The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

I was on a beach last month and wanted to read something short and fun. I hadn’t read a murder mystery in ages and thought that would fit the bill. So without thinking about it too much, I did the obvious and went for an Agatha Christie novel. You can’t really go wrong with her books. I chose The Murder of Roger Ackroyd because I like the title, it had good reviews, and was a Poirot.

the-murder-of-roger-ackroydThe book centers around two deaths: one is before the book starts and the other is the eponymous Roger Ackroyd. Hercule Poirot has retired from sleuthing and just happens to be living in the village where it all occurs, but as he is good at solving exactly these kinds of mysteries the police wisely let him in on the action. I can’t say much more without giving too much away.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a great read and it doesn’t really matter if this is your first Poirot or Christie novel. I read it on a kindle and it was quite fun seeing which sections and sentences people had highlighted in their attempt to work out who did the crime. The clues are there and like nearly all Agatha Christie novels, you probably won’t guess who did it. She was very good at what she did.

I am used to reviewing science fiction or fantasy – or in my day job the odd travel book – so there is usually more to say. Here though the summary can be: if you like murder mysteries or any book written by Christie, you will like The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Lots of suspects, suspicious goings on, red herrings, clues, and a surprise.  Oh yeah, and a murder. Recommended holiday read.

You can get it here or, probably, a second hand book shop anywhere.

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Cumberbatch presents the Apple toilet

cumberbatchBenedict Cumberbatch was on Saturday Night Live the other day (probably on Saturday) because he seems to be contractually obliged to be absolutely everywhere at the moment. To be fair, that is quite subjective – we just saw Dr Strange (which I loved), that prompted my wife to re-watch Sherlock, all while I have been re-listening to Cabin Pressure on my commute. So that has been a lot of Cumberbatch.

Anyway. On SNL he did a spoof of the Apple 1984 Macintosh advert and I found it mildly amusing. It’s a Monday, so mildly amusing is about as good as things can get. To be honest, I would quite like a toilet like that – you can have a stand for a book/iPad and flush with ease. Here is Cumberbatch on a toilet. Enjoy.

In case you are a child, here is the original Macintosh 1984 advert:


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Tech support for non-computer people

Being of a certain age – Generation X is all you need to know – I have grown up with computers. So I don’t fear them. I love gadgets and technology because… well, because they are awesome and let you do amazing things. I wrote this in Bangkok and you may be reading this on a bus in Iceland on a tablet while streaming music from a server in America to your bluetooth headphones. For example. That is pretty damned impressive.

As someone who has a professed love for tech, I am often asked by non-computer people to help fix stuff or get stuff to do other stuff. This can be someone from an older generation who has an inbuilt suspicion that younger people have some kind of computing algorithm in their DNA; someone who lives in constant fear of pressing the secret button that self-destructs their device. Or it can be co-workers and friends who are of a similar age or younger, who ask me to help because they are bizarrely luddite enough to eschew basic tech knowledge, (too busy or cultured,) but still want to post inanities on Facebook. Whichever it is, it makes me feel important and helps my feeble sense of self worth. So I am happy to help.

Unlike quite a few of my peers however, I am not actually trained and have no knowledge of how these things really work. I could explain what I, and others who like tech but aren’t IT specialists do when asked, but as is so often the case, the superb site xkcd has a graphic explaining it. This is my long-winded way of sharing a graphic that amused me. You can follow this and now be as competent as I am.

Tech support sheet

Tech support sheet

This came from here:


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Steve Cutts does a Moby music video

Moby and Cutts

Moby and Cutts

I saw a clip of this on Facebook and delved a bit deeper only to find out that it was Moby. I used to love Moby’s album Play back at the turn of the century and I am sure he has been doing great stuff ever since. What made the clip actually stand out for me though, are the cool stylised visuals by London artist Steve Cutts. I have seen some of his other work and this guy really hates mobile phones in particular and all the shite happening in the world in general.

Which is fair enough really. I had seen some Cutts illustrations before, such as the rats on the underground (see below) but hadn’t realised it was the same guy until I wrote this post and did some research. Great art and generally making a decent point.

Without further waffle, here is Moby and Steve Cutts video “Are you lost in a world like me?” I hope you are sufficiently old school enough to be watching this on a laptop. (Below are some pics by Steve Cutts – check them out.)

Moby is well known, so you can check him out for yourself. In case you don’t know Steve Cutts, he does some great work. For some reason he reminds me of 60s/70s cartoonists like Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton (who are still working today, I hasten to add). His work can be found here: Here is some of his stuff:

cuttsbarin cuttssanta cutts-rats

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Borrowed Time (Pixar animators)

Borrowed Time is an animation by two of Pixar’s animators: Lou Hamou-Lhadj and Andrew Coats. Don’t think light-hearted cheerful Pixar though, think of one of the darkest and saddest moments of a Pixar film – usually the beginning bit where someone dies and the rest of the movie is there to cheer you up. Borrowed Time is that beginning bit but darker.

I loved it. (If the youtube clip doesn’t work, try the Vimeo page.)


Planet Earth 2 by Attenborough

earth2A trailer has just come out for Planet Earth II, narrated by Sir David Attenborough. The original Planet Earth came out ten years ago and was the most expensive documentary ever commissioned by the BBC and the first to be filmed in high definition. Planet Earth II took 4 years to make, and was filmed in 64 countries and in Ultra-High Definition. All with Sir David Attenborough’s superb and perfect voice talking authoritatively and enthusiastically over it all.

Attenborough and the BBC make the best nature documentaries and I am consequently damned excited. Nearly everything I watch these days is streamed but I still buy the occasional BluRay and increasingly, they are documentaries – mostly Attenborough and Professor Brian Cox documentaries, to be precise. They are just stunning on a big TV and one of the few things that might convince me to go 4K. I can’t wait to watch this and I just hope the BluRay comes out before Christmas. As yet there is no air date, so it seems unlikely.

For more information about Planet Earth II (or 2), plus the chance to see some clips from the first series, check out the BBC webpage.

(Apologies to all DC comic book fans who came here by accident but you should watch this documentary too.)

Here is the beautiful trailer:

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Musk to Mars, and Beyond!

Recently, Elon Musk talked about going to Mars. He wants humanity to be a multi-planetary species, so that we should survive a disaster. (Hopefully some other animals too – I want a genetically adapted giant space dog I can write around.) The rationale is that at some point, something awful may/will happen and it would be a shame for civilisation to be wiped out when we have gone to so much sodding effort for millennia. Which I think is a valid point. I get the argument that we have messed up the Earth but I will only accept that argument from someone who hasn’t bred. If you have kiddywinks, look to the future. Also, most of the people I see arguing that climate change is real, the need for renewable energy, and generally being less dickish to the planet, tend to be the same ones that want to go into space. Leave the frackers behind.

I think Musk is a good guy and at time of writing, hasn’t shown any hints of: “You will kneel before Musk” agenda. So you can imagine how excited I was when he was talking about Martian colonization plans that will become possible thanks to his “Mars Colonial Transporter”. There is even a video clip showing how it will be done:

You can then imagine how that excitement rose further still when he renamed the Mars trip equipment stuff to the even more exciting: “Interplanetary Transport System”. The only possible conclusion being that he wants to go to more than just Mars.

Sadly for the “tl;dr” crowd there isn’t a video of future space exploration but as a placatory extra, Elon ‘Stark’ Musk and his gang have released a load of pretty pictures on the interweb. There are quite a few to be found on the SpaceX Flickr account and here are a couple. Enjoy and engage!

29343905184_40908df4c4_z 29343906874_fa1afcf649_z 29343908684_d07e2f73d0_z 29343909374_55b0dd5e84_z







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Earth temperature timeline by xkcd

I saw this on the always awesome xkcd ( site. It is a timeline showing the average temperature of the Earth from 20,000BC to now. It is brilliantly done and is essentially a superb counter argument to people who argue that the Earth has always warmed up and cooled down. It has, but global temperatures are currently going mental.

Word of warning – if you are a creationist, you won’t like this. Also, you’re an idiot. Same goes for climate change deniers.

In case this doesn’t work or is hard to see in your browser, you can find the original here. The Earth is getting toasty, enjoy.

Earth temperatures

Earth temperatures

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Mac King rope trick

Mac King

Mac King

I normally post about science. Or books. Or films. Damn it, I don’t really have a theme. So I might as well bring you magic as well. This is legendary Las Vegas magician Mac King doing his legendary rope trick.

Apparently Mac King did this trick on the Penn and Teller show where they try and see if they can work out exactly how tricks are done. They couldn’t, and those guys are genius. It is obviously sleight of hand but that is just an easy, dismissive way of explaining a lot of magic. It is pretty damned impressive to pull off the logistics of such a trick. (I said that confidently but have absolutely no idea if it is true.)

In way of another miracle, I will shut up and share the clip. Enjoy.

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The reason Thor and Hulk weren’t in Civil War

thor-funnyNormally I would post this on Scifiward but it is pretty funny and not really science fiction – barring the fact that it features a god, obviously. The clip explains what Thor, and to a lesser extend Dr Banner (aka Hulk), have been up to and why they weren’t in Captain America Civil War. He has basically been chilling out in Australia trying to be normal. It feels like the British version of the Office but with Thor instead of Gervais.

It also shows the Chris Hemsworth is actually pretty good at comedy. I could easily watch a half hour of this, there are some great lines. (There is more humour in this clip than all of DC’s recent outings.) Enjoy.


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Every extraterrestrial body robots have landed on

I came across these pictures and they are amazing. Each one is a photo taken from an extraterrestrial body – i.e. not Earth – by robots. Lucky robots. Have a look at these:

Photos from extraterrestrial bodies

Photos from extraterrestrial bodies

Pretty inspiring stuff. It is incredible that we humans, who are such dicks quite a lot of the time, are capable of flinging a robot through the voids of space, then have them land and send back fantastic pictures.

When I saw these on the internet I thought it was also pretty cool that someone had gone to the effort of collecting them all together and putting them into such a nice collage. Except they missed one. In 2005 the Japanese also landed a probe on an asteroid called Itokawa, where they took some soil and fired it back to Earth. So for the sake of completeness, here is a photo from that. Go science.

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The great monetisation of Ward!

imageI have been a bit slack recently and that is going to change. I write for my day job and recently I have been a bit burnt out and when I get home I mostly just want to play PS4 or watch Netflix. However, I realised recently that a lot of people are making money out of the Internet and I am not one of them. Which sucks. I have been writing purely for pleasure, like an idiot. I live in Thailand and the place is crawling with ‘digital nomads’ and I want to join the smug bastards. It is a shame that this site gets hundreds of unique visitors each day and 1000s of hits, yet doesn’t make anything. So I am going to be more professional about things and thus, there will be the great monetisation of Ward.

Don’t worry, it won’t be covered in ads and I will never resort to a ‘pop up’ or ‘pop under’ because they are annoying. I will mostly be trying out content related affiliate stuff, so it should be vaguely interesting and relevant.

Why should anyone besides me care? Well, it means I will be writing a lot more. I will spend more time providing awesome content on a huge variety of topics – which will mostly be about books, writing and science.

I will also be getting rid of Google Adsense as it is making me a pittance. Less than a pittance in fact, but there isn’t a word for that. If things start to work out, then I will write an update on what works best. Apparently it is all about ‘passive income’. Which sounds exactly like my kind of income. I guess ‘monetisation’ is an important word too, but for some reason I find it unpleasant.

P.S. If you are an advertiser feel free to get in touch. Let’s do business or whatever!

(Thanks to for the top image)

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Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World

Lo and Behold

Lo and Behold

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World is a new documentary from Werner Herzog. Apart from having an awesome voice, Herzog generally makes a pretty decent documentary. I remember seeing Cave of Forgotten Dreams in 3D and loving it.

I am a big fan of technology and the fact that it allows me to, for example, write this in Bangkok and have it read all over the world by bored people at work. Or that I can experience Star Wars VR using just my phone and a piece of cardboard. Or a thousand other things. It’s obviously not all great – if I was allowed to taser people walking slowly along looking at their mobile phones then there would be 100s of prostrate twitching idiots wherever I happened to be (just walk where you want to go and then text your stupid friends when you arrive). There are also moral and ethical dilemmas about what should be shared and issues such as the psychological effects on generation Zzz (or whatever the current bunch are) and kids of the future. I was watching Stranger Things last and was reminded how different life was in the 80s before the internet and mobile phones. I was born in 1972, so was the same age as those kids and spent a lot of time on bicycles outside with friends. The fact that I was watching in HD on a 42″ TV streaming on Netflix through my Playstation was not lost on me however.

Herzog is (allegedly) a bit crazy, but mix that in with the fact that he is also smart and inquisitive and it should mean that Lo and Behold will be an interesting and novel look at technology. If you want more info, you can check out the film’s Facebook page. The film comes out in a lot of places, including the internet obviously, on the 19th August. Here is the trailer:


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Sherlock Series 4

Sherlock is back! Soon!

Sherlock is back! Soon!

I’m a big fan of Sherlock Holmes and love what they are doing with this new Sherlock version. Sure it’s a bit annoying that there are years between series and that there are only three episodes per series but they are usually superb and are movie length, so I shouldn’t grumble. Also, the stars are selfishly getting more famous every year so the way the series is structured is actually beneficial to their being able to fit it in. According to the internet, Cumberbatch finished filming ‘Doctor Strange’ just days before starting Sherlock series 4.

So the big excitement that has prompted me to write this, is that there is a new trailer. It doesn’t give much away about what will happen but it does show Toby Jones who is going to be a new villain. Sherlock tends to stick to Doyle’s stories, at least so far, and again according the internet Toby Jones updated his online CV and added a character called Culverton Smith. Which implies a story called ‘The Dying Detective’ is in the offing. I won’t ruin it with spoilers.

Not much else is known except vagueness. Moffat and Gatiss have hinted that this series of Sherlock will be much darker in tone with some heavy consequences for the characters. Which I think means someone major will die. They have also implied that there will hopefully be a series 5 and that everyone is on board in theory.  Obviously series 5 will be so far in the future humanity may have collapsed, so I will be excited about that when the time comes.

There is no air date for Sherlock series 4 yet except for 2017. Traditionally, that means straight away – as in January 1st – but we shall see. Here’s the trailer:


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Chris Hadfield: the making of Space Oddity video

Chris Hadfield sings Bowie's Space Oddity

Chris Hadfield sings Bowie’s Space Oddity

Chris Hadfield’s version of Space Oddity has been viewed on Youtube over 32 million times. At least 10 of them were by me but that still leaves a lot. Bowie himself described it as the “moist poignant version ever made”. (Still miss Bowie, RIP, the world has really gotten a lot worse since he left, it can’t just be a coincidence.)

This clip is a ‘Behind the scenes’ video from ‘NOVA’s secret life of scientists and engineers‘ channel. In it Hadfield talks about the making of the Space Oddity video and reactions to it. I love everything about this: Hadfield, space exploration, the International Space Station, and David Bowie. These are a few of my very favourite things and all are a constant reminder that, just occasionally, humanity doesn’t suck.

Here you go:

As I always when writing about space exploration, my message to NASA: I am free, healthy, and ready to go into space.

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Augmented Reality transforming medical education

Augmented reality. Medical education is just one application.

Augmented reality. Medical education is just one application.

Not to be left behind in sticking it to boring old reality, VR’s less popular friend Augmented Reality (AR) has been hitting the news more often of late and showing that it can do some pretty cool things too. It has been around for a while and almost became exciting when Google did the Google Glass thing, but once the epithet ‘Glasshole’ leapt gloriously into the language, it fell out of favour.

Well, now Augmented Reality is back and it is being used in incredible and beneficial ways. I am, of course talking about Pokemon Go. Man, I can’t wait till that comes to Thailand. Oh, and they are also using it in education too. In the clip below, students are using the Microsoft Hololens to learn about anatomy. It is one of many ways you can use the hololens but it is pretty cool. If you want to end up as a surgeon, you will obviously have to still practice on corpses to fully come to terms with how disgusting your job will be, but when learning the anatomical knowledge you can really benefit from this tech.

I love all this stuff and while the below clip feels slightly like an advert, it is still pretty damned amazing. Hurry up future and augment my reality, I’m bored.

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Robotic stingray made from rat cells

Robotic Stingray

Robotic Stingray

This is very cool and step in the right direction of mankind playing god. A scientist called Kevin Kit Parker went to an aquarium with his daughter and saw a stingray. Thinking, as I have often thought myself, ‘That’s pretty cool, we should have robots built from gold, silicone, and rat heart-cells that behave and act like that.’ Fortunately Mr Parker was an applied physicist/roboticist/bio-engineerist/very smart man at Harvard and has made is happen.

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 3.27.45 PMI won’t go into the science in too much detail because I don’t know what I am talking about. But basically, he got some rat heart cells, some silicone, some gold and has made an artificial creature. There are 200,000 heart cells, the silicone has a precise template that guides everything, and the gold is the skeleton. The stingrays are small – about half an inch –  and are controlled by light thanks to a virus that delivers a gene that affects a switch that- Ok, I am out of my depth.

Find more information here from from a science magazine:

Or if you want more information from a less science-y source:

There is a point to all this beyond just creating something that looks cool. Mr Parker wants to grow a human heart. I know you can grow human organs in pigs these days but if we can make organic body parts, it would be a huge step forward. Especially for the pigs. Here is a video that you should have just watched rather than read any of the above. Sorry about that but I have to make living.

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Tribute to Voyager space program is damn inspiring



As the Earth seems to be getting progressively more shite, it is worth remembering that we humans are capable of doing pretty incredible things. If we try and think beyond the petty here and now, and set our sights on knowledge, exploration and becoming a greater species I am convinced things could improve. With intolerance on the rise – religious and secular – we should try and better ourselves, not squabble and fight over imaginary beings or who should be allowed into “our” little patch of Earth. When you see our planet from space, the arguing and hatred seems so pointless.

Obviously nothing will change as too many humans are dicks. Happily, not all.

Here is an amazing video made by a talented fellow called Santiago Menghini. It is a tribute to NASA’s Voyager space program and combines real footage, recorded sounds, Voyager images, animation and more, into a very cool little film. Brilliant and truly inspiring. Cheered me right up, it did. Enjoy.

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Welcome back Tim Peake

Pub creates Peake portrait out of a roast dinner. For some reason.

Pub creates Peake portrait out of a roast dinner. For some reason.

Here at the Word of Ward we are unanimous in our support of space exploration, ESA, NASA and the brave people who go into space in the quest for knowledge. If you think space exploration is a waste of time, you have my sympathy for being a small minded individual who only thinks of the current generation. (I’m kidding – I think you’re an idiot.)

Before I slide happily into a rant, I will return to my main purpose which is to welcome back Tim Peake to terra firma and to say thanks for all he has done in the name of science and human endeavour.

My other main purpose is to point out to anyone from ESA or NASA that might read this, that I am fully available and willing to go into space as a member of Joe Public. It would be good PR. Just saying. Here is a video of Tim Peake’s highlights from the BBC:

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Free books!

You read that right. Free books. My three books, to be precise. I have decided to put them out to share with the interweb because I am feeling generous and want to improve my Karma. Also, I would like some reviews. If you like Science Fiction or Travel Writing, please have a look. Here is a brief intro:

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 3.25.49 PMCooperworld – In the near future, AI research is strictly controlled by paranoid governments. When a renowned Artificial Intelligence expert illegally decides to create digital life in an simulated universe, he doesn’t at first realise the implications of what he has done. Implications not just for him, but for everyone.
In this short story, I have a light-hearted but fairly philosophical look at what constitutes consciousness and how we perceive reality. Humorous in some parts and deep in others. This is a 17,000 word story.


Travel book cover finalAustralia, Morocco, and Thailand: Three true travel tales – These three true stories of fairly perilous travel. Here are what they are roughly about:
While backpacking in my early twenties, I thought I’d give fruit picking a go. Even without the spiders, snakes, and a plague of locusts, things turn out pretty badly.
A trip into the Atlas Mountains with my girlfriend turns out less than romantic when flash floods threaten to wipe out the town. The only escape option is a van full of Berber tribesmen and a waterlogged road on the edge of a cliff.
After moving to the peaceful paradise of Thailand, I pop to the local pub in Bangkok. That evening there is a military coup. In Bangkok. So why can’t I see anything?
These stories are filled with humour and dollops of fear. Recommended for those who enjoy travel stories or just like reading about someone being mildly terrified in foreign countries.

The Uneven Passage of Time cover finalThe Uneven Passage of Time – When I was thinking of trying out writing on Kindle, I went through my short stories and found three that were linked by the idea of ‘Time’. So I published them. Here is the description:

Stephen Hawking once sent out dinner invitations to all future time travellers. No one turned up. But what if one had? In ‘A Date to Remember’ a young physicist is convinced he has worked out the secret to building a time travel device. Lacking the resources to construct the machine he sets a time and date for a meeting with his future self.

It is a truism that people remember the big events in life and forget the repetitive. For most people, their year skips by unnoticed, punctuated by birthdays, world events, big personal milestones or traumatic events. As you age life seems to speed up and you find that the years seem to fly past. ‘As Time Goes By’ is the story of Frank Gilbert who is experiencing this to the extreme. His time seems to be accelerating at an abnormal rate. Years of his repetitive life seem to go by in days. Can he break the cycle in time?

The final and longest short story is ‘The Man Who Loved Statues’. Captain Michael Pike is a man who has taken a bit of hammering in life. With nothing much to live for he volunteers for an experiment that is going to attempt to alter his passage through time and put him in stasis. Things don’t go quite according to plan.


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