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12 Steps To Drink Well and Not Get a Hangover

I turned 27 this year. And almost overnight I started to get bad hangovers whenever I drank more than a beer or two. Gone were the years of my next day invincibility. So I’ve been forced to develop a system. It helps me. Maybe it can help you too, my fellow old people.

Step 1 – You might still feel like crap

Accept the fact that you’re going to have to slightly write off a day after drinking. Despite taking precautions there’s still a chance you might feel pretty rough the day after drinking. So don’t drink if you have to work the next day. Save it for those sacred days off.

Step 2 – You will get fat

You’re probably going to drink and eat 2000+ of excess calories on your drinking nights. Accept this.

Step 3 – Don’t start too late

You’ve had a long day of work. You get home late and now you just want to unwind and get plastered. Well, I wouldn’t. It’s bed time in just a few hours and that’s not enough time to get drunk and also take the necessary recovery steps for a hangover-free tomorrow. Save it for another day. A special day. A drinking day.

Step 4 – Learn to get less drunk

This meant seem silly, but after years of chasing the dragon your expectations of drunkenness and your ‘tolerance’ to booze has probably gone up. Spend some time getting in touch with the taste of alcohol again and the more subtle elements of its intoxicating effects. Spend a month or two every now and then just getting a little tipsy and not totally plastered. I’d recommend sticking to drinks that you really like the taste of so you can sip and savour the taste itself, not just its stuporing results.

Step 5 – Please line your stomach

Eat. Eat well. Eat a lot. And close to when you start drinking. I eat my meal 45 minutes before I begin imbibing. The first hour or so of drinking will feel a little too sober, but you’ll be thankful later. And trust me, you will still get drunk. So relax.

Step 6 – Track that booze

This might seem a little too OCD and geeky for some of you, but I recommend tracking how much you drink. I use the app Boozed?. You enter what you drink and it gives you an estimated BAC (learn about how BAC effects you).

Step 7 – Set Timers

Again, maybe a little too over the top. But this step is absolutely vital for me. In certain situations it can be very easy to drink too fast. For each drink (175ml wine, 500ml beer, or 50ml spirits) I set a countdown on my phone for 30 minutes (experiment until you find your correct timer length) and I’m not allowed to get another drink until the timer ends.

Step 8 – Drink water between drinks

I know this is an annoying step, but it’s an important one. Between every alcoholic drink consume 250-400ml of water to stay hydrated. This can be potentially harder to stick to if you’re not drinking at home. So if you’re in a club and you know you’re not going to be that guy asking for a tap water at the bar maybe drink a G&T and ask for extra tonic water instead to up the amount of non-alcoholic liquid you’re getting.

Step 9 – Skip that last drink, drink more water instead

So the night is winding down and bed/home time is approaching and its last order. Well don’t make that last order. That final drink might just push you into hangover territory and by the time the alcohol actually enters your bloodstream you’re probably going to be home or asleep anyway. So skip that last drink my friend and power down some water instead. And it’s better to drink that water now than just before bed anyway, otherwise you’ll be waking up to pee it out in the middle of the night.

Step 10 – Eat before bed

I generally try to keep it mildly healthy most of the time and will munch on a banana or two and maybe some mixed nuts. But let’s be honest here, that kebab looks bloody good. Either way, eat! If you have a choice between eating before or after drinking though always eat before.

Step 11 – Eat upon waking

Don’t skip breakfast please. And this isn’t time for your Instagram-worthy bowl of Chia seeds. Get some disgusting saturated fat down your gullet and feel sorry for yourself like you’re supposed to.

Step 12 – Accept that alcohol is very bad for you

This is my final step and my goodbye. Don’t be ignorant. Please accept that alcohol is very bad for you. It aids violence, mental illness, sexual promiscuity and sexual dysfunction (a cruel combination), over eating (until alcoholism takes ahold later in life and then you can barely stomach a slice of bread), a myriad of diseases and cancers, and is also expensive. So be like Winston Churchill and get more out of drinking than it gets out of you. Think alcoholism isn’t too much of a big deal? Here’s a reddit comment by an alcoholic describing his ailments due to drink.

More:

  • Drinking beer? Buy some non-alcoholic beer too and have one after every second alcoholic beer. Trick yourself into drinking less.
  • Some people swear by taking B-Vitamins before bed. I’ve never tried this though.
  • Maybe just don’t drink? If every time you drink you end up in trouble or you get hangovers after just three drinks maybe your hell raising days are over. Or maybe you have Gilbert’s syndrome or something.
  • Only drink with a sugar-free mixer. It gets you drunker and won’t give you full-blown diabetes.
  • Remember, you’re not a heavy drinker, you’re a pintman.

Note: Science doesn’t agree with a lot of my points. We still don’t know how to cure hangovers. The only really proven way to feel better the next day is to quite simply drink less. So a lot of my steps are pseudoscience at best. But hey, it works for me. Try it and then email me with your results.

I’ll leave you with this advice by Christopher Hitchens on drinking:

[…] Of course, watching the clock for the start-time is probably a bad sign, but here are some simple pieces of advice for the young. Don’t drink on an empty stomach: the main point of the refreshment is the enhancement of food. Don’t drink if you have the blues: it’s a junk cure. Drink when you are in a good mood. Cheap booze is a false economy. It’s not true that you shouldn’t drink alone: these can be the happiest glasses you ever drain. Hangovers are another bad sign, and you should not expect to be believed if you take refuge in saying you can’t properly remember last night. (If you really don’t remember, that’s an even worse sign.) Avoid all narcotics: these make you more boring rather than less and are not designed—as are the grape and the grain—to enliven company. Be careful about up-grading too far to single malt Scotch: when you are voyaging in rough countries it won’t be easily available. Never even think about driving a car if you have taken a drop. […]

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Main Technology

I Put My Dad on Linux and Everything Went Fine

Oh the joys of giving tech support to your parents for their crappy computer. I suffered for years with this and so did my poor Dad. It was the classic cheap PC + Windows combo of pain. The laptop display looked like it was 512 × 342 and it lost an average of one keycap a month. And then there was the usual Windows woes. Slowness, old school viruses, antivirus viruses, free-to-play games inexplicably downloaded to the desktop and about seven AskJeeves toolbars. Pure misery. So when the laptop finally died and my Dad came to me for advice about a replacement I knew a better solution was needed.

I quickly recommended going the desktop route over a laptop since my Dad nearly always worked at his desk and a desktop would last a lot longer. We could have picked up a pre-built machine, but I knew buying the parts and building a desktop myself would be cheaper, offer more spec flexibility and be a lot more reliable. Plus if something did break I could probably quickly and easily fix it by replacing the dead part (and not the whole machine!).

I went with a Silverstone Mini-ITX case (in white, which pleased Mum as it blended in nicely with the study decor), Intel Pentium Dual Core G3258, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, 120GB SSD, MSI LGA1150 motherboard and a 300W Be Quiet! power supply. Total cost: £240.

Next came the OS. There was no way I was going to give Microsoft £80 for a copy of Windows and a lifetime of headaches. So I thought ‘why not Linux?’. It might seem bizarre, but it’s a near perfect OS for someone like my Dad. He’s far less likely to download a virus, Linux doesn’t bother him with popups, it’s easier to keep the same UI for many years (no forced Windows software updates and ‘visual refreshes’), and his computer will still be blazing fast five years from now. And he doesn’t use Adobe Lightroom or Microsoft Excel, his needs are simple, all he wants is a web browser and a word processor. Linux gives him that easily.

There’s lots of Linux distributions out there of course and at first I looked into ones that mirror his old Windows 7 desktop as much as possible. But they also often copied some of the bad and confusing elements too. So in the end I just settled on Ubuntu with the Unity desktop. It’s simple, with a nice large dock to the left.

His new desktop. Minimalistic with just four buttons that he knows as ‘search, documents, internet, and Word’.

However this was all good in theory and on paper, but how would this system and Dad get on in reality? Well it’s been over two years now and there has been literally zero problems. Honestly. Even the wireless printer works flawlessly. It did take him a little while to get used to the Ubuntu file browser. But now he knows to just save everything in Dropbox and click on that folder or Downloads when wants to find something. But aside from that the transition went swimmingly. We get a lot of power cuts and both the hardware and software have even dealt with that (somehow) without issue. The only maintenance I do is run sudo apt-get update every now and then.

I expect this machine will serve him loyally and reliably for many years to come. Thanks Linux.

Categories
Technology

Replacing DuckDuckGo !bangs with Alfred

I recently switched back to using Google as my default search engine after several years of favouring DuckDuckGo. Duck’s search results were sadly just not good enough compared to Google’s. However, one thing it beat Google on was its ability to directly search a website using something called a !bang. So rather than searching ‘youtube van morrison tupelo honey’, with a !bang, you could enter ‘!yt van morrison tupelo honey’, which is quicker to type, but more importantly it searches YouTube directly using their search, and you bypass the Google/Duck results page altogether. So with my switch came this loss of a feature I use many times a day. Luckily Alfred saved the day.

Alfred is my Spotlight replacement of choice. And one of its features is the ability to do web searches, including your own custom web searches via keywords. So I need just to add YouTube as a custom web search, attach the keyword ‘yt’ and I’m all good. From then on I just need to launch Alfred and type ‘yt van morrison tupelo honey’ to achieve the same results as the Duck !bang.

But in fact using Alfred has other added bonuses.

  • It avoids having to type ‘!’ before each custom search.
  • I can use any custom keyword choice I want. If I didn’t like ‘yt’ I could of chosen ‘video’ or ‘y’ instead for YouTube.
  • Although Duck has a vast amount of !bang compatible websites and they give you the ability to suggest new ones to them, there are plenty of sites that aren’t on their list that I’d like to search. With Alfred I can add any site I want.
  • I don’t have to navigate to my browser to do a web search. I can be in any application and just launch Alfred.
  • I don’t have to wait around for Duck to process my search request and then redirect me to the relevant search page.
  • I don’t have to change my searching habits if I change my web browser. My behaviour remains the same.

So overall, everything went better than expected.

Thanks Alfred.

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IRL

Please See the ISS

Seeing the ISS (International Space Station) pass over head is a really cool experience. You can’t see the details. It’s just a big, bright dot in the sky zooming by, but somehow it’s amazing to watch. You realise that people are in that dot 250 miles up and doing over 17,000MPH.

To most people the ISS is just this thing in space where astronauts sing songs, and they don’t realise they can almost certainly see it pass over their head. And unlike many of these space things they don’t have to travel to weird locations only to find out it won’t be happening that night or it’s too cloudly to see. You can see the ISS from the comfort of your garden!

How?

Well NASA offers a service called Spot The Station where they’ll e-mail or text you when it’s going to be passing by your location. And they give you all the details on where to see it in the nights sky.

Here’s an example email:

Time: Fri Jun 07/10:43 PM, Visible: 6 min, Max Height: 61 degrees, Appears: WSW, Disappears: E

Just go outside a minute or so before they say in case it’s early and then look up and marvel.

Everyone I’ve told about this hasn’t known about it before and hasn’t regretted checking it out once I mentioned it. And kids love it. It’s a tangible ‘rocket’ that’s in their garden and not far out in space or in picture books.

Categories
Me Technology

Podcasts

Podcasts have become a massive part of my life in the past few years. It’s a unique and great medium, and when some of your favourite people are involved, it becomes utterly joyous. They’re often conversational and relaxed. Podcasting is a raw art form that is yet to be tainted by money. They are nearly always free and done out of love.

Last year Stephen Fry made an appearance on Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast. It got quite a lot of press because in the show Stephen admited to a suicide attempt earlier in the year. But newspaper headlines aside, it’s a masterpiece of a podcast episode. The host Richard Herring was a little bit annoying at times. It may be a comedy podcast, but I felt he kept looking for jokes a little bit too much, when he should of been satisfied with the perfect balance of comedy and honesty that Stephen turned the conversation into.

Anyway, it was a sublime way to spend 90 minutes before sleep, and after listening to it I sat on the edge of my bed for a few minutes thinking. It made me happy, saddened me, and inspired me. It did what all great art should. It took me into its cave and spat me out different and better. Not drastically so. It just added another stick to my mental Beaver dam against everything bad in my world. I hadn’t had a bad or good day, I had experienced what most days are. Boring, dull, tiring, and sprinkled with brief moments of embarrassment, confidence, happiness and sadness. And having in those 24 hours just a glimpse of great art makes it worthwhile, and worth slugging through another 24 to hopefully taste again.

Afterwards Richard Herring wrote:

For a few years now I’ve been side-stepping the censorship, limitations and, let’s face it, lack of interest of television broadcasters and producing my own comedy podcasts. I love the freedom and autonomy of the medium, as well as its immediacy.

I can have an idea in the morning and it can be broadcast that same day. With all the hoops you have to jump through to make a TV show, it can take years to get an idea to screen and, by the time it’s on, it has often been interfered with so much by executives that it is unrecognisable. […]

I was delighted that one of my all-time comedy heroes, Stephen Fry, agreed to appear, but I was nervous. I had never met him before and was concerned I might just sit opposite him in open-mouthed amazement, unable to say a word. […]

It was the most extraordinary and electric 90 minutes that I have ever experienced on stage, showed that independent podcasts can compete with and trump mainstream broadcasters and spread awareness about the effects of depression.

Stephen Fry also later blogged:

The episode, plus the relationship I now have with a magnificent psychiatrist, has made made my mental health better, I think, than it’s ever been.

Podcasts, how I love you.

Download the mp3, listen to it on Soundcloud or watch the video on YouTube.

Categories
Link Technology

Cleartones

Ringtones and notification sounds are nearly always ghastly and loud. Cleartones aims to solve that. It’s a collection of minimal ringtones and notifications that are unique and don’t violate your ears. They are beautifully simple.

I favour the ‘Pure’ collection. And use:

  • Ringtone: The Pitch
  • Text tone: Refined
  • New Email: Pretty Pure
  • Calendar Alerts: Reflections

Each of the 3 packs costs $17. Or you can buy all of them for $35. Pretty pricey. But they’re gorgeous and you get them DRM-free so you can keep the same tones forever.

Tip: When out and about, with the phone in my pocket, I mostly rely on the vibrate. So I’ve turned down the ‘ringers and alerts’ default volume to around half way in Settings. This means when at home alerts are even less obtrusive and I don’t bother people when on the train, etc. I’d reccomend trying this yourself.

Categories
Technology

My Favourite DuckDuckGo !bang

I’ve blogged about the search engine DuckDuckGo before. I love it. And one of my favourite features of the site is !bangs. !bangs allow you to directly search other websites. They are immensely handy and time saving.

Here are some of my favourites:

I’m Feeling Ducky — !: Go straight to the webpage of the top result of a DuckDuckGo search. Example: ‘! bob dylan’

Google — !g: Sometimes it’s handy to be able to quickly search DuckDuckGo’s evil alternative.

Wikipedia — !w: I use this endlessly.

Amazon — !a: With this !bang, 1-Click purchasing and Amazon Prime I can buy stuff fast.

YouTube — !yt: Quickly find a video.

Google Cache — !cache: If I go to a webpage that is offline for some reason I just type ‘!cache’ followed by the URL into DuckDuckGo and it will take me to Google’s cached version of that page.

Searching Membership services

Pinboard — !pinboard: If you’re a member of Pinboard this is very convenient.

Rdio — !rdio: I do not usually have the Rdio Mac app open, so this is a good !bang to know for when I want to quickly listen to one particular song within the browser.

Other Google services

Google Images — !i

Google Mail — !gmail

Google Maps — !gm

Google News — !gn

You can see DuckDuckGo’s full list of !bangs here.

8 December, 2012: One the great things about DuckDuckGo is that you can submit your own !bangs. I submitted Coral CDN the other day and it has just been added! I find Coral CDN better than Google’s Cache so from now if a website’s down I’ll be using !coral to see it. Example: ‘!coral cnn.com’