Something New Every Day

A record of doing a new thing every day in 2011

Betting syndicate actually won some money (16/365) Sunday January 16, 2011

Getting a bit lax updating the blog, which probably reflects how it’s actually quite hard to do something new - and vaguely worth writing about each day.

Anyway, yesterday’s new thing was that our “betting syndicate” from work actually made some money after we’d bet on the Birmingham v Villa and Sunderland v Newcastle games. We’d also picked Blackpool to beat the Albion, but despite them taking the lead the Baggies came back to win.

As you can imagine from a bunch of nerds, we do have a system to help us choose our bets - which is obviously top secret ;-) We’ve only just started, and have made a modest profit overall so far on a few investments, but I expect that will change over time.

What I will share is some general findings

  • The odds you find online are more generous that in the betting shops. Not sure why this is, probably because the bookies would rather you opened an online account as well as it being more competitive, but it definitely pays off to wager electronically
  • The draw is often good value - my theory is that punters naturally tend to pick one team or the other, so the bookies will tend to offer less generous odds for the win.

Made a flat Swiss Roll (15/365) Saturday January 15, 2011

This week’s culinary disaster was making my own Swiss Roll - something new in the kitchen for me. Even though I enjoy it, my baking skills are weak.

Disaster is probably too strong a word, but the trouble is the cake part came out a little heavy. This made it very hard to roll up after I’d added the jam and cream, so the “roll” turned out more of a “fold”.

I forgot to take a picture of the creation just after cooking, and as it actually tastes OK we’ve already hacked lumps out of it.

This is the recipe I nominally followed if you want to have a go yourself.

Installed Kindle for PC (14/365) Friday January 14, 2011

Very slow day, being busy working (at home) and crappy weather so didn’t do much new.

What I did do was try the Kindle for PC application, so I could refer to some reference books I have without going to the massive effort of getting my Kindle out of my bag.

Actually it’s really good being able to get access to code snippets etc. from the machine you’re working on - although not being able to easily copy and paste is a bit of a pain.

The main reason I like this and the Windows Phone 7 app is that it gives you a little more confidence that the Kindle format is a long term, and that my investment in Kindle eBooks won’t be a technological dead-end.

Read "59 Seconds" (13/365) Thursday January 13, 2011

I didn’t get back home until late last night, and was too tired to make my update - but don’t worry I did do something new :-)

I spent an enjoyable hour or three on the train home finishing an excellent book called “59 Seconds” by Richard Wiseman.

The book’s blurb explains it better than I can:

“Richard Wiseman’s latest book exposes self-help myths, and presents scientifically proven techniques that help you achieve your aims and ambitions in less than a minute. From mood to memory, persuasion to procrastination, and resilience to relationships, 59 Seconds presents the new science of rapid change.”

It’s an entertaining read, and I found myself laughing out loud at times. Some useful tips in there, but most interesting is the debunking of popular myths that have been proven not to be true.

I’d definitely recommend the book, especially at the low, low Kindle price of £4.05. More details at

Had some gingko (12/365) Wednesday January 12, 2011

I was going to do some more work on my Windows Phone app, but got stymied by the slow verification process. Luckily I did do something new today at lunchtime We were looking for a Thai place we used to go to on Broadwick Street but it turns out it shut a while back. However we saw a juice bar/sandwich place called Crussh nearby so we though we’d give it a go.

I wasn’t particularly impressed. I had a butternut, red aduki and gingko soup, which sounded interesting but actually was a little dull. The sandwich choice was a little poor although the juice @markath had looked OK. Probably won’t be rushing back.

Only now have I found out what gingko actually is. From Wikipedia it appears it’s actually Gingko Bilboa which is supposed to enhance your memory and attention although studies - as ever - seem inconclusive. In my very limited experience I can’t remember if it helped this afternoon.

Registered as an app developer on Windows Phone 7 Marketplace (11/365) Tuesday January 11, 2011

I’ve been playing around writing an app for my Windows Phone 7, and have finally got something that’s close to being good enough to post on the app store. The one thing I really miss about my Nexus One Android phone is the way the alarm clock automatically came up when the phone was in it’s docking station. Out of habit I like to know the time when I wake up in the middle of the night, so I want a clock that’s always on at a low light.

My simple app isn’t very sophisticated, but is a simple clock that stays on all the time i.e. doesn’t go off at any time, and can be faded down to a low light. It’s not available yet for your use, but now that I’ve registered as a developer I can now test it on my phone to see if it actually works properly :-)

Tried a new sauce on my lunchtime noodles (10/365) Monday January 10, 2011

This is probably the lamest post so far, but I don’t have anything else (and I’d promised Ross I would!). There is a weak moral to the story too at the end if you can stand the excitement.

Just about every day at work we have long discussions about where to go to lunch, but in reality we only ever go to a few places. One of those is Wok To Walk, a pretty decent noodle bar on Brewer Street. I always have the same selection: Udon Noodles with Tofu and “Hot Asia” sauce - the only reasonably spicy one.  In the spirit of trying new things, I decided to go for “Shanghai” sauce instead. How brave.

The trouble is, it wasn’t half as nice as the usual sauce. I’m pretty much addicted to spicy food, and even though the Hot Asia isn’t that hot, at least it has a bit of kick in it. The “Shanghai” was just a bit dull.

Moral: I guess it’s something like “it’s good to try something new, but it won’t always be better”.

It’s been a long day.

Programming using the iCalendar data format (9/365) Sunday January 9, 2011

As you may know I ran an unofficial website for Halesowen Town for many a year back in the day. I stopped doing it a few seasons back after I got sick of all the moaning and bitching, but I still maintain my records of all the team’s matches on there.

I was thinking about our upcoming fixtures, and how I used to add them at the start of each season to my calendar by hand, when I had an idea - a pretty obvious one now - I should use the database on the site to create an iCalendar feed so I can automatically have the fixtures in my calendar.

The iCalendar format is pretty old school, in that it’s a text-based format rather than anything more modern like XML or JSON. I couldn’t find many examples on the protocol usage, but as usual Wikipedia came up trumps with a basic outline to get me started.

After all that research, it didn’t take long to adapt an existing ASPX page that showed fixtures and results to return the data in the correct format, and hence I could add it to my Google calendar. The feed is at if you have any interest in HTFC’s upcoming games :-)

The data format has some interesting features I didn’t know about, including pretty good support for events, to-dos, journal entries and a lot of the things you’d want in a PIM. Definitely could be useful in some future projects I’m planning.

Made my own veggie sausages (8/365) Saturday January 8, 2011

It’s Saturday so that usually means two things:

  • I try some experimental cooking
  • I have a veggie sausage sandwich for lunch

This week I decided to combine the two and make my own sausages.

A bit of research found what looked like a good recipe on the BBC website by Simon Rimmer of TV’s “Something For the Weekend”. I customised it by adding a bit of chilli and mustard to the sausage mix, and it turned out fantastically well.

Presentation a little poor as usual, as we decided to grill them on the George Foreman which squashed them down quite a bit - but the taste was superb. With the onion gravy mentioned in the recipe as well as some mashed potatoes and peas, it almost made up for the disaster of Newcastle losing to Stevenage at the same time :-)

The pictures are of the sausages before and after cooking.



Paid for Pro subscription to Remember The Milk (7/365) Friday January 7, 2011

I’ve been using Remember The Milk to manage my multiple lists of things for several months now, and it’s by far the best task tracking software I’ve ever used.

It’s hard to quantify what makes it so good, but what I like most are the simplicity plus the super-cool way you can set all the task options by using the Smart Add functions when typing the task details. Plus it’s got a cartoon cow as it’s logo.

Anyway, it’s now become an essential part of my life, so I wanted to support the team and spent $25 on purchasing a Pro subscription. Well worth the money I think.