Travel warning

To the one person who thought I’d be a better travel partner on Facebook’s “Compare People” application, I don’t know who my competition was but I propose that you are terribly mistaken. I am awful. I whine a lot, am in constant discomfort, and am paranoid about being judged as a stupid tourist by the locals. Unless we’re going to Japan. Then, I am only an annoying shopper who wants to go into every store, eat everything in sight, and who is paranoid about being judged as a stupid tourist by the locals. Yes, I see your point about some of that behavior contributing to the problem. – ultimate online store for geeks

Last night, I discovered, one of the most amazing online shopping experiences I’ve had in recent memory. Like, it offers free worldwide shipping on every item bought. Even for tiny little $1.99 impulse buys.

But while Play-Asia only sells videogames, DVDs, and miscellaneous Japanese toys and food items, DealExtreme sells all manner of electronic gadgetry, at rock bottom prices. You can get everything from a laser pointer at USD$1.89, a bullhorn/loudhailer for USD$11, green laser pens from USD$17 (careful now), to a crossbow with a 100m range for USD$160 (barring customs checks and a jail sentence).
The site is loaded with cool little toys, including a $2 gadget section, as I found out last night over a 3 hour raiding session. Here’s a short list of things you might be interested in, many under $10:
  • Wii accessories
  • Electric shock practical joke items (like a ballpoint pen)
  • Butane lighters & torches
  • Keychain breathalyzers
  • FM transmitters (great for iPods in cars)
  • Universal remote controls
  • R/C cars and helicopters
  • LED flashlights
  • Spy cameras and bugs
  • Lightsticks/Glowsticks
  • And even household items like salt & pepper shakers that look like two hugging people!
They have a program where you get points on any order, and collecting points lets you redeem products as a reward. If you use my link above and buy anything in that session, I’ll get some points too. I’m happy to recommend this site whether you decide to help me out or not, it’s just that awesome.

blast! 2.0

In line with the changes here, my award-winning blast! tumblelog has also received a makeover tonight. I tried giving it a full-on swatch of “red fruit”, but in the end this understated look won out. The page is much wider now, all the better to display landscape photos… which brings us to the 2nd major change: more fashion & photography content. I’ll be using it to compile a library of images for future art direction reference.
Thanks for making it such a ridiculous success, I hope you enjoy blast! 2.0!

Full English Breakfast

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Full English Breakfast, originally uploaded by philcampbell.

My absolute favorite breakfast in the world is actually a combination of every great breakfast food, detailed in this wikipedia entry: The Full Breakfast (also known as a Full English/Irish/Scottish Breakfast or Fry Up). There’s an interesting related article on Bacon & Eggs which was apparently popularized in 1920s America by Edward Bernays, who seems to have been a god in the PR world. He sold bacon by surveying 5000 physicians in support of his claim that a hearty breakfast was good for health.

One of my favorite parts of going on holiday anywhere is eating the hotel’s breakfast buffet and piling my plate high with about 10 eggs, scrambled, and loads of sausages and bacon. It’s why I can’t do the backpacking thing. That, and I can’t live with rats and roaches. I think the only hotel to let me down was one I stayed at in Genting Highlands, Malaysia. Their idea of breakfast was cold Nasi Lemak, and even colder eggs fried sunny-side up.
That said, it’s actually very hard to find good bacon in the UK. Have a look on flickr and count the number of times you see rashers fried to a crispy golden color. They like them limp and pink, for some reason. Black Pudding, which is nothing more than cooked blood, I have no problem with.

New look

For the first time in 5 years, this blog has a new look and dominant color. I liked the old yellow a lot, but it was probably time. I think I’ll call this color “red fruit”.

It was a rush job, really. A couple more things need doing, and in the next few days the width of the text area will probably be increasing as well. Things aren’t what they were in 2002, when 800×600 screen resolutions were considered high-end. At this moment, I’m rocking 1900×1200 and this page is just a sliver.

The Pile of Shame Grows Ever Larger

After putting yesterday’s pile together, I discovered another cupboard of books today (as well as my long-lost stash of empty notebooks). So here are some more that need reading. One of the Dickens books was actually the property of an ex-girlfriend, and it even has handwritten notes and highlighted lines. That was quite a stunning moment, because I don’t think I have anything else left of her. Last I heard, she had a book published, so maybe I should get a copy of that for the pile.

One note about Visions of Cody (top-center): it is the single most unreadable book I have ever encountered. More so than any Pynchon or Indian verse poetry; it is completely unwound to the point of incoherence. At least that’s what I remember from back in 2001, when it sat on my desk in the army for an entire year. I recall at the time, there were two other guys who came up and said, “Hey it’s Visions of Cody. I bet you haven’t finished it either.”

Book pile of shame

This is a near-complete representation of every book of fiction that I’ve purchased or undertaken in the last few years, but never got around to. In some cases, I stopped halfway and never finished. You know how hard it is to come back to those: making your way back through half-remembered bits just feels like a waste of time. And you can’t just jump back in to where you last were either, so the books end up sitting there, making you feel miserable. Maybe a bit like a hated spouse who has to be killed off, but in this case it’s all your fault. You were the one who left. “Murderer”, her dead eyes glare at you.

So now I will rededicate myself to reading, and make it through the pile. I have to admit that three of the books in there were just bought tonight, during a late night Borders run. It’s a bit like a fat kid who lives in the ceiling of a buffet restaurant, nipping out for a bit of the Burger King. Ridiculous.
*Sadly some books are missing. I don’t know if I left them in the UK, or perhaps lent them out. Does anybody have my copy of Vanity Fair (the novel)?

Facebook vs Spotlight

I just noticed today that Facebook uses a drill-down widget (on the right-hand side) very similar to the one in Mac OSX Tiger’s Spotlight. This is the 2nd time in 2 days that I’ve seen this mechanism and accompanying look used on a website. I wonder if it started elsewhere and was copied by Apple, or if everyone is just copying Apple?

Tomb Raider Anniversary figurine on the cheap is selling this really nice 7″ Tomb Raider Anniversary display figure of Lara Croft for just USD$14.90 (SGD$21.78). The neck and shoulders are supposed to be movable, and the guns can be removed and placed in her thigh holsters. Comes with a stand that makes her look frozen in mid-air. I’m pretty tempted right about now. +

Every so often, I’m asked my opinion on what the best choice for a digital camera under $500 is, or what games out are worth buying. I’m also asked how to fix PC problems, but thankfully my answer for the last 3 years has been, “Sorry chump, I don’t keep up with Windows anymore.”

Presumably, friends and acquaintances continue to brave my really poor personal conduct, short temper, and boastful behavior (as you are experiencing for yourself now) when asking these questions because I usually have the answers. But before you start to feel awe and jealousy towards these gifts of mine, know that they are not born of some innate taste compass or gatherer’s instinct. I actually spend a lot of time doing pointless research to satisfy my need to shop. Often, an obsession with a certain product does not end in me buying it, but that may have no bearing on its quality or finer points of operation. Many of these thoroughly researched gems are perfectly fit for recommendation to others, which is where my usefulness as a human being is thought to begin and end.
To make the most of this situation, today I announce the opening of my affiliate store. For the time-being, it shall be called the “ + store”. You should see a small selection of its offerings in an ad banner above, with a link to visit the full store page close by.
In this store, you will find gadgets, books, DVDs, games, and assorted products that I consider fit to be purchased by any person drawn to the intersection of price, style, and performance. In most cases, these are things I already own and enjoy. In all other cases, they are things I would gladly buy for myself. Thrice. In some ways it’s a wish-list more for your benefit than mine.*
One criteria I’ve observed in the exquisite handpicking of these items is that they must be fantastic bargains. You know how it is. Amazon is packed with many obscure deals better than any local store near you could offer, but you lack a personal shopper to show the way. That’s me now. Any time your wallet feels a little heavy and you need a little retail therapy, drop by the store and see what I’ve found.
*Disclosure: I receive a small affiliate incentive of approximately four percent in store credit on most transactions through this store page. gets some love

In the middle of what is currently a pretty busy workweek, I suddenly felt the need for a side project that wasn’t about videogames, the best links on the whole internet for perverted technophiles, and growing the most stylish chinstrap in the world. And then I realized that I already had one.

Haikulog, my poor forgotten child, has actually been getting a fair number of hits (so much so that I don’t quite believe it and will be installing a new counter soon) despite not having been updated since January. My god, it’s so easy to lose a year when you’re at the office twelve or more hours a day on a regular basis. At least that’s over for now.
So today I posted again, and hopefully will find the time to keep it going this time. If anyone knows a good CMS I could use for posting photos with captions (I’m using the now-defunct PixelPost) that has nifty stuff like a mobile posting interface, please let me know!