Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Matthew Moment

Everyone I know that's important to me knows about this I think, including the person in question, so I'm happy to share this with you.

One night, late into my wife's first pregnancy with our first child, and some time after we'd agreed that if it was boy we'd call him Matthew, and if a girl we'd call her Bethan, I woke up, jabbed my wife from her sleep and said "I don't want to call him Matthew if he's a boy". I know not why to this day, I just had that "moment" when it just didn't seem right (apologies to anyone called Matthew who's reading this - no offence intended). Luckily, we had a close second choice, and when the little lad duly appeared, he was monickered "James" - and he's seemed quite happy with it through his 13 years to date.

Fortunately I didn't have that moment with our second, who was always Bethan, although ironically we had decided if it had been a boy it would have been Matthew but I didn't have any iffy moments the second time around.

Every now and again I get what I call my "Matthew moments" when an agreed and firm decision suddenly seems completely wrong. It's a funny feeling, and the challenge is deciding whether you stick to your guns, or go with the flow...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mondeo Man

I've been toying with the idea of replacing my Renault Scenic for while (since it's all been paid off!), and much as I like the versatility the Scenic brings, I'm finding it's proving thirstier than I'd like for the miles I do - I feel like I'm constantly filling up, and with a 1.6 engine, though willing, doesn't quite give the "oomph" and cruise comfort I'd like, especially on long journeys. I was looking for a diesel that would give me close to 50mpg (average), plenty of comfort, and a few bells and whistles.
I'm not worried by style particularly (too old to worry about that), and What Car recommend the Mondeo as the best used family car choice (I'm not buying new - depreciation on any new car is a killer, and frankly it amazes me that anyone can afford a family size new car if they're paying for it themselves anyway). Checked out plenty of reviews of the Mondeo, and it's close competitors (Vauxhall Vectra - too many duff reviews, Honda Accord - too pricey) and they were generally very positive. Good drive, good level of kit, cheap to run and service etc...
So a Mondeo it is. Looked around - plenty available of course given their fleet history, and I've found one. It's a 2.0 TDCi "Edge" in a lovely blue colour (so not standard repmobile silver - have you noticed how many silver cars there are on the road these days?). Just about a year old. Hope to pick it up next week.
This is it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Another clean sheet - another point

Only two days after beating Ipswich, City were playing again, away against the Foxes at the Walkers Stadium. Boosted by the arrival of new manager Ian "The Badger" Holloway (Google "Ian Holloway Badger" if you don't know what I'm on about), who's clearly barking, and a 27,000 crowd it was always going to be a tough ask. Both side looked like they'd played only 48 hours before. In what was a mainly scrappy match, whee the standard of ball retention and passing was, frankly awful from both sides, Dave Jones will probably be the happier of the two managers. The first half was entirely forgettable bar one stunning save from Kasper Schmeicel from about 2 ft. In the second half Leicester upped their game (City didn't) and Schmeicel was called on several times to make some outstanding saves. In addition, City rode their luck with a goal line clearance and one shot bounced back off the post and then Schmeicel's head to run away for a corner. I'm frankly relieved City got the draw. Two cleans sheets on the bounce. Have we turned the corner? Away at Hull on Saturday might give us a better idea. Blooobirds!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

City 1 - 0 Ipswich: A win at last!

At last 3 precious points bagged after walloping the Tractor Boys 1-0. And a clean sheet to boot! Today City showed some grit, determination, and an apparent ability to play football which has been sadly lacking in the last couple of months. The first half in particular was an entertaining affair with both sides trying to play football, a site rarely seen at NP these days where often 11 men behind the ball and a good hoof upfield is the preferred modus operandi (or was that England?).
City old boys Neil Alexander & Alan Lee received a decent welcome before the match, and Lee, now scoring for fun at Ipswich after a torrid time at NP, chipped Schmeicel and hit the post inside 20 seconds! What a difference there could have been if that went in.
As it was City settled and broke freely down the right, and it was one of these sharp forays that set Parry free to cut inside and hit a pile driver past the flailing Alexander into the top corner.
The second half became scrappier as City dropped deeper (sound familiar?), and Ipswich pushed, but they never really threatened apart from one scrambled clearance. Scintillating it wasn't, but 3 points is what counts, and with the next match looming as soon as Monday against Leicester (away), let's just home this is the corner we've been looking to turn.
C'mon you Blooobirds!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dismal, dismal England - but we won our skittles match!

England were given huge chance to rectify a poor Euro 2008 qualifying campaign tonight after Israel beat Russia at the weekend. But it was never going to be, and much as it saddens me to say it, they don't deserve to be going to the Euro's next summer. They were dreadful. Parks teams play better football than that. Even Cardiff City play better football than that. No seriously.
Steve McClaren must be must have been one of the worst international coaches in England's history - even Sven is better than him.
Time to take stock.
  • We have no automatic right to appear at major championships.
  • Maybe we did invent the game, but others are now playing it better than us
  • Other countries iften take mediocre players and gel them into a great team. We manage to take great (allegedly) players and turn them into a poor one
  • There is insufficient passion displayed by anyone in the england set-up
  • The FA must take some responsibility for the appointment of McLaren, the ludicrous state of the Wembley pitch and complacency
How good are England? here are the other teams that finished third in their groups:
  • Finland
  • Scotland
  • Norway
  • The Republic of Ireland
  • Northern Ireland
  • Bulgaria
And three of those (including Scotland) finished with a better points tally than us.

Maybe this will do the England setup some good. Let's get a decent manager in, build a new team from the ground up and aim for World Cup qualification - if our undoubtedly reduced seeding will allow us to get there.

But, on the bright side, we won at skittles tonight. Our site will be updated in the next day or two with all the juicy details.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Organisation? What organisation?

Funny how some things strike you. I was beavering away at my desk this morning, content with my organisational skills, knowing smugly how my smartphome keeps me on top of things.....
...then I noticed my desk.
I have 8 post it notes within reach, as well as a desk full of papers and an A4 notebook. And that's without my PC!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I've had a Palmless week. I 've stuck to the Vox for the whole week - and do you know what? I'm almost getting used to it, and haven't wanted to go back to the Palm once. No, really. Well maybe once or twice.
Still, I've stuck at it, and to be really, really honest, there is actually little the Vox can't do that the Treo could. But I knew that. It's the interface (and touchscreen) I miss. I'm sticking with it though. It's a bit like giving up fags. The first two weeks are the hardest.

A funny old game

Commiserations to all you Scots after yesterday's game. Your boys gave it one hell of a go, and frankly were very unlucky over the whole campaign not to have qualified. A bit of fire and passion about the Scottish players that England could do well to have a look at.

Speaking of which - what a get out jail free card, as Israel beat Russia after England looked dead and buried out of it. All the "Eng-er-land" have to do now is secure a draw or better against Croatia at Wembley on Wednesday. Easy uh? I don't think so.

They're not there yet.....

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mine's a half - and one for yourself!

I'd like this bloke as my mate!

Actually, it's an Australian man breaking the world record for carrying the most beer steins. Reinhard Wurz carried 20 one-litre steins 40 metres - a new Guinness record.
(courtesy of the BBC "Day in Pictures" web page)

Little things

Another gadget post, so it'll be ignored or "hurrumphed" by my father who thinks my obsession with small shiny things is unhealthy.

My HTC Vox (on which I'm typing this) has small rubber covers for the USB sync/charger port and micro SD card slot.

After about 3 weeks use the USB cover wouldn't stay closed (it was beginning to annoy the hell out of me anyway) so I cut it off. The micro SD card cover is going the same way although it's hardly ever opened, so that may have to go too.

I've seen similar stories on some other sites, so it's not just me.

My point is, if manufacturers design devices like this, why don't they test them rigourously for flaws like this that just irritate end users? I'd be happy to trial a shiny new gadget anytime!

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I still can't choose between the Vox and Treo. If I think I'm going to definitely need access to a phone I'll take the Vox. If I want the better PDA capabilities I'll take the Treo.
All I know is I don't want to go back to two devices - a phone and a PDA, but this swapping around is ridiculous. I'm going to have to go with one or the other...

The Valley of Death

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, City go to Charlton and succumb 3-0 at their Valley ground. Jonesy dropped RF and started with JFH and the big Scot Steve "Tomahawk" Thompson. Didn't help. Looking good until 1st half injury time but then Charlton managed to bag 2 goals in stoppage time before the break. After that they were always chasing the game, and Charlton added a 3rd late on.
What started out as a season of hope and expectation has rapidly changed into one of despair. Outside the drop zone only on goal difference (and we haven't actually scored many!),
Patience is wearing thin.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

More City woe: City 1 - 1 Palace

Dave Jones has a lot to answer for. Everyone keeps saying he's a good manager, and for almost a season and a half he looked it, but since the middle of last season City have been in a mess and he can't get them out of it, and the fans (and I suspect Chairman Ridsdale's) patience is wearing thin. A lot of reports of tonight's match will focus on the referee, one Mr Mason, and boy was he dreadful. No he wasn't even that good. He was shocking. No, worse than that he was wholly incompetent, and please bear in mind that I'm trying to be objective here.
Still, that shouldn't detract from City's failings. Far from taking confidence from last week's solid display at Anfield, they were inept. No pace up front (sorry RF & JFH), 3 out of 4 passes go backwards, there's no width apart from occasional foray's by Paul Parrry - and when he did whip the ball in there was no -one there to meet it.
The midfield is conspicuous by it's absence. Rae and McPhail just aren't cutting the mustard. Passes going astray. Actually, half the time, they're not even passes, just hoofs upfield. Thompson comes on for Fowler and within 10 seconds gets himself booked for booked. Really, really, depressing. And this for a side that's suposed to be good enough to be challenging for promotion. From the Conference maybe, and if they don't up their game soon, that's where they'll be headed. They upped their game in the last 5 minutes, but why leave it until then. Poor old Kasper Schmeicel must be wondering what he's let himself in for in his month's loan spell. Awful, awful, awful. I should have stayed at home and watched Liverpool thump Besiktas 8-0 with a cold beer in my hand.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Remember, remember the 5th of November...

Bonfire night. No bonfire (garden's too small, but I am going to let off some picturesque explosives. Whizz bang!

Palm: Aaarghh!1 Why can't they just make a phone that works!

I've been going back and forth between my Treo 680 and my HTC Vox like a yo yo, but had recently decided the Treo is the better all round device for me. so for the last few days, it's been Treo all the way.
Tonight though, I couldn't pick up a call - pressed the green answer key when it came in but nothing happened.
So I tried a little experiment.
I rang my Treo from my landline (one in each hand). The landline failed to connect 3 times with a number unobtainable signal (even though the signal bars on the Treo were lit up like a Christmas tree. Then it connected and rang the Treo, but strangely even after about 20 seconds the Treo hadn't started to ring.
Next try it rang, but again the answer button failed to do anything.
Next go it connected and answered.
Can you make sense of it? I can't.
I love the Treo - it's by far the better all round device, but I just can't trust it as a phone.
Back to the Vox.....

Friday, November 02, 2007

Network Coverage

I use T-Mobile which I generally find is a good network (both in terms of coverage, customer support and price).
I do have one slight issue though. Where I live, the signal isn't great. On my Palm Treo (which admittedly doesn't pick signals up as well as other phones) the signal can vary between four and zero bars and that can be with the phone sitting on the desk and not moving! My son who's on a T-Mob PAYG has a Sony Ericsson T630 which suffers from the same varying reception, so it's not down to the Treo alone. The T-Mob website says coverage for my postcode area is good. Hmmmm....They've obviously not tried using a phone here.
Anyway, I sent a nice polite email to Customer Service asking if there was any plans to improve the coverage here: Here's their response. Not much help for me (tried all this many times - except replacing the SIM), but it might help someone else.

Thanks for your email, about your network coverage.

I'm sorry to know that you're unable to use the phone due to bad network and I can understand how concerned you must be about this.

I've checked the coverage in [postcode] and can tell you that there are no known problems in that area at the moment.

You may be able to strengthen your signal by following these steps:

1. While the phone is switched on, remove the battery. The phone will then switch off automatically.

2. After a few minutes, replace the battery.

3. Switch the phone on.

4. Your phone will now display T-Mobile and allow you to make calls.

You might also find you need to manually select the network and you can do this by following the steps below:

1. From your menu, highlight and select network selection.

2. Change from automatic to manual.

3. Your phone will now display searching and bring up a list of networks.

4. Highlight and select T-Mobile.

If you continue to have problems, please try your SIM card in another T-Mobile phone. This will indicate whether there is a fault with the SIM card or the phone itself. We can then give you information on having your phone repaired or we can order you a new SIM card. There's a £10 charge (including VAT) for a replacement SIM card.
Thanks again for emailing me, and I'm sure you'll be able to strengthen the network to use your phone.

If you've any further queries, please feel free to email me and I'll be glad to help you.

2nd November 2007 - a very nice day

It's my birthday! Yippee. another notch on the old staff of life. That's 48 notches altogether now. My daughter Bethan, who's 10, said today....."You're not old yet Dad. Don't worry, I'll tell you when you're old"! Thanks.
We've had a nice day today. It's half term, so we're off with the kids this week, and today we decided to go to the Cotswolds for the day. Packed up a picnic lunch and headed off down the motorway to Bourton on the Water. We've been before, some years ago, but that was in the summer. Bourton suffers from being incredibly picturesque and therefore is an absolute nightmare in the summer when you can't move for tourists. Today though was lovely. The weather was great and the autumn colours combined nicely with the Cotswold stone, as I hope my picture shows.
We paid a visit to Birdland in the village, where bizarrely you can see, in the middle of Gloucestershire, the only colony of King Penguins in the British Isles (I kid you not).
Stopped off at a Harvester on the way home for a birthday tea, and now just chilling out. No doubt I'll have a long cool beer later. Lovely.
Also, Happy Birthday to my Sister-in-Law Sue, who shares my birthday.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

New consumer Blackberry - the 8320

Saw this over at Palm-Mac (Murray always seems to be on the ball). It's Sammy from Palm Addicts giving the new Blackberry 8320 the once over in a short video. It looks like it could be a Palm killer (what Palm's not already dead?). Could this be the device (if and when it becomes available in the UK) to give me the things I dearly want from my Treo (decent signal reception, decent battery life) and things I don't want from Windows Mobile.....errr, that'll be Windows Mobile then.

Liverpool 2 - City 1: Blooobirds!

City gave as good as they got last night in the 4th round of the Carling Cup against Liverpool at Anfield. After a stuttering start to their league campaign, doom mongers were predicting the Bluebirds would come seriously unstuck against last years beaten Champions League finalists.
City though had other ideas. with almost 6,000 traveling support urging them on, and generally outsinging the home crowd, Dave Jones team were holding their own at half time with the score at 0-0.
Just after the break though, the Reds took the lead, with that well known Liverpool player Nabil El Zhar blasting home from 25 yards. Rather than capitulate, City stuck at their task and were rewarded when skipper Darren Purse nodded home Paul Parry's free kick to the delight of the ecstatic City faithful.
Sadly, our joy lasted about 46 seconds as Liverpool broke almost from the kick off and Steven Gerrard slotted home what proved to be the winner. Great game. RF had an outstanding ovation on his return to Anfield, and the City players and support did themselves proud.

The only blight on the day was the journey. Left at 1:30pm and didn't get to Anfield until 6pm, and coming home got into the car at 10.05pm and arrived home at 3:30am. The M6 was a nightmare both ways. On the way back, we were stuck in a huge jam, which eventually proved to be 2 miles of single lane with the other two lanes coned off with absolutely no-one, or nothing, being done in the coned off area. To have a major route like that at a what was a virtual standstill at 1:30am in the morning with no work actually happening is criminal.

Palace at home next Tuesday. C'mon you Blooobirds!