Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Wanting to Travel

I've recently watched Dara and Ed's Great Big Adventure, a three part TV show where two comedians, Dara O'Briain and Ed Byrne, drive along the Pan-American highway for 4,000 miles, from Arizona to Panama, and going through all kinds of experiences on the way, from being wrestled by a Mexican wrestler, to eating iguana.

I found it all really interesting and enjoyable, and taught me a good deal about a part of the world that I have to confess I have extremely little knowledge about, and it did make me think more about travelling.  I haven't travelled a great deal, but I'd like to one day.

What makes people travel?  Exploration?  Broadening ones horizons?  New experiences?  Perhaps challenging oneself?  It's curious, and I do find it funny how people like to go away on holiday (and I include myself on this) yet they want most of the creature comforts from home - many years back I went to Majorca, and one of the bars I passed was set out as a "traditional British pub", serving pints of Tetleys Bitter, playing Only Fools and Horses on the TV, you could order a Sunday carvery, all that sort of thing.  And it certainly wasn't empty.

Dara and Ed's adventure looked great, and it made me think of a blog I found a while back (which annoyingly I can't find now) where a couple packed up their life in Vancouver, and drove across Canada to Nova Scotia, sleeping in their car - I think that they had an estate car, and basically stuck a mattress in the back.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on travelling - do you travel or not?  And why?  Where would you like to go - Europe and North America are top of my list!

I've surprisingly somehow managed to vaguely link this to a video I've just published on the Travelling Book Project - if you're not aware what the project is, watch the video, or pop over to the project website at http://www.travellingbook.eu/

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

It's All About the Plumber and the 2600

Mike Raven did such a wonderful job dragging my blog kicking and screaming into the 21st century that I have decided to pay back the favor by dragging his blog back into the 20th century for a day. Oh I suppose I should introduce myself, my name is Jeremy Fink, but most people know me as Jeremy Crow. You can find all of my ramblings at TheWhacko.com where I like to think of myself as The Head Whacko in the Whacky World of Whacko blogs. Aside from that let me take a stab at dragging you back a little bit in the technology world.

I remember the first video game console that I got back in 1982 called an Atari 2600. Man that was the coolest piece of hardware any 12 year old could own, and I was the first kid on my street to have one, complete with the fresh off the market copy of Space Invaders. Took me a few weeks to finally get to the point where I could play infinitely. The trick was to drive along the bottom and just wipe out the first two of every row the whole way across. When you finally got bored with it you turn the game off.

I had so many Atari cartridges that by today's standards that whole system was probably worth into the tens of thousands, but somewhere down the road the system just got old. The joysticks didn't work to well anymore. Come to think of it I had pulled the rubber plunger off of both of them and cast them aside. Don't think I ever owned a game that used the paddle controllers, but it's been a while. Activision finally came out with a game called pitfall, and the Atari was almost new again, but I was already making my own games with my Commodore 64, and the time of games was ending.

That was until the Nintendo NES came along, and I lost a lot of sleep because of Super Mario Brothers, and then Super Mario 2 and 3. These were the college years when I should have been doing something more, but I loved that little Nintendo, then the Super Nintendo, then the Nintendo 64. I hate to admit that I never went much further than these, even though I did have a Playstation 2 and an X-Box but only because I had to. Golf and bowling games were about my speed by this time. I would watch my kids play the games that they would play and just be fascinated with how their hand eye coordination was far superior to mine, even when I was their age. Even as my son goes ripping through Assassins Creed Whatever Number on the X-Box 360 today, I just get confused.

Now as I do my writing I miss the days a little bit when the corner store had the game you see up there, Donkey Kong. I am pretty good with the graphics for an old man anyway. I could actually get a half hour out of a quarter, which meant the money I was supposed to be buying school lunch with would get me an hour, maybe a little more chasing barrels with a hammer. At one time I was trying to stop that mean old Donkey Kong from getting away with whatshername. Then Donkey Kong's kid became the good guy and I had some fun with that for a while. Mario the bad, then Mario and his brother started running around together which I had told you about earlier. I really have no video game loyalty yanno? Then the next thing you knew Donkey Kong was running through the jungle gathering bananas and I was all over that game too.

I asked my wife for one of those “old timey” Sega consoles with every single Sega Genesis game on it for under 40$ a couple of Christmas's ago. I thought of how great it would be to play Altered Beast and Gauntlet and all those great games I used to run to the arcade to play. I thought of the hours of entertainment I was going to get out of that thing. She thought it was stupid but went and got it for me anyway. Boy was I going to show her, as I started that unit up and got lost in it forever. She waited with breathless anticipation as I plowed through about a third of the games, only to realize that they suck now, and they probably sucked then, but when you are young and dumb you do things that are young and dumb. I don't know what brand of dumb I am now, but I miss that old Atari 2600.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Personal Qualities

I got thinking about this after watching this video about coolness by Ant - it's interesting how different things are cool, depending on the person and the situation. For me, someone with a PC kitted out with a Nvidia GTX Titan Z graphics card is cool.  For others, it's someone with a leather jacket riding a motorbike. So clearly, someone in a leather jacket riding a motorbike and carrying an Nvidia GTX Titan Z graphics card must be the epitome of cool.

Another quality is being adventurous.  Everyone likes to think that they are adventurous, yet how many of us actually explore - how many of us go on holidays and explore beyond the hotel equipped with all of the comforts (and more) of home, or go to a restaurant and chooses something on the menu that we're not familiar with?

Your Dictionary lists about 90 positive personal qualities, and being the humble soul that I am (and of course totally unbiased), I would put myself down as having about all but perhaps 5 of them, and some of those 5 I don't understand (quixotic, for example?  Something about attacking windmills?).  Of course the reality is that I, like anyone else, would hardly ever show all 80+ positive qualities at the same time (and hopefully I wouldn't exhibit all 90 negative qualities at the same time either), but there are moments in your life that you can recall being one or another of the qualities.  Riding on a rubber ring out into the Mediterranean (being unable to swim) probably counts as being a risk-taker, whilst hopefully there are other occasions - although none come immediately to mind - where I could be classed as sensible.

My YouTube channel has been a bit quiet lately, but I did get a stack of videos recorded over the weekend and published one today - apparently I have an alter ego called Vladimir.  Enjoy.

Lastly, Jeremy Crow has kindly allowed me to guest post on his technology blog, where I talk about how technology is going to change over the next ten years - stop by and say hi :)

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Call Me Vlad

Hopefully you enjoyed the little April Fool blog post, the Fruit Webcam - it was very much spur of the moment!  Rest assured that my fruit is in no danger of losing its right to privacy.

Due to, amongst other things, my current lack of motorised transport (not for much longer - hopefully I will have new car in a week or so) I've been out of the office for a few days.  When I did go in today I noted this image attached to the side of one of my colleagues computers:

Vladimir is watching you work.

Apparently he found some old passport photos and decided to make a decoration for his PC.  In the interests of free access to art, he provided me with a copy of the original to share:


He went on to suggest that Vladimir could be some sort of perhaps dark version of me.  I'm considering doing a video this weekend of Vladimir - unfortunately I don't have the beard at this time, but I do have a selection of stick on moustaches.  Suggestions for the video are welcomed!

In other news, my new group for local web creators, Hull Internet Creatives, was featured in the Hull Daily Mail today which was lovely (thanks to the brilliant Natalie from the HDM who made it happen), I'm hoping that it might lead to getting perhaps half a dozen people together for the first meeting planned in a few weeks. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Exciting News - New Webcam!

I'm happy to announce today the launch of the official Blog of Thog fruit webcam.

It occurred to me that if you, like me, essentially buy fruit twice for month for it to look nice in the kitchen, allow it to age and begin to rot, and then once it has turned to mould then throw it away to make space for more fruit, well this is, to be honest, hideously inefficient.

Of course we accept the need to have fresh fruit in the house at all times - it looks pretty and keeps fruit flies away from your beer - but isn't there a way to save us all money?


We are pleased to be able to offer you realtime pictures of my bowl of fruit - you can stream these to your laptop or tablet and set them up in your kitchen, instead of spending time and money actually purchasing your own fruit.

Here's an example of what you can now see:

Which piece do you think will go off first?  I'm betting on the Chinese Pear just in front of the kiwi.

To go to the webcam right now, click here.

We look forward to being able to offer you more facilities along the same lines - we're currently working on a website where you can virtually stand in a queue.  Once fully functional it will be use your computers location to alter the behaviour of the people in the queue - for computers in Italy the queue will allow queue jumpers, for example, whilst on UK-based computers anyone attempting to queue jump will be set on fire.

Sunday, 29 March 2015


I hate cars.

Actually, that is a lie.  I like cars.  I like how they can take me from one place to another quickly.  I've slept in cars on a number of occasions (generally at festivals when I can't be bothered with the hassle of taking and erecting a tent), I've owned a car more or less non-stop since I was 19 (which is a long time ago now that I think about it), and I wouldn't be without one.

I love trips on the motorway, and how you can drive for a couple of hours and then take a junction that drops you into a little village hundreds of miles away from where you started.  In some ways the road network shares similarities with the Internet, in that it's all too easy to follow a sign (or click a link?) and end up in Lesser Griplingcoates (or end up on YouTube) enjoying the annual Morris Dancing festivities (watching cat videos).

But today my car went from a moving vehicle to a stationary vehicle.  We were travelling back from a wedding, and about a hundred and twenty miles into the journey, just as we started heading up a large bridge, the car started to make a weird grinding noise.  I tried to get the car up to the top of the bridge so that we could then roll it down the other side (and hopefully off at a junction at the bottom of the bridge), but all I managed was to get it nearly to the top of the bridge before it died.

On the plus side it gave me the opportunity to take this nice photo...

And this photo...

And this photo.  I don't like this one as much as the other two.

Luckily my emergency breakdown cover sorted us out (thanks to the RAC!) but the diagnosis for my Vauxhall Agila (aka Postman Pat van) isn't good, it looks as though the head gasket is gone, and the car really isn't worth the money to repair it, I'm better off spending the money on a replacement car.  Ah well - the Agila served us well for a few years!
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