Ice bucket CHALLENGED!

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A British Christmas – Latest Concert performance

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Generations of intelligence

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Retail PC gaming?

This weekend the eagerly anticipated sequel to Crysis 2 came out, to a barrage of excellent reviews, along with those less favourable opinions (there are usually a few, even with the best games). Having been a big fan of the previous games, I thought I would pop into my local store to pick up a copy.

Who wouldn’t want to see if their PC is able to run this game with such beautiful graphics?


HMV had no stock.

Granted, they are under admistration, but they still had copies of the XBox 360 and PS3 on the shelves, which doesn’t make sense. Why would they be able to take only certain formats rather than all of them.

Game had no stock

This one baffles me. Why are game so opposed to stocking retail PC titles? I understand that PC titles sell less than consoles (so they don’t dedicate as much of the store) but surely having a few copies of the latest (and most popular) release would make sense?

Tesco had no stock

Doesn’t surprise me but is still disappointing. They have copies of driving tests programs, World of Warcraft and The Sims, but rarely have any other major titles. Well, unless you count Angry Birds in Space or whatever casual game is “popular” at the moment.

Giving up when walking around the high street, I thought I would contact EA directly, to see if they are only providing retail copies for the console versions. This was the response (via twitter, easier than trying to find a customer service contact on their site).

As you can see, even EA aren’t sure which stores they are supplying PC stock to. They are even suggesting Gamestop, who closed their last retail store in Ireland in January this year. They are also suggesting I purchase it from their Origin store (either a physical copy or digital). As they are charging 25% more than any retail or web site, I don’t think I’ll bother.

I was being intentionally difficult via this twitter, as I wanted to know if they do have a retail focus for the PC. It seems it is geared towards their Origin online store. Despite the previous games being on Steam, this title is not available via this service, which is a shame as Steam is a popular method of online distribution for games (and now software too).

If this is the push EA give towards customers wanting to buying in store, but pushing to use their more expensive service, then I’ll simply not be buying at all.

I guess I will stick to publishers who actually want to sell games to their customers, rather than have to chase them for the answer of what store I can get a physical copy from.


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A wrong turn. Thankfully no mutated evil hill-billies

Last weekend I thought it would be nice to take my girlfriend shopping somewhere different, so considered Lakeside or Bluewater. I didn’t mind the drive as I enjoy driving on the motorway (one of the few times I can go faster than 30 MPH) but have only driven to Lakeside once by myself. As she hadn’t been to Bluewater, that was what we decided to do, as it would be nice to give her a new experience (well, two new experiences, as she wanted to do Yo Sushi! as well).

So, a quick look on Google maps that morning before we head of and it looks like a simple belt down the A12 towards London, hop on the M25, over the Dartford crossing then finally head towards Bluewater. Simple right?


Before the crossing, there were signs for Lakeside, so I assumed there would be signs for Bluewater as well onces we were over the bridge.


As I figured I may get lost carrying on the M25 (and I knew I had to come off it to get to Bluewater) I turned off at the first junction I could find, hoping to find a service station or lay-by to look up the directions on my smart phone.

Wrong turn!

Not only did this road not have a service station or any lay-bys, but there were no turn-off’s for about 10 minutes, sending us even further away from our destination. When there finally was a turning, it took us through some narrow (basically one car width) country roads, small towns and creepy looking middle of nowhere farms. It was something out of the film “Wrong Turn” but thankfully with better looking locals.

I pulled over (again, took a while to find a suitable safe place) and typed “Bluewater” into the map location. First of all, my phone is a Windows Phone 7, so has Bing maps included. It found Bluewater, but in the USA. Not really helpful.
[I have now used Bing maps on a computer and it does come up with Bluewater in the UK as a location, but this is a major bug on the phone map]

All was not lost, for I had another map installed…Google Maps! {enter heavenly music here}. It found Bluewater, in the UK! [hooray]  it was able to map a route to it [yay] which took us through small towns and villages rather than a motorway [not so yay]. After driving through some very pretty towns, it decided to change our location from a road, to the middle of a field.
[Don't worry, I wasn't using the phone when driving, my GF was giving me directions]

After the phone had failed us; even when switching back to bing maps, using the postcode obtained via a web search; She suggested a strange new technology that, as a man, I was not familiar with.

Asking someone for directions! [Dun dun DUUUUUN]

We spotted a fire station doing a charity car wash (who better than a fireman to ask for directions) and I got her to ask him (I had my pride after all). The old boy was very helpful and told us to go take the road ahead, then right, then left, then through a town called Bean, and then we would be there. So we walked back to the car, turned around and set off. As we drove past, we waved us down.

“Did I say right then left? I meant left then right! Sorry.”

Thankfully his (new) directions got us there perfectly fine (even if we did take a minor turn by accident) and had a brilliant day buying way too many sweet naughty things (I am glad Krispy Kreme and Hotel Chocolat are not based in Colchester, my waistline would not cope).

Lesson learned?

Technology can get you lost, whilst local knowledge is more accurate, even with a mistake :)


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Are we running out of time to kill Hitler via time travel?

Are we running out of time to kill Hitler via time travel?.

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No pain, no [weight] loss!

Over the past few years of working in a office, with “pasty vans” and nearby greasy spoons, I have put on a bit of weight. I used to be 10.5 stone at my peak, but it slowly crept up to almost 13, which is very bad. After several minor attempts at losing weight (looking back, I don’t see why I thought they would work), I got angry at myself. Well…not angry, but “assertive”. Same energy, different use. It’s a mental process I have used on myself to try and control my emotions (I think it comes from NLP). Diagram below:

Negative energy diagram

All negative energy/thoughts start in the middle and how the person chooses to use that energy dictates where it goes. Now in most people, it will flow downwards towards “D”, which is for depressive thoughts (“Why me?”, “Never ever changes” etc). In some people, they use a bit more force with their feelings and push it upwards. Since there is a barrier (the blue bit, more on that later), the energy has to go to “Ag” or aggressive thoughts (“You suck!”, “I hate this”, etc).  Both of these destinations are harmful, as they hurt either the person feeling it, or directed towards another person.

But there is a different way.

The barrier is there as most people do not know how to channel their negative thoughts into positive thoughts. Believe me, it has taken me many years to get this ingrained into my personality, so don’t be dismayed if you don’t get there for a while. The positive version of these thoughts/energy is “As” or assertion (“This situation is not to my liking, I must change it”, “That was unexpected, I will adapt”, etc). This leads people to not only deal with the situation without harming them self/others, but to turn it to their advantage.

Good leaders use this all the time (knowingly or not). They assess the situation and see how they can turn it around to their benefit, rather than cry or shout at someone.

But I digress. The other week I had a moment where this above diagram popped up into my head when I was having a negative thought. I was looking in the mirror, after a heavy night of drinking, thinking to myself “I have a horrible figure, I can see why no woman would be attracted to me.” Yeah, harsh I know, but that that is what the inner voice can do. Would you ever say that to someone else? No, so don’t say it to yourself. Thankfully, my inner voice changed (makes me sound like a mentalist, but you know what I mean). This time is was “Right, I have had enough of this image of me. I am an attractive man with a lot to offer. I need to get in shape, stop drinking so much and eating bad foods, and work on being more interesting and fun to be around.”

Since that moment, I have not had any alcohol or fizzy drinks. No shop bought pizzas (I had a pizza in a restaurant at a work’s do, but that was booked in advance, didn’t drink at the meal though). No crisps. No meals bought at lunchtime (sticking to my 18p instant noodles ;)

I have traded it in for fruit (banana and tangerines, at least 1 of each a day) muesli-like breakfast, strawberries at least once a week and plently of water (and coffee, but down to 3 cups now instead of 6). I have also joined the local gym.

I think the fruit is helping a lot, I feel smoother in myself (energy wise) and not overheating so much. My gym induction had them measure me and do my blood pressure (which is normally a bit high) and just after 1 week of the food changes and light exercise, it has already dropped a bit.

So far this week, I have been to the gym twice (on Monday I slept through my alarm…whoops) and I feel so much better in the mornings, much more awake. I didn’t want a coffee today until 10:30 (normally when I get in at 8:30, it’s the first thing I do). I also feel less bloated and pudgy than I did. The week I started I was 12.3 stone, and I am now 11.12 (less than 2 weeks of slow, healthy losing).

I decided to arrange my gym visits to be before work every day. That way it doesn’t mess up my routine after work and slowly becomes part of what I do every morning, meaning I am less likely to not go (Monday notwithstanding). I haven’t planned this weekend (that will be more flexible) but for now I think 5 times a week is more than enough.

I am not sure if I will keep with the gym in the long term (it is costing me £35 per month) but that is a small price to pay for my health. Any previous excuses I had for not going I have forgotten, as they were clearly “D” type thoughts.

I’m more of an “As” man :D

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Bryan Adams is a bit twisted

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Sometimes I think…(Latest concert performance)

Original camera (beginning is missing but the colours are good).

Alternative camera (weird colours, but a straight on angle)

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