Sunday, March 27, 2011

We Will Rock You

All the Stattos went to see We Will Rock You at the Millennium Centre last night. As a Queen fan, I was looking forward to it, and I have to say I wasn't disappointed.

Though the story is a bit of a stretch, it's the music that counts and it was brilliant.

The lead role of Galileo was performed by Noel Sullivan ex of Hear'say, a completely rubbish "band", and one that would have ironically typified the story's "Ga Ga" bands (no instruments, dancing and no talent). But to be fair to the lad, he was excellent - a superb voice and a very good actor to boot and really stole the show.

The other well known "star" was Rhydian - he of the odd hair, eyes too close together and booming voice from the X-Factor a couple of years ago. He too was good, though I felt that Queen's songs weren't really his forte. He really on sung on a bout two or three though.

The other main leads weren't household names (at least not in this household) although "Pop" was apparently played by the bloke who was "Tricky Dicky" the market inspector in East Enders years ago when even I used to watch it. He too was good.

It was a real blast as all the biggest and best Queen tracks were bashed out, woven into the story with artistic licence used in some lyrics on occasions. And it wasn't just a soundtrack - the music was being played by a real band - hidden for the most part until the end of the show, they were truly awesome.

It was a great show - if you haven't seen it, it's highly recommended.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Divided loyalties

It's one of those divided loyalty occasions tomorrow. England play Wales at the Millenium Stadium in a Euro 2012 qualifier, with Wales playing only for pride, and England needing the three points to keep their qualification aspirations on course.

And here's the issue. I of course am English, married to a Welsh lass. My kids are Welsh, and I'v lived in Wales longer than I've lived anywhere else (32 of my 51 years). I love Wales and the Welsh. Ordinarily I'd be desperate for Wales to win, and genuinely support Wales in all manner of things. But just for one day, I' going to have to revert to my roots.

Sorry folks, but that's just the way it is. At least for tomorrow.

And just for the record, why can't fans just get on? Why the need for hate?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Yes, no, yes, no - bugger: Millwall 3-3 City

What a match. Listening to the commentary - especially in the second half, it was a roller coater of emotions, but in the end City failed yet again to see of opposition when they had the chance.

A goalless first half saw City lose Bothroyd (hamsting) and Hudson to injuries, though City dominated possession.

It was the second half where the blue touchpaper was lit.

On 49 minutes Chris Burke slotted home in the six yard box to give City the lead, but less than a minute later the conceded a penalty and it was 1-1. 10 minutes later Lisbie scored to make it 2-1 to Millwall. Shortlay after City were awarded a penalty, only for the decision to be switched to a corner after a consultation between the ref and linesman (who was miles away).

City pulled it back to 2-2 though Whittingham on 72 minutes and then to the delight of the travelling faithful City went ahead again on 79 minutes.

But you know what's coming. Millwall rallied again, and a goalkeeping error by Bywater, who has yet to convince a lot of people (me included) saw him rush of his line only to be lobbed by Morison for 3-3.

And deapite further chances for both sides to snatch all three points, that's how it ended. Breathless stuff, but not the result City wanted or needed. To go away, score three goals and not win is frustrating. With Norwich being held at Hull, the Jacks beating freefalling Forest, and lowly Sheffield Utd doing for Leeds, City stay 4th - a position they'd be in even if they'd won, but importantly they'd only have been one point of Swansea instead of three.

Personally, I can't see City getting 2nd and an automatic promotion now. I think it's between the Canaries and the Jacks.

City continue to flatter to deceive. Play some good stuff, but can't kill off games and concede sloppy goals, So, play-offs I think. Would we/I have settled for that eight months ago. Probably, but I was thinking back in August that if we didn't get an automatic spot, we'd only have ourselves to blame, and so it's proving.

One mention of a bad incident at the game. A City supporter fell from the first tier whilst celebrating City's opener. Sounds like he was badly hurt. Hope he's ok.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

1,000 posts

Blimey - realised tonight that I've posted over 1,000 times on this blog. Mostly mundane rantings of a deluded Cardiff City fan or inconsequential ramblings about shiny gadgets granted, but who'd have thought?

When I started this blog way back when, I posted a few times and virtually forgot about it. I've had another "break" along the way.

I'm not sure too many people apart from my mate Mike "Stabber" Baker (don't ask) read this drivel, but who cares?

Week Cal for iPhone

For many iPhone users the default Calendar app is OK, but for others it's perceived as one of the weaker areas on the device. For a generation brought up on Palm's calendars, or third party offering like Datebook, the standard iPhone app just didn't cut the mustard.

Many pretenders to the crown have come and gone, often stymied by Apple's reluctance or stubbornness to let developers get right at the heart of the functionality they need to produce a decent competitor.

But then along came Week Cal by Wasabi Apps,

All of a sudden, here was an app that looked like it could offer a decent alternative including that fabled week view missing from Apple's native app. It got some pretty decent reviews, and I decided a few months back to stop using the default Calendar app in favour of the new pretender. And I liked it. It wasn't particularly barnstorming for me, but it was efficient, and that week view certainly made it better.

It's just gone to v3.0, and there are some great new additions to it's functionality. It's got a new year view - OK, not much detail here on an iPhone screen, but very easy to quickly navigate to a month/day.

More tellingly, and something that will possibly swing it for ex Palm users is a terrific Agenda/week view that you can customise with up to 8 different layouts. It almost looks like a Palm! (Note to self....move on...Palm's gone).

Additionally you can rotate views and have a different view depending on whether you're in portrait or landscape mode. For those that want it, there.s a global birthday alert (I have a wife for that). There are a myriad of other features including various full screen options, the ability to auto-hide bars, have different badge alerts according
to your preference, show or hide week numbers and change font sizes.

The neat ability to tap and hold to start data entry makes it feel much more useable than the native app, and generally this whole app gives a feeling of being very polished. I highly recommend this app for anyone who's serious about using a calendar on an iPhone. It's miles ahead of the native app, and Apple really should take a long hard look at this.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hidden data use and the iPhone

A salutary tale

I'm on O2 as my carrier using an iPhone 4. I, like most people was a bit miffed when O2 slapped on a 500mb cap on data usage. On reflection though, I rarely get even close to using that. Sensible use on 3G, plus using wifi wherever I can, including at home means my typical monthly data use over 3G is in the region of 80mb - 100mb.

A couple of days ago I paid a cursory glance at my usage in Settings/General/Usage and it was around the 30mb mark. About right given my billing month runs from 25th of the month.

Over the weekend I've mostly been at home (on wifi) or at Cardiff City Stadium - where regular readers will know I don't get a data signal. I haven't been doing anything different, or downloaded any new apps - though I have updated a few existing ones.

Imagine my surprise therefore when at 8.57am this morning a text from O2 pinged in saying I was at 80% of my data limit and they'd let me know if I went over it. Sure enough a quick check in settings showed around 400mb used. Somewhat perplexed, but with no time to check anything (I'm a busy man) I vowed to check things out this evening. Then 30 minutes later I got another text saying I'd exceeded my limit and now needed to buy a bolt on.

I suppose at least they told me rather than letting me carry on and shafting me with a hefty bill at month end.

Anyway, busy I may be but not that busy. I checked again, and use was at 477mb according to Settings. I re-booted the iphone and made sure there were no apps running. What I should have done was check what apps were running - but as I've said before I wasn't doing anything differently to normal.

I then contacted O2 - via chat as it happened. Their phone lines - my first port of call said they were very busy, but within 20 secs of being on the web site I was offered a chat session which I gratefully took.

The next 20 minutes basically confirmed what I'd been told by text. Yes I was over my limit, yes I'd need a bolt on and given I said I'd not normally come near this level of use, they did agree to "look into it", but I suspect they won't find anything.

So, for a £5 bolt on I've got another 500mb to tie me over to my next billing date in 10 days time. Worryingly, I still have no idea which app was the culprit.

My vague recollection is that the following were in the multi-task bar - but remember these apps re supposed to be in a suspended (ie effectively stopped) state.

Sky Sports Football, Safari, Mail, Twitter, Messages, ECB Cricket, Notes, Reeder, Facebook, Contacts, SafeWallet and Angry Birds. I don't (or rather very rarely) stream video or music and certainly haven't been doing this in the last few days. One of them though, appears to have been doing something rather naughty. Two pieces of supporting evidence were significant battery drain - down from 100% at 7.30am to 68% by 9.30 when normally I'm not down to 68% by the end of the day, and the fact the phone did appear to be quite warm at one stage.

So, conclusions?

Well, clearly not all apps go into a suspend state when you open another app or return to the home screen, despite what most people would have you believe. I've heard of this with apps like Pandora and Spotify but I don't use those. Gavin suggested it might be a location services issue, although I don't think I've changed anything since yesterday.

A bit of a mystery then. One things for sure. I'll be paying a regular trip to the task bare to check what's there and clearing them down, and I'll be paying a bit more attention to my data usage over the next few weeks.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

City cock it up for the third time in a week: City 2-2 Barnsley

Do Cardiff City really want to get promotion to the Premiership?

On the basis of the last week, you'd have to say no.

They've had three chances in the last 8 days to stamp their authority on the race for 2nd spot as sides all around them have faltered. But have they taken them? No they haven't, and worse, they haven't looked like being worthy of promotion contenders in any of the three matches.

Last Saturday, City bested an poor Ipswich for 45 minutes, and then switched off and were undone twice by the best player on the pitch, Jimmy Bullard.

On Tuesday, City were woeful against a Crystal Palace, but had the chance to go ahead through a penalty, but fluffed that and lost to a comedy goal.

Today against mid table Barnsley, the chance was there to leapfrog Swansea and Norwich into 2nd spot and they twice surrendered a lead through lapses in defending.

City started today's game at a snails pace, and you have to wonder if the desire to stamp a mark on game early is there. If City (and more particularly manager Dave Jones) think they have the quality to dictate the pace of play, than there are deluded. If you pass crisply and accurately to feet, counter fast and take you chances, then fine, but City are not able to do that despite their so called "talented squad". It's almost as if Jones tells the players to go out, be patient and chances will come. Come on, we're at home with the likes of Bellamy, Bothroyd, Chopra and JET. If we can't dictate a game at home we might as well all bugger off now.

The highlight (and I do mean "the only" highlight) of the fist half was a stunning strike by Peter Whittingham into the top corner to open the scoring on 21 minutes. But that's the sort of chance that misses 99 times out of 100, and it wasn't indicative of a dominant City, and it certainly wasn't indicative of the run of play. And it was countered by two lowlights of the first period when Chopra went off looking like he's done a hamstring on 25 mins, and the Tykes equalised after some poor defending on 29 minutes.

There were disgruntled sounds by the fans at half time, and you just hoped that Jones was giving the side a rollicking and telling them to go out and win the game in the second half.

But things didn't get much better in the second period - at least not at first. Passes were going astray, City were second to everything and Bothroyd was looking dreadfully off the pace, and the fans were getting on his back - deservedly so I think, for not chasing down balls and generally putting effort in. It seemed to work because he then started to play some of his best football of the game, but then in the footballing world that only Dave Jones occupies, he decided to sub Bothroyd for Parkin. Brilliant. Wait until you main man starts to play like he should and then sub him. Idiot.

Nevertheless, City were fashioning chances, and eventually the pressure told with a sublime Burke cross nodded in at the back post by Dekel Kienan. 2-1, seven minutes plus stoppage time, and the relief was palpable, and the crowd, having been so frustrated were delirious.

But of course this is Cardiff City, and again, they switched off. Barnsely made a sub at a free kick on halfway. The sub came on, the ball was passed to him he crossed and Gray headed home. 2-2.

It wasn't even comedy defending. It wasn't defending at all.

Inevitably, at full time, the boos rang out. I have to say, I can't blame anyone booing. City just don't look like, haven't looked like, promotion contenders since about October.

Jones goes on and on about the crowd getting behind the team. Well, 23,000 people were behind the team today. OK, the frustration was there at times, but after (both) out goals, but especially the second, the place was rocking. It would rock longer if City weren't so good at leting sides score so quickly after we do. But City are so, so fragile. Don't blame the crowd Dave Jones - you're the manager. You're the person who dictates how we play; who plays; gives the team passion, belief. And you're not doing it. It's all cliches and managing by numbers.

Frankly I have now given up on automatic promotion. If it happens great. I can't see it. We need other teams to keep faltering, and they won't. If City want to play next season at places like Glanford Park (Scunthorpe), or Brighton next season fine. If they want to play at places like the Emirates, Anfield and Old Trafford they have to buck their ideas up - now.

And, as ever, a word on the delightful officials. You''ll know by now, my general view of the standard of officiating in the Championship is, well, let's now beat about the bush, it's crap, bar one or two.

Today's villian? Take a bow Mr RJ Booth and your companions. Truly awful.Offside that weren't, onsides that were off, fouls that weren't, time wasting by Barnsley so blatant they must have a doctorate in it, handballs missed....the list goes on. How are these people allowed to officiate?

You can probably tell, I'm not a happy man tonight,

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

I give up. City bottle it (again) Palace 1-0 City

OK, I'm done with the optimism. I'm seriously hacked off as City manage no point from 6 as they throw away the points against an average Palace side.

I can't believe we're going to have to settle for a play off place (at best), but the way it's going, that'll be as good as it gets.

Away at Palace tonight chances came and went. In other matches, City looked to be slipping down the leaderboard (again) as the Jacks, Forest, Norwich all went ahead, only for the Jack and Forest to be pegged back. At the same time City got a penalty, only for Peter Whittingham to hit a woeful penalty against the post, and Palace, inevitably end up grabbing a winner.

It's bad enough not being able to break down and beat sides like Ipswich and Palace, let alone throwing away glorious opportunities such as penalties when they present themselves.

It really feels like City are bottling it. I hate to say it, but you have to wonder.

City have been their own worst enemy this season, spurning chances, playing with an arrogance on occasion that other teams have just buckled down and ignored, worked together as a team and run rings around our 11 individuals.

I don't know what to say any more.

Never mind, maybe Jay Bothroyd will say "it's all ok because we played well and we'll definitley go up."

Get real.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Excuse me?

Twitter is a marvellous medium. It's great that "celebs" and us ordinary folk can mix it together - or at least use the same medium - they rarely mix it with us plebs.

But sometimes they say such the most ridiculous things.

As you'll have seen from my previous post, City were beaten today by a mediocre Ipswich team that had more guile in one player than we've got in most of our squad.

Very shortly after the match, City striker Jay Bothroyd, tweeted "If we play like that we will def get promotion can't believe we lost that game "

Now where I come from, losing games, and getting NO points, is generally not the way to get promoted. There's absolutely no point in playing well if you don't turn that into points.

Now before everyone goes off on one, I'm generally a fan of Bothroyd. He had storming first half of the season, though personally, since his England cap and return from injury I think he's looked a bit "precious". He has undoubted skill, but is currently spending too much time with his hands in the air claiming fouls or the floor looking aghast at why he hasn't been given a free kick. However, I digress.

I'm sure he meant this tweet in the right way. I'm sure I could be more objective and say I understand what he's saying; that if we continue to play well, chances will come (and be taken), we will pick up points and we will be promoted. But that's at least one "if" and three "possibly's". I'm not that optimistic.

But tonight, I'm not being objective. I've spent more of my hard earned (relatively speaking as I've got a season ticket) going to the match, paid money for a programme, two 50/50 tickets to support the academy, drinks and food for my daughter, and watched a bunch of blokes trying to pass a bag of wind about, who are being paid handsomely to do so. And often they couldn't even do that.

We hear all the rhetoric. We (try) and remain positive, we support the team through thick and thin, we watch them lose against teams they should be hammering....

And then we see people say if we keep playing like that (erm ..... losing) we'll definitely be promoted.

We won't Jay.

The only way we'll be promoted is if we win (and that's the crucial word, win) more matches than everyone else around us. It'll be no good saying at the end of April/May when God forbid we're consigned to another year of Championship football, ah, but we played well.

I'm stopping now, because I'm getting really mad the more I write.

Aaaaaaarggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no no!!!!! City 0-2 Ipswich

I'm very upset. Can you tell?

We knew Ipswich had two outstanding players in Connor Wickham and Jimmy Bullard. When you give a player like Bullard the run of the pitch, it'll come back to haunt you - and did it ever. But it was Bullard, and the Tractor Boy's 'kepper Martin Fulop, not Wickham who did the damage.

Ahead of the match kicking off, spirits were high. The Jacks had lost, Forest had lost, Norwich had drawn. A win and we'd be back to second spot. All in our own hands.

With Stephen Bywater getting the nod ahead of Jason Brown in City's goal, the Bluebirds started like it had to be wrapped up inside the first half. They played some outstanding football, JET in particular who looked the Premiership quality he undoubtedly is.

With Peter Whittingham pulling the strings vacated by Ramsey's return to Arsenal, City poured chances onto Fulop's goal, but the keeper stood firm. The one time he didn't, Keinan's headed goal was ruled offside. Whitt's hit the underside of the bar with a free kick, and Fulop pulled off several amazing saves when it looked easier for City to score.

All this was leading to one of those "could it be (another) one of those days", and on 67 minutes when Bullard ran on to a wide ball and smashed home from outside the box. City, who had been the only team in the match were stunned. Heads dropped, and they just forgot how to play.

with minutes to go, City conceded a free kick well over 30 yards out, and man of the moment Bullard stepped up and blasted home a shot to make it 2-0. Only a desperate save by Bywater kept it to 2 and denied Bullard his hat trick.

For me there were a number of key things in this match.

  • City played well, but Bothroyd, Chopra, and Bellamy did not. They spurned chances, controlled the ball poorly and made the wrong decisions when they had the ball.
  • City laid off Ipswich. They gave then far to much room/respect. In the first half Ipswich were poor, but everything, - really, everything was going through Bullard - and he had so much time and space to pull the strings, you just knew it would eventually come to something.
  • In the second period City were poor. Whatever Jones's half time talk was about, it was fatally flawed.
  • When we were chasing the game Jones made a substitution. A full back for a full back. Eh?
  • City's strikers for all the efforts we had in the first half were far too static. Musical statues anyone?
  • Bothroyd fell down a lot (again)
  • The ref could have been in a an Ipswich shirt. Seriously. I try to be objective about refs, but again the standard of all officials was shocking. Every 50/50 challenge went Ipswich's way.
I'd struggle to name a City MoTM. Whiits perhaps. But Bullard and Fulop were a different class today. Good honest pros who know what it's effort and hard work that win matches, not flah and talk.

City had a massive, massive chance to state their claim today, in front of a TV audience. Not sure what the half time chat was in the TV box, but along the lines I expect of about how it was only a matter of time before City scored.

On the pitch after the full time whistle, the only people the TV wanted to talk to were Bullard and Fulop.

Oh how they must be chuckling at the Liberty and Selhurst Park tonight.

Not good enough City.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Keepers, keepers everywhere...

You've got to hand it to Cardiff City. They've found a foolproof way of keeping clean sheet's for the rest of the season - they've got five (yes 5) goalkeepers.

To be fair, they've always liked having at least three or four in the squad, so five's not too much of a step up, but stringing five across the goal line is an ingenious idea!

Actually, of course, it's not quite as simple as that. The current holder of the starting shirt, Tom Heaton (pictured), who's been in pretty spectacular form of late can't play tomorrow 'cause he's on the telly (Soccer AM). Or rather, he apparently needs a groin operation so he's out for a bit. The lad who started the season as number 1 - David Marshall, who's fallen out of favour has had surgery on an elbow injury - or maybe he's out of favour because he's had elbow surgery, so he's out - possibly for the rest of the season. City's 3rd choice 'keeper, the young, inexperienced at first team level, and it has to be said, very short, Jordan Santiago has a broken finger so he's out too. City's GK coach, who was a fine keeper, and is a great coach, Martyn Margetson probably isn't registered to play. So with City fighting for an automatic play-off spot, finding not one, but two 'keepers to come in and provide cover was an absolute necessity.

Earlier this week, after a bit on "is it on, is it off?", it looked like former England stopper Chris Kirkland, currently with Wigan was coming, but for various reasons, that's fallen through.

I can't say I'm dreadfully disappointed. Kirkland is undeniably a great keeper when he's fit, but he's had such a torrid time with injury - it would have been City's luck to get him, and then end up with him getting blown over by a gust of wind in the first match and dislocating a shoulder or his back going. On reflection, maybe just as well.

So City have turned to Blackburn and Derby, securing the services of one of Wales's own, Jason Brown, and Stephen Bywater - who if I remember correctly (it does, I just checked on Wikipedia) served for a brief loan spell with City back in 2002.

There's no easy ride for either of these guys. City are home against Ipswich tomorrow, and it's on the telly, at the unusual (for City) starting time of 5:20pm. Dave Jones will have a tough call deciding who starts, as I don't think either of them have had too much action recently. Brown of course is with a Premiership team, so perhaps the favour is with him. We'll see soon enough.

It's another big match for City. They're coming thick and fast now. Our recent record against Ipswich, home or away isn't great, but we need to win this one and keep the pressure on at the top of the table.

And finally, congratulations to the Jacks manager Brendon Rogers has just won the Manager of the Month award. That's usually a catalyst for an alarming slump in form. Let's hope it holds true..

Up the City!!!!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The iPhone Twitter app v3.3 Spawn of the Devil

I have 3 or 4 Twitter apps on my iPhone, but my preferred one is the actual Twitter app itself. Simple and intuitive, it does all I want in a slick and easy way.

Today v3.3 became available, and it brings a number of neat tweaks and updates that make the whole process of tweeting even better.

BUT, and it's a huge but..............

One of the updates in v3.3 puts a trend bar at the top of the timeline - it's that horrible grey box with #worldbookday in the screenshot here. It constantly updates with the latest trending topics, and here's the rub. You can't turn it off.

I'm personally not interested in trending topics. I've never taken any notice of them, and I don't want them forced on me in a way that I can't turn off. They're worse than ads. I've got a few "lite" apps that have ads, and they're nowhere near as obtrusive and annoying as this.

The iTunes stores already has a ream of responses (including one from me) about how absolutely annoying this is.

A piece of software shouldn't make you angry, but this has. It's turned an app I use every day - several times a day, and generally have found to be a very decent app into something I hate in an instant.

I hope Twitter takes notice of user feedback and at the very least provides a quick update with the opportunity to turn this bloody thing off.

In the meantime I've switched to another twitter app.

I can't believe I've got so het up about this, but there you go. I am. Grrrrr....