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:

* 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: 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.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

A New Perfume For Rap Fans

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

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: