Monday, May 31, 2010

Bellamy for City?

Here's one rumour that just won't go away. Craif Bellamy, servant of the parish of Manchester City, bit being widely speculated on a move to Cardiff City. How much truth is there to this rumour? Why would Bellamy, a premier league star want to drop a level (and no doubt take a huge hit on wages) to play for City?

Well for one, it's his home town club. For two, he can't command a regular place at The City of Manchester Stadium. For three, (and linked to two) he apparently doesn't get on that well with the City management. For four, his family are still based just outside Cardiff and he regularly commutes back and forth, a strain on anyone. For five, the Bluebirds need a "feel good" factor and strong indication that they really want to push and build on this years success (and ultimate disappointment).

So waht do you reckon? Will we see Craigo at the CCS next season? The jury's out, but it's not impossible by a long way. I only have one question.

When we're so shite in defence, why are we looking to sign another striker?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New wireless keyboard

I bought a new keyboard and mouse this weekend. My old compaq keyboard was full of all sorts of incredible gunge -you wouldn't believe it. Well perhaps you might. It's astounding how stuff ends up in there, most of which by the time you come to clean it out is unrecognisable.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I tried to clean it out,but after putting the thing back together several of the keys were deciding not to play. So I decided to shell out for a new one.

At PC World, prices ranged from about £9 upwards. I'm not using my home PC all day every day so don't need a top of the range one, so settled on a PC Line wireless keyboard and mouse set for £14. Yes just £14! I've used a wireless set before and love them. Wires are just so yesterday, so was pleased to go back to a wireless set.

Set up was a cinch. Put the batteries in, plug in USB receiver and Bob's you're auntie's live in lover.

The mouse is great. Responsive and comfortable. The keyboard not so. There's good key travel, but I'm finding my touches on the space bar are being missed unless I press really hard. I'm sure it's just a matter of getting used to it, but you can immediately tell the difference in quality between this and the old Compaq unit.

I guess there's a moral there. You pay you're money and take your choice.

Mac update

It's been a while since I've posted anything about my Macbook Pro experiences, so I thought I'd let you know how things are going.

Generally I'm pretty positive about having got a 13" Macbook Pro rather than a Windows based netbook or laptop. The Mac is undoubtedly a glorious bit of engineering, and is a delight to use most of the time. It's certainly powerful for the use I put it to - any powerhouse stuff tends to get done on my desktop PC, and the rather stingy by today's standards hard disk (160GB) is offset by the fact that most of my stuff is stored on a networked external drive or for in the cloud - mostly on Dropbox.

Talking of the cloud, one of the things I wanted to do when I got a laptop (whether it had been a Windows or Mac OS) was to move more to cloud computing. For the main part, I've succeeded. Nearly all my email is now handled by Gmail (isn't it great that for us UK users it can be "gmail" now rather than "googlemail"? that negates the use of the Apple Mail app as for email I'm now nearly always in the Firefox web browser. I haven't yet got contacts over there as the Apple address book and Google Contacts don't quite talk as nicely to each other as I'd like, but I will get there - and when iPhone OS4 comes out and enables more than 1 exchange account to be used, this could be simplified even further. Dropbox, previously mentioned is a boon -all my PC's, the Macbook and my iPhone can hook up to a cloud based sync service.

Back specifically to the Macbook, the other pluses for me are:
  • Looks -it always turns heads when I'm out and about with it
  • Build quality- simply superb
  • Battery life. Not as great as today's latest netbooks, but better than most Windows laptops especially when not on a wifi connection.
  • The large multi-touch trackpad. Once used, always missed on a device that doesn't have it. I had a small laptop mouse that I'd intended to use with the Macbook but I've never once connected it, and never once missed it. Scrolling , pinching ans zooming, and clicking is just so easy.
  • Noise - or rather lack thereof. The beastie can get a little toasty when used for long periods, but even when the fans on you have to strain to hear it.
  • Magsafe power adapter. How ingenious, and how sensible. I have tripped over the cable, and all that happens is the power adapter just pops out without pulling on the machine at all.
  • Apps - in the main they are simple to use, and I've found (almost) the identical Mac version or something very similar to my Windows programs I use on the PC
  • Screen - absolutely gorgeous
So what's not to like?
  • I haven't settled on an "office" program/suite. I haven't bought Microsoft Office for Mac because generally the reviews I've read have said it's rubbish compared to the Windows variant, and it's also very flakey on the Mac. I have installed the open source Neo-Office and Apple's iWork 09 suite. Neo-Office is OK, but it's got that open-source look and feel about it something that tells you it's just not quite as polished as it could be. But I do prefer that to iWork. I've almost never used Numbers, the spreadsheet app because it just seems so alien. Pages, the word-processing app is more like a desk top publisher, and can't be set to save by default to .doc format something that really irritates me. You can save to .doc on a file by file basis but that's just tedious. And I rarely use Keynote, but rarely use Powerpoint either. I might yet bite the bullet and get MS Office for Mac.
  • My printer is a Canon MP560 multi-function device. Setting it up on my PC to connect wirelessly was a breeze, setting it up wirelessly on my Mac took about a day and a half. It works now, but I think the driver is still a bit iffy - I don't get all the options I do on my PC.
  • The USB ports are a bit close together. Picky I know. I rarely use two at the same time - just as well because it would be hard.
  • Breakdown. Hasn't happened yet (thank God), but I didn't shell out several hundred quid on Applecare, so I hope nothing does go wrong, because it would be expensive to fix.
  • As a long time PC user, I've never quite got used to the way that closing an app's window doesn't close the app. It keeps running in the background. To me, clicking that "x" means close. Finished, finito....not I'll just hide away but keep on chugging.
  • The fact that there's no export to csv option from the Mac address book. What? Who dreamt that up? You can export to vCard though. Great, everyone used vCards - don't they? Then you have to find a converter program to convert to csv. Why not do what almost every other OS on the planet does and allow csv export? But we're talking about Apple here.
  • And that other Apple sticking point. the ability to mark an appointment as private is missing. When I'm syncing to other calendars I really want to be able to do that.
But ultimately do I regret getting the Mac? Not one bit.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The new iPhone cometh

We're not far away now from the World Wide Developers Conference which start son June 7th at which it is widely anticipated that the new 4th generation iPhone will be announced.

I'm looking forward to this with some excitement as my current contract on an iPhone 3G runs out at the end of this month - perfect timing. From the various reports I've seen about the new iPhone that have been widely reported, as well as what we know for sure from Apple on OS 4.0, it should be a great device. I certainly hope so.

Jones to stay?

If reports are to be believed, it looks like DJ has committed his immediate future to Cardiff City.
Personally as I outlined in my previous post, I think this is a good thing. I'm also interested in the bit in the report that says "Dave also presented proposals to club representatives which were accepted by all".
It doesn't go into detail, but I'll bet it was a shopping list and and "hold onto" list.

Hope yet?

Monday, May 24, 2010

What next for City?

I've waited a few days before posting anything about "that" game at Wembley on Saturday, waiting for the pain to subside, and thought it hasn't really, I feel I have to write something.

Ok, let's get the basics out of the way. Thought it really hurts to say it, Blackpool were the better side on the day. They looked like they wanted it more. City sat off and despite taking the lead twice through superb goals, and hitting the bar twice, we were just abject in defence. Defend like that and you'll get beaten by a Sunday parks team. A decent Championship side (now Premiership side) will severely punish you - and they did. When Bothroyd went off on 15 minutes, the writing was on the wall for me. City didn't start playing until about 75 minutes. Too little, too late. Game over.

The shame of it is that of the 40,000 or so Blackpool "fans", only about 10,000 are real fans - the rest are just jumping on the back of the day. They didn't even look excited in the car park afterwards.

So, where do City go from here? The optimistic will say automatic promotion next year. The realistic will say if we can hold on to some of our players and our manager, maybe the same - playoff contenders. The pessimistic will say, that's as good as it gets. Players and manager will go, we'll fail to compete next term and with our financial troubles as yet unresolved, it's going to get a lot worse. Currently I sit in the realistic camp. I'm sure some of our best players will go. Ledley's out of contract; Whittingham, Bothroyd, Chopra (the only one with Ledley who came out of Saturday with any positives for me) and McCormack will surely attract interest from other clubs, and probably Premiership ones at that. Dave Jones is being spoken of in respect of other jobs.

But, and here's what I'm clinging to. Outgoing Chairman Peter Ridsdale hands over to Malaysian Dato Chan Tien Ghee (TG) on Thursday, and TG said on Saturday he's committed to keeping Jones and investing in the club for the future, to "get back here". If he holds true to his word, it may not be so bad for City. We can only wait and see.

And finally, as is the norm at this time of year, my ratings for the main squad players for this season, marked out of 10.

David Marshall (GK)
Stunning at times, errant at others. The best keeper we've had for a while but responsible for Blackpool's 3rd goal. 7/10
Kevin McNaughton (Defence)
"Naughts" can play anywhere. Big injury problems this season, but never gives less than 100% 7/10
Mark Kennedy (Defence)
An enigma. Sometimes outstanding, sometimes awful. Only got one forward pass - the lofted chip. Great pen in the playoff semi final though. 6/10
Gavin Rae (Midfield)
Again injuries this season. No a great one for Rae, who I think better than a lot of people say. 5/10
Mark Hudson (Captain/Defence)
What can you say? Came on a big billing, but is slow and prone to mistakes. Not impressed. 4/10
Gabor Gyepes (Defender)
Good last season, not had the same chances this term. I rate him though. 5/10
Peter Whittingham (Midfield)
Brilliant season. 20+ goals from midfield can't be sneezed at. Without him we wouldn't have got near the play-offs. 9/10
Michael Chopra (Striker)
Outstanding early season, tame mid-season, came good at the end. I'd always have him in my side 8/10
Jay Bothroyd (Striker)
Another enigma. Occasionally looks like he couldn't care less. But always a target, holds the ball well, works non stop if prone to falling over. My player of the season for his effort whilst being constantly battered. 9/10
Stephen McPhail (Midfield)
Took a lot of stick from supporters last year, but rode it all. Battled cancer too this season. Stability (if not flair) in the middle. 8/10
Chris Burke (Midfield)
Great when he gets the ball wide. Non-existant when City play narrow. The ability to change games, but didn't see it often enough 7/10
Paul Quinn (Defence)
Started well but a couple of howlers saw him put to the bench and he never got another chance 3/10
Anthony Gerrard (Defence)
Still quite raw at this level, but possibly a replacement for Roger Johnson? Great on his day, average on other days. 7/10
Joe Ledley (Midfield)
Cardiff born and bred, and maybe people read too much into that. Brilliant at times, too often a bit part player in midfield for me. 7/10
Darcy Blake (Defence)
Out on loan earlier this season, stormed back because of injuries and had some really great games. Too short for me though if he's going to play at centre half, and was found out against Leicester and Blackpool in the play-offs. 7/10
Adam Matthews (Defence)
Brilliant young attacking centre back. Got opportunities early on and impressed mightily, but faded later in season. One for the future, but we're unlikely to hang on to him. 8/10
Aaron Wildig (Midfield)
Another one for the future. Creative midfielder. Needs more bulk. Will improve. 6/10
Ross McCormack (Striker)
Missed out after a prolific season last term as Jones preferred Bothroyd and Chopra together. Always dangerous, and a game changer. Another one who'll go? 7/10
The rest didn't play well enough or often enough or impress me enough to get a rating.

Dave Jones (Manager)
I've criticised Jonesy in the past, but he did a stunning job this season in the face of a barrel load of injuries, and huge uncertainty about the finances and future of the club. I've been very impressed with his man management too - particularly of Bothroyd, someone who many managers have failed to get the best from. I really feel for him that we couldn't get over the final hurdle. Some people said he didn't have a "Plan B". I don't think he had enough fit players to have a plan B. 9/10

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Well I suppose I should be posting about how excited I am that City are at Wembley for the 3rd time in 2 years and all that, but the truth is I'm incredibly nervous. 90 minutes away from Premiership glory, I just hope and pray that we don't blow it now.

To lose to Blackpool (with absolutely no disrespect to them - they've had a fantastic run) would be terrible. To fall just short of the tape after such a long, hard season would be too much to bear.

If we don't pip the Seasiders to the glory land, imagine how we're going to feel next season watching the Tangerines take on Man Utd, Chelski and Arsenal whilst we play Doncaster and Scunthorpe!

Apart from anything else, I'm hoping that the Bluebirds promise of a refund of season ticket costs to everyone who was stupid enough to buy one at Christmas (yes, that's me) stands - Almost £400 beer vouchers wouldn't go amiss!

I also fear that if we don't make it, we'll lose a lot of our better players - Whittingham, Ledley, Bothroyd, Chopra and McCormack to name a few, and that means we'll struggle to make an impact next term.

It really is do or die time. Please God. Just this once, smile on Cardiff City.

Who said "it's only a game"?

C'mon you Blooooobirds!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Play-off semi final - reflection

Well it's been a couple of days now and I still can't quite believe that Cardiff City are just 90 minutes and one win away from securing Premiership status if....and it's still a big if, they beat Blackpool on 22nd May.

It was a monster night on Wednesday. A huge roller-coaster of emotions. Going 1-0 up on the night (2-0 on aggregate) after Chopra's opener, that followed 20 minutes of scintillating football from City, many though that was that, game over. However, many of us know how fragile City's defence can be, and how they can squander leads, and so it proved. Poor defending led to Leicester scoring not once, not twice but three times, and after the third, I felt City had blown it. From the amazing high 20 minutes in I was at the lowest ebb.

Them when we got a penalty, I could barely watch as Whitts, slammed it home to level the tie again. From there, we had the momentum, and possible should have gone on to win in 90 or even 120 minutes, but both sides were like boxers on the ropes at the end, having given everything. The atmosphere throughout was amazing - the best I've ever heard.

So to penalties. This was the first time I've been at a live penalty shootout. It all looks very exciting on the TV when it's not your team involved. When it is, it looks so easy for the oppo to score, and you invariably feel your players are going to muck it up. But massive credit they didn't and took superb penalties. all.

When Kermorgant had a rush of blood and tried the cheeky chip and Marshall saved, the last person I wanted to see walking up for the next kick was Kennedy who is no doubt a great lad, but I feel can't pass his way out of a paper bag, let alone take a pressure pen. But I bow to the maestro that is Mark Kennedy. It was a wonderful pen, and he'd obviously been practising. Advantage City, and when Marshall made a fabulous save to Waghorn's attempt, it was job done. The whole crowd (Leicester fans apart) erupted. Such a massive buzz/high/delirious delight. The signing and chanting could have gone all night.

Fair play to a majority of Foxes fans who stayed on and applauded us and the Bluebirds team. Respect.

I've bought our tickets for 22nd May, and I still can't quite believe we're going to Wembley for the third time in 2 years. This one though puts both visits into the shade. This really is a must win. It would be tragic to come so close and lose out on the Premiership prize, but I guess there are a load of Blackpool fans felling the same way.

I think we can do it. I hope we can. Please........

Up the City one more time!!!!

Photo above courtesy of a City fan

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

City til I die! Championship Play-off semi-final: City 2-3 Leicester agg 3-3 City win on pens

More tomorrow. Just got in - I'm completely and utterly emotionally drained.

It's never straightforward with City, but they just stuck in there.


Sunday, May 09, 2010

C'mon you Bluebirds!!!!!! Leicester 0-1 City

A great win for the Bluebirds at the Walkers stadium today in the playoff semi final 1st leg. I couldn't watch the match as I was at a cricket match, but kept up to date with tweets from @CardiffCityNews!

Can't wait for home leg Weds - me and mini will be there.

C'mon City!!!!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

The good and the bad

Interesting comparisons .

A couple of months ago I bought a PAYG mobile broadband dongle from O2. This week I've also bought one from T-Mobile, as I know I'll be somewhere this summer that has very poor O2 coverage but pretty good T-Mob coverage.

Having both might seem extravagant but it does give me some backup options. Anyway, the interesting thing has been how easy (or not) these things have been to set up and get going with.

The O2 one was pretty straightforward. Installed the network manager on my Mac, put the dongle in. Went to the O2 mobile broadband top up page, entered my number, paid my money, connected and off I went. Now, every time I need to top up, I just do the same. I haven't needed to set up an account (even though I have an O2 account) or register a card.

The T-Mob experience was much harder. The network manager install was easy - easier than O2, as everything was installed from the dongle when I put it in.

However, that's when things went a bit pear shaped. When I bought the dongle it had a compulsory £10 "top up" on it, so I should have been good to go. But I wasn't. When I tried to connect I kept getting a message saying that I was trying to connect but hadn't any top up or hadn't activated my account. Activate my account I had to register a card! So I did. But to register a card I had to put a top up on it! Minimum £5. However, I must have tried a couple of times without success as eventually it told me I couldn't register the payment as I'd exceeded the number of attempts. So a long call to T-Mob ensued. The first problem was I couldn't register my debit card because that's already registered with another T-Mob account for my son's phone, and yo can't register a card with 2 accounts - apparently. So I topped up on my credit card. Now I had paid £15 of top up including the original £10 with the purchase of the dongle, but still only £5 was showing on my account.

Tried again, and got the same message - have to activate, and to all extents and purposes it looked like it was still asking me to pay. In the end I worked out that I had to go through the motions as if I was going to top up again whereupon my initial £2 daily top up charge was deducted from the £5 top up payment I'd made earlier (this was entirely unclear to me). A further phone call to T-Mob as to where my original £10 top up was elicited an apology and assurance it would be put right within the hour (and it was).

So eventually, I'm there. I just hope it's easier next time, and that the bloody thing gets a network connection in the middle of nowhere, where I'm assured by my sister who also uses a T-Mob dongle, it will.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Election 20101

Well not long to go now. Have you made up your mind?
I think I have, but I have to admit I've given more thought to this election than previous ones. There appears to be less and less between the parties general outlook these days - not like when Labour = left, Conservatives = right and Libs = something vague in between.

Of all the leaders I've been most impressed with Nick Clegg, although some of the Lib Dem policies seem a little vacuous.

But I'm not telling you where my tick is going.....