Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas gadgets

Christmas comes but once a year, and when it does it brings.....shiny gadgets!

A few weeks to go yet, but I have a feeling that something small and shiny might be under the tree....

Wait and see!

Can't wait for Saturday

It seems absolutely ages since I've been to watch City. Oh - hang on, it has. Because we missed the Forest match as we were away, we haven't seen City since their capitulation against Swansea, way back in early November.

So, bring on Preston at the weekend. About time we got back to winning ways. In recent seasons we haven't done too well against bottom of the league teams, but then we haven't done too well against top of the league teams in the last month either!

Time to change that with matches against the bottom two in the next two matches. Need a minimum of four, and preferably six points out of those two.

C'mon Bloooobirds!!!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

QPR march on: QPR 2-1 City

This was always going to be a tough game. Rangers are unbeaten this term, and City have stumbled a bit recently.

Listening to it on the radio it sounded an open and fast past game as one might expect give the positions and line ups of both sides.

Oddly, Jones went with Drinkwater, a central midfielder out wide on the left, with Whittingham inside him.

It was City who took the lead with Bellamy slotting home on 13 minutes. At the time we were in the car, stopping to pop into a shop. Ministates said "I bet when we come out it'll either be 1-1 or 2-0".

Sadly it was 1-1.

And so it remained until half time. The games remained open, but QPR gradually took more control, and eventually and possibly, inevitably Adel Taraabt's 9th strike of the season put the game beyond City.

Losing 2-1 to a side like QPR at their gaff isn't the end of the world, especially as the 3rd placed Jacks also lost last night. But it means QPR edge further in front. City need to get back to winning and consistent ways. November has again been a bad month for them, as it so often is with two losses a draw and just a single win. You won't win promotion with that form, and City need to turn that round and soon.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Bah - Humbug!

Now don't get me wrong. I love Christmas. And I enjoy it for all the right reasons, though I'm not a particularly religious man.

But there's no doubt that it's become a mass consumer fest. Even in these "austere" times, it seems the only mantra from about the middle of October is spend. The shops are already crazy, and Starbucks has been warbling Christmas songs for several weeks.

But here we are, still well over a week from December and already the first residential Christmas lights are appearing. I saw my first lot yesterday (21st). Assuming they'll keep them up until at least twelfth night, that's 47 days or 12.8% of the year displaying Christmas lights. Ludicrous (and arguably a little sad of me to work that out!).

One of my Facebook friends says her neighbours have had a tree up since 5th November! Frankly they should be locked away. The people, not the trees.

I'll admit I like Christmas lights, and put my own exterior collection out the first week of December, but that's only because I'm likely to be last in my street by then! Indoors and tree don't go up until about 10 days before. My brother in-law normally leave it until Christmas Eve, but that's extreme even by my standards!

Anyway, Christmas must be coming, because I think I have this rant every year!

West Wales Weekend Break

We've just spent the weekend away with family in Park Hall, Cymtydu (pronounced coome tiddy for you non Welshies).

There were 20 of us (I think, it was difficult to keep count) in this huge house just a few hundred yards from the secluded cove at Cywmtydu. The house is deep in a wooded valley in the Ceredigion countryside about 5 miles south of Newquay.

It's a wonderful, if somewhat remote place - no shops, or pubs within walking distance, so you need to take everything you need. But what a superb place.

We heard tawny owls at night, watched red kites and merlins by day, and saw wondrous views of the stunning coastal scenery from along the coast path that we walked on Saturday.

The only downside (for me) was absolutely zilch connectivity. Not even a GPRS signal on the phone (or anyone else's phone for that matter, let alone 3G or wifi), so no real chance of blogging, twittering or even just making a phone call from the house. Still it got you at one with nature, and signals were available if you climbed high enough on the coast path!

You can see all the photos I took here, so hopefully you can see what a great time we had.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

City felled by Forest: City 0-2 Forest

We've been away for the weekend, so myself & Ministats were sadly unable to take our usual seats at the CCS for this match.

As it turned out, that may not have been too much of a bad thing. We were actually staying in an area of west Wales with n phone signal, so my usual mode of communication -iPhone and a combination of Twitter, SMS, the Internet and various football score type "apps" was u/s. I had to resort to a charming old method of being kept up to date, something called a wireless or, some would say radio. And even then I only managed to catch snatches. And the news coming down the wires (or rather over the airwaves) was not good.

The first time I tuned in City had just gone a goal down. Later, as I tuned in the periods in the second half, it sounded like it was all Forest, and when I heard the second goal in for the visitors, well, I just switched off.

This was a poor defeat for City. Beaten at home two games on the bounce is not championship winning or even promotion winning form. I'm not talking about the game specifically, as it would be wrong given I wasn't there. But we have to win our home games, and we have to show more than we have so far this season.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not a Dave Jones "out" man. I think he's done great things for the club. But we're right up there having played mediocre stuff for half the games this season, and have got away with it. We haven't with few exceptions, Leeds for example, been outstanding, and although the wheels haven't totally come off, there are signs that we are stuttering, and we've seen that all too often before.

I still maintain we have the squad, individuals and management team to win automatic promotion. But we won't if we keep losing home games to teams who want it more than us.

And the mantra that "it's the way teams set up when they come to Cardiff" wears thin. If they come prepared to soak up pressure (and there's no suggestion Forest did that) we have to adapt. And of all the things Dave Jones has been criticised for over the years, his alleged inability to adapt has to be the one closest to the mark.

we need to get back on track with a few wins.

C'mon City

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bothroyd IS an England player!

It was great to see Jay Bothroyd get on the pitch at Wembley tonight in his England debut.

OK, by the time he got on England where largely a beaten team, having played crap all night, so he was on a hiding to nothing.
I thought he showed a couple of nice touches, and he at least got a header at goal even though it never threatened.

I hope he gets another chance, or at least does enough to keep in the frame. It was brilliant to see a Bluebird in an England shirt.

Congrats on your cap Jay. Well done!


Apple: It just works. No it doesn't

You know, for a company that prides itself on ease of use and the "it just works" principle, Apple have sometimes got things horribly wrong.

Take calendars, and three Apple specific elements.

  1. An Apple Macbook Pro
  2. A pricey (by most people's views) subscription to Apple's Mobileme cloud/syncing service
  3. An Apple iPhone 4
Now then, let me see - oooh, I have all of those. And what I want to do is have my calendars on the two bits of hardware to be seamless. Update one, the other one updates. And it works, mostly.

I have two calendars on my MBP that are "subscribed calendars". These are calendars that someone else has built. You download them, and then subscribe to them, usually for free (in my case, a calendar of all Cardiff City's fixtures, which saves me having to type the darn things in at the start off a season, and a UK holidays one so I don't have to add in things like "Christmas Day" or "Easter Sunday").

The beauty of a subscribed calendar is, if the data is updated - say a CCFC fixture v Middlesborough on Saturday is moved to a wet Tuesday, the calendar automatically updates with the new data - I don't have to do anything! Marvellous!

And it works except.....that the subscribed calendars don't sync. A "normal" local calendar syncs to Mobileme and to the "other" device, but the bloody subscribed ones don't.

It's such a pain in the arse. A beautiful elegant solution that's been hamstrung for Lord knows what reason.

You'd have thought Apple would have been able to make it work, but it doesn't. And that means they are driving people to alternative solutions like third party sync tools and Google. Surely that can't be good for business?

Come on Apple, make subscribed calendars work with Mobileme.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

England new boy on top form: Scunthorpe 2-4 City

This was absolutely a game of two halves. I was listening to this on the radio and the opening 15 minutes was electrifying.

City were 1-0 up after 58 seconds courtesy of Jay Bothroyd, whose goal tally this season has earned him a a deserved call up into Fabio Capello's squad to face France. They were two up after nine minutes when Chopra added to his tally, and by the sound of the commentary, Scunnie had no idea what was hitting them. However, Chris Burke who was tearing them apart had to go off as early as the 13th minute, and things settled - only temporarily though as City pressed again and again, and Bothroyd scored again on 34 minutes.

The Iron grabbed one just before the break which gave them a glimpse of getting something from the game.

In the second period it was all Scunthorpe right from the whistle, and they bombarded our goal. Heaton was called into making several good saves, as our defence was tested to the limit. It caved in in the 73rd minute when Scunthorpe made it 2-3 and all of a sudden minds were turning to last years match at Peterborough were we let a 4 goal lead slip. However, thanks to a deflected Koumas shot off Seji Olifanjana's arse, City put the game beyond doubt in the 79th. The win takes us top again as QPR only drew. Superb, but ultimately, and needlessly, nailbiting stuff.

And to top the day off, there was confirmation that Jay Bothroyd, given a place in Fabio Capello's preliminary squad to face France, was indeed in the final squad.

This is brilliant recognition for a striker that's growing in stature with every game, and currently scoring goals for fun. It's also a tribute to the work Cardiff City are doing, and it puts us well and truly on the map. More importantly, it sends out a message. If you're good enough, you'll get your chance. It doesn't matter if you're not (currently) playing in the top tier.

A lot of people (Robbie Savage for one) think it's ridiculous that Bothroyd is in the squad ahead of people like Bolton's Kevin Davies, but watching Bothroyd week in, week out, I know who I'd rather have in the England team.

Congratulations Jay!


Friday, November 12, 2010

BE the Daddy!

This might not look like much, but BE-lieve me, that little figure of 3.3Mbps brings tears of joy to my eyes.

Basically, that's saying that my broadband speed has about doubled by switching to BE as my internet broadband provider. With my previous provider, Pipex,, I was typically getting around 1.6-1.8.

Ok, it's not superfast, but relatively, it's much better than I was getting, so I'm happy!

I've been having chat with a few people in the excellent thinkbroadband.com BE forum, and they've been really, really helpful. The view is I could squeeze out as much as another 3Mbps - 5Mbps speed if I carry out some tweaks. I'm going to check the key thing tomorrow which is the wiring in the BT master socket coming into the house. Not as drastic as it sounds, but might make a helluva difference. Also might be worth siting the router direct to this socket - currently it sits upstairs, but only because it's got a direct ethernet link to my main dekstop PC and the network hard drive. If I get a wireless card for the PC, no reason why the router & HDD can't sit down in the living room (at least I can't see a reason why not - Mrs Stats may have a different view...).

I'll take it one step at a time. Tomorrow I'll check out the bell wire in the master socket, which apparently, if there can be a cause of noie on the line. It's not needed with modern phone systems, so it can go. We'll see.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bugger - that's done it


Dave Jones has won the Championship's Manager of the month award for October. Great though that is, it usually heralds an amazing slump in form for the team who's manager wins the award, and November has never been a good month for the Bluebirds in recent times.

Lo and behold, a loss and a scrappy draw is what we've got so far in November.

I'd rather he won the April Manager of the Month award in a fine run that see's us secure automatic promotion!

Jay Bothroyd also won the Championship's Player of the Month award for his goal scoring in October, and richly deserved that was too. Let's hope he keeps banging them in.

On the plus side, it puts some silverware in the cupboard.....

It's a mad world

A couple of things have struck me today.

Firstly the story about the who-ha over the idiot that tweeted that he was going to blow up Robin Hood airport after it was closed due to weather conditions.

There's been a big outcry about the time, cost and effort taken to prosecute him for what was in effect a tweet allegedly borne out of frustration. Well, mate - news for you. We live in a society where there's pretty global coverage of just about anything anyone says anywhere, and if some prat tweets he's going to blow up an airport, he shouldn't be surprised if the police and a whole load of other people come down on him like a ton of bricks. If he'd have gone ahead and done it, and the powers that be had know about the tweet and done nothing about it, where would we and they be?

Secondly, and on a similar note, I'm gobsmacked by the reaction to the student "protest" at Millbank yesterday. Here we have the usual bunch of "rent-a-riot" that seem able to turn up ant any protest anywhere at the drop of a hat (haven't they got jobs - oh no, they're professional miscreants), causing havoc at what was supposed to be a peaceful protest, including chucking fire extinguishers off a pretty tall building (hang on, what were they doing inside and on top a private building wrecking it, if it was a peaceful protest?). The fire extinguisher incident could have, and very nearly did kill someone, and it's the police that are getting blamed for not doing enough?

Eh? For God's sake, let's knock the bloody idiots and lunatics that were causing the violence, not the police who are damned if they do (G20 policing) or damned if they don't (yesterday).

Frankly, if I'd have been in charge I'd have water cannoned the lot of them off the roof and locked them in the Tower of London.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Be there.....

My new broadband service with Be goes live on Friday.

Everything's ready. My new Be box (router) arrived today. Nothing flash, a capable Thompson router. I'll see how it goes but have my current Netgear DGN1000 available if it proves not brilliant (not that the Netgear is superb).

Everything about the transfer from my current provider Pipex has gone swimmingly well so far.

Pipex delivered the MAC code to me as promised - though I only got it via the post - not also via email, text and voicemail which they also promised me.

Anyhows, the Be order process was smooth, and the communication I've had from Be has been superb. Automated txts and emails granted, but plenty of them from telling me the order has been processed, to the box being despatched, to expected delivery date of the box plus what to do when it arrives. The comms have all been clear and concise, but in a light hearted and easy to understand manner that suggests that they value you as a customer, and want the process to be as pain free as possible (unlike Pipex/Talk Talk/Carphone Warehouse or who-ever they are these days who are pushy, often rude and frequently incomprehensible.

Apparently, I just plug this box in on Friday when my existing connection goes down, and off I go. Virtually no configuration needed. Certainly no complex usernames and other configuration that I have to do for my Pipex connection.

That bit's yet to come of course, and may not be as simple as it''s made out to be - we'll see.

either way. I'm pretty excited in my own geeky sort of way. I'm not expecting a massive speed boost. Currently I'm lucky to get 1.7MB downstream on a connection that promises "up to 8MB". Be say I might get 2.5MB. The main problem is that I'm a fair way from the exchange, but I'm hoping the key is that BE's service has less contention and no throttling (that's what they say). If I can consistently get 2MB I'll be happy. I'll be happy just not being with Pipex any more!

I'll take that: Reading 1-1 City

A point away at Reading after defeat by the Jacks on Sunday? I'll take that, especially as QPR only drew last night and the Jacks were beaten at home tonight by Bristol City.

That leaves us still second by a point, a four clear of the Swans in 3rd.

I had wanted to make the trip to Reading today, but a combination of it being the boy's 16th birthday (we'd both love to have gone, but I'm not sure 'er indoors would have been happy to see us disappearing down the M4 on his 16th), plus he's got a very important GCSE type science exam first thing tomorrow and we wouldn't have been back until after midnight, meant we didn't bother.

By all accounts looking at live text and various Twitter sources from the Madjeski, it was a scrappy affair. The Royals went ahead as early as the 4th minute, and it took City until the 77th to level it through goal machine Jay Bothroyd.

Manager Dave Jones has come in for some enormous criticism about Sunday's team selection and his alleged tactical naivety since Sunday's derby loss, and has reacted angrily in the media. Today he apparently labelled some of the media "bufoons".

He also made a number of changes for tonight's match. Out went Bellamy, Drinkwater, McNaughton, Keogh and Gyepes, and in came Bothroyd, Burke, Blake, Matthews and McPhail.

With 5 changes it's not surprising City were a bit disjointed, and a draw is therefore probably a pretty decent return, especially give how other teams in and around us have fared over the last two nights.

It's a long trip to Glanford Park on Saturday for a date with Scunthorpe, and with QPR and us have stuttered (but not stalled) in the last couple of matches, we'll be looking for a maximum return.

C'mon City, let's put some clear blue water between us and third spot.


Sunday, November 07, 2010

Gutted, but still 2nd : City 0-1 Jacks

I had a niggling feeling about this one. We've been playing well, but with Bothroyd missing courtesy of the totting up system, I knew it would be difficult. Manager Dave Jones said we wouldn't miss him, but frankly that's rubbish. We've built a team on him, and there's no viable replacement.

Today's supposed replacement for the big man was Andy Keogh. He works hard enough but he's not half the target man, can't hold the ball up so well, isn't as skillful and hasn't got Bothroyd's pace or height. Apart from that he's an identical match.

City weren't on the ball today. To be gracious you'd say Swansea deserved it. I'm not. With few exceptions, the Bluebirds were no where near their best. Heaton made a few good saves, Naylor still looks dodgy, Gyepes gives me the jitters. Drinkwater back in after a long layoff looked rusty and couldn't control the ball. Olifanjana won the ball in the middle as usual but kept giving it away. Whittingham, Hudson and McNaughton (until subbed) had decent enough games, and Chopra & Bellamy ran around as usual but didn't get service.

The most odd thing was the way City set up. Basically until Burke came on for Keogh in the 58th minute we played with no right sided midfielder. Absolutely bizarre. The crowd were calling for Burke long before Jones made the change, and frankly it was 58 minutes too late. It almost reminded me of a game at Ninian Park a few years ago in a match when the crowd demanded of Lennie Lawrence (and got) Andy Legg to come of the subs bench .

Drinkwater lasted until the 82nd minute before Koumas replaced him, but by then we were 1-0 down. I'd have played McPhail instead of Drinkwater as he'd been out so long for such a big match, or even Koumas, but Jones knows best (allegedly).

I don't dislike Jones (I know many don't - you reading this Stabs?), but sometimes he's so unmoving and rigid it's painful.

The Jack's goal, through Emmes was inevitable. They dominated possession in the second period and worked Heston on a number of occasions. We worked their keeper once as I can recall, not long before they scored when Bellamy fired straight at De Vries in a one on one.

A word on the ref Mr Jones. I've ranted about refs for the last two matches. Mr Jones was't brilliant, but he was better than we've seen recently, and for such a tough derby match I think he did OK. Not good.....OK

It was so disappointing for the 26,000 plus crowd (of which 1,820 were Jacks - kudos), that City didn't tun up. However, theyr'e still in 2nd spot, and they have a quick chance to put it right with a visit to Reading on Wednesday. Let's hope they sort it out before then and get their heads back on.


Friday, November 05, 2010

Data, data everywhere.....

So the good news is I've got my shiny new network hard drive set up and whirring quietly away. The next job is to consider how best to use the darn thing.

Here's the current situation.

I've got two desktop PC's running Windows 7, a Macbook Pro running Snow Leopard, a 7" Asus Eee running Ubuntu (to be fair hardly ever wheeled out) and an iPhone. Two iPhones if you count my son's 3G. Oh, and an iPod Touch belonging to my daughter.

I have a wireless network which includes a Canon multi-function printer not connected to anything except the power outlet (how clever is that - never ceases to maze me when it churns out paper without being connected to a PC).

There's also a 500GB external HDD attached to the main W7 PC, but available on the network to all other PC's and the MBP.

One of the problems I have is that I tended to keep the MBP/my iphone separate, so I have music on the MBP, and a bunch of music on the Windows network HDD> Same for photos. A bunch on the MBP and a (mostly duplicated) bunch on the Windows network HDD.

Oh, and this is discounting a bunch of "personal files" stored on Dropbox, but the beuaty of Dropbox is that it syncs to any computer it's installed on - in my case, both Windows boxes, the Eee, the MBP and my iPhone.

So what's my strategy going forward?

Well, I'm going to use my new wireless network HDD/NAS as the "master". My plan is to consolidate my music and photos and videos/movies onto this drive, back them up routinely to the standard external drive.

I can then free up space, especially on my MBP (not that it's tight for hard disk space, but I'm a bit paranoid when I get below half the drive full). My iTunes on whichever box I'm using will be accessing the network storage source, not individual local sources, and it will be the same for photos via Picasa.

Hopefully this will all work.

Of course, I've got to set up the back-up strategy too, but I use the highly effective and configurable Acronis True Image for this.

Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Shiny happy people

Wooho! It's my birthday, and as is so often the case that means shiny gadgets!

This year I unwrapped a lovely 1 terabyte network hard drive - the Western Digital MyBook World Edition (bit of a mouthful for a bit of electronics).

It looks marvelous in its white casing, though rather clashed with my 500MB black MyBook external drive.

And it's so simple to set up. I unpacked it, plugged in the ethernet cable to my router, turned on the power and let it configure itself.

A couple of minutes later, and there on my Windows 7 PC home network, sits the drive with it's public, download and backup shares.

I turned on my Macbook Pro, and bingo, it's sitting there in Finder just waiting to have lots of lovely data copied to it.

It comes with a set up disk, but I didn't need it. Brilliant. Now, where can I find a terabyte of data?