Wednesday, June 30, 2010

City not out of the mire yet?

There seems to be a general consensus around, that although Cardiff City have some shiny new investors, all is still not well at the club I support.

So far there has been no talk or sign of new players coming in. To be fair, it's still early days, and with the World Cup still in full swing, many football people's eyes are still on South Africa rather than the to-ing and fro-ing of UK player transfers. Once everyone's back from holiday/South Africa, no doubt we'll see some activity.

Worse, there are reports today that seem to be true that this months wages have been paid late (again). This is allegedly down to red tape and problems at the bank end rather than not having any money...ahem..., but is worrying nonetheless coming so soon after our tax and debt problems seemed to be resolved.

Finally, although it was almost inevitable, it looks like we might lose Joe Ledley to Stoke.
Now, personally, and I might get shot down in flames (or worse) by some other Bluebirds fans, I think Ledley is over-rated, but he is a real focus for fans and the media as a home grown Cardiff boy. If he wants, and can get premiership football, then good luck to him, though I wouldn't have Stoke at the top of my list of Premiership teams to want to go to.

Worse, we probably won't get a pot load of money for him. Stoke, who are like a dog with a bone here, offered us £6m about 18 months ago and we snuffed it. I bet we won't get close to that now.

There's plenty of time before the season kicks off on 7th August (8th for us), but I just get the feelings everything is still a bit unsettled.

Goal, what goal?

And we thought it was over the line!

Or if you prefer.....

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Downgrading iOS4 to OS3.1

o go back an OS version (or two)Happy as I am with my iPhone 4, my 3G handset is really struggling with the upgrade to iOS4. As my son will be using this, (lucky him), I decided to try and downgrade the OS back to v3.x. This isn't straightforward. Apple in it's wisdom believes the only way is up, and doesn't offer an easy or obvious way two.

However, following (carefully) the steps on this site I managed to do it first time (well, OK second after I had failed to read the "Read-me" text file in the Recboot zip properly and fully the first time.).

It was painless and took only about 10 mins to end up with a virgin iPhone 3G running version 3.x, and it feels a lot snappier for it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

More iPhone 4

Well I've had the beastie a few days now, and have hardly been able to put it down. It was my constant companion on a weekend away with the wife (much to her chagrin), but provided a good opportunity to test a few things out.

First the bad news. The screen isn't great in direct sunlight. Granted it was VERY bright, but looking at the screen was hard enough, taking pictures or video was often sheer guesswork. Still in the UK, that sort of weather is the exception rather than the rule, so most of the time should be OK.

On the camera, the overall pictures in good light are fantastic - certainly for someone used to the 3G camera and Palm Treo/Centro cameras before that! Low light photo's aren't bad, but they're not great, but again an improvement on the 3G.

The video is outstanding. It's clear, bright and comes close to replacing my handheld Samsung F30 which I only got at Christmas. Only the capacity for storage will make the iPhone second best, but for short scenes it's the dog's dooda's.

Battery life is much, much better than the 3G. I can more than easily get through a day, and probably close to two and I'm a fairly heavy user. If you believe batteries need to settle down and benefit from a few full charge/discharge cycles early doors, then there is still a way to go before mine starts maxing out, but I'm already impressed. I am though used to charging every day anyway, so it's no hardship for me.

And if course it's fast. It whizzes along at a canter where the 3G in comparison is more of a trot.

Still glad I bought it - you bet.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

iPhone 4

I've got my iPhone 4, and on release day too!

It was a snap decision. I was going to wait a couple of weeks until the hoo hah died down, but when the cat woke me just before 6, I decided to give it a go. I arrived at the O2 store in Queen St Cardiff at 7.10am to find about 150 people already waiting - the first ones had allegedly arrived about 1am! Within minutes there were another 20 or so behind me, all waiting for the 8.02am opening.

Our initial worry was would there be enough stock, but the staff made several head-counts and assured us they were "sitting pretty" and we'd all get one, something they repeated about three times, although by the time the queue had extended too much further they were suggesting that was that.

The next worry was how long was it going to take? Again the staff said they were working on 5 or 6 stations and they reckoned about 10 minutes per person. Even so, I was in for a long wait. In the end, I got into the shop at about 12.20pm - over 5 hours after arriving, and believe me, but then I was knacked. My feet ached, my back ached, and only free water and free Dansih pastries from the O2 team had made it bearable. Bearing in mind my general impatient disposition, I did well to hang on, but it gets to the point where you can't turn away. A teacher 4 back from me cut it so fine, he was literally at his latest cut-off point when he was 3 away from the door, but we let him go in before us. By then we were all best friends anyway!

So, the deed was done and I came away with a shiny 16GB iPhone 4.

Was it worth the wait? The cost? The contract tie in?

Yes, yes and yes again.

It's blisteringly fast - the fastest phone I've used by a country mile. Actions and apps snap open and closed. The fabled "retina" screen is gorgeous.

However, it's not in such a way as you immediately feel the obvious differences between this and previous incarnations (in my case a 3G) until you compare side by side.

It doesn't feel markedly thinner on it's own. But put it by the 3G and the latter dwarfs it. The screen on it's own undoubtedly looks superb. But put the same image on the 3G next to it and you see just how gorgeous and crisp the retina display is.

Phone sounds are louder and "clunkier" than on my 3G. The unit is about the same weight, but ounce for ounce it feels more solid.

It's so fast - compared to the 3G which was never blistering, and since iOS4 update has been positively laggy, this unit is very, very fast. You can almost hear the apps snapping open and closed.

Inevitably, there have been some reports on the web about problems. Two in particular stand out. One, is yellow splotches on the screen. This has been put down to the fast paced manufacture process and something called "Organofunctional Silane Z-6011" not evaporating properly, but is something that will apparently disappear in a few days use once whatever it is does completely evaporate. The other, slightly more worrying problem being reporting is a slowly fading signal when picking up a call with the phone in your hand. This is allegedly something to do with the contact of the skin across the antennae joins (3 small black bands around the unit that perform 3 different radio functions).

I haven't got yellow splotches (hooray) but in a crude test did see a slight signal fade when I put a finger across both lower seams of the antennae. Or at least I though I did once. I couldn't replicate it though, and you'd have to be holding you phone tightly and in a rather odd way (to me at least) to persistently "short" across these seam. This will be one to watch with interest.

So, there are my first impressions. I'm of an age where it's fun to do something radical once in a while. Getting an iPhone 4 isn't radical. Queuing for 5 and a half hours for a phone is.

Glad I did though.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


So I updated my iPhone 3G to the new iOS4 last night. The download took a mere 22 minutes, but the backup, install and restore took an interminable time. Eventually though it was done and I was ready to explore the wonderful new world of iOS4.

As a 3G owner, I had already resigned myself to the fact I wasn't getting multi-tasking or background wallpaper, so not too concerned about that.

The first thing I did was create folders, and tidy up my apps. I'm an organised personal (generally, though my wife might not agree), and I like a sense of order. It was nice to be able to group apps together inside folders according to type of app. It also allowed me to put those default iPhone apps I never use (stocks, weather etc) into an "unused apps" folder far away from my home screen.

The unified in-box is neat too. I don't have my work email on my iPhone, but I do have three different email accounts, and it's nice to get everything in one place. The threading view is also handy.

I did think that iOS4 had broken my Exchange syn with my work Outlook Calendar (several reports of similar around the web), but it turns out our work has switched off Exchange sync to non work phones because they can't be remotely wiped if lost. Not convinced of the security arguments myself, and it's a pain that I can have my work diary available on my iPhone, especially as you can now decide which calendars you want to display, rather than an all or nothing scenario pre iOS4.

I've also just discovered the digital zoom on the camera. Just tap the screen then drag to zoom. Granted digital zoom isn't that great, and on a camera that's ropey to start with it's even worse, but hey, it's better than no zoom at all! It's not like it's a replacement for my main digital cameras!

I'm sure there's a myriad of other enhancements tucked away, but those are the obvious ones so far. I'll discover more as I play more I guess.

I also felt that after the upgrade the 3G was a slower. Apps seemed to be taking longer to start up, and the response within apps didn't seem so good. This has largely disappeared following deleting my (now useless) Exchange calendar and doing a reset of the phone. Will keep an eye on it though.

I've seen some reports of battery draining faster too, but haven't seen this myself.

But I probably won't be playing for long, because I've decided that I'm going to upgrade to the iPhone 4 pretty soon. Watch this space!

Friday, June 18, 2010

World Cup woes

Well how grim was that? If England's opener in South Africa against the USA was disappointing, this was miles worse. Really. In fact I'd go so far as to say the only team that's looked worse than England did tonight was France, and that's saying something.

Devoid of ides, nervous, and increasingly tesne as the game wore on, these "professionals" looked no better than a Sunday Parks outfit. Capello is almost as stubborn in his ways as Sven was clueless, and unless something miraculous happens between against Slovenia on Wednesday, England will be coming home. Slovenia looked very good against the US today, especially in the first half when they went 2-0 up, and will provide a stern test.

Am I confident?


Thursday, June 10, 2010

City - tax debt freee?

It doesn't numb the pain of the play off final loss, but at least it's comforting to hear that City's £1.9m tax debt appears to have been cleared.

The recent take over by a Malaysian consortium seems to be steadying the good ship that is Cardiff City. However, it's early days of course, and we wait to see whether the investment is just about getting City on a financially operationally sound footing, or whether it's that plus a genuine commitment to push for Premiership football next season.

Many said this last season was City's do or die season, but I think it's this coming one. Having got so close last time, I think it' won't take much more for City to be genuine automatic promotion challengers. But if the investment doesn't come, I see only one way for City, and it's not up.

Looking ahead, I think the Championship won't be as strong next season. I'm not complacent, but I think the sides coming down - Burnley, Hull and Portsmouth aren't as strong as two of the sides that have gone up - Newcastle and West Brom. I really can't see Blackpool doing anything other than finishing rock bottom, and that's not just sour grapes.

Of course, it's all a long way off, and we'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Clever GMail

How clever is GMail?

You probably know this already, but I didn't. I just went to send an email in which I had intended to add an attachment, and had said in the body of the email "...see attached". Except I hadn't attached it. I do this all the time at work and Outlook blindly sends the email and people come back and say "what attachment?"

GMail though popped up a message that basically said "Ooop! looked like you meant to attach a document but you haven't done so - do you still want to send?"

Simple, but brilliant!

I and I know GMail isn't in beta any more, but this is the image I had lying around.

Monday, June 07, 2010

iPhone 4

So here it is - the latest, greatest, slimmest smartphone on the market, courtesy of those nice people at Apple.

It is, as was widely predicted the same phone that was widely leaked around the internet a few weeks ago, something hat even Steve Jobs, Apple's head honcho alluded to in his keynote - "Some of you have already seen this."

A quick run down of some of the main highlights are a scratch resistant glass screen, a mere 9.3mm thick, a bigger battery, front and rear camera (flash with rear), something Jobs called a retinal display - from Apple's website this is..."The Retina display on iPhone 4 is the sharpest, most vibrant, highest-resolution phone screen ever, with four times the pixel count of previous iPhone models. In fact, the pixel density is so high that the human eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels. Which makes text amazingly crisp and images stunningly sharp".
For most of the rest of the world this probably translates to HD or high definition.

The device will be available in 16GB and 32GB models, in black or white and will be available from 24th June. My contract with O2 is up and I've already registered my interest for this new model!

Of course, it's not only a new phone, but it gets a new OS too - what was OS4 but is now in Apple speak iOS 4. This really gets my interest as it brings a unified mail inbox, multitasking and folders to name some of the myriad of changes to the OS.

I'm sure there are many people far better qualified out there to be talking about this, so I'll leave it at that. Suffice it to say, I'm quite excited in my own gadgety, geeky way.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Dem bones

I really should know better.

I forget how many times I've "retired" from playing cricket, but it's a lot. I'm more than content now to watch from the sidelines as Mini Stats plays and maybe score the occasional game. I'm involved enough with everything in the club that I can't get away from the game, without having to play as well with failing eyesight, dodgy bones (especially knee).

Anyhow, took Mini along to our Sunday friendly away fixture today only to find out we had two "no-shows". I volunteered to step in as it would have been a poor show for us to field only 9 men. I grabbed some borrowed whites that were a little on the snug side, and fielded 40 over in my trainers. Luckily I didn't have to chase too many, but when I did, boy did my knee hurt.

After tea, chasing 170, the skipper asked me to bat at 3. Whilst I'd have been happy bating down the order, my pride took the better of me and I said yes. Again with completely borrowed kit (including box), I managed to bat through from 5-1 in the third over to the winning post scoring 64 not out on the way. Most of them came in boundaries, so again not too much running, although the odd three didn't do me any good!!

So despite me trying to give up, I still get wheeled out occasionally, and there's life in the old dog yet. But I really ache and hurt after all that. My knee which isn't great at the best of times feels like a bunch of mashed up bones. It really is time to let the younger crowd do all this.....until the next time

Friday, June 04, 2010

iPad thoughts

I had a play with an iPad today in Cardiff's Apple store for all of 5 minutes. They had about 20 on display, all in use, but apparently none in stock for sale according to a salesman I overheard.

I'm an iPhone and Macbook Pro user, and as yet haven't "seen the light" of the iPad. I'm not really sure who it's aimed at and for what. My iPhone/MBP combo is perfect for me, and I can't imagine carrying around a third device which can do most of what both other devices can do, albeit in it's own form factor.

Don't get me wrong. The iPad is a stunning piece of kit, typical of most Apple products. It's got a gorgeous screen....but....

If it's browsing I want, I've got my MBP or my desktop PC. I don't do e-books so count that one out. If I want to type anything of consequence, again MBP/desktop PC. Don't do many games, and certainly not for extended periods so count that one out. If I want quick notes, access to same, email, text, twitter etc. the iPhone suits me down to the ground. I might watch movies on it, but I can do that on the MBP or even the iPhone - not ideal, but serviceable.

So despite it being a lovely bit of stuff so to speak, and possible "wanting" one sometime (though no immediate feelings of ust for it I have to say), I certainly don't feel that I "need" one or that I'm missing out by not having one. Does that make me a bad person?

One plus I did notice in my brief foray was a much nicer implementation of the calendar app - better view options. Of course the fanboys will argue it's only possible because of a bigger screen, but try telling that to die hard Palm/Agendus/Datebook Pocket Informant users who have long lived with great calendar apps on small form factor devices. Will we get this in iPhone OS4 ? How about in iCal?

Of course it's WWDC next week and we get to see the new iPhone (if you haven't already seen the various leaked images on the web). Currently, that's my next target, though if it fails to impress, I might be looking at something else (Android/Blackberry even?)

Could be an interesting week ahead for me.