Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The Next Decade Is Nigh

We need to decide how we're going to pronounce "2010". 

Should we say "twenty ten" or "two thousand and ten" or "two thousand ten"?
Or maybe we should go all "Nine Oh Two One Oh" and pronounce it "Two Oh One Oh". Decisions decisions!

We also need to think of a name for the decade 2010-2019.

Some think it should be called the "teenies", but I don't like that for two reasons - it makes it sounds like it will be frustrating and dominated by hormones, and 2010-2012 aren't "teen" numbers.

Also, going from the "noughties" to the "teenies" just seems far too silly :)

Some want to call it the "tweenies".

Personally I think it should be the "tenties*", because it starts with ten in the same way the 80s started with 80 etc.

Also, "tenties" conjures up camping imagery, and living out in nature, in tents, might just be a good way to reduce our carbon footprints :)

* following on from this, the next step would be to rename all the following:
eleven - tentyone
twelve - tentytwo
thirteen - tentythree

This would also completely and instantly eliminate teen-age pregnancy and teen-age crime**.

** However it may also result in a massive increase in pregnancies and crime amongst "tenty-somethings"

Thursday, 12 November 2009

The best presidential speech ever.... full version

Part 2

Part 3

Watch out political comedians, the President is gonna take your jobs! :)

Friday, 6 November 2009

Don't Push Me

'cos I'm close to The Edge.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Free money? I was suprised by TopCashBack - it actually worked!

If you're thinking of changing your gas, electricity, mobile, Internet or telephone provider, or planning to make a big purchase (a big tv or a heft order of Christmas presents perhaps) then you should sign up to Top CashBack before you do it.

I did, as I was planning on changing my ISP and telephone provider to a cheaper combined package from Sky anyway. By switching over through Top CashBack I got £20 cash back after I'd switched, as well as saving ~£15 per month due to the cheaper package I'd changed to.

To be honest, I didn't think the promised cash back would actually materialise, but there's nothing to lose so I gave it a go. To my surprise, it did materialise, and is in my bank account right now.

If I changed my mobile phone provider and gas / electricity provider, I could save money on my bills and get something like £100 cash back too (unfortunately I'm locked in with Orange for a good 6 more months or so, alas, and my gas / electricity comes through key meters so the switch deals aren't so good...still worth considering though!).

It takes a while for the cash to come through, over a month for me, but that's fine. If you're planning to change providers anyway, you may as well do it through Top CashBack as you've got nothing to lose, and could get a nice bit of cash for doing what you would have done anyway!

I also got £1 cashback for signing up to get a free SIM card... I haven't used it yet, and probably won't, but being paid £1 to be given a free SIM card is quite nice :)

They often have offers for major online retailers, so before you make a purchase of Play.com or Argos or whatever, check TopCashBack first - you might get some money back, just by clicking through to Play or Argos via the TopCashBack link.

It's money for nothing, so if you want to earn cash back on your Christmas shopping, or want to switch to a cheaper provider for something and get paid to do it, sign up with Top CashBack.

Sign up through my link - http://www.topcashback.co.uk/ref/Alltruism - and I'll get money too*, win-win!

I've made £26 so far, just by doing purchases or switchovers I was going to do anyway. That's not bad at all considering I probably spent less than 10 minutes of time signing up and using the Top Cashback site!

* well, I will get £1 when you get your first £5 back, but you'll probably get a lot more than £5 if you just switch one utility provider, so getting to the £5 threshold should be quick n easy :)

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Windows Mobile Shortcuts & HTC Touchflo 3D Internet Tab Browser

If you want to create a Start Menu short cut for a specific Java App (such as Opera Mini 5 Beta) on your Windows Mobile phone, first you need to go to


and have a look for s#_suite files (with the # being a number). Each of these represents a particular Java App that you have installed - we can't see which is which at the moment, but that's ok - just note down the numbers.... I have three Java Apps installed, s0_suite, s1_suite and s2_suite (if you have removed apps, yours might not be sequential).

Now, using a decent file system browser that lets you edit file properties and see file extensions, such as Total Commander, go to:

\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

Find the shortcut to your Java middleware (mine is called java.lnk), and create a copy of it. Rename it to what you want - e.g. Opera Mini.lnk.

Go to Properties, then to Shortcut. It will have something like "\Windows\jbed.exe" as the target (possibly followed by some parameters, which you should leave as they are.

We don't want this shortcut to just run the Java middleware though, we want it to load a particular Java app, so add the following to the end of the target field:

-run s#_

Where # is one of the numbers of the s#_suite files we looked at earlier.

Save the change (OK in Total Commander). Double tap the shortcut you've created (in this example, Opera Mini.lnk) to find out which of your Java apps it runs.

If it isn't the one you wanted, repeat the previous step with a different number (from the list of s#_suite files we saw earlier...three possible values to try in my case).

Work your way through all the possible values for # until your shortcut loads the right app.

My Opera Mini.lnk ended up with the following Target:

"\Windows\jbed.exe" -DFile.maxStorageSize=64M -run s1_

However, this shortcut will have the same icon as your Java program, which might not be what you want. As I'm creating my shortcut to point to Opera Mini, so I wanted the Opera icon.

To get that, just change the last bit from -run s1_ to -run s1_?\Windows\OperaL.exe,0

Or alternatively point it to a different program that you want to use the icon from.

You will then have a shortcut link in Start - Programs, with the name you gave it (Opera Mini in the example), which loads your chosen Java App.

Once you've got that, you can run it from there, or add it to the TouchFlo 3D programs tab if you want.

I created a shortcut for Opera Mini 5 Beta. This is a fast and capable browser. As I already have Opera Mobile 9.7 Beta installed, I decided I don't really need the Opera 9.5 that runs from the TouchFlo 3D Internet Tab.... I thought the faster Opera Mini would be a better option.

To change the browser loaded when you click the Internet icon in TouchFlo 3D's Internet tab, do the following:

Using a decent file system browser, like Total Commander, go to \Application Data\Manila.

Inside there will be a file called InternetPortal-en-US.xml (the US might be different, depending on your country). Go to properties and untick "Read Only".

Then edit the file (in Total Commander click the Pen & Paper icon at the bottom of the screen).
The second line in the file reads {InternetPortal}
You just need to insert the following as a new line after that (before the "IncludeUserFavorites" bit), only using angle brackets instead of curly brackets:

{BrowserExe}\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Opera Mini.lnk{/BrowserExe}
You can put whatever program (.exe or shortcut .lnk) in between the BrowserExe tags.

Save the file. Now when you go to your TouchFlo 3D Internet tab, your Internet icon will now load the program you selected - Opera Mini in the example above.

If it doesn't work you've probably pointed it to a non-existent file, so check it and try again.

If you can't get it to work, you can delete the whole line you added, and the Internet tab will then go back to its default (Opera).

Friday, 23 October 2009

Least Popular Griffin

After watching Nick Griffin make an arse of himself in front of the nation on Question Time last night, I lost my certainty that Meg Griffin was the least popular Griffin in the world. Now that title belongs to an ungodly fusion of the two.... Megnick.

That's enough pig!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Another Alternative Medicine Fail!

You may have seen people with arthritis wearing copper or magnetic wrist-bands which are marketed as being able to relieve the pain of what can be a truly horrific condition.

A recent, tightly controlled trial by researchers at the University of York, found that the supposedly pain-relieving magnetic or copper bands worked no better than placebo.

That is to say, you may as well just tie a bit of old string around your wrist as buy one of the bands - the copper or magnetism of the band doesn't help relieve the pain at all.

There are people selling these simple bands, to desperate people, for around £25 - £65, claiming (or, if they are more cautious about legal repercussions, just implying) that they can relieve the pain of arthritis.

In the absence of strong evidence of effectiveness* (and the presence of strong evidence of ineffectiveness, mentioned above), charging vulnerable, suffering people £65 for a simple magnetic or copper bracelet that is no more effective than placebo at treating their pain is surely exploitation of arthritis sufferers isn't it?

Somehow the alternative "medicine" industry often manages to portray itself as the little guy, trying to help people where conventional medicine and the "big bucks" of "big Pharma" struggles to.

This friendly, well-meaning cottage-industry image isn't accurate - its a multi-billion dollar international market, with large companies making large profits from the sale of their products, many (most) of which have either not been properly tested or have been properly tested and been found not to work.

Make sure you don't hand over your money for products that aren't tested, or which have been tested and found to be ineffective.

See the BBC's report on this at:

On the subject of alternative medicine in general, I highly recommend having a listen to Tim Minchin's excellent 9-minute beat-poem, Storm. It's scathing, but hilarious and fantastically well written - check out the official version on YouTube: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ujUQn0HhGEk

* there were some tests that showed some positive effects, but they concluded that the results could have been due to the placebo effect and that more research was needed. The BBC's report from back in 2004 is here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4101045.stm and is a lot more positive in tone, as the evidence was inconclusive but there was signs of positive effects.  The further research the previous tests concluded was necessary has now been done by the researchers at York University, and the new research strongly suggests and positive effects attributed to the bands are actually due to the placebo effect.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize

A bit of a shock, and I think Obama's work towards peace has only just begun - but he's got off to an amazing start, already having done more towards furthering world peace than the previous administration, and more than the current leaders of other nations.

Congratulations Mr Obama! Now, I want war to be history before your first term is up, ok? No pressure :)

I think it must have been this Vote Obama banner I made that did it.... its powers were stronger than I expected, so I can now humbly take credit not just for getting him elected, but also for winning him the Nobel Prize! Go me :)

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Phun With Photos

Here's a few images I've been messing about with.

This is from a tutorial in PhotoShop Creative magazine:

Quite a nice effect, not quite as seamless as the one in the tutorial, but not too bad.

Here's a holiday photo with some digital drama added:

Here's one I did from a "Weight Gain" tutorial:

Here's a nightmare vision I had last year:

Here's my conversion of a girl into a zombie:

Here's my twitter advert:

Here's the Vote Obama banner I made. It worked :)


Here's a 30th birthday badge for 300 fans:

And finally, my ad for Mountain Dew - the caffeine overdose in a can:

That's all folks!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Social Networking - The Twittering

My history of social networking is fairly uneventful, I've never really got into it in a big way, but I've enjoyed dabbling with it.

I signed up to MySpace years ago, and soon got bored of it. Then I joined Facebook. Which would be brilliant if it wasn't so saturated with spammy apps.

The "biggest thing" at the moment seems to be Twitter, which oddly is also the smallest thing in terms of what it does - just short messages, of no more than 140 characters (although they can include hyperlinks). That's about it really. You can post to Twitter from your computer, or even from your phone (via SMS, or via mobile Internet).

You can view the latest messages posted by the entire Twitter community if you want (although you can choose for your own messages not to show in this bit), or you can view the recent messages from the people you've chosen to follow. 

These can be your real life friends if you want, but it seems that most people use it to follow celebrities so that they can regularly receive important updates about the minutiae of their celebrity lives.

Some celebrities provide genuinely interesting updates about what they are up to, while others seem to have PR people running their Twitter accounts for them, which can make them a bit boring to follow.

Stephen Fry is one of the most popular people you can follow, and he treats his virtual stalkers with a near-constant stream of updates, wherever in the world he might happen to be. He is also known for interacting with his followers more than most.

On one occasion, he posted messages to Twitter (an act known as "tweeting", with the messages themselves being referred to as "tweets") from inside a lift he happened to get stuck in - he even posted pictures of himself and the other unfortunates during their incarceration:

In a way, it was as if all of us who Follow him were in there with him. Although not literally of course as 750,000+ people in a lift together for several hours would no doubt be somewhat unpleasant, even with Mr Fry present to provide his well-loved witty banter.

If you haven't already, come out and play with the Twitterers!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

The Customer Is Not Always Right (and some other website recommendations)

I found a rather good website today. It's called Not Always Right and is a repository of stories where customers have been unreasonable or just flat-out wrong.

It's quite funny, and if you love sites like Texts From Last Night and Passive Aggressive Notes then you'll probably enjoy it.

I've worked in computer tech support and have heard a customer who, when asked what version of Windows they have, responded without irony or sarcasm: "Double glazed".

That makes me more inclined to believe that a lot of the stories on Not Always Right are true :)

Check it out now at http://notalwaysright.com/

Here's one of the stories as an example:

In a children's clothing store:

Customer: “I’m looking for an outfit for a one year old girl.”

Me: “Sure, all of the twelve month clothing is in this section.”

Customer: “No, she’s one.”

Me: “Right, so that would be over here.”

Customer: “You just said that was twelve months!”

Me: “Yes.”

Customer: *slowly* “I’m looking for ONE YEAR.”

Me: “Would you like to go up one size to 18 months?”

Customer: “Is there someone else who can help me?”

(I go and get my manager.)

Manager: “How can I help you?”

Customer: “Your employee doesn’t understand English. I’m looking for clothing for my one year old granddaughter.”

Manager: “The twelve month clothes are over here.”

Customer: “What is WRONG with you people?”

iHate The Use Of The Lower Case "i" As A Prefix For Everything

Today, the iPhone is probably the most talked about gadget in the world.

I regularly see news about iPhones show up on my iGoogle page.

If I wanted to, I could read about iPhones on iGoogle on an iMac.

Or perhaps I could watch "I, Claudius" on an iPlayer widget in my iGoogle on an iMac!

In the days before the "i" prefix was attached to seemingly everything, we were plagued by the "e" prefix, which at least stood for something - electronic.

We had e-mail, e-books and e-business. That's fine - these were all electronic versions of existing things, and having to say "electronic mail" every time would become annoying pretty quickly.

So the "e" prefix was helpful, for two reasons - it told us that we were talking about an electronic version of something, and it saved us having to pronounce 75% of the syllables in "electronic" every time.

The "i" prefix has no such redeeming features. Apple, who are one of the companies most responsible for its current ubiquity, originally stated it stood for Internet. Of course, since "Internet" is a proper noun it starts with a capital letter, so using the lowercase "i" prefix is a minor crime against grammar.

The more generous amongst you may be willing to overlook that, but even then, its standing for "Internet" doesn't really make sense. Apple originally introduced the prefix in the names of the iMac and iBook.

Sure, both of these could be used to access the Internet, but neither was noticeably more Internet-related than other desktop computers or laptops. In fact the iBook was the "cheapo" part of the Apple laptop range - using the Internet would be more fluid on the much more powerful (and much more descriptively named) Power Book series than on the supposed "Internet Book" range.

Seemingly encouraged by the success of these iProducts Apple went a bit iCrazy, and created the iPod, iTunes, iPhone and iLife.

"iDon't Believe It!"

As if that wasn't iPlenty, the iLife software package consists of iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD and... wait for it.... iWeb. Oh, and it also includes GarageBand, which somehow missed out on getting an "i". But that is "the exception that proves the rule*".

Almost all of these applications, apart from iWeb, have little or nothing to do with the Internet.

The "i" prefixes are seemingly utterly meaningless, just a branding-executive's fetish.

The iPlague has spread outside of Apple's product line-up though, with the BBC having branded its online TV service / application "iPlayer". Google have an offering called iGoogle. There's even an iCoke website!

iCan't take it any more, iJust want branding people to start using a bit more iMagination (and no, you can't just have the "i" stand for imagination!) and get off the iPrefix bandwagon. Please?

* actually this phrase in its modern usage is nonsensical, so apologies for using it! Originally it made sense as "proves" was used in the sense of "puts to the test", and in the case of exceptions, "tested to breaking point".

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Oh god, I think I'm becoming Mark Corrigan!

If you've seen Mitchell and Webb's excellent series Peep Show, you'll know who Mark Corrigan is - and if you haven't seen it, you're missing out.

It is very funny - one of the best comedies currently on air in fact, but it is also one of the most painful things to watch - several times in each episode you'll cringe at the awkward situations the two main characters get themselves into, and cringe still more as they inadvertently dig themselves deeper in their efforts to escape back to something that they can fool themselves into believing to be normality.

I've started thinking things while watching the episodes only to hear Mark Corrigan think them about 1 second later.

Yesterday Jez said something like "maybe there's a higher power guiding everything", and I thought "no there isn't" almost exactly in sync with Mark saying it aloud. My mental voice is even starting to sound like him.

Oh god, I'm becoming Mark Corrigan...I'm going to wake up one day and I'm going to actually bloody BE Mark... SHIT!

Some Peep Show quotes from IMDB:

Jeremy Osborne: Mark! You've got to toughen up. This is the 21st century. You've seen Mad Max haven't you. That's what's going to happen!
Mark Corrigan: Mad Max is not necessarily going to happen
Jeremy Osborne: Oh sure mate. You live in your Hitchikers' Guide world where you wander around in your dressing gown and have a nice cup of tea

Mark Corrigan: [to Jeremy] As you're always saying... the Beastie Boys fought, and quite possibly died, for my right to party!

Geek Science - The Manga Guide To Molecular Biology

Do you wish you knew more about molecular biology?
Probably not. However,  if you do but find conventional textbooks a little dry then this could be just what you're looking for.

Yes, it's the Manga Guide To Molecular Biology - surely the ultimate geek stocking filler?

Need to know how the liver enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase works in breaking down alcohol?

Fear not - the Manga will explain, and with plenty of crazy explosions and excessive motion blur!

Check it out now:

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Say It Right - A Pronunciation Guide

To be clearly understood, it is important to pronounce words correctly so that people listening to you know what you are saying.

But some words are often pronounced incorrectly (and the only word that can correctly be pronounced incorrectly is "incorrectly" itself!).

Here's some examples:

Laboratory some of these may contain Lab Rats, but that doesn't mean you pronounce it "lab-rat-ory". There's an O in the middle there, and it isn't silent. It's "luh-borra-tree".

Aluminium this word contains 2 "i"s, and they deserve equal pronunciation rights so don't say "aloom-inum", say "alum-in-eeum". Like "condominium" you don't pronounce that "condome-inum" do you?

Nuclear this means "of or pertaining to the nucleus", and nucleus is pronounced "new-clee-us". Nuclear is pronounced "new clear". Not "nukuler". If you can't say it, you shouldn't be allowed to be in charge of anything nuclear... clear?

Specific The S isn't silent. Don't say "can you be more pacific?" unless you are wanting someone to adopt qualities associated with the world's largest ocean.

Pacific Ocean while this is a specific ocean, distinct from the others, you should not pronounce Pacific Ocean as "specific ocean". A "specific ocean" could just as well refer to the Atlantic ocean for example, or the Arctic Ocean, which brings me to...

Arctic both the Cs in this word are hard Cs, pronounced like Ks. It's c-cold in the Arctic, and it's pronounced "ark-tik". Not "art-ic", which leads us neatly on to:

Artic This is short for "articulated truck". So don't say "Ark-tik truck" unless you are talking specifically about a non-articulated truck that operates in the Arctic. If it IS articulated, it would be an Arctic artic.

Ask The order of the letters are very important. Note that the S comes before the K. It isn't nice to "axe" people.

Cavalry it is pronounced "cavul-ry", not "Calvary", which is another name for Golgotha.

Dilate this is pronounced "die late", which is much better than dying early. Which is what your speech might do if you pronounced it "die-uh-late".

Diphtheria this is a tricky one. Almost everyone gets this wrong. I know I usually do. It is important to remember that it isn't written as "dip" followed by "theria". It is written as "diph" followed by "theria", and is pronounced "dif-theory-uh".

Espresso count the Xs. There aren't any! That's why it is pronounced "ess-presso", not "ex-presso" (which conjures up images of an Italian parcel delivery company).

Et cetera another one where we need to count the Xs before we try and pronounce it. There aren't any! That's why we pronounce it "et setter-ruh" (or at least "et setra"), not "ex etra".

February this contains two Rs. Make sure you don't ignore the first one it's "Feb-roo-erry" not "Feb-you-erry".

Jewelry say "jewel" then say "ree". Don't say "joo lerry". If you are British you can get away with saying "joo-el urry".

Ku Klux Klan you'll probably only ever need to say this when denouncing them, but when you do say it, note that the Ku doesn't contain an L. It isn't "kloo", it's "koo".

Library a little like February, there's two Rs in quick succession here. Keep your mouth fit by pronouncing both it's "libe-rarey" not "libe-aree".

Prerogative don't say "puh rogative", give that first R its due!

And I think this one is a good one to close this article with:

Pronunciation this one is commonly mispronounced it isn't "pronounce-ee-ayshun" it's "pronun-seeayshun".

So that's how you'll be pronouncing all those words from now on, capitchee? :)

Top Tips To Help Men Last Longer (in bed, and out!) And Give Their Women More Pleasure

It is a fact that, on average, we men just can't keep up with women, however hard we try.

In most cases, women, the fairer sex, simply last a lot longer than we men do.

We just don't have the endurance women have, and usually cross that ultimate "finish line" long before they are anywhere near it.

In this "battle of the sexes" finishing first is the worst outcome. Ideally, men and women would cross that magical finish line at the same time, together in bed, but in reality that rarely happens.

It seems to be a fact of life that men generally finish first (nice guys or not!), but luckily there are some excercises and other things we men can do to help us last longer and give the maximum amount of pleasure to the women in our lives.

Pumping iron having a regular weights workout at the gym can increase our muscle mass, and muscles burn calories, and that helps burn fat. Having too much fat in our bodies can significantly reduce our endurance, so keeping it to a low level is a key element in lasting longer.

Plus having good muscle tone and strength make us less likely to injure ourselves when we're called upon to re-arrange the furniture, or lug that heavy suitcase of hers out to the car. It's win win!

Getting that heart pumping the heart has long been a symbol of love, and making it pump well is another key to lasting longer. This means doing cardio-vascular excercises like swimming, jogging, or even just going for long, brisk walks start gently and build it up slowly as your fitness improves.... don't overdo it, as this can be harmful, and could make you finish even earlier, and we don't want that!

Over time you will find you can run up the stairs without getting short of breath, and you'll be able to last for hours (e.g. on the treadmill) your heart will be pumping more efficiently, so you'll find you have the energy to keep on going much longer than before.

Cardio-vascular excercise will burn calories and so will reduce the amount of fat you carry, which also means your veins and arteries will be less likely to narrow or get blocked. That means your blood can easily get where its needed.

A strong heart pumping blood through good veins can only be a good thing, especially since poor blood flow and narrow blood vessels can seriously reduce male performance and endurance.

For similar reasons, Stopping Smoking will also help you last longer. Quite a lot longer, especially if you are currently a heavy smoker.

Check your balls regularly it may be embarassing, but it saves lives. Make sure your balls are healthy and you might well find you last longer!

Eating a healthy diet getting a good variety of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet is very imporant you will feel healthier, have more energy, and you will last a lot longer!

These are the basic keys to lasting longer, but how long can you expect to last?

In the UK, the average member of the male sex lasts for 76.52 years.

Not bad, but he needs to last even longer because the average UK female lasts a lot longer at 81.63 years. That's a difference of just over 5 years.

Given that couples tend to be of similar age, or with the man being slightly older than the woman, that means that on average most men stop being around to please their women 5 or more years too early, and that is not a good result for either sex!

With you gone, who is going to open all those jammed jam-jars?


With the exceptions of Namibia, Lesotho and Mozambique, it seems that men in almost every country aren't lasting long enough to keep their women happy right up to the grand finale.

If you follow the tips above, you have a good chance of lasting longer and being around to keep your woman happy for those extra years.... good luck men, I hope this helps you keep up with your other halves!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

How To Talk Like A Pirate Day

It be September 19th and that, me hearties, is International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Sail your pirate ships into the bay, drop anchor and I'll give ye the clues to unearth the little known treasure that is talking like a pirate.

All hands to the pumps, for a flood of pirate knowledge be comin' right for ye!

First of all, we need to know what sort of pirates we're talking about.

Today is not a day to say "zomg I've illegally downloaded Harry Potter And The Deadly Hallows off The Pirate Bay". That is not the kind of pirate this day is all about.

And don't worry, you won't need to learn Somali, as it isn't about that type of pirate either.

No, International Talk Like A Pirate Day is all about talking like the classic era pirates of the 1500 – 1700s. More specifically, it is about talking like our modern, heavily romanticised version of them.

This is the kind of pirate we need to try and talk like today.

He has all the traditional pirate regalia – eyepatch, big hat with skull and crossbones, a hook for a hand, a peg leg, a cutlass, big gold ear-rings and of course a parrot.

The parrot will almost certainly be able to say "pieces of eight" (referring to coins used back in classic pirate days) and "who's a pretty boy then", which is a question that was finally answered with the release of Pirates of the Carribean. According to women across the world, Captain Jack Sparrow, aka Johnny Depp, is a pretty boy.

So now we have established what sort of pirate we are aiming to talk like, we need to learn some of their lingo.

How to talk like a Pirate

The following words and phrases should be all you need to get started – by the end your pirate-talking should be the envy all your friends and family.

Ahoy – although no-one has yet discovered what a hoy actually is, the word ahoy is used by Pirates at every opportunity, and means "hello" but also "spotted". If a Pirate spots you, he will probably say "Ahoy there!" in greeting. If he spots land, he will say "Land ahoy!".

Landlubber – it means "a person who should stay on land because they're not cut out for the nautical life" (literally a "land lover"), and is often used as an insult.

Avast! - Means "stop", or "listen", so a Pirate Captain might cry out "Avast me hearties" when he wants his crew to stop what they are doing and pay attention.

Me hearties – means "my friends", often used to refer to the crew of the pirate's ship. Also "maties" (singular: matey).

Grog – a proper Pirate drink this be, made from water and rum.

Shiver me timbers – an exclamation of surprise.

Lily-livered – cowardly

Jolly Roger – a Pirate flag, almost always black, and usually depicting a skull and crossbones

Ye – you

be – is / am / are. As in "We be Pirates, I be the Captain, and they be lily-livered landlubbers!"

Scurvy dogs – a common Pirate insult, referring to the disease scurvy, which resulted from Vitamin C deficiency (which was quite common until the British started carrying supplies of limes on board their ships, earning themselves the nickname "Limeys")

Some general rules to follow when speaking like a Pirate:

Drop any "g"s that occur after "in", so that you be "sailin' the seven seas".

Drop as many "v"s that occur in the middle of words as you can, so its "o'erboard" and "ne'er"

Be generous with your adjectives – don't say "he was a big man", say "A mighty powerful man he was, wi' arms wider'n a grown man's torso"

Play around with the order of words, Yoda style, from time to time: "A mighty great ship this be, maties"

Be loud, and throw in "arrrrs" and "yarrrs" as often as you like.

Put all of these together and you'll pass for a Pirate rather than a lily-livered landlubber, and you might even find some buried treasure!

Even Google can talk like a Pirate - why not give it a try today?


Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Funny YouTube music vids

Death Metaller Abbath (from Immortal) gets the Scissor Sisters treatment. He don't feel like dancin':

My first Misheard Lyrics video - Fall Out Boy's I Don't Care:

My second Misheard Lyrics video - Fall Out Boy's Disloyal Order Of Water Buffalo:

My brother's Misheard Lyrics video for Lady Marmalade:

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Typographical Symbol or French Cartoon Character

Can you tell the difference between a commonly used typographical symbol and a popular French cartoon character?

It seems most people can't, as you almost never hear anyone pronounce, or spell, the word asterisk correctly.

An asterisk is a typographical symbol, and it looks like this: *

For some reason, most people refer to the asterisk as an "asterix".

Asterix looks like this:

Do you see the difference?
One is a small star-shaped punctuation symbol, the other is a cartoon Gaul with a winged helmet.

It isn't just individuals that make this mistake, large companies often do too. Here's a bit from a current NatWest competition entry form:

"Fields marked with an asterix are compulsory". Ok, fair enough. But not a single field is marked with the famous mustachioed French man, so it seems they should all be optional, but they're not.

As if this common failure wasn't bad enough, it seems most people are actually guilty of a spectacular double-fail where the mighty asterisk is concerned. Not only do they think it is called an asterix, they also think that the cartoon character of the "same" name looks like this:

This individual is not an asterisk. He is not an Asterix either. He is called Obelix.

Here's a handy guide you can print out and keep:




Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Cashback - its super!

I just got paid over £25.00 for switching to a cheaper Broadband provider.

I was going to change over anyway, but because I clicked through to the new Broadband providers site via TopCashBack, I got lots of money back!

This sounds quite dodgy, but it's genuine - check out www.moneysavingexpert.com for an explanation of why companies make such generous payouts for switching.

Sign up with TopCashBack if you're planning on changing to a different electricity supplier, a different insurance provider, phone provider, or broadband provider and you'll get a nice lump sum back.

It's free to join so there's no risk - the worst that could happen is the cashback doesn't work and you end up no worse off that you would have been. It is quite rare for this kind of failure to happen though. Chances are, you'll get money for nothing!

Sign up with TopCashBack here - http://www.topcashback.co.uk/ref/Alltruism and I'll get £2.50. And you'll get a big saving on your next switch!

You can also earn cash back on loads of online purchases through the big-name stores - if you're planning on buying something, you'll probably get a percentage back if you buy it through a link on TopCashBack!

Go on, you know it makes sense.

Like the song says - "Money for nothing. And chips for three". Or something like that

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

More Unfortunate domain names

Further to a previous post about unfortunate domain names, which included molestationnursery.something (it's Mole Station Nursery, not molestation nursery!) and penisland.something (it's Pen Island!), here's some more:

www.lesbocages.com - It's actually French, Les Bocages, and something to do with trees. It's not Lesbo Cages, and if you thought it was you've got a sick mind :)

www.sydneytherapist.com - This is actually the website of a therapist based in Sydney, Australia. It isn't a page about SydneyTheRapist.

www.nobjs.org - It's actually North Of Boston Jewish Singles. It isn't No BJs.org.

www.blackhatebook.com - This site sounds racist, but it isn't really a Black Hate Book, it is actually Black Hat eBook.

www.oldmanshaven.com - This is actually a site offering cabin rentals in a place called Old Man's Haven. It isn't something sick about a shaven elderly gentleman.

www.nycanal.com - This is about canals in New York (NY). It is not about anal in New York City (NYC).

www.americanscrapmetal.com - This is about Scrap Metal, it isn't suggesting people from America produce metal poos!

www.ladrape.co.uk - More French language - it's La Drape. Not Lad Rape.

www.budget.co.ck - This is actually about cheap car rental in the Cook Islands. Not about cheap cock. Sorry.

www.plumbersexmouth.co.uk - This is actually about Plumbers in the town of Exmouth. It isn't a plumber offering their mouth for the pleasure of others.

I think this was on the last list, but here it is again - www.whorepresents.com - no, this site cannot help you choose a gift for any whores in your life, but they can tell you Who Represents a particular celebrity.

This was on the last list too, but is still one of my favourites - www.expertsexchange.com - it is really an Exchange for Experts, not a site offering expert sex change services. Sorry if I got your hopes up.

www.speedofart.com - no, this is not about passing wind in skimpy swimwear. It is about the Speed of Art.

Monday, 6 July 2009

I'm in the Top 100!

Somehow my random rants have got me into the Top 100 writers over at Searchwarp.com.

Ben Morrish


Top 100 Author!

Ben Morrish Top 100 Author on SearchWarp!

Some great writers over there, even if I tend to disagree with most of them on pretty much everything, so it's an honour for me to be in their Top 100. Thanks to all who've read my articles there!

Searchwarp - Writer's Community

Sunday, 17 May 2009

McGrammar Fail!

Have a look at this:

Yes, that's right: McDonald's have trademarked a grammatical error.

In English, the nominative form of the singular first-person pronoun, "I", is capitalised, along with all its contractions (such as "I'm").

Not content with contributing to the increasing rates of obesity in children, must McDonald's make a contribution to ruining children's grammar too?

Perhaps McDonald's next posters will be "fully leet":

1'm £0v1n9 17!

Perhaps they will switch to the world's fastest growing language - LOLese:

mcdonuldz - i can haz cheezburga?!!1111oneoneeleven

Ceiling Cat will be most unimpressed to find His language used for such crass commercialism.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Separated at Birth?

Tim Minchin, fantastic musician / comedian, and Victoria Lyon from "that band of birds playing electronic violins" eScala:

These photos don't do the resemblance justice - watch some Tim Minchin DVDs (go to http://www.timminchin.com/ and buy some if you don't have any) then watch some Victoria Lyon (on Britain's Got Talent reruns). It's spooky, honest!

Monday, 20 April 2009

If Jebus died for our sins....

...surely we should sin as much as possible so as not to cheapen His sacrifice?

Think about it: If His death only purged us of minor stuff like stealing crisps from a sibling as a child then it really wouldn't have been worth the effort on his part.

A simple "sorry" should be sufficient to cover petty sins like that; a human sacrifice would be, quite literally, overkill.

But if we all go round sinning our pants off then eventually the cost / benefit graph will move into the section marked WIN and His sacrifice will rightly be seen as having been a noble gesture to save us from our wicked ways.

Hmmm. This dilemma needs more beard stroking!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Sunday, 22 March 2009

The Tim Tang Test - it will BREAK you!

Yesterday I discovered the Tim Tang Test. The creator bills it as "the longest and hardest online puzzle in the world". From my experience of it, I don't think he's kidding.

This thing is frustrating beyond compare.

And worst of all, you can't usually just google the answer when you get stuck - the answers are closely guarded, and the ones you can find online might get you to the next level, but they don't explain why they are the correct answer and so will leave you hollow inside.

Having said that, you are encouraged to use google on many of the puzzles - it even provides a google toolbar on many of them. You will need to do a lot clever googling to get the information you need on some of the puzzles, while others solvable purely by reasoning.... eventually!

Be on the lookout for clues in the mouseover text, the answer entry box, the background music and other, even more obscure places.

There's supposedly 250 levels. I am on level 23. So far, no-one has completed it. Few have even made it into the 100s.

So far, Level 6 was the most frustrating, and I'm still not quite sure how I got the right answer.... which is frustrating in itself!

For those of you who dare, you can find the Tim Tang Test here.

Don't say I didn't warn you!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Misheard Lyrics - Fall Out Boy - I Don't Care

My first misheard lyrics YouTube video - check it out, it will give you a deep insight into the lyrics:

When you're done with that, check out my second misheard lyrics video, for Disloyal Order of Water Buffalo:


Sunday, 1 March 2009

Unfortunate URLs

I didn't discover these, and I'm not sure they are all still live, but they are still quite funny, so here they are:

1. A site called ‘Who Represents‘ where you can find the name of the agent that represents a celebrity. Their domain name… wait for it… is

2. Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at

3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island at

4. Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at

5. Then of course, there’s the Italian Power Generator company…

6. And now, we have the Mole Station Native Nursery, based in New South Wales:

7. If you’re looking for computer software, there’s always

8. Welcome to the First Cumming Methodist Church. Their website is

9. Then, of course, there’s these brainless art designers, and their whacky website:

10. Want to holiday in Lake Tahoe? Try their brochure website at

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Santa Strike?

Breaking News: Economic Downturn Leads To Santa Hat Shortage

Due to the recent economic collapse, thousands of UK Santas are left hatless.

New uniforms are traditionally offered to all front-line Santas in March, ready for the start of the new financial year in April. However, due to lack of stock, and the collapse of several small hat-producing contractors on which they relied, this year the new uniforms have turned out to be hatless. Santa management insist the cutback is necessary due to the current economic situation.

Santas are outraged, and their union is conducting emergency meetings in Westminster to consider the possibility of strike action.

Union representatives demand a £5 million bail-out to keep the vital Santa industry afloat, and say that if the government doesn't take action immediately up to 15,000 jobs could be lost, primarily Santa positions but it is believed that a number of Elf positions are also at risk.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

The Laws of the Lavatory

I've just returned from a trip to the lavatory. Exciting, I'm sure you'll agree....but why am I telling you this?

I'm telling you because the experience I had has further damaged my already-limited faith in humanity, and inspired me to draw up the Laws of the Lavatory, to be signed into global law just as soon as the position of All Powerful Global Emperor falls into my lap without effort on my part. Surely only a matter of time?

But I digress.

I visited a shared lavatory at my place of work and what greeted me upon entering the cubicle?

A slight acrid whiff of bleach in the air and a sense of innate shame at the unpleasantness of various aspects of body-function?

Well yes, but there's more!

I was greeted by a plastic seat in the down position, decorated with several randomly placed pubic hairs and liberally sprayed with urine, as if some simple creature had been marking its territory. Which seems on reflection to have in fact been the case.

Just in case I was not already backing off this clearly marked territory with my tail between my legs the mystery creature had also left a large quantity of urine in the toilet bowl itself, with a large quantity of toilet paper included, for reasons I can't (and don't want to) imagine.

Since, as I later discovered, the flush mechanism was still in good working order I am forced to conclude that the creature responsible for the enthusiastic but unnecessary decoration of the toilet seat with their bodily excreta must have lacked an opposable thumb. This lack would also explain why they failed to raise the toilet seat before urinating.

While I don't expect to resolve the mystery and discover the identity of the misguided lavatorial seat-decorator, this incident did cause me to think about how things should be, in the Brave New World described earlier.

Thus inspired, I drew up a list of laws that should be strictly enforced in communal toilet facilities everywhere. They are mainly Gents-centric, but this is because I don't have any experience of the Ladies' loos (honest!):

1 - Men, if you're having a wee in a toilet (rather than a urinal), put the seat up first. However accurate you may think you are, and however much you may relish the increased challenge of having a plastic "friendly target" to avoid whilst delivering your "payload" against the porcelain enemy, you WILL hit it.

2 - If you have breached the first law, above, then you should do the decent thing and clean up the collateral "splash damage" yourself. Our military forces have to, and you should too!

3 - No talking, whistling or humming. None. You've gone there because you're either full of crap or full of piss. If you're either, then no-one wants to hear you talk. And whistling / humming indicates a cheerful ignorance of the sheer horrific unpleasantness of the human excretory processes. You don't want to demonstrate your ignorance to others, so no whistling and no humming, capiche? Breach of the no-talking rule whilst either party is in mid-flow at a urinal will be considered a serious offence.

4- No eye contact or checkin' out the tackle of your fellow urinal users. What you're all doing in there is nothing to be proud of. Keep your eyes unfocused and pointed at something neutral, like a wall, as much as possible.

5 - If you're using a urinal, and are not alone, do not fart or grunt. If you think you will have to do either, wait for a cubicle to become available, so that the sonic insulation of the walls can go at least some way towards masking your shameful noise-making. The thin veneer of dignity and civilization that separates us from bonobo chimps is fragile - we must look after it, or we'll soon find ourselves waving our bottoms at one another or advertising PG Tips. And no-one wants that!

6 - Flush when you're done - because however proud of your creation you may be, the next person will not think better of you for seeing it. This rule can be waived if it is night time and is only a Number One, in which case you shouldn't flush, because <>people are sleeping!< /whisper >. If it is a Number Two you should always flush, and if it is night time you should state "It was a poo!" at a medium volume during the flush so that others know your noisy flush was justified.

7 - In your own toilet, if you see the toilet paper is running a bit low, restock it immediately. Do not wait for someone else to do it, and do not wait until later. When it comes to toilet paper, having too much is always preferable to having too little. Being "caught short" is one of the most unpleasant experiences you can go through - avoid it at all costs, and help others avoid it too!

8 - Toilet paper is not for drying your hands. The last person to pull a bit off might have had pooey fingers. Think about that for a second, and then come back to me if you still think washing your hands clean and then drying them with potentially pooey toilet paper is a good idea (please wash and dry your hands properly before coming back to me though!). Also, wasting precious toilet paper for this purpose can increase the risk of others being caught short - and Friends Don't Let Friends Get Caught Short (easy to remember: FDLFGCS!).

9 - Cubicles have doors - use them! If you're going to use a cubicle, close the door. In many public lavatories, the cubicles are in plain view from the corridor when the main lavatory door is open (which it is every time someone goes in or out). The people in the corridor probably don't want to see you pissing. They certainly don't want to see you "dropping the kids off at the pool". Close the door, and enjoy the peace and privacy.

10 - Now Wash Your Hands - if you've put your hands in contact with anything unpleasant, wash them thoroughly. You went to the toilet to get rid of your waste, not to set yourself up to inadvertently eat it later!

So there we have it - the 10 Laws of the Lavatory.

Until I become All Powerful Global Emperor these laws are not enforced by law, but since it is surely only a matter of time before I take the reigns of global power I recommend you get used to following them immediately. You know it makes sense!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Gadgets for Geeks: HTC Touch HD phone review - iPhone killer?

I’ve recently got my hands on an HTC Touch HD (aka “Blackstone”), considered by many reviewers to be the best Windows Mobile “iPhone killer”. I’ll cover my experiences with the phone, and see how it stacks up against the extremely popular iPhone (the current 3G version).

First of all comes the “unboxing”, which to gadget freaks is something of a fetish…. There’s lots of YouTube videos of gadget lovers opening the boxes of their prized new electronic gizmo with trembling hands, providing commentary in a voice that frequently cracks with nervous anticipation.

I’m not quite that bad yet, so I was able to open the package the postman delivered with steady hands, and inside I found the HTC Touch HD’s cube-like box, black and stylish – it even had a magnetic clip to fasten it closed. At first glance it looks more like the box of an expensive piece of jewellery, and opening it did nothing to dispel this impression.

Inside, lying on a bed of what looked like black velvet, was the Touch HD. Similar in size to the iPhone, the Touch HD is a glossy piano-black all over the front, and it’s black everywhere else too, apart from the brushed-aluminium metal surrounding the rear camera lens.

Being a touch-screen phone, there are few buttons to spoil the sleek lines of the phone… in fact the only physical buttons are the power switch at the top, and the volume up/down on the left side, and both of these are almost flush with the casing so are barely visible to the untrained eye. In addition to these, there are 4 touch sensitive “virtual buttons” along the bottom of the phone (Call, Home, Back and End Call), located just underneath the screen.

And what a screen it is! At 3.8” diagonal it is the one of the biggest screens you’ll find on the current generation of phones – the iPhone’s screen is a noticeably smaller 3.5”. But it isn’t just the larger size that makes the Touch H D's screen so impressive, it’s its massively superior resolution – 480x800. The iPhone’s screen is a relatively paltry 320 x 480. In terms of screen size and quality, the Touch HD beats the iPhone hands down – its screen is bigger, clearer and seems brighter too.

The TouchFlo 3D interface used on the Touch HD is in keeping with the stylish black theme of the phone itself, so it isn’t quite as eye-catching as the colourful icons you’ll find on the iPhone’s main screen, but it works well and looks good.

The Touch HD’s touch screen is accurate and responsive, and most functions (including all the main ones) can be easily achieved with a finger, just like on the iPhone.

However, unlike the iPhone, the Touch HD’s screen uses resistive technology which means that you don’t need to use a bare finger to use it (so it works with gloves on, or with the included stylus). The iPhone is designed purely around easy finger-based control and its capacitive screen allows multi-touch – something the Touch HD’s resistive screen can’t offer.

The Touch HD, being a Windows Mobile device, does have some functions that aren’t particularly finger friendly, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, and the stylus (which is magnetically pulled back into place with a satisfying click) gives a precision beyond even the slimmest finger.

In fact, I generally prefer to use a stylus for most things because of a problem common to all touch screen devices – finger prints.

These shiny gadgets and their beautiful screens can become blurry and ugly devices after a few swipes of a greasy finger (been eating Doritos on a bus and not had a chance to wash your hands? Then you’re gonna mess up your phone’s screen pretty quick!).

If you are a finger-phile or stylus-phobe then the iPhone is probably the better option for you; if you occasionally need to use your phone in the cold and don’t want to take your gloves off, or if you like munching greasy snacks while using your phone then the Touch HD is your best bet.

The Touch HD offers a number of different on-screen keyboards – from full or compact QWERTY, through to the T9-enabled “numeric” keypad as found on conventional mobile phones. I found the Touch HD very comfortable to use for text entry (both with fingers and with the stylus), and found its on-screen keyboards just as quick and accurate as the slide-out keyboards found on some other phones (like the Touch Pro and Sony Xperia).

Both the Touch HD and the iPhone are too big to comfortably use one-handed (unless you have unusually large hands that is!), so if you like to text whilst holding a drink in your other hand, these phones are not for you.

The Touch HD can store and play many types of files, from videos, applications and games to MP3s and Word files. To get the most out of it, you need plenty of storage space, and to this end the Touch HD comes with a Micro-SD (SDHC compatible) card slot, which supports Micro-SD cards up to 32 GB. Mine was supplied with an 8GB card, which was nice, although I’d recommend buying a larger one if you want to keep large collections of videos or MP3s on your phone. The iPhone lacks a Micro-SD drive, but comes with either 8GB or 16GB of internal memory. Due to the increased flexibility of a Micro-SD card, I put the Touch HD ahead of the iPhone when it comes to storage.

One of the main uses for phones like the Touch HD is music on the move – the Touch HD functions as a decent MP3 player, and is easy to control with a finger. The Touch HD has a standard headphone jack on the top, so you can connect your favourite headphones if you don’t want to use the ones supplied with it (which are adequate, but nothing special).

To get music onto the device you can either copy it across directly by accessing the Touch HD’s Micro-SD card by “dragging and dropping” from your computer, or you can use Windows Media Player to manage and sync your play lists over to the device. I’ve always preferred the “drag and drop” method over allowing an application to manage my music files, but the advantage of syncing music over via Media Player is that album art is automatically copied over as well (you can copy album art over manually, but to me this isn’t worth the hassle). I’m actually starting to get used to using Media Player to manage my music and sync it to my device now... dinosaur though I am when it comes to digital music!

If you have an iPhone you pretty much have to use iTunes to transfer your music over. It’s a powerful application, and its built-in music store makes it much easier to purchase music. For ease of use, and a seamless experience, the iPhone beats the Touch HD when it comes to music and music management. However, if you want freedom in the software you use to download and transfer your music, don’t want to be chained to particular providers and DRM systems, and don’t mind getting your hands dirty with some file conversion etc., then the Touch HD might be more to your liking.

The same applies with software. The Touch HD runs on Windows Mobile, so there’s a vast library of software out there you can use on it, including a lot of freeware. Some of it installs seamlessly via Active Sync, but you’ll probably find yourself having to manually install a lot of it – it’s quite straightforward, but not as user-friendly and seamless as the iPhone with its “App Store”.

If you want the freedom to fiddle around with settings and generally tinker, the Touch HD is what you want. If you want everything to be smooth and seamless, don’t want to have to fiddle with settings, and don’t mind it being more restrictive, then the iPhone is the better bet.

The Touch HD also includes GPS, which integrates with the included Google Maps software. The iPhone includes Google Maps as well, but I found it ran a lot more smoothly on the Touch HD. It’s no substitute for a full in-car GPS system (and Google Maps comes with a warning not to use it whilst driving), but it is handy, and can help you plan a route. You can also use Satellite View and take a look at the roof of your house. Pointless, but impressive, particularly to gadget fans!

The Touch HD includes a 5 megapixel camera (compared to the 2 megapixel one on the iPhone), which is adequate, but not great despite its high resolution – due to lack of a flash, in low-light conditions if you don’t hold the camera perfectly still it will produce a blurred image.

(both pics taken with the Touch HD, then scaled down for display on the web)

However, in well-lit conditions the results are perfectly acceptable. The camera seems quite slow to activate though, which can be a problem if you need to take a photo quickly…. it takes about 3 seconds to configure itself. You can make the camera more responsive by changing some settings, but the quality will be reduced.

It also functions as a video camera, which produces surprisingly decent quality footage. As well as the main camera on the front, the Touch HD includes a smaller, low-resolution camera on the back that can be used for 3G video calls, but also used to take pictures of yourself (or you can use it as a kind of high-tech virtual mirror if you want).

The Touch HD makes connecting to your existing email accounts extremely easy. I got my GMail set up in about 30 seconds, and I've never set up email on a mobile phone before (and never set up GMail with a separate mail client before either). Its easy and comfortable to read the emails thanks to the large screen, and replying is quick and easy with the stylus. Its probably quick and easy with fingers as well if you use the t-9 enabled virtual keyboards, but I've always disliked any kind of predictive text so I haven't done much testing of that aspect.

Both the Touch HD and the iPhone have a number of functions that are useful from a business perspective - easy access to stock information, plus push email, appointment management and calendar reminders etc., but the Touch HD includes Mobile Office, which in my opinion makes it the better phone for a businessman on the move - it allows you to view (and usually edit) Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations. Parts of this review were written on the train on my mobile edition of Word, and while its nothing like as comfortable as using a netbook or laptop, it was not the finger-cramping, frustrating experience I've had trying to write on older smartphones. It also includes a trial version of Outlook Mobile, which makes it easy to remotely access work emails and calendar information securely.

Another business-focused feature, which will appeal to gadget lovers even if they don't use the phone for business, is the built-in World Card program which uses the phone's camera to photograph a business card, and then performs optical character recognition on the image, allowing you to create a contact automatically, with the name, number and other details being "read" off the card so you don't have to type them in. Potentially handy, but great for novelty value too!

The Touch HD includes a voice-recorder program, so it can double as a dictaphone if needed.

One feature missing from the Touch HD, but present in its keyboard-equipped sibling the Touch Pro, is TV-Out. The absence of this is a bit of a shame, since this would allow the Touch HD to be connected directly to a TV or projector, and then it could be used to deliver a full presentation using the built-in mobile Powerpoint application.

But enough about the work-related features....can the Touch HD keep you amused when you want to relax? Yes it can!

As well as music, which we've already looked at, it can also be used to watch video.

I had a go with the built-in YouTube application and it worked very well indeed through my wireless network - you can browse all YouTube video content and watch whatever you want in full screen. I recommend looking up the Norwegian death-metaller Abbath parody video, where the clips from some of his music videos have been edited together to the sound of the Scissor Sisters "I don't feel like dancing".

You can use the YouTube application away from home too, but that could end up costing you a fortune if you don't have an unlimited data package with your provider, as those YouTube videos are a lot of KBs, plus if you're travelling through a low-signal area the video can become quite juddery.

I've compressed a couple of my DVDs down using the free Handbrake utility, resulting in files that are approximately 700MB in size. The high resolution (800x480) of the Touch HD means it can actually display video taken from NTSC DVDs (which have a 720×480 pixel image size) at full resolution. so you don't have to lose any detail.

Watching movies on the Touch HD is an absolute pleasure - thanks to the large screen and vivid colours. The sound is also good through standard headphones... through the built in speaker it can be a bit tinny when the volume is high. After watching the video I encoded for the Touch HD, I used it to watch some video encoded at the lower resolution supported by the iPhone, and the difference is noticeable - the iPhone-optimised video looked slightly blurred, whereas the Touch HD-optimised video was pin-sharp (as it should be, considering the Touch HD has a much higher pixel density than even a top of the range HDTV!). The lower-resolution was still perfectly watchable though, and the lower-resolution format is ideal if you want to cram as much video as possible onto your storage card.

I was surprised at the battery life when watching video.... I watched the whole of Shawn of the Dead (which runs for just over an hour and a half) at full resolution, and the battery was still at over 70% when I was done - quite impressive for such a slim device with such a large screen, and more than sufficient to while away all but the longest train journey. Although the battery capacity of the Touch HD, at 1350mAh, is 50mAh less than the iPhone, the Touch HD offers a longer standby time (but a shorter talk time).

However, the Touch HD has a major advantage over the iPhone in the battery department: you can remove it / replace it yourself, whereas on the iPhone the battery can only be replaced by Apple, and if you're out of warranty that can cost as much as 50% of the price of the phone! Replacement / spare batteries for the Touch HD can be picked up cheaply and it takes only a few seconds to change them over. Ideal if your battery fails for any reason, and it gives you the possibility of carrying a spare, charged battery for those times when you're going to be unable to charge your phone for a long period.

But I digress... watching videos on your phone can be fun, but what else can your Touch HD do for you entertainment wise? You can play games on it. Lots of games! There's a huge library of games available for Windows Mobile, and hundreds of them will work on the Touch HD.

However, there's a fair few Windows Mobile games that WON'T work on the Touch HD - there's two main reasons for this:

1 - the Touch HD doesn't include a D-pad. Some Windows Mobile games require the d-pad to control the action, and these may load on your Touch HD but you won't be able to control them.

2 - the Touch HD runs at a higher resolution than most phones, and many games, especially the older ones, don't support it.

It's not all doom and gloom though - many of the available games are freeware, so you can try them out, and if they don't work, you've not lost anything. Many commercial games have free trial or demo versions which you can use to see if they run on your Touch HD - if the demo works, the full game is almost certain to work too.

One of the games included with the Touch HD is called Teeter. It is very simple, but maddeningly addictive (or should that be frustrating?). It makes use of the Touch HD's built-in accelerometer, which lets you control the game by tilting your phone. In Teeter, the aim is to guide a ball around a small "obstacle course", avoiding falling into holes. It sounds straightforward,but, despite the tilt-sensor being very accurate, it's harder than it looks! This game probably isn't one to be playing when you're out and about, as you'll get funny looks if you're sat on a bus, carefully tilting your phone around in front of you and swearing profusely at it!

The accelerometer is also used in what may be the ultimate geek phone application - the Diamond Light Saber.

Its a freeware program, and once loaded it presents you with a black screen with a lightsaber hilt at the bottom. A quick flick of your finger up the screen and the glowing blade extends, complete with the activation hiss right out of the movies. Once your light saber is activated, swinging your phone around will cause it to produce the appropriate noises based on the movement you're making. You can even get it to play the Starwars theme music while you wield your virtual saver. Geeks of the world rejoice!

But what if music, video, games or even virtual light sabers aren't enough to keep you amused? Fear not, for the Touch HD has still more to offer - the Internet in fact.

While Internet access via your phone is hardly usual these days, the Touch HD makes it more usable than most phones. The large screen and high resolution let you fit more on screen, and keep text readable even when its very small. The built-in browser, Opera, is excellent, and lets you browse the web comfortably, using a quick double-tap to zoom in or out, or a drag of the finger to scroll around. Tip your phone sideways and, thanks to the accelerometer again, Opera switches the display to wide-screen landscape mode.

I tested the BBC's "iPlayer" and it worked extremely well, allowing me to watch TV programs on my phone - smoothly and easily, and in full wide screen too! Like the YouTube viewer, I don't recommend doing this away from your home wireless network unless you have an unlimited data plan!

The only downside is that the Opera browser doesn't support Flash, although flash enabled browsers for Windows Mobile will be available shortly, so this is only a temporary set-back. In fact, by the time you read this there will probably be several Flash-enabled browsers you can use on the Touch HD.

You can also get free applications for various Internet applications like Twitter and blogging. The Touch HD includes software to allow you to read RSS feeds, so you can keep up with your favourite news, events and people.

And if music, photography, video recording, Office, videos, games, light sabers, voice-recording, mobile TV, world-wide web, Twitter, RSS and blogging aren't enough, the Touch HD has one more card in its hand - it can also let you make and receive phone calls and text messages. Will wonders never cease?

Overall, it's a great phone - the best Windows Mobile handset I've seen so far. It packs more features than the iPhone, and its larger, higher resolution screen makes it a serious competitor - if you don't mind having to fiddle around from time to time to get things to work properly it's a winner; if you want a seamless experience right across your iTunes music collection, video and software, and don't mind being tied to only Apple-approved providers, then the iPhone is probably the one for you.

For me, I'd take the Touch HD over the iPhone any day. Highly recommended!