Author Archives: Mark J Daniels

Felix Baumgartner’s Space Record is Broken

“Scottish Fish Invented Sex, although the cheese grater vagina was probably what killed them off, Formula 1 cars won’t be taking part in this weekend’s American Grand Prix, and Marty McFly and his hoverboard arrive in less than a year…”

This week’s “Things What I Did See On The Internet While You Weren’t Looking” (must think of a snappier phrase for that) is a little delayed because Ali and I took the opportunity to get away for the weekend.

Faced, as we were, by a rather large army of police on our arrival at the train station, we questioned the decision to take a break in Birmingham but, luckily, our hotel was only a few moments walk from Birmingham New Street and it turned out that the police presence was because a thing of football had just taken place.

And home team Birmingham had lost eight-nil.

A quiet night ensconced in the hotel bar lay ahead, then, rather than a night in City Centre pubs!

I’d promised Ali a weekend (mostly) free of Internet stuff soI didn’t get to write this week’s review of things I’d seen on the Internet before we left.

(Not that MY promise to stay away from my usual playground of social media blogs stopped HER from burying her nose in her phone at any given opportunity…)

Still, here are the links I discovered this week…

Google Man Breaks Baumgartner’s Record

One of the defining moments of 2012, for me, was the moment when Felix Baumgartner rose to the edge of space and then jumped, from 127852 feet, back to earth with nothing but a parachute and a space suit to keep him alive.

It was one of the most successful social media activities of our time in the pub. Originally sharing a link on to The Tharp’s Facebook page to let people watch the jump on YouTube from the comfort of their own homes, we also put it on to the pub’s large screens and, before long, the pub was full of people who didn’t at all get bored with watching the balloon take almost two hours to get to the stratosphere.

And then, last week, Alan Eustace, went higher and broke Baumgartner’s record.

Having planned his entire jump in secrecy, Google’s Senior Vice President of Knowledge, went to 135889 feet (25.74 miles) and jumped, successfully, back to Earth.

Baumgartner still holds the record for the fastest speed in freefall, at 843.6 miles per hour.

Scottish Fish Invented Sex

According to international researchers, a type of fish with the unfortunate name Microbrachius dicki is the first known animal on the planet to reproduce by having intercourse rather than spawning.

Living around 385 million years ago in an area we now know as Scotland, Microbrachius dicki was apparently 8cm long (poor chap) and the type of sex they had was probably not very comfortable. Rather than a conventional missionary position, the man and lady fish would sidle up to each other side-by-side and then Mister would push his L-shaped penis in to Missus, who would clamp on to it with her vaginal plates.

That’s correct, I said plates.

According to researchers, putting your man-bits in to her lady-bits would have been akin to inserting your manhood in to a cheese grater.

Unsurprisingly, this technique didn’t last long and fish quickly evolved back to spawning.

I wrote something on the Interweb

Every now and then I do actually write something for the company that pays me – the above blog, this week, is on finding out just how well you’re doing at your social media activities…

Back To The Future

That’s correct. After nearly thirty years of waiting, Marty McFly is finally due to arrive next year. Tuesday marked the last October 21st before Back To The Future Day finally gets here:

More interestingly, though, is the fact that on that day, this company will release the first ever truly working hoverboard. For a measly $10000…

Marussia and Caterham go in to administration

It’s been a tough few weeks for the world of Formula 1. Not only does Jules Bianchi continue to be in a coma following his horrific accident at Japan, but rumours have been rife that Caterham are in financial difficulty.

Administrators had gone in, then they hadn’t as apparently it was all to do with a different part of the business. And then they went in again, this time locking the cars down to ensure they couldn’t travel to America.

Bernie Ecclestone has kindly given the team dispensation to not take part in the United States or Brazilian grand prix. As they are back-to-back races, even if Caterham could sort out a deal with their administrators they wouldn’t be able to get the cars out to Brazil in time.

Then, at the end of last week, Marussia – who have been on the end of some pretty horrific accusations that they had actively encouraged Bianchi to ignore waved yellow flags just before his accident – also announced they had gone in to administration.

They, too, will not be attending the US or Brazilian races.

Both teams have declared they will be back on the grid for the season finale in Abu Dhabi but, with rumours of yet more teams struggling under the financial weight of competing in motorsport’s top formula, it’s looking more and more likely that next year the top teams will be asked to run three cars rather than two in order to make up the numbers.

Plates or Boards

I’ve long harped on about my dislike for the current trend in pubs to serve me food on a bread board. I don’t like it – it might look pretty in pictures but I find it a horrid experience to eat from.

I’ll go in to in more detail in my next blog but, for now, vote in my Google+ poll: do you prefer your food on plates, or don’t you care?

Click here to vote in my Google+ Poll

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Caravans, Giant Inflatables and Electric Cars

Thing I did, read and wrote about on the Internet this week…

Electric Camping

This week I visited the 2014 Motorhome and Caravan Show at Birmingham’s NEC; not something you’d think I’d shout about but, in a week when the car industry is full of news about my current favourite car maker, Tesla, and their all new D model, at the Motorhome and Caravan Show it was quite cool to sit in the world’s first electric camper van…

 

Although just a concept at the moment, Hillside Leisure have come up with a great vision of the future for people who want to make their camping a little greener, and it’s just about ready for production.

Although I do wonder what campsite owners might make of campers charging their cars up on the site’s electricity bill rather than just powering the caravan’s interior lights…

Dodgy Point of Sale

Exhibitors at trade shows go to great lengths to have the biggest and best point of sale to catch your attention as you wander between their stands, but I couldn’t help noticing that Vango, makers of inflatable tents and caravan awnings, might have not thought through this giant bicycle pump properly…  

I’m not sure Vango thought this point of sale through properly…

View on Instagram

 

More Tesla

Hot on the back of Tesla announcing their newer, better, faster more efficient version of the popular Model S (see link above), owners of existing Model S cars have been demanding that Tesla fit their cars with all the new tech that’s coming out in next year’s model.

Which is a bit daft – that’d be like me asking Ford to fit Cruise Control to my old Mondeo simply because newer versions of the same model have it.

Beastiality banned in Denmark

If you were thinking of taking your annual pilgrimage to fondle a sheep or two in Denmark, don’t bother. In order to bring them in to line with neighbours Norway, Sweden and Germany, the Danes have finally got round to making sex with animals illegal.

Well, eventually – the ban actually comes in next year, so there’s still time.

Dan Jørgensen, Food and Agriculture Minister, has said that the ban should come in because it is technically an attack on animals. “They cannot say no to going along with it,” he said, “so therefore it should be banned.”

Dodgy Understeer

Sticking with the subject of ‘sex’ for a moment, I spotted this rather interesting explanation of understeer from Formula 1 driver Kamui Kobayashi in this month’s Top Gear magazine.

For those who don’t know, understeer is what happens when you turn the steering wheel to make a car go round a corner, but there is no grip (going too fast, slippery surface etc.) and the car carries on travelling in a straight line.

Or, as the Caterham driver puts it:

Kamui Kobayashi explains understeer

It seems Kamui is mixing understeer up with doggy style.

GoPro cameras are dangerous

If you’re a Formula 1 fan it’s a difficult time at the moment. Jules Bianchi continues to fight for his life following his horrific accident at the Japanese Grand Prix and the sport’s most successful driver, Michael Schumacher, is also continuing a long and slow recovery from a severe head injury.

News came out this week that GoPro, the maker of digital cameras popular with sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts, saw their shares plummet in the wake of a report that it is most likely that the German’s serious head injury was caused by the fact that he was wearing a GoPro camera mounted to his helmet when he fell while skiing.

This is, of course, worrying for anybody who uses these cameras in such a fashion, but I’m not sure why the reaction is only just happening. Investigators voiced their concern that the camera was the cause of the injury way back in January shortly after the accident happened.

Caravan with a boot

Finally, let’s return to the Motorhome and Caravan Show. I’m not a particular fan of caravans themselves, but German manufacturer Knaus had a great concept on display at this year’s show.

With the rear of the van opening like the boot of a car (it seems to be strangely styled on the bootlid of a Renault Vel Satis) the aft of the caravan opens up to take its styling cues from the decks of a boat.

It’s a great idea and looked amazing, although sadly – for caravan lovers – there are no plans to put it in to production. So here are some pictures instead:

Knaus Concept CaravanSleek Knaus Caravan ConceptConcept Caravan by Knaus - with boot

 

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RIP Vehicle Excise Duty

Today, I feel a little bit sad for workers in tax disc holder factories, a lot sad that I will never again be able to build a big collection of tax discs during ownership of a vehicle, and very amused that nosy neighbours will never again be able to tut roll their eyes when I’m a few days late putting a new disc in the window…

RIP the humble British tax disc:

RIP Car Road Tax

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Inapub Trade: A Lack of WiFi in Pubs is Frustrating

In case you don’t follow me on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn – or any other online avenue that I try to get your attention on – I thought I’d share this link here too.

There are signs in pubs popping up all over the country telling me that I can’t have access to their WiFi because they want customers to talk to each other… here’s my take on it over on my blog on the Inapub website: http://bit.ly/1plD605

Link to Inapub blog

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BlackBerry Passport: not quite so innovative keyboard

I’m reading a lot of chatter on tech blogs and websites at the moment about the new BlackBerry Passport, most specifically about its ‘innovative’ touch friendly keyboard.

The idea behind the keyboard is that, as well as being able to type quickly and easily as is the way with all of BlackBerry’s excellent physical keyboards, you can also use it as a touch-sensitive mouse, sliding your fingers around over the top of the capacitive keys in order to navigate your way around the screen.

It’s an excellent idea and certainly a vast improvement on earlier BlackBerry devices that ultimately coined the phrase BlackBerry Thumb.

But, apart from the new screen seemingly designed to be perfect for Instagram photographs, it’s not exactly new.

The picture below is of an official Sony peripheral for my PlayStation 3 controller – a keyboard that speeds up the process of entering data in to the multitudinous forms that often have to be completed in the PlayStation Store and other locations. Its keyboard is also capacitive, allowing you to control the cursor on the screen in the same way as I do the one on my laptop.

The only thing that boggles me about BlackBerry’s new keyboard is why it’s taken them, or any other mobile phone or keyboard supplier for that matter, so long to actually copy it!

BlackBerry Passport's keyboard: not so new

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Getting Fit will leave me Hungry, Injured and Broke

Let’s get one thing straight right at the start – I am not what anybody would ever consider ‘obese’ nor am I lazy.

However, in the thirteen months since we sold our pub, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that a ‘less active’ lifestyle (read: more desk-based-staring-at-a-computer-screen rather than running-around-a-pub-being-bottle-washer-plumber-decorator-drayman-manager-and-barman) has lead to a little filling out around the edges.

While I might never have possessed a six-pack, I am definitely in the process of creating a barrel. Getting On My Bike*tweet this*

And, after a rather shameful visit to the scales recently, I’ve decided to improve my fitness; I’m not talking about obsessing about my weight on a daily basis or the fact that my naval is getting deeper, I’m not about to peel on the Spandex but this new lifestyle approach has left me somewhat concerned – while I might lose weight, everything else is clearly going to go horribly wrong.

The first thing is the food. I’m eating breakfast, lunch and dinner (something I’ve not normally done in the past; my consumption of food has been erratic of late and included an awful lot of Haribo) and the meals that are on the plate are wholesome and full of green things apparently known as vegetables. And yet I am constantly hungry.

I don’t just mean I’m craving a nibble, I mean proper, growling stomach hungry.

ALL THE TIME.

I’ve only been doing this since Monday; as I write it’s Wednesday evening, and I feel as if I haven’t eaten all week.

The second thing that’s bothering me is exercise. I’m not adverse to exercise and I enjoy riding my bike. Again, this isn’t something I’ve spent as much time doing recently; where once I used to ride up to 100 miles in a week, these last few months I’ve barely ridden ten. In total.

But last night I went for a run for the first time since, well, birth. I have watched people running before and wondered why they put themselves through it, but last night I decided to have a go and it hurt. There was proper pain. And I didn’t actually run that far.

I also look like a fool when I run, with my arms seemingly unable to keep themselves within a sensible, coordinated orbit of my waistline. I resembled a mash-up of Mr Greedy and Mr Tickle.

Finally, there’s my wallet. There is a gamut of products on the market that claim to help you get fit and healthy by measuring your heart rate and your physical activity and a plethora of apps that you can put on your smartphone to monitor your calorific intake and report back on your various exercises.

And, as I like shiny gadgets, I have to have them all; I’m just waiting for my Jawbone Up to be delivered and I’ll be all set. And broke.

So here we go. I’m in the first few days of a newer, healthier me. I’m not going to be a saint – there is a bottle of red wine waiting for me at the end of the week – but I am going to be a lot more conscious of my food and my sedentary lifestyle.

But so far, all it seems to be going to do is leave me hungry, aching and broke. *tweet this*

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I Lasted Two Minutes (with Swing Copter)

I missed out on the Flappy Birds phenomenon. By the time I’d heard about it, creator Dong (don’t snigger) Nguyen had got so frustrated with earning $50000 a day that he pulled it from the mobile app stores and turned down millions from corporates desperate to buy the rights to the game.

Now he’s released a new game. When my teenager told me about Swing Copter I decided I wouldn’t miss out and immediately installed it on my phone.

Two minutes later I threw the phone through my living room window. Then went outside and jumped on it to make sure it was dead.

What a ridiculously irritating game. Games should be challenging, they should be tough. They shouldn’t be flipping impossible.

If Flappy Birds was anything like this, I’m glad I missed it.

Swing Copter

 

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Amazon Knows I’ve Been Searching For Kayaks

The beauty of the Internet in 2014 is that it knows what I’m looking for and makes it as easy as possible for me to find it.

Search engines are now much more intuitive than ever before and retail sites look to offer you the best deal they can find. But is it possible that Amazon might have become just a touch… over-zealous? (tweet this comment)

I’ve been searching for kayaks online. This is fine, I want to buy a kayak. Amazon has a lot of inflatable options available and I’ve been trying to decide what type of kayak is best for me. Amazon wants to tell me about theirs. This is fine.

But check out this screen shot of The Register, which I visited just a few moments ago. Perhaps Amazon are trying too hard…

Did you know Amazon sell Kayaks

The Register article above relates to Twitter’s recent decision to make their Analytics service available to all. I wrote about this yesterday on my Inapub blog; click here for more information.

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Does Hamilton Really Speak The Truth?

Mark J Daniels:

It’s very clear that NICO Romberg is being set up to take over from Michael Schumacher as the Dick Dastardly of Formula 1. But before you fully cast him in this role, don’t forget that Lewis Hamilton isn’t the innocent lad he always tries to make himself out to be.

Have a read of The Front Jackman’s blog, below…

Originally posted on The Front Jack Man :

Over the last 24 hours Mercedes AMG F1 has moved from choppy waters to a hurricane, through the fault of their two drivers and their inability to control themselves on the track, and in the case of Lewis Hamilton, in the Press.

Hamilton has been very vocal all season about Rosberg, claiming he (Hamilton) ‘Never wanted it easy’ and that the year will be difficult every so often. However, since Hungary, a competitive rivalry has descended into a personal one. There were instances of argument in previous races never anything as heated as what we saw in the aftermath, with a possible exception of Monaco. But it has never descended into the chaos that it has now. And the fault of that lies mostly at the feet of Lewis.

The reason for this is simple. Whilst it was Nico’s fault that Lewis ended up with the puncture, what he said…

View original 643 more words

Sixteen Year Old Gets Formula 1 Drive

“It is now more dangerous to ride a bike through a big city than it is to drive a Formula 1 car…” Max Verstappen.

This week, the news broke that Max Verstappen, son of former Formula 1 driver Jos, will be driving in Formula 1 next year for the Red Bull junior team, Toro Rosso.

Click here to read the BBC story

Click here to read the BBC story

That in itself isn’t necessarily news. New drivers come along each year, some go on to do amazing things (Sebastien Vettel won his first race in a Toro Rosso before going on to win four World Championships (so far) with Red Bull; Daniel Ricciardo moved up to the reigning world champion team this year and is so far the only driver to properly take the fight to the Mercedes of Hamilton and Rosberg) but the big news about Verstappen is his age.

Right now, he’s only sixteen.

By the time the season starts next year, he’ll be seventeen.

The previous youngest driver to ever get behind the wheel of an F1 car was Jaime Alguersuari in 2009, who was 19 at the time. And this year, Daniil Kvyat, also 19, became the youngest ever driver to score world championship points.

The connection between these two is that they both started out their F1 careers with Torro Rosso, as will Verstappen.

The media and public are, of course, split. Some say it’s a fantastic thing for Verstappen – and it is! Don’t get me wrong; what 16 year old wouldn’t be ecstatic to be handed such an opportunity on a plate? It generates fantastic media for a sport that is often very good at shooting itself in the foot and it will give other teenagers the boost they so desperately need to prove they can make it in top flight motorsport.

The other point of view is that he’s too young, and so often we see young drivers come and go from Formula 1, used up and spat out by a machine that craves publicity and sponsorship dollars. Alguersuari, above, had departed his F1 career by the end of 2011.

But there is another way to look at this and, sadly, it’s the terrible reality of the situation.

The recruitment of Max Verstappen, at age sixteen, to drive a Formula 1 car unfortunately says less about his ability as a driver and more about how dumbed-down Formula 1 has become.

The FIA and team bosses have been hankering left right and centre this year for a way to ‘improve the show'; audience figures continue to decline and this takes with it the revenue the sport so craves.

In its heyday, Formula 1’s fans looked forward to crashes, engines blowing up, tyres exploding and while the FIA has done a fantastic job in saving drivers’ lives, the spectacle of the show has been diluted by the need to reduce costs and save money.

There was a time when no matter how well a driver had done, there was no guarantee of him finishing the race. History is littered with drivers not quite making it to the finishing line because a tyre exploded or the engine imploded on the final lap. Just look at Mika Hakkinen in Spain in 2001:

The need for reliability and austerity has taken away these uncertainties and thwarted the spectacle that Formula 1 once was.

The worst thing that can happen in a pit-stop now is that a driver can be released in to the path of another car; with the absence of fuel stops there’s little chance of anything worse than a wheel gun operator breaking a nail as a car exits his slot and occasionally a wheel nut won’t get attached properly.

Gone are the days of fuel hoses snaking off down the pitlane behind its charge or a hose not being able to connect to dispense fuel and, from time to time, the belch of flame when the fuel ignites. See Max’s dad in 1994…

I’m not suggesting, of course, that we return to the days of men dying every week and maybe I’m being too flippant – accidents do still happen, some with terrible consequences, but unreliability and uncertainty bred intrigue, not the fact that a driver has to push a button to open a flap on the back wing at certain points on a track if he’s within a second of the car in front to help him overtake (or sometimes defend from) another driver. Or pushing another button to engage a boost of electrical energy via a KERS system.

Formula 1 was once the pinnacle of motorsport. It bred heroes and gladiators and the cars were notoriously difficult to drive. No mere mortal could ever hope to get one started or to hold their neck up straight after a few corners. Drivers from lesser formulae would drive a Formula 1 car and marvel at its braking power and the grip it had in a corner.

Now, they have to worry about lifting off and coasting in order to conserve fuel rather than fighting to use every last drop in a battle to reach the finish line.

But perhaps the most damning evidence of Formula 1’s plight comes, ironically, from its newest, and youngest, driver: “it is more dangerous to bike through a big city than race in an F1 car,” says sixteen year old Max Verstappen.

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