Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Another day, another device

No not me. That nice Mr McGill over at PDA247 who gets through more devices than he does sock changes has been raving about the Treo 500. Well perhaps not raving, but certainly admiring. And he's not the only one. Murray at Palm-Mac has also bought one of these devices, and he's very particular about these things.

Although it's not a Palm OS device (sadly) Shaun (McGill) has said that the front mounted keyboard is very decent and has come to the conclusion that it's a feature that " a must have option for my personal needs". So, goodbye to his TyTn II, and various other devices then. He'll change his mind in a week or so though.

As regular readers will know, I'm with him on the keyboard issue, but I'm not so sure about Windows Mobile Standard (the non touchscreen option), or even WM generally. Nevertheless, it is tempting, and I'll be following this thread and Murray's reports of this with interest. After all. I haven't "upgraded" for almost 6 months now....

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Palm again...thanks Bacofoil

I'm having another bash with my Treo. I've got used to the Vox (HTC S710) but I don't "like" it. It's functional, but try as I might I don't like Windows Mobile - especially the non-touchscreen version I have, and although I originally thought the slide out qwerty keyboard on the Vox neat, it's nowhere near as usable as the Treo's front mounted qwerty keys, which make one handed operation easy and a joy.

So why else go back to the Treo? Well, two things really.
  1. I've done the recent Treo update. Despite my original misgivings and problems with this update, a hard reset and restore seems to have sorted those problems. The claimed battery life improvement does seem to be holding some water. Although when I unplugged my device from a full overnight charge, with the battery indicator shoring green (full charge), the actual battery was reading 91%. Hmmm... not boding well. However, after some (not extensive) use today of bluetooth, email, web browsing RSS updates, the battery is still at 72% as I write. More impressive than before the update methinks.
  2. I am still concerned that the Treo doesn't pick up and hold a signal as well as any other phone I've used (ever). That's not to say it''s bad, but in areas of "restricted" coverage, sadly at home for instance even though T-Mobile tells me it's fine for my postcode (maybe they should come and live here), it's not great. My signals bar shifts between 0 and 3 bars depending on where I am in the house. Sometimes it shifts between 0 and 3 bars just sitting on my desk in the study! Hey - maybe T-Mobile are moving the masts around?

    To try and improve matters I previously bought one of these signal booster things from e-bay for 99p that you stick in you battery compartment close to the antenna which is supposed to increase signal capture massively. I can't say I've noticed a difference, but it was worth a go for 99p.

    So, I'm taking an even cheaper Heath Robinson approach, and have stuck a square of tin foil in the battery compartment to see if that helps. I don't suppose it does, although the signal has seemed a little better in the last 24 hours. Maybe I'm just imagining it though.
Either way, I'm going to try and use the Treo as my main device again for a few days and see how I get on.

And I'm excited about that. I can't get excited about my Vox.

City 3 - 1 QPR: So much for money...

Well Lakshmi Mital, one of the richest men in the world may have bought QPR for a plaything, but if he was at tonight's match at Ninian Park he'll be wondering what he's spent his millions on.
QPR were awful.
On the other hand, in the first 45 minutes especially, City were superb, and how we only managed to be 2 up at the break God only knows. Whittingham missed an open goal from about 2 feet, and their keeper Lee Camp made 3 or 4 stunning saves, but he couldn't deny Joe Ledley twice in the opening period, although Joe only had a tap ins after great work by Paul Parry and JFH respectively.

After the break City kept the tempo up and added a third through the sumptuous Paul Parry who's in the form of his life, and it looked like it could be a question of how many. It looked worse for QPR when Camp appeared to handle outside his area whilst bringing Parry down, but rather than awarding a foul and penalising Camp, the premiership referee Peter Walton merely awarded a corner much to the dismay of the City faithful who then let Camp know what they thought of him. The Hoops did pull one back, Oakes in the City goal fumbling a low shot and then getting concussed as the ball was bundled in. The last 10 minutes was pretty scrappy, but the job was done, and it's another 3 points to an increasingly impressive City run.

City are now in 7th spot and just one point of the playoff places. A win away at 4th placed Stoke on Saturday could see the Bluebirds climb as high as 4th or 5th.

C'mon you Blooobirds!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

FA Cup 4th Round: Hereford 1 - 2 City

Hereford had had a decent run in the cup, so this this was yet another potential banana skin for the Bluebirds away at Edgar Street. City's recent form though suggested that they should come through this match and get to the 5th round for the first time in 14 years.

The in form Paul Parry almost opened after the scoring after 3 minutes, but then the match settled, and Hereford kept the score 0-0 almost to the break when Kevin "Naughts" McNaughton drove in a shot from the edge of the box, giving him his first goal in Bluebirds colours - I wonder what you could have got on him scoring the first goal of the match?

On 65 minutes City doubled the lead when McNaughton was brought down in the box (what's he doing this far forward?) and Thompson, in for JFH coolly slotted home. City then looked to be cruising, but Hereford pulled one back with a quarter of an hour to go, and had a right go at City in the final minutes, but they held on, and are now in the bag for the draw for the 5th round tomorrow lunchtime.

So, do we now wish for a big tie with the prospect of a bumper payday and a great atmosphere or one we feel we can win? The Cup this year is as open as it's been for years, although the big 4 (Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal & Liverpool) are still all in there. I think at this stage I'd prefer Bristol Rovers at home, get to the quarter finals and then draw one of the big ones. Or maybe even the semis......I was only dreaming........

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Treo 680 Update - update

Well, since I've installed this update
  • The Treo 680 resets itself whenever I launch Google Maps
  • It also resets when I launch Ringo
  • Also TCMP has stopped working - get a message about Video codec not being supported by the player - it was fine before the update.
  • Also the Tom Tom Navigator program icon now launches the Navigator Contacts list, not the navigation program!
  • Oh, and Docs to Go hangs the device when I exit the program
Great patch Palm.

Hard reset and re-install I come

Treo 680 update

The Treo 680 update has been out for a bit now, so I thought I'd do the deed and see if it makes any difference to my Treo. Shaun over at PDA247 has bought another 680 (his 5th), out of need rather than desire I think, and installed this update. He reckons it's improved the battery life (a bit) and resolved the problem with the device losing time.

Personally I'd still much rather use my Treo than the Windows Mobile Vox - the Treo's front mounted hardware keyboard and touchscreen combined with the Palm OS just makes it so easy to use compared to WM. So I duly downloaded the patch and off I went.

First up, the instructions warn you that you need to have your Treo plugged into a wall charger and the desktop PC you're running the update from for the whole time the update installer is running - estimated to be 30 mins.

I had just fully charged my Treo, and my stock connecting cable covers the hot sync and charger connections from a powered USB port, so I didn't (nay couldn't) have the wall charger attached.

Everything seemed to be going ok until about half way though when the update progress bar stopped (though the elapsed time was still running). After about 15 minutes of this, I rummaged around, found the "normal" hot sync lead, and taking a deep breath, because I could at this point have rendered my Treo completely U/S, unplugged the device from the PC, plugged in the new hot sync cable and then having freed up the charging port, attached the wall charger. Bingo!

The update started running again and then reset my device and said it was all finished. I checked the ROM info and found out that in fact the update hadn't worked.

So, I started all over again - this time plugged into the wall charger from the start, and this time everything did work, first time and the whole process took about 20 mins. So now I have a shiny new ROM'd Treo.

One of the things I'd been meaning to do for ages was change the ringtone for my wife's incoming calls, so with my updated Treo, the first thing I did was navigate to my Ringo application, hit the icon and.....

The Treo reset.

So I tried agin.

And the Treo reset.

Hmmm...gave up on that one.

I then swapped sims from my main phone (the Vox) so I could give my updated Treo a whirl for a while and guess what. The decent signal I had in my Vox disappeared on the Treo to nothing....T-Mobile my network operator say the coverage for my postcode area is absolutely fine by the way, because I've asked the question before - and clearly the Vox, my son's Sony Ericsson, my daughter's Samsung and my wife's Nokia all pick up signals here without any problem. To be fair, this isn't anything to do with the update, and I've mentioned this failing of the Treo before, but I did harbour a slight hope that somewhere tucked away in the update was something that might havbe improved reception. Should have known better I guess.

This is why the Treo and Palm irritate me so much. I really, really, really like the device, and I desperately want it to be my main device. OK, some say it's big, but it's not as big as some smartphones, some say the battery life is crap but I can live with that and this update is supposed to make it better. But ultimately in my opinion it is from a user perspective just so much easier to use than a standard numeric, flip or slide out keyboard device. But the final reckoning is that the OS is unstable (ish) compared to WM, and the darn thing just cannot get the same level of signal than any other phone in our house, which frankly makes it useless in any real life situation.

I really should flog it on e-bay, and commit 100% to a WM device, but I just can't bring myself to do it.

What I really want is the Treo's form factor, OS stability (and WM isn't 100% here either), any other phones ability to find and hold a signal. Not much to ask is it?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Palm Treo 500

So, the Palm Treo 500 minus the "v" which means you can get it unlocked and not tied to the Vodafone network is finally available in the UK. I'd be sorely tempted except:

  1. It's running Windows Mobile and not Palm OS
  2. The screen real estate available once you take into account the top and bottom information bars means you get a letterbox screen. long and narrow - and it's not a particularly big screen to start with. Some of the screen shots of the device running various applications make you realise how little usable screen there is for applications.
  3. Oh, and it's £269 from the Palm store
Maybe not for me then....

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Another giantkilling avoided. Welshpool 0 - 1 City

So, after a couple of delays this match went ahead, and following the final whistle, I can confirm that City are still on for the Treble: The FA Cup, the FAW Premier Cup (That's the Football Association of Wales for non Taffy's reading this) and promotion to the Premiership via the playoff's.


It certainly wasn't the full City squad that won this match, although it did contain 5 players who have played 1st team football, including club captain Darren Purse, who can't get a look in at the moment. Still, a win's a win.

Gone are the days when winning the Welsh Cup would get you entry into Europe. In fact as things stand, City couldn't get into Europe even if they won everything including the Premiership. Not fair says me.

Anyway, next up, Hereford on Sunday in the FA Cup. Let's hope I'm reporting a win then, and an away draw against Man U in the next round.

Palm. What are they doing?

Now I'm not one of the technorati. I'm a gadget user rather than someone who's particularly technically minded or knows the industry. What I do know though is the most enjoyable experience I've had with a smartphone came from my use of the Palm Treo 680, despite a few shortcomings that I've talked about previously.

Currently though I'm using a Windows Mobile smartphone, and whilst it does the job, it just doesn't have the "glow" about it that Palm devices provide. I'm not the only one judging by the number of Palm related sites, blogs and so on.

So you'd think Palm would be doing all they can to keep up with the Jones's (or Microsoft, or Apple). But no, what they seem to do is churn out (blandish) devices that are primarily available only in the US and increasingly with Windows OS installed. There are also rumours of Linux based devices, but nothing concrete from the halls of Palm Inc. The official Palm Blog is duller than dishwater, and devoid of any useful information other than Palm types telling us what fun they've had out and about.

Give the customers what they want Palm: Smart up to date devices, running a new Palm OS- or at least fess up and tell us you're not going to, so we can all quite waiting.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Oh the joy of trains

You know how much I hate trains. Well, today is just another example of why. Trip to London planned for work, and first up last week the whole thing was in doubt because of a planned strike by First Great Western (or whatever they're called now) guards. That was called off late last week, so all looked rosy. No.

To be fair, everything look fine and dandy for the 2 hour trip from Cardiff to London until we pulled into Bristol Parkway. Sat at the station for about 5 minutes and then pulled out heading back the way we'd come. After a while the "train manager" came on the tannoy to say we'd have to go round the long way because of flooding in the Chipping Sodbury tunnel. So back into Bristol, round via Bath etc, and to cut a long story short eventually got to Paddington in London 3hrs and 15m after leaving Cardiff. Amused? No. I wouldn't have minded if they'd only have warned us of that at Cardiff. Well actually I would have minded, but they still should have told us.

The homeward journey wasn't quite so tortuous. Got through the tunnel, but only at 5mph. Homeward time was 2hrs and 35m. So, all in all 5hrs and 50m on the train today (and that's not including the London Underground. Not a happy bunny. And an open standard (that's 2nd class to you and me) return, with the underground Zone 1 fare is £163 beer vouchers to boot.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

To scrub (or scrape) or not?

Regular readers may be familiar with my "Top 10 annoying things" (see bottom right), but today reminded me of one of my all time hated jobs.

Being Sunday it's roast dinner day (here in the UK anyway), and one of the jobs I had to do was scrape the skins off a bag of new potatoes before cooking them. Now my wife knows how much I hate doing this and in fairness to the lovely lady she did offer to do them instead of me, but I manfully resisted the temptation to hand the lot over to her as she was already busy with the iron.....and well, I need all the brownie points I can get!

Now I guess I have a couple of reasons for hating this job so much. One is, that standing at the sink for half an hour fiddling about like this makes my back ache. The other is, what's the point? You can cook new potatoes with their skins on. In fact there's a school of thought (I'm with them here) that says the goodness is all in the skin or just under it, so scraping it off makes it less nutritious. Does anyone know for sure? Anyway, after all that effort they were rather nice - especially with a knob of butter on them.

Do you scrape or scrub you new tatties or chuck them in the pot as is?

8G USB drive update

My two USB drives were delivered promptly a couple of days after I ordered them. One was a 4G unit, the other 8G. The 8GB looked a little different to the one I'd ordered but an enclosed note said they'd had difficulty sourcing the original 8G drive and the delivered one was a slightly more expensive model, but they hadn't charged any more (nice of them).

There's not much to say about USB drives is there? They either work or they don't. Thankfully these did, and I've now got my 6G+ photo archive on a gadget the size of my little finger! Whizzo or what?

One of the drives comes with a password protection system, which I haven't looked at, the other with a zip file system (I wonder why they don't both come with both?). Anyway, I'm well chuffed as they're big enough to back up my key data files and small enough to hide somewhere safe. Now all I've got to do is remember where I put them......

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Panto. Oh yes it is.......Oh no it isn't

We've been to the panto today - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (not dwarves?) in the New Theatre, Cardiff. We've been going to the panto every year since the kids were very little - they're now 13 and 10 - and it's always a good afternoon out. This year Lesley Joseph who played Dorien in the sitcom Birds of a Feather played the evil queen. As always, it was a jolly good romp.

I'm particularly pleased to see that tradition hasn't been knocked on the head in Cardiff, by succumbing to the politically correct. We could have ended up with Snow White and the seven vertically challenged people, or Snow Grey etc etc. Anyway, I enjoyed it. Oh yes I did.

WBA 3 - 3 City. Should've won

Despite the fact City have been playing well and winning, I'd have taken a point before today's match against the Baggies kicked off. They are after all top of the table and have a decent team, and may well get automatic promotion. A tough match then. But 1 minute in Paul Parry put us ahead, and then half an hour later put us two up, only for the Baggies to pull one back straight away.

When Joe Ledley put us 3-1 up in the second half, the travelling support must have been in heaven, but as we know too well with City they can concede, and they did. First Albrechtsen pulled one back and then Roger "Johnners" Johnson, my player of the season so far had the misfortune to put one into his own net on 88 minutes.

Tough to take a 3-3 draw when you've been 3-1 up, but as I said earlier, maybe a point away against the leaders isn't such a bad result.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Treo 680 Update

For all you Treo 680 users out there, Palm has released an update that provides the following:
  • Corporate email as it arrives – Have your corporate email delivered to you with Microsoft® Direct Push Technology. Accept or decline meeting invites and access your company directory on the go.
  • Power saving enhancements – Helps conserve battery life with improved power management and updated default system power preferences.
  • Supports larger expansion cards – Supports up to 4GB SD expansion cards (including the SDHC format), sold separately.
  • Enhanced ringtone support – MP3 and other sound files purchased from the web or sent from friends can now be set as ringtones and alerts (formats: MP3, AAC, AAC+, MIDI, WAV, and AMR). ²
  • Three updates in one – This update incorporates three previously released software updates: Treo 680 Camera Update (January 2007), Treo 680 Security Patch (May 2007), and Treo 680 Unlocked GSM smartphone SMS Update (July 2007).
I've seen some varying reports on this, some suggesting the update process isn't as stable as one might like. I haven't taken the plunge yet, but I'm not using my 680 as my main device at the moment. I think I'll just hang on a bit...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

8GB Flash Drive - stunning value

I've just bought (online) an 8GB flash drive for £26 all in including postage. This seems like stunning value. I want one this size as a simple, convenient and portable solution for my photo archive currently running at over 6GB. This sounds like just the job. I'll let you know how I get on.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Customer rip-off

Here's an update to my post of a couple of days ago bemoaning HP's customer support. You'll recall the email I received pointing me in the direction of a premium rate (60p a minute) support line allegedly open 6 days a week, only to ring it and find it was not open on Saturday.

Well, I sent an email back telling them that, and also I found it very annoying to be charged 60p a minute, and basically I wasn't going to ring that line again.

Had another response today. They've given me another number - an 0870 number this time, which they say is charged at 8p a minute!

Hmmm. This sounds entirely like a rip off to me. If you need to contact HP support the given number costs 60p a minute, but if you complain they give you a number that'll cost you 8p a minute.

I don't for one moment suppose anyone from HP Support will ever read this blog, but if they do, perhaps they might like to leave a comment about this?

Funnily enough, I recally ringing Sky once about a technical problem, and it took about 45 minutes to get through. When I eventually spoke to the adviser they gave me another number to ring back on if I had any further problems that would get me thorough straight away.

The absolute only reason why these sort of thing happen is to help organisations cut costs or make money. Customer service doesn't come into it, whatever they might say.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

City 1 - 0 Sheffield Wednesday

Another 3 points lifts us to 8th after a hard earned win against the Owls. City were all over Wednesday in the first 20 minutes, and arguably should have been a couple up by then. In fact it took until the 36th minutes before the goal came, and ironically it was Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who scored. He'd had (in my opinion - and most of those sitting around me) a torrid opening, unable to hold the ball up, passes going astray almost every time and so on. In typically fickle supporters fashion, a lot of people were saying "get him off", but then he scores and he's a hero. That's football.
To be fair he did much better after that - isn't confidence a wonderful thing - and his hold up play and distribution wimproved dramatically. City were looking good all round the park in the first period and Joe Ledly should have made it 2 when delightfully put through 1 on 1 with their keeper but pushed it just wide. Our "Rodge" (Roger Johnson) also hit the post with a decent header and Whittingham forced a save also.

The second half was completely different. A couple of rash challenges on Johnson and McNaughton who both required extensive treatment went unpunished, but both stayed on and as the Owls pushed harder, City fell deeper and rather than trying to retain posession just hoofed the ball away and waited for it to come back at them. The last 20 minutes or so, including the 6 minutes of added time was real nailbiting stuff and was pretty much all Sheffield Wednesday, but City held on for the win, and got a huge cheer at the end. The fans MoM was Kevin "Naughts" McNaughton who's back in a rich vein of form (his o.g. at Chasetown last week notwithstanding). This is more resilience than City have shown for a long time. Long may it continue.

More good news is that Ricardo Scimeca, Trevor Sinclair and RF are all on their way to recovery and fitness, Scimeca probably slightly ahead of the others. If we can get into the top 6 ahead of the run in with Scimeca back, who knows what might happen?
Up the Blooobirds!

Bluebirds Rants & Raves

I've had a comment left on one of my posts from a gent called "sportsobsessive". Seems like me he's a Bluebirds fan, and he too has a blog - though his seems primarily dedicated to the City. Always worth plugging a like minded site, so visit Bluebirds Rants & Raves for his opinions of all things City.
Scarily, looking at his profile, he has more in common with me than he might know......bizarre.

Another technical irritant

Bear with me...this is a long story.

Regular readers will know of my views on support services.....

PC's are generally much better these days than they used to be - despite my previous post about Vista's start up time. I remember the days when you bought a PC and had to install the operating system from scratch via floppy disks.

Now of course you open the box, plug it in, fire it up answer a couple of questions and away you go. But what if your shiny new purchase goes horribly wrong? Where are the floppy disks to start again? Well of course we don't have floppies these days, but the PC smugly reminds you (well it did remind me) that I needed to create a set of recovery DVD's. How clever I thought. It also said, this job can only be run once - presumably to stop those nasty softaware pirates out there creating multiple copies and flogging them on that well known online auction site. I'm not one of those people. I just want a robust backup solution because I've been there when a PC dies on me with no backup, and I know how painful it can be.

So I set the process off and at the predetermined point, the system said something like "This job requires two blank DVD's. Insert your disc 1." So I did. At least I though it was blank disc, but the application said there was something already on it and ejected the disc. As I only had one more spare DVD so I had to go and buy some more, but the application said it woiuld continue the process from where it left off next time I started it.

So, got some more DVDs, fired up again, and the system said commencing job from where it left off (clever or what?), but then I was aghast as it said "creating disc 2 of 2"! What happened to my disc 1 of 1 that had aborted? Now I'm completely stuffed. The system is going to create me a recovery set with only the 2nd of a 2 disc set, and I can't create another set because you can only run the job once! "Flippin' 'eck" I thought, or words to that effect.

Hunted down HP's support site and sent them an email crying for help. Got a pretty quick response that said, and I'm paraphrasing here....

"..Sorry to hear about you problem. I'd love to send you a set of recovery discs free of charge, but I can't because we're hardware technical support. Phone this number (a premium rate line at 60p a minute) and they'll sort you out. The email said this line was open Mon - Sat as did the web site. So I rang it, and the inevitable automated voice said, "We're open Monday to Friday" and then cut me off.

"Flippin' 'eck" or words to that effect I said again.

As I don't want to ring this line from work - which strangely is where I am between Monday and Fridays) - as they might baulk at me ringing a 60p minute line, and I'm not ringing them on my mobile I'm stuffed again. "Dash it all" I thought (or words to that effect).

So I've fired off another somewhat more robust email to HP support asking them what else they can do to sort me out.

This sort of thing really annoys me. Hardware support we'll give you free - software? That'll be 60p a minute sir.

Flippin' 'eck.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Star Wars - the inspiration for Firefox?

I'm a huge Star Wars fan. I remember watching the original several times when it came out, and have watched all of them too many times to remember. At one point, me and my mate John Fidler also knew the entire script off by heart, including most of the sound effects!

One of the key scenes in the original film, bizarrely called Episode IV, is of course the final attack on the Death Star and the flight(s) through the trench.

Tonight I was watching a rerun of the Clint Eastwood film Firefox (1982) which I'd seen before where he steals a Russian MIG codenamed Firefox (nothing to do with the Internet browser), and a scene in that where he's dog fighting another Firefox is straight out of the Star Wars trench scene.

Hadn't made the connection before, but if Clint Eastwood who also directed Firefox says he wasn't influenced by that SW scene I'll eat my hat.

Oh, and may the Force be with you.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Vista - is bigger better?

My new PC is installed with the Vista Home Premium OS. although it's had some bad press, I'm generally quite impressed with it. You can see how Microsoft (or Micro$oft as some are prone to call it) are trying really hard to make the user experience better and less technical - which of coures really hacks off (sic) the technically minded. Some things are undoubtedly irritaing though. It's insistance on warning you every time you do something that might change a setting (yes, warn me once but then let me get on with it I say). There might be a way to turn this off but I haven't bothered looking yet.

And it takes much longer than my XP system to boot up - and I thought that took a longt time! Googling suggests it not just me, and this protracted start up is quite common. I've turned off all the start programs I can, and I've added another 2 GB ram to the 1GB it came with.

3GB ram! My first computer (a Commodore +4, not a 64) came with 64k ram, and my first ever PC had (I think) about 1/2 MB ram. Blimey - it's hard disk was only 100mb. Ahh... those were the days

Monday, January 07, 2008

The magic of the FA Cup: 4th Round Draw

It was with bated breath I watched the 4th Round FA Cup draw at lunchtime today, hoping that the Blubirds could draw one of the "biggies", preferably away, but home would be fine. memories of recent cup history - that game against Leeds when we won 2-1 when they were the Premiership leaders - look what happened to them after that! Arsenal away last year, Liverpool away in the Carling Cup
Out came the balls, but City were nowwhere to be seen. Arsenal, came and went, Chelsea, Liverpool....still no Man Utd though. Then it was down the final four balls. Out came the penultimate home tie. "Manchester United...", surely it couldn't be "...versus Cardiff City"?
No, it wasn't - it was Tottenham or Reading.
So, we awaited our fate (I couldn't remember who else was left in) and only hoped for a home tie. But even that wasn't to be.
Tranmere or Hereford away. No disrespect to either of those teams, but that wasn't what we were hoping for, and neither I suspect what they were wishing for (big club that City are!).
On the plus side though it does provide a decent chance for us to progress to the 5th round - one away from the quarter finals, but I'm getting ahead of myself here. There were a few shocks last weekend - let's just hope we're not a shock come 4th round weekend.

FA Cup 4th Round Draw

It was fingers crossed as the draw was made, hoping City drew one of the big guns.
Not to be though - it's a trip to either Tranmere or Hereford. Still I guess it improves our chances of progressing to the next round.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

My Alan Titchmarsh impersonation

Now I'm sure there might be a few sniggers out there when I say I enjoy a spot of gardening. I don't care.

When I was younger, my mother (God rest her soul) used to watch gardening programmes which used to bore the pants off me (although I remember Peter Seabrook on Pebble Mill at One!). She even used to try to get me to help out in what was a rather large garden where we lived in Lincolnshire, but to no avail - I had much more important things to do - fishing, playing with my pals etc.

As I've got older though I've become more interested (probably because a house has a garden that needs looking after), to the point where I downright enjoy the messing around in the garden. I can't claim to be an expert gardener, and latin names especially phase me. I describe myself as a bit of a potterer. Our garden isn't big - it's actually quite small at about 30ft x 25ft, although there's also room out the front.

Most things I plant tend to grow, and I have few disasters, and a few of my friends actually think I'm quite decent at it. I find that it's a great way to relax, and take your mind off things.

Today was quite bright early on, and I was "pottering" about clearing some dead stuff (see I told you I wasn't an expert), but I was amazed at how much out there is still growing, and even this early in January there are signs of life that suggest sunnier, warmer days are ahead. Maybe that's what it is that I like - the circle of life. Hmm... maybe that's a bit too heavy for a blog.

Anyway, I needed to try out my new secateurs......

Saturday, January 05, 2008

FA Cup 3rd Round: Chasetown 1 - 3 City

A month ago this would have been a very dodgy match for City. Languishing at the wrong end of the Championship, leaking goals, not scoring many, against a side over 130 places below them in the football pyramid right up for a giant killing act. Thankfully City's form of late suggested that although a potential banana skin, if they approached it with the right attitude, class woud out. Still, I couldn't get those potential Sunday paper headlines out of my head..."Plucky Chasetown Shoot Down the Bluebirds", or similar.

That potential scenario was made more likely when City conceded the first goal of the match to a Kevin McNaughton own goal inside 20 minutes. Could a big upset be on the cards?

Thankfully no. City drew level on half time with a Peter Whittingham shot, before 17 year old Aaron Ramsey, another product of the City youth system nodded us ahead soon after the break. City now more relaxes built the pressure which inevitably told and on 73 minutes Paul Parry made it 3-1, which turned out to be the final score.

So, into the 4th round, though by all accounts Chasetown can be proud of themseleves. More important in the bigger scheme of things is another win for the Bluebirds - more wins breeds more confidence.

Next up? How about Man U away? Or even at home....dreaming...

Friday, January 04, 2008

Long hot summer days

I don't want to wish my life (or rather this year) away, but during the long cold, wet dark nights of winter, it's nice to have something to look forward to. This summer we're going to Zante (or Zakynthos if you like) to a resort called Kalamaki. Never been before, but the write ups are decent. It's far enough away from the throbbing nightlife of Laganas at the other end of the bay to keep me sane. All I want is a bit of sun (no problem there methinks), a pool or warm sea, and access to a bar that serves cold beer.
My daughter who's 10 (she'll be 11 when we go) has been on about going to Greece for about 5 years - lawd knows why, so this'll tick the box for her. If anyone's been to Zakynthos before, especially Kalamaki, post a comment and let me know what you thought about it. Make it good though - too late to change our mind now - it's paid for!

I don't like cricket - I love it

It's January, so that must!
I coach the U13 squad at our club, and next week we start our indoor practice sessions ahead of nets and the outdoor training in April prior to the U13 League programme.
I've been playing cricket for years (ever since I was at school), but at senior level for the last 31 years (see I told you I was old), but only took up coaching a season or so ago. Last year I did my ECB Level 1 Coaching Assistant course which was great fun - if you help coach youngsters you should do it. We've got a thriving junior squad, which bodes well for the future of the club.
On top of that, senior nets start in about a month. I'll go along, but I'm not sure how my knee will hold up. Regular readers will know of my osteotic shortcomings. Providing I'm careful and try to remember that I'm not Brett Lee I should be OK. Whether I'll be able to make it at match level this year or not is another matter. I might be able to hobble around for the 2nd XI if selected. Keep up with Dinas Powys CC's year at our website

Thursday, January 03, 2008

There's no business like snow business

And there's no snow here!
Someone said on the radio this morning, when there's inclement weather about nobody wants it (rain, gales, floods etc) but give a forecast of snow and 99% of the population (well kids and saddo's like me) actually want it where we are!
All the media are getting hot under the collar about snow and all we get is cold and wind. Not a flake in sight in South East Wales. Just as well really. Half an inch and the whole country comes to a grinding halt. Just imagine if somewhere like Norway or Sweden was full of Brits. Nothing would ever happen.
I like snow. My good lady doesn't, but then she works for the NHS and has to sort out all the problems when staff don't turn up because they can't get the car off their drive (walk to the nearest bus stop?).
Nothing beats a good days sledging, making snowmen and generally getting frostbite. Just a shame we don't see so much these days. I'm old enough to remember (just) the winter of '63 when we had feet of the stuff, and winters when we used to go sledging down a whacking great hill (or it seemed like it at the time) in Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire.
Still, there's still most of January and February to come, so chance yet.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.....

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Back to work...357 sleeps to go

Well that's all that over for another year. Back to the humdrum of work today. Lot of people still off. The roads were pretty quite, the emails were almost non-existant. Should've taken another week off!
Still only another 357 sleeps until Christmas 2008!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Microsoft. How to annoy people

Well I'm getting on pretty well with my new PC that I got for Christmas, and generally I'm very impressed with MS Vista as an operating system. I've only found one of my existing programs that doesn't run on Vista, and that's Pinnacle Studio Plus 9 - a video editing suite. Shame really, I quite liked it, but I've already dabbled with Windows Movie Maker that comes with Vista, and it's acceptable (for my level of fiddling anyway, at least for the moment).
More annoying though is that I have a problem with Outlook 2002 which has filled my PIM needs completely since I've had it. Vista has a "known" issue with OL 2002 (and prior versions), and refuses to recognise the password you put into your email account when you set it up, forcing you to enter it every time you open OL to send and receive mail. It's not the end of the world by any means, but it's annoying, and apparently although there are work arounds involving scripts and executable files, Micorsoft have no plans to resolve this problem. I bet they could very easily if they wanted to, but equally I bet they'd much rather you upgraded to a later version of Outlook. Well stuff them. I'm not going to.
Vista does come with Windows Mail and Windows Contacts and Windows Calendar, of which the first is the "new" Outlook Express (a completely different program to Outlook for those who don't know about these things), but I don't want to use them. I want to keep using the program I've been using without problem for several years, and which serves me well. This is exactly the sort of problem and annoyance that companies like Microsoft do , almost certainly deliberately, and which really hack (sic) end users off.

And something else that's occurred to me....this must be a deliberate "oversight", because as far as I know, all the rest of OL 2002 works fine with Vista. If all the rest's OK, why not this bit! Grrr...

City 1 - 0 Plymouth: Happy New Year!

Another win for City, and we've collected 10 points out of the 12 on offer over the Christmas and New Year programme. I'd have bitten your hand off for that at the start of December. As we had an early kick off today, other results are still to come in, but I reckon the worst we can end up today is 12th, and we could stay in 10th if Wolves lose and Burnely don't win.
Decent game today I thought. A goal from prize asset Joe Ledley was the difference on paper, though to be fair I thought Argyle were poor, and sub Steve Maclean had two gilt edged chances late on to seal a more emphatic victory for us. Kevin McNaughton had an immense game, and was in the view of the little crowd we sit with easily man of the match, though the official MoM went as it usually does to the goalscorer. Roger Johnson again was superb, but generally everyone played well.
Officially it was the last match of on-lone keeper Kasper Schmeicel's loan spell from Man City, although a little bird suggested to me today that Sven may let him stay a little longer, and he might, just might, get a loan until the end of the season. I hope he can - he's superb, and better than any of the other keepers we've got at City with no disrespect. He made a couple of good saves including one at the death to keep a clean sheet today. He got a huge and well desereved reception at the end of the game.
Looking good. C'mon City!