Author: Stuart (page 2 of 88)

Complimented by a BAFTA-winner, no biggie

New Star Soccer retirement suggestions by Stuart Waterman

New Star Soccer. To paraphrase Foreigner, I’ve been waiting for a game like this to come into my life.

I won’t bang on about it, but if you’re into football and you haven’t played it, downstall New Star Soccer into your device immediately (but not if you have exams or important stuff coming up – this thing will eat your life). It beat some big guns to win a BAFTA Games award earlier this year, in a victory pleasingly comparable to, say, Rotherham United beating Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

If you’ve played the game you’ll know there are elements of New Star Soccer that could be improved. And, like any good modern-day outfit, the company behind the game tends to ask for opinions/suggestions from users through sozialmedia. I happened to have some time on my hands, so I submitted my suggestions regarding incorporating players’ retirement age into the game on their Facebook page.

They were warmly received by the person behind the feed, who I believe is the game’s creator, Simon Read. I reproduce them here for posterity/royalties should they be taken up in the next update of the game.

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socks poem

They shield your feet, make you feel real neat
They cushion your shoes, take away the blues
With some buttons and thread, you can give them both heads
Need a holder for your phone? It’s already sewn
If you need to drain rice, a sock will suffice
Having grapes for lunch? A sock can carry a bunch
Put one on each ear, winter holds no fear
Absorb your tears when you weep, as you go to sleep


Everything I read in 2012

Everything I read in 2012

Into #longreads? Check out my Google+ community, Non-Fiction Addiction

The best thing about the Christmas/New Year period is All The Lists. Lists lists lists. Lists. (Children may feel otherwise, but what do they know.)

I love browsing end of year lists. It’s a great way to catch up on stuff you missed, and it fills those somnolent post-turkey holiday days like a charm. Whether the lists are in newspapers, mags, blogs… Best books, best gadgets, best songs, worst songs, worst pop-up restaurants where you can’t reserve a table and the queuing system amounts to ‘elbow a fellow aspiring diner in the trachea to get a whiff of hipster-fried chicken’ (Wishbone Chicken Brixton, you are death); yes, I love all the lists.

In bygone years I tended to create sprawling music playlists. A top ten of the year was no good. It always needed to be comprehensive, unwieldy and, ideally, drive me to the brink of insanity while I compiled it (example: my Best Of 2010 Spotify playlist features 192 tracks). You know you’ve made a good fist at a list if the mere thought of trying to fulfil your original vision makes you want to cry.

Which brings me to my 2012 end of year list. As I’ve babbled previously, this year has seen my reading habits change significantly. I didn’t read many books (boo), but I did learn that I could send longform articles to my Kindle (yay). Since sending stuff to my Kindle creates a record of all such articles in my Amazon account, I figured it might be interesting (for me, if nobody else) to put everything I’d read this year into a list.

Sadly this only occurred to me in November, and since Amazon accounts only record text information as opposed to links, it meant I had to (I say ‘had to’):

1. Trawl all the way through my Amazon account

2. Copy the title of each article and/or its author

3. Paste this information into Google

4. Go to the source article link and copy the relevant info & URL

5. Paste this information into my list

Now, it might not sound that arduous. But by the time I’d finished compiling my list of Every Article I Read On My Kindle In 2012, it was 457 items long. That’s a whole lot of copying and pasting, and I’d say it’s easily the most boring way to spend time I’ve yet devised. It really cut into my Christmas shopping efforts, too (this year everyone will get a Keep Calm And Carry On tea towel and be happy with it).

This list may be something people like to browse through. I hope so, given the time I spent on it. But when I got the idea I think my main motivation was this: I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone do this before. Why would they? It’s insane, and people have lives. So while it would almost certainly have been generally more useful to create a ‘Best of 2012’ list, I figured people like Longreads and have that covered.

(Update: OK, I caved. Here are my 30 Great Reads Of 2012, compiled for The Electric Typewriter; and here’s a Readlist of all of them, should you wish to export them all to your device in one go.)

So my list is unfocused, wide-ranging and includes articles from before 2012. The oldest was published in 1869, but the majority are from 2000 onwards. It’s all non-fiction, and it paints a picture of a reader who is variously interested in, among other things, Scientology, serial killers, Bill Murray, paperclips, pornstars, Carly Rae Jepson, magic, Reddit, David Sedaris, con artists and the Olympics.

If you take a look at it and find something that piques your interest, I hope you’ll share it with others. It might make my RSI worth it.

Every Article I Read On My Kindle In 2012

A mention for the places where I tended to find all these links, and which I continue to browse regularly:

I’ve also created a longform RSS bundle that collects a bunch of these into a single feed which you can add to Google Reader.

Into #longreads? Check out my Google+ community, Non-Fiction Addiction
Update: Thanks to @hollyjunesmith for sharing the list with one of the Twitter big dogs – and welcome to those who ended up here as a result.


Jupiter believe it! WeWood Jupiter watch review

WeWood JupiterMy review of the WeWood Date watch is the post that consistently drives the most traffic to this here domain. Didn’t plan it that way, but there we are. The WeWood folk got in touch recently to ask me to try out another model. This is a quick look at it; for a more in-depth look at WeWood, check out my earlier review.

This time I tried the WeWood Jupiter. It’s a dual dial affair with a more modern feel than the Date. It’s probably the WeWood that would appeal to the kind of folk who like things like Tokyoflash watches, although the Jupiter does have the slight advantage of actually allowing you to tell the time without making your brain jump through hoops.

The Jupiter flaunts the WeWood brand a little more than my other watch. It’s in a nice subtle way though, with the brand name below the face and a little ‘WW’ logo above it.

Over to my official photographer now, who I shall be firing imminently.

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How to send articles from your Android phone to your Kindle

Send to Kindle AndroidThis is just a quick follow-up to my post about sending articles from to your Kindle. While I’d sussed out how to do this with just one click from my laptop, I hadn’t found a reliable way to do so from my Android phone. Or at least not a way that didn’t require lots of annoying tapping around to get it done.

What I wanted was a way to use the ‘Share via’ function in the Android browser, and have ‘Send to Kindle’ be one of the options presented (alongside the usual suspects like Facebook, Twitter, etc).

After trying a couple of apps that didn’t consistently do the trick (nor offer much guidance on how to fix the glitches), and plus not really wanting to have the Amazon Kindle app taking up space on my phone, I tried the Push to Kindle app by

Hey presto! It works really well and I found the instructions on how to set it up straightforward, which means it’s worth paying the £1.50 they charge. And even better, it uses Readability‘s early open source code – which means the article that reaches your Kindle is all cleaned-up and easy to read.

The developers even made a little video to show you how to use it:

(Tip: In the ‘Send from’ section of the set-up screen I just used my personal email address, because I’ve already set that up to be one of the email addresses from which my Kindle will accept articles.)

Download Push to Kindle from Google Play

By the way, if you’re looking for good longform stuff to send to your Kindle, some other sources I’ve been using recently in addition to are:

And a few recent favourite articles I’ve encountered:

What sport taught me by the age of 12

Monchengladbach map

It’s difficult to justify eschewing social engagements just because 22 strangers are kicking a ball around on a field thousands of miles away, or because an array of non-British women are about to jump over a collection of hurdles (literal hurdles mind, not puny figurative ones).

It’s irrational, really. But if you’ve looked forward to the big sporting tournaments for your whole life, it’s a difficult thing to just turn off. That’s why I virtually disappeared during Euro 2012 and have gone to ground during the Olympics.

Sport was a huge part of my childhood. I played football, but my obsession was about more than the thrill of scoring the odd goal, and it was about more than just watching. To me, it presented an alternate universe as compelling as the likes of Star Wars.

I read and re-read books full of football statistics. I read and re-read and re-read an ITV Sport-produced tome about the history of the Olympics (football and athletics were – and remain – my favourites).

I drew pictures of goals being scored. You know those playbook-style diagrams you see in newspapers, where they illustrate the movement of the ball leading up to a goal? I was drawing those – loads of them, uselessly illustrated using colouring pencils and felt-tips – on a daily basis. I used Star Wars figures as footballers, kicking a Subbuteo ball around on the carpet and trying to score past my brother who would be holding Darth Vader as a goalkeeper (Subbuteo itself was always too frustrating for us, so we invented our own, more free-flowing variation).

I watched and re-watched videos of league goals and, in the absence of any other useful information filling up my brain, knew the home and away score for every match, for every team, throughout the season. You could have asked me what the score was for, say, Everton v. Derby 6 months ago, and I would know. I would also know who scored all the goals.

When I think about the time I now spend commuting, ironing, washing dishes, cooking, socialising… all of this time, when I was a kid, was spent obsessing over sport. There was nothing, nothing more exciting than the prospect of a new World Cup, European Championships, FA Cup or Olympic Games. So actually, I think I’ve done pretty well to emerge from such an all-consuming obsession a relatively well-rounded human being. Sure, I spent, cumulatively, a full 24 hours watching football during the opening week of Euro 2012 – but at least I still made it into work and somehow managed to feed myself (with awful, unnaturally-hued food – but no matter).

Of late I’ve been thinking about what sport taught me during my formative years. I’m not talking about ‘teamwork’ and ‘determination’, or any of that life-lesson pishposh. I’m talking about practical, tangible, how-do-you-spell-Mönchengladbach general knowledge. Because following football means more than just watching a ball being kicked around, and the Olympics is about more than chucking a stick into a field.

There’s always a context there, and it’s from these contexts that I think my childhood education was actually improved by sport. I’m not saying I learned more than I did in school, but my awareness and knowledge of the world was definitely enhanced. Not with semi-ironic stuff like the fact that, ha ha, the Germans never miss penalties – I mean actual, semi-useful facts and figures.

I’ve had a bit of a think about this, and here’s some of the stuff I learned as a result of being a sports-nerdlinger child.

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A graphical representation of office chat

I made this using, which is a pretty good tool for making your own “data visualizations”.

(Click to enlarge)

My great-uncle’s D-Day letter from Normandy

While visiting relatives in Scotland, my auntie showed me this letter that my great-uncle, able seaman William (Bill) Honeyman, wrote from a ship approaching Normandy on the 5th June 1944 as the D-Day landings were about to take place.

I’ve wondered in the past if the men entering into battle on the beaches were aware of just how massive the overall operation it was. We know now that this was make-or-break in terms of the War, but did they know this as they set out?

Bill’s references to the task at hand made me realise that they knew it all too well. They knew that this was likely to be the largest invasion the world had ever seen, and that failure was not an option.

While most of the letter is concerned with descriptions of what he sees and does before and during the early part of invasion, this recognition of the enormity of the situation is most vividly illustrated in the cover sheet and in a passage that would look bombastic in virtually any other setting.

What was at stake:- The future of the whole civilized world depended on this, the Greatest Venture ever undertaken in the annals of World History. We must defeat this devil upon earth so that the people of the World should live in a world as our Lord planned it to be and for what He suffered and died upon the CROSS AT CALVARY.

(Click images to enlarge.)

Kindle + = a reading paradise

Longform articles on KindleWhen I was weighing up whether to get an Amazon Kindle I’m not sure if I thought it would make me read more. I usually had a book on the go, so I couldn’t see it helping me squeeze in any more of them – it would just make it more convenient when I wanted to buy one.

I certainly didn’t foresee that it would widen my reading so much, or that this would have nothing to do with books.

I’d been to previously and I really liked its notion of providing a place to encounter lots of quality journalism. But like a lot of folk, I imagine, I rarely seemed to have the time to read as many of them as I’d have liked.

So when I got my Kindle I went to Longform and started making use of its handy Send to Kindle button, which converts the text through Readability (whose button you should really install in your browser, by the way) and sends you the article via wi-fi. The result is that I’ve only read about three books in six months – but the articles I’ve been reading have been about a much wider range of topics than I would have encountered through books.

Not a week goes by when I don’t stop by Longform and send more articles to my Kindle. I’m a pretty slow reader, so it’s challenging to get through them all. But it’s less daunting than a bookcase (or Kindle) full of books.

This post happens to coincide with Longform’s 2nd anniversary, which means there’s loads of stuff to read – almost 3,000 articles. Longform partners with sites like Slate to present articles around certain themes, and invites guest editors to curate pieces. And while its selections are perhaps overly biased towards U.S. publications, they are from big players: The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Smithsonian, Time, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and the like. It also invites you to submit articles you’ve found.

It has a lovely open source kind of feeling, and the clean design means there’s nothing to distract you from the important business of browsing through the stories. Or, as they put it in a recent blog post:

There’s no Most Popular box to keep the numbers churning for particular stories, we don’t SEO the hell out of posts, and every piece we recommend spends roughly the same amount of time at the top of the homepage.

You can browse in a variety of ways, too – by topic, by writer, by publication, by decade (one of the things I love about the site is the fact that you’re as likely to come across something from the 70s as you are a recent story). It’s a bit like having all the best magazine articles ever at your disposal, without having to buy the magazines or get ink on your fingers.

(What this means for the model of journalism that funds these articles nags at me constantly, and I think what I’ll do here is what I tend to do in my mind – uneasily try to ignore the potential implications. One thing’s for sure: this Longform-Kindle paradise wouldn’t be as seductive if you had to actually pay for the content. Ew!)

Another interesting thing about this way of reading articles is that you’re not exposed to the way magazines traditionally present them. I read Getting Bin Laden, from the New Yorker, last week. I don’t buy The New Yorker, so it’s unlikely I would have encountered the article without Longform; but if I had bought the magazine it’s the kind of piece I might very well have skipped over in favour of articles closer to my other interests.

But there’s something democratising about reading things on the Kindle – everything’s in the same font, there are no ads, no sidebars and one tends not to flick through looking at how long stories are and surmise whether it’s worth embarking on reading it. If you send it to your Kindle it’s because the subject sounds interesting, and that’s it. You know it’s going to be long, and that becomes a positive rather than something that may turn you off. It might take three or four commutes to/from work to get through it, but it’s a pleasant way of keeping your brain ticking over and you know that soon you’ll be onto another piece.

Over the past few months I’ve indulged my fascination for, um, creepy subjects like missing persons, nazis and serial killers, but I’ve also read about the Marfa Lights;  how Hollywood stars would look rubbish without stylists; what happens when pet chimps go nutsKFC’s plans for world domination; a 1991 piece about Guns N’ Roses on the verge of implosion; a portrait of a paranoid, joyless Tiger Woods; battles and rivalries in the breathable outerwear industry (?!); a whole series of stories about Saturday Night Live.

Now, this orgy of article-reading isn’t helping to assuage one of my grim, enduring fears, which is that I’m never going to read all the books I want to before I die. But that’s a stupid fear anyway. And I do wonder what it means that I’d seemingly rather read lots of shorter things than one long thing. Is it good for my brain to read stuff from lots of different sources, or is it symptomatic of a shortening attention span? (I suspect it’s both.)

I also wonder what the magazine publishers think about this form of reading. On the one hand their content is being exposed to more people, but on the other hand people using the Send to Kindle button are reading it without actually going to their sites and adding pageviews or ad impressions. Like lots of the entertainment the web enables you to access for free, the fact that this feels too good to be true has me suspecting that it is, and that it may not last.

But while it does, I’d recommend that anyone with a Kindle give this way of reading a go. It’s a readolution!

16 things I did in St. Petersburg, Russia

St Petersburg TimesSt Petersburg soldiersSt Petersburg Hermitage staircaseSt Petersburg, RussiaSt Petersburg Peter & Paul FortressSt Petersburg

(Click pics to enlarge throughout)

Holiday! Celebrate! I went to St. Petersburg in Russia recently, and had a decidedly mixed experience. Here are 16 things I did there.

1. Developed an immediate dislike of Air France and the staff at Pulkovo airport.

We changed flights in Paris. Our luggage didn’t.

While one might expect to receive some sympathy or apology for this, the staff at St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport approached the issue differently. Their approach involved making us fill out lots of forms – including an inventory of everything in said luggage, repeated several times – and generally making us feel as if we’d done something wrong.

And woe betide any fool who has to get these forms approved by the monumental, power-drunk pricks who work in the customs division. I’m using bad language here to illustrate my frustration at the time, when a fair amount of naughties also escaped my lips.

This was after getting on for two hours’ queueing for passport control. We’d been up since 3am. It was a bad start, but we figured things could only get better.

2. Travelled on a motorway that looked like a giant ribcage:

St Petersburg motorway ribcage

3. Received birthday wishes from the lovely staff at the Alexander House hotel:

Alexander House hotel, St Petersburg

For reasons that will become apparent, the hotel was one of the highlights of the trip. Helpful staff, great buffet breakfasts and underfloor heating in the bathroom, plus numerous other touches, justify its Trip Advisor ranking. It’s a bit of a walk from the main attractions, but for most people this will only really be an issue in the kind of weather that freezes canals.

4. Saw some frozen canals.

St Petersburg canal

St Petersburg canal & ducks


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