there across the world especially in football. And as its the world cup, I've more excuse than normal to be drinking and watching the games and exposing myself to savvy Carlsberg advertising.

One thing I've never been able to figure out though, is why the hell do a Danish brewer sponsor the England national team? Shouldn't Shepherd Neame have jumped in on that what with them being "Britain's Oldest Brewer" and all?  Although, given the evidence from the Faversham Hop Festival maybe its best that England sticks with Carlsberg, they do put their name in all the right places.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Recipe: Sour Victorian Mojito

My girlfriend first drank a caipirinha in Brazil, during carnaval. I remember the first time I had one, August 2006, Ibiza. I had drunk so many mojitos at the Sun Sea Bar that they had run out of mint. And recommended the caipirinha as a very suitable alternative. (When you're drinking so many mojitos that a sunset bar runs out of mint, you know you're in for a good night.)

One of the many mojitos enjoyed during that afternoon was named on the menu the Victorian mojito. Rum, apple schnapps, pieces of apple along with the usual mojito ingredients of mint, lime and brown sugar. However since then a Google search will quickly reveal that a Victorian mojito doesn't involve rum at all. Its a mojito made with gin, and favoured by Hemingway. (Is there a drink in existence that doesn't claim to have been favoured by Hemingway?) Well ladies and gentlemen, I present to you. The Sour Victorian Mojito.

Why sour? That is unfortunately a side effect of the town I live in. You just can't find apple schnapps, so a bottle of sour apple Mickey Finns it is,  but that has actually worked out pretty well.

The apple normally adds an extra sweetness to the mojito, for those who already find a mojito too sweet this would almost certainly be a bad thing. However the sourness of the Mickey Finns add an extra bit of bite to the rum and the limes. It really brings out a wider range of flavours. One day I'll try this with apple schnapps and I'll add angostura bitters to see if that works as well. However for now...

You will need:
  • 2 tsp of brown sugar
  • 2-3 lime quarters, depending on garnish.
  • 8 mint leaves.
  • 2-3 slices of apple, again depending on garnish.
  • Crushed ice (if you don't have an ice crusher put the ice in a tea towel and beat it with a rolling pin.)
  • 2 measures of rum
  • 2 measures of an Apple Sourz equivilent.
I used Mount Gay rum for mine today, as that's what I had available. I can also recommend Havana Club Anejo Especial.

And its just as easy to prepare as a normal mojito. Muddle the brown sugar and limes at the bottom of the glass, throw in the mint and muddle it some more, fill the glass halfway with crushed ice, throw in the apple slices, fill the rest of the glass with ice and then pour the apple liquor and the rum. Then give the whole thing a good stir to mix the flavour. Add a little bit of extra crushed ice to top up the glass as garnish, then slice of apple and mint on the edge if you like.

Now all you have to do is go outside in the sunshine and enjoy it!

If you're unsure of how to properly prepare a mojito, and have an iPhone? You should check out this app from Havana Club.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Not Australian

When I worked in a call centre, people used to ask me a lot where I was from. "Uh, we're based in Kent." No they would say, where are YOU from. "Uh, Kent." And it would continue. No no where about in Australia are you from? Originally? "Uh, always lived in Kent. Sorry... cobber."

I guess growing up with Neighbours on BBC 1 after all the kids programming might have effected a slight twang to my accent but, I'm sorry callers, not Australian.

I'd love to visit though, and failing that would like to sample some of the local produce. However we don't get too many Australian beers penetrating the UK market, especially on draught. European? of course! American? Yup. Japanese? Yeah, actually, a few. But Australian? Fosters and Castlemaine XXXX are about it. And drinking Fosters is a far more popular pastime on a Friday night than a XXXX. But then hey Britain is a nation of drinkers rather than lovers. BOOM BOOM TSSS!

My apologies, but back to the amber nectar. 'Australian for beer', 'Get some Australian in you' 'Down Under piss water'. Oh yes, we all know the slogans*, but you know what? In Australia, no bugger drinks Fosters! It's Tooheys or Carlton, or Victoria Bitter. Fosters nary gets a look in. You'd have more luck finding a bunyip than finding Fosters on draught, and it's only slightly more common in bottles.

Which is how I know, this woman, is not Australian.

*One of those might not actually be a Fosters slogan.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Review: Brewzer Beer Tool from PocketToolX

Today I was enjoying myself in the sunshine, and opening my beers with a Brewzer from PocketToolX. A very pleasant surprise, as thanks to a certain Icelandic volcano that shall remain nameless (They know who they are.) the shipping from the States had been somewhat delayed. 

According to its manufacturer  this will be the "Only keychain bottle opener that you will ever need." and on top of that it packs five different uses into its frame. So in honour of its American made heritage off I went to Asda for some Budweiser and some MGD for a test.

First thing is, this thing is small. 2.5" long. This is definitely not a pry bar with a bottle opener, this is a key-ring bottle opener with a small pry tip. But it feels very sturdy and nicely solid in the hand. According to the manufacturer it weighs 16grams, and it certainly feels like it has weight to it. The Brewzer is made from 154CM stainless steel, which is a tough American made premium steel, though I'm relying on the internets for that snippet as I'm no metallurgist. 

Because of its size, it really only comes into its own when attached to a set of keys, in my 'exhaustive' tests it definitely felt easier to snap the top off when holding a bunch of keys behind the Brewzer.  Compared to other slim tooth and hook style bottle openers I have used over the years, this one really is the best. The tooth of the bottle opener hooked solidly under the lip of the cap, and in 8 bottles opened, not a single one took more than one try, no teasing the edge around to lift these caps like with a Beer Key. Hook, lift, pop. considering its slender size I was very surprised.

So thats its primary function getting flying colours. What about the other four? Well, the flat head screwdriver tip... It's a screwdriver. Nothing more for me to say. The pry tip was perfect for slicing its way into the plastic wrap around a crate of Carlsberg, and was equally competent at tearing its way into the carboard crate. Which brings me to that notch tip, why open the Carlsberg? I needed a can. And yes, it works perfectly to add a breather into a can for shotgunning. (mayblogmaynot reminds you to drink responsibly. Beer is for enjoying, not just downing to get you drunk!*)

The Brewzer isn't a cheap bottle opener. But at 19$ it's great value for a machined tool of this type. It's been well made, the finish is smooth and it opens beers quickly and easily. Its nearest competition would be from Peter Atwood, either a Ghost or a Brewdriver. And while those boast a titanium frame in a similar size package, who knows when they will be available again. Besides that, they're also three times the Brewzers price. 

I'm more than pleased to have this addition to my keyring. This is a great beer tool. I'm certainly satisfied that I wont need another bottle opener, unless I lose my keys again! Which was what started this quest for a new bottle opener in the first place.

*Actually, that is pretty much all Bud is good for. What I wouldn't give for some Kokanee Gold.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Beer Festivals: A Photographic Comparison

The Hop Festival, Faversham, Kent, UK

Oktoberfest, Munich, Bavaria, Germany

(Images via The Telegraph and Uncoached)

Emoji and the iPhone: A Tutorial

So, another friend has recently got an iPhone, and one of the first things I tell them are about these funky Japanese emoticons, for every occasion, that are contained within in every iPhone. (So, if you don't have an iPhone you can just skip this post, and come back later today for something booze related.)

Now for some reason emoji's are contained within every iPhone, yet not activated. And in fact the option is hidden unless you happen to be using a Japanese iPhone on a Japanese network. Fortunately for us they don't have to remain that way. And so, ready for the next friend who buys an iPhone, I present to you these step by step instructions.
  1. Download Spell Number from the AppStore. (There are plenty of £0.59p apps on the store purporting to give you emoji, but this one is free, activating the emoji is just an easter egg the dev put in.)
  2. Open the app, and type 91929394.59 into the on screen calculator.
  3. Go back to your iPhone homescreen and open settings.
  4. In settings navigate to the following options General -> Keyboard -> International Keyboards -> Japanese
  5. Slide the switch next to emoji to 'on'
  6. ?
  7. Profit! 
Emojis are now enabled, you can exit settings and delete Spell Number. Don't forget to rate it 5 stars, the dev's have just saved you £0.59p for no other reason than they're nice that way. Why not visit their apps on the AppStore, and see if there's anything else you need! Just try not to spam any reviews with too many smiling poos.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Summers here already?

Must be, because suddenly I really want a Corona.

(Image via Kelly Hall's Twitter)

White iPhone G4 is U.G.L.Y

So another string of leaks relating to the new iPhone coming out of China. This time relating to a white iPhone. Now a friend of mine has always favoured the white iPhone. "iPods we're white, the iPhone is the best iPod ever made, it should be white." And I could see his point.

Unfortunately, by making the front of the new iPhone white also, you're left with the same problem the white PSP had. Smooth white lines, big ugly black screen when the screen is off. Which certainly spoils the 2001-esque monolith look the new iPhone enjoys.

I really can't say it's a good look! although I'm sure people will disagree. I wonder though if the people buying the new white iphone (If released in its current leaked state.) would be buying it because they really honestly like the look, or just to be different from the pack.

Friday, 7 May 2010

iPad Prices Announced

Its a momentous day today in the UK. No, not the hung Parliament. Today Apple have announced the release date and prices for the iPad in the UK.

Pre-orders will start on the 10th of May, for the device to ship on Friday the 28th of May. Prices for the UK as confirmed by Apple below.

"iPad will be available in the UK for a suggested retail price of £429 (inc. VAT) for 16GB, £499 (inc. VAT) for 32GB, £599 (inc. VAT) for 64GB for Wi-Fi models and £529 (inc. VAT) for 16GB, £599 (inc. VAT) for 32GB and £699 (inc. VAT) for 64GB for Wi-Fi + 3G models."

I'm still not entirely convinced this is as an exciting release as it would've been had it been closer to the release date in the States. Nonetheless I will be pleased to get my hands on one of these at the local Apple Store.

Of course already there has been some (much) discussion in the blogosphere of how much of a rip off those prices are. Alot of people struggle with maths, myself included. However, lets break it down.

Mid range Wi-Fi 32gb model

US $ - 599 (exc. Sales Tax) is £408.13 at current exchange rate
UK price £499 (inc. £87.32 VAT)

UK Price £411.68 ex VAT
US Price £408.13 ex sales tax

So for the middle range model its 3 pounds more than a straight US$-UK£ conversion. Not that much of a rip off.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Vengeance has been done at the Municipal Fortress of Justice

My apologies for the lack of any updates recently, to you, my dear readers. (both of you.) I was unfortunately required to fulfil my civic duty and complete a term of jury service. Fortunately, justice has now been done, and normal tech/drinking/breast related posts will be forthcoming.

After all there's a hell of a lot of waiting around when you do jury service, and not a lot of entertainment. its given me plenty of ideas.

If only Justice were actually this entertaining

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Why I may not be buying an iPad come launch day.

I've been pretty damn excited by the launch of the iPad. Since it was announced I've known I would own one. There were several reasons for this, both pragmatic and sheer geekiness. My G4 iBook is both creaky and old (and rum soaked, another story.) All I use my iBook for is web browsing and, when on holiday, storing photos from my digital cameras. I had been looking at a new MacBook Pro to replace it, but an iPad actually does what I need at half the cost.

And I've always dreamed of playing Command & Conquer on a tablet. How much more sci-fi does it get than commanding an army of tanks on your lap with your fingers? Thanks to EA, the iPad does that! (Albeit at a cost.)

But the current announcement that the iPad will not ship until the end of May to international customers. And pricing in those regions will remain in the dark until May 10th... Well, I saw that coming. Apple had given no pricing details as of the 8th of April, for a device on sale only 3 weeks later, it was suspicious.

But the end of May? All bets are on Apple announcing a new iPhone G4 for release in June (following the pattern of the original iPhone and the iPhone 3GS) Considering that the iPad wont be running the newest version of iPhone OS 4.0 until the Autumn, why would I buy an iPad now? First gen adopters always get shafted, and now for those adopters outside the states, there's a much better feature enhanced O.S. due for release potentially as little as 4 weeks later. All wrapped up inside hardware likely to be much, much better than what is out there now from Apple.

The iPad has done exceptionally well in the states, and Apple blames its delay worldwide on the level of demand in the States. But really, were they not expecting this thing to sell like hot cakes? Why weren't there enough to go around?

My excitement for the iPad has died somewhat, because just round the corner, there will be the newer much more exciting iPhone 4.0 OS running on the new iPhone G4. What is the point in my buying the latest kit, only for my new iPhone to outshine it a mere 6 weeks later?

OpenTTD might swing it... But I doubt many people will be swung to the iPad based solely on a 15 year old DOS game. Pretty sure that's just me.


I loved that game. Why aren't we commuting to work on MagLevs already? The year 2000 was 10 years ago for chrissakes.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Know your enemy: The hangover and the mutt

"Conan! What is best in life?"
"To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women."
"That is good! That is good."
Thank you Conan the Barbarian. Though I do feel inclined to disagree and say that which is best in life is an aged rum, and an attractive woman. Although the crushing your enemies part. That IS good. And what is every drinkers enemy? The hangover.

Anyone who knows me personally will know that I always attempt to make friends with my hangovers, they are akin to invited guests. Albeit guests who outstay their welcome come the end of festivities.  Something I see a lot is along the lines of "I'm totally hanging, anyone got any tips?" Well, yes, if you really don't want to be friends.
What two things define a hangover more than anything else? Headache and sickness. Headache, well anecdotal evidence says that a cold can of coke and an painkiller works wonders the morning after, and a pint of water and a vitamin tablet before sleep always helps me. (When I'm not so drunk I completely forget of course.) Alcohol dehydrates you and robs you of vital vitamins, the brain especially doesn't like that so its important to get more liquids flowing up to your noggin and replace those missing Vitamins. Fluids people! You need them to live, get that water in you quick and your headache will lessen.

The sickness is where it gets fun and interesting and inevitably hair of the dog comes up. I always figured that hair of the dog was something that alcoholics used to justify their cracking open of the vodka bottle as soon as they opened their eyes. However, as it turns out, there's science* backing this up. (There's always science, unless your dealing with wizards.)

The alcohol that we hurl down our throats when we drink is largely made up of two elements. Ethanol, the purest form of drinking alcohol, and fusel alcohols. Which are alcohols, but not the drinking kind. (Fun fact, fusel is a German word meaning 'bad liquor'.) One is good, and one is an unfortunate by-product caused by fermentation. If brewing and distilling were a movie it would be Twins. Ethanol is Arnie, and the fusel alcohols are Danny DeVito.

When we drink, our body breaks down the enzymes it contains. Ethanol is easy to break down so our livers focus on that first. Once the ethanol is consumed our bodies switch to breaking down the fusel alcohols. Unfortunately when fusel alcohols are broken down they're broken down into acetaldehyde, which makes us feel sick. (nothing good for you EVER ends with 'dehyde'.) Give the body more ethanol to break down,  and our livers switch back to that. It'll also provide you chance to expel the remaining fusel alcohols in your breath, sweat, and via other bodily functions. (hopefully not including vomiting.)

Go easy on the Bloody Marys! (via Sensory Overload)

If you're going to take heed of this advice and have a drink to try to stay off the sickness, be sure to have a drink that is low in fusel alcohols. Whiskey, real ales, and ciders are expected to have high levels of fusel alcohols. Spirits like vodka that have been triple distilled, or more, will have less and would make a better mixer for your Bloody Mary.

That's todays science lesson over, there will not be a test at the end of the week so feel free to spend the study time drinking. But not too much eh? Hangovers exist for a reason, your liver is sending a message.

*Incredibly, no one has actually been given grant money to study this for definite in humans, but the science does make sense when sounded out. You just wont find it in any peer reviewed journals. Scientists are too busy with other matters.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


I'm pretty sure that this London Underground sign exists in this location soley for tourists visiting London to take this exact photo. All it needs is a red double decker. Sadly absent these days.

Vintage film effect by lo-mob for iPhone

Friday, 12 March 2010

Beer + Oxygen = Less hangover? Awesome, I breathe oxygen!

Turns out last week was very exciting time for beer drinkers everywhere. As New Scientist reports that some clever and presumably hard drinking scientists in South Korea have discovered that adding oxygen to beer reduces the time it takes to sober up.

I'm definitely all for that. After Wednesday night's five pints of Asahi and Thursday morning's inability to, well, move, anything that speeds up that horrible feeling of lingering drunkeness before the sweet sweet hangover starts is fine by me.

And I realise that Asahi is Japanese, not South Korean, but I went with Asahi for two reasons. One, extra oxygen in that Asahi would've been appreciated on Wednesday. Two, I couldn't find any photos for Cass, Hite or OB that featured that bastion of beer promotion, the bikini girl.

And speaking of bikini girls. The next time you're at a beach with a drink in your hand, and an attractive young lady comes up to you asking for opener, You could do worse than have one of these Happy Hour watches on your wrist.

Analogue and Digital displays, Japanese Quartz movement, wide leather band, and very importantly, the crazy buckle that opens bottles. Meaning you'll never be without an opener even in board shorts and flip flops. Just be careful after a few brews down the line. Nothing says smooth operator like taking charge of a girls unopened beer, gripping it manfully into your watch, then smacking the bottle into her teeth as the cap comes off a little easier than you expected. 

You know it'll happen, be honest.

Asahi girls via Flickr

Here comes a new challenger!... Nostalgia.

The scene is some point in October 1992. A young boy is taken by his parents to the Comet superstore in Rochester to choose his birthday present. A Super NES, or a Sega Mega Drive. The SNES has got Super Mario World, But his friend down the street has one. The boy makes his decision, and a blue hedgehog gets taken home. (And a mummy called Chuck D Head. Man the 90's were strange.)

Flash forward about a year, and the young boy is loving his Mega Drive, except that cocky sonofova down the street with the SNES and his flaunting of Street Fighter II. The young boy is rubbish when they play, with no way to practice he can only win bouts by playing Guile and mashing hard kick. BUT! All is not lost as for his birthday that year the boy receives the newly released Street Fighter II Champion Edition, a game so awesome Sega had to release a whole new controller for it just to make it playable. A whole SIX buttons. SIX! Wow.
The height of awesomeness circa Sept. '93. About £60's worth of awesome in fact.

Now we're back in the present. And the young boy, who at this point you should have realised is me, is playing Street Fighter IV for the iPhone. The first Street Fighter I've played since the Mega Drive. And you know what? Its actually pretty outstanding. I would not have thought that the controls would work at all, but they really do. I'm assured you can pull of all sorts of super EX hyper revenge combos and special moves. Although, I have no idea how and I'm perfectly happy mashing hard kick and letting off the occasional sonic boom. (I'm sorry but I'm unemployed, my diet is atrocious... BOOM TISH!)

But this isn't a review, this is an opinion piece. Here's to the point. An early commentator (who shall remain anonymous) on the iPhone game had this to say. "I don't like the look of it. The graphics are very 16 bit. I'm not paying £6 for a port of a SNES game, as good as that SNES game was."

Now by all means, you can not want to spend £6 on whatever you want, But please internets, (and I see this a lot in iPhone app discussion and reviews) don't try and justify that cheapness with a bullshit excuse like that. Quality deserves quality prices.

If he honestly believes that statement though, 'looks 16 bit'. Well, I would love to get a hold of the goggles the dude is wearing to make the above, look like the below. If the SNES or Mega Drive had been capable of this I'm pretty sure we'd be playing video games with the power of our minds now, and the PS3 would be rapid prototyping triple breasted hookers for our amusement while the games installed.

I do love my old console games. Really fond memories of Sonic, Streets of Rage 2, Bubsy the Bobcat*, and Ayrton Senna's Super Monaco GP II. But compared to what today's phones can dish out, graphically, they were rubbish. There's no comparison. iPhone games created in less than 72 hours have better graphics than my Mega Drive did, and smoother scrolling to boot. (Damn you SNES and your Mode 7.)
I'm sorry internets but no amount of rose tinting will change that...

See?! It still looks way better!

*I have a friend who can still recall the password for one level in BtB having been tasked to remember it as a child. You know who you are ;)

Monday, 1 March 2010

Wa' HIq DaH!*

So having stumbled out of the drunken haze I spent the weekend in. (Go Canada!) I recalled a very handy website. How to order a beer in 50 different languages. Now, as this is an English language blog you'd be forgiven for thinking, 'what's the point?' The English already have an excellent way of ordering beers in foreign locales, by simply shouting louder in English or scrawling your order onto a poor bavarian barmaids chest.

But I can forsee that there might be times when yelling for beer at the top of your lungs is not the done thing. (Especially if you find yourself needing to order in Arabic.) So before getting on the plane and having a few for the road, I suggest giving the list a browse. Or better yet, write it down inside the front cover of one of these fine beer tasting notebooks from Scout Books. Probably has space for that barmaids number after you woo her with a "Ein Bier, bitte!" as well.

*That's not the noise you make clearing your throat before attempting to order. That's, klingon, 'One Beer, Now!'. It seems there is no Klingon word for please.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Daisy Mae's Alien Buffet gets a reprieve.

IUGO's Twitter feed has let us know that Daisy Mae's Alien Buffet is back in the Appstore. Which is good news. Just goes to show you can't keep a good Southern gal down when's there's aliens that need killin'. At the moment IUGO report that they do not know why it is back. It will be interesting to see if it remains that way AND if Apple provide an explanation to it's sudden return. Something along these lines would be suitable:

The App Store continues to evolve, and as such, we are constantly refining our guidelines. Your application, contains content that we had originally believed to be unsuitable for distribution, as we fear tiny polygon boobs. However, we have recently received numerous complaints from our customers about this ridiculously heavy handed Puritanism, and have changed our guidelines appropriately.

I would like to think that while Apple are culling 'sexy' content from the App Store,  but leaving Playboy, Sports Illustrated and Victoria's Secret behind, they've decided not to penalise a developer who puts out some quality apps by removing one of them on very flimsy grounds.

So, if you missed out the first time, go get it now! Before the impenetrable app review process removes it again. Itunes